Bankhead, Marinda Redd

Biography

Marina Redd Bankhead and Alex Bankhead Gravestone

Marinda and her husband, Alex, lived in a little adobe house in Spanish Fork, Utah. “Along the front of the house they planted asparagus which grew tall in the summer… to the top of the walls of the little house.” [1] A neighbor remembered Marinda as “a wonderful cook and very freehearted. Many times she brought freshly baked bread to our home.” [2] This idyllic picture of her married life belies the turbulent years she spent before her marriage to Alex Bankhead, another former slave.

In September, 1850, John Hardison Redd, his wife Elizabeth Hancock Redd, together with their children and six bonded servants entered the Salt Lake Valley as part of the Mormon overland trail’s James Pace Company. [3] Marinda, one of the family’s servants, was likely born into slavery on the farm which John and Elizabeth Redd worked in Onslow County, North Carolina. [4] Elizabeth had inherited two slave girls from her father, Zebedee Hancock’s estate. When she married Redd in 1826, she brought Venus and Chaney into her new household. [5] Redd family tradition holds that Marinda, born around 1831, was Chaney’s daughter. DNA evidence has confirmed that John H. Redd fathered a son with Venus. He is also, likely, the father of Chaney’s daughter Amy. If Marinda was Chaney’s biological daughter, John H. Redd very well could be her father, too. The Redd DNA study did not include any of Chaney or Marinda’s descendants, so there is no incontrovertible evidence to prove that supposition. [6] The 1850 census lists Amy and Marinda’s race as “yellow,” a term used to indicate very light skin tone resulting from mixed racial heritage. [7]

In 1838, the Redd household relocated to Rutherford County, Tennessee. It was there, in 1843, that LDS missionary John D. Lee taught and baptized the older members of the John H. Redd family. Venus and Chaney were baptized at the same time. [8] Marinda was old enough to be baptized then, but she waited another nine years before converting. After settling in Spanish Fork, Utah Territory, some members of the Redd family accepted rebaptism while the younger members were baptized for the first time. Venus and Chaney recommitted themselves to the Church on June 13, 1852. On that date, Marinda was baptized and became a member of the LDS Church. [9]

Marinda’s mistress Elizabeth died in 1853, followed by John Hardison Redd in 1858. When Redd’s property was divided among his descendants, Marinda received equal shares of land, animals, grain, and household goods with the rest of his heirs at law. She and two other Redd slaves were given a house to share. Redd’s heirs took no court action to free Marinda, but by giving her this inheritance, they declared her to be emancipated. [10]

The decade of the 1860s was a difficult time for Marinda. She gave birth to two children out of wedlock, a son named David William Pace in 1863, who was remembered in Spanish Fork as “Billy Bankhead” and a second son, Edward T. Dennis in 1867. Both of the boys were fathered by white Mormon men which brought down the condemnation of LDS bishop Albert King Thurber. In 1867, at two meetings, Thurber preached against “whoredoms” and race mixing. [11]

Edward died during his first year of life, but David William lived to adulthood. [12] After Marinda married Alex Bankhead, around 1870, he took on the role of her surviving son’s stepfather and helped her to raise him. As an adult, David William “Billy” moved to Salt Lake, where he crossed the color line and lived as a white man under his biological father’s name “Pace.” There is no record of his baptism.

Alex and Marinda were known as faithful Latter-day Saints during their married life. A black newspaper publisher, Julius Taylor, interviewed the elderly couple in 1899 and described Marinda and Alex as “devout and strict Mormons. She belongs to the Ladies’ Relief Society of her Ward.” [13]

Like other Spanish Fork farmers, who lived in town, Alex supported his family by raising crops on a plot of land in a designated agricultural area. The Bankhead’s farmland spanned twenty acres. [14] As property owners they amassed enough to be able to leave a legacy to David William “Billy” after their deaths. [15] They seemed to have been well accepted as members of the community and LDS ward. Neighbors remembered “Aunt Rindy” attending parties and visiting with friends.

Marinda developed breast cancer and eventually died of the disease some years after undergoing a mastectomy. She died in Provo, Utah, at the Utah County infirmary on January 20, 1907. [16] Alex predeceased her by five years. Marinda Caroline Redd Bankhead is buried next to her husband in the Spanish Fork City Cemetery, where many of Utah Territory’s earliest Mormon Pioneers rest. Someone placed a headstone over the Bankhead’s grave that dates a proxy temple sealing to 1991, but FamilySearch ordinance data contradicts that. [17] According to FamilySearch, Alex, Marinda, and Marinda’s sons were sealed together in 1984. [18]

By Tonya Reiter and Kaitlyn Benoit

Primary Sources

Bankhead, Marinda. Death certificate, 20 Jan 1907, file no. 29. Digital image available in “Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961,” s.v. “Marinda Bankhead” (18311-1907), Ancestry.com

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Spanish Fork Ward, 1852-1891. CR 375 8, box 6609, folder 1, image 6. Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Spanish Fork Ward general minutes, 1851-1883, Spanish Fork Ward, Utah Stake. LR 8611 11. Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lee, John D. Diary, March 1842-March1843. MS 2092. Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Pace, David William.  Death certificate, 10 Sept 1958, file no. 51-181623. Digital image available in “Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961,” s.v. “David William Pace” (1862-1951), Ancestry.com.

