Our History

( as researched by Levernis Eiland Crosby) 
 
The history of the Eiland family takes shape in Winston County, Mississippi, Beat 3, Township 16, Range 13; but the family's origin goes back much further. Perhaps it goes to Africa's west coast, or maybe to central or eastern Africa. Perhaps it goes through Goree (Goray) Island off the coast of Senegal, where a former president of the United States visited and almost apologized for the terrible wrong done to black Americans by their enslavement. Our first known recorded origins, however, are from Georgia and Maryland. Perhaps this is why the 1870 census listed Burrel Eiland as having been born in 1811 in Georgia. At about the same time, Anthony (also spelled A-N-T-N-E) Eiland lived in Beat 3. Quite possibly, Burrel and Anthony could have been among the 42 slaves listed in the 1860 census as having been owned by O. G. Eiland, who also lived in Beat 3. The census does not list the names of O. G. Eiland's slaves. The U. S. Bureau of Census did not require the slave owners to list names; they only had to give the number of slaves they owned. Some census records show the ages and sexes of an owner's slaves, but the O. G. Eiland record gives only the number.
 
Burrel and Anthony could have been free men before the Civil War, but it is unlikely. There were 775 free blacks in Mississippi in 1860, but most of them lived in the South-western counties of Mississippi around Natchez and Port Gibson. Before 1842, slave owners could set their slaves free if they wished to do so, but after 1842; this practice was against the law. Before Burrell and Anthony were listed in the 1870 census of Winston County, we do not know exactly where they were. BURREL married Lydia Forten, who was born in 1820 in Maryland. The 1870 census shows that Burrel and Lydia had three children in their household. Their names were Gaston, born in 1853; Green, born in 1858; and Dinah, born in 1861. Levi, who was born in 1852 and would have been 18 years of age in 1870, had apparently left the household before the census was taken. Jim Eiland, though born in 1863, also does not appear on the 1870 census record as a member of the Burrel Eiland household. GASTON, who married Millie Sanders on January 21,1876, was the father of Elizabeth, Jennie, Hattie, A1ma, Jansia, Clem (b. 8/20/86; d. 12/79 in Louisville), Effie, Robert Austin, Connie Nevels (b. 6/10/94; d. 3/73 in Stuttgart, AK), and Hycinthia, for a total of 10 children. A gravestone in the Eiland Cemetery on Mississippi  Highway 25 shows the name of Willie, a daughter, eleventh child of Gaston and Millie. Willie died in 1899 at the age of one year. GREEN married Jennie (Jane) Lynch on October 29, 1878. In 1880, the census records one daughter, Minna, in the household. Most probably the names of other children would have appeared in the 1890 census had that census survived the fire in Washington, D.C. Some of the descendants of Green still live in the Mississippi Delta, around Indianola, Mississippi. Some of them were present at the 1990 family reunion held in Louisville. LEVI married Nannie Lynch in 1876 and fathered twelve children. Their names were Jennie Lee (pansy), John W., Mary Ann (Mollie), Liona (Missy), Lillie, Everette, Lida (probably a variant of the name of her grandmother, Lydia), Garland, Clara Bertha, William T., Odassy (Fannie), and Lincoln. The gravestone for Nannie Lynch indicates that she was born April 10, 1861 and died October 9, 1905. According to his grandson Henry Eiland, Levi once owned many acres of land and was a man of means and influence in the township. How the land was lost is unknown, but it was apparently lost before the area was acquired by the U. S. government to establish the Tombigbee National Forest. Levi's handsome marble gravestone disappeared from the cemetery sometime between 1988 and 1990.

That of his wife Nannie is still there. JIM Eiland, whose wife was Nancy Cooper, fathered fourteen children. Their names were Anna, Emma, Irene, Mary, Isadora, Rocksey, Lucinda, Lillie, Dora, Albertha, John Upsey, Arthur, Oliver, and Luther." A photograph of this handsome man exists in the home of some of his descendants. Marriage records in Winston County (Louisville) show a Jim Eiland having married Martha Carter in 1875. Another listing for Jim Eiland shows a marriage in 1879 to Frances Gregory. 5
 
