AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
Re: FPOC in Charleston, SC
In Response To: FPOC in Charleston, SC ()
I have not done any research in Charleston, but rather in Virginia. Faced with a similar problem for some people I'm researching, I resorted to searching through the court order books and loose papers. I don't know if Charleston's government followed a process similar to Virginia, but you might want to check.
In Virginia when someone was emancipated, he had to have it recorded at the courthouse, then apply to register as a free person. Typically the court order books would include some reference to the individual's application and an order to draw up (write) and deliver a copy of the register to the newly freed person. These entries tend to provide significant details as they combine two processes -emancipation and registration in one source.
As for deed books, you should start searching in 1838 and work backwards. If the deed book has an index, search under your ancestor's first name only and then with the surname. I've found numerous examples where the formerly enslaved person is listed in an index by first name only. Then when I've viewed the actual entry, their surname is mentioned. I haven't figured out yet why the indexer failed to index the name by surname.
If that doesn't help and as a last resort, you might want to check criminal proceedings. Southern governments in the post-Nat Turner years tended to pass more restrictive laws and hence you find more free blacks being hauled into court for one offense or another. If for example, your ancestor was caught without his free papers, he could have been jailed until he presented proof that he was free. Then of course, such an entry would give you the evidence that you're seeking.