I haven’t posted in a bit and this is probably an interesting subject to jump back in on, but it’s my site so…..
When I started peeking into my family’s past a few years ago, I knew that (if I was lucky) much of my research would lead to a “brick wall” around 1865. With African-American genealogy this is the case more often than not. I’ve found the names of several whites who possibly held legal title to my relatives before the end of the civil war (Now, just typing that last sentence bothers me greatly). I prefer to call these people “Slaveholders” vs. “Slaveowners”. It’s probably a semantic argument at best legally, but I view my ancestors born into slavery as people held captive and not owned; as I don’t believe one human being can “own” another human being. The notion seems to run counter to the very definition of human being. One of the best websites I’ve ever found to help researchers on this subject is here.
So far, using a very less than definitive process, I’ve attempted to identify the last slaveholders for all of my ancestral lines. Less than definitive is an understatement. Given the lack of names or identifiers other than gender and age, I pieced through the 1860 Slave Schedules and found people (slaves) close to the attributes I know of my relatives. If there were any duplicate matches (more than one person fitting the profile), I don’t connect them in my database. The results of what I’ve been able to compiled are listed below.
My next step is to explore what I can to find out about these slaveholders online. After that, trips to Murfreesboro, TN and Lake City, FL to see if I can find legal documents to validate (or invalidate) what I’ve uncovered so far. I know I have a few visitors out there from time to time, so if anyone has other ideas, please let me know.