Document of The Day: Hannah Nelson-Singleton Gilliam Death Certificate

This is an electronic copy of my 2X Great Grandmother Hannah Nelson-Singleton Gilliam’s Death Certificate, which I found on   Hannah passed away at her sister’s residence at 49 Bowdoin Street, Worcester, MA on February 23, 1914.  I am pretty sure Hannah lived with her sister during this time, as they were very close, and they tended to help one another during the many years they lived in Worcester.


Hannah became a widow in March of 1867, when her husband Daniel Gilliam passed away. Daniel was a former slave and only lived a few years as a Freedman. He did not migrate with Hannah and her family to Worcester as they migrated in the late 1870’s.

Hannah was the daughter of Benjamin (Ellis) Nelson and Zara (Jones) Humphrey/Humphries both born in New Bern, North Carolina.

Hannah’s sister Jane B. Collins was the informant.  Hannah’s cause of death was Cancer of the Liver/Gallstones.  When doing research on my Maternal Ancestry, I find that many of them died of some form of Cancer, as did my mother.

One thing I find helpful is to keep track of the causes of death of each of your ancestor’s as you will possibly begin to see a pattern.  This information might help descendants as to what type of prevention methods one might take towards their health.

When I see that Hannah died of Cancer of the Liver, I wonder if maybe she had been a drinker.  It is very possible as I also find that many of my ancestors also died from diseases due to alcoholism or heavy drinking.

Hannah was buried at the Hope Cemetery, Worcester Ma in Lot 5817, Section 76.  Her memorial is on Find-A-Grave at: Hannah Nelson-Singleton Gilliam

Amanuensis Monday: Leander Singleton Gilliam, Knights of Pythias

This is an updated post for Amanuensis Monday

Leander Singleton Gilliam
Singleton Family Photo Collection

This is an article that my cousin sent me of my Great Grand Uncle Leander S. Gilliam.  Leander passed as white  during his life in Worcester, MA. He and his family identified with the white population even though they knew they were of African descent.  Leander’s wife was white, and his boys distinctly had “African” blood. However, they lived in the predominately white neighborhoods, and the boys each married white women.Across town, yet not too far away, Leander’s mother, Hannah Singleton-Nelson Gilliam, being very fair herself, lived in the Negro community, served as an active member, and worked for a prominent White family “The Higgins”  as a laundress.  Leander’s mother had been a slave

However, Leander still continued to the end of his days, along with his family descendant line, to continue to pass as white, not knowing their full ancestry. [Of course by now, from this blog post and research, it has been revealed to them.]  Their family was intertwined by the slave owner and the slave…Leander’s father had been a child of the slave owner.

Leander still associated with his family only at night or during times that the family would not be found out.  My grandmother Agnes was sent to Leander’s when she, out of spite, threw black coffee, dregs and all on her grandmother Hannah’s freshly hung laundry.  She stayed there until the wrath of anger simmered down and Agnes could go back home, as Hannah provided care to the family.  Agnes was not introduced as family to strangers, but as a friend, or viewed as a maid.

It is interesting how this happened in many situations throughout history.

Race Gleanings

Freeman Newspaper
October 14, 1905

At Washington D.C. and other cities that have a large Negro population a recent decision of Charles E. Shiveley of Richmond, Ind., supreme chancelor of the Knights of Pythias is causing much comment.

Leander S. Gilliam, a Negro, who is so light of complexion that few people are able to detect his African blood, joined Freedom Lodge, Knights of Pythias, of Worcester, Mass.  Gilliam was such a good fellow that Freedom Lodge refused to drop him from its rolls, even after the fact of his surreptitious advent into the lodge were known.  Charges against the lodge were preferred by K. Warner Kelso, and now, under a decision of Mr. Shiveley, unless the lodge drops Gilliam, it may lose its charter.




