Atlanta Stories Available August 1

Coming soon! Atlanta Stories: Fables of the New South. Eight stories about people coming to Atlanta to reinvent themselves. Stories include:

  1. Mockingbird 
  2. Journey From Night
  3. A Debt to Pay
  4. Dead Man’s Hat
  5. Remains 
  6. Bare-Assed Messiah 
  7. Atomic Punk
  8. Phoenix 

Release date: August 1.

Available at online bookstores and direct from the author. 

Mockingbird, Brian

Mockingbird Title Image
Brian Sanger sits in the Starbucks at 1776 Peachtree Street, halfway through a venti, black, dark-roast, Ethiopian coffee, and an almond scone, and looks over a piece of music he’s composing. He typically prefers Caribou to Starbucks, but has no car, since his was totaled in an accident early the previous year, and doesn’t live close enough to the Caribou at Ansley to pop in whenever he feels like it, plus, he’s hooked on the Blue Note blend his friend, Claire Belmonte, convinced him to try a week or so before. He can easily walk from his apartment to the Starbucks on Peachtree, near Coach and Six where he works as a maitre’d, so he stops in every few days to stock up on coffee, try out whatever dark roast they’ve brewed up that day, and work on his music. Certain days, Claire joins him if she’s worked a club nearby.

When Brian arrived in Atlanta, the Braves were in the middle of their “worst to first” season and the city had won the privilege of hosting the Olympics the previous year. While he never considered himself much of a sports fan, aside from high school football games he had to attend with the band, he found himself getting caught up in the fervor surrounding the team, but usually couldn’t afford to attend games, instead watching them when they were on the television at bars he inhabited. He was glad the Major League strike ended the previous season and is happy to be supporting the team again.

In addition to becoming a baseball fan, Brian has spent much of his first first few years in town familiarizing himself with the gay scene in Atlanta and it was here he met Claire, who had gone to work as a bartender at his favorite hangout as soon as she turned twenty-one in ’94. She explained that she’d been working as a waitress in restaurants and bars while attending junior college and had grown tired of the men hitting on her. In gay clubs, they either left her alone, or chatted her up on the topics of the day while she mixed their drinks. Plus, she found, the older men left better tips.

Almost as if on cue, Claire enters and looks around. Spotting Brian, she gives a quick nod, then stops at his table. Brian regards her as a rather formidable woman, very close to his own height of six foot three inches, and well-proportioned, with long dark hair she usually pulls back, especially if she’s working. Today, she’s letting it flow freely. She doesn’t meet the conventional standards of beauty, but Brian still considers her extremely attractive, with expressive brown eyes and a charming smile she only displays to those she knows well. To everyone else, she’s an ice princess.

“What are you having?” Claire asks.

“Today’s dark roast.”

She seems less than enthused and dumps her bag onto the seat beside Brian and goes to check out the pastry counter.

Claire has a non-distinct “Atlanta” accent, which she’s worked hard to cultivate since she arrived there as a teen, but when she and Brian are together, she ditches it in favor of her original middle Georgia vernacular. She grew up less than fifty miles west of where Brian had been raised, far enough away for it to take coming to Atlanta for them to meet. Claire has quite a complicated past, which she’s been gradually revealing to Brian as he gains her trust. He knows she came from a deeply religious family and can easily imagine what that meant for a young woman coming of age in rural Georgia. Her difficulty in trusting people tells him much of the story. Learning more about what Claire has experienced deepens his conviction to bring his sister Charlotte to Atlanta when she finishes high school, hoping to spare her from the fate of their two sisters, already married and starting families.

Brian is the oldest and only son in his family, raised mostly by their mother after his father died in an accident at the agricultural plant where he’d worked most of his adult life. Brian sang in the choir at his church and was the drum major in his high school marching band, as well as playing in the brass section. He’s also accomplished on the piano and organ. When she was a toddler, Charlotte would sit nearby while he was practicing, enrapt by the music. When she got older, and began exhibiting signs of echolalia, Brian worked with her to help her try to communicate and would intercede when one of their siblings or a kid from school made fun of her. When she started writing lyrics as a teenager, Brian set them to music. His background in music and his involvement in their church made it almost inevitable that he’d be approached about taking over the choir when Gladys Phelps, the previous director, retired at age ninety. It was here where Brian gained the attention of Todd, the son of their pastor, Kenneth Williams.

