The Ivey's

A House Divided

by Darrell Dexter


Joseph Ivy, a man in his 50s, and his wife Elizabeth, settled in the western part of Union County about 1825 from Franklin County, IL. Although Ivy was not the head of a household, he and his family probably are among the 13 "free persons of color" listed on the 1818 census in Franklin County as living with Major Locklier, recorded as a white man.
Major Locklier was from Bladen County, NC., where he owned land and was taxed as a "mulatto." In 1806 he was living in Robeson County, NC., from where he moved to Illinois. The Locklears were a part of the people known as "Lumbee Indians," of mixed African, white and Tuscarora Indian ancestry.
The Ivy family is thought to be descended from George Ivie of Norfolk County, VA., the son from whom he inherited 100 acres in 1689. Ivie petitioned the Virginia Assembly to reconsider passage of a law prohibiting racial intermarriage. By the mid 1700s, the Ivy family was in Robeson County, NC., and sometimes were counted as white on the census and at other times as "persons of color."
By 1820, Joseph Ivy was the head of his own household in Franklin County, IL, but was still living next to Locklier. Ivy moved his family to Union County about the same time as Beverly Brown and Arthur Allen, but there is no proof that the families were aquainted with each other prior to their settlement in Union County.
Like the Allen family, the Ivys never produced certificates of freedon nor were registered with the county clerk, as an 1819 law required. This seems to have caused no problems for them and they were accepted by many white settlers.
In 1831 the Union County commissioners awarded Joseph Ivy the contract to build a bridge across Running Lake near where he and his family lived. The bridge passed inspection in December 1834, and Ivy was paid $368. As they did for white settlers, the school commissioners loaned $50 with interest to Joseph Ivy, Jr. with his father Joseph Sr. and a white man Calvin J. Price as securities, to purchase 40 acres of land.
A small African-American community grew up around the Ivy settlement in Union County, located only two miles east of where Nathaniel Green had settled in 1805 with his slaves, and only a few miles from the home of pro-slavery senator, John Grammer. In 1835, there were 35 free African-Americans living there, most of them also having settled there from Franklin County, IL. By 1837, Joseph Ivy and his sons owned 400 acres and a small gristmill.
In November 1837, Joseph Ivy sold his farm in Union County and by 1840 he and all other African-Americans who lived near him had left Union County.


The Ivy family was involved in a number of court cases during their brief stay in Union County, Elijah was fined $3 in June 1831 for assault and battery. In November 1832, John Ivy and in June 1834, Amos Ivy, paid the same fine for assault and battery. In 1837, John Woolridge was fined for an assault "on the body of Polly Ivy" and Amos Ivy was again fined for assaulting a white man Ansel Walker.
The Ivy's problems with the law continued. On Nov. 4, 1835, Amos Ivy Jr. was indicted for larceny and Amos Ivy Sr. and Joseph Ivy Jr. were indicted, along with two white men, John Baker and Jeremiah Pate, for a "riot." Baker, Amos Ivy, Elijah Ivy, and John Ivy Sr. were also charged at the same time with "assault with intent to murder" John Grammer and Jeremiah Pate. The court records only reveal that when the case came to trial in April 1836, they were all found to be not guilty of the alleged crimes. The next year, the Ivy family left Union County.
Except for the incidents with the Ivy family, which occured when John Doughtery was state's attorney, almost every indictment against a free African-American in Union County before the Civil War was made when John A. Logan was the state's attorney.
John A. Logan was the son of Dr. John Logan, who moved to Jackson County, IL., from Perry Co. MO., with his slaves in 1824. Early in life Logan is said to have acquired a strong prejudice against African-Americans. This bias followed him into his early professional and political life, although the Civil War he became friend of the African-Americans and led the way in passing Civil Rights Acts through Congress.
Littleberry Allen, a son of Arthur Allen was murdered with a knife and wagon hammer. Logan indicted Littleberry's brother-in-law, John William Blackwell, a 32 year old native of Tennessee, for murder. Blackwell had come to Union County,in 1845, and settled on a 130 acre farm near Arthur Allen and the next year married Allen's daughter Sarah.
Blackwell was arrested on Christmas Eve 1854 by Alexander J. Nimmo, Union County Sheriff. John Dougherty acted as Blackwell's lawyer and helped arrange the bail. The bond was made by Matthew Stokes, Needham Wiggs, Caleb Musgrave, Abner Cox, and Richard T. Wiggs, all white settlers in Stokes Precinct and most from Quaker families.
In May 1855, the case came to trial and Blackwell and Logan dropped the charges, while the murder of Littleberry went unsolved.
Blackwell remained in the county and when his first wife died, he married her sister. Smithy Allen, in 1858. He died June 26, 1880, in Union County, leaving his farm and small estate to be divided among his ten children.

