Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network

A Discussion Forum for all Genealogists to post Family, Legal and Historical related slave material.

This includes information to online and/or offline resources pertaining to period data - Wills, Estate Inventories, Journal and Bible Records, Deeds, Bills of Sale, Indentures, Records of Manumission, etc.

As descendants of emancipated African-Americans, these materials are the key to uncovering our family lineage.

Thank you for your support.

Luckie Daniels

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STATE: Various

Guide to African American Documentary Sources

STATE: Various Southern State
DOCUMENT TYPE: Digital Database of Pictures

Jackson-Davis Collection of African-American Photographs (great pictures of old schools)

STATE: Virginia
DOCUMENT TYPE: Index to cases, and in several counties, actual images

Virginia Chancery Court Index

STATE: Alabama
DOCUMENT TYPE: Digitized transcription

Alabama 1867 Voter Records
I was asked an interesting question the other day. Since I don't do African American genealogy, I thought this might be a good place to post the question. The person asked how he could find his ancestor's original names--the ones they had in Africa before they were captured and sold into slavery. Any thoughts where that type of information might be found?
Hi Sally!

Unfortunately, outside of inherited Oral History and/or the oft chance of documented lineage, there is no place where information, like an enslaved African's original name, lives.

Enslavers gave slaves the names of their own choosing. The traditional name given to an imported African would have held great meaning and strength -- obviously not a trait a slave owner would want to nurture.

There are times when you can find traces of an Ancestors lineage through family names that repeat and unique names, but for the most part, Genealogists researching slave ancestry reach only as far back as the 3-4 generation; identifying a 5th generation Ancestor is considered sheer luck. We'd have to go back at least 1-2 more generations to identify an Ancestor born in Africa.

I would tell the person asking that though we often don't know the names of the original Ancestors of our bloodlines, there is still much of their stories to be found in the descendants that came after them -- so be encouraged.

Thanks again for bringing such a relevant question to this forum.


Slave Inventory of the Estate of John Smith of Rutherford Co. TN (Springfield Plantation)

Sam age 50
Will age 55
Coper age 45
Barnett/ Barrett age 43
Dick age 30
Moses age 20
Anthony age 35
George age 40
Reuben age 40
Edwind age 30
Reuben (II) age 20
Nathaniel age 19
Beverly age 16
Faillon age 18
Lawrence age 17
Milton age 14
Will age 13
Coper (II) age 17
David age 45
Joseph age 11
Simeon age 11
Wilson age 7
Edwind (II) age 4
Christopher age 2
Jefferson age 2
Henry age 18
Jerry age 2
Eli age 2

Betty age 50
Rose age 65
Polly age 35
Julia age 36
Hannah age 32
Kisiah age 26
Patience age 24
Eliza age 19
Louisa age 14
Jinny age 18
Matilda age 12
Moriah age 8
Martha age 6
Margaret age 3
Narcissa age 9
Amanda age 4
Sarah age 3
Martha Anne age 2
Eleanor age 1

John Smith lived on Springfield Plantation in Rutherford County TN. He died March 11, 1825. His will was recorded in September of 1825 and the Inventory
of his estate was recorded in July 1825.
Thanks so much Lisa! I will post an alert on let researchers know where to find this information.

You're welcome! If you have any other suggestions of where I could post this info, I'd welcome them. Also thanks for the info on A Friend of Friends--I'd never heard of that site before!
A Friend of Friends is a project I launched on Mar. 19th. It's a repository for slave data and information.

I'm preparing and AFoF Alert for the information you've shared today.


Slaves belonging to John Smith of Rutherford Co. TN (Springfield Plantation)
that were given to his Daughters when they got married.

Slaves to America Smith (married name same):
Cinda and her child, Edmund; Moriah and her child, Sanders; Buck

Slaves to Evelina Crockett:
Flora and her child, Will; James & Cate

Slave to Caroline Johnson: Eliza

Slaves to Julia Crockett:
Caesar, Lucy and her child (no name given) & Mary
William H. Smith's division of Estate to his former slaves

I believe I have given all my Estate away except the Seventh Share which I wish to give
to those Colored tenants who were once my Slaves & who continued with me all the time & Served me faithful therefore I wish the remaining Share to be divided into Eight
equal Shares & paid to the following named persons as I shall designate|to Wit|

one half Share I give to ELY; one half Share to JOHN; one half Share to JINNY; one half Share to TOM LUZETER (?); one half Share to SAM HOUSTON; one half Share to OLD LUCY; one half Share to LITTLE LUCY; one quarter Share to FANNIE; one quarter Share to MICK; one half Share to ALSA; one quarter Share to PETER; one half Share to CREASY; one quarter Share to SALLY; one quarter Share to SILLES; one quarter share to ALBERT; one quarter Share to SARAH OLIVIA; one quarter Share to LAWGAN (?); one quarter share to JANE, one quarter Share to JOSEPHINE; one eighth of a Share to OLD MARIAH SR..; to CALVAN JENKINS quarter share; to ELIZA one quarter Share; one eighth of Share to DENNIS and one eighth of a Share to be equally divided between JOSIAH | our house boys & PROFFET & LITTLE TOM the remaining Eighth I give to Same (?)| MANDA, LIZY& JIMMINA to them and their heirs forever.

I have only mentioned the given names of the Negros, my Executors can make no mistake for I owned them all once Except Calvan and I want him to ____ his share and I hereby Nominate and appoint Geo W. Smith Eqr., Frank W. Washington , & Theadore Smith my Extos to this my last will and testament.
I'm not sure of the date of this Will but I know that it was written after emancipation.
Thanks, got it posted to AFoF --

Slaves of William Cage of Sumner County, TN--1811

To wife Elizabeth (Hale): "the three negroes I got with her, to wit, Zach, Ben and Elige."

To my daughter, Betsy: "a negro girl named Caroline"
To my daughter, Patsy: "a negro girl named Mahold"
To my son-in-law, Jack Carr: "a negro woman named Peg"
To my son, Loftain: "a negro man named Major"
To my son, Edward: "a negro girl named Mary"

To my son-in-law, Wiliam Hale: "my negroes Peter and Ead, during said Hale and his wife's life time, and at the death of said Hale and wife they are to go to Jesse Cage."

To my son, Richard: "a negro boy named Charly"
To my son, Albert: " a negro boy named Lewis"

To my sons Harry and Robert: "my negro boys, Tom and Clint at the discretion of my Executor."

To Nancy Cage, daughter of Reuben Cage: "the first child that Eads or Mary has, if any."

To Cyrus Hale, son of William Hale: "the second child that Eads or Mary may have."

If there should be any negroes remaining in the family at the division, that are not disposed of, they are to be given to my children that are the most needy, at the discretion of my Executor.

I constitute and appoint my sons, Wilson, Reuben and Jesse Cage my whole and sole Executors of this my last will and Testament.



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