Growing up, Brian had been in several relationships with much older men, usually under the guise of taking private music lessons or performing odd jobs inside the house, always with the utmost discretion, given that these men had far more to lose than him. Todd was the first person close to Brian’s age who had shown any interest in him, and Brian didn’t know how to interpret that, given that Todd was married and had two little girls at home. Todd had been relentless in his pursuit, however, and finally coaxed Brian into a clandestine relationship, which was mostly carried out at Todd’s house on days when his wife was out running errands or attending church functions. Brian suggested that it might not be the best idea to have their encounters at Todd’s home, but Todd insisted they’d have complete privacy. This proved to be wrong when Todd’s wife, Myra Lynn, showed up unexpectedly, after her women’s devotional group ended early, having found the book of Revelation too cryptic to be digested in a two-hour lunchtime conversation. After most of the screaming and yelling had devolved into tears and apologies, during which time Brian hastily pulled on his clothes, he bowed politely to the couple and excused himself with, “I’ll just be on my way now.”

Two hours later, when the call came from Pastor Williams, Brian had already written his letter resigning as choir director, and packed his bags, and loaded up his car, since he knew it was probably best not to stick around. He gave his mother a somewhat expanded explanation about what had happened after she’d already heard an abbreviated version from the pastor, and left a letter for Charlotte, letting her know he’d stay in touch, and renewing his promise to bring her to Atlanta when she graduated. Once his meeting with the pastor was concluded, he hit I-16 west toward Macon, and from there, took I-75 north to Atlanta.


Skull photographed at Artisan Resource Center, 24 January 2016, artist unknown.

I’ll state up front, she dies — eventually. I mean, we all do, right? Nothing any of us can do will make much of a difference. I don’t want people getting a false sense of hope that things work out between us in the end because they don’t. They almost never do, really.

I won’t use the name she gave me because that person doesn’t exist, alive or not. She made that as clear as she could, through both her music and things she told me. If she still has a name, I don’t know it. Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell. I owe her that much. The name people knew was Shayna, but that was an illusion she created that has served its purpose. It kept people from asking too many questions. She didn’t like questions and unlike some wasn’t very good at hiding her disdain. 

Perhaps I should start at the beginning, or as close as I can come to the beginning because I sort of came in halfway through her story. Imagine walking into a club and hearing a voice so enticing that it consumes every fabric of one’s being. That was her. She was standing at the mic, holding a guitar and pouring out her soul for the mostly indifferent crowd. Pool players, folks there to watch the game, drinkers, smokers, all contributing to the general din, with no idea what a miracle they were missing. I recognized it and wanted to be as close as possible.

I took a seat near the stage — there were a lot — and I gave her my undivided attention. I think she sensed someone was there to actually listen because her sound brightened a bit. I guess I came in just after she started, because she played for another twenty or thirty minutes. Afterward we talked for a while and I got on her contact list and bought a CD. Many artists sound different in the studio than live but I was pleased to hear as I listened to her CD in the car that recording her voice had not diminished its power. From that point on, I saw her wherever she played locally. On a whim, I once even drove all the way to Birmingham to see her, which surprised her to no end. In fact, it was the Birmingham show where I gained her trust, if not her friendship.

She rode up with some fellow musicians, including the driver who apparently wanted to get to know her on a more intimate level. When she made it clear to him after the show that it wasn’t going to happen, he drove off and left her at the venue. I was the only other person she knew who was headed back to Atlanta, so after several protests about the inconvenience, she agreed. At first, as we rode along, I tried to get some personal info out of her, but my inquiries were met with silence and I knew better than to press. Instead, we started talking about music and that’s where she opened up. She had eclectic influences, Blues, Jazz, sixties Rock, but also she mentioned Broadway musicals that her mother had introduced to her via soundtracks played around the house. We had a good talk, and as I dropped her off she told me to let her know when I was coming to a show so she could put me on “the list”.

Understand, we were never friends, as that would have required a level of openness on her part that she wasn’t willing to give, but after Birmingham she trusted me and her trust was more important than her friendship. Truth be told, she was linked to a lot of people, women, men, the evidence was never definitive on her preference, or if she even had one. She never told me, and I never asked. After she was gone, a number of people claimed to have been with her. I suppose it’s a game. If one can’t be special, then attach oneself to someone who is, regardless of whether it’s true or not. If there were no witnesses, who’s to say after the fact?

