304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

Work Hours
Monday to Friday: 7AM - 7PM
Weekend: 10AM - 5PM

McCary Family

The matriarch of the McCary family, Francis (or Franky) was born in approximately 1790 and was mother to three children: Robert or Bob (1807-1866); Kitty (1809-1836) and Warner or Okah Tubbee (ca. 1810-?). As a parent, Franky demonstrated discrepancy in the treatment of her children. Kitty and Bob were the daughter and son of James McCary, a cabinet maker who bequeathed them real estate, cash, and personal property. Warner was left enslaved to his brother and sister, possibly McCary’s punishment toward Franky for having a child with another man. In his autobiography in which he claimed ancestry from a Choctaw chief and renamed himself Okah Tubbee, Warner reveals great childhood pain and charged Franky with unfair conduct in the raising of her children. He complained that his siblings were dressed well while he was clothed in rags. Kitty and Bob were also tutored privately. Warner clearly felt slighted by having siblings who enjoyed more material benefits and were treated differently by their mother. He was eventually manumitted by his brother and became a traveling musician and performer.

Bob was a close friend with William Johnson who called him “Mc” and the two frequently socialized by hunting, drinking, and visiting in one another’s homes. McCary, like Johnson, was a barber. He also taught enslaved and free Black children. He and his wife Mary had a few children, one of whom, William, would become sheriff in Natchez during Reconstruction. Franky lived in her son’s household until she was at least 60. Kitty was mother to one son, James McNeill, who was a blacksmith. In 1836, Peter Lawrence, a white assailant, brutally attacked Kitty and James. She died less than three months after the whipping due to injuries sustained from the incident and Lawrence went free. Descendants of the McCary family continued to reside in Natchez following the Civil War. 

Further Reading

Davis, Edwin Adams, and William Ransom Hogan. The Barber of Natchez (1954).

Davis, Edwin Adams, and William Ransom Hogan, eds. William Johnson’s Natchez: The Antebellum Diary of a Free Negro (1951).

Davis, Ronald L. F. The Black Experience in Natchez, 1720–1880 (1993)

Gould, Virginia Meacham. Chained to the Rock of Adversity: To Be Free, Black & Female in the Old South (1998).