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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Black, White and Mulatto Marriages

I've run across information that leads me to believe that white women that married black/mulatto men during the antebellum period in norhtern communities were classified as mulatto or black on census records. In one case, oral history claimed that a former mulatto slave married an Irish woman. The marriage record was recorded in Clinton County, Illinois however the census records for 1850 listed the woman as mulatto. Their eldest child listed his mother's birthplace as Ireland on the 1880 Clinton County, census--confirming the oral history.

Has anyone else run into similar situations? Currently I'm reviewing records for John Pendergrass, a mulatto marrying a woman named Elizabeth Kruse in 1857 Clinton County, Illinois. So far I have not found any blacks or mulatto's with the Kruse surname on the 1850 census--only white or German. However by 1870, Elizabeth is listed as mulatto.

Their children, Cordielia Pendergrass-Mayhew and John Cooper Pendergrass II were listed as black and/or mulatto; pictures show mixed heritage.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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