Genealogy Wise

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A forum to discuss the nuances specific to researching Slave Ancestry in the Americas. Share experiences, questions, tips and resource information as it relates to making our efforts researching African Ancestry more successful.

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Chastity, slave ancestral research can be very challenging and extremely frustrating, but it's not impossible. Have you tried locating any of your ancestors in the 1870 census? Those are most likely your slave ancestors, and a good starting point. Armed with those names, locations, and estimated ages the hard work is just beginning. Keep the faith!!

Sandra

CHASTITY said:
I just wanted to say after reading the forum and topic for his discussion group the thing that bothers me still to this day: ok, my grandmother told me stories of my great grandmother and they were fine stories....But when I would ask about my grea-great grandmother she could only tell me she was too young to remember much but the young woman never had a name , or my granny just didn't remember for her being a child herself, but the lady's name was simply Mamie. Why? My granny said all she knew was that Mamie was a slave. I guess I will probably never find info on her, huh? Anyhow that's what's bugging me!
Thanks for starting this form. This is a subject of great interest to me. I grew up in a "white" family, my grandmother was very bigoted about anything none WASP. I now know that she was 1/4 black. This did surprise me as I always thought that there was some black ancestry but it was on my grandfather's side. So far I haven't proved that connection but his grandfather did own slaves (I located a 1850 slave schedule for Pearlington MS that showed 14 slaves). I am very baffled by my grandmother's thinking - I can understand why someone may want to "pass" but to pass along such hate for her own roots doesn't make sense. I also have done mitochondria DNA testing that indicates the roots may go back to Cameroon. The Y-DNA testing of a cousin indicates roots in eastern Africa. As a tip I found information in records from a Catholic church in MS that indicated that my gggf had a child with a woman that he was not married to. That child was listed in MS census as white. But I also found him as Mulatto in a census in New Orleans where he was apparently a boarder while attending school. My gggm is listed in LA census as married to my white gggf and black with their children all listed as black. My ggm is listed in census as black, mulatto and white. Her death certificate list's white. The main surnames I'm researching are Johnson and White - too common. Although there is a Alprefaux that I can't find and a DeBritton that is a very rare spelling. I have no known living relatives that can provide information and a few papers and pictures. I guess my point is that the race issue over history and place has really mucked up what records there are and any collaboration will hopefully open up new ways of finding information and make future human relation less hurtful.
Hi Bill,

I know that's how one of my cousins found out more about my maternal grandfather's line. 1) They were mentioned by name in a will and 2) the descendant of one of the slave owners had written a book that mentioned my anscetors. Even though it was about 10 years ago, now, I actually had to the opportunity to converse with one of the slave owners descendents, who told me about the book. As best as my cousin and I can tell from the writings, etc., the slave owning family for the most part seem to have more of a familial relationship with my ancestors than servant / master.

Bill Drayton said:
I know that slave schedules only list slaves by age and gender - no name! However, often in family wills names are mentioned. You will all be interested to know that hopefully sooner rather than later family papers currently with us in the UK which pertain very much to Charleston and include wills will be on their way across the Atlantic into safe hands in Charleston so that researchers can study them in situ. I would not be surprised if you find additional information in them.
Thank you, Luckie, for starting this forum! I look forward to engaging with others doing slavery research in Georgia. My area of greatest experience is with records of Upson County, slavery and Reconstruction.

David
Hi Shirley & welcome to the forum! I too wish I had understood even an inkling of what motivated our Ancestors to make the decisions they did.

I am sure fear, ignorance, cultural taboos & influences, shame and just plain ole humanness all played a factor.

I've found with my own research that the living descendants, white or black, with long-forgotten secrets are less than thrilled when I come along with my handy recorder!:-)

Maybe your Grandmother didn't know and/or accept her African lineage? And like it or not, unless we take a bold step forward, we are all prone to becoming a bi-product of our environment.

But now look at you here... talking to me, sharing with us your family history - blemishes & all.

Time can & does heal. Thank goodness for that!:-)

Luckie.