She was “successful” I suppose, at least by industry standards. She started selling some records, booking larger venues, touring. She never liked the attention, but she loved the connection, standing in front of the audience, hearing them sing along to one of her songs. She told me once that she missed the intimacy of smaller venues, where she could actually talk to people after shows. She recorded quite a bit and was always in the studio or at a concert. She didn’t quite make it to the status of headliner, during her brief time in the spotlight, but she was always an anticipated opening act, and always a big draw when she played occasional solo shows at favored local spots. 

I asked her about it once and she denied she was successful. She didn’t equate being well-known or selling records with success. “It’s the music,” she told me. “If it doesn’t mean anything, what else matters?” For every song she recorded, there were probably ten others she’d written that the label decided wasn’t commercial. If I had to speculate on what drove her to what she did, I’d have to guess it was the loss of her freedom. It’s what caused her to take a hiatus, just at the point where many felt she was about to have her big breakthrough. She just walked away, put the brakes on and retired to her cabin in the woods, “to reassess”.

No one is certain exactly what happened. The best guess based on the evidence collected is that she simply went for a hike in the woods near her house one day and never came back. There wasn’t anyone checking in on her, so several days passed before anyone even thought to miss her. Her behavior had not seemed out of the ordinary leading up to the last time anyone heard from her and it was normal for her to go several days, weeks even, without any communication as long as she had all her necessities nearby. She often remarked how much she liked getting lost in nature and how convenient it was living near a forest.

When she missed a show at one of her favorite venues the owner went to her place, and called the police when he couldn’t get anyone to come to the door. For several weeks after, there were searches and APBs and her photo was flashed across the country. She became more famous after her disappearance than she’d been before and the record company took full advantage of that by promoting her back catalog. Sales of her music tripled. No one knew her well enough to say what might have been on her mind so no one could speculate on what happened to her.

Some months later a couple of hikers stumbled over what turned out to be a human femur. A search of the area turned up additional bones, including a skull, that were scattered as though predatory animals had gotten at the body. The skull was missing about half its teeth, but enough bones were found to reveal they belonged to a female about her age and height. Nearby were fragments of clothes which matched items she’d typically wear. For most who followed the situation, that was all that was needed to close the books. 

She didn’t leave much behind beyond her household supplies. The most important item was what she called her goodie bag, the knapsack full of personal effects she took the pains to haul around with her everywhere she went. She said it contained her remains. Inside was a high school yearbook, a formal dress, two pairs of well-worn, lace-up checkerboard Vans, a pair of men’s jeans, and an old cigar box that contained these items:

  • Her class ring
  • A photo of her mother
  • A handwritten list of phone numbers most of which go to disconnected lines
  • A couple of napkins bearing the names of local bars, neither of which are there anymore 
  • A sheet containing lyrics to the first song she ever wrote — a note says at age ten
  • An invitation to her high school graduation
  • A flash drive containing her video diary entries, none of which reveal very much
  • An unsigned, undated note on lined paper that reads, “Why, Daddy, why?”

Did these represent the sum total of her life — items she felt she needed with her, right up to the point where she left them behind at the last place she lived? I do believe she deliberately left them there, because I think she knew she wasn’t coming back. 

See, here’s the thing. I saw the skull they found — I was counted as a close acquaintance which gained me access — but I examined it and while there were only a few teeth left in it, two of them had fillings. Authorities anxious to close the case missed that fact — but two teeth had fillings. I know for a fact she had never had any dental work done. She told me that herself, even showed me when I doubted her. So I don’t know who the poor soul was whose skull they found, but it wasn’t her. 

I don’t know why she left her stuff behind. Maybe she thought she wouldn’t need it anymore. Maybe there’s more to be found in the woods, since they cover a lot of acres. Maybe she just needed her disappearance to be convincing. I have it if she ever reappears though I doubt she ever will. Whether she’s alive or dead, she was done with this life. Still, I’ll hang on to it for her, just in case.

The Cheese Toast Project Now Available!

Cheese Toast Animated Graphic 02My collection of essays, The Cheese Toast Project (ISBN: 978-0-9848913-4-4), is now available in print at online booksellers, and in print and Kindle versions at

The essays are about family, writing, music, drama, religion, politics, and history. Early drafts appeared on my blog, Raised by Wolves and have since been revised and expanded.


Coat of Arms, Ambrose Lupo and Sons

This is a graphic representation of the coat of arms issued to Ambrose Lupo (posthumously) and his sons, Peter and Joseph. Numerous copies are floating around the Internet, mistakenly identified as the Lupo family coat of arms, many with no attribution and some with erroneous information about how it originated. Here’s the actual story.


Original artwork by Keith Kennedy Tyson, Tasmania, Australia.