Record of Wills, Book A, 1800-1825, Onslow County, North Carolina,” Zebedee Hancock, May 1820.

Redd, John Hardison, “Notebook,” ca. 1850s. Held in private hands, by Amasa Mason Redd, Salt Lake City. (Reproduced in The Utah Redds and Their Progenitors.)

Spanish Fork, Utah Sexton, Cemetery records, 1866-1898, microfilm no. 1654570, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Taylor, Julius. “Slavery in Utah.” Broad Ax, 25 March 1899.

United States, Census, 1840. Tennessee, Rutherford County, s.v. Jno Redd.

United States, Census, 1850. Utah Terriitory, Utah County.

Utah Territorial Census, 1851: Census Returns (Original), Great Salt Lake County, schedules 2-6. MS 2672, box 1, folder 6, image 3. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

United States, Census, 1860. Utah Territory, Spanish Fork, Utah County.

United States, Census, 1870. Utah Territory, Spanish Fork, Utah County.

United States, Census, 1880. UtahTerritory, Spanish Fork, Utah County.

United States, Census, 1900. Utah, Spanish Fork, Utah County.

Utah County Recorder’s Office, Utah County Deed Record No. 94, Entry No. 4537, filed August 2, 1915.

Secondary Sources

Baadsgaard, Janene. Blog July 29, 2009. “Burials in the Spanish Fork Pioneer Cemetery.”

Baker, Cecelia R. “Researcher Upends Her Own Family History; Ours Too.” John H. Redd and Elizabeth Hancock Family Organization.

Carter, Kate B. The Negro Pioneer. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1965.

Hatch, Nelle Spilsbury, Mother Jane’s Story. Wasco: Shafer Publishing Company, Inc., 1964.

Marinda Redd (1831-1907). L6PF-ZSW, FamilySearch, Family Tree.

Redd, Lura, The Utah Redds and Their Progenitors, edited by Amasa Jay Redd. Salt Lake City: privately published, 1973.

Reiter, Tonya. “Redd Slave Histories: Family, Race, and Sex in Pioneer Utah.” Utah Historical Quarterly, 85 (Spring 2017).

Thiriot, Amy Tanner. “Another Slave Burial Site in Utah.” Keepapitchin. June 4, 2013.

Thiriot, Amy Tanner. “Marinda Redd Bankhead: A Slave in Zion.” Keepapitchin. March 16, 2012. 

Warner, Elisha. History of Spanish Fork. Spanish Fork: The Press, 1930.


[1] Kate B. Carter, The Negro Pioneer (Salt Lake City: Daughter of Utah Pioneers, 1965), 27.

[2] Carter, The Negro Pioneer, 27.

[3] Marinda Redd, Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[4] United States, Census, 1840, Rutherford, Tennessee, Jno Redd. Marinda could have been one of the female slaves under the age of ten listed on the census.

[6] Tonya Reiter, “Redd Slave Histories: Family, Race, and Sex in Pioneer Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 85 (Spring 2017), 111-112.

[7] United States, Census, 1850, Utah Territory, Utah County.

[8] John D Lee, Diary. March 1842-March 1843. MS 2092. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[9] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Spanish Fork Ward, 1852-1891, CR 375 8, box 6609, folder 1, image 6, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[10] Farozine R. Bryner collection: Lemuel Hardison Redd Papers, Financial and legal papers, 1858–1878, folder 8, file 1, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[11] Spanish Fork Ward general minutes, 1851-1883, Spanish Fork Ward, Utah Stake, LR 8611 11, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah

[12] Spanish Fork, Utah Sexton, Cemetery records, 1866-1898, microfilm no. 1654570, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah and Certificate of Death, David William Pace, Utah State Archives; Salt Lake City, Utah; Death Certificates, 1904-1961; Series Number: 81448. Marinda’s middle name is listed on her son’s death certificate.

[13] Julius Taylor, “Slavery in Utah,” Broad Ax, 25 March 1899.

[14] Taylor, “Slavery.”

[15] Utah County Recorder’s Office, Utah County Deed Record No. 94, Entry No. 4537, filed August 2, 1915.

[16] Marinda Bankhead, death certificate, 20 Jan 1907, file no. 29, digital image available in “Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961,” s.v. “Marinda Bankhead” (18311-1907), Ancestry.com.

The informant, Dr. David Westwood provided the month and year of Marinda’s birth, but wrote on the certificate that Marinda, “did not know much about herself.” No parents were listed which points to Chaney not being her mother.

[17] Marinda Redd Bankhead, grave marker, Spanish Fork City Cemeterry, Spanish Fork, Utah, Utah, digital image s.v. “Marinda,” Ancestry.com.

[18] Marinda Redd (1831-1907), L6PF-ZSW, FamilySeach, Family Tree, ordinances.

Documents

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