Shirley Hay said:
Thanks for starting this form. This is a subject of great interest to me. I grew up in a "white" family, my grandmother was very bigoted about anything none WASP. I now know that she was 1/4 black. This did surprise me as I always thought that there was some black ancestry but it was on my grandfather's side. So far I haven't proved that connection but his grandfather did own slaves (I located a 1850 slave schedule for Pearlington MS that showed 14 slaves). I am very baffled by my grandmother's thinking - I can understand why someone may want to "pass" but to pass along such hate for her own roots doesn't make sense. I also have done mitochondria DNA testing that indicates the roots may go back to Cameroon. The Y-DNA testing of a cousin indicates roots in eastern Africa. As a tip I found information in records from a Catholic church in MS that indicated that my gggf had a child with a woman that he was not married to. That child was listed in MS census as white. But I also found him as Mulatto in a census in New Orleans where he was apparently a boarder while attending school. My gggm is listed in LA census as married to my white gggf and black with their children all listed as black. My ggm is listed in census as black, mulatto and white. Her death certificate list's white. The main surnames I'm researching are Johnson and White - too common. Although there is a Alprefaux that I can't find and a DeBritton that is a very rare spelling. I have no known living relatives that can provide information and a few papers and pictures. I guess my point is that the race issue over history and place has really mucked up what records there are and any collaboration will hopefully open up new ways of finding information and make future human relation less hurtful.
Mavis,

The same thing applied with the Draytons, although in a somwhat strange and not always understandable or consistent way. I can't describe exactly. The fact that the slaveowners were dealing with their possessions was not in question, and yet they were concerned about human beings who interacted with them in a familial way. A contradiction I would say. Why did they keep them enslaved. My gggg aunts, the abolitionist daughters of John Faucheraud Grimke, Sarah and Angelina, emancipated the slaves they were assigned in their mother's will. Sarah and Angelina were not your typical Southern belles - either in looks (?????) or character. They moved north or were forced to do so from Charleston. They wrote abolitionist tracts which when they arrived at the Charleston Post Office were burned before their contamination could reach the delicate eyes of society (big tongue in cheek!!!). If any of you have the inclination, read Angelina's "Letter to the Christian Women of the South" and Sarah's "Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States". whnes said:
Hi Bill,

I know that's how one of my cousins found out more about my maternal grandfather's line. 1) They were mentioned by name in a will and 2) the descendant of one of the slave owners had written a book that mentioned my anscetors. Even though it was about 10 years ago, now, I actually had to the opportunity to converse with one of the slave owners descendents. As best as my cousin and I can tell from the writings, etc., the slave owning family for the most part seem to have more of a familial relationship with my ancestors than servant / master.

Bill Drayton said:
I know that slave schedules only list slaves by age and gender - no name! However, often in family wills names are mentioned. You will all be interested to know that hopefully sooner rather than later family papers currently with us in the UK which pertain very much to Charleston and include wills will be on their way across the Atlantic into safe hands in Charleston so that researchers can study them in situ. I would not be surprised if you find additional information in them.
Hi David & good to see you! Congrats to you & the Afrigeneas team on the forthcoming collaboration with ProQuest. Big things are happening in Genealogy these days!

The Afrigeneas-ProQuest collaboration will move African-Ancestor research to the next level!

In truth, forums like Afrigeneas laid the foundation for what is occurring today. When I dug-deep into my research in 2001-2002, Afrigeneas was right there for me.

I'm encouraged by what I see happening across the space in general, and specifically within our mainstay communities.

Feels like we are all finally getting the message - we are all on this journey together!:-)

Cheers,

Luckie.



David Edwin Paterson said:
Thank you, Luckie, for starting this forum! I look forward to engaging with others doing slavery research in Georgia. My area of greatest experience is with records of Upson County, slavery and Reconstruction.
David
Several years ago while researching courthouse archives in Wilkes Co., I discovered two 1841 Deed of Indenture documents relating to the sale of WINGFIELD slaves by the man who owned my 4th Grandfather James - James Nelson WINGFIELD.

The Indenture documents appeared to have divided the Wingfield slaves into two groups. My James and others, went to Susan Wingfield. The second group, went to Son-in-laws on behalf of James Nelson's Daughters.

It actually appeared that James Nelson was selling the slaves to his family vs. willing them.

When James Nelson died in 1850, his estate did not reflect ANY slaves although I know that He & Susan Wingfield still had possession os slaves, including my Grandfather.

Help me to understand how and why these documents were used. Was it a common for a slave owner to make it appear that he sold his slaves, when in essence, they were still in his possession?

