Joseph Mumford

Pictures Courtesy of Beverly McKinney (Homer Cross Granddaughter), Lillian Mumford, and Marguerite Berry-Jackson


Pictured above is the first Joseph Dorsey Mumford with his five children: Charles, James, Mary, Joseph, and William. This picture was taken in about 1882-1883 when Joseph was raising the children on his own in the Shelbyville, Kentucky area. Joseph was born in Marlboro County, South Carolina in 1841. He left South Carolina after South Carolina seceded from the Union to lead the South in the War of the Rebellion. He fought in that war after volunteering for duty in the Union Army in 1864 from Ohio. He met and married his wife, Addie Dickinson in 1871 in Shelbyville, Kentucky where both of them were teachers in a Freedman school . He is buried in the Morgan West Wheatland Cemetery in Mecosta County where his daughter, Mary Mumford Cross, and his son, the second Joseph Dorsey Mumford, and their spouses and descendants are buried. 

(Submitted by Daryl Mumford)



The first Joseph Dorsey Mumford was born in 1841 into the home of his father, James E Mumford and his wife, Mary, located near Blenheim, Marlborough, South Carolina.


Joseph Dorsey Mumford was born in 1841 into the home of his father, James E Mumford and his wife, Mary Mumford. The home was located on Johns Road just West and slightly North of the City of Blenheim, Marlboro County, South Carolina. James and Mary Mumford were prosperous, land owning free persons of color. According to the 1820 U.S. census they were Mulatto. According to the 1830 U.S. census they were free white persons. It may be that they were living in an area settled by mixed race persons who were identifying as a group and who supported each other financially and socially ( see discussions about Melungeons or Brass Ankles). In any event James E Mumford became a land owner with the help of those around him. The 1850 census reveals that his wife, Mary,  is no longer with the family and James has ten (10) children in the home: Mary 28, Francis 26, James 23, Anna, 21, Lucy 15, Elizabeth 15, Caroline 13, William11, Joseph 10 and Betsy 8. There are then three boys and seven girls. Joseph Mumford is the youngest of three boys. There are seven girls in the house.

James  E Mumford had been born in 1798 in the County immediately west of Marlboro County, Chesterfield County. Both of those counties had previously been part of a larger area known as the Cheraw. In 1816, only eighteen years following his birth James E Mumford purchased his first plot of land on a form of credit. The land was purchase in 1816 but he did not receive and record the deed to it until 1823 some 5 years later. The first purchase was 68 acres for which he paid $136 Dollars. It was this ability to buy land on credit which causes the conclusion that this group of folks were supportive of each other financially. The second purchase of land  was for 229 acres in 1838 for $100.


When Joseph D  Mumford was born then in 1841 he grew up on an estate with 297 acres and a working farm/plantation (?). The land was split by the Johns Road on which they lived so that they owned the land on both sides of that road. The Johns Road is reached off of the Gravel Pit Road which itself runs into Blenheim. The village of Blenheim is famous for its’ mineral springs. Again, it is remarkable that this community allowed an 18 year old kid the opportunity  to successfully develop this family and this farm. It is also remarkable that James E Mumford was, at the age of 18, willing to undertake the risks of buying a farm on credit.


When the Civil War began in December of 1860 with the secession of South Carolina from the United States by the issuance of a Declaration of its’ own independence Joseph D Mumford was 19 years old. His oldest brother James was 33 and the middle boy, William, was 21. South Carolina’s justification for its’ secession was that the North was not supportive of slavery and would not return to its’ slave owning citizens the runaway slaves who made it to the North. Just as we all learned in school, this war broke this family in two. Both James and William joined the Confederate Army almost immediately. In fact, James was killed by sniper fire at Petersburg just a few months after the Battle of the Crater. Brother William survived the war. Joseph D Mumford made  a different choice.


The Confederacy issued the first conscription laws in April, 1862. Joseph D Mumford was then 21 years of ager. Rather than serve the Confederacy in its’ fight to maintain slavery, Joseph left everything he knew and loved behind. He left his father, his siblings, his baby sister, his farm and the grave site of his mother probably knowing that he would never return. He traveled North through a war torn countryside to resist the draft in 1862 or 1863. He ended up in Oberlin, Ohio. Oberlin College was an institution of higher learning which was, at that time, admitting students of color. It has been thought that Joseph D. Mumford was a graduate of Oberlin College but that is not clear. What is clear is that when Joseph D Mumford joined the Union Army in January 1864 he listed himself as a student. Joseph served in the Union Army until the end of the war when he mustered out in July of 1865 in Ohio. So far as I know he never returned to see any member of his family or the place where he was born again.


After the end of the war and his release from the Union Army, Joseph received some teacher training and became a teacher in the Freedman School located in Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky. The country now had to deal with the consequences of its’ complete prohibition against slaves education. The freed slaves were in need of education to function in society and the first attempt at providing that education was the funding of Freedman schools. He may have earlier met Adaline Dickinson in Oberlin, Ohio but, in any event, he knew her in Shelbyville, Kentucky because she too was a teacher in that school. They married in Adaline’s home town on September 30, 1871 in Decatur, Washington County, Ohio. At the time of the marriage Joseph was 30 years old while she was only 26 having been born in 1845 in Virginia.