The graphic is taken from a scan of the original artwork produced by Keith Kennedy-Tyson from Tasmania, Australia, which is in my possession and is credited as such at the website I created for my family ( It did not come from one of those online companies which produce dubious “family crests” or questionable family histories. It represents an actual grant of arms to a specific set of individuals, who were the forerunners of the branch of the family who settled in the United States prior to the Revolution. Keith also translated the original document I received from the British Library, with the assistance of the individuals identified below.

Accompanying the artwork, Keith provided the following text.

The Arms of Lupo as granted to Ambrose Lupo and his sons, Peter and Joseph by William Dethick, Garter King of Arms 


In Campo Caeruleo Lupam albam ingredientem hiantem lingua et unquibus sanguinolent et in supere Argt. 3 rosas rubras albis duplicatis foliis viridis cresentibus 

pro Crista superiorem albi lupi partem erectum egredientem supra capsidem pendibus tenentem rosam cum stipite et ramis proprius colorit. depicta et tortili.

Attempt at translation of the Arms: 


On a field of Azure a wolf passant Argent, langued and Armed Glues on a chief Argent three red roses duplicated in white slipped vert.


A demi wolf rampant Argent, holding with his feet a rose, slipped vert as depicted in the Arms.

About Elizabethan Grants and their contemporary portrayal: 

The closest representation I have found to copy the style from is from the 1580’s. At this time it had become a common rule that whatever the colour of the wreath the mantling was generally Gules doubled Argent. In general the wreath’s colour was still taken from the principal colour and metal of the shield. In the case of this grant it would be Azure doubled Argent. 

Elizabethan mantling looks a little weak when compared with either ancient or contemporary examples. It had also become common practice for the esquire’s/gentleman’s helmet to be garnished/out lined with gold. 

The reason for the change from a she wolf to a normal wolf is that the Heraldic Latin of the period was not noted for getting its gender right and she wolves are exceptionally rare whilst a wolf is far more probable, particularly as it would then tie in with the crest. 

Keith provided the following attribution with the artwork.

This translation was based on the work of one honours student in Classics, Assoc. Professor M. Bennett, Dept. of Hist. (a medievalist with strong interests in the early Tudor monarchs) and myself an honors grad in Hist. reading for my Masters. I also used a Latin heraldic glossary from one of my 1800’s heraldry books.

How the Work Came About 

In the late 1980s, I began researching my family’s history. Since I already knew Lupo was the Italian word for “wolf,” I originally believed I’d trace back a few generations and discover my immigrant ancestor. Imagine my surprise when I found Lupos in Virginia well before the Revolution. Eventually, I ran across mention of musicians by that name, which led me to scattered references to Ambrose, Peter and Joseph, who were incorrectly identified as brothers.

Sometime around 1992, I discovered a recording by the Parley of Instruments from England, headed by Peter Holman, which included compositions by Thomas Lupo, a royal composer employed by James I and his son, Prince Charles, later Charles I. Appropriately, the recording was entitled Music for Prince Charles. The text accompanying the recording contained biographical information about the Lupos, so I wrote to Peter Holman. He replied with references which were highly beneficial in rediscovering the history of the Lupo family in England. Two of the articles were by Roger Prior, at the time a professor at Queen’s University, Belfast. I later corresponded with Dr. Prior, and he provided me with further information which was invaluable in tracing the origins of my family.

At the time, Peter Holman was working on his book, Four and Twenty Fiddlers, about the history of the violin at the English court. I and another researcher, Michael Lupo, contacted him separately about the family, and he mentioned us in a footnote on page 51. Between Peter Holman and Roger Prior, I found mention of a coat of arms issued to Ambrose Lupo and his sons.

“Lupus, Ambrose, s. of Baptist, of “Castello maiori” of Busto in Normandy, in the Republic of Malan; augmentation and crest granted ? 45 Eliz. … by W. Dethrick, Gart. Queen’s College Oxford manuscript, folio 96, copy of grant in Latin; Stowe ms. 676 fo. 138b names sons Peter and Joseph.” This was found in Grants of Arms Named in Docquets and Patents to the End of the Seventeenth Century, transcribed by Joseph Foster, Harleian Society Publications, Vol. 66, page 160. Referencing the Stowe manuscript, I wrote to the British Library and received this reproduction of the grant.


