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Victoria Principal’s
Roots in the Peachtree State

By James Pylant


In her role of “Pamela Barnes Ewing,” actress Victoria Principal was one of the original cast members of the television series Dallas. The drama debuted in 1978, and Principal appeared in two hundred and fifty episodes before leaving the series in 1987. Perhaps the best post-Dallas role showcasing her talent came as “Anna Forbes” in the 1995 movie, Dancing in the Dark.1

Sources agree that the actress was born in Fukuoka, Japan, on the 3rd of January, but they differ according to the year and her exact name, one citing 1946 for Victoria Ree Principale,2 while another says 1950 for Concettina Ree Principale.3 However, Vicki R. Principal (born in Fukuoka, Japan) was two-months-old as of 29 March 1950, the day she and her mother, Mrs. Ree V. Principal, age twenty-six (born in Gordon, Georgia) sailed the USNS Fred C. Ainsworth from Yokohama, Japan, for Seattle, Washington.4

The actress is the oldest child of Victor Principal and Bertha Ree Veal.5 One source made a vague reference to Victoria Principal as "an American actress of Italian and Filipino extraction."6 Though her father was the son of Italian emigrants, the claim that the actress also has Filipino ancestry is puzzling. Maternally, her ancestors were Georgians and South Carolinians.

Victor R. Principal was born 28 October 19187 and died on 20 April 2001 in Warner Robins, Houston County, Georgia.8 New Jersey native Victor Principal was enumerated as an eleven-year-old (instead of 12) on the rolls of the 1930 census of Essex County, New Jersey, in the household of his Italian-born parents, Rocco Principal, age fifty-five, and Christine, age forty-nine. The Principals had five other children sharing their home: Michel, age twenty-seven; Thomas, age twenty-two; Anna, age twenty; Daniel, age nineteen; and Catherine, age sixteen.9

Bertha Ree Veal, at age six, appears on the 1930 Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, in the household of Bertha Veal. The thirty-eight-year-old widow lived on a farm at Irwinton with her five children. Besides Ree, the others were sons: Al, age seventeen; Bobbie, age fourteen; Osborne, age twelve; and Earl, age four.10

A decade earlier, this family was living on White Spring Church Road, in Irwinton, at the enumeration of the 1920 census. Andrew T. Veal, age twenty-nine, born in Georgia to Georgia natives, was a farmer. His wife, Bertha L., was twenty-eight-years-old, and their children were A. T., age seven; William R., age forty months; and Osburn, age twenty-four months.11 In 1910, Andrew Veal, age twenty, and wife, Berta, age eighteen, had been married two years at the time of the federal census. He farmed in Irwinton, and the couple had not yet had children.12

Andrew Veal and Miss Bertha Sapp applied for a marriage license in Wilkinson County, Georgia, on 7 April 1908, and they were married the following day.13 Two years later, when enumerated on the 1910 census, they appear next to the family of Robert F. Sapp, age forty-eight, a Georgia native and farmer. His wife was Eliza V. (age forty-two; born in Georgia) had been married twenty-six years. Their children, all born in Georgia, are named as Hattie, age fifteen; Annie, age thirteen; James E., age eleven, a farm laborer; and Leonald, age seven. Mrs. Sapp was the mother of nine children, five of whom were living.14 The other living child, not living with the family, was clearly her married daughter, Bertha Veal, who lived next door.

The 1900 census shows farmer Robert T. Sapp, age thirty-five, born in November of 1862, with his wife of fourteen years, Pink, age forty-two, born in August of 1858, with four children: Bertha, age eight, born in December, 1891; Hattie, age five, born in January, 1895; Annie, age three, born in February, 1897; and James E., age nine months. All members of this household were Georgia natives. Mrs. Sapp was the mother of seven children, four of whom were living.15

The age recorded for Robert Sapp in 1900 is thirty-five, which is inconsistent with the birth date also given – November, 1862. But that year of birth matches with the age recorded for Mr. Sapp in 1910 (age forty-eight)16 and 1920 (age fifty-eight), though he would not have reached those ages until after the official enumeration dates, if the November birth date is correct.

The only Robert Sapp found in Wilkinson County, Georgia, in 1880 was a seventeen year-old (born in either 1863 or 1864) in the household of Jesse Sapp, a forty-year-old farmer. His wife is named as Malinda, also forty, and his children, besides Robert, were Gillia, age seventeen; Frances, age twelve; Charles, age nine; and Thomas, age five. A twenty-year-old female farm laborer named Melina E. Dixon also made her home with the family. All members of this household were born in Georgia.17 A decade earlier, the family appears on the rolls of the 1870 census in Irwinton, with Jesse Sapp, age twenty-eight, a farmer; Malinda, age twenty-four, George, age eight; Walter, age four; and Susan, age two. All were born in Georgia.18 Robert is not named, unless he is incorrectly recorded as George. Regardless, these three children do not appear in the 1880 enumeration.

