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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

Re: census says Africa. Now What?-Help?

Shell asks: "Do I automatically assume that the Gamblin's are the former slave owners of Peter and the Woodward wife the slave owner of Mandy? Should I assume that the Woodward's and the Gamblin's are related? What do I do with the African birth?"

Never automatically make assumptions about former master-enslaved relationships from the apparent proximity of households in the 1870 census. There may in fact be a relationship, but you cannot conclude what that relationship might be just because folks appear to have been neighbors. The only relationship you may assume is that they were probably neighbors (but even for that to be true depends on what route the census enumerator took and how he or she compiled the final schedules).

If surnames match between white and black neighbors, you can form a theory that one might be the former slaveholder -- but then you need to test the theory against other evidence. 1870 was five years after the end of the Civil War; plenty of time for folks to move around.

The African birth -- How old was this person? 1808 marked the end of the legal importation of African slaves into the USA. While there were a few hundred -- maybe thousand(s) -- people illegally imported after 1808, they were very rare. There were others, free persons, who arrived in USA after 1865 from the Caribbean who had never been enslaved in the US South. If he was not at least . . . oh, say 10 years old, by 1808, chances are that he came into the USA after the general emancipation. Illegal importation between 1808-1865 is, of course, always a possibility, and many of these persons have been identified -- use the "search" feature of this forum to search for all posts that include the key word "wanderer" to find discussions of this topic.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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