Family History

This 1870 Leake County, Mississippi census record is the first official record of Robert “Big Bob” Ealy and his family. On July 8, 1870, the census-taker for the Lena community recorded the Ealy household, headed by Bob. In the house were his wife Jane and children, Annie, Andy, Robert, Paul, Augustus, Anderson (Haywood), Martha, Penny, and a 4-month baby who was unnamed. Nicholson was born the following year. Older children, John and Adeline, were married in their own households. Will was omitted for unknown reasons.

I. Robert “Big Bob” & Jane Ealy

The Ealy Family’s presence in the state of Mississippi began in about 1835. That was the approximate year when an enslaved young man from North Carolina was brought to Mississippi, leaving behind family members he would never see anymore. This man became Robert Ealy, but he was mostly called “Big Bob.” Big Bob was among over 400,000 enslaved people from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee who were brought to Mississippi during the early 1800’s. Mississippi had become a state with fertile, cotton-producing farmlands. Many enslaved African Americans were sold away from their families to slave-owners who were already in Mississippi. Like Big Bob, many other enslaved African Americans came with their enslavers who moved to Mississippi to take advantage of the profitable cotton crop.

Research has found that “Big Bob” Ealy was originally from Nash County, North Carolina. There, he was born into slavery around 1814, according to census records. Research findings also indicate that he grew up on the farm of Jesse Bass near Spring Hope, North Carolina. Big Bob remained on the Bass farm throughout his childhood years with his mother Annie and siblings. However, in 1822, Jesse Bass wrote his will and left to his youngest daughter Frances Bass two young enslaved boys named John & Bob. There’s a preponderance of evidence that this “Bob” was in fact our “Big Bob.” He was about 8 years old at that time. Genealogy research and DNA technology have unearthed that John was indeed Big Bob’s brother, and Frances had sold him to her brother, Jordan Bass, who took him to Gonzales County, Texas. Uncle John took the Bass surname after slavery.

In the mid 1830’s, Frances Bass married William W. Eley, also known as Billy Eley, from Franklin County, North Carolina. During that time, a woman’s inheritance became the legal property of her husband. Therefore, Big Bob then became the “property” of Billy Eley when he married Frances. Shortly after their marriage, Billy & Frances Eley moved to Mississippi around 1835 with her brothers, Isaac, Gideon, Edwin, & Council Bass, and her older sister, Elizabeth, who settled in Hinds County. They transported the enslaved people they inherited from their father Jesse Bass with them from North Carolina. Some of those enslaved people, who became Basses after the Civil War, were probably related to Big Bob. However, Billy & Frances Eley chose to settle in southern Leake County and thus Big Bob was brought to Leake County.

The white Eleys were not a wealthy family, and they operated a small farm near Lena. On that small farm, Big Bob had a specific task, according to family lore. Oral history disclosed that Billy Eley used Big Bob as a breeder because he was big and strong. Big Bob was housed alone in an one-room log house for the purpose of reproducing children by other enslaved women. Family lore disclosed that he fathered over 50 children; however, he never laid his eyes on many of those children.

Despite the inhumane task he was forced to perform, Big Bob’s heart was a young girl named Jane, who was enslaved on the nearby Parrott farm owned by William Parrott, a neighbor to Billy Eley. In about 1845, Big Bob was allowed to marry, and he “jumped the broom” with Jane Parrott. During slavery, marriages between slaves on different and nearby farms and plantations were common. Big Bob was allowed to visit with Jane, likely on the weekends. However, because the Parrott farm was adjacent to the Eley farm, he likely made secret visits at night to spend time with his beautiful wife, who bore him a number of children.

Grandma Jane had been born into slavery around 1829 on William Parrott’s farm in Lunenburg County, Virginia. During that time, William Parrott and his wife Betsy Johnson lived on a 300-acre farm near Lunenburg, Virginia. Based on census records, William Parrott moved to Leake County shortly before 1840 with around ten slaves. Those enslaved people included Grandma Jane, and her mother Minvera, several siblings, and possibly her father as well. They all were transported to Mississippi in wagons, but there is evidence that William Parrott may have stopped in Georgia and stayed there for awhile before making Leake County his final destination. Family lore places our presence in the Macon, Georgia area at one time. William Parrott had a number of family members who migrated to Georgia.