Free African- Americans had some personal freedoms that slaves did not share, but they were far removed from social equality in the minds of most white citizens in the 1800s, Especially intermarriage between the races were strictly forbidded by law.
Conrad Shearod was a young white man in his 20s when his wife died leaving him alone with a small boy and girl to raise. He married again May 14, 1833, in Union County, IL to 18 year old Sally Ivy (Editors note: grandmother Lucinda Ivey Sessions sister). Peter Woolf, a justice of the peace and nephew of Dunkard preacher George Woolf, performed the ceremony.
In October 1833, Woolf was indicted in Union County for the crime of "marrying a white man to a Negro" and the Shearods were also arrested. John Dougherty served as defense lawyer for Woolf when the case came to trial in April 1834, and Alexander P. Field, who had been leader of the scheme to make Illinois a slave state in 1823, represented the Shearods.
The jury returned the verdict of not guilty for all three. On the 1835 census, Shearod and his children are listed as white and Sally is recorded as a free "Negro or Mulatto." Her brother Amos Ivey, is recorded on the same census as living with a white women, although there is no record of his marriage in Union County, Another brother, Joseph Ivy, had crossed the Mississippi River to Cape Girardeau County, MO., in 1832 to marry Betsy Locklear. ( I do not know who she is to date.)
Marriage between the different races was illegal, as was cohabitation. In September 1847, there were two cases in Union County dealing with this crime. William Murray "colored" and Mary Murray "white" and Littleberry Allen and Harriet Sammons were each charged with and fornication. The cases continued on the books until April 1849, when the court finally decided not to prosecute. None of the people involved were still living in Union County in 1850, however, Littleberry Allen was murdered there in 1854.

Lucinda Ivey Daughter Of Joseph

Descendants of Lucinda Ivey

Lucinda Ivey was born 1826 in IL, and died 1858 in Mountain Twp., AR. She married James Augustus Sessions Abt. 1840 in Probably in AR, son of Robert Sessions and Patience Pattillo. He was born 1820 in Morgan Co., GA, and died 1858 in Mountain Twp., AR.

1850 Newton Co., Census Hickman Twp Waldron PO #86/86. Death certificate of daughter Sarah Hollis states her mother was an Ivey. This death certificate has the name spelled :Ivey"), and died bet. 1860-1861 in Scott County Arkansas, supposedly in an epidemic, perhaps the same one as James. She married James Augustus Sessions Bet. 1838 - 1841 in Mountain Twp, Scott County, Arkansas or Sallisaw Indian Mission, Ark. Territory, son of Robert Sessions and Patience Patillo.

No other family has drawn more researchers to our county in the past four years than the Sessions family. James Augustus Sessions and his wife Lucinda Ivey, came by wagon, before 1840, settling near Boles where some of their descendants now reside.
Now, the Sessions descendants are trying to reconcile legend with fact. Did James and Lucinda come from Georgia and Florida on the Trail of Tears? Did they have Indian Blood? If so from whom? Did they have Negro blood? If so, from whom? Some possible answers have been uncovered.
In 1896, when Eliza Jane Sessions Blackwell Ausmus, daughter of James A. Sessions and Lucinda Sessions, applied for enrollment with the Creek Nations in Indian Territory, she was denied. The Goodspeeds' biographical sketch of Rev. Robert E. Sessions contends that James A. Sessions was an Indian Agent to the Creeks, but no Presidential appointments were made to this effect, nor is it believed that a person only twenty years would have been appointed.
In her membership application affidavit, Eliza Jane Sessions age 52, stated, "My father...drew money, clothing and dry goods from the Government as if he was one of the Creek Indians, and that she was thirteen when her father died." The application gave the names of the children of James A. and Lucinda Loy Sessions as: Robert E.; John T.; Sarah Ann Sessions Hollis, all of whom reside in Scott County, Arkansas, and Patience P. Sessions Blackwell, who resided near Whitfield in Indian Territory.
Only recently did the Negro blood legend surface and it came from two sources. One source was the Scott 1850 census enumerator who noted Lucinda Sessions 24 was born in Illinois, a Mulatto (of mixed white and Negro blood) as well as her children: Mary E., 9, Eliza Jane, 7, Patience P., 3, and Robert E., 6 months, born January 14, 1850.
James Sessions and wife came west during the time of the Indian removal, 1838, as their first child was born in Arkansas in 1841, and no Sessions are listed in Arkansas 1840 census, they could have been in the east or west in Indian Territory.
If you have African American heritage, you may want to contact the energetic, dedicated Lori Husband, who has founded the African American Genealogical Research Institute (AAGRI). She can be reached at P.O. Box 2142, Chicago, Illinois 60690-2142. She has undertaken the monumental task of developing a national data base for individuals with African American heritage.
The Rev. Robert E. Sessions, the son of James A., homesteaded land in 1880, about four miles down the Buffalo Road, and he also served in the State Legislature. His wife Zelpha Elizabeth Womack Sessions, died in 1861 and she could be buried in the Lamb Cemetery where she and Robert donated one-half of an acre for a graveyard in 1889, or in the Buffalo Cemetery where some of their children are buried.

The 1850 Scott County, Arkansas census ;
James A. Sessions, white
Lucinda Sessions, Mulatto
Mary E. Sessions, Mulatto
Eliza J. Sessions, Mulatto
Patience P. Sessions, Mulatto
Robert E. Sessions, Mulatto

Eliza Jane Sessions (daughter of James Augustus Sessions and Lucinda Ivey) married David Ausmus, they had Rachael Mary Ausmus who married George Farris Womack, my great grandfather. I remember my grandfather Earnest Elijah Womack telling me when I was a child that he was part Black Dutch, I think we can assume at this point that the Dutch part of the equation may have been incorrect.

Back to Womack Records

Womack Family News

WGN Homepage

email: Roger Womack