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Rosa Gregory


Rosa (Big Mama)  Gregory


Big Mama was born in May 1865, in Mecklenburg County, VA to Henry and Harriet Gregory (same last names due to same slave owner). She had nine brothers, Williams, Reuben, Albert, Roger, Samuel, Thomas and Richard.  She also had four sisters, Amanda, Margaret, Laura(?) and Louvenia.



The Gregory's 

The Gregory family was a family of white slave owners who were known to mix with their slaves. In reviewing the 1850 & 1870 census in Mecklenburg Country you will see a Gregory household list consisting of white, black and mulatto individuals. An example of this would be a male white head of house a black house girl and several mulatto children listed as being in the home.




Film 1663 District Buckhorn Township VA 1870


PAGE     LN DWL FAM#   LAST NAME        FIRST NAME       AGE        SEX       CLR   PROFESSION  


300         35 442     352          Gregory                 Henry                     50            M            B             Farm Hand             VA

300         36 442     352          Gregory                  Harriet                    40            F              M            Keeps house         VA

300         37 442     352          Gregory                  Laura                      50            F              B             At Home                VA

300         38442      352          Gregory                 Margaret                10            F              B             At Home                VA 

300         39 442     352          Gregory                  Samuel                   8              M            B             At Home                VA

300         40 442     352          Gregory                  Thomas                  6              M            B             At Home                VA

300b      1 442     352        Gregory                  Rose                       5              F              B             At Home                VA

300b        2 442     352          Gregory                  Richard                  3              M            B             At Home                VA

300b         3 442     352          Gregory                  Lavinia                   10/12       F              B             At Home VA 10mnts/b.Oct


Big Mama is listed as Rose in the census. This is possibly a nick name for Rosa or it may have been spelled incorrectly by the census taker. I believe this is also the case with 10 month old Lavinia (Louvenia).  


I am stumped by Laura. In the census Laura is listed as a 50yr. old black female who works at home not as Rosa’s sister. There are several possible scenarios here. (1.) Laura is the sibling (possible twin or 10months apart) of Henry Gregory also age 50. (2.) Laura (listed as Black) is the sibling of Harriet Gregory (listed as Mulatto) and/or (3.)Laura the supposed child of Henry and Harriet Gregory (who was more then likely named for her aunt Laura) was not born at the time of the 1870 census.




?304      31 507   413     Gregory         William                 26           M         B        Farm Hand       VA                     

304        32 507    413     Jones             Nelson                 21           M        B         Farm Hand     




?462b   17   428   352      Gregory          Amanda                25          F      B   Farm Hand              VA                           

462b     18   428   352      Gregory          Benjamin                6           M     B                                       VA

462b     19   428   352      Gregory          Field                        4           M    B                                       VA

462b     20   428   352      Gregory          Sallie                       2            F     B                                        VA


I believe I located both Williams and Amanda in the 1870 census. This would make Harriet Gregory 14 and 15 at the time of their birth.  It appears that Williams (Fam# 413) was a Farm hand in Buckhorn. Amanda (Fam#352) appears to have been a farm hand as well but in the South Hill district. She also appears to have 3 children. No husband is listed in her household. (The last paragraph I wrote about the Valentine women may apply to Amanda as well “The generations Of Valentines born from 1800-1830 don’t have clear parentage. It appears that many or most of these were children of free woman of color. Whether the fathers were white men or enslaved African Americans or free men of color is not clear. Probably some of all three apply. Virginia law prohibited free woman of color from legally marrying either white men or enslaved Black men.”)




461b  13   409      336   Montgomery      Samuel A.      26          M           W          Merchant           VA                                           

461b  14   409      336   Wilson               George           21          M           B           Farm Hand        VA                           

461b  15   409         336   Gregory             Reuben           21               M            B             Farm Hand      VA


Rueben (family # 336) who was 21 appears to have found work in South Hill, VA. Where he was living with and working as a farm hand for a Merchant named Samuel Montgomery. 





 290     1   236        185     Gregory             Albert               20        M       M    Farm Hand           VA                   

 290     2   236        185     Gregory             Martha              25        F        M    Keeps house         VA                 

 290     3   236        185     Gregory             Bettie                4          F        M    At Home               VA

 290     4   236        185     Gregory             Malissa             5/12     F        M    At Home  (5 mnths/b. in March)

 290     5   236        185     Sally                  Bettie                22        F        B    At Home                 VA                     

 290     6   236        185     Sally                  Levana              65        F        B    At Home                                  


Albert who was 20 had established his own household (family # 185) remained in Buckhorn with his wife, children and possibly his wife’s mother and sister.


I am still trying to locate Roger in the 1870 census.  