II. The First Generation: The children of Big Bob Ealy

Big Bob Ealy had a number of children. Most of them (1 to 12) were born to his wife Jane on the Parrott farm. The following seventeen children were found in the Leake & Scott County census records:

1 – John Ealy
2 – Adeline Ealy Robertson-Devlin Orman
3 – Annie Ealy Beamon
4 – Andrew (Andy) Ealy
5 – Robert (Bob) Ealy
6 – Paul Ealy
7 – Augustus (Gus) Ealy
8 – Haywood Ealy
9 – Will Ealy
10 – Martha Ealy Kennedy
11 – Penny Ealy Ragsdale
12 – Nicholson (or Nicholas) “Boot” Ealy

Additional children of Robert “Big Bob” Ealy:

13 – Nathan Stiles
14 – Mary (Sis) Ealy York
15 – Tempa Ealy Allen
16 – Emaline Ealy Kidd Gordon
17 – Ephraim Ealy

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which was to free enslaved African Americans in the South on January 1, 1863. However, most enslaved African Americans did not become free until the Civil War ended in 1865. Slavery was officially abolished on December 18, 1865. During that year, Big Bob, Jane, and their children became free people and were able to live together as a family. They lived in southern Leake County, near Lena, Mississippi. Big Bob became a landowner and farmer after the Civil War. According to the 1870 Leake County Census, Big Bob’s real estate property was valued at $550. He died after 1900 at an old age. In the 1900 Scott County census, he was found living with his daughter, Adeline Orman, who was taking care of him.

III. The Second and Third Generations (Grandchildren of Big Bob)

Robert “Big Bob” Ealy’s Children with Jane Parrott Ealy

Spouse: Charity Beamon
Born: c. 1846 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: before 1910 in Leake County, Mississippi

Children of John:
William M. Ealy (1867-1965)
Van Ealy (1868)
John Nelson Ealy (1869)
Andy “A.W.” Ealy (1871-1937)
Sylvester (Bill) Ealy (1874)
Lucretia Ealy Ross (1876-1939)
Velay Ealy (1878)
Haywood Ealy (1880)
Dock Ealy (1881)
Fisher Ealy (1883)
Leamon (Alex) Ealy (1884)
Lawyer Ealy (1886)

Spouses: John W. Robinson-Devlin & Reuben Orman
Born: c. 1848 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: after 1900, Midway, Scott County, Mississippi

Children of Adeline:
Mary Jane Devlin Kennedy (1867)
John Devlin (1868)
Jennie Devlin (1870)
Helen “Martha” Devlin Ferrell (1871-1909)
Bettie Devlin Beamon (1872)
Sallie Devlin Johnson (1875)
Eliza Robinson Burks (1879-1954)
Addie Robinson Gray (1880)

Spouse: Moses Beamon (married 1/20/1874)
Born: 1852 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: 1909, Midway, Scott County, Mississippi

Children of Annie:
Mary Ealy Nichols (1872-1899)
Lula Beamon Ferrell Roberts (1875)
William E. Beamon (1877)
Hassie Beamon (1880)
Jessie Beamon Butler (1883-1959)
Walter Beamon (1885)
Cora Beamon (1887)
Dora Beamon (1887)
Martha Beamon Sanders (1889-1976)
Arthur Beamon (1892-1971)
Sylvester Beamon (1893-1973)
Elizabeth Beamon (1895)
Pearlie Mae Beamon Simmons (1901)

Spouse: Ida Rowan (married 9/28/1876)
Born: c. 1853 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: before 1900, Midway, Scott County, Mississippi

Children of Andrew:
Maggie Ealy (1877)
Beulah Ealy Hopkins (1879)
Mary Ealy (1884)
Emma Ealy (1888)
Anna Ealy (1890)
(Andy’s widow and children moved to Memphis, Tennessee shortly before 1900.)

Spouse: Martha “Mattie” Kennedy (married 12/21/1876)
Born: 1855 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: 1939 in Leake County, Mississippi

Children of Bob:
John Ealy (1877)
Lovie Ealy Moten Westmoreland (1877-1984)
Jane Ealy (1879)
Lucy Ealy Ammons Lindsey (1880-1971)
Bobbie Ann Ealy Morgan (1881-1969)
Billie Ealy (1886)
Willie (Will) “Tee” Ealy (1888-1950)
Jessie Albert Ealy (1890-1974)
Theodius Ealy (1891)
Rev. Floyd Ealy

Spouse: Adaline Kennedy (married 7/07/1879)
Adaline was the sister of Mattie Kennedy (Bob’s wife) and Albert Kennedy (Martha’s husband)
Born: 1859 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: 1943 in Leake County, Mississippi

Children of Paul:
Aldora Ealy (1880) (died at a young age)
Elijah “Bung” Ealy (1881-1987)
Annie J. Ealy Ragsdale Nichols (1884-1970)
Alice Ealy McClendon (1885-1962)
App Ealy (1890-1966)
Albert Ealy (1892-1918)
Mack Ealy (1893-1972)
Florence Ealy Jones (1896-1970)
Viney Ealy Sparkman (1899-1958)
Willie Ealy Collier (1904-1990)

