Freedmen’s Bureau Records More Valuable to ALL Southern Research Than You Might Have Thought!


Good morning. I’m so glad you can join me as I talk about the Freedmen’s Bureau Records. I’m Diane Richard, and these are some of my favorite records. I am really looking forward to sharing them with you this morning. A couple of housekeeping items, as I call them. There’s a handout that the participating streaming libraries have hopefully received. That is chock full of information about these records – where you can find them, where you can learn more about them, how you can access them. If you’re not a participating library, you can visit my web page, which I’ll put up at the end of the program, so that you can look at some of the materials I’ve written about the Freedmen’s Bureau and which I’ll share with you anyway. The other thing I want to mention is and during this whole presentation nothing has to be read, I will be sharing with you exactly what you need to know from the images. Do know that you can email me after the program ends and after the question and answer session? You can ask me to receive the handout. You can ask me questions about these records and things like that, so just hold on to your seat. I’m going to be telling you a lot in the next 50 minutes about these great records. So some of the resources I have written, you can find on my website and/or are available right now in bookstores and elsewhere. Internet Genealogy, we’ve just published an article about online Freedmen’s Bureau Records. It’s in the November- December issue, so it is available now. Also, in Your Genealogy Today there’s – Mining Post Civil War Records, which touches upon the Freedmen’s Bureau and other records from that same time period. They might interest you. Archives.com has Freedmen’s Bureau Records -Researcher Southern Ancestors, and the North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, especially Volume 37, has several articles talking about the Freedmen’s Bureau Records and some examples from those records. If you Google search Freedmen’s Bureau, that’s a great way to Access some of these or again you can contact me. Let’s talk first about an exciting indexing project that occurred. Discoverfreedmen.org has a website and a Facebook page. They set an objective that by the time the newest Smithsonian Museum, The National Museum of African-American History and Culture, opened last month, that they would index all the Freedmen’s Bureau Records, and they succeeded in doing that. They completed the indexing in June of this year. Now that said, though the records have been indexed right now, you’re not able when you search on them to see all of them. I find there’s a heavy concentration of Virginia records right now that you can access. You can access additional records, but not in an indexed fashion. It’s like looking at digital microfilm. Both FamilySearch and Ancestry have that capability. With time more and more of these indexes will get linked to the actual records and then you’ll be able to access these records. Now the Freedmen’s Bureau Project, the thing to know is it’s focusing, and I’ve highlighted on the slide, about African-Americans reconnecting and this is true yet that’s only part of the story of the Freedmen’s Bureau. And I think by the time I finish speaking you’ll hopefully appreciate how many different types of really great records can be found in this collection. I just want to point out that the examples are from North Carolina. Let’s first start with why should we look at Freedmen’s Bureau Records? There’s several reasons. One is they are in the immediate Post Civil War time period. The War has ended. Life is very different and they cover a very short time period, with a lot of mobility and things happening. Many families are still living near where they were raised or enslaved at this time, but typically, some by 1870, some by 1880, many have moved elsewhere for economic opportunity, to reconnect with family and for other reasons. In most cases right after the Civil War, most people are still in place. We no longer have access to probate records for slave holding lists, up through the Civil War as with slaves as property. Probate records for the plantation owners often listed slaves, gave valuation for them, and sometimes gave ages for them. So they were a great resource for connecting a freed person back to where they were raised and worked. African-American newspapers aren’t really in existence at this period of time in North Carolina. You have one or two that kind of pop up in the 1860’s and then disappear, more in the 1880’s, and then disappear and unfortunately it’s not till about the 1960’s that we really have a deeper African-American Newspaper Collection in North Carolina. The 1867 Voter Registration doesn’t survive for all counties. It definitely includes the blacks, as they are so identified, but they’re definitely under represented based on the research that I have done. Now creation and purpose – It’s always important, when we’re looking at records have a sense of why they were created, how they were created and particularly how they’re organized. So you know where to look and what to get. The thing about the Freedmen’s Bureau, the first the official name is the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. We always shorthand it to the Freedmen’s Bureau, and I will continue to do that. It was actually created as part of the War Department, and I mentioned that because that means it’s created under a military entity. So it means the records are structured in certain ways similar to what the War Department has done before that and since then. It also means that correspondence and Messages in and out is a huge component of it, and I’ll talk more about that later. Again, I want to