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How do I find slave names?

Replies: 7

Re: How do I find slave names?

Posted: 1503681407000
Classification: Query
I have had some degree of success with the following method, though for slave ancestors in a different state. Work backwards. First, look at the 1870 census. Look, not only at the family , but at neighbors. Two families with different names may be related since most took names of prior slave owners, or were given them. A slave could change a surname, as mine did between 1870 and 1880. Look at the white families nearby, often people with the same name. Next, and this is so tedious, look through wills. It's best if you can look at a series of successive wills of a family or related family, like in-laws. I found some family groups, one of which I believe is my great-grandfather's. Look as well at the tax lists. Many former-slaves worked the land of former owners. The point is to find at least two pieces of evidence that support your theory. Other court records can also be useful. There are bills of sale on various websites, though these are sporadic. Much information is in the hands of former slave owners who may not feel as inclined to share information on slaves even as they research their own ancestry. If every descendant shared all that info, it would be a lot easier for us. Some wills are meticulous, like one I found. They may actually list a mother and her children. In that case, go back to the 1870 and find what you can and be sure to look for elders. Sometimes, the names are distinctive, or ridiculous enough (created by a slave owner who thought it was amusing) to aid your search. Other times, they are the same given names as owners and often repeated in white and black families. Millie, the mother, Millie the daughter etc. First sons are often named for their fathers. In accounts, it may list slaves that were hired out. Working backwards, you may find potential ancestors as I found in Virginia, a state with a lot of records. However, filling in the gaps is challenging. I'm trying to find one or two generations to connect with the one in Georgia. Georgia did not list slaves by color, in the 1860 and the 1850 isn't always there, but they did list slaves by age and gender. Makes it difficult. There can be many black males 30 years old. DNA from living people who are connected to those 1870 people can help fill in some gaps, or if a living person knows they are related to a listed slave on a will. Sorry this is so long, but I want everyone to benefit from what I have learned in this process. Hope this helps.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
RobinBMc 1268917899000 
sweden1893_1 1269455409000 
kdberr1 1269523867000 
moon_el1 1503681407000 
RobinBMc 1503685564000 
lilbighead 1269523407000 
lilbighead 1269523737000 
L Broaddus 1453081805000 
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