Dennie Chavis & Mary Coleman

The Line of Patrick D Biggs & others

Dennie Chavis 1884 – 1956 | his parents
& Mary Elizabeth Coleman 1885 – 1958 | her parents
of Hertford Co NC and San Diego CA

Holloman/Chavis family history, researched by Patrick Biggs is posted here at his request and is the way he sees it as of this moment!!

note:”In 1726, because of colonists encroachments in Virginia, the Meherrin tribe migrated south and established a reservation at the former Ramoushsnouk Indian village at the mouth of the Meherrin River, now called Parker’s Ferry. History says that the tribe had ‘vanished’ from the area; but they had become individual land owners. Chavis was one of the surnames of the Meherrins who owned land on the Indian lands around the time of the treaties. In 1986 the tribe was again given official recognition by NC.”~ found in “A Pictorial History of Hertford County, North Carolina” pub. 1998 by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald ~ added by Sally~ also see the several “Meherrin Tribe” sites on the web.

Dennie Chavis and Mary Elizabeth Coleman married 23 October 1909, in Camden, Camden, New Jersey.

Dennie Chavis was born 5 April 1884 and died 26 April 1956 in San Diego CA.

You can find Granddaddy on the 1900 Census of Newport News, VA, ED78, pg 32, line 9 as a boarder in the B. Jackson household with an age indicating 1882 and NC as place of birth ~ Patrick

He is listed on the US military census in 1910 as a sailor on the USS Michigan born 1882 in Galveston TX.

Dennie Chavis was actually born in Ahoskie, Hertford County, not Galveston, Texas. And he was two years YOUNGER than he stated to join the Navy. His oldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth, let me see the documents that he provided the Navy to pull this off. One of his Aunts went with him to sign an affidavit as to the “lie” he needed.

They chose 1882 and Galveston, because all the records there were destroyed by a hurricane, so no one could document his birth. According to family story, one of his older brothers had given one of the Negro help some wine, and they both got drunk. Dennie had fallen asleep on a bale of hay in the barn, and when James Norfleet [Holloman] found him asleep, and the Negro drunk, he thought Dennie was the source of the wine. The two had a massive falling out, and Dennie ran away to his Aunt’s in Brooklyn. He used to sit and watch the Navy ships coming and going in the harbor, and he and the Aunt cooked up the story of his false birth and age. The source for this version was my Aunt Betty, Dennie’s oldest daughter.

If you found Granddaddy and Grandma Chavis on the 1930 Census like I did, then you may have heard my laughter from here where it was indicated that both his parents were born in Virginia!! Did you also note the difference in the reported age at the time of the Census and the reported age at first marriage? They are only 3 years apart in 1930, but they were 7 years apart when they married? There were no other marriages for either.

Children of Dennie Chavis and Mary Elizabeth Coleman:
1. Mary Elizabeth [Betty] Chavis 1910 – 1981
2. Thelma Chavis 1911 – 1972
3. Marjory Alma Chavis 1913 – 1993
4. Dorothy Elsie Chavis 1915 – 1992
5. Thomas Norfleet Chavis 1917 –
6. Dennie Chavis Jr. 1918 – 1993
7. Althea Bernice Chavis 1922 – 1976
married 1941 William Joseph Biggs 1921 – 1976
a. William Joseph Biggs Jr 1945 –
b. Pamela Elizabeth Biggs 1947 –
c. Patrick Dennie Biggs 1949 –
married 1970 Mary Katherine Chesney 1948 – [div]
i. Noel Etola Biggs 1972 –
m. 1989 Mark W Smith 1970 –
have five children
ii. Keith Andrew Biggs 1974 –
m. 1993 Rachelle Mae Nalley [div]
had Joshua and Julie
m. 2003 Shanta Dawn McMillian
d. Michael Gregory Biggs 1956 –
e. Brian Kevin Biggs 1958 –
f. Theresa Marie Biggs 1959 –

Mary Jane Powell aka Chavis 1853 – 1912 | her parents
& James Norfleet Holloman 1856 – 1916 | his parents
of Hertford County NC

Although they never legally married, Mary Jane Powell [aka Chavis] had with James Norfleet Holloman a large family.

Mary Jane Powell, was born 1 Jan. 1853, in Hertford Co., and died 17 Dec. 1912 in Ahoskie. Her parents were Samuel Powell (ca 1797, Alexandria, VA – ?) and Emmaline Harrell (ca 1821 – 4 May 1893).

