by Claudette Lewis Bard
In our October newsletter, we featured an article entitled “Hidden History: The Mount Sinai Church and Cemetery at ‘Little Britain.’” The article chronicled the once-thriving African-American community called Guinea or Little Britain which was located southwest of Lovettsville at Britain and Mountain Roads. The area once housed a church, a school, Arnold’s General Store and the inhabitants were families with surnames such as Beaner, Curtis, Hogan, Lucas, Moten, Paris, Payne, Redman, Stone, Timbers, and Young. As noted in the October article, Eugene Scheel stated that the area was called “Guinea” which could be interpreted as either a derogatory term for African Americans or, since it is a country in West Africa, may be reflective of the residents’ heritage since the trans-Atlantic slave trade centered on the countries of that part of the continent. [source: Map of the Short Hill, Loudoun County, Va. by Eugene Scheel, 2016]
In our November newsletter, Howard Gilbert Timbers Jr. wrote a heartfelt account of his ancestor who is interred at Mount Sinai Cemetery. In an article entitled “Remembering Private Samuel Benjamin Timbers,” Gilbert writes about his ancestor who served his country honorably as a member of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry (U.S.C.I.), Company H, and that designation is inscribed on a distinguished, recessed-shield headstone specifically provided by the military to those who served in the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, Samuel returned to Lovettsville and lived out his years in the area.
While researching the Loudoun County Historical Birth and Death Records, 1853-1917, and using other sources, we have so far discovered 22 persons interred in the cemetery (see Find-a-Grave), and according to stories circulating in the area, there could be as many as 100 individuals for whom these grounds are their final resting place.
We began with Private Samuel Benjamin Timbers, telling about his notable life and his place in American history. In this issue, we will share a little bit about some of the other souls buried at Mount Sinai Cemetery and about their lives in this part of Loudoun County.
The Paris Family
Many members of the Paris family are interred at Mount Sinai. Some gravestones were found and they have information inscribed on them while others, no gravestones have yet been located. We were able to find information on those without any grave markers through other genealogical and historical sources.
William Paris—born abt. 1838—died April 5, 1904. Time and nature have weathered the gravestone and only a few inscriptions can be deciphered: “Wm.”, the word “refuge” (part of a Bible passage) and “Deuteronomy” are visible. A possible Bible verse on the gravestone is Deuteronomy 33:27 which reads in part: “The eternal God is your refuge.” [source: identification of Bible verse, Biblegateway.com]
Louisa Ann Taylor Paris—born abt. 1844—died March 1891. The inscriptions on the gravestone read: “Louisa Ann, wife of Wm. Paris, died Mar. ___1891, aged about 52 years. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord for they rest from their labors and their work do follow them.” This is from Revelation 14:13. [source: identification of Bible verse, Biblegateway.com]
Georgiana Paris—born April 25, 1871–died November 26, 1921. Her gravestone has her name and both date of birth and date of death.
John Ebenezer Paris—born November 21, 1869–died May 15, 1933. Although no gravestone can be located, there was a marker or other documentation at some point that read “May he rest in peace.” [source: Loudoun County death certificates, Ancestry.com]
Ann America Paris Bird—born May 17, 1861– died August 27, 1887. The headstone reads: “Ann A., wife of Henry Bird, died Aug. 27, 1887, Aged 26 y, 3 m.,? days.” There is an undecipherable inscription at the bottom of the gravestone. [source: Find a Grave, Thomas Balch Library Cemetery website]
Short Biographies of the Paris Family
Hettie Paris was most likely the mother of J. William Paris based on her age. She appeared in the 1880 census as Hettia Paris and was a 75-year-old servant in the household of Sarah A. Schooley (white), a 70- year-old widow living in the Lovettsville area. Hettie’s marital status was single and she could neither read nor write. Others in the household were Sarah’s son, William, 47, single, whose occupation is listed as justice of the peace; Sarah J., 35, single, daughter; and Catherine F., 23, single, daughter. Hettie Paris was most likely a slave before emancipation since she was born about 1808. Her name was not listed in the Loudoun County Record of Free Negroes, 1844-1861. Additionally, there was a Jonas Schooley listed as a slave owner in Loudoun County in 1860. Often those formerly enslaved stayed on to work as employees of their former masters. Hettie would have been about 57 years old when emancipation was granted. I would imagine it would be difficult to transition to living independently if one had been enslaved for over a half a century. Hettie may have only known that way of life. She died in 1888 and was reunited with her family in death. [sources: Find a Grave; U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com; Loudoun County Record of Free Negroes, 1844-1861, Loudoun.gov; Borderlands: The Geography of Slavery in Northern Loudoun County, Va. by Eirik Harteis]
J. William Paris was listed in the 1880 census as William Paris and was a 42-year-old farm laborer in Lovettsville. He was born about 1838 and may have been born enslaved. Also living in the household was his wife Louisa, 36 and her occupation was “keeping house.” The other family members were as follows: Mary P., 15, daughter, was a domestic servant; John, son, 10; Edgar, son, 9; Georgiana, daughter, 9; Malinda, daughter, 8 and Melissa, daughter, 5. Edgar and Georgiana appear to have been twins.
