Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Climbing The Brick Wall
In black African American genealogy, family history prior to 1870 is hard find. Lack of family surnames and documentation has been called one of the brick walls.
Just prior to the end of the Civil War in 1865, the Freedmen ’s Bureau (Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands) was established to aid former slaves and whites in needed assistance for survival. Attempts were made to provide food, clothing, educate, reunite families, legalize marriages, provide employment and aid black military. This was an ambitious undertaking to provide all these services. A paper trail however was established which lead the road to finding some of my ancestors.
In the search, I looked for the former slaves with the Brumfield surname in Washington Parish Louisiana and Pike County Mississippi in Freedman Bureau records. There is voluminous amount information to review. I realize that my ancestors may have come from others areas and possibly different surnames. The homestead records however lead me to believe that these geographic areas must have been considered home. Home being defined as a place that a person has a knowledge, history and familiarity.
During my investigation, I looked for names of ancestors in locations that they may have lived. I looked at Freedman labor contracts. Labor contracts were established in order to assist in employment of former slaves now Freemen. Terms of employment were established. In the contract, the name of the former slave was given sometimes with a surname along with the name of the planter.
In records of the Bureau of Refugees Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, Louisiana 1865-1872 I found the following:
Charlotte 48(infirm), Harriet 28(good hand), Margaret 16(daughter), Sarah 23, Mary 8 (child of Sarah) Ophelia 4, Sam 2 Grandchildren of Charlotte; Wade 10, Charlotte 8, Keziah 4 signed September 18, 1865 with Wily G. Collins
These are my people! Charlotte was married to Isham Brumfield and Harriet was married to Gale Brumfield. Sarah was married to Eli Brumfield (son of Isham). I have been able locate their one of their children Keziah granddaughter of Charlotte.
-------- The Tree Gardener