So Close, but So Far in My Search for Beverley Vance (1832-1899) by Robin R. Foster

Published on 3 December 2022 at 08:00

How the Family Tree appeared with my grandfather, Emory Wallace Vance, and my great grandfather, Lafayette Franklin Vance, (Emory Wallace Vance (1901–1973), Otis Edna Tucker (1905–1996) | Landscape View | Family Tree | FamilySearch)


Back when I had interviewed my mother, she told me how much she loved her grandpa. They lived on a farm in Gadsden, Richland County, South Carolina. Emory, her father, stayed in one house, and Lafayette stayed on the same property in another house.   


I could tell her grandpa loved her from all the stories she told. I knew the relationship with him had been just like the one I had with my granddaddy, Emory. That made me really want to find her grandpa, Lafayette, on a census. 

Finding Great Grandfather Lafayette on the Census

My mother was with when I looked up Grandpa Lafayette on in Abbeville County, SC. I had dial-up and was able to do the dishes before his name appeared. We both stood at the computer when his name finally came up in 1880.

"United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2015), South Carolina > Abbeville > Cokesbury > ED 12 > image 18 of 55; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)

We stood enamored to see him at nineteen years of age. Charlotte, Arie, Minnie, Maria, and Calvin were listed under him. I realized they were his sisters and brother. Then, I thought this is a family, there are more children and there are parents. 

I raised my eyes to see the names listed higher on the page:

"United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2015), South Carolina > Abbeville > Cokesbury > ED 12 > image 18 of 55; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)

Seeing Beverley’s Name for the First Time

Lee was the other brother listed, and to our amazement we were looking at Beverley and Matilda Vance. I had remembered seeing Matilda’s name on a church hymnal owned by my grandfather, Emory. I could now add there names to

Parents and siblings of Layfette Franklin Vance,, Lafayette Franklin Vance (1861–1952) • Person • Family Tree • FamilySearch

P Vance was added when I saw him with the family in 1870. I was also told Beverley died in 1899 with his son Calvin watching over him. 

Beverley Vance,, (

Researching and documenting is being done from the same love we exercised for Granddaddy Emory and Great Grandfather Lafayette. I have found many things on Beverley, but his place of burial still has me stumped. Patience will be required.

Voting in 1876

The South Caroliniana Library has the book containing the testimonies given in "South Carolina in 1876," a collection of accounts given by Republicans and Democrats outlining an investigation into the interference of voting privileges of African Americans and others who supported the Republican Party.


After I submitted my request for the book to be brought to the table where I sat, my heart pounded, and that moment anticipation caused me to realize that for the first time I would be able to see and hold in my hands a record created during the lifetime of my ancestor. The fact that the words he spoke in 1876 were preserved for me to be able to read forged an everlasting reverence for the place where I sat waiting. As the librarian placed the volume in my hands and slowly walked away, I turned to the referenced page and my eyes fell upon his name. That was a very emotional moment for me. As I read the testimony, more of the story of Beverly’s life unfolded before me.


I also found this book at the South Carolina State Library, a wonderful resource. Now, it is even available on Google Books, and I have discovered other testimonies. Beverley was a man of great integrity. He served his family and took a strong stand in his community as a servant of that community. He is one of my role models. If he could speak today, he would explain that actions speak louder than words. I too believe that the way I live my life is the best indication of what I believe, and that speaks volumes in and of itself.


I can only admire Beverley for paving the way for me without ever seeing some of the blessings we take for granted today. He spent most of his life enslaved, voted in 1868 and in 1876, and according to his own testimony, he was articulate.


I still have many unanswered questions, but I know staying focused on uncovering the records in the places he lived will continue to prove successful. I hope by sharing this you have been inspired to delve a little deeper and to have a greater desire to learn more.

The following is the testimony of Beverley Vance before the Senate in Columbia, SC. Miscellaneous Documents - Google Books, 30th Congress, 1st Session - 49th Congress -1st Session – Volume 3, By United States. Congress. House, 1877. This testimony illustrates some of what this ancestor, who had great integrity, went through during Black Reconstruction.

 The excerpt of Voting in 1876, was taken from the following book on Amazon:

Follow Robin Foster on socil media & visit her links to learn more about her book, genealogy research, & blog: 


Catch her podcast interview titled, When I interviewed My Uncle Buddy on Spotify  


Dividing Ridge Genealogy would like to sincerely thank Robin Foster for being our featured guest Genealogist blogger this month & for sharing her story with readers & researchers. 

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