Children of James Norfleet Holloman and Mary Jane Powell aka Chavis:
1. Claudia Chavis 1879 – 1952
married George Hall
a. Ted Hall
2. Letha Chavis 1882 – 1915 male
3. Dennie Chavis 1884 – 1956
married 1909 Mary Elizabeth Coleman 1885 – 1958
4. Harry Eugene [Hunter] Chavis/Holloman 1885 – 1957
5. Bessie Chavis/Holloman 1887 – 1957
6. Stanley [Sticks] Chavis/Holloman 1889 – 1959
7. Clarence Chavis/Holloman 1892 – 1966
8. Alma Chavis/Holloman 1895 – 1917
Children of Mary Jane Powell/Chavis and George Sewall:
[stones says Holloman but the father was George Sewall]
1. Gertrude Holloman 1872 – 1872
2. Eula Holloman 1877-1878 [same as Gertrude]

Aunt Betty later found a letter among her stored papers, from Dennie’s brother’s wife, Rosemary, who lived in Los Angeles. I have copied it just as Rosemary wrote it. She had done some of the family tree for a very short time. No one has a copy of what she did.

“Dennie was asleep on a bale of cotton in the cotton barn, when James Norfleet [Holloman] returned home from a business trip to Washington, DC. Uncle Hunter, (Harry Eugene), and Uncle Sticks (Stanley Chavis), Dennie’s older brothers, had given the [former] slaves wine from the wine barrels, and they were drunk. James Norfleet saw Dennie asleep and thought he had done this, and gave him a whipping. Dennie ran off in to the woods. Mary Jane and an old colored man named Sam, found him and sent him to her sister in Brooklyn. There he would go down to the harbor and watch the ships. He wanted to join the Navy, but was 2 years too young. His Aunt swore an affidavit that he was born in 1882 in Galveston, but due to a flood, his records were lost.

Dennie joined the Navy, went home to see his mother, but did not want to see his father. His father found out he joined the Navy and disinherited him. He would not have anything to do with Dennie until Aunt Betty was born in June 1910.”

My mother and her sister Dorothy, went to Ahoskie in October of 1962, after the death of Dorothy’s husband in June of that year. Dorothy never learned how to drive, so my mother drove Dorothy’s car all the way there and back. They were taken by family members to the cemetery where the relatives are buried, and took pictures of each grave and headstone. My mother had a copy of the photos and Dorothy kept a copy. I never learned where the cemetery is, and death certificates I have just say, “Chavis plot” or “Holloman plot”. When my mother died in 1976, I never found out where those photos went. When Dorothy died, cousins cleaned out her house and ignored my pleas to track down her set of photos. Ted Hall did go back to the cemetery and copy down all the names and dates for me and Aunt Marge, older sister of my mother and Dorothy. The exact location of these graves was still not given. Very exasperating!! And no one in the family could ever explain to me why there were Harrell’s, Holloman’s, Powell’s and Chavis’s next to each other in the “Chavis Family Cemetery.”~ Patrick

Emmeline Chavis ca 1822 – 1893 | her parents
& Samuel Powell ca 1797 – ? | his parents
of Hertford County NC

Although they never legally married, Emmeline Chavis had with Samuel Powell a large family.
Emmeline Chavis died 4 May 1893.

Children of Samuel Powell and Emmeline Chavis:
1. Joseph Chavis ca 1845 –
2. Sallie Chavis ca 1846 –
3. Martha Chavis ca 1847 –
4. Julia Chavis ca 1850 –
5. Mary Jane Chavis/Powell 1 Jan 1853 –
6. Solomon Chavis ca 1852
7. William Chavis ca 1861 –
8. Susan Chavis ca 1864 NC –

page 293B 1850 Hertford Co Census
#120 Powell, Samuel 53, M, – none, none
Chavus, Eveline 25, F, M
Alexander, Samuel 18, M, – Laborer
Alexander, Charles 15, M, – Laborer
Chavus, Joseph 4, M, M
Sarah 3, F, M
Martha 2, F, M
Child 6/12, F, M

page 75 1860 Hertford Co Census
Emily Chavious 40 f M
Joseph Chavious 15 m M
Mary Chavious 10 f M
Solomon Chavious 8 m M
Martha Chavious 7 f M

1870 Hertford Co NC Census
324 Emma Chavis 4- f M
Mary J Chavis 11 f M
William A Chavis 9 m M
Susan Chavis 7 f M

1880 Hertford Co NC Census
525 Chafers, Susan Mu f 16 keeping house
” Mary Susan Mu f 2 daughter
” Martha J Mu f 4/12 Jan daughter
526 Chafers, Emiline Mu f 57 keeping house
” William A Mu m 18 son farm laborer

Martha [Patsy] Chavis ca 1802 – bef 1860 | her parents
& Henry [Harry] Chavis ca 1801 – aft 1870 | his parents
of Hertford County NC

Emmaline was the daughter of Harry Chavis and Patsy Chavis, both who were born about 1801, in Hertford County.

