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Old newspaper articles (and book mentions) about
Americans who were enslaved and their descendants (N-Z)

PACK  Pres Pack of Monroe and Fayette counties, W.Va. Mr. Pack was enslaved by Anderson Pack of Ballard, Monroe County.  Other names mentioned: Harry Pack, one of Pres Pack's two sons; Zenith Pack, a grandson; and Zenith's grandmother, Easter Swope Pack, wife of John Pack.  Old  Split Rail Added to Museum Pieces, Yesterday and Today, Shirley Donnelly, Post-Herald, Beckley, W.Va., 31 Jan 1974, Page 4. Clyde Spangler of Ballard brought Rev. Donnelly a rail that was split by Pres Pack.

PARKER -- Asbury Parker, born in Cabell County, Va. (W.Va.) Asbury Parker: Escape from Slavery. I had almost fell out with God for making me a slave. Appalachian History. Mr. Parker's grave is unmarked. Find a Grave Memorial 170391798

PARKER – Edmund Parker. Enslaved Community of Mount Vernon (scroll to bottom of linked page).

PARKS  James "Jim" Parks, grew up on Arlington, Va., land belonging to the Custis-Lee family. Arlington National Cemetery is now located on this property. Although he was a civilian, the War Department allowed his burial at the national cemetery. Former Slave in Long Sleep at Arlington, The Herald-Leader, Steubenville, Ohio, 23 Aug 1929, Page 25. More information and photos are at an Arlington Cemetery site. He was born around 1843 to Lawrence Parks and Patsy Clark. Married twice and fathered 22 children. According to the Arlington National Cemetery site, he was freed in 1862 under the terms of the will of his former owner, George Washington Parke Custis. Mr. Parks, who worked at the cemetery and was a valuable source of information about the history of the land, is the only person buried in Arlington National Cemetery who was born on the property. He is buried at near Selfridge Gate (West Gate) in Section 15, Grave 2 (Grid G-26). 

PEARL  Caroline Pearl of Parkersburg, W.Va. She was enslaved by the Stalnaker family of Glenville, W.Va.. When Mrs. Pearl was 100, she began having delusions that she was to be sold. Former Slave, 105, Dies, The Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va., 29 Jan 1938, Page 1.

RIDDLE -- Jack Johnson Riddle, born 15 Nov 1841 in Marietta, Ga., a son of Tom Riddle and Martha Taylor. Sold to the Pope family in Talladega, Ala. After the Civil War, the family took the surname Riddle after a benefactor. Mr. Riddle died on 06 Dec 1952 in his home in Talladega, Ala. Survived by wife Josie and 80 descendants. (News articles and the Alabama, Deaths and Burials Index, 1881-1974, FHL Film Number: 1908875.) Former Slave, 106 And Wife Get New Home, link to Birmingham News, 12 Jan 1948.  Klan Plays Santa to Ex-Slave, Wife, The Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va., 26 Dec 1948 Page 1. Has the Klan Changed Sheets? The Milwaukee Journal, 26 Dec 1948, Page 2. A representative of the newspaper (on the Snopes site) said the article didn't appear in The Milwaukee Journal. So here is the page in situ: Has the Klan Changed Its Sheets?  Uncle Jack Riddle Marks 109th Birthday, The Tuscaloosa News, 15 Nov 1950, Page 2. 111-Year-Old Talladega Negro, Ex-Slave, Dies, UP/United Press, The Anniston Star, Alabama, 08, 1952, Page 1,  and Ex-Slave Was 111 Years Old, The Daily Mail, Hagerstown, Md., 08 Dec 1952, Page 18. A Study In Contrasts, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 14 Dec 1952, Page 10.  Obituary, Jet magazine, 01 Jan 1953, Page 59. Photo: "Talladega - Pathways to the Past" by Walter Bell White, Page 113.

ROSS  Susan Ross, born in Richmond Va., around 1828; at 8 sold to slaver in Louisville, Ky.; living in Calif. in 1929. Former Slave, 102 Years Old Is Mother of 21 Children, Oakland Tribune, 11 May 1929, Page C3. Photos. "The only reason I wasn't killed in slavery was because I fought back."  An article and a news brief on the occasion of her 104th and 106th birthdays: Mrs. Susan Ross, One Time Slave, To Be 104, Tuesday, Oakland Tribune, 06 Aug 1931, Page 1, and Negress 106, San Mateo Times, California, 09 Aug 1933, Page 1. 

