This is the third in a set of five blogs. My project here is to identify family lines of enslaved people, using a journal kept by my slaveholding ancestors in the 1800s.

This journal, “Negroes’ Ages,” lists names and birth dates of enslaved children along with the first names of their enslaved mothers.

After my cousin and I found this journal a few months ago, in her attic, I photographed every page with my Flip-Pal. By the end of this five-blog set, I hope to have published all 37 photographed pages. Readers of this blog can then access the entire journal.

Last week, I donated the journal itself to the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston–for those who want to examine it along with related Fraser documents.

The journal pages were written by my 3rd, 2nd, and 1st great-grandfathers. They were planters in the Sumter district of South Carolina:

  •             John Baxter Fraser (1767-1820)
  •             Ladson Lawrence Fraser, Sr. (1804-1889)
  •             Ladson Lawrence Fraser, Jr. (1828-1914)

Here is the color code for identifying the families of the enslaved: first generation green, second red, third blue, and fourth pink.

Today we look at Dianna’s children. These earliest names and dates would have been passed down by my 3rd great-grandfather, who died when his son and namesake was sixteen years old.

Fraser, slaves, South Carolina

Transcription:

Dianna’s Children No. 4

Joe was born Jan – 1812

Dianna was born June 3 1814

  • 1 Margaret was born Feby 3d 1831
  • 2 Will was born Apr. 20th 1832
  • 3 Juno was born June – 1834
  • 4 Isaac was born –  — 1836
  • 5 Anay [sp?] was born May 10th 1838
  • 6 Adeline was born Nov 20th 1841
  • 7 Caroline was born May 29th 1843
  • 8 [crossed out] {deceased} June 12th 1847
  • 9 Hester was born Feb 6th 1845
  • 10 Marilla was born Decr 21st 1849
  • 11 Alice was born July 27 1852
  • 12 Joe was born Dec 3rd 1854
  • [crossed out] (decsd) Jan 27 1859

Here, in a rare instance, the birth dates of both parents are recorded:  Joe 1812, Dianna 1814. We’ve also seen examples of death dates of slaves recorded, in earlier posts.

Three daughters of Dianna and Joe had children:  Margaret b. 1831, Juno b. 1834, and Marilla b. 1849. Each daughter has a page in the journal:

Fraser, slaves, South Carolina, birth dates

Transcription:

Margaret’s Children No. 21

  • 1 [crossed out] {deceased}  Feb. 9th 1846
  • 2 Oma was born Mar 5 1849
  • Oma died April 31st 1879 [sic]

Fraser, slavery, South Carolina, birth dates

Transcription:

Juno’s Children

  • 1 Sharper was born May 1st 1852
  • [crossed out] Jun. 14th 1854
  • 2 Margaret April 25th 1856
  • 3 [crossed out] Mistake
  • Ned   Jan 30 1857
  • Caroline (decsd)  Oct 1862
  • George  Nov. 1865
  • Adeline Aug  1868
  • Child lost between these two [?]
  • Dianna   May 11 1873
  • Hannah  Decr 11 1875

Fraser, South Carolina, slaves, birth dates

Transcription:

Marilla’s children

  • Charles was born   July (decsd)
  • Mary was born  Aug 1868
  • William was born Decr 10 1869
  • Margaret was born  Feby 7 1871
  • Johnson (decsd) age 6 mo.
  • Johnson was born Feby 1st 1875
  • Ranger was born June 17 1877
  • Oma was born March 13 1879

The children of Marilla were recorded many years after the end of the Civil War. Although slaves were of course freed at the Fraser plantation after 1865, written work contracts mixed with slavery-style paternalism may have kept some routines in place for a while. (1)

Juno’s daughter Margaret, born in 1856 as a slave, had three children whose births were also recorded after slavery was ended:

Fraser, slavery, birth dates, South Carolina

Transcription:

Margaret’s children (Juno’s Margaret)

  • Alice was born  July 4th 1873
  • Rose was born June 19 1877
  • Ella was born Sept. 7 1879

 

In summary, here are the four generations we’ve pieced together as Joe and Dianna’s descendants:

Parents: Joe born 1812 and Dianna born 1814

| -Margaret 
born: 3 Feb 1831

  •  | - Oma 
  •  born: 5 Mar 1849  died: 30th Apr 1879  

| – Will
born: 20 Apr 1832 

| –Juno 
born: June 1834

  • | - Sharper 
  • born: 1 May  1852
  • | - Margaret
  • born: 25 Apr 1856 Alice born: 4 July 1873; Rose born: 19 June 1877; Ella born: 7 Sept. 1879
  • | – Ned  
  • born: 30 Jan 1857
  • | – George 
  • born: Nov 1865
  • | – Adeline 
  • born: Aug  1868
  • | – Dianna 
  • born: 11 May 1873
  • | – Hannah 
  • born: 11 Dec 1875

| - Isaac 
 born: 1836

| – Anay [sp?]
born: 10 May 1838

| – Adeline 
born: 20 Nov 1841

| - Caroline
born: 29 May 1843

| – Hester 
born: 6 Feb 1845

| – Marilla 
born:  21 Dec 1849

  • | – Mary 
  • born:   Aug 1868
  • | – William 
  • born: 10 Dec  1869
  • Margaret 
  • born: 7 Feb  1871
  • Johnson
  • born 1 Feb 1875
  • Ranger
  • born: 17 Jun 1877
  • Oma 
  • born: 13 Mar 1879

| – Alice 
born: 27 Jul 1852

| – Joe
born: 3 Dec 1854

All the living descendants of Dianna and Joe would have been freed in South Carolina, Sumter district. Maybe they took the Fraser surname, or else a surname from a neighboring family: Atchison, Atkinson, Baxter, Boone, Hickman, Jones, Lynch, Paris, Postell, Washington, and Wilson are possible surnames.

There will be two more family lines in the next two posts:

  • (1) Part 4: Ciller’s Children
  •  (2) Part 5: Peggy’s Children

In these two posts, I’ll also publish those few single lists of enslaved mothers and children that I haven’t been able to fit into larger generational lines. 

Future researchers, with this complete access to the journal’s information, may be able to see more generational patterns than I have found.

Comments and observations are welcome! It’s all for the cause of discovering unknown ancestors.

How much harder that task becomes when those ancestors have been enslaved and therefore deprived of surnames.

 

(1) Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. Harper & Row: 1988. See especially Chapter 4, “Ambiguities of Free Labor,” 124-175.