MY third-great-grandfather Lewis Carter was born about 1817 in Virginia and spent most of his life there. The 1870 census shows him living in that state’s Madison County with his wife and six children. He was a farmhand with real estate valued at $4,700 and personal property worth $1,150.
The enslavement of Africans in the United States began in 1619, when a Dutch trader sold slaves to settlers at Jamestown, Va. Millions of Africans were forced to cross the Atlantic over the next 200 years—a branch of the slave trade known as the Middle Passage. The Web site Voyages details this trade. Britain and the United Stated outlawed importing (but not owning) slaves in 1807, though the practice continued illegally for years.
You probably already know slaves didn’t use last names. Your newly freed ancestor could’ve chosen a particular surname for a variety of reasons, so don’t assume your ancestor took his most recent master’s name. But because many freedmen did, start by researching white families with the same surname in your ancestors’ community, especially if it was an uncommon surname.
living with her parents Walker and Martha Aills in Union County. Walker owned six slaves in 1860; two were within the right age range for Prince and Frank. I also noticed Auckley was born in Mississippi—as was Prince’s mother, Charlotte. In 1850, Walker and Martha lived with their five children and seven slaves in Union County. The 1850 Union County slave schedule lists two slaves about the ages Prince and Frank would’ve been.
Create a basic genealogy of both your family and the slave owning family. Include collateral lines—relatives such as siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins.
1654 John Casor becomes the first legally recognized slave in the United States
1705 Virginia declares all negro, mulatto and Indian slaves should be held as real estate
1774 Rhode Island bans the importation of slaves
1775 The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage (aka the Pennsylvania Society) forms
1783 Slavery ends in Massachusetts
1800 A slave named Gabriel leads a rebellion in Virginia
1807 British Parliament makes the slave trade illegal
1822 Denmark Vesey is hanged for planning a slave rebellion in Charleston, SC
1831 Nat Turner leads a slave rebellion in Virginia
1831 William Lloyd Garrison founds the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator
1848 Connecticut abolishes slavery
1850 Fugitive slave laws require runaway slaves in free states to be returned
1852 Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published
1857 US Supreme Court rules Dred Scott can’t sue for his freedom
1863 Emancipation Proclamation takes effect
1865 13th Amendment prohibits slavery