Children of Harry Chavis and Patsy Chavis:
1. Adolphus (Dolphin) Chavis ca 1820 –
married 16 Nov 1870 Elizabeth Hall ca 1825 –
2. Causy (Causey) Chavis ca 1821 –
married Ellen Weaver ca 1830 –
3. Emmaline Chavis ca 1822 NC – 4 May 1893
mistress of Samuel Powell ca 1787 NC –
4. Jane Chavis –
married John Thomas Boone ca 1830 –
5. Martha (aka “Big Martha”) Chavis ca 1830 – dau
6. Wilson Harrell ca 1832 NC – 3 Feb. 1913 Winton NC
married 1st Jane ca 1845 –
married 21 Oct 1877 Margrette Boone ca 1850 –
7. Fruze (Fruzie) Chavis ca 1835 – dau
8. Charlotte A Chavis 5 Aug 1838 – 19 Jul 1913
married 1st Lemuel Washington Boone ca 1827 – 18 Sept 1878
married 2nd 16 June 1891 James H Huss Sept 1860 –
9. William Chavis ca 1840 –

“Apprentices” at 1830 Ct. Hertford Co
John Chavers child of Patsy Chavers of Colour aged 8?ys bound to John H Wheeler

1830 Census Hertford Co NC
Elizabeth Chavers 1 m 10/24; 1 f 36/55
Henry Chavers 2m 0/10; 1m 24/36; 2 f 0/10; 1 f 24/36
Whitmel Chavers 1m 24/36; 2 f 0/10; 1 f 10/24; 1 f 24/36

1840 Census Hertford Co
Henry Chavas 3m 0/10, 4m 10/24, 1m 24/36; 1 f 24/36

Aug Ct 1846 Hertford Co ~ The following has permission to receive License to Keep a Gun. “To Wit” Adolphus Chavers, Elias Manley, Levi Archer. “All Paid”
1847 Nov Ct. Hertford Co
“The following Persons have permission from the Court to keep and Carry a Gun and that a License issue to them for the Same. “To Wit” Jacob Reed, William Nickins, William Mitchell, Thomas Archer, William Keen, Ashley Melton, Spencer Archer, Wiley Reynolds, Meady Melton, Jesse Keen, James Maning, Starkey Pugh, Thos. Robbins yellow, Marmaduke Hall, Maliki Thach, Washington Weaver, Henry Simmons, Edward Archer, Wm. Boon, Thomas Boon, Wiley Jones, John Bizell, William Bizell, Henry Chavers, Adolphus Chavas, Griffin Artis, Jesse Reynolds, Nathaniel Turner, Josiah Flood, Thomas Robbins Senr., Jacob Smith, Wm Hall, James Smith, Manuel Reynolds, David Newson.” ~ abstract by David Powell

1850 Census Hertford Co NC – Northern District
337 Henry Chavus 49 m M laborer NC
Martha ” 48 f M
Coskia ” 27 m M
Martha 20 f M
Wilson 17 m M
Frusey 15 f M
Charlotte 12 f M
William 10 m M
338 Dolfin 27 m M
Lovey 20 f M
Fereby Boon 70 f M

1860 Census Hertford Co NC – Murfreesboro twsp
70 Jno. Chavious 38 m M Hertford Co living with Holloway Ballance farmer
579 C A Powell 25 m 200 299 Hertford Co [Charles A]
M J Powell 28 f
M S Powell 6 f
J B Powell 3 m
A W Powell 2 m
Henry Chavious 58 m M —– 50 Hertford Co
Mary Tann 46 f M
Cicero Chavious 17 m M field laborer ” ”
Ja–s Chavious 9 m M
Sarah Doughtie 22 f
585 Emily Butler 24 f M field laborer 300 200 Hertford Co
Susette Butler 7 f M
E J Butler 5 f M
Sarah Chavious 15 f M
588 Emily Chavious 40 f M — 25 Hertford Co
Joseph Chavious 15 m M
Mary Chavious 10 f M
Solomon Chavious 8 m M
Martha Chavious 7 f M
618 Wilson Chavious 25 m M day laborer — 25 Hertford Co
William Chavious 20 m M day laborer
620 Martha Chaavious 26 f M day laborer
John Chavious 8 m M
T A Chavious 6 f M
Laura Chavious 3 f M
673 Nathaniel Turner 45 m M farmer — 25 Hertford Co
Frusey Turner 45 f M
Martha Turner 20 f M
Frusey Chavious 12 f M
Harriot Turner 8 f M
Jno Turner 6 m M
Mary Turner 4 f M
Napolion Boone 25 m M
686 Wilson Chavious 50 m day laborer — 10 Hertford Co

