We begin their tale in the middle by focusing on a most unusual circumstance. Recorded in the Atchison county Missouri marriage book A, pg 109, in an identical fashion to all white newlyweds, we see “at the home of Alfred Kime, . . . Elijah, a black servant belonging to Alfred* Graves . . . and Mariah, a black servant belonging to Alfred Kime . . . were by me joined together with their mutual consent in the bonds of wedlock.” This was on 6 September 1857, by Samuel T Page, an elder of the Christian Church at Madison Creek. Alfred Kime and Caroline Kime signed as witnesses.

Very few marriages of slaves were recognized in this manner. It was so uncommon, that after the end of the civil war, when Missouri passed a law to recognize all slave marriages, Elijah & Mariah participated in that process, and so their children were also listed; Dixie, Ellin, George D, Mary Ann, & Sharlotty. That document is the only place I’ve found Dixie.

In another less common action, Elijah Graves became part owner of a parcel of land in February 1869, of land that was less than 2 miles from the farm where he and Mariah had married. It was there we find Elijah, Maria with children Ellen, George, Mary, & Charlotte Graves in the 1870 census for Tarkio township, Atchison county, Missouri. (The other owner was Donald T Seigel, and Andy Seigel, a mulatto, was farming next to them. I haven’t found a connection as yet.)  But after three farming seasons, they sold the land in October of 1871.  We might guess they moved at that time. The family is NOT in the 1876 Atchison county state census, and the Nodaway county census isn’t digitized, and in fact appears to no longer exist.

By the 1880 census, Elijah, Maria, George D, Mary A, & Charlotte Graves are living in the town of Marysville, Nodaway county, Missouri. Elijah was working as a laborer, but both Mary  & Charlotte had been attending school. Ellen has left the household as well.

But then the trail runs cold. Where did they go?  Other former slaves from Atchison county moved north into Fremont county Iowa, or even further north in Iowa, or crossed over to Nebraska City. Some moved south to St. Joseph or Kansas City.  But with a 20 year gap between the 1880 and the 1900 census, the chances are high their family had marriages and births and deaths, and searching has been thus far fruitless.

So perhaps we need to look farther backward, at their slaveholders.  In 1860, Mariah & Elijah, while legally married, were owned by different people. Aaron Graves and Alfred Kime lived close enough to each other in Tarkio township, Atchison county, Missouri that in the 1860 census, they were enumerated right after each other. Their slaves were also listed one right after the other in the 1860 Atchison county Slave Schedule. AS Graves had four slaves, including a mulatto male age 25, that matches up with the 1870 & 1880 Elijah. Alfred had only one slave, a black female age 25, that corresponds to Mariah. Neither slaveholder listed any young children, which makes us wonder when Dixie was born. Based on the normal spacing of a marriage & childbirth, I’d expect her to have been born about 1858. But there is no evidence of Dixie on the slave schedule. (I assume the Slave Remarriage document listed the kids in age order, oldest to youngest – that holds true for the rest of the kids.)

Jeremiah Farmer inventory

Mariah’s ownership is fairly clear. The wife of Alfred Kime was Caroline Farmer before her marriage. When her father, Jeremiah Farmer died in 1855, his will specified that Caroline Kime and her two brothers would each get an equal share of the estate, for the other siblings had already been given the bulk of their share. (Jeremiah is very helpful is naming nearly everyone of his heirs, even if he only gives them a small amount.) While we don’t have any sale or record of division of the estate that includes slaves, Jeremiah’s inventory had “a black girl named Mariah, and a black boy named Jesse.”  Those are surely the same as the 1850 Atchison county Slave Schedule, where Jeremiah had just two slaves, an 18 yo female, and a 15 yo male. His family was living near various relatives and in-laws in Atchison county. In 1840, it appears Jeremiah was on the Platte county Misssouri census, and was NOT a slave owner at that time. I haven’t found any wills or other records that would detail how Jeremiah acquired Mariah & Jesse.

Mariah stated in 1870 that she had been born in Missouri, but in 1880 said she had been born in Kentucky.

Elijah’s path to Atchison county is not completely clear. His owner, Aaron S Graves, lived in Marion county, Kentucky, as recorded in the 1850 census and owned 3 slaves in the 1850 Marion county KY Slave Schedule. My best guess is that at least the two youngest slaves, Elijah and unidentified female are in both the 1850 & 1860 census schedules as property of Aaron Graves, but the age is off one way or the other.  (The persons in the 1850 slave schedule BOTH have a birth date that would have aged only 4 years in the 10 between the enumerations.) I strongly suspect that the reported ages in the 1850 were not accurate, because it is a known problem (even today) of young people of African-American descent being thought older than they were. While Aaron could have bought & sold slaves, as a small slaveholder, and having a young family, it seems less likely he had the money to do that. But it is possible. One of the most common routes to slave ownership for small farmers was inheritance. Aaron’s father-in-law, John Montgomery died in Kentucky and his slaves were sold 1 January 1850 – however none were purchased by Aaron Graves. Aaron’s father James Graves lived until 1865, and also moved from Kentucky to Missouri, along with multiple other family members. Many went to Nodaway county, where we see James & his son Richard listed as owners of 12 slaves in 1860.  There is a high likelihood that Elijah was related to some of the slaves of his owner’s father, brothers, & uncles, which may explain why Elijah moved his family to Maryville, in Nodaway county between 1871 & 1880.

Although we are not positive about Elijah’s whereabouts in 1850, what IS certain, however, is that Elijah reported in 1870 & 1880 that he was born in Kentucky.

This family of former slaves remained in Atchison county longer than either of their slaveholders. By 1865, Alfred & Caroline Kime had moved to Nebraska City, but couldn’t have taken Mariah along to a free state. Alfred Kime remained in eastern Nebraska for the rest of his life, where both Caroline & Alfred are buried. By 1870, Aaron Graves family moved to Saline county, Missouri, and then to Bosque county, Texas, where they are found in 1880.

I would love to hear from anyone who recognizes this family group.

Elijah Graves – b 1835 Kentucky & Mariah Kime – b 1832 Kentucky or Missouri

Married 6 September 1857, Tarkio township, Atchison county, Missouri

Dixie Graves – b Atchison county, MO
Ellen Graves – b 1860, Atchison county, MO
George D Graves – b 1862, Atchison county, MO
Mary Ann Graves – b 1864, Atchison county, MO
Charlotte Graves – b 1866, Atchison county, MO

*(by every other record available, the name of Elijah’s owner was Aaron Graves – I’m guessing the marriage celebrant or the clerk made an error.)