Category Archives: African-American Research

Estate of Unity Talbott, Bourbon County, KY on 4 Nov 1864

Today’s contribution to African-American History Month 2022 is the estate of Unity Talbott, apparently the widow of George Talbott. Unity Smith Talbott likely died sometime during 1864, as her inventory was submitted to court records on 4 November of that year.


Bourbon County, KY Will Records R: 1
Source: FamilySearch

The pertinent portion of this inventory is the information about her enslaved people:

(First two lines are about money paid to a note due. I’ve omitted totals at the end of each line.)
Rachel & her child Milton $150.00
Nancy 75.00 Margaret & her child Eliza 200.00
Sarah 125.00 Geo Hubbard 150.00 Henry 75.00
Betty 100.00 Evaline 85.00 Harvey 85.00
Jno 90.00 Mary Walker 75.00 Susan 80.00
Milky 25.00

Unity Smith was born c1785 in Delaware and married George Talbott, who predeceased her about 1852, on 17 February 1811 in Bourbon County. George was a native of Virginia. In 1850, the Talbotts have a full household:


George Talbott, 1850, Bourbon County, KY
Source: Ancestry

George Talbott, 67, born VA
Genette, 64, born DE
Benj, 24, born KY
Charles, 28, born KY
Nancy Parker, 36, born KY
Sarah Parker, 13, born KY
James Parker, 5, born KY
Elizabeth Parker, 4, born KY
Emmarine? Parker, 3, born KY
John, 1, born KY

I would wonder if this was the correct family as Genette is nothing like Unity. However, this woman is the same age as Unity and born in Delaware.

When looking at the 1860 census, there are other similarities:


Unity Talbott, 1860 Census
Source: FamilySearch

Charles Talbott is in both households, as is James Parker. For whatever reason, Genette became Unity ten years later. Both households are well-to-do with significant personal and real estate valuations.

In 1860, Unity Talbott appears in the census slave schedules:


Unity & Charles L. Talbott, 1860 Slave Schedules
Source: Ancestry

Unity’s household included sixteen enslaved people and her (apparent) son Charles L. is listed with two more. Her estate inventory lists fifteen, so one person is gone, assuming that the children were born by 1860.

What is most interesting to me is that two of the enslaved people have second names. I don’t know whether they are surnames, but they look to be. First, we have George Hubbard and then we have Mary Walker. If Hubbard and Walker are surnames and George and Mary continued to use them after emancipation, it will be much easier for descendants to find and connect them to Talbott family records.

With an estate valued as high as it was, there are likely other court records to pursue which might help African-American descendants piece together more of their family history.

Black History Month: GeneaGem – Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery

February is Black History Month, so I’d like to share some free GeneaGems that I hope will be new resources for your African-American family history research. There will be one new GeneaGem each week, providing an introduction and quick overview of the website, and all the websites are free.

As Black History Month 2022 comes to a close, I’d like to share one last GeneaGem – Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery, which is a project of the Department of History at Villanova University and Mother Bethel AME Church.

With the close of the American Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States, newly free black people wanted to find family from whom they had been separated for months, years and even decades. Many families have had stories passed down of lost children, parents, cousins who were never found and reunited with loved ones.

The goal of Last Seen is to recover the stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade.

Last Seen provides both K-12 and college level lesson plan ideas, but genealogists will want to check out the Research tab to search thousands of Wanted Ads taken out by former slaves, hoping to find their loved ones.

The ads can be searched by newspapers, locations and with a map. What I really like about the interactive map option is that you can view the ads as they were placed over time.

Many of the ads have a surprising amount of details in them.

These ads were placed locations far outside the American South and geographically cover locations from Africa to Mexico to Massachusetts.

There are four ways you can contribute to this project – share your own family story, contribute ads found in old newspapers, transcribe the text of ads that have been donated and financially support this project.

That wraps up Black History Month for 2022. I hope you’ve found some interesting new websites to check out in your research.

Black History Month: GeneaGem – Enslaved.org

February is Black History Month, so I’d like to share some free GeneaGems that I hope will be new resources for your African-American family history research. There will be one new GeneaGem each week, providing an introduction and quick overview of the website,  and all the websites are free.

This week’s GeneaGem is more broad in scope. Enslaved is a historical perspective of the slave trade and its peoples.

Enslaved has had several iterations as it has developed and grown, beginning in 2011. Currently, it is successfully linking data from several projects and is expected to remain an ongoing project for decades.

There are currently hundreds of thousands of data entries that can be searched through four categories – People (the biggest category), Events, Places and Sources.

The project history page includes a list of eleven Founding Partners with links to their websites, which provides further resources not only in the U.S., but in Brazil, the U.K. and several university projects.

The People category is searchable by many terms – Gender, Age Category, Ethnodescriptor, Role Types, Occupation and Status.

The search can be further narrowed by Event type and Date, Place, Sources and Projects.

This website is more of an historical overview than it is a way to search individual ancestors, although a researcher might have some success with finding information about individual masters.

The Sources link provides a list of almost 3,000 archives, libraries and websites from which data has been collected and the list can be browsed.