The Singleton name is the surname of the Slave Master my family belonged to.  My Great Great Grandmother, it was told me was a child of her Slave Master as were her son a child of the slave owner’s son.  I am still in the stages of proving this, but it is very clear that my Gilliam’s were of African and European descent.    I hope to uncover more of this information so that our families can have a coming together.  It is time for us to embrace our histories, heal and forgive the past.

Not So Amanuensis & Mappy Monday: Hope Cemetery Map And My Ancestors Buried There: Part #2

On January 10, 2012, I received an e-mail message from My Cousin’s husband on my genealogy website contact form.  He stated to me, “I have recently started to trace our family tree and believe there may be a connection to my wife’s grandfather ‘Leander Singleton Gilliam’ through your great-grandmother ‘Hannah Gilliam’ (as described in your genealogy blog).  If interested in more info, please contact me.”

I responded to him via e-mail and then on the phone.  We quickly discussed the fact that my Hannah [Singleton-Nelson] Gilliam was my Great Great Grandmother and that Leander Singleton Gilliam would have to be her son.  Hannah carried her slave name Singleton, and Gilliam was her married name.

My cousin’s husband informed me that his wife was white and they were surprised to see mulatto on one of the US Census records for Leander when he lived in North Carolina.  The Census records in Worcester, MA for the years 1900-1930, Leander and his family are listed as White.  I informed Hank that my 2x Grandmother Hannah was very fair and so was her sister Jane B. Collins, as they could pass as White.  Some family members chose to pass and others did not.

Even though I was having this conversation with a Gilliam descendant, I still was not positive that this Leander was Hannah’s son.

A few day’s ago, I was sent me a map of Hope Cemetery that had writing on the back of it in Leander’s (assumed) handwriting. This map clearly proved that my Cully, Gilliam, Collins family were related.  I was also sent  photo’s of Leander and his three sons, as I will present on a later post.

Hope Cemetery, Worcester Mass Section Map
Markings of where family is buried
Plot 76 is where my 2X Grandmother Hannah Gilliam & My Cully, Collins family is buried.
Writing on the Back of the Hope Cemetery Section Map


Perpetual Care See Mr. Burbank, Superintendent

Hannah Gilliam  1839-1914
Lot 5817
Sec 76

Joseph A Collins
Jane B. Collins
Lot 6772
Sec 76

Nora J Cully
Sec 76


There were one discrepancy as Nora J A Cully was the daughter of Nora A Cully and she was the one buried in Plot 6772, Section 76.  She was born 1911 and died in 1936.  The mother was buried in Plot 6767, Section 76, (RF2) with her son William E.

See my prior post Hope Cemetery-Part #1 at this link.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Older African American Neighborhood in Worcester, Massachusetts: Mappy Monday

     Researching the neighborhood my Cully, Gilliam, and Collins families resided, I came across a website “Homes and Housing Patterns of People of Color in Worcester 1888,”  with research by Kathryn Mahoney and Jacqui McEttrick who presented the neighborhood map of the Older African American Community during that time.  The two street names that popped out at me were John and Bowdoin Streets.  During a research trip to Worcester, MA public library in January 2011, I went through every city directory (1879-1932) of Worcester and documented that my family had resided in homes on John and Bowdoin Street.
     On this map there is a listing of head of households, their occupation and their address.  My Great Great Grandmother Hannah Gilliam is listed as (Hannah Gillum) as a laundress and residing at 66 John Street.

     I love it when I find information on the World Wide Web that helps to confirm and document information that I have discovered.  This information is also very important to me as I also want to know more about Hannah’s neighbors.

© Yvette Porter Moore-All Rights Reserved

Treasure Chest Thursday: Remnants of a Slave Name Hannah “Nelson-Singleton” Gilliam

Stories and facts about our families are handed down through written and oral history.  With today’s methods of online access to records, it has made it easier for family historians & researchers to find some documents without having to leave the comfort of one’s home.  With the documents discovered, it allows the researcher to confirm and collaborate that the stories told are accurate.

