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Old 09-20-2018, 09:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by treemoni View Post
Lucky for me, one of my black ancestors fought in the Civil War. This person COMPLETELY spoiled me, because it really wasn't that hard to find them (in that it didn't take me years LOL). The other branches haven't been as successful, but it's going to take some time. You have to do a lot more detective work. If you have been primarily doing direct line, you need to start making note of siblings. Look to see who else lived in the area. See if there were white families near those ancestors. You will likely have to figure out who those people are. One of my ancestors from MS got sent to a convict farm after slavery was abolished. I looked up the person who owned the farm. Turns out this person owned lots of land in the area...I'm sure there are bills of sale and deeds galore. I haven't started looking into that person because it's going to be overwhelming. You'll have to get creative to break those walls, but it's possible. Hopefully your ancestors were not from the worst slave states. I hate when something takes me back to Mississippi , but there is rich history there. I just have to do a lot more work to find it. The state of NC has excellent online tools. I love them! If you're from the east coast you probably have ancestors from that area. And hopefully Virginia. Virginians did not play about their documentation. Good luck! I'll offer help when I can, but I'm still very new to this.
On line I did trace back to Virginia, but in the early 1800s in Virginia slaves were listed by numbers. My great great great grandfather was the son of a slave and the slavemaster (this happened in more than one occasion in my family) so I was able to trace his father's family further back in Virginia to Boston and to England.

I have made notes of siblings, they helped me learn a lot more about the religious traditions in my family.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by NyWriterdude View Post
On line I did trace back to Virginia, but in the early 1800s in Virginia slaves were listed by numbers. My great great great grandfather was the son of a slave and the slavemaster (this happened in more than one occasion in my family) so I was able to trace his father's family further back in Virginia to Boston and to England.

I have made notes of siblings, they helped me learn a lot more about the religious traditions in my family.

When you were going back, were all your relatives listed in the 1870 census? That's the first census blacks were allowed to be listed by name. If you found the records of the slavemaster, you're in good shape! Property records listed the slaves by first name and say something like, "Mr. Slaveholder purchased a negro boy named Sam..." To get information about the enslaved ancestor prior to 1870, you'll have to do a little math. If your slaveholding ancestor had three male slaves, age 16, 5 and 2, it's a little more difficult (what age did they consider a "boy"?). But if he only had one male slave and a bunch of female slaves, it's a lot easier. You can then go through his property records to find the name of the slaves and who they were purchased from. Then once you find the seller, you'll have to hunt down his records and work backwards. Sometimes these people were transferred between multiple owners. It's a LOT of work but really worth it if you want to break those walls. The women are harder but not impossible. The last name (prior to emancipation) is usually the slaveowner's.
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Old 09-21-2018, 07:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by treemoni View Post
When you were going back, were all your relatives listed in the 1870 census? That's the first census blacks were allowed to be listed by name. If you found the records of the slavemaster, you're in good shape! Property records listed the slaves by first name and say something like, "Mr. Slaveholder purchased a negro boy named Sam..." To get information about the enslaved ancestor prior to 1870, you'll have to do a little math. If your slaveholding ancestor had three male slaves, age 16, 5 and 2, it's a little more difficult (what age did they consider a "boy"?). But if he only had one male slave and a bunch of female slaves, it's a lot easier. You can then go through his property records to find the name of the slaves and who they were purchased from. Then once you find the seller, you'll have to hunt down his records and work backwards. Sometimes these people were transferred between multiple owners. It's a LOT of work but really worth it if you want to break those walls. The women are harder but not impossible. The last name (prior to emancipation) is usually the slaveowner's.
Good ideas.

