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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

Re: Slave Breeding
In Response To: Re: Slave Breeding ()

Hello Art et al,
Hope all is well.

I haven't found documented evidence of it (in most cases, how can you really?), but when I was around 14 or 15, I eavesdropped on a conversation my paternal grandmother was having with her first cousin in Detroit. They were talking about how their grandfather - my great-great-grandfather Robert "Big Bob" Ealy - was used as a "stud". When my grandmother got off the telephone, I asked her to explain what she was talking about. Luckily, my dear grandmother was not a tight-lipped lady. She goes on to tell me how her grandfather's enslaver - who was referred to as "Masser Billy Ealy" - used "Grandpa Big Bob" for breeding other women.

Fast forward about 5 years later, when I started doing genealogy. My grandmother had passed by then, and was the last one of her siblings, but fortunately she had several first cousins who were in their 80's and 90's. One particularly was 99, and he and his younger brother had excellent memories. Without even asking them about what my grandmother had told me several years back, they relayed the same story about Grandpa "Big Bob". They even had additional stories to share about his breeding experience, as one of the cousins relayed that he was used to breed children by different women on various farms. The other cousin said almost verbatim, "Grandpa never saw any of those children he fathered, only the ones he had with Grandma Jane."

Luckily, oral history had already identified the slave-owner, who turned out to be a man named William W. Eley, who had transported him to Mississippi from North Carolina. William indeed only had just a handful of enslaved people on his small farm, while I determined that his wife, my great-great-grandmother Jane and their children, were enslaved by the Eleys' neighbor, William Parrott. No records have been found to date to corroborate the oral history. I doubt William Eley operated a "breeding farm"; however, he likely was paid for my great-great-grandfather's "services" because he was a "real stout and strong man", according to my late grandmother and her relatives.

I don't know if having several elderly relatives relay the same story concerning their grandfather is proof that it occurred, which may very well not be considered definitive proof, but I doubt that the story would have been passed down consistently if the breeding hadn't occurred at all with Grandpa "Big Bob". Besides, what family would pass down a particular story like that if it was concocted for sensational story-telling? My point: It happened.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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