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Old 02-12-2011, 10:59 PM
 
Location: Southeast Missouri
5,812 posts, read 17,688,692 times
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I was looking at the will of a brother of my direct ancestor. He was born in 1816 in Tennessee and died in 1867. His will was dated 1860. You can find it here:
RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project: Moss * Ivy * Gordon * Brand/Brann Families

One part that really struck me was this:
Quote:
1. For my real and personal property, I appoint my brother, Phillip C. Ivy and John Ray my executors. 2. I give to my brother Phillip C. Ivy and John Ray my lower tract of land known as the Cabe land to divide. 3. To my brother Phillip C. Ivy my home tract of land with farming implements and six mules of his first choice and one waggon and their yoke of oxen and ten brood mares and all the stock hogs. 4. That my brother Phillip C. Ivy is to have all the slave property on the [place except those here after mentioned and that they shall not be separated as families. If some must be sold for expenses, sell Sharlot and Nelson. 5. To my brother Phillip C. Ivy all my slave property except a negro woman Sivy and all her children she now has or here after might have, I give to my adopted daughter Gertrude B. Adrain during her lifetime. Mentions unnamed step-son. Desires that family of negroes willed to step-daughter remain together in Franklin County, AR.
I'm not necessarily ashamed that my ancestors were (or likely were) slave owners. I'm not necessarily proud of it, either. But that's how genealogy goes. Some ancestors were people we would be proud of and some were not. Still, it amazes me to think of how different that life was. I couldn't imagine owning somebody. If I lived back then, even though I am white, there's a good chance I would be property of my husband. It's hard to imagine a world like that.

Sometimes I look back at situations like the fight against slavery and I wonder if I would have been an abolitionist. I know that sounds like a horrible thing to say, but I'm not really a confrontational type. I'm more the type to wait for things to change. It took a lot of guts to speak out against slavery back then, and I wonder if many of us, if our lives and even our families were threatened, would have spoken out against it. Would most of us have made the heroic choice, even at our own peril?

Anyway, I found this will and it surprised me. I had assumed that I had ancestors who owned slaves. Granted, this is a brother of my ancestor, but it was in the family and I had plenty of other ancestors in Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Tennessee. I think, by the time my ancestors came to Missouri (some as early as the 18teens and others around the Civil War), most of them did not have slaves any more, either because they could not afford it or chose not to. Some of my ancestors were Confederate and some (even the ones from Tennessee) were Union.

It's really interesting to dig into this history and see how our ancestors lived. Knowing the atrocities of slavery, I don't think I could have tolerated owning a slave. However, considering my own cautious attitude I'm honestly not sure if I would have fought it. Fortunately, I don't have to make that decision.

Do any of you have ancestors (slaves or slave owners) in your genealogy? Did it surprise you? Shock you? Did it make you feel anything? For me, it's an interesting tidbit. I'm not so much ashamed because I didn't do it, but it does make me want to wonder about that time and what it was like, especially for slaves but also for regular people. I'm sure many more people during that day, even those who owned or whose relatives owned slaves, struggled with it. Although he lived almost a century before, Thomas Jefferson himself struggled with it.

It's really interesting to read up on. I'm certainly glad I live now and not then.

Thoughts?
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Old 02-13-2011, 12:10 AM
 
14,469 posts, read 23,347,531 times
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It happens. I haven't found any in my ancestry. All my censuses read as non slave owners. And any servants appear to be poor relatives that worked for roofs over their heads.

I was saddened to find a 3rd great grandfather who died a POW in a Confederate camp, and that greatly saddened me. He's buried in Georgia, and not in PA like he should be.... but this is part of war. I certainly don't hate today's Southerners for the Civil War.

The other thing is that if you had been born then, and a slave owner, you'd have been reared with the firm belief system that perpetrated that system. It's not that you'd not have the strength to believe differently.... it's that you'd believe what you were taught.
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Old 02-13-2011, 01:16 AM
 
Location: SWUS
5,420 posts, read 8,562,025 times
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That's not necessarily something worth being ashamed of- it was the social norm. Your relatives back then probably wouldn't approve of the hedonistic lifestyle many Americans enjoy today, and probably wouldn't recognize society.. it balances out.

