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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Emancipation in Mecklenburg VA

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.

You are spot on. I found several files at LVA with just such little pieces of papers as you describe. These were receipts for freed negroes registration. It would make sense that the county would keep a copy and give the freed person a copy. I also happened upon a letter from a person who was reporting to the county that his wife had accidentally destroyed a woman's paper by leaving it too close to the fire. Moreover, it appears that at least in Mecklenburg County, they charged for the registration. There were numbers on the receipts that were most likely the fees. That would explain why FPOC would not register-because they didn't have the money. Otherwise why risk it?

Interesting enough, there were also written declarations (w/physical descriptions of the slaves) from whites who were bringing slaves into the state, apparently to comply with a VA statute that required them to state they were not bringing Negroes in for sale. My guess is this is because of 1) the ban on the slave trade, and/or 2) the state's desire to tax anyone selling slaves, or 3) keeping tabs on every black person in the state.

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.

I haven't looked at Ohio's Black Codes and the very meager Ohio registry of Negroes records in a long time. My ancestors were not among those listed but it's been so long, I need to go back and check. I think these Codes were more strictly enforced earlier in the antebellum period. As the abolition of slavery became an issue it would not be surprising that the closer to 1861, the less enforcement. But again, as you say, I am sure it varied county by county.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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