It helps me to understand the complexity of surname variation I have found in researching the ancestral patterns of an African-American cemetery in my local area. African Americans tended to use surnames associated with their own families instead of the last slave owner. Examples include: Francois, Jean, Pierre, and Leon for men; and Manon, Delphine, Marie Louise, Celeste, and Eugenie for women. I took the name of Jackson for the reason that I preferred to go by my fathers name, rather than the name of my last owner.. By examining periods of violence during the Reconstruction era, students learn about the potential backlash to political and social change. In freedom, Jean-Louis was known as Louis SEM or Louis FUSELIER until finally using SAM. Students learn about the violent responses to the transformation of US democracy that occurred as a result of Radical Reconstruction. 41. No, I dont know to whom she belonged before she was brought from Virginia to Kentucky. . BRATHWAITE - This name was derived from a geographic location in the north of England. Spanish areas had male Slave names as Francisco, Pedro, and Antonio; and for females: Maria, Isabella, and Juana. They identified 21 distinctly Black male names, among them biblical classics such as Abraham and Moses, and word names including Freeman and Prince. 2019 (cited under the Anglophone Caribbean) includes a good general introduction to slave naming. Letter to Armistead Burt of September 1, 1831, sfn error: no target: CITEREFCalhoun1837 (. . Thank you for commenting, and continued luck to you in your research. On all subsequent census records, he is listed as John Lewis. One of the less well known aspects of the history of slavery is how many and how often non-whites owned and traded slaves in early America. by John C. Inscoe, 2006; Revised May 2022 by NC Government & Heritage Library. LOTTIE had been the name of the nurse before me and so they just continued that same name. CAs Push to Restore Voting Rights to System-Impacted Individuals Still in Custody, Eli Lilly to Cap Out-of-Pocket Insulin Costs, Asm. Thats a goal that I am working towards. Robyn, Unraveling the origins of FPOC and slaves in Francophone Louisiana takes some thinking outside the fact, meticulous research ,familiarity with the local culture, history and a bit of serendipity on your side. They cut it off from OCTAVIA. A. Lottie Smith was my name and what they called me before I met Phillip and was married to him. But once freed most immediately chose surnames, with or without keeping their accustomed name. Thomas mother, younger brothers and sisters remained with the Black family. I belonged to him until emancipation. ", "The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never ever introduce yourself to had life not done it for you. Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803), a former slave, he enslaved a dozen people himself before becoming a general and a leader of the Haitian Revolution. The most common origin for surnames is that enslaved people initially used the surname of either their mother or their father, if they knew what those names were. Prior to the emancipation of the American slaves in 1863, those African-Americans held in bondage had usually just one or two given names. In my own family history, on my Yarborough side, I believe I have uncovered a pattern that my formerly-enslaved great-grandparents, Calvin and Precilla YARBOROUGH may have used in naming their children. Herbert G. Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925 (1976). The surname issue really presents huge challenges for those of us doign this research, but you soulnd as though you are making headway. 2023 The Voice of the Black Community in California. Surnames (not always those of former owners) would then be adopted as family names by former slaves and their descendants. South Atlantic Creole A Spanish America After Independence, 1825-1900, Tudor and Stuart Britain in the Wider World, 1485-1685, Warfare, Medicine, and Disease in the Atlantic World. Slaveholders often renamed newly acquired slaves; but self-naming by slaves, which also occurred, is likely to be underreported in the records, which were mainly created by and for slaveholders. Wesley is one of a group of W-starting surname names reminiscent of the Old West that are making a comeback -- though it's not as well used as it was in the 1970s, when he ranked as high as Number 66. Jonah, the name of the Old Testament prophet who was swallowed by the whale, only to emerge unharmed three days later, is increasingly appreciated by parents looking for a biblical name less common than Jacob or Joshua, yet not too obscure. The majority of these slaves used the surname Lewis instead of Washington. When retained, a given name was generally changed to its full form: Thomas, not Tom; Elizabeth, not Bet. Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (1974). Many enslaved people were allowed to keep their original African names or names assigned them elsewhere (as reflected by the frequency of Spanish and Portuguese names among the first generation of enslaved people in the Carolinas.) I hope you dont mind my sharing those posts. This financial assistance was available to all Civil War veterans and their families. Recently, I was looking for more information on Wesley Thompson, who was born about 1835 and who was living in Morgan County, Alabama with his wife, Nellie, and five children in 1880. Hi Donna, This was the case with several others from Wessyngton. This topic interests me greatly and Id like to do more research. This event is $12. My great grandfather Wilson Percival was born in South Carolina and I believe he took his surname from last slave owners family. I dont know what became of his parents. Another slave named Bill who attended the sheep became Bill Shepherd. I have done quite a bit of genealogy for my own family, and it was difficult enough, but what you are doing, is incredible work. All rights reserved. Harris: A patronymic meaning son of Harry. Q. Several names have been added under the letter representing the person's last name. I was called mostly Lewis Smith till after the war, although I was named Dick Lewis SmithDick was the brother of John Barnett whom I learned was my father . Fortunately, the French and Latin were excellent record keepers and the Catholics were obsessed with knowing the kinship of everyone. Slaves are identified by given name under their masters. . But the meanings of names certainly evolved over time, and some have argued that the principles according to which an individual name was given (e.g., after a relative or ancestor) are at least as important as its apparent meaning and type. My full name is Dick Lewis Barnett. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. 1754 Excerpts from the Courant for June 22 to 29, 1754 at Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library - contain the names of some "runaway slaves" or indentured servants, and information about them. Choose the best name for your child. Start your year off with tips and strategies that can help you in the new year & beyond. This lively Old Testament nature name (belonging to one of the three beautiful daughters of Job) may be missing from the current US Top 1000 list, but it ranks highly here on Nameberry making it one to watch! I make extensive use of tables for organization, analysis and citation in my research, and they have proven very popular with genealogists. Location the owner of ones ancestor is crucial for an African American genealogist to trace his family before 1870. Throughout the colonial period, as many as one-fifth of the enslaved people in North Carolina retained African names; Quash, Cuffee, Mingo, Sambo, Mustapha, and Sukey were among the most common recorded. Besides the Morrows, whom else did you live with in Louisville? My mother then told me my fathers name was John Barnett, a white man, and I took up the name Barnett., My mothers name was Jane and she was called Jane Nunn because she belonged to the Nunns. Another slave named Bill who attended the sheep became Bill Shepherd. Nat Turner's Rebellion One of the most famous slave revolts in American history came in 1831 when Nat Turner led a bloody uprising in Southampton County, Virginia. Each is present in your body. 13 March 2022, 1-2:30pm [PAST EVENT], Eastern Standard Time: Cant find some of your ancestors in the census? It prohibited. Along with records from churches,manumission societies, enslavers, and estate settlements, these documents provide a vast pool of data from which to trace patterns and trends from the colonial period through emancipation. Brief, but stimulating and thoughtful for students coming new to the subject. In French-speaking Louisiana, Slave names reflected the dominant language and thus were generally different from those in the English colonies. Interestingly, the five most common American surnames as of 2010 haven't changed that much over time and are Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, and Jones. I want.to.know.where we (who are.descendants.of.freed.people.who.got sent.back.to Sierra Leone.from.maybe Nova Scotia.) Theres always more to learn! The name.Auber.is also.in.Haiti and.is of.French orign. There are so many examples of every kind of scenario, and I think it just speaks to the variety of experiences our ancestors had. Many of the former slaves and some free people of color took the first name of their father, mother and sometimes former slaveowner as their last. I was only three years old when she died. You could not be signed in, please check and try again. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Some of these individuals probably lived through the Civil War to become named citizens in Ashley County, Arkansas and may have taken the last name of Hollaway/Holaway or Terry/Tery. All children of a female slave were automatically slaves, considered as belonging to the owner of the mother. Robyn. The naming of slaves has not been treated in dedicated monographs, but it often figures in general accounts of plantation culture and the practices of enslavement. Q. Im very familiar with the work of Gwendolyn Hall and Elizabeth Shown Mills. This reading contains quoted text not authored by Facing History & Ourselves. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, more biblical names were given to enslavedchildren, a reflection of the widespread attempts to Christianize enslaved communities. - Jane Howard, "Friends are God's apologies for relations." Both are excellent researchers and historians. Anthropologist Meyer Fortes's observation that the naming practices of any society "epitomize personal experiences, historical happenings, attitudes to life, and cultural ideas and values" holds particularly true for African American enslaved people. Several of the other slaves were sold to various slave owners. I would also recommend Elizabeth Shown Mills various case studies on enslaved people in Louisiana, which you can find at her website at https://www.historicpathways.com/articles.html. 3. Besides the Morrows, whom else did you live with in Louisville? Davis: This name is a patronymic of David. "Albumen print of enslaved women and their children near Alexandria, Virginia." After I had returned to Louisville from Danville, My sister, Lizzie White, got to calling me Mollie, and it was with her that the name started. In many cases this is ignored and children use their fathers name! College, Advanced AA Gen Class, September 2011, AAHGS Annual Genealogy Conference, November 2008, Howard Comm. Numerous historical sources confirm that enslaved people had surnames that they used among themselves and in many cases were known by their slaveholder. When I was born my mother was known as Phillis Smith and I took the name of Smith too. Letter to James Edward Calhoun, August 27, 1831. The Genealogy Source Table Collection includes 10 blank, editable source tables for death certificates, city directories, obituaries and funeral programs. Sabe, Anque, Bumbo, Jobah, Quamana, Taynay, and Yearie) used in the Slave quarters. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here. A. In his pension file, my great great grandmother his widow expressed that he chose his former enslaver surname because his father had been enslaved by them, too. It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl. 3. If we consider the diverse circumstances that the tragedy of slavery created, we can understand the reasons why. E. Togo Salmon Conference, E. Togo Salmon Conference 1993 Mcmaster University: Goodyear III, Frank H. "Photography changes the way we record and respond to social issues". Newly emancipated slaves also frequently chose new first names, discarding those associated with slavery. Search 30 million given names. If a surname was needed, the slave owners family name might be used. Spencer is a name that has everything: it's both distinguished sounding and accessible, dignified but Spencer Tracy-like friendly. This potential brother had been sold to a local and remained there in SC. Feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions or need some assistance. After the war ended and slavery was abolished, they exercised their freedom by changing their names. Chery Meaning: derived from the Latin Cariacus, which means "land belonging to Cariu"; darling Origin: French 5. Use the form below to get in touch with me and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. The last U.S.census slave schedules were enumerated by County in 1860 and included 393,975 named persons holding 3,950,546 unnamed slaves, or an average of about ten slaves per holder. Wonderful to have first hand account that help shine light on the attitudes of our ancestors. Nonetheless, this is a situation where two brothers selected different surnames. The new surnames, usually not taken from a former slave owner, included: Williams, Jones, Johnson, Smith, Jackson, Thomas, Brown, Walker, Davis, Green, Robinson, Scott, Harris, Turner, and Anderson. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. They are held at The National Archives (Kew, England). Even tiny steps are huge in someones life. It means 'raven'. Such resistance signified continual deep-rooted discontent with the condition of bondage and, in some places, such as the United States, resulted in ever-more-stringent mechanisms for social control and repression in slaveholding areas. The different spellings are due to the non-consistent spelling rules in Norway in the 1700s and 1800s. Remember me. You can use the links below to view more common surnames. 1. A. . At your request I have finally made available for viewing past popular webinars! Garcia is the Spanish variation of the word Gerald that means a pointed weapon, like a spear. