Thursday, February 28, 2019

Childhood Sweethearts

It was in his early childhood that he met little Louvenia Ann Lewis, the youngest of five sisters, and at that time they pledged themselves to each other. When they grew up they married...

If it were not set within the contextual background of the era of slavery in the deep south, King Stockton's explanation of how he and his future wife got together might have sounded sugar-coated. The thought of childhood sweethearts makes everyone just go, "Awwwww..."

Life in the south was not quite as straightforward for the enslaved as it was for other lovers. As the National Archive's Prologue magazine noted, "Slave marriages had neither legal standing nor protection from the abuses and restrictions imposed on them by slaveowners."  A quick check of other publications through the last three decades—everywhere from academic articles to pop virtual magazines to letters to the editor of The New York Times—mirrors that constraint.

It was clear that King and Louvenia formalized their marriage bond in 1866. It was also obvious that, by the time of the 1870 census, theirs was a robust family including offspring well over the age of four. The 1866 date was a formality symbolizing a relationship entered into long before the date of that county record.

Building a tree for King Stockton and his childhood love—including the Stockton family's nine children mentioned in his biography—is a goal to achieve, and it will likely be completed with diligence and an eye to detail and proper documentation. But the real challenge in King Stockton's story will be to trace his line back past his parents to the previous generations, requiring a jump from his childhood home in Wellborn, Florida, to the location of his parents' enslavement.

Thankfully, the nexus is his mother and father. While King Stockton's father's name is mentioned in his biography, not much else is provided. However, enough is known about his mother—or at least shared in oral history passed down through my family—to better guide us in the search for her origin.

Sometimes, the goals in genealogy may seem too impossible to overcome—especially in the case of those once enslaved—and the quest seems hopeless. Still, if those who know slivers of that history could partner to piece together those disparate shards of the story, it might at some point enable those with no hope of knowing their past to actually catch a glimmer of that hidden story.

I'm hoping, with King Stockton's lineage, to at least chip away at those mystery generations for one little bit of the way.

Above: Marriage record of King Stockton and "Lovenia" from Suwannee County, Florida, on "July the 4th" in 1866; image courtesy


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, it was--though so many names from that century sound different to our ears. Added to that unusual name is the problem with spelling. In this document, her name was spelled (best I can see) as Lovenia, though I have also seen it as Louvenia, especially in the King Stockton book.


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