Category Archives: African-American Research

Black History Month: More Research Resources

Through the years, I’ve posted a number of suggestions for African-American genealogical research during Black History Month.

Here are links to some of my past posts:

Black History Month GeneaGem: DAR Patriots of Color Database
Black History Month: More DAR Library Online Resources
Black History Month GeneaGem: Last Seen – Finding Family After Slavery
Black History Month GeneaGem: Enslaved.org
Black History Month GeneaGem: Freedom on the Move
Black History Month GeneaGem: Library Company of Pennsylvania
Black History Month 2021: Resources for Tracing an Enslaved Ancestor
Enslaved Ancestors’ Certificates of Freedom – An Unusual Place to Find Them
New GeneaGem: Digital Library on American Slavery
African-American Genealogy Resources

The great thing about the passage of time, in terms of online resources, is that more and more websites are adding to their digital collections.

Here are some newer websites that I’ve come across:

University of Washington’s Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium

Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives (SOVA) -Freedmen’s Bureau Collection

Slave Voyages

Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau by Angela Walton-Raji and Toni Carrier with an interactive map

In Motion: The African American Migration Experiences

This list offers many resources to help researchers trace their African-American heritage.

Estate Inventory of Benjamin S. Allen, Bourbon County, KY, 6 Feb 1865

Benjamin S. Allen of Bourbon County, Kentucky is NOT an ancestor in my family tree. However, his estate inventory might help descendants of some of his enslaved persons as he died near the end of the Civil War.

Ben, as he was called, is found with his family in the 1860 census of Bourbon County.


1860 Census, Bourbon County, Kentucky
Source: Ancestry

Ben Allen, 64, born Georgia
Margaret, 37, born KY (if her age is correct, this would be a daughter. If age is 57, then she is his wife, Margaret Coil, married 17 April 1830 in Bourbon County, KY)
W.H., male, 22, born KY
James B., 19, born KY
Margaret, 16, born KY
Elijah, 13, born KY
Jno., 11, born KY
Belle, 8, born KY
Alfred, 5, born KY

Here is his inventory, dated September 1864 and recorded on 5 February 1865:


Benjamin S. Allen Estate Inventory
Bourbon County, KY Will Records R: 32-33
Source: FamilySearch

The pertinent portion of Benjamin’s inventory is the bottom section of the left page;

“Slaves” Bill 200 Tom 150 Henry 200 Frank 250                   800.00
Willis 50.00 Emmanuel 200 Mitchell 200 Dennis 200       650.00
Adam 200 Saml 100 Emily 250 Sharlott 250                           800.00
Julia 150.00 Molly 150 Fanny 100 Lizzie 50                            450.00
Nancy 100 Sarah 250 Child not named 16                                366.00

Ben Allen appears in the 1860 census slave schedule:


Ben Allen, left column, 20 slaves
Source: Ancestry

More research needs to be done to account for 20 enslaved people in 1860, but 19 in the inventory four years later, one of whom is a newborn child.

Be aware that I had to manually read the 1860 census slave schedules, as no hits came up for any Allen in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

However, this is a start to piecing together possible enslaved ancestors who were part of the estate of Benjamin S. Allen.

Releasing Ned: 1794 in Surry County, NC

While researching Spear family lines in North Carolina, I came across this bill of sale in the probates and inventories of Surry County. Since all parties were living, I’m not sure why it was filed there, but it might be of interest to other Spear researchers.

It’s always disheartening to come across these documents, but it’s even sadder that the enslaved was a young eleven year old boy and the sale was finalized on Christmas Eve.

Henry Spear was likely the brother of my husband’s ancestor, Benjamin Spear. If so, Henry was born around 1760.


Source: North Carolina Probate Records, Surry County
Accounts, Inventories, Sales 1784-1809, Pages 40-41
FamilySearch

This Indenture made the 24th day of December in the year of our Lord One thousand Seven Hundred and Ninty-four, between Charles Hunt of the County of Surry and Stat of North Carolina of the one part and Henry Speer of the County & State aforesaid of the other part, witnesseth that the said Henry Speer hath this day bargained, sold, & delivered unto the said Charles Hunt a certain negro boy by the name of Ned about eleven years old for and in consideration of the sum of Eighty-two pounds ten Shillings current money of the State aforesaid in hand paid by the said Charley Hunt the receipt where of the said Henry Speer doth herby acknowledge to have and to hold free and clear from the lawful claim or claims of all persons whatsoever and further doth hereby warrant the said negro boy to be sound and well and free frm any impediment whatever for the true and faithful performance of the above. I hereby (bing?) myself, my Heirs, Executors, Administrators and Assigns to the Charles Hunt his Heirs and Assigns. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above within. H. Speer (seal)

Done before,
H. Yong
J. Hunt

North Carolina Surry County February Term 1795
The within Bill of Sale from Henry Speer to Charles Hunt was proved by the oath of John Hunt a Subscribing Witness thereto and ordered to be recorded at large.
Recorded accordingly by P. Jo Williams CC