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. They cut it off from OCTAVIA. He was sold to my master William Orr and he always went by the name Edward Orr after that.. After Emancipation, many former slaves adopted new names and surnames. Going back a decade to the 1850 Slave Schedule, both William Wood and Samuel O. John C. Inscoe, "Carolina Slave Names: An Index to Acculturation," Journal of Southern History 59 (November 1983). The quote below, from a Southern Claims Commission file, is one of the most powerful and one of my favorites to use in lectures: I enlisted under Ross because that was my fathers name. If the slaveholder or another free white man was their father, many Creoles did use either is first or last name as a surname. So I asked my mother and she told me my father John Barnett, a white man, and I took up the name of Barnett . -Unknown, "If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you might as well make it dance!" Smith.). Email:email@example.com Enslaved people suffered constant sale, where children were frequently torn away from parents at young ages and spouses were often separated. Drawing on extensive archival records, this digital memorial allows analysis of the ships, traders, and captives in the Atlantic slave trade. I am a farmer. Copyright 2023 Facing History & Ourselves. In the 1760s Anglo-American frontiersmen, determined to settle the land, planted slavery firmly within the borders of what would become Tennessee. Slavery existed in the United States from its founding in 1776 and became the main . Even worse, during this period, many African Americanssome using surnames for the very first timechanged their surnames once or even several times. St. Louis County Library. Questions about slave naming intersect with some of the major debates in slavery studies (especially regarding Creolization and the formation of Atlantic Creoles) and can illuminate issues about the ethnicity of African slaves, the personhood and agency of those enslaved, the nature of kinship structures among the enslaved, and the survival of African cultural practices in the diaspora. Last updated: November 1, 2003 "Dwelling No." Index by slave owner's name | Surname unknown or illegible. You can find many more examples of the above in my post, The Mind of the Slaveowner. Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts South Atlantic Creole Archipelagos Whereas names withAfrican, classical, or other unique origins were popular during enslavement, --- often continuingfrom one generation to the next and creating a distinctive nomenclature unlike that of southern whites -- free black peopleoften used more traditionally Anglicized versions of their first names. I have been a researcher, writer, lecturer and teacher for over twenty years. You are the continuation of each of these people.". Alfred "Teen" Blackburn (1842-1951), one of the last living survivors of slavery in the United States who had a clear recollection of it. I am generally called Cap Sherrod but I was married under Cap Ross and have voted under the name Ross, A good many people call me Cap Sherrod because I belonged to Sherrod but I calls myself Cap Ross.. By clicking Accept, you consent to the use of ALL the cookies. My maiden surname is Williams. A Wessyngton slave named Bill who was the plantation's blacksmith was known as Billy the Smith during slavery. My mothers name was Octavia Smith and it was from her that I got it but where the name came from to her I never knew. The given name Athena was derived from the city name Athens, which is of uncertain origins. Of course my mother wasnt a Bradley fore she married. I hope this post also helps us to think about how the surnames former slaves had were connected to their experiences in slavery. 17. Famous name bearers: many King Louis of France, Sandra Bullock's son and actor Louis Partridge. Finding State Laws About Slaves and Free Blacks, More Suggestions for White Slaveholder Descendants, http://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2009/09/calvin-r-yarborough-where-it-all-began.html, http://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2013/11/many-rivers-to-cross-my-priscilla.html, https://www.historicpathways.com/articles.html, http://whitneyplantation.com/the-louisiana-slave-database.html. 7. Most common last names names: 1-1000 | 1001-2000 | 2001-3000 | 3001-4000 | 4001-5000 That alone can make if difficult to research an African- American family during those years. Genealogy becomes so much more than just names and dates, it really feels like a true passion indeed. He was a slave owner and, in 1800 as Chief Justice of New Brunswick, he supported slavery in defiance of British practice at the time. Although it is not widely known, some African Americans used surnames before they were emancipated. They were all sold to different owners: Connell, Rose, Johnson, and Hughes respectively. Because I like to let formerly enslaved people speak for themselves, here are several examples of freedmen and women discussing their surnames. Names of prominent slaveholderse.g. However, the enslaved occasionally had surnames, which became normal leading up to and after emancipation as a