SANDERS  Va./W.Va., Mich., Ohio. Under Virginia law, freeing a slave was complicated and expensive. It took years of planning for Sampson Sanders to lay the groundwork so 51 slaves could be freed upon his death and remain free. A remarkable story and a rich source of African American genealogy.  Most of the freed slaves, who retained the surname of Sanders, migrated to Cass County, Mich. The book also contains the story of Jack Neal, a free man who was kidnapped and sold back into slavery. Other surnames mentioned include Halestock, Rogers, Gallagher, Kilgore, Quesenberry, Summers and WardCabell County's Empire for Freedom: The Manumission of Sampson Sanders' Slaves by Carrie Eldridge, Marshall University Printing Services, July 2004. I got a copy for $20 from an independent bookstore on Abebooks. Amazon has copies for $30. 

SHEELES – Christopher Sheeles, Enslaved Community of Mount Vernon (scroll to bottom of page).

SHIVERS – T.L. Shivers, Tenn. and Wisc. Photos and article in separate files: Former Slave, Area Farmer 'Has Religion', (photos) and article, The La Crosse Tribune, Wisconsin, 07 Sept 1947, Page 15-16. Article, which includes photos, mentions wife Millie Revels, sons Edgar, Herbert, Alga and Marvin Stivers, daughter Cora Taylor, and sister Mary Harris.

SINCLAIR    W.Va. Tombstone of “Freed Slave, Elisebeth Sinclair.” Dates look like: 1797-1838. On the previous page is a photo of “Oldest Shrewsbury-Maxey cemetery of area at the junction of the first road between Clover Bottom and Logan – Wyoming County (W.Va,)” A New River Heritage, Volume IV, with select stories by the late Barty Wyatt, by William Sanders, McClain Printing Co., Parsons, W.Va., 1994. Page 295.

SLATER  Isaac Slater, Va. and W.Va. Mr. Slater died at the home of daughter and son-in-law, the Rev. and Mrs. D.D. (Ella) Davis, Charleston, W.Va. Other survivors: Sallie Slater of Philadelphia and Mrs. Dallas Lington of Lynchburg. Death Removes Man 106 Years Old, The Charleston Gazette, 26 Jan 1925, Page 2. 

SMALL -- Charles Thornton Small of Ky. & Ohio was a singer, dancer and showman. He was born on March 29, 1853, in Maysville, Mason County, Ky., a son of James Small and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jones Small. His first wife was Nellie Ransom Small of Michigan. Nellie was born in Ohio on  Jan. 7, 1870, a daughter of H. and Angeline Ransom. His second wife was Jennie Ada Hutchinson Jackson, a widow, on Nov. 8, 1915, in Harrison County, W.Va. She was born in 1880 in Pocahontas County, W.Va., a daughter of Jordan and Charlotte HutchinsonLink to Charles Thornton Small biography (pdf in Dropbox).

SMALLWOOD –  John J. Smallwood, S.C., Mass., Tx, Ky. 
  • Mt. Vernon News LetterThe Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, Iowa, 17 Nov 1908, Page 12. The Rev. J.J. Smallwood had charge of the M.E. Church program and spoke on "The Past, Present and Future of the American Negro." 
  • Divine Will, Restless Heartthe Life and Works of John Jefferson Smallwood by Mary E.C. Drew, his great-great-niece. The book is available on ebay, Abebooks and Amazon.

SMITH – Drewry Smith of City Point, Va., a free black man, his wife and two of three children die in 1855 from a mysterious ailment. The surviving child, a young boy, is left a $6,000 estate. Singular Fatality In One Family, The Daily Express, Petersburg, Va., Wednesday, 24 Jan 1855, Page 6.

SMITH – Dr. E.E. Smith, born 1852. Noted Negro Educator Dies, The Bakersfield Californian, 08 Dec 1933, Page 5. Brief obit says he was a former minister of Liberia and founder and president emeritus of the North Carolina Normal School for Negroes. More about Dr. Ezekiel Ezra Smith: Fayetteville State University 

SMITH – George Smith of Lexington, Ky., and Texas. Ex-Slave Is Spry At 104 Following Illness 'Way Back', Daily Herald, Big Spring, Texas, 10 Jan 1930, Page 5. Mr. Smith, 104, tells about slavers taking his parents and nine brothers and sisters from Africa. They were sold to Jim Stokes of Lexington, Ky. 

TALBOTT - WEATHERS – Benjamin & Henry Talbott,  Ky., Ind., Texas.  Sons Of Former Slave Claim 50 Acres Near Center of Town, Logansport Journal, Ind., 12 May 1905, Page 1. Sale of land in the 1850s owned jointly by two brothers results in a suit a generation later. Henry changed his name to Henry Weathers.

TATUM –  Sarah Tatum of Williamsburg, W.Va. Obituary.

TERRY – Adam and Mattie Terry, Ga. and Fayette County, W.Va. Adam and Mattie Terry - a short biography. 