Could have been worse, the slave families could have all been split up and sold at the behest of your ancestor's will.
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Old 02-13-2011, 01:37 AM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
10,751 posts, read 33,614,648 times
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I have to say at least your relative seemed to feel that the families of slaves should not be separated. That's a lot more then many felt about their slaves.
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Old 02-13-2011, 03:28 AM
 
2,319 posts, read 4,432,946 times
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My husband and I both have ancestors who had slaves. We both are a mix of northern and southern blood. I don't feel bad about it or ashamed. I don't view the world like they did. In fact, one of our great great grandfathers told his children and grandchildren that he hated Abe Lincoln for freeing the slaves. At the end of the War, he lost all his property - slaves, livestock, and land. He moved to Texas with some other family members, where he lived the rest of his life, always hating Lincoln.

I have not found any abolitionists in my tree, and most of the family members who fought for the Union did so to prevent the dissolution of the Union, not because of slavery. Their fathers and grandfathers had served during the Revolution, and they weren't going to let their country dissolve. They felt the south had no right to break apart. It's a modern, romantic idealization to believe or assume that the majority of northerners (or people in general) cared about slaves' rights. We know better now so we like to think they "knew better then". They didn't. It wasn't part of the moral code on either side. Abolitionists were viewed as fanatics. (That's why I wish I have a few in my family! )
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Old 02-13-2011, 04:53 AM
 
Location: Pacific NW
6,413 posts, read 11,251,325 times
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Slavery is a fact of history. You can't change it, and it was nothing you did. So there's no need for shame. If there was, we all need to feel it, because it was not something unique to America, or the American south. Free blacks owned slaves, Native Americans owned slaves, Native Americans enslaved other Native Americans. Africans enslaved other Africans, and then sold them to Europeans.
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Old 02-13-2011, 05:41 AM
 
13,507 posts, read 16,287,050 times
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I am surprised that I have found only one, so far, and he owned a single slave. My American ancesters were Dutch & Dutch/Huguenot in New Jersey and New York, and owning slaves was not uncommon. However, they pulled up stakes and moved to Canada and in 1783 Gov. Simcoe put through a policy for gradual emancipation, so I'm not likely to find more.
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Old 02-13-2011, 05:50 AM
 
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Well, My family, when you look at my blood line, My family was one of the first families to be brought over in slavery. I have always been looked down on, because I am a minority, I am not ashamed on you... If any one had a problem with me and my family history I would probably spit in their face. people who owed slaves were PIGS! sorry but that's my opinion when you live in my shoes or of those family members that lived when slavery was still legal, then you would completely agree with me.
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Old 02-13-2011, 06:02 AM
 
13,507 posts, read 16,287,050 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peppermint View Post
...It's a modern, romantic idealization to believe or assume that the majority of northerners (or people in general) cared about slaves' rights. We know better now so we like to think they "knew better then". They didn't. It wasn't part of the moral code on either side. Abolitionists were viewed as fanatics. (That's why I wish I have a few in my family! )
Several of my cousins had moved to the South many, many years ago, and a few years ago as a favor to one of them I worked on her family tree - which was all in the North where they came from.

It was a rather easy job as they had come from a village in the North that has done a lot of local historical work, and her mother's family I found had a very colorful and much researched history.

The village they came from had been a national center of Abolition and a major Underground Railroad stop, and their something-something grtgrandfather had been instrumental in getting members of his church congregation to go on record repudiating slavery and becoming actively involved in Abolition and the Underground Railroad.

I put this altogether not only as a family tree, but as a narrative history with photos of the places associated with the family down to the present and sent it to them.

Their parents were extreme Conservatives, and evidently these cousins are as well: they were all horrified when they received it to find that their ancestors had been in the thick of a hotbed of Abolition. Unfortunately I had not found one slave owner on their tree to alleviate their shame.

However, no matter how far removed we are from the glory of our ancestors we should not be deprived of the opportunity to bathe in their dim afterglow. So, I sent the same book I had made for them to the local historical society for their genealogy center.
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Old 02-13-2011, 06:34 AM
 
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I am the great granddaughter of African slaves.
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