mark of assimilation into free society. My mothers name was Octavia Smith and it was from her that I got it but where the name came from to her I never knew. Place names that were disproportionately popular among Black Americans in history include Boston, Jamaica, York, and Africa. I am searching for information about a woman named Eliza Ellis, from Versailles KY or that area. This is due in part to officials imposing surnames on them based on their last owners. Mary Deborah Petite, "1836 Facts about the Alamo and the Texas War for Independence". A. This causes many researchers to wrongly conclude that enslaved people did not have surnames until after emancipation, which was not the case. In another case Sukey Ann and he 4 children were manumitted by their Ashby owner with only their first names. Enslaved people remained legally nameless from the time of their capture until their purchase by American enslavers. Q. . Each name was a clue to her origins. James: (M) (Latin origin) means "heel" or "supplanter". Another common way of distinguishing people would be 'son of', for example Johnson (son of John), Richardson, Wilson, Harrison etc. Even that feels like something. . Proving their identity as former soldiers often revealed some of the most detailed explanations for former slaves choice of surnames. His slaveholder was named David Humphries. All of them are alive in this moment. How lucky you were to find that Freedmans Bank document! Thank you, my dear friend, for adding this about enslaved people owned in the Caribbean is really important, as some of the customs were certainly different. Private names used in the quarters included Abah, Bilah, Comba, Dibb, Juba, Kauchee, Mima, and Sena. Surnames like Chantimel have disappeared, while names like Horsford and Ackie, coming from Antigua (where they are common), or Quarless, Dowden, Chandler, and Dottin from Barbados, have enriched Grenada's family history and cultural identity. Another myth is once African Americans were sold they never saw their families again. Harriet Tubman and some of the slaves she helped free. It comes from the same Greek root as 'ambrosia', the food of the gods, said to confer immortality. I'll illustrate transcribing deeds, show you how to find your county deed records on FamilySearch, and you will receive my PDF Beginner's Guide to Using Deed Records, a $12 value! I am the applicant for pension on account of having served in Co. B. This is such a well-written and informative post one that I know will open many eyes to the complexity of slave surnames, as well as many other aspects of the lives of the enslaved. But there was also the detective Nero Wolfe, hero of many mystery stories. Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on Here are an even dozen, pretty much forgotten slanglike words or sayings from the 19th century, rediscovered while delving in the archives and with added guidance from James Maitman's 1891 . Bradley was the last man owned em. Robyn. On the 30 rolls of NARA Microfilm Publication M1895, Slave Manifests of Coastwise Vessels Filed at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1807-1860 (30 rolls), are reproduced manifests filed with the collector of customs at New Orleans, Louisiana, of slaves transported in coastwise trade to or from New Orleans during the period 1807-1860. They are recorded with the Ashby surname on subsequent documents. I was bornthe child of Phillis Houston, slave of Sol Smith. The highest percentage of African names was found among male slaves in the eighteenth century, when . This happened mostly on large plantations where several individuals had the same first names and a surname was used to distinguish them from one another. Wheatley was traded into slavery at the age of 7 or 8 and imported to North America. Picked by several celebrities (a couple of times even for a girl), adding up to an enthusiastically recommended choice. Danish West Indies, Denmark, Records of Enslaved People, 1672-1917 In small communities where census takers and county officials knew African Americans personally and their previous owners, they often recorded the former slaves with the surnames of their last owners. Enslaved people often transferred such names to later generations in modified form or relied on African naming traditions, such as "day names" or names reflecting the order of birth among siblings. For example, Roll, Jordan,Roll has an entire chapter called The Naming of Cats, discussing slave names and The Slave Community has a very good chapter called The Slave Family. Two other books I like are Been In The Storm So Long by Leon Litwick (pgs 247-248)and Joining PLaces: Slave Neighborhoods in the Old South by Anthony Kaye. "While African-American genealogical research in many ways is like all genealogical research, the era of slavery makes the task especially challenging. It was after emancipation on that I went back to work for Col. Morrow and where I got the name "Lottie," as already explained. Is this the same woman Eliza I see living with Thomas Crenshaw in 1880 and 1900? -Kendall Hailey, "If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the generations of your ancestors. Isaiah derives from the Hebrew Yeshayahu, containing the elements. This meant that army records documented their service with their old names instead of their new ones. Slavery's reach is still with us, and part of the gift of doing African-American genealogy, "The past is not dead. