Sisters Ailey & Catie CODY: Separated By Slavery, Connected By Love

Ailey & Catie CODY“You & Gwen are the glue holding this family together… Keep Sticking!” ~ Cousin Ed, Family Patriarch

Though I’d attempted to research a few random Ancestors, my “calling” didn’t really kick-in until the day my cousin Elbert STRINGER, 1 of 2 living Grandchildren of my 4th Grandmother Catie WINGFIELD DORSEY, shared the story of how Catie would reflect on being owned by “Master CODY” in Warren County. Grandma Catie told of how she’d been sold, leaving behind her Sister Ailey. The year was 1859. My Catie was 10 years old and Ailey 12 years old.

That was 1998/99 and aside from knowing Catie had been taken to WILKES County and somehow acquired the surname WINGFIELD, I had no more real information about our family history.

Over the years with the assistance of Elbert, Johnnie Mae (the 2nd living Grandchild of Catie’s and Elbert’s baby sister), Washington-Wilkes hometown elders and the WINGFIELD Family Society, I discovered and introduced my living family to our Washington-Wilkes and Warrenton heritage.

I progressed fast, filled many historical gaps and collected BEAUTIFUL vintage images that gave me a glimpse of the proud, hardworking folks I’d descended from.

But still no Ailey.

From 1999 until 2009 I researched numerous CODYS of Warrenton, Georgia to find the original slave owner of my Catie. Without question, Madison Derrell CODY and/or Robert D. CODY. And though I would find many family members, Ailey was not among them.

In 2010 by way of Ancestry I helped another non-related DORSEY confirm that his Rachael DORSEY of Rockdale, Georgia was not my Rachael DORSEY, Daughter of Ailey […]

Magical Monday! Lord, Have I Found Catie’s Sister, Allie?!

WarrenCoCensus_1870_ADawsonYou folks know the story – Catie {b. 1850} left her Sister Allie behind on a Warren Co. CODY plantation when she was brought to Washington-Wilkes by Rev. James Madison DICKEY in 1859.

Well tonight, I’ve located an Aly DAWSON {b. 1848} married to Elbert DAWSON, living with their children – Ike {6}, Sarah {4} & Rachel {3} in Hillmans Farm, Warren Co!

It gets BETTER! Marion M. Cody, the eldest son of Michael {Lori’s Ancestor!} & Rebecca ROGERS CODY are also living in Hillmans Farm at dwelling #964; Aly DAWSON is living at dwelling #971!

According to the 1915 book Cody-Rogers of Georgia by L.L. CODY, on page 14, Marion inherited his Grandfather James CODY’S property in 1850 & most of the CODY slaves were Family slaves, from inheritance.

In addition to Marion & Aly, a slew of former Michael CODY slaves are also living in Hillmans Farm, Warren Co! Reference the CODY Freedman cluster research I did here comparing the 1870 Warren Co. Census against slaves identified in Edmund & Michael CODYS wills!

Maybe our 22 yr. old Aly DAWSON & my Catie, are the descendants of the slave “Aily” identified in Edmund’s will? God, I wonder which others could be my Ancestors too?

Amazing that it’s taken me 12 yrs to find Allie/Aly/Aily!

I now know why — the digitized 1870 Census listed Aly DAWSON as male! Look, her sex is obscured on the original record, so I suppose, Ancestry guessed! However Aly was keeping house & had small children at home, which you can clearly see!

I don’t know where we go from here, but […]

By |August 31st, 2009|Cody, Dorsey, Mysteries|0 Comments

1860 GA Annual Conference: Rev. James M. DICKEY


This image is from the December 11, 1860 Daily Federal Union Newspaper & was captured from the Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Online Database.

It shows Rev. James Madison DICKEY {Catie’s owner} receiving his 1860 Appointment to Wilkes County from the Georgia Annual Conference. Specifically, the “Wilkes and Colored Mission”.

My question to historians/experts, what does the notation “one to be supplied” reference?

What will be supplied? A slave? An indenture? A second minister?