In our October newsletter, we featured an article about the Lovettsville List of Colored Voters, a register that was discovered in the Lovettsville Museum. William and his two sons were listed as registered voters: J. William Paris registered on July 27, 1888 at age 48; John E. Paris registered the next day on July 28, 1888 at age 21; Edgar Paris (the register has his name as Edward) registered on October 7, 1892 at age 21.
Melinda was listed as a student at the Britain Colored School for the 1893 term. William Paris was listed as her parent, residing at Jumbo (also known as Elvan). None of William and Louisa’s other children are listed on this school roster. However, more school rosters probably existed. [source: Britain Colored School Register dated 1892-1898, courtesy of the Lovettsville Historical Society and Museum].
Ann America Paris Bird was another child of J. William and Louisa Paris but was not living in the household in 1880. Ann was married to Henry Bird. According to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Ann (listed as Annie) was living in Lovettsville, was 20 years old and her occupation was “keeping house.” Also, in the household was her husband, Henry, 24, listed as a laborer and their seven-month-old daughter, Naomi. The couple could both read and write. A number of Bird children are listed in the Britain Colored School Register in the 1890s, and Virginia Taylor (see below) is named as their guardian.
Ann and Henry Bird were married on May 15, 1879, and the ceremony was by the minister of the New Jerusalem Lutheran Church, a white congregation. Segregation and separate facilities were a way of life and the law in the 19th century South and churches were no exception. Nonetheless, there are a number of “colored” marriages in the church register from 1865 to 1883. [source: U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com; New Jerusalem Lutheran Church, Lovettsville, Va. historical records found by Ed Spannaus. “C” meaning Colored is written beside most of their names in the church registry]
Georgiana Paris was possibly one half of a set of twins. She and her brother, Edgar, were listed as being nine years old in the 1880 census. We were not able to locate her in any of the limited school records we had for either the Britain or Lovettsville Colored Schools. She appeared in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census living in Hyattsville, Maryland, as a single, 28-year-old servant in the household of Henry Dobbs, a 53-year-old book binder. She is one of 12 inhabitants of that household which included a teacher, an electrician, other servants and a cook. Henry Dobbs died in 1908. According to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Henry’s wife, Maria, retained the household, which appeared to be a boarding house. Georgiana was no longer a servant there. We were not able to locate Georgiana in any other census records and she does not appear to have ever married or had children. She was reunited with her family in death, having been interred at the Mount Sinai Cemetery. [U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com]
John Ebenezer Paris was one of two sons of J. William and Louisa Paris. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he is a 30-year-old, single farm laborer living as a tenant in the household of Roxanne Householder (white) with Virginia G. Taylor (black), age 40, servant. In the 1910 census, John was 40 years old, a hired hand in the same household. Virginia G. Taylor, 51, is living in the household as “hired help”. In the 1920 census, John, 52, is living in the household of Addison B. Householder (white), age 49, a well-known Lovettsville physician. On the original census record, John’s relationship to Dr. Householder can be transcribed as either stepson or helper (most likely is helper). There was another member of the household by the name of Iszinne G. Taylor (black) who is listed as a 61-year-old maid. Most likely she is Virginia G. Taylor, the same woman listed in previous census records with John.