Being unable to read Elizabethan Latin, and newly acquainted with the Internet, I went on a newsgroup called rec.heraldry in June of 1993 to find someone who could help translate, and possibly provide a rendering of it. This set off a flurry of correspondence between myself and individuals mainly from Germany and Australia. Someone in Germany would comment on the translation, I’d forward the info to someone in Australia, who’d reply back with more information. It was truly a global effort.

One of the individuals with whom I corresponded was a woman in Tasmania, Australia named Elizabeth and she put me in touch with her husband, Keith, who was a graduate student in history. He asked me to send a copy of the grant and he’d take a crack at translating it. He did just that, as well as supplying me with a rendering of how the arms probably looked, which is the basis for the graphic above.

When I started my website in March of 1995, I included a family page which became the basis for the site, which went online in 1998. I posted the graphic there, without realizing it would be distributed far and wide without attribution. Once I realized it was being used by others, I updated the image at the site to include the site name, but by then, it had been propagated throughout the Internet. Numerous individuals have it posted on Ancestry, some with links back to, others without.

It is incorrect to refer to this as the Lupo Family Coat of Arms. The grant was to a specific family under a specific set of circumstances. Arms are the property of the individual to whom they are issued, and since these were conferred upon Ambrose and his sons, both Peter and Joseph could pass them on to their heirs. They would have been passed down in accordance with established rules of inheritance, and England, at the time, followed the rules of primogeniture, that is, in the absence of a will, the eldest surviving son inherited the father’s property. Phillip Lupo, who visited Virginia in 1621 and who was the father of Phillip who made out his will in 1668, was not the oldest son of Peter Lupo and, in fact, had two older brothers, Thomas and Albiano. Thomas remained in England, where he continued the family profession of being a court musician. The arms conferred on Peter would have been passed down to Thomas, then to his heirs. While Phillip in Isle of Wight County was his father’s oldest son, the family in the United States descends from his younger son, James, and most likely from James’ youngest son, John.

I’m posting this to both relate the story of how it came into existence and to recognize the many individuals who contributed to making it happen. I wish I could post a transcript of the discussion that went into it, but unfortunately none of that was preserved and would most likely take up too much space. I would urge anyone who has it posted to be sure to reference this post, or the family site at where credit is given to the known individuals who helped. It was through their efforts that this important piece of family history was rediscovered.

The First Lupos in America 1610-1670

The story of the Lupo family in North America began with the earliest settlers in Virginia and was led by two sons of royal musician Peter Lupo. His marriage to Katherine Wicker is recorded in the parish of St. Botolph’s without Aldgate 27 October 1575. It was preceded within a month by the christening of his second daughter and the burial of his first wife, both named Katherine. Given the date of the christening record of the younger Katherine Lupo and the date of her mother’s burial, Peter’s first wife must have died in childbirth, or as a result of it. The events followed one another very closely, the younger Katherine’s baptism on 29 September, the elder Katherine’s burial on 11 October, and Peter’s marriage to Katherine Wicker, who’s identified in some records as a widow, on 27 October. The haste in getting married was probably due to Peter’s having two small children at home, one of whom was a newborn. A busy court musician who had to be available whenever and wherever the Queen required his services would have had little time to care for a family on his own.

In a letter to a colleague, dated 18 March 1578, Peter states he found his oldest daughter sick with the Plague when he returned home from Hampton Court, a royal residence, on the first day of Lent. History confirms that there was an outbreak of the Plague in England in 1578. The younger Katherine died around January of 1577, and Peter’s letter is dated March of the following year. Peter did have another daughter, Jane, who was older, and who Peter probably was referencing in his letter. Jane’s burial is recorded in 1583, not long after another outbreak of the plague in London, meaning that over an eight year span, Peter lost his first wife and both his daughters by her. Between 1577 and 1588, Peter and his second wife, Katherine, had six children, Thomas (1577), Albyanus (1579), Elizabeth (1581), Phillip (1582), Ferdinando (1585), and Mary (1588), most of whom appear to have survived to adulthood. After 1600, records on the family appear in Kent, where, in 1604, Phillip married Mary Comes, who most likely belonged to the Comey family of court musicians. Peter died in Kent in 1608.

