01 February 2016

Mystery Monday: Was John Still white or black?

John Still is my 3rd great uncle and – like his grandmother Margaret Still – is a bit of a mystery.

He was the first child of George David Still and Sarah Bing. He was born 3 October 1832 and died on 6 May 1910. He married Edith Jane Naylor in 1864. They had a daughter named Clara.

I have traced him through the Census records, Civil War records and newspaper articles but still cannot confirm - without a doubt that is - if he is white or black or mixed!

Allow me to back peddle a moment. Margaret Still, my 4th great grandmother and John's grandmother, fathered my George - yes John's father - out of wedlock. There are many speculations: a passing soldier, a patron at her father's tavern, a family member, a slave, etc. So, imagine my surprise when I found John's Death Certificate and it said "colored."

Was he really colored? He died at the old Embreeville State Hospital. Did the informant not even look? Was he simply darker than one would expect? Was he actually black? If he was black, why did all the census records indicate he was white?

Today's Mystery Monday will be reviewed again - in more depth - during this Black History Month.

Mystery Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.