Spouses: Emma Moorman & Mary Edmonds
Born: 1861 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: 1913, Flora, Madison County, Mississippi

Children of Gus:
Joe Howard Ealy (1882-1965)
James (Gene) Ealy (1884)
Kate Ealy (1886)
Fonzy Ealy (1892-1976)
Genora Ealy (1901)
Elijah (Dunk) Ealy (1906-1996)
Claude Ealy (1909-1981)

Spouses: Victoria Ragsdale & Elizabeth Chambers
Born: 1862 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: After 1930, Flora, Madison County, Mississippi

Children of Haywood:
George (Skin) Ealy (1892-1978)
Lula Chambers Denson Pearson (1897-2002)
Willie Mae Chambers Denson (1900-1954)
Noble Ealy (1905-1989)
Paul Lee Ealy (1907-1979)
Guy Ealy (1910-1994)

Spouse: Rose Evers (married 3/06/1885)
Born: 1863 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: Before 1910, Tuscola, Leake County, Mississippi

Children of Will:
Rufus Gale (1880)
Mary (Crick) Kennedy Sparkman (1888-1971)
John Edmond (1892-1991)
Gus Kennedy (1894-1979)

Spouse: Albert Kennedy (married 12/28/1881)
Albert was the brother of Adaline Kennedy Ealy and Mattie Kennedy Ealy.
Born: 1865 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: 1895, Leake County, Mississippi

Children of Martha:
Dora Kennedy Luckett (1882-1940)
Will Kennedy (1884-1977)
Robert “Rob” Kennedy (1885-1977)
Hulen “Newt” Kennedy (1888-1970)
Wilson Kennedy (1891-1988)

Spouse: Branch Ragsdale (married 1/14/1884)
Born: 1868 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: Around 1885 in Leake County, Mississippi

Child of Penny:
Hattie Ragsdale Morgan (1885-1913)

Spouses: Annie Jackson and Almedia Atkinson
Born: c. 1871 in Lena, Leake County, Mississippi
Died: After 1930, Brownsville, Hinds County, Mississippi

Children of Nicholson:
Ephraim Eley (1894-1956)
Ada Ealy Ward (1896-1980)
Willie Ealy (1898)
John Earl Ealy (1900)
Van Ealy (1904-1945)
Leroy Ealy (1905-1970)
Edmond Eley (1906-1965)
Queen Isabel Ealy Richmond (1906)
Robert Ealy (1907)
Tommy Ealy (1909)
Roberta Ealy (1910)

Additional Children of Robert “Big Bob” Ealy

Spouses: Mary York and Alice Horn
Born: Aug. 1838 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: after 1900, Leake County, Missisippi
Note: Oral history and DNA indicate that he was the son of Big Bob.
Nathan’s mother, Hester Stiles, was enslaved on William Eley’s small farm with him.

Children of Nathan:
Wright Stiles (1863)
Jane Stiles (1864)
Nathan Stiles (1867)
Fannie Stiles (1870)
Martha Stiles (1874)
John Ealy Stiles (1876)
Henry (Stinson) Stiles (1878)
Hester Stiles (1880)

Spouse: Jordan York
Born: 1840 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: After 1900, Leake County, Mississippi

Children of Sis:
John York (1858)
Ann York Parrott (1860-1899)
Abner “Abb” York (1862-1944)
Aaron York (1865)
Eliza Jane York White (1866-1952)
Jordan York (1869)
Mary “Molly” York Gilbert (1870-1910)
Hiram York (1872)
Lacey York (1874)
Lula York Perry (1876)
Ira York (1877)
Ned York (1878)
Sophronia York Ross (1882)

Spouse: Stephen Allen
Born: c. 1850
Died: after 1900 in Scott County, Mississippi

Children of Tempa:
Mollie Allen Owens (1869)
Allan Allen (1870-1912)
Eli Allen (1874)
Mariah Allen Ealy (1877-1919)
Edward Allen (1877-1930)
Sarah Allen (1879)
Garfield Allen (1884)
Allie Allen Shephard (1885)
Frances Allen Black (1889)

Spouse: Isham Kidd (married 9/11/1873) and Caesar Gordon (married 12/11/1884)
Born: 1855 in Leake County, Mississippi
Died: Before 1910, Flora, Madison County, Mississippi
Note: Emaline’s mother was Ruthie Harris.

Children of Emaline:
Annie Kidd Robinson (1876)
Mollie Kidd (1879)
John Kidd (1881)
Irene Gordon (1885)
Ruthie Gordon White (1888-1970)
Mathis Gordon (1891)
Hattie Gordon (1893)
Jessie Gordon (1895)
Ben Gordon (1897)