Eugene Bonaparte Welborne

Eugene Bonaparte Welborne (Hinds County)

State House: 1874-1875

Born: c. 1851 in Mississippi
Died: January 9, 1934 in Washington, D. C.

Brother of Maggie Beatrice Welborn, the wife of L. K. Atwood. According to brother Walter’s death record, their parents were Johnson Welborn and Celia Saunders. Their father was the wealthy white merchant Johnson W. Welborn of Clinton.

Member of the House Committee on Engrossed Bills and a committee appointed to investigate contested elections. Served as a constable for four years. His congressional testimony states that he was present at the event that began the Clinton riots and was one of the targets for white violence. After numerous death threats that led him to run away from home and hide in a swamp, Welborne fled the state.

Welborne relocated to Washington, D. C., where he worked in government offices. Listed on the 1880 census in D. C. with wife Sarah Ann Stewart (d. 1908) and son Walter (c. 1873-1923). Listed on the 1900 census with Sarah and daughter Eugenia (b. 14 Apr 1881) and on the 1910 census with Eugenia, who became a teacher.

In 1920 and 1930, he was listed with a second wife, Susie Perry, and young daughters from that marriage: Cosmo (1915-1998), Audrey (1919-2000), and Olive (1922-2006).

Usually appears as Wilbourn(e) in legislature records and as Welborne in later records. Welborne seems to have been his preferred spelling and is the surname used by his children. His brother’s family and descendants used the spelling Welborn.

“My father’s maternal great-great-grandparents were a merchant, Johnson W. Welborn, of Clinton, Mississippi, who was born in 1825, and a house slave, whose name and date of birth are unknown. Welborn, who was also a captain in the Mississippi infantry, had a total of five children with my great-great-grandmother, four with another slave, and several with his legal wife. When they were of age, he sent several of his offspring to be educated at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee… My father’s mother, whom I call Nan, told me that these children pleased their father by resembling him and being fair-skinned. Two of the children, Walter, my father’s great-grandfather, and Eugene, escaped from Clinton during the conscription riots that were widespread through the South after the emancipation of the slaves in January 1863. Walter and Eugene, financed with money their mother had somehow saved, purchased train fare to Washington, D.C… Walter and Eugene were joyful on the train ride to Washington. Their mother had disguised them in Confederate soldier uniforms and they had carried it off because of their fair coloring.”
(Tracey L. Brown, The Life and Times of Ron Brown, 1998)

Links:

The Hidden History of the First Black Women to Serve in the U.S. Navy – article contains lots of information about Welborne’s niece, Ruth, and their family story as told to her great-granddaughter, Tracey L. Brown

Semi-Weekly Clarion, December 30, 1870
Clarion-Ledger, February 24, 1875
Weekly Mississippi Pilot, June 5, 1875
Daily Mississippi Pilot, October 29, 1875
Clarion-Ledger, July 19, 1876
Clarion-Ledger, February 13, 1878
Washington Bee, May 12, 1883
Huntsville Gazette, May 26, 1883
Clarion-Ledger, June 24, 1885
Mississippian, March 22, 1887
Mississippian, March 29, 1887
Evening Star, February 13, 1891
Evening Star, July 8, 1895
Evening Star, November 1, 1908
Evening Star, July 15, 1914
Evening Star, September 11, 1923
Hinds County Gazette, November 2, 1928
Evening Star, January 11, 1934
Evening Star, January 9, 1935