Cully Family Surname: (My Matrilineal Line) Part #1

Betty Peters

My late-mother Betty Mae (Peters) Porter mentioned on numerous occasions that she was going to write the Memoirs of  her Life on Sugar Hill, NY.  She also wanted to include her family history that had been passed down to her.  I heard many stories about her mother Agnes Cully and her family.
I had promised my Mother that I would help her with her genealogical research, and so I do this in her honor and memory.

My Mother only knew her grandparents names and the stories told to her by her mother Agnes;  (Ambrose E. Cully and Nora A. (Gilliam) Cully  both died before Betty was born.  The Cully family originated from North Carolina and Ambrose went to Worcester, MA in the late 1880’s.
Ambrose was born before slavery ended in 1863 (even census and other various records show otherwise) and died in 1925.  Ambrose’ wife Nora gave birth to so many children, that her body did not have time to recover, and therefore died by the time she was Forty. The account is that Nora gave birth to 10 up to 21 children…as of date, I can only document 12.

When I initially began my research, I had the habit of not documenting and indexing the records.  I would save the records on and print out a copy if I was able to.  I did not have a system of filing and staying organized, so at this time I am having to backtrack. Thanks to fellow Genealogist and Family Connection, Debra Newton-Carter, she has really challenged me to raise my standards with my research and documentation.

Many stories were told to me by my Mother or were recorded on tape, and  written down in manuscript form.  These stories needed to be backed up with historical records so I could confirm what was told. My goal is to place each ancestor in historical context.

First thing I did was to back up what I did know.  I went to to look at the 1930 U.S. Federal Census to see my Mothers household  composition in the 1930 US Federal Census.

(1930 US Federal Census)

My mother Betty Mae Peters was listed as 3 11/12 years old and she was living with her parents
Charles Irving (32) and Agnes (28) and the family resided at 79 St. Nicholas Place, NY NY.  

Source Citation:Year 1930; Census Place; Manhattan, NY, NY,  Roll 1577,
Page 12A, Enumeration District 1019; Image: 314.0

I wanted to know more about my Mother’s Grandfather Ambrose Elander Cully and his Paternal line. (More details to come in upcoming posts.) According to my mother’s journal,  Ambrose was sent away as a young man by his father (William) to Worcester, MA due to the race issues in North Carolina in the late 1880’s.  My mother stated that Ambrose’s father gave him some timber land.  (Have not confirmed this, as It is possible that Ambrose’ Grandfather gave his father William Henry Cully timberland.) Ambrose married Nora Ann Gilliam in 1889 and started his family in Worcester.  

Not knowing Ambrose’s life prior to North Carolina, I initially looked at Census Records on to continue developing the life of Ambrose’s family in Worcester, MA.  I decided I would look at North Carolina once I felt that I exhausted my Record Search in Worcester.  

I wanted to know when and where Ambrose Cully and Nora Gilliam got married. The information was on FamilySearch.

Ambrose & Nora’s Abstracted Marriage Record from Family Search

Original Record:

Marriage Register in City of Worcester, MA 1889; Record # 340, Film # 1415228,
Digital Folder # 4279733, Image # 00999

With the Marriage record, I took note of who Ambrose’s parents were: William H & Nancy E.  Nora’s parents listed were: Daniel & Hannah.

I also took note of the Marriage date: (conflict in year)  On the abstracted document, it states marriage took place on July 23, 1890, but on the original registrar book it shows July 23, 1889.  I tend to believe it is (1889) according to the original.  Ambrose was (25) and Nora was (19).

