Family Stories

Travis Johns was born in the State of Virginia in 1813. From his birth to 1870, there is nothing in writing, nor is there any other mention of Travis Johns. In 1854 and 1860, before African Americans were recorded on county census in 1870, Travis had two children born in Texas. There is no information on the mother of these two children, other than that she was born in Virginia.
    In 1870, Travis was 57 years old, with a 24-year old child bride. Sally, his bride, was born in 1848, in South Carolina. The marriage took place in Texas. No previous plantation owner name or parents have been recorded for Sally. Sally bore three healthy sons for Travis. Sometime after the birth of the third son, it is believed that Travis died, because there is no other mention of him.
    In 1900, Sally was a 52-year old widow of the late Jim Powell, Sr. The couple had five children. Four of these children were still living at home.
    Grandpa Travis and Grandma Sally were my ascending grandparents through my mother.
Mary Bankam was a Cherokee Indian born in the District of Columbia in September, 1825. She was transported (bought) from the Indian Reservation and taken back to Maine by the slave master to the place where her parents were born.
    Mary was later transported (bought) and taken into Georgia before finally coming to a place that would later be known as Beckville, Panola County, Texas, by slave master Jones.
    This information is recorded and has been passed down through the years by generations. The name of the Cherokee Indian Reservation is listed in the old family Bible, but illegible.
    Mary Bankam is my ascending grandmother on my father's side. In 1870, Mary was living in Panola County as a 45-year old woman married to 50-year old Thomas Bankam. Thomas was born about 1820. There were seven children living in the home, ages 2-15 years.
    By 1900 there is no listing of Thomas Bankam. Mary's last name was Jefferson; she lived in the home of her oldest son, Henry Rogers. Henry was a 45-year old widower with three children ages 7 to 15 years living in the home. The children's mother was born in Texas. Henry's 8-year old grand-nephew, Tom Horn, also lived in the home.
    One-hundred-seventy-one (171) years since the birth of Grandma Mary Bankam, there is still a water spring in Beckville that descendants remember as the Mary Bankam Spring.
    Shortly before Mary's death, she fell into a fire and died sometime later. Mary's daughter-in-law, Dovie Jones, made the shroud that Grandma Mary was laid to rest in.
    Grandma Mary is my ascending grandmother, through my father.
Mary Rowlett was born May, 1825, in the State of Virginia. To begin a new life, Mary traveled through many States. She began in Virginia. By 1843 she was in Carthage, Leake County, Mississippi. This is where she gave birth to her first son.
    In 1870, Grandma Mary was a 40-year old widow. Slavery was a way of life. No other plantation name had been recorded for Mary, nor a first name for her husband, although it is revealed that she was married.
    Mary was the head of the house with three young children to raise. She had given birth to six children. By the time her youngest child, Jane, was born in 1863, her oldest child, Lewis, was already married with a family of his own.
    In 1880, Mary was a 50-year old retired widow. She, her daughter Jane and Jane's child, a 17-year old, lived in the home of Mary's fifth son, Julius, and his wife, Joanna Gray.
    By 1900, Mary was 70+ living in the home of Jane. Jane was a 37-year old single mother of one child. Jefferson, her son, was 20, single and still living at home.
    There are no known family members alive who remember Mr. Rowlett or if any of his sons were named for him.
    There are no records reflecting the death of Grandma Mary, but it is well known that her children took very good care of her.
    Grandma Mary is my ascending grandmother, through my mother.