Last edited by NyWriterdude; 09-21-2018 at 07:40 AM..
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Old 10-05-2018, 12:37 AM
 
Location: Mid West
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I know, there several trees that have my Uncle listed as deceased...He's not, but he gets a kick out it. He just turned 90 and still sharp as a whip. He jokes that when he passes- he will make a visit to them to let them know his official date of death! LOL Sometimes, you just have to have a sense of humour about it. He and my father back in the late 70's had to do a lot of research regarding a claim on some land they own- they spent a lot of time traveling back to Texas doing the actual research on land deeds, tax records, etc, paying for birth and death certificate, connecting with cousins they hadnt seen in years. Over the course of several years - the documents they obtained are priceless. After they found what they needed for the land dispute, they found they enjoyed doing the research and continued it with "family history" trips digging and digging all through out the south
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Old 10-05-2018, 12:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NyWriterdude View Post
Ancestry.com just updated it's results and boy are they widely different from what they were before. You can see lots of comments on this.

Re: research, I was able to trace the Jewish lines of my family further back to the 1600s. Essentially after being thrown out of Spain due to the Inquisition, they went to England. And then to American.

In the early 1800s, my African ancestors were listed by numbers of males and females, and by ages. Slaves weren't referred to by name. So that's a brick wall that it is simply impossible to get around really. I've done research on the countries of origin in terms of what countries supplied large numbers of slaves to the states my family was living in the 1700s and so.

I'd say MyHeritage, DNA.Land, and FTDNA all do better jobs of correlating the paper trail I found.
It is not impossible but will require some old school genealogical methods that are not centered on online research/genealogical sites.

Oftentimes slave owners did list their slaves by names in real estate, mortgage, tax, and probate/wills that you can review that information via state/county archival organizations.

Some states have uploaded this information onto Family Search, however most of it is not indexed so you'd have to "browse" page by page and find what you are looking for.

I actually take a lot of genealogical based trips and have done this for some of my ancestors and have been rewarded with very good information by doing so.

Also, you may have an ancestor who fought in the US Colored Troops during the Civil War and received a pension. Pension records are GREAT sources of information for our formerly enslaved ancestors as often the widows especially had to give an account of their lives, the soldier's life (their husband) and their life together in order to prove that they were entitled to a pension benefit. I've travelled to DC and reviewed pension information for many of my ancestors. I have a combination of both "free" and enslaved ancestors during the 19th century and have discovered now over 20 relatives who fought for the USCT. I am planning another trip to DC to review more files soon.

Oftentimes black Americans falsely assume that they cannot find out more information on our enslaved ancestors when that is not the case - it just takes a bit more effort and you have to really do some research on white families and the counties/communities where you ancestors lived. To start, you'd need to look at the 1870 census and see where they lived and look up local history about that era. Most former slaves did not leave the areas where they were enslaved right after the Civil War.

The Freedman's Bureau records are also great resources. In Virginia especially there is a great website by the VA Archives that shows all the "co-habitation" registers available for that state where slave marriages were legally recorded by the Freedman's Bureau. I've found many of my ancestors in these Virginia records and because of that I know who owned my family and I've traced many of my enslaved ancestors back to the 18th century.
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Old 10-05-2018, 12:21 PM
 
16,222 posts, read 8,527,364 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treemoni View Post
When you were going back, were all your relatives listed in the 1870 census? That's the first census blacks were allowed to be listed by name. If you found the records of the slavemaster, you're in good shape! Property records listed the slaves by first name and say something like, "Mr. Slaveholder purchased a negro boy named Sam..." To get information about the enslaved ancestor prior to 1870, you'll have to do a little math. If your slaveholding ancestor had three male slaves, age 16, 5 and 2, it's a little more difficult (what age did they consider a "boy"?). But if he only had one male slave and a bunch of female slaves, it's a lot easier. You can then go through his property records to find the name of the slaves and who they were purchased from. Then once you find the seller, you'll have to hunt down his records and work backwards. Sometimes these people were transferred between multiple owners. It's a LOT of work but really worth it if you want to break those walls. The women are harder but not impossible. The last name (prior to emancipation) is usually the slaveowner's.
I agree with this but wanted to note that it is 50/50 chance that the surname may not have been the slaveowners surname. It may have been a made up name or a previous owners surname as slaves were often sold or gifted to in-laws or relatives who had a different surname than that original owner.

