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Formerly Enslaved Ancestor's Descendants Meet

Robin R. Foster and Andrea (Drea) Clark comparing notes in person for the first time at Anson County Historical Society in Wadesboro, NC. Steve Bailey is in the background. Photo taken by Ellis McClure on 5 March 2022.

It started out a couple weeks ago when I was answering a question in one of my groups. Out of the blue (genealogists and family historians get excited at these occurrences), I received a Facebook message from Drea Clark. She told me she had read Learning About the Nelms Family at Anson County Historical Society, and she wanted to speak to me.

She left a message saying: "I have discovered that I am the great-great-great-great-great granddaughter of David and Lucy Nelms." Drea knows what happened to David Nelms. We will reveal that once we get a document that has been ordered from the NC Archives (

Next, Drea said, "I was never sure of what happened to Lucy. I'm finding myself stuck at this point. Well, she did not have to be stuck any longer. "Lucy Nelms lived near her son, Buck Nelms, my second great grandfather. Buck Nelms was enslaved by Eben's brother, Charles G. Nelms in DeSoto County, Mississippi. Two pages of the 1880 Census you will see at the bottom Buck Nelms, Lucy Bradford - his daughter on the top of the next page, and Lucy Nelms, wife of David Nelms, in the house of Ed Nelms (Steve Bailey Found My Paternal 3rd Great Grandma)," said Robin.

Meeting Family

I guess you can tell we were excited. Drea brought to Anson County Historical Society her father, Nathaniel Clark, Jr., and aunt, Marilyn, who they affectionately call Mal. They live very close by.

Marilyn (Mal), Robin, Steve, Drea, and Nathaniel Clark, Jr. getting acquainted. Photo taken by Ellis McClure on 5 March 2022.

The time that we spent there was much needed. We compared our findings. We spoke of our people and how happy they must be. I must still be in shock, because you could see Drea's sweet emotion. Mine never surfaced. Ellis commented on how unusual that was.

Robin, Drea, and Nathaniel Clark, Jr. catching up to the past. Photo taken by Ellis McClure on 5 March 2022.


This was a gift given to us from above. I know that it was important to them. We were not strangers. We had never seen each other but knew that we shared ancestors. Last year, I was told by Heavenly Father that I would find the parents and siblings of Buck Nelms (1830-?). I trusted and believed Him. We now know his parents, David and Lucy Nelms (1805-?). We know the names of three of his siblings.

This is a great miracle to us because the children of David and Lucy Nelms never knew each other in this life due to enslavement. They were taken from each other. Now after all those years, some of the children of Charlotte Nelms Smith (1822-?) and a child of Buck Nelms met. If you believe like we do, we know all the children and their parents know that we met. That is the beginning of healing.

Marilyn, Robin, Drea, Nathaniel Clark, Jr. totally absorbed in conversation. Steve is at the desk.

Shady Oaks Plantation is Important

Drea showed us where Shady Oaks Plantation is. This is the place where York Smith was enslaved. Since Charlotte Nelms Smith was not freed at the request Presley Nelms after he died in 1841, we are determining whether she was enslaved here with York. York Smith worked here for William Allexander Smith after enslavement.

Now known as The Oaks, this was Shady Oaks Plantation where York Smith was enslaved. Photo taken by Ellis McClure on 5 March 2022.

There is something special about meeting on the grounds of the plantation that you know family used to be enslaved. You know they were there. You look across at the tiny houses where they lived. You looked out over the field where they were required to spend days toiling.

I guess I was still in shock. I saw the tears Drea shed that I could only feel. We took the photo at the front of the house, and that is special because our ancestors would have not been allowed to enter that way. We have plans to get together again.

I hope Drea and her family really know what they mean to me. I was taught by my father what family means.

Robin and Drea at the front of Shady Oaks Plantation. Photo taken by Ellis McClure on 5 March 2022.

We know Presley Nelms would have had his plantation at Cedar Creek in Lilesville. That is where David and Lucy and their family were enslaved before 1841.

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