1860 Agriculture
Henry Chavious 20 ac [rented] 20 val of farm imp. 1 horse, 12 swine, 150 bu corn, 30 bu peas & beans, 20 bu Irish potatoes, 100 bu sw potatoes, 64 val of animals slaughtered

1870 Hertford co NC
342 Chavis, Harry 65 m M Farm labourer NC
Treasey 50 f M housekeeper
John 20 m M farm labourer
Mary 16 f M at home
William 14 m M farm labourer
Martha 10 f M at home

13 thoughts on “Dennie Chavis & Mary Coleman”

  1. To my cousins, Brenda & Theresa — It’s been a long time since I visited this site, and just noticed your replies above. I don’t think the Aunt Bessie/Bess you visited and/or heard about was my grandmother, Bessie Chavis Reid Hall (Dennie Chavis’ sister). She was born in 1887, and died in 1957. For at least the last decade of her life, she had dementia, and spent her last 5 years in a care facility. She lived her entire life in Hertford County, and married twice: first to my grandfather, J. Eley Reid; and then to Lemuel Hall. She did some visiting with relatives on the East coast before her dementia set in, but I don’t believe she ever went to California.
    Hope you both are well. After growing up in New York City, and living in The Washington, DC, metro area for over 50 years, I now live in Hertford County where I am enjoying the peace and quiet of rural living!

  2. I’m so glad I found ya’all. I am trying to discover as much as I can about my people, we started in NC in 1700’s is as far back as I’ve gotten. I have read so many of these Chavis names in our group. I live in California. E-mails and messager, always welcome. ?

  3. My mother, Peggy Doris Murphy Wright, is related to Gus Chavis; they are first cousins. Her mother’s name is Margaret Melton Murphy. I would like to know where we fit in the family tree. Thanks!

    1. Gus Chavis’ mother was Julia Dare Melton, daughter of Abner Giles Melton and Sallie Ballard. Julia married Robert J. Chavis who was descended from Martha Chavis (Emmaline’s sister).

  4. My Dad wrote this and was very happy to come across this and read it. He was very big into genealogy and loved doing it! I miss him.

    1. I “met” your Dad over the phone as a result of his posts on Sally’s Family Place. We had many conversations and shared much information about our Chavis ancestors. I miss him too! I am Mary Jane’s great-granddaughter: Uncle Dennie was my grandmother Bessie’s brother.

  5. When I found your site and read the area and tribe, I figured you had to be distant cousins. Adolphus Chavis is my Great Great Granddaddy, Emmeline Chavis’ ca 1822 brother.

    1. Emmaline Chavis is my great-great-grandmother; her daughter, Mary Jane, is my great-grandmother. Mary Jane’s daughter, Bessie, is my grandmother. I’ve been working on a Chavis family tree for a number of years, and have some of Adolphus’ descendants. Would like to include you in the tree too, but need more information.

  6. My Brother Patrick Biggs did all the research and left this information here . I am so grateful he did this . Patrick passed away about six years ago . Our Mother was the daughter of Dennie Chavis and Mary Coleman Chavis . I am the last of Althea and William Biggs children . I loved reading all of this !!

    1. Patrick and I had lots of good talks trying to fill in the gaps on the Chavis family tree. You and Patrick are 2nd cousins to me: Uncle Dennie’s sister Bessie was my grandmother. Sorry I never had the chance to meet him in person.

      1. I remember Aunt Bess! I am the first born great granddaughter of Dennie Chavis. Granddaughter of Thelma Chavis. My Great Aunt Betty Mary Elizabeth Chavis, would take me to visit Aunt Bess

        1. On flag day it will be my Mother’s birthday . I miss her dearly . I never got to meet my grandpa Dennie or Grandma Mary . They both died before I was born . Unfortunately . Sad to say . I remember my Mother talking about an Aunt Bessie . ??

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