emphasize the responsibilities are relating to refugees and freedmen and abandoned lands or seized lands. I’m highlighting the bottom part which is to provide relief and help freedmen become self-sufficient. That’s really such a key concept. We’ll explain the breadth of these records beyond what most people expect. So what the Freedmen’s bureau did for people – they issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps. They supervised labor contracts. You now have freed individuals. You have the ex-plantation owners. They now need to come to a contractual agreement for work instead of at the enslaved arrangement that was previously enforced. Managing apprenticeship disputes and complaints and apprenticeship. You still have children being orphaned You still have children having to be apprenticed. You know some of the life that was before the Civil War is still occurring after the Civil War. Assisted in establishing schools and many more We’ll talk about more of that through the talk. Now here’s an example of kind of the politics of the day which I think, unfortunately, we can identify with in our current political environment, which is the perspective here where that the white population, as they were called then, were working very hard and the colored or black population or negro as used in this case, were just lazing about just getting stuff handed to them. Like all political cartoons, there’s very little truth that a certain element and this one in particular, and I think you’ll appreciate that. Let’s first talk about where the bureau operated. It basically operated from Delaware to Texas, which this map shows you. It’s the South, which makes sense. Now what I want to do is kind of talk about when you hear the terms freedmen and refugee, what do you think? What I can share is most people will answer ex-slaves. That certainly is true. Now though if you’re asked, who is poor after the Civil war, especially in North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, the deeper south as we often refer to it today? Most people will answer everyone. This is a really important concept for these records, because if you remember I mentioned they’re providing relief. That’s going to become a really key here. So a popular misconception is that this record group only encompasses records of freed slaves. Obviously since I said misconception, the reason is it also includes a lot of information about all impoverished individuals regardless of race and to be explicit it means it includes white impoverished individuals, as well as black or colored, as they were referred to at the time. I’ll show you examples of that. It also can include Confederate soldiers who are wounded or killed in action, surviving elderly parents of those soldiers, spouses and her children, recent immigrants. Right after the Civil War poverty was widespread in a lot of the Southern States and the Freedmen’s Bureau stepped in to help them. So many many people requested or received rations were declared destitute. That’s a phrase you’ll see often used. So Our Focus – The Freedmen’s Bureau records, as mentioned is under the War Department, is a very very large collection, many levels. Think hierarchy. We’ll be talking about the field office records. There’s also state level records, regional records, and then the whole collection. Then they’re broken into many many subtopics because besides the field office records there are also educationally related records. There’s a large variety of records, but our focus is going to be on the field office records. And that’s because for genealogists these are the on-the-ground people who are providing assistance. These are the records of those who interacted with our ancestors right after the Civil War to provide the services that we’re going to talk about. So using these records a big thing to know about using these records is, if you look at the map I’ve put up. Notice that every blue spot is where a field office was located at some point during the Freedmen’s Bureau life cycle. Offices did not exist for the entire duration. But also look at this map and notice there are big gaps in the Piedmont. There’s a big area where there wasn’t a field office in those counties. You might have to be creative when you’re looking at these records. You need to look where your ancestors are living. You need to consider what might be a near field office, what might be a field office where family lived what might be a field office in the main town or city they went to to conduct their business, go to church, etc. So you may not be able to directly go “Okay, My family lived in Greensboro. There’s a Greensboro office. Let me look there.” You might have to be a little bit more creative and where to look. In the larger offices such as Raleigh and New Bern, they handled paperwork covering many counties. Even if you’re in Franklin County and there’s a Franklin County office, some of that paperwork might be under the Raleigh office because it was a larger regional office. Many ration records are separate into white and then black or colored lists. Something to be aware of so that you make sure that when you’re looking for a name you’re looking for the ethnicity that might suit your ancestors. After the initial issue issuing of rations in 1865 , they refused people to get more rations, if they’re able to work. It’s kind of like our social services today. You can receive assistance for a certain period of time, but if you’re capable of working, then you should be out working. Unfortunately, what happened is we had crop failures and other emergencies, so a second round of rations came about in 1867 and1868. The thing to realize with rations is this is not an ongoing like you could go to the grocery store every week. It all happened at very specific