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW! Students examine how freed people in the United States sought to define freedom after Emancipation. Now, that parents surname could very well be the surname of the most recent slaveholder or an earlier slaveholder. Best of luck to you in your research, Other common surnames included Jones, Matthews, Sinclair, and Bennett, Price, and Gray.. Brown: A common last name derived from an ancestor's complexion or the color of their hair. Wide-ranging survey of naming practices in the (mainly Anglophone) Atlantic world both during and after slavery. In addition to time and place, a likely variable is whether the birth rate, in a severely overworked and maltreated population, was sufficient to ensure a relatively stable population over several generations, or whether the high mortality associated with slavery led to declining numbers and hence to the frequent acquisition of new slaves. Slavery was coexistent with the founding in 1670 of the first permanent colony in South Carolina, and early official records occasionally contain the names of slaves.3 An inventory of the estate of Francis Jones in 1693 lists 'a negro man Jack' and 'a negro Woman name Jugg.'4 An inventory of the Daniel Odgen, Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts In The Greek and Roman Worlds, p. 119, Laurence Vidal, Los Amantes de Granada, Ed. Along with Abraham and Prince, other early African American names currently in the US Top 1000 include Alonzo, Athena, Daphne, Elijah, Isaiah, Israel, King, Phoebe, and Titus. I liked the name better than Octavia, and so I took it with me to Danville, and was never called anything else there than that name. They were Nelson Nunn and George Nunn and they may have changed their names to Crosby too because they were my fathers children.. 43. No superior alternative has yet been found." The most common of 603 names of female Slaves were Bet, Mary, Jane, Hanna, Betty, Sarah, Phillis, Nan, Peg, and Sary. This may reveal your family used the surname of the slave owners wifes family. USA.gov, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration Thank you. They called me OCK. You can read about this in the following two posts on my blog. Our headquarters are located at: 89 South Street, Suite 401, Boston, MA 02111. Out of these, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. Names from the Bible were another common practice, for given and surnames. He stated that he had always been known by his fathers surname Scott, even before he was freed. Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. In fact, the previous enslaver widow sold most of the slaves. Alfred Francis Russell (1817-1884), 10th President of Liberia. Phone: 314-994-3300, Hours & Locations Comments/Suggestions314-994-3300, Copyright 2023. Elaine Fantham, Helene Peet Foley, Natalie Boymel Kampen, Sarah B. Pomeroy, H. A. Shapiro. Thank you for your kind comment and I am glad my post helped some with the complicated reasons behind the surnames enslaved people had. European, Javanese and African and Indentured Servitude in First Contact and Early Colonization of Brazil, France and its Empire in the Indian Ocean, France and the British Isles from 1640 to 1789, George Montagu Dunk, Second Earl of Halifax, Green Atlantic: the Irish in the Atlantic World, Histories and Historiographies of the Atlantic World, Impact of the French Revolution on the Caribbean, The, Indentured Servitude in the Atlantic World, Indian, Internal Slave Migrations in the Americas, Interracial Marriage in the Atlantic World, Liverpool in The Atlantic World 1500-1833, Maritime Atlantic in the Age of Revolutions, The, Marriage and Family in the Atlantic World, Material Culture of Slavery in the British Atlantic, Money and Banking in the Atlantic Economy, Napolon Bonaparte and the Atlantic World, Nation and Empire in Northern Atlantic History, Native American Histories in North America, Native Americans and the American Revolution, People of African Descent in Early Modern Europe, Pets and Domesticated Animals in the Atlantic World. Three formerly enslaved people discuss their names and the changes they underwent after Emancipation. Hi Jann, The resources Im getting from my colleagues through Facing History have been just invaluable. She served that family for a long time, perhaps more clues to her past lie in his family roots. Slavery. Allard. One thing for sure, historians are always expanding our knowledge on this topic.BTW, I am a big fan of your website and your work in the field!