Hannah Gilliam or sister Jane B. Collins
(Gail Cully Middleton Collection)

     My mother shared with me that my Great Great Grandmother’s name was Hannah Gilliam, and she had been born into slavery.  She also shared that she was very fair complected, and that her father had been the slave owner (This has yet to be confirmed).

Hannah had helped care for her daughter Nora’s children, as Nora had many and was continuously trying to recover from one pregnancy to the next.  It was not difficult for me to find information about  Hannah during this time period (1900-1910) as she was residing in her daughter Nora’s and Son-in-law Ambrose Cully’s home in Worcester, MA.  I even made a trip to Worcester, MA to get more information on Hannah such as her place of rest.

Cemetery where Hannah and many family members are buried
Worcester, Massachusetts
     My online treasures for Hannah Cully was her death Certificate, and a Freedman’s Bank Record as they were all revealing.
     Hannah was born December 3, 1842 and died February 23, 1914.  She was married to Daniel Gilliam, and I have no idea what happened to him.
     Since I did not know what Hannah’s maiden name was, this death certificate helped me with the information that I needed.  Hannah’s father was listed as Benjamin Nelson and her mother was listed as Zara Humphrey.  I took note of Hannah’s mom’s first name as the name Zara has been handed down from every other generation.  Now that I know that Hannah’s last name is Nelson, I had further research to conduct.
     Knowing that Hannah had been born into slavery, I knew that there was a possibility for other surnames that she was connected to, and that there was a possibility that her parents had other surnames connected to them, depending on who their slave owner was.
     One day I came across information from Freedman Bank Records:  This is what I found.
Freedman Bank Records Jane B. Collins,
Hannah Gilliam’s sister
     I knew that my Great Great Aunt’s married last name was Jane B. Collins as she was the one who cared for my Great Uncle Raymond Mansfield & Nora Jane Cully when their mother died.  I had found this information in a Census Record of 1920, Worcester, MA.
     This Freedman Bank Record helped me confirm information I knew and also gave me some more info by which to research.
     My Great Great Aunt Jane was married to Joseph A. Collins.  What I found interesting is that Jane & Hannah’s parents had two other surnames I had not seen before.  Zara had the last name “Jones”..I am not sure if this was a maiden name, slave master’s surname or a married name, as I did not know if Zara remarried and carried the last name of her last husband.
     I also noticed that Jane & Hannah’s  Father Benjamin had a different surname of Ellis.

     I have listed Singleton as one of the Slave Owner’s surname’s as I have found in other documents as Hannah being listed as a Singleton.

Researching on and, I have been able to find documents by inputting surnames and locals without adding a first name. This is one way I have discovered relatives such as children, cousins, and siblings.  The document below is one I found on FamilySearch by using this method.

     I discovered Hannah had a son by the name of Joseph Daniel Gilliam and that he married a Mary Frances Boswell.  It is possible they had children, and will do further investigation so that I could possibly locate their descendants, and my cousins.

     It is to my knowledge that Hannah Gilliam never remarried and she was widowed by or before 1880.  This link “Recollections of my Slavery Day-By William Henry Singleton.” which gave me some hints and or clues that it is possible that my Great Great Grandmother Hannah had been a Singleton slave.
     Quoted from Link above, “ When a plantation changed owners the slaves changed their names. Our plantation had formerly been owned by a Mrs. Nelson, a widow. The slaves were then known as Nelson’s slaves. When Singleton married Mrs. Nelson he succeeded to the plantation and all of the slaves, including my mother, were called from that time on Singleton.”

     It is possible that my family pretty much held on to the surname Nelson and then at times used the surname Singleton.  A further investigation will be ensued.

     I feel excited that I may be one step closer in documenting My Great Great Grandmother’s life in slavery.  I hope to in the near future to go to New Bern, North Carolina for further investigation.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011