periods of time that rations became available. You applied for them. You got them and that was it. You were given enough rations to cover you through what that season was and that was the extent of it. It wasn’t like you could keep going back requesting more. These are all very limited, finite, triage type supply deliveries to individuals in need. As with any document collection, do not assume the collection is complete. As mentioned field offices came and went, they combined, some came back, some didn’t. So you might find records for one place in multiple places. So again, it’s just looking further afield. The bulk of the work was June 1865 to December 1868. That is definitely true in the North Carolina records. There are almost no records after 1868. The Bureau remained in existence through 1872. If you are looking in other localities or at different parts of the Freedmen’s Bureau Records you might find some later records but do consider at 1865 to 1868. Now here’s another resource you can Google on. It’s called mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau, and I like this, because it is a really great visual resource for Freedmen’s Bureau locations, and more. This is a map similar to the one I showed you earlier. This time it’s on this website now what this map does is you can click on one of the little items and it will give you the details of the microfilm call and roll numbers. If you were to go to a NARA location and look at the microfilm for these records, this is how you would access them. It’s also how you can correlate them to FamilySearch and Ancestry, the records that they have available as digital microfilm. This is true for the whole region served by the Freedmen’s Bureau. Now the other thing I want to point out is that this resource also shows hospitals. We mentioned that hospital care was one thing another is big Hospitals were set up, and you can see them on this map. Something I liked to point out is, that very top hospital in Danville, VA, which is right over the NC-VA line. So if your family is living near that border area you may actually find that they got services in Virginia. They went up to Danville to that hospital. They went into a nearby county. So again keep that in mind that you are not necessarily restricted to having to stay within your state. There wasn’t a wall put up that said you couldn’t go elsewhere. I would definitely suggest looking over a state line. Another map, shown here, which is helpful is the Freedman’s Bank locations. The Freedman’s Bank actually wasn’t part of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and it served the same population. You can see here in North Carolina that there are three locations that were established and these records have actually been abstracted by the North Carolina Genealogical Society. They are in a published volume available at many libraries. Let’s talk a little bit about what is not in the Freedmen’s Records. One is that the North Carolina field office does not include marriage records. That’s important because for many of the other Southern states the Freedmen’s Bureau does include marriage records. In this case what I’m talking about are documentation of slave marriages. In North Carolina, we have the 1866 Cohabitation Bond Records. These are the records of marriages that took place while individuals are enslaved. The limitation of the records is both parties had to be alive to register the marriage. That is why though, the North Carolina field office records don’t include marriage records you need to look separately. The Freedman’s Bank Records is also another separate collection. There are other records at the time than have relevance, but they are not officially part of the Freedmen’s Records. Now let’s look at the examples. This is really the fun and exciting part. We’ve set the stage for the documents. You know where you might find your family documented. Let’s take a look at some of them. I want to point out is M1909 is the series number for North Carolina. And then it’s broken into multiple microfilms. What I want to show you on here is a lot of what’s listed in the finding aid is correspondence. Correspondence coming in; correspondence going out. Things along that line. Then we have this wonderful category called Miscellaneous. And Miscellaneous is the category for us. The reason being is Miscellaneous has ration lists. It talks about court cases. It talks about schools. It this is the place under Miscellaneous where we’re going to find our ancestors documented for the most part because these are the nitty-gritty records of services being provided. This is the War Department’s organization. This is a classic poster showing individuals getting ration relief at the time. Let’s look at some different forms of public ration papers. Another thing to recognize is just like different counties handle paperwork in different ways, different field offices handled paperwork in different ways. When you look at each field office, you’re going to find that they use different forms. That’s what we’re going to do with rations. I’m going to be showing you a variety of different ration applications. They’re all to provide the same types of rations to people. They’re just different ways of being documented. This is an example of a full actual ration application. let’s zoom in on it a bit. the thing to notice is that this is a ration application. It’s for a couple of women. They’re talking about how many children they have. Notice that it says their husbands died in the army leaving them destitute. “Leaving us destitute” is a common concept, the idea of using words to convey poverty. Because of that, they then got the rations. The rations are typically pork and corn And that’s what we find at this time that they were given pork