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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

Re: A Dickens Tale: A Slave Owner & His Slave Fami

Art,

This whole record is entirely compelling (as I know you know). In the 1880 census you can see that the census taker wrote "W" for the color of H. K. Dickens, and someone later, with a thicker pen, overwrote it with "Mu" -- perhaps one of the tabulators in Washington DC, who assumed that "W" was a mistake?

I wouldn't think that the use of Milly versus Emily introduces any ambiguity into this case, since formal names and nicknames are freely intermingled in many 19th century censuses.

This is a very interesting story, indeed!

As for physican versus farmer, it would have been up to the respondent to give the occupation he felt was most important to his identity. I have seen rich town merchants in my area of study who also owned farms of plantations and thus state they are "farmers" -- probably because farming was considered a more respectable, signified more stability and honor, than storekeeping. On the other hand, practitioners of the three "learned professions" (physicians, ministers, and lawyers) usually identified by their profession even if they owned large plantations.

So, was Dr. Kelly Dickens a practicing physician when the censuses were taken? If his state (like Georgia) taxed medical practitioners, you could check the tax digests and see whether he paid the tax.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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