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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum

What is your most interesting discovery?

I finally got around to making a family tree and digging around in the census records to find out where all my people came from. It's been really interesting-- and there were a few surprises.

The biggest surprise was how angry I felt when I found out where and when my ancestors were slaves. I mean I think we all know that we have ancestors who were slaves but when you have a name and you can say "Yes, this really happened to my great-great-great-great-grandmother in say Chatham and Pigg River, Pittsylvania, VA" it has a new meaning. My family still has some land down there the plantation was parceled up sometime after the civil war. I knew this growing up but now I know the whole chain of events and the names:

William Coleman and Nanny Coleman were slaves in Chatham, VA. One year the census has almost no names on it and hundreds are on the slave registers (no names recorded for slaves) the next census (1870) is filled with newly freed colored people. And so Will and Nanny appear and I can go no further back on this line since there is no way to distinguish them from the hundreds of others listed only as Male 37 or Female 32. That makes me so angry. I want to know who they were.

But, it's kind of neat how in another case my great-great-grandmother ended up owing the same land her ancestors were slaves on. That woman was something else: she had 13 kids! Can you imagine?

I had better luck with my family from PA I managed to trace them back to Philly in the 1780s where one William worked as a shipbuilder. I was surprised at how many free blacks there are in the records.

I also found a clear-cut case of passing in the the early 1800s. One of my great-great-great-Aunts and her kids are listed as 'mulatto' in one census then white in every census after that! I wonder if their decedents know about that?

What interesting things have ya'll found in your family history?

Messages In This Thread

What is your most interesting discovery?
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Sounds like a book to write
Re: Sounds like a book to write
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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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