and corn. “landless and destitute.” Now race is not indicated on this particular form and the women are probably white, because “Army” probably means Confederates. And you might wonder how do I know that? Part of it, is looking at a lot of these records and recognizing that non-white individuals were usually called Col., shorthand for color or colored or black or B for black. It was rare event where color was not Associated with a non-white individual. The other thing is I’ve noticed is Union soldiers us and North Carolina records are often called out as such explicitly and consistently. So you could tell the war was still fresh in everybody’s minds and that North Carolina considered itself mostly a confederate state at that time. Now here’s some more applications not for you to read in detail. The point being is you have old people, you have people who are left with young children, you have enfeebled individuals and They all basically get their name, how large their family is and then they will share the reason why they need to get rations. One of my favorites is the person who says she has borrowed children. That’s a different phrase. I’ve never seen it anyplace else except in this application. But you know people are people and we don’t know if there are several orphaned children that she took in. She might have had children with several different husband even say husbands partners. We don’t know. There was a need there for these children, and then you have old age and disability. Now this is another form where you can see It’s done as a more of a ledger page. In this case at the top of this ration register, they clearly indicated white individuals and then black individuals. That’s the two sides of this page, and what I wanted to do is just show you a close-up a bit of some of the terms that are used. If you look at the right hand column here, it says old age, feeble, destitute. We keep seeing that same language over and over again. Well, if I pull some examples from the other column, we’re seeing the exact same words. So though this register is split into two columns based on skin color, the ability to get rations or to be qualified for rations is identical for all skin color did not matter. If you were destitute, feeble, old, disabled, or lame, you could qualify for rations. Here’s another ration list and this one is really neat. This one actually comes out of Wake County. I want you to notice the column headings I have highlighted, which are the person’s name. Then look at the second column – formerly owned by. This is invaluable. That is one of the hardest things we try to do, is how do you get from Post-Civil War back to a plantation? What plantation were people on? Where did they live? This is the one list I’ve never found another quite like it, unfortunately, in North Carolina. It’s just a great document to have if it’s your family. The other thing I want to point out is, I have underlined four people and the thing about these four people their surname differs from who they were formerly owned by. So this is very telling. In North Carolina, it’s not unusual for ex-slaves to take on the surname of the plantation they were on, the surname of possibly a previous owner, a surname associated with the plantation of their parents. There normally is often an association that we can find and ferret out. In this case we know right now, and this is like 1865 1866, We already know that these people after the war have taken a different surname. The last one is most interesting, because that’s the Gaston Wilder plantation. A half a mile from my house is the center where that plantation was. I see Wilder, Wilder, Wilder and then what we have a last name. Well people doing Wilder, they would have looked at Gaston Wilder’s Plantation. He was known to be a big plantation owner at the time. They would never associate that other surname with Wilder. Well now they would and so again a great document. It just goes to show you, you sometimes just don’t know where you might find these nice little tidbits. Now here’s another ration application, really a ledger list and it’s interesting for a different reason. What I’ve highlighted is that that left-hand Column is labeled as white and it extends over to the next page. We clearly know these are all white individuals. Then what we have is the numerator saying the colored people in my district are mostly employed by persons who feed them. None have applied to me for assistance. So this is the opposite of what most people are expecting. Most people are expecting that this list would be ex-slave, like that cartoon I showed you earlier. What we actually find is that in this case, it’s all all white individuals listed. I’m realistic enough to realize there could be more than a couple of reasons for this. but we’ll keep it brief. Something for you to think about is who is able-bodied after the war? We’ve talked about dead and wounded confederate soldiers, old and feeble people. We’ve talked about widows with young children. Who knew the work? Who had been working these plantations and farms for all the years before the Civil War? The answer to that is the freedmen. At a certain point the most employable faction of individuals, in a state like North Carolina at the time, were those who were freed. They were familiar. They were able-bodied and they knew the farms. Now on a less positive note as I say who is more likely to receive priority? possibly the whites. I mean we have to be realistic and say how hard did people work sometimes? Did the enumerators go out if they ran out of corn and pork? Or if they knew they didn’t have enough to begin with. There’s issues like that. But there is also the very real possibility of who could be employed. Here’s an example of school. We’re going to talk about