Our United States family ancestry originates with William “Bill” Staples who was born into slavery around 1830. It is believed that at one time as a youth he was sold to a slave owner in Kentucky, and then eventually bought by William Carroll (W.C.) Staples in Mississippi between the years 1850 and 1860. W.C. Staples was a sheriff, farmer, Mississippi state legislator, and slave owner.
Our Ancestor Bill fought in the Civil War alongside his owner, W.C. Staples, who served as a Captain and later a Major in the Confederate army. Upon being wounded in 1863, W.C. Staples returned home with the help of his slave Bill after the battle of Chickamauga. (Many years thereafter, Bill was awarded a pension in 1922 in connection with this courageous effort of returning his wounded master back home from the War - records indicate that Bill received $8.90 per quarter, or $35.60 per year.)
During or shortly after the Civil War, William “Bill” Staples met and married Abigail “Abbie” Howard who gave birth to their first child, William Jr., in 1865. Slaves were freed with the end of the War in 1865, so 1870 became the first census year in which former slaves were counted and recorded as citizens. That year, Bill was listed as a farmer with a wife and a total of three children in Choctaw County Mississippi.
Like many freed slaves Bill had found work as a farmer, and due to their location proximity to each other in the 1880 census, is likely to have been employed on W.C. Staples’ farm. W.C. Staples died in 1884 and his wife subsequently died in 1892.
According to the 1900 census, Bill and his wife Abbie were listed with the last 5 of their children in Montgomery County. So in total, they had 12 kids: 7 sons - William, Warren, John, Jim, George, Joe, and Matt, and 5 daughters - Mary, Ella, Georgina, Katie, and Alice.
In 1913, some of the Staples families moved from Montgomery County to Sunflower County and lived on Will Dockery’s farm as sharecroppers.
Bill’s wife, Abigail Howard Staples, died November 25, 1920 in Sunflower County - Drew, MS. She was a homemaker with many talents including quilt making and being a mid-wife. She assisted in the birth of many of her grandchildren.
Patriarch William “Bill” Staples died on August 20, 1926 in Drew, MS at the age of 96 years old. He was remembered to be brave and resilient. Born into slavery, he was a hard worker, struggled, and survived despite enormous challenges. These traits and characteristics have been passed on to us, his descendants…so here we are today!
Several of the children and grandchildren of William and Abigail lived in Drew, MS until 1929 when they moved to Mound Bayou, MS. Some of our ancestors remained in Mississippi thereafter, but many also moved to various cities across the United States as part of the Great Migration.
© 2023 The Descendants of William & Abigail Staples