“Free Persons of Color” and “All Other Free Persons”

In Virginia there are pockets of Native Americans–Monacan, Powhatan, Cherokee, Saponi, and many other small tribes including, I suspect, some that migrated in from across the North Carolina line.

The United States Census maintained  categories for Blacks and Native Americans–except “Indians not taxed.”  These columns, usually titled “Free Persons of Color” and “All Other Free Persons,” are extremely important.

When the census schedule was pre-printed enumerators just made marks in the columns.  Many schedules, however, were hand-written where the enumerator wrote in his own designation–watch for these.    “Non-white” or Blacks or Mulattoes or Colored Persons, or Negroes and Others may be your first clue that the person you seek was neither a slave nor an Indian not taxed.

Genealogists, often using these census schedules, now give us a variety of transcribed and indexed access to these ancestors:

John Ewing “Indian John” 1747-1824. By Barbara Ewing Powell and John W. Burris.  Newman CA:  1994.  Descendants of Scottish immigrants to Virginia and Ohio.  Includes an account of casualties in the Virginia settlements on the Greenbrier River.

Free People of Colour:  Free Negroes, Indians, Portuguese, and Free Slaves. By Mary B. Kegley.  Wytheville VA:  Kegley Books, 2003.  A whole series of miscellaneous items from Southwest Virginia, Southside Virginia, and the Northern Neck.

The Buffalo Ridge Cherokee:  A Remnant of a Great Nationa Divided. By Horace R. Rice.  Bowie MD:  Heritage Books, 1995.  Indludes genealogies, census entries and other informtion about people who were in the area of Stapleton VA well before 1820.

Free African Americans of North Carolina and Virginia: Including the family histories of more that 80% of those counted as “all other free persons” in the 1790 and 1800 census.  By Paul Heinegg.  Baltimore MD:  Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.

Monacans and Miners:  Native American and Coal-Mining Communities in Appalachia. By Samuel R. Cook.  Lincoln NE:  University of Nebraska Press, 2000.   Study of the Monacans, the Scottish, and the Irish immigrants in Appalachia in the late 18th century.

Strangers in their Midst:  The Free Black Population of Amherst County VA. By Sherrie S. and William R. McLeRoy.  Bowie MD: Heritage Books, 1993.  Includes the Amherst County Register of  Free Blacks, 1822-1864 and a biographical dictionary using data from tax rolls and other county records.

The Monacan Indians:  Our Story. By Karenne Wood and Diane Shields, Office of Historical Research, Monacan Indian Nation.  A concise and straight-forward history.

Use these significant books along with these original documents:

Miscellaneous Records of the Continental Congress, 1774-89. Roll 7, p. 5, pt II, Bk II:  Inspection Rolls of Negroes.  This is just one reference of several included among the records of the Continental Congress which includes the places of origin for each group of Blacks.  FHL microfilm 1605401.

Public Claims, Slaves and Free Blacks, 1781-1865. 6 microfilm reels from the Virginia State Library, filmed 1995.  FHL 2027937-942.  Includes tax rolls for free blacks and slaves, condemned blacks executed or transported out of state, runaway slaves who became the property of the state of Virginia and were re-sold to new owners.  Also includes laws passed dealing the Blacks and other free persons of color, courts cases, commissions to return slaves to Africa and Liberia.

These resources are just the beginning if you are interested in these ethnic ancestors.  I will bring other materials to your attention in subsequant newsletters.

My interest centers around Betsy Penn, born about 1776 who resided in Amherst County and died after the 1850 census in Nelson County Virginia.  More than 500 searches have been made looking for her origins.  She married Joel Bethel.  After years of hunting for her origins all over the South, we have a new hope that the answers and the proof lie among the “free persons of color.”   Stay tuned, your favorite Virginia Lover of genealogy, Arlene Eakle.  http://www.arleneeakle.com

PS  I envisioned that this online newsletter would carry more advanced and in-depth genealogy resources based on the research for lost and difficult-to-find ancestors.  There are lots of examples of stopped pedigree lines.  What I am trying to do is reveal the little-known resources and sophisticated strategies required to kickstart your research.

And that takes some extra time.  There may be some gaps in posting.  If you are setup with RSS feed or notification by email, you will get all of the newsletters I post.

PPS And I appreciate all of you, my gentle readers–those who comment, those who link to this site, those who quote this site in their own work, those who send me questions and tidbits by email, and all of you who read in silence.  Many thanks for all of you.  Your favorite Virginia genealogist, AE.

PPSS  There are two ways to be notified that there is a new entry on this blog.

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That all said, there is one other thing – *registering* for the blog. That has nothing to do with your receiving it as an email as described above. It has to do with being able to post a comment. You have to register in order to be able to do that. You will get an email with a password, automatically generated by the blogging software. Then you can log in and post a comment. I still need to approve your comment so it won’t immediately show up. That is so that spammers who target blogs for their stuff can’t comment.

You will be glad you subscribed–some good stuff here.  Arlene Eakle

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