Here is the original 2002 post and response from the Afrigeneas forum - http://tinyurl.com/ngza4a

Luckie.
Luckie I don't know if it's true her but my mom mentions all the time my granddad saying that depending on the slave owner, they took care of children they fathered with their slaves by making it appear that they were selling them land, etc. when in actuality they were giving these items to them. I guess this was to protect both the giver and the receipient.

Luckie Daniels said:
Several years ago while researching courthouse archives in Wilkes Co., I discovered two 1841 Deed of Indenture documents relating to the sale of WINGFIELD slaves by the man who owned my 4th Grandfather James - James Nelson WINGFIELD.

The Indenture documents appeared to have divided the Wingfield slaves into two groups. My James and others, went to Susan Wingfield. The second group, went to Son-in-laws on behalf of James Nelson's Daughters.

It actually appeared that James Nelson was selling the slaves to his family vs. willing them.

When James Nelson died in 1850, his estate did not reflect ANY slaves although I know that He & Susan Wingfield still had possession os slaves, including my Grandfather.

Help me to understand how and why these documents were used. Was it a common for a slave owner to make it appear that he sold his slaves, when in essence, they were still in his possession?

Here is the original 2002 post and response from the Afrigeneas forum - http://tinyurl.com/ngza4a

Luckie.
Hey Mav!

I am sure that happened - I know of one instance where a Wingfield deeded land to his Mistress and offspring (only to have it seized after his death nonetheless).

But in this case, James Nelson was dividing his slaves, most likely additional family members I am not aware of, between his relatives, although the slaves never really left his care.

Years ago, I was told it was a legal maneuver when a slave owner feared legal action that could seize his property.

I'm wondering if I am looking at the same thing with my current Redden Barwick Mystery.

This journey always leaves you with more questions than answers, doesn't it?!:-)

Luckie.

Mavis Jones said:
Luckie I don't know if it's true her but my mom mentions all the time my granddad saying that depending on the slave owner, they took care of children they fathered with their slaves by making it appear that they were selling them land, etc. when in actuality they were giving these items to them. I guess this was to protect both the giver and the receipient.
Luckie Daniels said:
Several years ago while researching courthouse archives in Wilkes Co., I discovered two 1841 Deed of Indenture documents relating to the sale of WINGFIELD slaves by the man who owned my 4th Grandfather James - James Nelson WINGFIELD.

The Indenture documents appeared to have divided the Wingfield slaves into two groups. My James and others, went to Susan Wingfield. The second group, went to Son-in-laws on behalf of James Nelson's Daughters.

It actually appeared that James Nelson was selling the slaves to his family vs. willing them.

When James Nelson died in 1850, his estate did not reflect ANY slaves although I know that He & Susan Wingfield still had possession os slaves, including my Grandfather.

Help me to understand how and why these documents were used. Was it a common for a slave owner to make it appear that he sold his slaves, when in essence, they were still in his possession?

Here is the original 2002 post and response from the Afrigeneas forum - http://tinyurl.com/ngza4a

Luckie.
Awhhh... YES - they are Deeds of Gift! I've never found any additional deeds for his land but will admit, finding these two stopped me dead in my track! These were a shock.

James Nelson Wingfield was the Postmaster in Wilkes & I remember one historian commenting that he had a penchant for being sued & could have used this as a legal tactic to protect his assets.

I've included the links to the actual Indenture document below, if that helps. Not the easiest to read by far!

Thanks for the input nonetheless!:-)

Luckie.

Indenture - James Nelson Wingfield
- http://picasaweb.google.com/mechie77/AncestorDocuments#523029034772...
- http://picasaweb.google.com/mechie77/AncestorDocuments#523029036259...
- http://picasaweb.google.com/mechie77/AncestorDocuments#523029037053...

Michael Hait said:
Luckie -

In the deeds, what is the consideration stated for the transfer of the slaves. Deeds of gift would say, "for the love & affection I bear," or something along those lines. Bills of sale would have an actual dollar amount, but if it was significantly lower than normal, less than the average "value" of slaves of that age/physical condition, then it was just a way to basically distribute the estate before death. This was usually done to save the executor the cost and trouble of doing it later. Are there similar deeds for the lands he owned?
In Missouri, transfer of land was done prior to death by some to avoid long probates of 10-20 years. Usually it ws done about 1-2 years prior; when the person began to feel "not well". When they died, there was no real estate listed in the inventories and sometimes only the will (if made) was available. The assets had been transferred already so nothing went into a court or was taxed.

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