I have a 4th great grandmother where this occurred - her original owner "gifted" her to his daughter when his daughter married a man with a different surname (of course). After the war, my 4th great grandmother lived in the household of this family. I researched the white family and found out the woman of the house's maiden name was the same as my 4th great grandmother and I researched that woman's father and discovered the legal document where he "gifted" my ancestor to his daughter. Unfortunately they do not have all of this man's other records online - only the indexes of certain financial and real estate transactions that may be valuable to me, but since they were in Kentucky and it is not that far from where I live currently, I'm going to take a road trip probably next summer to go down there and review the actual records and hope there is more information on my 4th great grandmother's family.

ETA: Another of my ancestors - a 4th great grandfather I discovered via DNA that he changed his surname to Jones. He ran away from slavery somehow - all the way from Mississippi to Ohio!! And I do believe that he joined the USCT as he lived in Delaware County, OH in the 1860s-1870 as that was the site where Civil War soldiers trained - both black and white had separate camps there. Because he chose "Jones" it is difficult to find him and unfortunately, though he died in the 1920s, his children didn't know his parent's name. I've discovered a 4th cousin who we are sure are related to us via this grandfather and their surname is not Jones. Jones was a common name that black people chose after the war or after escaping slavery - Jones, Washington, Robinson, Smith, Johnson, and Jackson - mostly due to them being common and it would make them not easily able to trace.
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Old 10-05-2018, 10:12 PM
 
25,543 posts, read 19,007,068 times
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Originally Posted by residinghere2007 View Post
I agree with this but wanted to note that it is 50/50 chance that the surname may not have been the slaveowners surname. It may have been a made up name or a previous owners surname as slaves were often sold or gifted to in-laws or relatives who had a different surname than that original owner.

I have a 4th great grandmother where this occurred - her original owner "gifted" her to his daughter when his daughter married a man with a different surname (of course). After the war, my 4th great grandmother lived in the household of this family. I researched the white family and found out the woman of the house's maiden name was the same as my 4th great grandmother and I researched that woman's father and discovered the legal document where he "gifted" my ancestor to his daughter. Unfortunately they do not have all of this man's other records online - only the indexes of certain financial and real estate transactions that may be valuable to me, but since they were in Kentucky and it is not that far from where I live currently, I'm going to take a road trip probably next summer to go down there and review the actual records and hope there is more information on my 4th great grandmother's family.

ETA: Another of my ancestors - a 4th great grandfather I discovered via DNA that he changed his surname to Jones. He ran away from slavery somehow - all the way from Mississippi to Ohio!! And I do believe that he joined the USCT as he lived in Delaware County, OH in the 1860s-1870 as that was the site where Civil War soldiers trained - both black and white had separate camps there. Because he chose "Jones" it is difficult to find him and unfortunately, though he died in the 1920s, his children didn't know his parent's name. I've discovered a 4th cousin who we are sure are related to us via this grandfather and their surname is not Jones. Jones was a common name that black people chose after the war or after escaping slavery - Jones, Washington, Robinson, Smith, Johnson, and Jackson - mostly due to them being common and it would make them not easily able to trace.
I’m not doubting you but can you cite academic sources that state African Americans hanged their last names to these names that people now stereotype as African American?
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Old 10-06-2018, 01:51 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by NyWriterdude View Post
I’m not doubting you but can you cite academic sources that state African Americans hanged their last names to these names that people now stereotype as African American?
Surnames Used by African American Slaves « The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family
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Old 10-06-2018, 08:18 AM
 
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It's hard to tell what percentage, but many of the last names amongst African Americans are because people kept the last name of a slave owning father or grandfather.
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Old 10-06-2018, 11:21 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by NyWriterdude View Post
It's hard to tell what percentage, but many of the last names amongst African Americans are because people kept the last name of a slave owning father or grandfather.
However, as the author of the link notes, not all of them did.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ashington.html
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