Dear J. Pendarvis,
While the identity of the "race" of our ancestors may be of no interest to you, it is fascinating to many others. Genealogy is the study of the ancestral descent of an individual. The word genealogy itself is derived from the Greek root word "genos," which is defined as "race." So by discussing the "race" of our ancestors we are practicing the study of genealogy in its most basic form.
You are absolutely correct in that there was bias in James B. Heyward's Pendarvis-Bedon book. It was unequivocably the intention of Mr. Heyward, whose agenda it was, to prove that his wife Sally Boykin Bedon had no African ancestry. His surviving letters make clear his disdain for the Pendarvises descended from Parthenia, and in fact his disdain for anyone of mixed blood. He was not alone in his thoughts, and he and others like him intimidated our ancestors into hiding or destroying their own family records. Heyward had a tremendous influence on the historian Alexander Salley, who was a Parthenia descendant and seemingly worked diligently to keep that information secret. I have read over 15,000 items of correpondance left by Mr. Salley to help me reach this conclusion. It has never been my intention to prove any hypothesis about Parthenia, other than to bring her as vividly to life as I can. Whether we use these words or not, most of us are diligently trying to reconnect with our ancestors hoping to better understand ourselves.
There is no bias in my work on Parthenia and the Pendarvises, other than to rid the family of secrecy and shame. For some this notion of shame seems ridiculous, but for others it was and remarkably still is very real. I'd like the Pendarvis family saga to be simply a part of history and not a stigma carried by those who bear the name.
You say that, "Joseph and Parthenia in my mind is a great love story." To my knowledge there is no historical document in existence to support that theory, yet there is also none to dispute it. It is simply a conclusion that you have reached based on your own biases of why Joseph would have so endowed Parthenia's children. There is absolutely no indication that Parthenia was from Barbados. She was most certainly of primarily African stock, as the four documents that discuss or imply her "race" all designate her as a "negro." In that day and age "race" was more clearly defined than it was 100 years later, when generations of mixing had occured. She was certainly, at least by appearance, an African.
You are mistaken in your assessment that to argue Parthenia's race gives credence to Heyward's book. Heyward made it quite clear that he thought that anyone who bore the name of Pendarvis was a usurper of that name and privledge and not entitled to its use. I say that he did not hold the patent to name usage, and that of course the children of Parthenia would have used their father's name.
In your gentle scolding of me, you state that you find the Pendarvises "to be a remarkable family to have my children descend from." Do you think I don't? Do you feel that I have in some way made light of the Pendarvis family? Clearly I am fascinated by them, and have studied them in the most minute detail.
You are correct in suggesting that I should not have stated with such authority that there are not living Pendarvises descended from a non-Parthenia line. Usually I use words such as "it is unlikely that," or "seemingly there are." I assure you nonetheless, that it is highly unlikely of the existence of persons bearing the name of Pendarvis who are not descended from Parthenia. My book will explain this in detail.
It is your own bias that would suggest that I am not embracing Parthenia, or proud of my descent from Joseph Pendarvis, or "horrors" of the opinion that the non-Parthenia Pendarvises are of a better stock.
I am days away from posting my "take" on your branch of the family. I am nearly certain that your branch derives from James Pendarvis, son of Joseph Pendarvis, son of Brand Pendarvis, son of Parthenia.
I hope you will reevaluate your opinion of my work.
P.S. The word "race" has been deemed archaic by the scientific community, and is now considered to be a defunct classification system.
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