The Barlands - A Study in Black and White
The will of William Barland, a wealthy planter and downtown property owner, disclosed an interesting domestic relationship that has long intrigued historians.
Proven in 1816, the will legally acknowledged Barland's relationship with "friend and companion” Elizabeth enslaved and the mother of his twelve children.
Demonstrating his love and respect, William Barland bequeathed Elizabeth a life interest in his estate and even sanctioned the possibility of her marriage after his death.
Barland children and descendants straddled two racial cultures. In 1824 son Andrew Barland petitioned the legislature to remove his restrictions of race and stated that he had married a white woman, owned slaves, served on a jury, testified in court, and voted. He also noted that his sisters have all married white men...”
Today Barland descendants include people who culturally identify themselves as African American and people who identify themselves as white.
Pictured above are Walter and Alice Claiborne Barland and their children: Herbert (born 1889), Edna (born 1888), and Oscar (born 1899). Walter was a descendant of William and Elizabeth
Walter Barland was a successful Natchez merchant who operated a grocery and dry goods store at 603 Franklin Street.
Alice Barland's descendants identify her and her two brothers Fred and Ferdinand as the African American children of an unknown member of the family of congressman and historian J. F. H. Claiborne of Adams County. Census records confirm that they were reared in the Claiborne household from childhood. They were still living as young adults with J. F. H. and Martha Claiborne in 1880.
The Barlands both died in middle age. Alice died in 1913 and Walter a year later.
The Queen Anne style house built in the 1890s for Walter and Alice Barland stood at 84 St. Catherine Street until it was demolished in the 1990s. The store built in the front yard survives and is typical of the small stores that were once dotted throughout the St. Catherine Street neighborhoods.
The building above at 603 Franklin Street housed Walter Barland's grocery and dry goods store.
The three children of Walter and Alice Barland all became part of the Great Northern Migration.
Son Herbert Claiborne Barland married Libby Reale, both pictured above. Herbert operated the family store after the death of his father.
Descendants acknowledge Libby Reale Barland as the daughter of an African American woman Gini Jackson anda member of the Italian Reale family who operated the store next door to the Barland Store on Franklin Street.
Herbert and Libby Barland sold out in Natchez in 1925 and moved to Chicago to escape the bad economy and the racial restrictions of segregation. Herbert's younger brother Oscar became a doctor and moved to Detroit, where he was joined by his sister Edna who never married.
Pictured below are Herbert and Libby Barland's four children. Herbert, Jr. is standing and seated (left to right) are Enola, Loval, and Alice.
Erected by City of Natchez.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi - Natchez Trails series list.
Location. 31° 33.462′ N, 91° 23.561′ W. Marker is in Natchez, Mississippi, in Adams County. Marker is on St. Catherine Street west of 6th Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Natchez MS 39120, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. African American Public Education (a few steps from this marker); Davis-Miller-Dumas House - 69 St. Catherine Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Louis J. Winston - St. Catherine Entrepreneur (within shouting distance of this
Credits. This page was last revised on April 5, 2018. It was originally submitted on April 5, 2018, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 652 times since then and 144 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 5, 2018.