The experiences of every family are unique and something to be treasured. The following is a summary of the history of the Gillyard-Johnson-Mahoney family. It summarizes a much larger scope of information that has been researched and sourced as of this writing. Simply put, it attempts for this writing to put the leaves on the branches of our Family Tree. Only limited information on the Johnson line is summarized as much of it still remains a bit sketchy. Information regarding our Guion, Trammell and Caldwell branches are also woven in our story.
A family starts out small and then it branches outward with each new generation.
The documented Gillyard ancestry dates back to 1831.
Charlie Gillyard was born 1862 in Desoto Parish, Louisiana to Jacob Gillyard and Harriett (Harriett's family name is not known). Jacob was born into slavery, about 1831 in Alabama. Harriett born about 1840 in Virginia. It is highly probable that Jacob and Harriett were among the group of slaves that relocated to the Desoto Parish area, sometime between,1850 and 1851, with the Frierson family. The Friersons had moved from South Carolina and relocated to Lowndes County, Alabama before traveling with their slaves to Frierson, Louisiana, where they settled.
Sometime after May of 1880, a beautiful young lady named Cynthia Trammell migrates from Limestone County, Texas to Desoto Parish, Louisiana. Cynthia’s parents were Merritt Trammell and Elizabeth Brown. Merritt, a preacher, built the first Negro church building in Limestone County, Texas. Later he and his brother served as privates in the Texas Police. Merritt was considered a natural leader. He defended White and Black citizens and fought for justice which led to problems with law enforcement. His family left Limestone and relocated to Desoto and Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
Cynthia soon meets and dates Charlie. They fall in love and marry on Christmas day, December 25, 1886. They remain in Desoto Parish, Louisiana.
On June 8,1900, the U.S. Federal Census list the following information regarding Charlie and Cynthia’s residence in Ward 5, North of the Greening Ferry Road of Desoto Parish, Louisiana: Charlie is the head of household, they are farmers who own their farm, mortgage free and have been married for 13 years. They are the parents of six children, Sampson, Elizabeth, Mack, Charlie, Roberta and Felicia (aka Celeste).
In 1901, Cynthia gives birth to their seventh child, Chris.
Charlie has relocated to Ward 4 of Red River Parish, Louisiana. In 1910, he is listed as a lodger living in the household with Rose Brown. In 1916, he and Rose give birth to a baby boy, Lloyd Goldman Gillyard.
Cynthia continues to reside in Desoto Parish and in 1910 all seven of she and Charlie’s children, her 2-year old son, Willie Howard and her 10-month old grandson, Perkins (Elizabeth’s child) are living in the household, in Ward 5, on the William Point Road.
By 1930, Charlie and Cynthia’s eldest child Sampson is deceased. Their other six offspring are married and living in Desoto or Red River Parish. Living with Cynthia in 1930 are sons Willie and Cornelius (aka Jack),and her grandson, Perkins.
In 1930, Charlie is still residing in Ward 4 of Red River and is married to Laura Johnson. He is now 68 years old and Laura is 30 years old. Charlie and Laura had one son, James born around,1916, and died in 1928. Sometime after 1930, Charlie and Laura separate. It has been reported to this writer that Laura was pregnant at the time and later gave birth to she and Charlie’s second child (No descendants of Laura have been located by this writer).
The 1940 census reveals this information about Charlie, and Charlie and Cynthia’s offspring, and their children by other relationships:
Charlie Sr. is still residing on a farm in Red River Parish, Louisiana. He is listed as married to Mary and they have two children, six year old Sara, and four year old Joseph. They pay $2.00/mo. rent.
Elizabeth is residing in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, married to Ed Thomas. They own their farm and it is valued at $50.00
Charlie Jr. is married to Roberta Edwards with children, Euria lee, Charley Lee Jr., David Lee and Pearlie Lee. They are living on a farm in DeSoto Parish, paying $3.00/mo. rent.
Celeste is living in Red River Parish with her husband Roger Clinton, and children, Jackson C., Ishmael, Roger Jr., Exie B and Dorothy. They are living on a farm, paying $2.00/mo. rent.
Roberta is living with L.C. Bailey (recorded as married), on a farm in DeSoto Parish, with her son James. They are paying $2.00/mo. rent.
Caesar Mahoney was born into slavery in about 1833. Information regarding his parentage is not yet known. The 1870 U.S. Federal Census list Caesar as born in South Carolina and Charlotte as born in Alabama. In previous censuses, they had only been noted as tally marks. But in 1870, they are counted as two of 4,880,009 Blacks living in the United States. Based on a review of records from the Good Hope Presbyterian Church and the Frierson Plantation, it is probable that Caesar traveled with the Friersons to Lowndes County, Alabama, where he met and married Charlotte White. Caesar and Charlotte then traveled with the Friersons to Desoto Parish, Louisiana where they settled and spent a lifetime together.