some of the other records that can be found. And this is a picture of a Freedmen’s school at the time. Here’s an example of a school ledger a list of students. I’ve brought up a little snippet of this and just take a moment and look at it. There’s something a little different about this list of school records than what we would typically expect. I’ve circled two individuals. They are older than 21. I think it’s 25 and 28. Typically school is for what’s called infants and infants are typically of the age of 5 or 6 to 21. So I find this intriguing, because it tells us we have to put aside what we think we know and look at these records more thoroughly than we might have. If you had a family member in their 20’s, then you would have thought well, I’ll never find them in a school register. Why should I bother taking a look? The school register proves that not only is it a good listing of students, it is including individuals who are older than 21. Something to keep in mind. Now hospital records is another type of Record that we might find not too many Notice I’ve underlined soldiers. These all happen to be in Company K of the 8th and let me tell you, hospital records are not for the faint of heart. If you’re able to read some of the diagnoses listed, Moms and daughters and wives would not want to know that this is what their family members were suffering from. Here is one individual I was really curious about. Where was this company? It was kind of hard to search on company K for the for this particular regiment and figure out who they are. Because I’m curious, who has these records in North Carolina in the Freedmen’s Bureau in the records? This guy is repeated twice, and you can tell because he’s listed as a tailor twice. He was part of two different companies, Company A and Company K, but same guy. I did a bit of research. I found this guy in his US Army enlistment papers. He was a New York soldier who was discharged in Raleigh as the war ends and somehow ended up in this hospital. What this points out is here we have records in North Carolina about an individual who’s not from the state, but served in the state and was released in the state and apparently ended up in this hospital. A reminder, sometimes we have to look other places to find records, and in this case, it’s vice versa. The history was a bit interesting on this, so I did some homework. It’s the 8th regiment of Infantry. It was established in New York in 1838. We organized that the Civil War Company K was formed in 1865. They were sent to North Carolina in April 1866 and then finally they were disbanded a few years later. It reminds us sometimes we need to do a little research to get some historical context for some of the things we might come across in a record such as these Freedmen Bureau Records. Now apprentice. You still have children being orphaned. They have a need to be cared for. The apprentice system is still in place where they are apprenticed until they reach 21. In this case, the table says to whom they’re apprenticed, who’s their apprenticed, and their age. Now unfortunately you notice no surnames are attached to those who are apprenticed. That’s unfortunate, because obviously that would make it that much easier to correlate it to our possible family members. On the other hand, you notice groupings. When you see a grouping where you have children, often going to the same household, which is the case here, and their ages are decreasing odds are they are siblings. They are a family unit who is being apprenticed to one household. It’s not unusual. You’ll see the same listings and school records and elsewhere, where ages are listed from oldest to youngest in similar groupings. But without looking at other documentation we don’t know. This can explain why we might find people with a different surname in a household as children possibly being apprenticed. Contract lists – This is a big part of post-Civil War. Individuals are not enslaved. There has to be a contract, an agreement of providing services for pay, similar to our employment contracts today. They take many many different forms. One of the forms you can see here. It’s a short table. It’s just a list of contracts, who is contracted to who and for what time period. We know no other details. We don’t know how much money exchanged hands. We don’t know what the job was. The person I find most interesting on this example is Anna McAdoo, because she for the same period of time is linked to three different individuals. A hypothesis I have as she might have provided kitchen support or household support and so was shared by several families. There could be child care support. Something where she wasn’t needed full-time. But what’s great is, if you’re researching Anna McAdoo, you have the records for three other families that you can look at and you might find out more information about her and her life at that time. Contracts – These are more the big formal contract. Even though if you think of your employment contract, how many of us have an employment contract that’s a page? Well this contract is a whole page, and we’re going to look at it a little bit closely, the various sections of it. More just to get a sense of what were the components of a contract at this time. One is you have the parties to the contract so you list out everybody on both sides who are involved in the contract. Then you talk about the requirements of and payment and crops. to the freed slave. So what was the remuneration that they were going to receive for the work that they were performing and it’s not always just food or money that could be involved. There were requirements, in this case, by the employer to also provide clothing. So there’s elements that they would have a certain amount of clothing that were given to them as