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Benjamin Grant Hamilton

Native of Montgomery County Kentucky

Son of Ex Slave the Grandson of Slave Owner

Benjamin Grant Hamilton

c. 1900

 

My name is Freeman Grant Chambers. I am a descendent of a long line of ancestors on both fatherís and motherís family lines from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, ancestors born both slave and free, black and white.

My father Eugene Freeman Chambers was born and raised in Clark County, Kentucky the son of Eurrle and Callie (Hall) Chambers whose family line, in part, I have written about in ďCaroline Chambers Born in Slavery, Raised her Children in FreedomĒ , which can be found at: Kentucky African American Griots http://aagriots.org/kentucky/Clark/chambers.htm

My mother, Helen (Hamilton) Chambers was born and raised in Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky. Born in 1933 the daughter of  Sally Viola (Jackson) Hamilton and Benjamin Grant Hamilton. Sally V. (Jackson) Hamilton was born in Montgomery County, Kentucky in 1905. Her parents Robert Jackson and Nannie B. (Daugherty) Jackson where also born and raised in Montgomery County, Kentucky. But it is Sallyís husband, my grandfather, Benjamin Grant Hamilton whose family line I will focus on here.

Montgomery County, Kentucky was the place of Benjamin Grant Hamiltonís birth, life and death. Most of his adult years he lived in Mt. Sterling, Montgomery Countyís county seat. He was a plumber who in his later years owned his own hardware store, but like many in the area he started his labor years as a farm laborer. Sadly I never met my grandfather. He died in 1951 five years before I was born. My mother spoke fondly of him and my father told me once of Benjamin Hamiltonís protective fatherly sternness that he experienced when he, my father, was dating my mother. Apart from this I did not know much more about Benjamin Hamilton other than what my mother told my siblings and me, when we where children. She told us that a portrait of her fatherís father hung in the Mt. Sterling Courthouse, the details of which none were ever given. She called her grandfather Col. Hamilton. While growing up I did not give much thought to my motherís story and I never found the story to be strange because I knew that my grandfather Ben was multiracial or in Benís day mulatto.

      In early 2008 I began researching my motherís family and discovered what she never knew or was raised never to talk about the details of. When I began my search I knew nothing about my mothers grandparents, not so much as a name. There is no one living that I know of who can tell me anything about grandpa Benís parents, so I began by looking at his death certificate. Benjamin Grant Hamiltonís Death certificate list his birth date as 14 August 1876 while his World War I draft registration card has his birth date as 28 August 1875. His death date 10 Jan 1951. Robin L. (Hamilton) Davis, Benís Daughter and my motherís half sister, from Benís first marriage to Eddie (Mack) Hamilton, was the informant on the death certificate. The death certificate documents Benís mother, Ann Ramey, and his father A.W. Hamilton. Since my grandfatherís birth was about 1875 I first began looking for him in the 1880 US Census. It was this census that reviled some intrusting family connections that in the past may have been family secrets. On the 1880 US Census, Montgomery County, Kentucky, Precinct #8, Enumeration District #128, page #13, line 14 is listed my great grandmother Ann Ramey. She is listed as being mulatto, her age 27. In the column  asking for the relationship to the head of household Ann Ramey is listed as a servant, her occupation, cook; and on line #10 is the name of the man whose servant she was. To my surprise, the person to whom my great grandmother was the cook for was a setting United States Senator. His name, Senator John S. Williams, brigadier general (confederate Army), known for his gallant charge in the Mexican American war, and cofounder of the resort city of Naples, Florida.

 

Below Ann Ramey, her children are listed:

Henry, mulatto age 7

Benjamin, mulatto age 5 (my grandfather)

Elizabeth, mulatto age 3

 

The children were to young to speak for themselves and since Ann was not married the census enumerator listed all of the children with Annís surname. Henry and Elizabeth I know nothing about. My mother once said she had first cousins, children of Henry, in Detroit, Michigan. We never had any contact with them. 

    Senator John Stuart Williamsí wife, on line #11, was Henrietta L. (for Lendsey) Williams, born 1 July 1827. Her marriage to the Senator was her second, while her first husband, Archibald William Hamilton Jr., born 1823, died of fever at the age of 32 in 1855, leaving Henrietta  with two children, a boy A.W. Hamilton and daughter Ida S. Hamilton.

     It is William A. Hamilton (aka A.W. Hamilton) on line #12 of the census and Ann Ramey that I will now turn attention to. Ann Ramey was born Abt. 1853. Annís mother and father are unknown at the time of this writing. A. W. Hamilton, on the other hand was born on 14 July 1852. While Ann, although not confirmed, was most likely born into slavery, A. W. Hamilton was born free to wealthy white parents. His father, Archibold William Hamilton Jr., a rising Lawyer in Montgomery County with a lucrative business partnership with his two brothers until his early demise. A. W. Hamiltonís mother, Henrietta (Lindsey) Hamilton Williams was born and raised in Bourbon County a daughter of Kentucky high society who could trace her ancestral line back to Col. William Garrard, of Stafford county Virginia of  Revolutionary War fame.

      Just when Ann Ramey came to be a servant at Senator John S. Williams home is not known, but it was sometime before 1875, the birth year of Benjamin Grant Hamilton. In the year that my grandfather was conceived  Ann Ramey and A. W. Hamilton were in their early twenties; she a young mulatto servant and most likely a former slave, and A. W. a young advantage white stepson of a United States Senator. The 1880 Census documents that my great grandmother, Ann Ramey, could not read or write. In contrast, my great grandfather, A. W. Hamilton had the best education in the area money could afford. I wonder what they saw in each other, apart from the obvious, and how was Ann able to keep her servantís job in the Senatorís home after becoming pregnant by his stepson in 1875. The nature of  their relationship I suppose I will never know. The fact that Benjamin Grant Hamilton is found listed in the household with his father A.W. Hamilton, in the 1900 Montgomery County, Kentucky census bearing his fatherís surname, though not listed as his son, speaks to some degree about my grandfatherís mother and fatherís relationship.

     A.W. Hamilton died at the age of 66 in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky in 1918. He never married. His will makes no mention of his illegitimate son Benjamin Grant Hamilton or for that matter any offspring that he my have fathered. Most of his possession went to his cousin while his business interest went to his business partner. I do not know when Ann Ramey died. At the time of this writing A.W. Hamiltonís portrait still hangs in the Mt. Sterling, Kentucky courthouse, yes, the same portrait that my mother told me about when I was a boy some forty years ago. The Clerk at the courthouse took a photo of the portrait and mailed it to me in the August of 2008.

 Benjamin Grant Hamilton is a little less mysterious to me now, but I hope to learn more as time permits and as more discoveries come to light.  

 

    If any Rameyís from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky should happen to read this please e-mail me at onycham@dslextreme.com     

 

    Below, is the Death certificate for Benjamin Grant Hamilton, his ďWorld War IĒ registration card and the 1880 census.

 

 

 

Text Box: Benjamin Grant Hamilton
c. 1900