The first time I came across the name Olivia Jordan Butt Smith, my paternal great-great-grandaunt, was twelve years ago. I was researching a branch on the paternal side of my family tree, the Youngs of Portsmouth, Virginia. Olivia was born in 1862, in Portsmouth, the daughter of Jordan and Lovey Butt (ca. 1829-1895). She was the sister of Mary Alice Butt Young (1865-1929), my paternal great-great-grandmother, Matilda A. Butt Colden (1856-1910), Anna Butt Schofield (b, ca. 1855), and Nancy Ellen Butt Lynch (ca. 1848-1879), my paternal great-great-grandaunts.
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Robert M. Phinney (alias Finney), was born enslaved, about 1818, in Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina. In the 1840s, he escaped slavery via the maritime Underground Railroad, and eventually settled in Weeksville, Brooklyn, New York. Weeksville was established shortly after New York abolished slavery in 1827. The community was named after James Weeks, a longshoreman and one of the earliest African American landowners in the area. Weeksville has been featured in recent publications, as longterm efforts to preserve the history of the site are threatened by a lack of funding and other resources.1
“1st SC Infantry of African Descent – The 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment was raised from sea island slaves living around Port Royal. Elements of the regiment were formed on Hilton Head in May 1862. In August 1862, the regiment was reorganized near Beaufort at the Smith plantation. It was commanded by the noted abolitionist Thomas W. Higginson who led the Regiment on raids along the Georgia coast. On Jan. 1, 1863, the regiment was formerly mustered into the United States Army. The regiment saw extensive service on the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida Coasts. On Feb. 8, 1864, the regiment was redesignated as the 33rd Infantry Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. The regiment assisted in the occupation of Charleston, Savannah, Augusta and other points until it was mustered out on Jan. 31, 1866.”