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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Research Suggestions

I responded to your other previous post about Free Negro lists. After checking the federal censuses, I would suggest that you adjust the estimated date of birth for Dennis Sr. to ca 1792, as that is the age given in the 1870 census.

If you stick with the 1800 date, that would make Dennis Sr. a 14 year old father. It is unlikely that Dennis Sr. would have had the means to support a wife and child at the age of 14, that is of course, assuming that they were married. And if he did indeed father Dennis Jr. in 1814, depending on his wealth, Dennis Jr. may have been bound out to someone to learn a trade, either when he was a child, or when he approached adolescence.

One strategy for determining his actual or estimated age, would be to search for him in deeds around the time, or after the time he would have reached the age of majority. Assuming that age to be 21, then if he was born in 1792, you should begin to look for him in records around 1813, and if born in 1800, around 1821. The sooner he appears in records transacting business (e.g. in 1813)such as buying or selling property, the more likely it is that he was born prior to 1800. Now you may find him in records even earlier, which would suggest that you adjust his age even further back. You should also check to see if Prince Edward County has death records between 1870 and 1880, as this might help you to determine his birthdate, by subtracting his age at death.

Also, if you haven't already done this, you should check the deed books to determine when Dennis acquired his land, and in the post-1870 years, for when the land was transferred to another owner. Since Dennis Sr. appeared in the 1870 census, but not the 1880 census, one can guess that he died some time between those years, so you should conduct a will, probate/estate search to determine what happened to the land he owned in 1870. Again, you may already have this information, but in case you don't, I'm just making suggestions.

You might also check the vital records. Virginia recorded them in 1853, and according to the 1870 census (if the age is correct), Dennis and Matilda had a daughter named Minerva who was born circa 1853.

Finally, you might also check the marriage records. Microfilm records survive for the county dating from 1754-1984.

Again as above with the court records, both the Library of Virginia and Mormon Family History Center, have microfilmed vital records. You can view the microfilm in Richmond, or rent the microfilm and view it closer to where you live.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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