part of their contract. Next you have working rules. Is your job 9 to 5? Is your job nights? It’s those type things. What days do you get off? Do you get Sunday off It’s setting up the working rules for the job and then at the end you have the signatures of all the parties and as we can see they all bear a surname of McMillan, which is strongly suggestive that those who signed with a mark the parties on one side don’t those being contracted with to work? Possibly were slaves that had been previously been on that farm or on a related farm beforehand and they’re being hired now by the owner. We don’t know that. That’s something we would have to check into with other documentation. This is an interesting notice that I came across. I know you can’t read it, but the point is they were trying to look after the slaves. This was published in the newspaper because there was awareness that some of the farmers were turning away their colored help without having paid them for their labors and Winter was coming. Basically, they were violating the contract that they had signed with their help. This was posting a notice to create an awareness that it was known that this was occurring and that there would be efforts made on behalf of the colored help to make sure that they did get the remuneration that was due them. Now just because we have a contract doesn’t mean we can’t have one cancelled. This is a list of indentures are being cancelled. Maybe somebody found family elsewhere and decide to relocate. Maybe the person contracting realized that they couldn’t afford the help. We don’t know, because unfortunately, We just know who the contract was between and the date that it was cancelled. More research would be required. Court Records – People don’t always think of the Freedmen’s Bureau as having a court and part of that is that you still had your other courts in place. You still had the courts of pleas and quarter sessions etc. But there was a lot more activity taking place now, and so this court system helped handle the lower key items. You’re not going to find murder or rape or other crimes like that. They were not handled by the Freedmen’s Bureau court, but you do find things like assault and battery & theft. In this case I want you to notice how color is indicated. You have colored and white for these two individuals. Notice that they are charged with the same crime, assault and battery for both of them. Notice their different penalties. Being on the ball and chain was a very common penalty that I came across Or paying money and if you think about it who had money? Who didn’t have money? That kind of influences sometimes how it was handled. Typically your freed slaves did not have any hard money. They’ve just come out of slavery. They’re working. They are getting food and clothing. They haven’t received any pay of any time it you know at this point. They have housing, shelter, etc, so typically not the freed slaves and there are exceptions. I did find situations where freed slaves were able to pay the penalty and a white person charged with the same crime was put on ball and chain until he could pay the penalty, but if we look across board the penalties kind of went with economics. Ignoring that though, it’s another opportunity for us to find our individuals and court records. Not always the place we want to find them but on the other hand, what a great place to learn something more about them, to know where they still are, to know who they’re involved in And what they’re doing, and to find a document Now one thing we haven’t talked about is abandoned land it is another component of the Freedmen’s Bureau records It’s not just freedmen. It was also abandoned land because basically ask yourself Did everybody hang around the war as the threat of war was happening? Well, no You know that’s why there was abandoned land, and this is overlaid on a map of New Bern’s and This could also include some free blacks especially in Eastern, North Carolina Or you know free blacks or free colored persons of color you know? that part of the demographics in our population at the time and it’s important to recognize that because there were a lot of Persons of color who were tradesmen in the Eastern part of the state had businesses in the the cities the towns and they may have also left, so This isn’t necessarily just white people fleeing as the war was coming in So what happened after the war they’ve abandoned their land you know. They’re like okay? It’s quiet now you know I need to come back and they come back to their abandoned property, but they couldn’t just Walk in and do it they actually was there was a process in place that they had to do in order to get that land back into their possession and here, I’m just this is an example of an entry and a ledger about abandoned land and What I want to point out here is the nature of the addresses provided. We’re now talking you know the MiD-1860s Census records at the time period Don’t give street addresses. They just you know they say what county you’re in? we don’t have directories for the most part for the cities at this time so you don’t have directories to provide a street address and If you haven’t found land records or people You know that deeds don’t always have to be registered lands inherited. There’s a lot of reasons We don’t always have those details so it’s one thing we get here is you know a level of detail of down to a cross street sometimes and So that’s a great benefit to helping us in our research and the other aspect of it is They had to prove that it was their land so the Left-hand column Here is showing in the first case that somebody actually did have the deed to that land so they were able to present that the others its affidavit by those familiar with them and the land they had And