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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

Re: Butler Plantation Slaves ~ GA

Mr. Staley,

Please share more information about what you know about Louis Butler. Have you found him in the 1880 and 1870 censuses? If so, what did the censuses say about him and who were the other members of his household? What source tells you he was born in Georgia and what source tells you he was half white?

True that, absent any other clue, surname is an excellent lead to search for a person's mother or father in slavery--but you will want to narrow your search to a particular county or counties. There were many slave owners surnamed Butler in Georgia. And not all of them owned plantations.

Do not assume that because a record (like the census) says someone was a "mulatto" that one parent was white. Colors like Black White and Mulatto were (and are) very subjective based on how the observer thinks someone looks--there is no genetic science or logic involved. Mulatto implies a mixture of white and black, but you cannot determine from that label alone what generation the supposed racial mixing occurred. Suppose two people labeled mulattoes marry and have children who are therefore also reputed to be mulattoes. Those children marry and have children of their own--who are also judged to be mulattoes. Where is the white person? For that matter, where is the Black person?

Under the nineteenth century American caste system of pseudo-races, all mulattoes and blacks were negroes, but not all negroes were black. (In the last half of the twentieth century, when the terms negro and colored fell out of favor, American racial terminology evolved to call everyone black.)

To help us help you define a search strategy, lease share more of the hard evidence you have and sources where you found it.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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