Gadson and Leah Corley Banks were both born in South Carolina as slaves. Gadson was reportedly either half Indian or full-blooded Indian.
Per my conversation on January 29, 2014 with Naomi Corley Satterwhite, who is the great niece of Leah, Leah was the daughter of a slave named Jennie and her white master, Jimmie (Birdie) Corley. Jimmie Corley had 14 children, 7 white and 7 mulatto. Jennie had her own house and was never required to work the fields. Her only duty was to be Jimmie's concubine. Every Christmas, their 7 white brothers would bring gifts to Leah and her siblings.
Thomas Leard Corley was 15 when he became free and acquired a farm in Menota, South Carolina. He set aside 3/4th of an acre for a family cemetery where Jennie is buried with a simple headstone bearing the initials J.C. Naomi inherited a plot of the land, which she still owns.
Gadson and Leah married around 1875, had three children by 1880 and migrated with a band of family members around 1881 from Aiken, South Carolina to Geneva, (or College Station), Arkansas, an all-black town near Little Rock. There, they had six more children and over 100 grandchildren.
Gadson passed away in 1914, presumably from drowning, and Leah in 1950 at the age of 90. More detailed information is available in the newsletters in the Files and Music section.