Albyanus/Albiano Lupo, 1579-1626

Other than his christening record, not much information has been found on Albiano in England. His name was most likely derived from Albion, an archaic name for England. A number of researchers state that he married Elizabeth Bassano, who was born in London around 1593, but no marriage record has been found to support this conclusion. Records from Virginia show that his wife’s name was Elizabeth, and that she was considerably younger than Albiano, suggesting she could have been his second wife, though Albiano appears to have left behind no family in England. In all probability, they married in the colony, since Elizabeth would have been a young teenager when Albiano went to Virginia, and didn’t follow him for six years, which would have been quite a lengthy separation for a young bride. One of the individuals Albiano is said to have sponsored is Elizabeth Hayden, but no information has been found on who she was or what became of her. It would not have been the first instance where a man sponsored the woman he eventually married. The Bassanos and Lupos did intermarry at least once, and Albiano’s brother Phillip appears to have married a member of another musical family, the Comeys, but for now, Elizabeth’s family origins remain a mystery.

What’s more certain is what brought Albiano to Virginia, and that was opportunity. King James of England granted a charter to the Virginia Company in 1606, and charged them with colonizing the “new world”. The result was the settlement of Jamestown in 1607. The Virginia Company was a joint stock corporation with the power to appoint governors and other officials, and it had the responsibility of insuring that settlers had the necessary supplies and support to successfully manage in their new homes. Published records from the company show that Albiano and his wife were shareholders.

Virginia Company Seal

This is the seal of the Virginia Company, founded in the late 1500’s and used until the expiration of the charter of the Virginia Company in 1624. [ en.wikipedia]

Colonizing the “new world” came with much risk. A previous settlement of 110 people on Roanoke Island, the infamous “lost colony” disappeared without a trace between 1587 and 1590, and an earlier attempt in 1584 failed after encountering supply difficulties and hostilities from the native tribes. When those first settlers stepped off the boat and onto the shores of what would become Virginia, they were, figuratively speaking, as far away from the world they knew with all its conveniences and protections as were the first men to land on the moon. As had been demonstrated with Roanoke, by the time word of difficulties reached England and help returned to the colony, there might not be much left to find. Jamestown itself nearly folded during its first few years, and it was only saved by the last minute arrival of supplies from England.

Albiano Lupo was among the second wave of settlers in 1610, arriving onboard a ship called The Swan, and preceding the Pilgrims by ten years. Albiano was among the first settlers of Keccoughton, later known as Elizabeth City County, one of the earliest colonies in Virginia after Jamestown. Albiano came to the colony under an indenture, presumably to Stephen Sparrow, as that’s who requested Albiano’s release in 1619. At that time, Albiano received a grant of one hundred acres, and was later given the office of Lieutenant, which pretty much insures that he was Protestant, or at least viewed as such by those in charge. Early settlers to Virginia were also entitled to fifty acres of land for indentured servants whose passage they sponsored. By 1622 Albiano had sponsored several individuals including John Slaughter, John Hayes, Hester Wheeler, Daniel Palmer, and Elizabeth Hayden, entitling him to a total of 350 acres in Elizabeth City. Individuals who settled in Virginia prior to 1616 and survived the “Indian massacre” of 1622 were referred to as “Ancient Planters”.

Elizabeth Lupo arrived in 1616, according to a census listing in 1624, and later was granted fifty acres of land in her own right. If she was the Elizabeth Hayden Albiano sponsored, perhaps she earned the fifty acres via their marriage, or by coming to the colony in order to get married. Early on, men greatly outnumbered the women in the colony, so eligible women were encouraged to emigrate. In 1621, Albiano’s brother Phillip arrived onboard a ship called the George, along with incoming colonial governor Sir Francis Wyatt. Neither Phillip’s wife nor his children joined him in the colony at that time, which may have indicated he did not plan to stay and there’s no record that he received a grant of land for traveling to Virginia as did Albiano.

From the start, English relations with the native tribes were tenuous at best, forming the template for centuries of mutual hostilities and bloodshed. On 22 March 1622, the unified forces of several tribes, led by Opechancanough, the uncle of Pocahontas, undertook a large scale attack against the colonists in Virginia. Characterized in colonial accounts as a surprise attack, the aim was to drive the white settlers from the land and in the resultant slaughter 347 colonists were killed. Remaining settlers sought shelter in forts and larger towns where many succumbed to illness. A census taken in 1622/23 which lists the living and dead in Elizabeth City County bears the name of William Lupo listed “among the dead”, though his age or how he might be related to Phillip and Albiano is not reported. The massacre of 1622, combined with numerous financial problems, led to the dissolution of the Virginia Company and the transfer of Virginia to royal oversight around 1624.