By |August 26th, 2009|Dickey, Mysteries|0 Comments

History Time Stamp: Rev. James M. DICKEY 1859

Augusta GA 1859I’ve literally read the transcribed version of the 1859 Augusta, Georgia {Richmond Co.} City Directory {page 61} a few dozen times!

I know that it reflects the time period when Rev. James Madison DICKEY, owner of my Catie DICKEY WINGFIELD, resided in the St. John’s Parsonage while Pastoring Ashbury Mission {now Ashbury Methodist Church}.

I’ve even gone as far as to outreach Ashbury in the hope that records from its first Pastor still exist but nope, there is nothing of Minister Dickey’s tenure at the church.

However seeing the original version of the Augusta Directory, complete with water stains & the marks of aging, made me pause  & acknowledge – this is a historical time-stamp – not only for James Madison but for my family too.

Sometime between the time when James Madison ministered at Ashbury, married Ann Elizabeth THOMAS EVANS in May 1859 & relocated to Wilkes Co. in time to be counted in the June 1860 Census, he acquired my Catie.

I don’t know how or from whom {although I believe it was a CODY in neighboring Warren Co.}. Can’t imagine how a man who from all appearances, never owned any slaves until that time, felt about becoming the owner of a 10 yr. old girl or when he acquired his 2nd slave, a much, much older woman. Who was she? Was she any relation to my Catie?

I just know that this is the physical time-stamp of one of those actions that shaped the landscape of my family.

My Catie never saw […]

My Catie Was Not Free

Catie WINGFIELD DORSEYYou may remember a few weeks ago my being excited about a conversation I’d had with James Dickey III, the Great Grandson of Rev. James Madison Dickey, the minister who owned my 4th Grandmother Catie WINGFIELD DORSEY in 1861.

During our conversation, James mentioned he believed Rev. Dickey to have “freed” Catie before he left Wilkes Co. in 1861 & that she “continued to work in the church” after his departure.

I was thrilled & hoped this revelation was true. For me it would have answered my question as to what happened to Catie between the years of 1861-65, before emancipation and just the thought of her being free gave me a little sense of comfort.

But, when a Georgia State Archivist dismissed the notion of Catie’s freedom in a brief email, though irritated by her lack of explanation, I should have noted her response.

As it turns out, she was correct – in 1851 the State of Georgia made it virtually IMPOSSIBLE for a slaveholder to willingly manumit {free} a slave.

Please note below the Georgia law regarding manumission of slaves and free people of color –

Section 46 from A Digest of the Statute Laws of the State of Georgia, Athens, 1851:

  • Slaves can be manumitted only by the Georgia Legislature
  • Penalties for any manumitter from $200 to $1000
  • The manumitted slave shall be liable to arrest, conviction, and re-enslavement
  • Contracts or deeds of manumission are null and void and are not to be recorded by Clerks of the County Courts
  • Free people of color are forbidden to own real estate and slaves

So all this leaves to determine who did Catie go to […]

Accepting No Brick Walls!

Whenever I find myself frustrated by the lingering questions that remain about my Catie & her migration to Wilkes-County Georgia, I force myself to remember where I started – a woman with very little information & virtually no family support in the effort to dig-up a long forgotten history.

Before my cousin, Elbert Stringer, uttered her name – Grandma Catie, I never knew she existed. Nope, I did not know Catie, nor anything about the PHENOMENAL life she’d lived & the legacy of love she’d left behind.

How exciting were those early years when my research was like an unraveling adventure… when every day led to a new discovery & another piece of my family history being restored.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to know! The desire is never-ending!

I realize I have been blessed with my research. I am no longer fighting family battles to preserve our history. I’ve cataloged & accomplished a lot. The Great Aunts who once protested this work, now support it wholeheartedly & even regularly contribute content!:-)

I think (or hope) they find comfort in knowing that when they depart this life, all is not lost. Someone remains who is committed to sharing their stories & the stories of those who came before them.

When I think on this, I know I cannot allow myself to be dissuaded by pseudo-brick walls of information.

As long as there is a courthouse, archive, computer, internet, telephone, elder & living descendant anywhere, I’ll be plugging away with my questions!

I trust that James Dickey III will one day have that conversation with Mary Anne, and she will shed […]