Jesse Sapp was a twenty-two-year-old farmer when his name was entered on the rolls of the 1870 census. He held no real estate, and his personal property was valued at $150.00. Malinda, age twenty, and a four-month-old infant named William R. Sapp were the only other residents of this household. Jesse and Malinda were both illiterate.19

The late Georgia genealogist Joseph T. Maddox identified the wife of Jesse Sapp as Malinda Sanders, daughter of Jefferson Sanders and Mary Williams. Maddox says the couple’s son, Robert Sapp, born in 1863, married Malissa Dixon, though he does not give a date or cite sources.20 As shown earlier, Robert’s wife appears in 1900 as Pink (age forty-two) and Eliza V. (age fifty-two) in 1910. However, in 1920 her name is recorded in the federal census as Malisie V. (age sixty-two).21 Based on the 1900 and 1910 census schedules, the Sapps were married between 1884 and 1886. However, a search of Wilkinson County marriage records show Robert F. Sapp wed Malissa V. Dixon on 19 July 1883.22

  1. Victoria Principal entry, Internet Movie Database, online, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000595/, downloaded 31 October 2006.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Victoria Principal, Wikipedia, online, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Principal, downloaded 31 October 2006.
  4. Ree V. Principal entry, no. 2, and Vicki R. Principal entry, no. 3, List of In-Bound Passengers, no. 7, Seattle Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1957; National Archives [NA] microfilm M1398-1.
  5. Victoria Principal, Wikipedia, online, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Principal This source, as of 1 November 2006, spells her father’s name as "Victor Principale."
  6. Ibid., revised as of 15 May 2006. The statement, "Victoria Principal . . . is an American actress of Italian and Filipino extraction" has been removed.
  7. Victor R. Principal, no. 147-09-1782, Social Security Death Index, online http://ssdi.rootsweb.com, downloaded 1 November 2006.
  8. Victor Principal obituary, The Macon [Georgia] Telegraph, 21 April 2001.
  9. Rocco Principal household, 1930 U. S. Census of Essex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Milburn, District 409, Enumeration District [ED] 7-509, Supervisor's District [SD] 4, sheet 10B, dwelling 149, family 205; National Archives [NA] microfilm T626-1332.
  10. Bertha Veal household, 1930 U. S. Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, population schedule, Irwinton, ED 160-3, SD 8, dwelling 275, family 276; NA T626-394.
  11. Andrew T. Veal household, 1920 U. S. Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, population schedule, Irwinton, Military District 327, ED 153, SD 10, p. 184, sheet 17B, dwelling 183, family 191; NA microfilm T625-286.
  12. Andrew Veal household, 1910 U. S. Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, population schedule, Irwinton, Military District 327, ED 117, SD 10, p. 184, sheet 9B, dwelling 179, family 179; NA microfilm T624-220
  13. Andrew Veal to Miss Bertha Sapp, Marriage Licenses, Book D (1904-1916), p. 215, Wilkinson County, Georgia; FHL microfilm 1,737,806.
  14. Robert F. Sapp household, 1910 U. S. Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, population schedule, Irwinton, Military District 327, ED 117, SD 10, p. 184, sheet 9B, dwelling 178, family 178; NA microfilm T624-220.
  15. Robt. T. Sapp household, 1900 U. S. Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, Irwinton, Military District [not numbered], ED 101, SD 10, p. 11, dwelling 209, family 208.
  16. Robt. F. Sapp household, 1920 U. S. Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, Irwinton, p. 184, ED 153, SD 10, dwelling 172, family 180. T625-286.
  17. Jesse Sapp household, 1880 U. S. Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, population schedule, Bethel, dwelling 150, ED 145, SD 4, family 150, p. 424A; NA microfilm T9-172.
  18. Jesse Sapp household, 1870 U. S. Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, population schedule, Irwinton, p. 411B, dwelling 410, family 452; NA microfilm M593-184.
  19. Jesse Sapp household, 1860 U. S. Census of Wilkinson County, Georgia, Gordon Post Office, p. 920, dwelling 419, family 421; NA microfilm M653-141.
  20. Joseph T. Maddox, Wilkinson County, Georgia Historical Collections (Irwinton, Georgia: the author, 1980), p. 541.
  21. Robt. F. Sapp household, 1920 U. S. Census of Wilkinston County, population schedule, Georgia, Irwintown, ED 153, SD 10, p. 184A, dwelling 172, family 180; NA microfilm T625-286.
  22. Robert F. Sapp to Malissa V. Dixon, Marriage Records, Vol. B, p. 57, Wilkinson County, Georgia.

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