In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, John E. Paris was head of household and was renting a house. He is a 60-year-old single farm laborer and Virginia G. Taylor was living in the household. She was 69 years old, single and is listed as John’s half-sister. There is no occupation listed for her. The family listed next in the census records and probably living next door, were the Redmonds. Listed were David Redmond, 46, his wife Orpha, 48, David’s father-in-law, George W. Anderson, 79, and David’s brother-in-law, Carl J.H. Anderson, 36. George W. Anderson is my great, great grandfather, Orpha is my great, great aunt and Carl (her brother) is my great, great uncle. Most likely, John and his half-sister lived on Irish Corner Road. Through oral history, I know David Redmond lived on Irish Corner Road, just outside of town. He owned several acres of farm land and perhaps John worked for him. [source: U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com; oral history provided by former Lovettsville mayor and LHS Board Member, Elaine Walker]
John E. Paris died on May 15, 1933 of chronic nephritis at age 63. The informant was Virginia Taylor who through all accounts was his half-sister. Listed on the death certificate were his parents, John William Paris and his mother, Louise Ann Taylor (maiden name). It appears Virginia may have been Louise’s daughter. A death notice for John reads as follows: Funeral services were held on Wednesday, May 17 for John Paris, colored, Lovettsville. He had been a resident of community all his life. One sister, Virginia Paris, survives him. Interment in colored cemetery. [source: Loudoun County death certificate, Ancestry.com; Frederick Md. Daily News, May 25, 1933]
William and Louisa’s remaining children, Mary, Edgar, Malinda, and Melissa may or may not be buried at Mount Sinai; we know there are many unmarked graves. J. William Paris in all probability inspired his sons to exercise their right to vote. We have documentation that at least one daughter was attending school and I am sure this father made sure his other children were educated as well. Because of the several Bible passages inscribed on their gravestones, religion was in all likelihood an integral part of the Paris family, and they almost certainly were members of the Mount Sinai Free Will Baptist Church.
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Eleanore Beaner, stillborn, died on May 4, 1917. No gravestone or marker has been located. She was the daughter of Charles and Nellie Gray Beaner. According to his World War I draft registration form dated June 5, 1917, Charles had “a wife and four children” and the precinct listed was Bolington, which is just south of Lovettsville, and not far from Mount Sinai Cemetery. Also stated on the WWI draft registration was that Charles asked for an exemption to military service. The reason listed was he had a family to support. [source: Ancestry.com; Loudoun County Historical Deaths, 1912-1917]
According to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, the Beaner family was listed as follows: Charles, 33 (listed as C. Henry), head of household and Nellie, 44, wife, and they have four children: Lea M., 11; Amanda L.V., 9; American Henrietta, 6; and Ella Nora, 2 (a name very similar to her sister’s name, Eleanore). Charles owns his home free of mortgage. He does farm work and no occupation is listed for Nellie. All of the children are attending school. [source: U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com]
Upon further research, I discovered where they most likely were attending school. The Edwin Washington Project for several years now, has done extensive research on the Loudoun County Public Schools, both Black and White, covering the years 1864 to 1968. [source: Edwin Washington Project website] In our October newsletter, we mentioned the Britain Colored School and how it was one of two schools in the Lovettsville area for African-American students. According to a report entitled Guinea Colored School (another name for the Britain Colored School) which was compiled by the Edwin Washington Project, the three daughters were listed as students at the school. This report was for the school term 1921. The names are slightly different in that middle names were used in the school register rather than first names. When I compared the names and ages listed in the publication to the names and middle initials listed in the census records, it appeared these girls were students at the Britain Colored School.
Lea M. Beaner who was 11 years old in 1920 (born 1909) appeared to be Margarette Beaner and the report listed her as being born in 1909, which would make her 12 years old in 1921 (the report said she was seven years old which is impossible since she was born in 1909). The paper said she was in either the fourth or fifth grade.
Amanda L.V. Beaner who was nine in 1920 (born 1911) appears to be Virginian Beaner and the report listed her as being born in 1912. It also stated she was in the second or third grade.
American Henrietta Beaner who was six years old in 1920 (born 1914) is most likely Henrietta Beaner and the report has her being born in 1914. The report goes on to say that she could have been in the first or early part of the second grade.
In the short biographies of all three girls, it was reported that they lived about one half mile from the school and they all attended 43 out of the 43 days the school was opened. The school term was only 43 days long and the teacher’s name was Geneva Brown. Even though there were slight discrepancies between the census and the information in the Guinea Colored School report, I have concluded these girls were students at the school. [source: The Guinea Colored School, report by the Edwin Washington Project dated 11-1-2012]
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In the next newsletter, we will continue to honor those buried at Mount Sinai Cemetery.
Additional research was provided by Edward Spannaus