A Brief Background:
John Baxter Fraser (1767-1820) of the Sumter district in South Carolina bequeathed his 55 slaves to his 9 children in his 1820 will. He kept slave families together in this distribution.
John Baxter’s son Ladson Lawrence Fraser Sr. (1804-1889), his 8th child, eventually owned most of his father’s slaves and their descendants as well. The reason was simple: Ladson lived the longest.
The 1820 will says that the surviving siblings will inherit the slaves of any sibling who dies . . . share and share alike, but without dividing slave families. It so happened that 7 of Ladson’s siblings died long before him: Mary, in 1833; Jane, 1840; Samuel, 1843; Elias, 1851; John, 1860; Thomas, 1863; and William, 1864.
Only Robert, who died in 1886, lived nearly as long as Ladson. Robert probably also owned some of his father John Baxter’s slaves and their descendants, just as Ladson did. So far, I have found no journals by Robert.
Family Lines of Slaves:
But Ladson’s journal—with its lists of enslaved women’s names and their children’s birth dates—has come down to me by chance. Using this journal and estimating the ages of childbearing women, I can piece together several generational lines of slaves and record some dates, as I did in the last post. This post is Part 2 of that project.
The code below is simple: first generation green, second red, third blue, and fourth pink – as in the last post.
Here is the page “Kate’s Children” in the handwriting of my 2nd great grandfather, Ladson Lawrence Fraser Sr.:
- Kate’s Children No. 8
- 1 Xury was born June 4, 1819
- 2 Edmund was born Sept. 14, 1821
- 3 Richard was born (died in Virginia) July 10th, 1823
- 4 George was born May 17th 1825
- 5 Suckey was born Sept. 16th 1826
- 6 Lavicy was born May 14th 1828
- 7 Caesar was born April 10th 1830
- 8 Dianna was born March 10th 1832
- 9 Caty was born Apr. 20th 1838
Four of Kate’s daughters–Suckey b. 1826, Lavicy b. 1828, Dianna b. 1832, and Caty b. 1835–had children. This would be a third generation. Here are their journal pages, with transcriptions:
- Sucky’s Children No. 19th
- 1 Mary Ann was born July 5th 1844
- 2 Dicy was born Sept. 10th 1846
- 3 Delia was born Dec 3 1848
- 4 Elvira was born April 20 1851
- 5 James was born Feb 22 1853
- Dick was born Nov 15 1856
- Elvina was born Sept 2nd 1860
- Phoeby was born Dec 4th 1862
- Lavicy’s Children No. 10th
- 1 Sentry was born Aug 25 1847
- 2 Siby (?) was born Mar 23 1849
- 3 Dick was born Nov 15 1850
- 4 [crossed out] (decsd) June 30th 1852
- 5 Edmond was born July 10th 1854
- Harrington dead May 15th 1856
- L Xury Nov 1st 1858
- Sumter June 4th 1860
- Little Diana’s Children:
- 1 [crossed out] Aug 3rd 1852
- 2 Rose [crossed out] Dec 15th 1853
- 3 Emma was born June 4th 1855
- 4 Isaac was born [crossed out] June 13th 1858
- Scipio Nov 15th 1859
- Bony Jan 1 1862
- Sophy Jan 6th 1863
- L Caty’s [Little Caty's] Children
- Washington born April 1857
- Mitchell was born August 1860
- Alex was born Dec 1862
And when Sucky’s daughter Mary Ann has a son, we can identify a 4th generation.
- Mary Ann’s children
- Johny was born June 1st 1862
We know only the mothers of children in this journal. Only rarely are the fathers mentioned. With mothers and fathers, we could have more complete lines of descent. As it is, we can make only a tree without fathers and without surnames–in matrilineal shorthand.
Thanks to Sally Knudsen @SallyontheGo for the following straightforward tree format that I’ve adapted from her most recent post. In review, here is the entire tree now assembled for Kate:
born: 4 Jun 1819, Sumter district, South Carolina (same location for all descendants)
born: 15 Sep 1821
born: 10 Jul 1823
died: in Virginia
born: 17 May 1825
born: 16 Sep 1826
- |–Mary Ann
- born: 5 Jul 1844 Johny born: 1 Jun 1862
- born: 10 Sep 1846
- born 3 Dec 1848
- born: 20 Apr 1851
- born: 22 Feb 1853
- born: 15 Nov 1856
- born: 2 Sep 1860
- born: 4 Dec 1862
born: 14 May 1828
- born: 25 Aug 1847
- |–Siby (?)
- born 23 Mar 1849
- born: 15 Nov 1850
- born: 10 Jul 1854
- |–L Xury
- born: 1 Nov 1858
- born: 4 Jun 1860
born: 10 Apr 1830
born: 10 Mar 1832
- born: 4 Jun 1855
- born: 15 Nov 1859
- born: 1 Jan 1862
- born: 6 Jan 1863
born: 20 Apr 1838
- born : Apr 1857
- born: Aug 1860
- born: Dec 1862
Kate had 31 descendants, not counting those who died in infancy. They stretch into the Civil War years.
The living descendants of Kate’s line would have been emancipated in the Sumter district of South Carolina. They may have taken the surname Fraser, or one of these surnames used within the Fraser family: Atchison, Atkinson, Baxter, Boone, Fraser, Hickman, Jones, Lynch, Paris, Postell, Washington, or Wilson.
Kate’s tree demonstrates one of the many outrages of chattel slavery: It kept many generations of people from knowing their genealogical lines. Can we recover enough of that knowledge for African-Americans today to find ancestors? At the least, we should try our best.
More family lines of enslaved people will be in the next post.