Adaline aka Addie or Ada Dickinson was the daughter of Henry Thomas Dickinson (born in 1817 in Virginia) and Mary aka Martha Patsy Fletcher Dickinson, (born January 12, 1821 in Virginia). The 1860 federal census shows H.T. Dickinson and Mary Dickinson living in Decatur in Washington County, Ohio. There are 9 children in the home. Ann or Anna ages 16 born in 1844,Adaline aged 15 born in 1845, Henry aged 14 born in 14 born in 1846, Martha aged 11 born in 1849, Thomas aged 8 born in 1852, Fanny aged7 born in 1853, Dilse aka Adelia aged 5 born in 1855, James aged 2 born 1858, and Amanda aged 1 born in 1859. This 1860 census was taken in June of that year just before the December start of the Civil War. The Dickinson family is listed as Mulatto and living on an owned  farm valued at $2700 and with personal property worth $400. The first five of the Dickinsom children were born in Virginia while the last four were born in Ohio. The move to Ohio occurred then in 1853 just before the birth of Dilse. All of the children old enough to attend school did attend school according to the census.


Henry Thomas Dickinson and wife, Mary, are buried in the Old Decatur Chapel cemetery in Decatur, Ohio. Henry died at age 50 on November 13, 1867. Mary predeceased him at age 43 on March 23rd, 1865. While there are 9 other Dickinsons buried in that same cemetery none of those others appear to be their direct children. No date of death or place of burial has been found for their daughter Adaline. When Joseph Mumford and Adaline Dickinson married in Decatur, Ohio in 1871 neither of her parents were still alive there but surely family was still there given the family farm was there. Joseph and Adaline made their home in Shelbyville, Kentucky just South of Decatur, Ohio.


The 1880 federal census shows Joseph and Adaline living in Shelbyville, Ky where Joseph is now making his living as a painter while Adaline is still teaching. They have their five children with them: Charles, James, Mary, Joseph Dorsey Mumford II and William. Note that the names James, Mary, Joseph and William are names from the South Carolina family he left behind. The picture at the top of the page was taken sometime after the 1880 census because William who is listed as being 3 months old at the time of the census is sitting up on his father’s lap. The thing of note is that Adaline is not pictured. Were she alive she would doubtless have been in this non-candid photo. The family is well dressed, well mannered and somewhat somber. Perhaps Adaline died in childbirth.


It was the move of Joseph Mumford’s middle child, Mary, to Michigan which makes the Mumford family part of the Old Settlers.  Mary married Amos Cross on March 7, 1895. She would have been about 19 years old. Amos and Mary established a family in the Remus, Michigan (then known as Wheatfield) . Mary and Amos Cross had six children: Homer, Arthur, Anna, Joseph Roscoe , Clifford and Evelyn. She was later followed to Michigan by younger brother Joseph D  Mumford II and by William the baby of the family. It was to Mary Cross’s home that the first Joseph D Mumford came to live his final days. For more on the cross family see the Thomas Cross of the Old Settlers book entitled, A Nation within Itself pages 20 and on.


The children of Joseph D  Mumford and Adaline Dickinson did not all end up in Michigan. It is believed that James stayed in the Shelbyville Kentucky area. Charles left for Oregon (Charles cousin, Henry Norman, pictured with him below also went to Oregon and never came back) and made his living there as a railroad porter. He is not thought to have left a family there. He married for the first time on June 26th, 1918 at the age of 44 to Ada (no kidding) Sumerile. The marriage took place in Clarke County, Washington but they made their home in Portland, Oregon.


The three children who did come to Michigan and stayed were Mary (discussed above), Joseph D Mumford II and William. Joseph married Lula Lett and had five children: Bernice, Alta (Haig), Stella, Basil and Wayne. Lula Lett is a descendant of an African American of some note. Her lineage traces  back to Mary Walsh, an indentured servant from England,  and her husband Ba Na Ka (an African prince first purchased by her after she gained her freedom then freed by her then married by her). That union gave birth to Jemima Benneker and Benjamin Benneker. Benjamin Beneker was a surveyor and almanac writer in the early years of our country. Benjamin Benneker also corresponded with Thomas Jefferson about the notion that the phrase”all men are created equal” needs must include all men.


Meanwhile, back in South Carolina, James E Mumford had passed away leaving behind a substantial estate. Two of his male sons had predeceased him in that James was killed at Petersberg in the war and Joseph had become dead to him when he went North instead of fighting for the South. His estate was left to William and his daughters. His Last Will and Testament fails to even mention his youngest male child, Joseph Dorsey Mumford. Joseph D Mumford is buried in the Morgan Cemetery just West of Remus, Michigan. Recently a military provided headstone was placed there for him. He rests with three of his five children and their families. Mary Mumford Cross is there with her family. Joseph D Mumford II is there with his family. William Mumford is there as well. Joseph D Mumford did what was right in life and deserves to have that new stone. He abandoned his home rather than fight for slavery.  He stayed and raised his family after the passing of his wife when some of the children were mere infants.






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