Navigating through slave schedules

One of the most frustrating aspects of working on my family tree is trying to navigate through slave schedules. The reminder how humans were treated as property is chilling.

This is part of a slave schedule for Joseph V. Morrison. His slaves are listed without names, just their age, gender and race. In comparison to regular census records that have much more information such as names, gender, age, etc., slaves were listed as tick marks on a list. This makes it challenging to find ancestors, especially since they were sold. People are starting to take DNA tests to help fill in the gaps but that has its own challenges. While you will find people you are related to, finding out how you are related leads you right back to these slaves schedules if your ancestors descend from slavery.

Note some of the people listed are very old for that period of time, in their 50-60s. It is quite common for slaves to take on the last name of their master. Is Morrison a name my family decided on or just taken from their slave master? I picked someone purposely who I “think” is not associated with my family as an example of a typical slave owner. Could be my family was free…wouldn’t that be glorious! I’m not going to stop until I find out.

Going into 2016, I realize that when I think things are “bad” I really have nothing to complain about when compared to this and the other worse things people endure everyday. Today, I have an identity, I have a voice, I have freedoms. Looking at these schedules is a reminder how easily it can all be taken away.

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