Henry Atkins, so we have concluded, was born the son of Fannie Adkins and in southwestern Virginia, maybe Franklin or Pittsylvania Counties wherein the slave holding White Adkins were tobacco farmers using slave labor. Though he is believed to have fathered one or more children via Evelyn Hill, it is doubtful that she could have been categorized as his wife by the owner and likely as with most slaves whether considered married or single, ... did not enjoy the privileges of co-habitation.
Slavery at its worst divided and sub-divided families and potential families in the body and spirit of Christ. Yet, we believe the victory was to be had by offspring of men like Henry Hill who despite the earthly hell and hardship imposed on him, ... believed in love and held it dear all the days of his life as a free man.
Our speculation is that his legitimate marriage to Nancy did not, could not, occur until after fall of the evil empire (April 1865) that enslaved them. Henry Atkins was not included in the 1880 census and is a classical example of the plights of African-American share-croppers after the Union Army was removed from the south in 1876 by President Rutherford B. Hayes.
The undercounts in the census were among the long-lasting processes to under-count ex-slaves as citizens of the United States. This deliberate lack of visibility by the federal government was intended to hamper and prevent any measures to identify and improve the lives of men like Henry who had been born in slavery and struggled to survive outside of it. Most southerners, not all, were adamantly opposed to men like Henry gaining ownership of any productive resources such as land and water access other than as share-croppers where and for whom they had been slaves. The mass migration of many like Henry Adkins began in the period of so-called southern reconstruction.
The birth of daughter Emma in the Roanoke-Salem area during 1889 confirms the story that Henry and his wife Nancy moved the entire family from Franklin County to Roanoke.
Our speculation is that all of the offspring born after emancipation from slavery and marriage to Nancy were born of her; and Evelyn Hill, perhaps mother of Sally Ann, Green, Will and Thomas, ... had likely died or been sold away before or during the Civil War. The other possibility exists that Evelyn lived in West Virginia when it was still part of Virginia before the Civil War and her offspring were born in the new state and classified as White during the 1880 census.
The sequence and consequence of names and places appear consistent with the Adkins history of being leased or rented to coal mine owners for use as slave laborers in the mines of modern day West Virginia. And, we know for a fact that numerous people of African and European heritage at the first opportunity to do so, chose to pass for White and married men or women of same classification.
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