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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Indian ancestry in Petersburg

Hi Barbara. I only knew of the James and Chance Finley case from my research of the colonial records in 1999 when I attended a lecture by Carolyn Goudie at the annual meeting of the African American Genealogical Society. She said these cases were quite common from about 1790-1820. After that time doubts about oral history of what happened in the early 1700s as well as the very dark appearance of the plaintiffs brought these suits to a halt.

Since that time I have come across several other cases. One was the Venie/ Vena family which descended from a free man (son of a white woman and a slave) who married an Indian woman slave. Their descendants brought suit as descendants of an Indian woman and won their case. Another was the Coleman family of Dinwiddie County/ Petersburg.

After the Revolution the courts decided that it had been illegal to enslave Indians taken up during the Indian Wars and Indians like the Finleys who were stolen from their parents. Legally, it did not matter how much Indian or African ancestry one had, only whether the person descended from an Indian woman.(Condition of the child determined by condition of the mother). It appears they were saying slavery was only appropriate for Africans!
Paul


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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