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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Emancipation in Mecklenburg VA

Not a long recitation at all, we enjoy reading the details, it provides a context and examples for others who might be researching similar scenerios.

Umm..gonna have to talk to the folks at LVA, yes folks did carry some kind of identification which documented their "free status". One of the most important pieces of information I found early in my research was an entry in the 1819 Henry County, VA Court Order book which read "

"Milly Harris and her Nathan hath leave to renew her register alleging the loss of the certificate of her former one"

Flash forward 40 years and on June 12, 1860,

"On the motion of John and Geo Williams free person of Color and the Court being satisfied that the copies of their Registers have been stolen from them or destroyed. It is ordered that the Clerk Delivers to them new copies thereof."

Somewhere in my "piles of paper" is a copy of an original document I found at the LVA for a small piece of paper, which gave Name of person, age, color, description of scars, and how freed or if born free.

Henry County, VA does not have a separate Register, or if they do, I haven't found it yet (Although they do have Commissioner of Revenue Lists, based on another law), but throughout the County Court Order books are references folks for folks coming to get registered, being hauled into court for not registering, which they had to do every 2 years.

I can not say if all counties were as diligent, b I can assure you they we all aware of the of the laws as they applied to Free Blacks, and depending on the time and what was going on the laws would be enforced.

Your finding of a Chancery Case is a gold mine, "nothing like slave owners fighting over the will and property" in which enslaved folks played an important and valuable part". I do not say that lightly because I understand full well the impact it had on those enslaved individuals and families, but Court Cases generate documents.

Since your ancestors left the state it is possible that they did not register. I wondered though because Ohio did at some point require documentation when Free Blacks arrived. Art Thomas who replied in an earlier message in this thread, can and will give you more details...he is a wealth of info on OHio

Great info..keep us posted.


Thanks! Yesterday a LVA Librarian said that VA slaves emancipated by either will or deed did not need any other legal document. But your explanation of passes makes sense to me. Hard to believe FPOC would be carrying those documents around.

At this point I have the will, the deed, the court order, probate records and the chancery files. Until April of 2014 and for more than 10 years before, all we had was a 1860 census record showing the Burnett family came from unknown parts of VA. A rather long recitation but I thought there might be interest. Selvina and Kelly thanks for the helpful suggestions!

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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