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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

FPOC Community: Ten Mile Creek, Louisiana

Those people researching WILLIS, PERKINS, SWEAT, JOHNSON, RAY, ROYAL or GIBSON families might want to take a look at "The Free Negro in Ante-Bellum Louisiana" by H.E. Sterx. Sterx describes a closely-knit FPOC community made up of families with these names in Ten Mile Creek, Rapides Parish, LA.

Per Sterx, the community descended from a group that migrated there in 1804 and "were so closely related by blood that when about fifty of them cast votes less than a dozen bore different names from each other." Ten Mile Creek became somewhat notorious in 1857 when it was alleged that many of the FPOCs had illegally voted in a statewide election. This caused an uproar and, because the election was hotly contested, nine older, white members of the community gave written depositions swearing to the "Negro" origins of the Ten Mile FPOCs. Sterx gives the reader a good sense of the testimony by quoting from one of the depositions that appeared in the September 14, 1857 New Orleans Daily Crescent. In that deposition, James Johnson states that the Willises, Perkins, Sweats, Johnsons, Rays, Royals and Gibsons living around Ten Mile Creek were all "more or less connected" to a Joseph Willis, a mulatto Baptist preacher and former slave who came there from North Carolina.

I don't know anything about Sterx's reputation as a scholar but this did make for interesting reading and the original newspaper accounts might be helpful for people researching these families.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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