It was during this early period of royal oversight that land was granted to the Lupos by Sir Francis Wyatt. The 350 acres of land that Albiano owned adjoined 50 acres owned by his wife Elizabeth on one side and the land of John Bush on the other, and was bordered by “the main river”, which was presumably the James. Albiano and Elizabeth’s parcels were divided by a creek which for years was known as “Lupo’s creek”. Though the county has long since vanished, the land on which Elizabeth City County stood today forms the independent city of Hampton, Virginia near the coast of the present day state.

Around this same time, Phillip Lupo appears to have left the colony, as no further record of him in Elizabeth City has been found. Parts of Elizabeth City formed Nansemond County, one of the burned counties that lost most, if not all its early records. Albiano died in Virginia around 1626 and his will was probated in Jamestown shortly thereafter. Elizabeth Lupo married John Chandler, who is listed as owning the land belonging to Albiano in deeds from around 1645. Descendants of the Chandlers can be found throughout the U.S. to this day. Albiano and Elizabeth had a daughter named Temperance, born in 1620 in Virginia, who may have been the first Lupo born on American soil, but it is not known what became of her. Albiano Lupo appears to have had no surviving male heirs in the colonies, so the story of this pioneering Lupo ended with his death in 1626.

Phillip Lupo, 1605-1670

Though Phillip Lupo apparently left the Virginia colony around or after 1624, his son, also named Phillip, returned and founded a family line that would thrive in Virginia for over 150 years and that survives to the present across the U.S. Evidence of this comes from what is perhaps the most important document in the history of the early American family, the will of Phillip Lupo of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, dated 8 March 1668 and probated 9 February 1670. No other single document gives as many clues on the origin of the family or tells so much about its author as the few paragraphs of Phillip’s will and the accompanying inventory of his estate. It tells us that his father’s name was Phillip and that he was a goldsmith in London, his brother was James and and his sister was Katherine Morecroft. Further, Phillip tells us his wife was Marie, his sons were Phillip and James, and his daughter was Mary Ryall, though her husband’s name has not been identified. He appoints both his sons as administrators of his estate, which lets us know the youngest son, James, was at least fourteen years old, which is the earliest age at which a male could be appointed an administrator in Colonial Virginia. Phillip’s will also states he’s headed back to England to look after the estates of his father, brother and sister.

Records from England indicate Phillip’s brother, James, was christened 21 December 1617 in Maidstone, Kent and died before 16 February 1669 in Yorkshire, as that’s when his will was probated. In 1648, James married Maria (or Mary) Askham in Ledsham, Yorkshire and the parish records show two daughters and a son born to their family, all of whom appear to have died in infancy. The court records state that Katherine Lupo married first a Mr. Lowndes and had a son Thomas, who Katherine outlived. After her first husband’s death, she married Mr. Morecroft (possibly John) but had no children with him. No christening or marriage records have been found for Phillip or Katherine, but records from Kent indicate that they had a sister, Mary, born in 1612, who died in 1617. Given that we’re dealing with multiple individuals named Phillip, I will refer to the elder Phillip from Isle of Wight County as Phillip Senior, his son as Phillip Junior, and his father as Phillip the goldsmith.

Accompanied by his namesake son, Phillip Senior returned to England, where he discovered that property his sister Katherine had received from her son, Thomas Lownes, had been willed after Katherine’s death to James, then to James’ widow after his death. Phillip Senior, the oldest of Katherine’s siblings and therefore the rightful heir under existing law, challenged the inheritance in court. While Phillip Senior was visiting his sister-in-law in Yorkshire, he died, and Phillip Junior took up the suit on his behalf.

In depositions given before the Chancery Court, important information was revealed about Phillip Senior’s life in Virginia. Edmund Ayres, a former neighbor of the Lupos in the colony, testified that Phillip Senior lived near the James River and had three children, all born in Virginia. John Exum testified that Phillip Senior lived in Maidstone, Kent upon his return from the colony and that Phillip Junior’s mother died in Virginia “about 16 or 17 years ago” (approximately 1654-1656).

The situation, while detailing Phillip Senior’s activities while in England, leaves us with still more unanswered questions. Namely, why did it take Phillip Senior sixteen years to return to look after his father’s estate? Evidence suggests that Phillip the goldsmith died around 1652, as that’s when a burial record is recorded for a “Phillip Luprue” in St. Botolph’s Bishopsgate. This man was seventy at the time of his death which is consistent with Phillip the goldsmith’s birth in 1582. In testimony given by James’ widow at the Chancery proceedings, she claims that James had stated that his brother had gone to Virginia and “was long dead”.

