AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
Re: FPOC in Civil War
In Response To: Re: FPOC in Civil War ()
It is common for census forms to use inconsistent racial designations, such as "mulatto" one year, "black" or "colored" or "Negro" another year. If an ancestor was known to be African-American, it is important to check the scanned image of the census form itself, because some transcriptions have mistaken W (white) for M (mulatto) and vice versa, resulting in inaccurate computer searches. An ancestor who was not counted in the census until 1870 might have been born a slave.
Do you know where your grandparents were born and where their families lived? Check the names of Silas West's children, grandchildren, and neighbors in each census to see if you recognize the name of your grandparent or other relative. At least three African-American men named Silas West were alive in 1900: a Virginia-born man living in Baltimore, Maryland; a North Carolina-born man who had lived in Sampson County, NC since 1870 (your ancestor?); a Missouri-born man living in Hennepin, Minneapolis (possibly a son or relative of the Civil War soldier). The Civil War soldier named Silas West fought in a regiment that was organized in Missouri.
If you think that your ancestor was a Civil War soldier, you can write to the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) to request his military service records. You can also request his pension file, in case your ancestor or his widow applied for a pension after the war. On the NARA home page, click on "Where is...? How do I..." for more information.