Say My Name

An African-American Family History

In the Beginning

Solomonís life began in more obscurity than his White counterparts. Little is known about Solomonís parents, not even their names. The oral legend is that Solomonís father was born in Africa and transported here to be a slave. Iím not sure if this actually happened. On the census, Solomon says his father was born in North Carolina not Africa. However, the oral legend tells of Solomonís father being nearly thrown overboard on the ship during his voyage from Africa. The ship was being attacked by a group of whales and the captain and crew decided to appease the whales by throwing slaves overboard one by one.This was a customary tactic. Luckily, according to the legend, land was sighted before Solomonís father was given the heave ho. This was the story told at the 1989 Koonce reunion by Ernestinge, daughter of William Avery Koonce, granddaughter of Mose Koonce son of the elder Solomon.

      The first years of Solomonís life is yet a mystery to be solved. All I know for sure is that he was born in North Carolina between 1822 and 1826 and he had at least one brother named Ned. Ned was sold to a family in Arkansas. Ned is said to have taken the surname of Cherry after he was freed from slavery. Solomon was sold to Isaac Koonce in January of 1840. There he joined with a woman named Amy. Some say she was a full-blood Cherokee. Others say she was related to the Winston family. On the1840 census in Haywood County, Isaac Koonce has 6 slaves. One male is under 24 to 10. I thinks this is Solomon. The other male is between 24 and 35. Of the four female slaves, two are under 10, one is between 10 and 24, and one is between 24 and 35. I am not sure which one is Amy or if she is even there.

I went back to 1830 census for Isaac. I also had knowledge through the tngenweb page for Crockett County that Isaac was given two slaves, George and Hannah, in 1822. In 11830, Isaac had six slaves--three males and three females. The three males were between the ages 10 to 23. Two of the females were this age with one being younger than 10. That could account for George and Hannah and possibly their child.

Jumping to the 1850 census slave schedule for Haywood County, Isaac Koonce owned eight slaves. One was a male, 23 years old. That would be the right age for Solomon. There was also a 38 year old male, a 40 year old female, a 28 year old female, and an 18 year old female. I suspect that she may be the elusive Amy, mother to Solomonís first set of children. There were also a twelve, a nine and two year old female slaves. If the 18 year old female is Amy, then she was one of the slaves under 10 on the 1840 census. But she could also be the 28 year old female. The two younger children account for the additional two slaves.

      On the 1860 slave schedule Isaac owned 12 slaves. There were five adults and seven children. One was designated as a mulatto while the others were listed as black. The ages donít match the 1850 schedule. There is now a 48 year old female, a 35 year old male, who I believe is Solomon, a 32 year old female who I believe is Amy, a 22 year old female mulatto, and an 18 year old female. The children range in age from one to 12. Three of the children correspond with the ages of Solomonís oldest children.

      This is all that I have found out about Solomon during his slavery years with Isaac. I havenít found out anything else about Amy except she may have been related to the Winstons. On the 1870 census there is an elderly woman living with Solomon named Ann Nunn. I donít know if there was a blood connection. There was an Amy Nunn, born in 1829, listed on the Crockett County census in 1870. It would be very easy to jump to the conclusion that this is my Amy but it could just as easily be a coincidence. Amy bore Solomon at least six children. Mosella was born in 1849 was the oldest surviving child. Moses born in 1865 was her last child with Solomon. According to the oral legend, Amy died sometime after Moses was born. I have no reason to believe otherwise but I keep looking for more anyway.


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