At this point, I wanted to know what the family composition was in the years 1900 and 1910 since there was a huge question as to how many children my Great Grandmother Nora Cully had, or at least who lived.  Below I have listed: 

1900 United Stated Federal Census

According to the Extracted 1900 US Fed Census The Family consisted of:

Ambrose Cully (34) Nora (29) S Hannah (9) F Sarah (8) S William (7)
E Kate (4) H Osburn (1)  M Agnus (0) 
The Family resided on 12 Eastern Avenue, Worcester, MA in 1910 at the time of Census

The 1910 United States Federal Census
Abstracted Source Citation: Year 1910; Worcester, Ward 3,
Worcester, Mass, Roll T624_631; Pg 50B, Enumeration Dist 1869
Image 990, FHL # 1374644
The Family Composition in 1910 is as Follows:

Ambrose Culley (41), Nora A (39), Hannah S (19), Zara F (18), William E (17) Catherine (14)
Osborne A (11), Agnes M (10), Ralph C (5), Wendell P (4), Raymond (2), Mrs. Hannah Gilliam (68)

The Family resided at 181 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester MA

So there were additions to the family. By this time Nora’s mother Hannah Gilliam is living with the family, which agrees with what my mother told me that the grandmother raised the children while Nora spent most of her time trying to recover from one pregnancy after another. 

By 1920, Nora was already dead.  Nora died November 9, 1911. 

(The Death Certificate confirmed that Nora A. Cully died due to complications of a miscarriage at 7 1/2 months.  She actually gave birth to a daughter, Nora J. Cully who was born a few days before Nora A died)  I also took note of Hannah’s maiden name (Nelson)

Below is proof of Nora J. Cully’s birth as she is not listed in the 1910 Census:

(Nora J was born November 4, 1911, 5 days before her mother Nora A Cully died)

After Nora died the younger children were sent to live in various locations.  The exact details were not known until I began digging in the records, I was able to see the age of the children, what relatives took them in, and which one’s stayed with  the father, Ambrose, and which one’s were already supporting themselves. (I will show this in a future post)

At this point I was wondering if Nora had more children that were not listed in the 1900 and 1910 Census and never found after the 1920 Census.

I was able to find Birth Records for two stillbirths, one child Sydney H, who I have not found beyond birth records. I am believing that Nora did have other births but probably ended in miscarriages as it was told she had up to 21 births.

Male Cully, July 5, 1902 (Birth)
Male Cully, May 23, 1910  (Birth)
Male Cully (Death Record) May 23, 1910
Index of Death Records in MA (Death Male Cully 1902& 1910)
Unpublished birth records, People of Color (No longer online)
Thomas L Doughton had posted College of the Holy Cross

So with this information, the children that Nora Ann (Gilliam) Cully gave birth to and are accounted for are:

Sydney H
Hannah Sidney
Zara Frances
William E (died at 19)
Catherine V.
Osborne Ambrose
Agnes M
Ralph C
Wendell Phillip
Raymond Mansfield
Stillborn Male Cully (1902)
Stillborn Male Cully (1910)

I have been able to document twelve of the children of Ambrose and Nora..I will later show the descendants of these siblings…But before I show the record of descendants, my next posts will be on the next two ascending generations of Ambrose E. Cully.

Go here to see Part #2

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

5 thoughts on “Cully Family Surname: (My Matrilineal Line) Part #1

  1. Sydney H Cully was born 10 Dec 1890 and was a male. Hannah Sidney Cully was female and born 10 Dec 1891. I found both documents on Family Search. I also knew of Aunt Hannah, who died in Florida from Breast Cancer. Have Pics of her. Thank you. I just cannot find what happened to Sydney H and also with My great Uncle Ralph C. Cully after 1930. It's a mystery.

  2. I am working on my own Culley mystery right now…preparing a post on James Randolph Culley. Still working on it…to be posted in a few.

    The naming practices in our families is interesting. Seems they really wanted to keep certain names alive. We have some Sydneys in the Carter family as well.

  3. Yvette, Dr. Willie P. Blair making this comment. You are on the road to creating a very polished well thought-out geneological biography of Betty Peters. Keep focusing on her blood relatives, and connections by marraige, adptions/births, etc., Understand that your research, anecdotal material, biblographies and references must be accurate, plausible, and conecting. Stay narrowly focused on this project, give up rest and sleep, sacrifice everything until your dream of doing this becomes a solid memorial to your wonderful Mother who now resides on the other side of the Jordan River! Remember what the French Philosopher Montressor said ” A millon Candles have burn themselves out- Still… I work on!

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