The wording of his will makes it fairly clear that Phillip Senior didn’t have much information about what was happening with his family in England, though he was aware that his sister had married Mr. Morecroft, although this could have occurred before he left England. He seems to be saying he’s headed over to deal with whatever he finds there, without being certain who is alive or dead. At the time he made out his will, his brother James would have still been alive. Sailing the Atlantic between the colonies and England was lengthy and hazardous, not to mention filled with numerous difficulties. Many who made the trip died along the way, and there was no way to predict how long the journey would take, from a matter of weeks to several months, which is probably why Phillip Senior felt it prudent to make out a will before departing.

The date of Phillip Senior’s birth and when he arrived in Virginia is unknown. After 1624, the first official mention of a Phillip Lupo in Virginia comes from land records in Isle of Wight County around 1664, where Phillip Lupo appears as witness to a deed. No records have been found that detail when Phillip Senior came to the colony, who accompanied him, or whether he paid his own passage or was sponsored by someone else. Given that his wife is said to have died in Virginia around 1654 and that his children were all born there, he must have been married, but no record has been found to indicate whether he married in the colony or before in England. Phillip Junior, who accompanied him to England was most likely no younger than eighteen to twenty when they set sail, and no marriage or other records have been found on him in Isle of Wight County. Following the death of his first wife, Phillip Senior married Mary Hodges Higgins, widow of Francis Higgins who died around 1657. Mary and James Lupo are later mentioned in the will of Roger Higgins, who identifies Mary Lupo as his “mother”. Records from England show Phillip Junior died in England around 1672. The outcome of the trial is not known.

There is a record from 1643 where Sir Francis Wyatt, former governor of the colony, received 50 acres of land for sponsoring the passage of a William Lupo, but it is not known if this was yet another relative of the family who arrived late, or if this is the same William Lupo who is listed as having died in Elizabeth City County in the Massacre of 1622. Headrights were often claimed years after they had been earned and were frequently sold several times before being claimed. Francis Wyatt was temporarily governor of Virginia during 1643, though, so the possibility exists that this William Lupo was a later arrival, though no records have been found to show what became of him. Records from England show that Joseph Lupo’s son, Horatio had a son named William, born in 1624 in London, who would have been 19 in 1643, but it is not known if this is the William who went to Virginia. Horatio Lupo died in London around 1650 and apparently remained in royal service at least until the outbreak of the English Civil War which was waged from 1642-1649. It is also possible that this could have been another name for Phillip Lupo, who does appear to have arrived in the colony around this time, though no record has been found to support this possibility. Regardless, no mention of a William Lupo has been found in Virginia records for several generations, until the will of Phillip Senior’s great-grandson James in 1789.


England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,, Provo, UT, 2014.

England, Select Marriages, 1538-1973,, Provo, UT, 2014.

England, Select Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991,, Provo, UT, 2014.

London, England, Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1538-1812,, Provo, UT, 2010.

The Records of the Virginia Company of London, Volume I-IV, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1906-1935.

Hotten, John Camden, The Original Lists of Persons of Quality 1600-1700, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc. 1986.

“Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents”, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, published by The Virginia Historical Society, Vol. 1, June, 1894.

Nugent, Nell Marion, Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants 1623-1800, Richmond, Virginia, 1934.

Phillipp Lupo c. Thomas Chappell and Mary Lupo, widow, Court of Chancery Records, C24-C243, 1671/2, p. 7, Abstracted in Virginia Colonial Records Project, December 16, 1975, Virginia State Library and Archives.

Dorman, John Frederick, Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004.

Vieux Farka Toure, Terminal West, Atlanta, GA, 22 April 2015

Vieux Farka Toure, Terminal West, Atlanta, GA 22 April 2015, #2

Vieux Farka Toure, Terminal West, Atlanta, GA 22 April 2015, #3Vieux Farka Toure, the guitarist from Mali, in West Africa, played Terminal West in Atlanta on 22 April. I had the good fortune to see his father, Ali Farka Toure play at the Variety Playhouse in 1999 or 2000, so I was pleased to be able to see Vieux play this year.

Vieux Farka Toure, Terminal West, Atlanta, GA 22 April 2015, #4

Like his father before him, Vieux Farka Toure’s playing is a combination of Mississippi Delta Blues with traditional West African rhythms, for a sound like no other.

Vieux Farka Toure, Terminal West, Atlanta, GA 22 April 2015, #5

Ali Farka Toure passed on in 2006, but Vieux picked up where his father left off and forged his own course, earning critical acclaim in his own right. For more info, check out his website at