Note: "A Friend of Friends" was a password used on the Underground Railway
Over the last couple of weeks, while researching records in King and Queen County Virginia for a cousin, I discovered a fairly large group of free African American families in the 1850 & 1860 census.
Their occupations listed in the 1860 census included the following: for the men, Farmer, Woodcutter, Carpenter, Oysterman, Fisherman, Waterman, Ditcher, Machinist; several of the women were listed as Weavers or Seamstresses.
There were also NINE sets of twins listed in the 1860 King and Queen County Virginia census, age 22 to infancy, with one set, George & Edmund Williams age 5, listed in a free black family. The census taker carefully notated each set of twins. I don't know if this fact is significant, but it seems like a lot of twins for a small population!
After checking census records back to 1810, I made up a list of the surnames of the free African American families that I found. This list includes families in Stratton Major Parish, St Stephen's Parish, and Drysdale parish.
In the census records, I saw several instances of freed slaves living in slave owner's households, alongside those still enslaved; I also saw instances of free African Americans owning slaves (probably family members). I only looked at King and Queen County, so no idea where these families came from, or if they lived in nearby counties previous to coming to King and Queen County.
A few of these families are discussed in depth in Paul Heinegg's book, Free African Americans, which is available online. Those families are: Collins, Norman, Harris, Davenport, Goldman/Gouldman, Bluford/Bluefoot, Fortune, and Tuppence/Twopence.
Have a great day!
© Betty Tartas 2015
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