Living on the farm with Caesar and Charlotte in 1870, are their children: 9 year old Rebecca, 8 year old Robert,6 year old Caesar Jr., 2 year old Corine and 1 year old Dunn (could be Douglas). They are cotton farmers and business transaction records dating back to 1878, show that Caesar and his sons, took their cotton to be ginned at the Frierson Mill. They were paid a flat fee contingent upon the market price and quality of the goods.
In 1880, Caesar and Charlotte are still residing on the farm, and have had five additional children, General Lee, William, Elizabeth, Henry, and Christopher.
Though there is no 1890 U.S. Federal Census available (the 1890 census was destroyed by fire in 1921), marriage licenses, death certificates and oral histories provide evidence that between June 2,1880 and 1889, Marietta, Hamilton, and Florida were born to Caesar and Charlotte.
On June 19,1900, Caesar and Charlotte are still residing in Desoto Parish and have been married 43 years. Charlotte has given birth to 15 children and 10 of the children are still living.
Louisiana Death Records list:
Charlotte Mahoney, date of her death, November 26, 1916.
The 1940 census reveals this information about Caesar and Charlotte’s children who were living April 1, 1940:
Elizabeth Mahoney Henderson is widowed. She is residing in DeSoto Parish, on a farm which she owns. The farm is valued at $800. Living with her are: her brother Henry, grandson Arfield, Arfield’s wife Eliza, and Arfield’s children, Henry Lee and Andrew.
Christopher Mahoney is married to Minnie Riggs. They owned their farm in DeSoto Parish. The farm is valued at $300. Their daughter Augtree is living with them.
Florida Mahoney Guion is married to John Guion. They are living in Desoto Parish on their farm, valued at $2000. Their children: Murphy, James, Appless, Curtis, and grandchildren, Martha Thomas and Calvin Murray are living with them.
Marietta Mahoney Thomas, is widowed. Her husband Will died, January 12, 1936. She is living on a farm in DeSoto Parish, paying $1.00/mo. rent. Living with her are her children, Gerald Lee, Ruth, George, Thelma and Rosa.
William Mahoney, at this writing has not been located in the 1940 U.S. Census
Henry is single, living with his sister Elizabeth
Robert has not yet been located in the 1940 census. In 1930, Robert was living in Richland Parish, Louisiana.
Prior to any established schools in the rural Desoto Parish area, our ancestors most likely were taught at home, if their parents were able to read and write. Their parents, who were born into slavery, were legally prohibited from being taught to read and write.
Census records dating from 1870 – 1900, indicate that though our ancestors could understand English, many were unable to read or write, and many of the business documents indicate a mark, “x” for their signature. Educational facilities at the time were poor, usually old cabins, churches or country stores. Two schools in the area for Blacks were the Good Hope Presbysterian Church School and Rosenwald (click here).
The church had a profound impact on our ancestors and it continues to impact our family today. Jacob Gillyard was one of forty-six Blacks and six Whites to organize the Good Hope Presbyterian Churchin the home of Robert Frierson, in Frierson, Louisiana. In the Spring of 1877, Elder Jacob Gillyard petitioned the Red River Presbytery that the “Colored Congregation” who were still a part of the “White Congregation” at the time, be constituted into a church of their own, and keep the name Good Hope. The petition was granted and 133 years later the Good Hope Presbyterian Church is still teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The history for the Sunshine Baptist Church in the Clear Lake Community of Desoto Parish, Louisiana records that on the 2nd Sunday, April 14, 1907, on the Will Hewitt Plantation the church was organized as the St. Mary Baptist Church, No. 2. On November 10,1907 Deacon Sampson Gillyard changed the church’s name to the Sunshine Baptist Church. In 1910 during the church’s first revival service, Celeste Gillyard, Lureener Mahoney, Roberta Gillyard and Chris Gillyard confessed Jesus Christ, and were baptized and fellowshipped as charter members.
Many Mahoneys and Gillyards have held membership at the New Friendship Baptist Church, located on the Friendship Road in Desoto Parish. Howard Mahoney, the great grandson of Caesar and Charlotte Mahoney, served many years as the secretary of the church. Many of the Gillyards and Mahoneys are interred in the New Friendship Cemetery.
We recognize that we are the beneficiaries of the labor and generosity of our ancestors.
We are still looking for pictures of ancestors. We want to put a face to their legacy. In the meantime, to love and embrace the history of our family we must visualize them through the eyes of our heart.
Think, what shade will the trees that we plant today bestow for our future?
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