What to do when you come across evidence of Enslaved Persons
As I dig deeper into the lives of my ancestors, I find evidence that their lives and values were very different from my own. It is a fact one must accept and forgive any wrongs once done in the past, learn from them, and move forward. I will admit, sometimes you do not want to work on that ancestor any longer!
It is a hard fact to face when you find your ancestors had enslaved people. Having that slave schedule come up the first time for an ancestor had me in tears. I wasn’t so far removed from slavery as I had hoped. Being the good genealogist that I hope to be, I made note of the facts, and kept digging, hoping for something good to offset the terrible.
Here in the past few years, I have joined many Genealogy groups on Facebook to connect with other Genealogists and learn about different areas I am researching. These sites are very helpful and people are ask all kind of questions and look in records I would not have thought about. One day, a person had posted a notice from a paper listing a slave auction to be held and it listed the names of the people to be sold. This person made mention of saying their names and giving them their humanity. This stayed with me, and my hope was that I could name any of the ones I came across in my searches so others could find them. But, I was unsure where to do this, or how to ask as it is a sensitive subject.
Again with the helpful Facebook groups! There was a post all about the sensitivity of ancestors holding slaves, and how some family members would rather “sweep it under the rug” so to speak, rather than acknowledge this dark fact. There, I felt comfortable to ask about listing these persons names somewhere, and identifying them. A kind person listed Beyondkin.org
Beyond Kin is a wonderful site, with a lot of helpful information including how to research your Enslaved Person (EP) ancestors, and how descendants of Slave Holders (SH) can list the enslaved persons this ancestor held. I just began my project starting in Wayne County, Kentucky. I should make a later posts with the “family” group sheet to make it easier to find. Right now, I have started with my online Ancestry tree, but I do not currently have a paid subscription so it is tedious to add citations.
As I learn more about this site, I hope to be able to list other EPs I come across where the SH might not be related to my ancestor – or where I have not yet figured out that relationship. I can see that this is not an easy journey to take, and one that is hard emotionally as well.
Have you found evidence of EPs in your family? Where have you listed their names? How have you looked for your enslaved ancestor’s names?