Our Enslaved Ancestors

It can be painful to discover that our ancestors were enslaved or that our ancestors were owners of slaves. Because enslaved people were treated as property rather than as citizens, genealogical research for enslaved ancestors can be very difficult. But it isn't impossible.

In my genealogical research, I often encounter records that mention slaves, so I decided to begin documenting them, in case it will be helpful to others in finding the sometimes difficult to trace relationships of enslaved people.

Most of the time I find these records in Wills and Deeds in North Carolina records, but occasionally my research leads to other places as well.

On this page (and related pages) I’ll provide at least the names, dates, and locations, and source information, but sometimes, as time allows, I’ll also provide a transcription and link to an image of the document.

Deed for a Slave Named Lydia, Age 9

In Rutherford County, North Carolina, this deed is transferring a nine year old girl named Lydia from a mother to her daughter. The owner is Mary Russell and she gives Lydia to her daughter, Mary Kelly, on the 20th of December, 1805. The deed was recorded 5 March 1806 and witnessed by John D Davenport and Rebekah Davenport.

John Davenport was the stepson of my patriot ancestor, Samuel King, and I found this record on the page with a deed from Samuel to John. I don't yet know the relationship of John and Rebekah to the parties in the deed, but if I find out, I'll update this information.

Deed for Lydia, child slave
Deed for Slave: Lydia age 9

Transcription of the 1805 Deed for Lydia

      March the 5th 1806 No. 102
      To all men & People to whom these presents shall come do send
      Greeting Know ye that I Mary Russell of Rutherford County
      in the state of North Carolina For & in Consideration of the Love &
      good Will & affection I have & bear to my Loving Daughter
      Mary Kelly of the County & State aforesaid have given and Granted
      and by these presents do give & grant unto the said Mary Kelly her
      heirs Exrs or Admrs A Certain Negro Girl Named Lydia aged
      about Nine years old the which before the Signing of these presents
      I have Delivered to her the said Mary Kelly bearing even date
      With this Deed To have & to hold the said Negro Girl Lydia to her
      The said Mary Kelly her heirs & assigns to be her own property &
      Right without any manner of Condition In Witness whereof I
      Have hereunto set my hand & seal the 20th day of December 1805
      Signd Seald & Delivered In presents of Us
      John D Davenport
               mark                                                  her
           her                                                  Mary M Russell
      Rebekah X Davenport                              mark

Kate, Liss, and Will

In the will of John Wilson, 1822 in Rutherford County, North Carolina, he gave three enslaved people to his wife, Margaret. They were Kate, Liss, and Will. At her option or death, Margaret was to give Liss to daughter Elizabeth.

Follow the link to view transcript of John Wilson's will (transcription by Rutherford County).

Bil Prayes

In a Rowan County, North Carolina probate record dated 6 October 1829, the heirs drew lots to determine whether they would receive cash, a portion of land, or a slave named Bil Prayes, valued at two hundred and sixty dollars.

The owner had been Margery Stonestreet, widow of Edward, and Bil became the property of her son, Benjamin.

Below is the transcription of the agreement, and the original can be viewed here.

      September 29th, 1829 we the heirs of Edward Stonestreet
      Decd, being of age met & divided the land of sd Decd
      & agreeded to draw by lot after it was aloted off
      I John Baleys drew forty and a quarter acres of
      the bottom land it being all that was in that survey
      on the big Yadkin River _____________
      and I John Baleys as agent drawed for John
      Stonestreet one of the said heirs living in oen county
      & State of Kentucky Eighty nine and a half of the
      [? outs] track /\of land/\ on the west part of sd tract agoining
      Joseph Heauser & Eijah Ward & others ____________
      & I Elishua Stonestreet drew for my part the
      East part of the sd old tract of land containg Eighty
      Nine acres & a half ________________________
      & I Richmond Gilpen drew for my part out of the
      personnal part of sd Estate two hundred &
      Sixty Dollars & a half out of the hands of Elishua
      Stonestreet admr of the widow of the above named
      Decd it being in full as my part being one of the heirs
      & I Benjamin Stonestreet drew for my part one
      Negro man by the name of bil prayes at two
      Hundred Dollars & Sixty Dollars & fifty cents
      off Elishua Stonestreet admr of sd decd it being
      in full of my part as heir of the sd Estate
      and we the heirs have hearunto set our hands
      Seals this the 6 of October 1829
                                    John Baleys
      John Baleys agent for ___ John Stonestreet
      Witness                              Elishua Stonestreet
      Enoch Brock                              Rmd Gilpin
                                    Benjamin Stonestreet

Bequests of Thomas Stonestreet, 1771

This information was extracted from the Will of Thomas Stonestreet. In his will, Thomas gives Pationie her freedom.

Bequests of Thomas Stonestreet, 1771, of Prince George’s County, Maryland:

    To John Stonestreet, a negro man called Chester
    To Basil Stonestreet, a negro man called Ned
    To Edward Stonestreet, a negro boy called Harry
    To Butler Stonestreet, a negro man called Nafrey
    To Verlinder Newman, a negro girl called Betty and a negro woman called Cate
    To Edward Stonestreet and my four grandsons, the proceeds from the sale of my negro man called Jack.

    To my negro woman Pationie, her freedom

Prince George’s County Will Book 1770 vol 1 T 1 pg. 5