I want to point out the middle column is they had to append an oath, you know basically the war is over You’re coming back. You’re moving back into your property and it’s an oath of allegiance that they had to provide at this point So another interesting aspect of the records that can be found in this collection here Now let’s talk about a couple of things in this case Military-related that are in the freedmen’s Bureau and one is called freedman confidential. Which is actually the us colored troops Abbreviated here as you sct and What happens is you have? Again by the War department these documents that were created. Did we have photo ids at this time? You know people couldn’t walk around and go here’s my driver’s license Here’s what my face looks like I want to collect my back pay Etc So what happens is there are these applet there’s these freedom? Confidential they’re confidential papers that could be used to verify the identity of a soldier From the us colored troops, and it gives a very detailed description. How tall are they what’s their coloration? All these other elements and an interesting thing Besides that I mean that’s just great in its own sense you get a visual picture of what they look like in this case We know that he was born as a slave. He says that on this application and sometimes you will get more detail about that You also have lists of claimants, not all soldiers made it back from the war That is true for the us colored troops also. What is wonderful about this particular? document is That if you look at what I’ve underlined these are individuals claiming benefits on behalf of their deceased family member we are finding out who are father’s of mothers of Sisters of we are finding brothers we are finding out that different surnames are being used by these family members So all of a sudden we get a little Direct slice of not wondering what the relationship is we are being explicitly told how these? Individuals are connected and what their names are so invaluable records if these happen to have been your ancestors Hired by Freedmen’s Bureau, I just want to poke up real quick on this You have they had to build This case they were building this property on the lion pasture plantation remember we That you also had to deal with our we’re having flooding right now as we speak people are having to go to other places Well at this time there were people who were kicked off of a plantation They had to be living someplace, so there were facilities constructed and what you have are a bunch of carpenters working here And I was curious about this one carpenter, so I actually looked a little bit further Because colors not stated here. I just know he’s working as a carpenter I don’t know. What color his skin was and I looked at the 1870 census in New Bern Which is seven miles from this plantation And what we find is that a Shade Jones is listed as a black individual living in the Whitfield household More than likely this is him being employed at for this construction project Now the thing is just a short time later this lyons pasture farm was being sold by the federal government as excess Property once its job was done Letters are largest category of records Just kind of moving along here a lot of correspondence documents Day-To-day. It’s not personal services So you have to look through a lot of correspondence if you want to find anything now if you find correspondence It can be extremely personal and very emotional The thing is as you sometimes only see one side of correspondence you’ll find a letter in but not the letter out you’ll find the first letter, but you might might not find a second letter and You just need to be aware that you won’t get the full story Here’s an example of a letter And it’s nat Wilson’s grandchild is still being held by the person who had enslaved him And they’re trying to get them back. This was part of a project I researched the unfortunate thing for us as there is no follow-up correspondence that I ever was able to find So did Matt Wilson’s grandchild get reunited with his parents or his grandfather? I don’t know here’s another example of a complaint being lodged against two gentlemen having beaten freedman in the neighborhood and then unfortunately that case had to be dismissed Because the men denied to not the knowledge and the witnesses didn’t appear and one can understand that even though There’s a court system in place there may not be the feeling that it is as fair as it could be So there’s a very good chance that Anyone’s Post-Civil war southern Ancestors can be found in these records as and as you’ve seen it doesn’t matter Whether you’re poor or not poor will almost definitely be found But remember on those contracts and the people delivering services you have everybody on the other side of the paperwork also So they might have received rations or medical care a party to a contract or apprentice appeared before court for some transgression reclaim their abandoned land Attended of Freedmen schools of Pupil and many more you know mentioned the us colored troops and there are many more records that we haven’t Discussed and thank you so much for listening to me. Talk to you about the freedmen’s Bureau I hope you’re as excited about them as I am and maybe go take a look into them for your southern Ancestors in the late 1860’s I guess I can say if you have any questions We have I know Twitter feeds going on and other things along that line as you can see here as promised I have put my email address and my website which also has a contact me form I can send you a copy of the handout that I’ve mentioned if you’re not a Participating library or if you do have a question about the freedmen’s bureau records of feel free to contact me

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