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February 9, 2014

Black History Month: Jubilee Singer Charlotte Bland-O'Banyon

Black History Month: Jubilee Singer Charlotte Bland-O'Banyon
It wasn't easy to find Charlotte. Her death record has proved elusive. What I did find after a great deal of research was an 1871 census record for Hamilton Ontario showing a Charlotte E. Bland age 33 married to John H. Bland, 49. Charlotte was born in Hudson New York.

She is also found in the 1861 census for Hamilton with husband John Bland, a barber born USA, and their son Charles age 8, born Canada. The 1881 Hamilton Census still finds the family of John 56, Charlotte, 37 and 3 other people, one being the widow Mary Young 70, born USA. 

I had a hunch that Mary Young was possibly Charlotte's mother because in her marriage to Josephus O'Banyon her parents are recorded as Randall and Mary. Although the surname was recorded as Bland I believe this was an assumption that she was a single woman on her marriage. But in reality she was a widow, her husband John Bland having died in Hamilton in December 1884. 

Sure enough a search of New York census records showed in 1850 and 1860 in Athens New York. The family group in 1850 consisted of Randall Young 53, his wife Polly (a common nickname for Mary) 49, and children James, 25, Thomas 23, Charlotte 15 and Jane 10. All were recorded as being born in New York.

In 1860 Randall was 57 born Maryland, a boatman. His wife Mary was 43 born Greene Co. New York and children were Charlotte 17 born Columbia Co., and Jane A. also born Columbia Co. Next door was son Thomas age 25 with a wife and 2 children.

By 1871 Randall and his wife were in Hamilton Ontario for they are found there in the 1871 census. Randall is recorded as 70 and born USA while his wife is listed as Polly age 58 born United States. A widow Jane Ann Hall is also with the family as are two of her children. I suggest this is their daughter born ca 1840.

Charlotte is found with Josephus in the Muncie, Indiana, City Directory for 1897 and it is very possible that she died there.

To date I have not found any further information on the family. It seems a shame to not know more about these Canadian Jubilee Singers! 

Credit:  Canadian Jubilee Singers songbook available at

1 comment:

fundi56 said...

I wrote some information about the O'Banyoun family and singers in my book "Emancipation Day: Celebrating Freedom in Canada" and in her book on Blacks in Hamilton "The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway: African Canadians in Hamilton," Adrienne Shadd also mentions them.