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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

New leads for Lucinda White and her children

Lessons learned:
(1) Clerks who keep official records, even when they write neatly and clearly, misread and mistranscribe some documents they copy.
(2) A new source can suddenly reinvigorate a search that has been stalled for many years.

When I traced the path of Lucinda White's letter backwards to its first appearance in the office of the Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioner for South Carolina, I found that the letter had been enrolled in the "Register of letters received" with the wrtiter's name given as "White, Sinclair." This led me on a wild goose chase looking for someone named Sinclair White in Charleston South Carolina. Eventually common sense prevailed -- this same letter was listed in two other registers under the name "Lucinda White" and "Scinda White". The most likely explanation was the the clerk, in a hurry to register the day's incoming correspondence, had misread the writer's first name as Sinclaur.

I was browsing the relatively new and growing website, Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery (http://informationwanted.org/). Much to my delight and excitement I found that, shortly before Lucinda White wrote to the Bureau, she placed a newspaper advertisement in the South Carolina Leader, December 8, 1866 (web link http://informationwanted.org/items/show/2166 ).

The newspaper ad revealed new information, including the existence of a son, Hercules, the place and approximate time of sale of each of the children, the name of the seller, and Lucinda White's street address. The ad names the man who purchased Sally and Jane "James McDaniel" -- but I already knew from previous research that the man was actually James McDonald, an elderly blind Baptist preacher in Thomaston, Ga.

The extra names open up new opportunities to research in the Charleston SC city directories, census searches for Hercules, and perhaps a search in Tennessee Bureau records to see if Lucinda White wrote there in search of him. My goal remains to know whether Lucinda White eventually re-united with her children, especially Sally and Jane.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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