That there were no daughters from the union of Burrel and Lydia is unlikely. The names of Dora, Mattie, Sue, Sarah, Hellen, and Della were given as sisters of Jim; but the source of the information was not documented and cannot, therefore, be verified officially. Burrel Eiland must have been a minister. The marriage bond (license) of George Wash Lynch and Miss Lou Miller, (grandparents to the Everett Eiland children) shows the signature of Burrel "Iland" as having celebrated the rites of matrimony between George Wash and Lou. The ceremony was performed on the 26th of September in 1881.6 The gravestone of Burrel and his wife Lydia (also spelled Liddie) still stands in the cemetery in the midst of the Tombigbee National Forest.  Anthony and his wife Rachel were the progenitors of many who became educators. The 1880 census lists William, Finis, and Warren as children in the household. Other children were Emmet, Carrie, Katie (b. 1858 or 1859), and Florence. No information on the descendants of Emmet, Carrie, Katie, and Florence is available. Rachel died on May 9, 1899.7 Historical records of the U. S. General Land Office show that Anthony was deed over eighty acres of land to secure a homestead in 1888.  The land record was signed by President Grover Cleveland and land office officials.
 
WILLIAM, in marriages to Susan Lampkins in 1874, Frances Lynch in 1891, and later Annie Boyd, sired nine children. They were Ruth, Ethel, Fred, Dee, Wert, Lubertha, Anthony (familiarly known as A.B.; b. 3/15/06, d. 11/81 in Fairfield, Alabama), Mag, and Nimrod. Census records also show Sarah Eiland as a resident in the household. FINIS became the father of 17 children: Rogers, I. C., R. D., Ross, Otis, Mattie Lee, Gertrude, Arthur (b. 6/2/22; d. 10/73), Zelma, Pearline, Sammie Ella, Billy, Rachel, Finis Jr., Grace, Henry C. and Sarah Bell. L. C., for many years was principal of the high school in Louisville, where many Eilands, including some of his brothers and sisters. received high school diplomas. The middle school in Louisville, Mississippi, is named in his honor.  WARREN, who married Maggie, was the father of four. They were Nellie Ann, Willie Bell, Dezzie, and Arthur. Maggie died on September 1, 1902, at the age of 26. Arthur left Winston County during the second migration from the hills to the delta. Nellie Ann died in a house fire in Louisville in 1997. The Eilands now live all over the United States. Three great migrations together with economic factors have separated the family and caused them not to know each other well. The first migration, right after the Civil War, resulted in many of the freedmen leaving the poor cotton lands in the red hills around Winston County and moving to the rich new sections of the Mississippi Delta. In 1885, Black workers in the Delta were more prosperous, received better treatment, and retained many of the civil and political rights which they had lost in other parts of the state. 10 This prosperity ended with the national decline in agriculture in 1890, and did not return to the area until the second decade of the twentieth century.
 
I know that each one of you is proud of your heritage, that you appreciate the sacrifices made by our forefathers, and that you live your life to bring honor to what they did to make us what we are today. Our ancestors worked hard. The men, when they could find work, did the most menial of jobs-cutting timber, cleaning buildings, digging ditches, repairing streets and railways, and subsistence farming. Often they were sharecroppers, working for a share of the crop that they made for land owners. Marry stories have been told of how, at the time of harvest, the croppers were cheated out of their share of crop revenues. The women were relegated to working in the homes of white people--cleaning, cooking, and caring for children; work for which they received very little pay.  Our forefathers were courageous, intelligent, law-abiding, family men and women with an indomitable faith who minded their business and took care of their own. Our ancestors lived in some of the worst times in the history of Black people; yet they persevered.  An African griot once said, "I teach the kings of their ancestors so that the lives of the ancients might serve them as an example, for the world is old but the future springs from the past."  We must never forget the examples our forefathers set for us. Our daily prayer should be that we should pass these qualities on to our own children. Our ancestors have shown us the way.


Our Reunions of Past

1984-Louisville, MS 
1986-Cleveland, OH
1988-St Louis, MO
1990-Louisville, MS
1992-Cleveland, OH
1994-Chicago, IL
1996-Washington, DC
1998-St. Louisville, MD
2000-Jackson, MS
2002-Cleveland, OH
2004-Chicago, IL
2006-St. Louis, MO 
2008-Louisville, MS
2010-Atlanta, GA 
2012-New York, NY
2014-Las Vegas, NV
2016-Memphis, TN
2018-Myrtle Beach, SC
2020-TBD


 
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