The Gregory Surname

Gregory is the surname assumed by some members of Clan MacGregor of Scotland upon being proscibed (condemned, banished or outlawed). Gregory means watchful.


A Richard Gregory landed in the Virginia Colony of Flowerdieu Hundred Plantation from the ship Temperance. The ship had come to Virginia by way of Canada and brought to the Virginia Colony the first bews of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was 37 years old in 1620, when he landed. (From: Media Research Bureau, Washington, D.C.)


Several other Gregory's landed prior to 1700, as noted on the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. An Isaac Gregory landed in Virginia in 1654-1663 from Barbados. Considering that he was the only Gregory amoung the new arrivals, he may have been the first "off the boat". This is  because of the habit of the Clan to pass along the same name from generation to generation.


There was a Richard Gregory in King and Queen County, Virginia before 1727 who had sons Roger, Richard and West, and several daughters.


There was a Roger Gregory in Virginia before 1729 who was the father of Roger, who was the father of Richard, Roger, Nathaniel, Thomas and William.


There was an Isaac of Pittsylvania County, Virginia before 1750, who was the father of William, Tunstall, John and Isaac. (From: Media Research Bureau, Washington, D.C.)


A tale among the Gregory family descendants that may or may not be fact, but of interest:


The story is that the Gregory's are related to the husband of the aunt and godmother of George Washington. He was Roger Gregory, husband of Mildred Washington. George Washington's father, Augustine Washington, acquired the tract of land that his sister, Mildred Washington Gregory, owned in 1726 known as the Hunting Creek Plantation. This plantation became known as Mount Vernon in 1743.


The Gregory's started out in Lunenburg County, Virginia (later Mecklenburg County), but some years later spread out to  South Carolina, Alabama and Texas. But they all originated from Virginia. I am of the belief that we are descendents of the slaves (and possible offsprings of slave/owner relationships in some cases) owned by Joseph Gregory Senr b:(abt.) 1842. His son is John Gregory b: 12/13/1765 d: 9/19/1836, Lunenburg Co., VA, buried Woodburn, Lunenburg. In John Gregory's Will he leave various slaves to his children as well as leaving 5 to a son-in-law who was once married to his (John) deceased daughter.



The 1860 U.S. Census was the last U.S. census showing slaves and slaveholders. Slaves were enumerated in 1860 without giving their names, only their sex and age and indication of any handicaps, such as deaf or blind Slaves 100 years of age or older were supposed to be named on the 1860 slave schedule, but there were only 1,570 slaves of such age enumerated, out of a total of 3,950,546 slaves, and the transcriber, though not specifically looking for such named slaves, did not notice any such information while doing the transcription. Freed slaves, if listed in the next census, in 1870, would have been reported with their full name, including surname. Some of these former slaves may have been using the surname of their 1860 slaveholder at the time of the 1870 census and they may have still been living in the same State or County. Before presuming an African American was a slave on the 1860 census, the free census for 1860 should be checked, as almost 11% of African Americans were enumerated as free in 1860, with about half of those living in the southern States. Estimates of the number of former slaves, who used the surname of a former owner in 1870, vary widely and from region to region. If an African American ancestor with one of these surnames is found on the 1870 census, then making the link to finding that ancestor as a slave requires advanced research techniques involving all obtainable records of the holder.




According to U.S. Census data, the 1860 Mecklenburg County population included 6,778 whites, 898 “free colored” and 12,420 slaves. By the 1870 census, the white population had increased just under 6% to 7,162, while the “colored” population had increased just over 6 % to 14,156. (As a side note, by 1960, 100 years later, the County was listed as having 16,717 whites, about a two and a half times increase, while the 1960 total of 14,703 “Negroes”was only about 10% more than what the colored population had been 100 years before.) In comparing census data for different years, the transcriber was not aware of any relevant changes to County boundaries.

Where did the freed slaves go if they did not stay in the same County? Between 1860 and 1870, the Virginia colored population declined by about 36,000, to approximately 513,000, a 6.5% decrease. Two Virginia Counties that showed a significant increase in colored population between 1860 and 1870 were Henrico, with an increase of over 7,000, and Norfolk, with an increase of over 10,000. States that saw significant increases in colored population during that time, and were therefore possible places of relocation for colored persons from Mecklenburg County, included the following: Georgia, up 80,000 (17%); Texas, up 70,000 (38%); Alabama, up 37,000 (8%); Florida, up 29,000 (46%); North Carolina, up 38,000 (8%); Ohio, up 26,000 (70%); Indiana, up 25,000 (127%); and Kansas up from 265 to 17,000 (6,400%).


Compiled and Published by: Kelley Hooker
(Daughter of Eola Valentine-Foreman, Granddaughter of Willie George Valentine
& Great-Granddaughter of John and Rosa Valentine)