THOMPSON – Margaret Thompson of Patoka, Gibson County, Ind. Former Slave, 108, Dies In Old Cabin, The Hammond Times, 09 Jan 1938, Page 12. Survived by two sons and a daughter. They aren't listed. 

TOLLIVER - BROCK – Peter Brock and Mary Tolliver Brock of Wood County, W.Va. “Grandma Brock” was mentioned by Ada Bartlett Allen in a chapter, "I've been Jim Crowed," in a book by Eliot Wigginton, editor of the Foxfire books, I Wish I Could Give My Son a Wild Raccoon. Page 41. A 2013 article in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, Local cemetery dates back to 1892, has information about Mr. and Mrs. Brock. “…Mary Brock was known as godmother of more than 150 Parkersburg residents and known by many others as ‘Aunt Mary Brock.’ She lived to be 104 years old. Born a slave in Virginia, near the close of the Civil War, she and her husband, Peter Brock, left to come to West Virginia. In a Parkersburg newspaper article written at the time of her 100th birthday, she recalled what seemed to be the predecessor of the Ku Klux Klan, called ‘The Patrolle.’” The article also mentions Brown Colbert, who was a slave on Thomas Jefferson’s plantation for a period of time. Mr. and Mrs. Brock are buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Parkersburg, W.Va. Find A Grave 81585740 and 81585741.

TYLER – John Tyler, born 15 Nov 1812, Md./died Dec 1915, Madison Co., N.Y. Former Slave Dies of Old Age; Passed Century Mark, Syracuse Herald, 06 Dec 1915, Central NY News Section, Page 17. Survivors: Mrs. Francis Gordon & Mrs. Charles Baker. Worked for Gerrit Smith, abolitionist, in Petersboro, N.Y.

VENEY  – Veney Family Of The Northern Neck [Virginia]: Sarah’s Story

WASHINGTON – Links to biographies (scroll to bottom) of several people who were in the Enslaved Community of Mount Vernon: Austin, Ben, Betty, Caesar, Carolyn Branham, Charles, Charlotte, Christopher Sheeles, Davy Gray, Dick Jasper, Doll, Edmund Parker, Edy Jones, Fanny, Frank Lee, George, Giles, Hercules, Kate, Kitty, Nancy Carter Quander, Ona Judge, Priscilla, Sambo Anderson, Tom, and William (Billy) Lee.

WATKINS – Mariah Watkins of Tazewell and Grundy, Va. Note: Her name was spelled Mariah in the 1900 federal census, Moriah in a local history, Marih on her tombstone and Maria in a 1935 news article. Mariah, 4, was taken from her mother at a Tazewell, Va., slave sale and sold to John Watkins. Ms. Watkins is the subject of an article in a local history, and a letter included in The Southwest Corner By Goodridge Wilson, The Southwest Times, Pulaski, Va., 29 Sept 1935, Page 4. For more information, go to Hibbitts Cemetery, Grundy, Va.: Find A Grave Memorial# 78608023

WEST – Lucretia West, born a slave, 23 March 1836, in Abington, a section of Pomfret, a town in Windham Co., Conn. In 1884, married Charles Henry West, former slave in Virginia. Former Slave Saw Lincoln, The Corpus Christi Times, 18 May 1938, Page 8. (The 1920 census has Lucretia West, widow, mulatto, born around 1840, living with son-in-law and daughter George A. & Ella E. Tattson in Putnam Ward 3, Windham.)

WHITEHEAD – Harry Whitehead of Illinois. Mr. Whitehead, 97, seeks divorce from Anna after she leaves him to live with son Willard in Ind. Former Slave Asks Divorce, Syracuse Herald, Ill., 13 June 1937, Page 4A. 

WOODS –  John and Elvira Woods. Elvira was born about 1801 in Albermarle, Virginia, and died in 1902 in Greenbrier County, W.Va. John died about 20 years prior. Obituary.

WRIGHT GOLDSTON  –  Louise Wright Goldston was a Raleigh County, W.Va., teacher for 68 years. She was born on Dec. 25,1877, in Charlottesville, Va., a daughter of John N. and Tamar Wright, former slaves. Her husband was James Willard Goldston, son of Lewis and Harriett Goldston. Link to Louise Wright Goldston biography - pdf in Dropbox. 

YARBROUGH  Louis Yarbrough (1818-1925), Charlotte, S.C., Ga., Tenn. and Massillon, Ohio,  died at the home of his daughter Mrs. Georgia Mack. Enslaved by Henry YarbroughFormer Slave, Dead Here At 107, Saw Thrilling Days In Old South, Evening Independent, Massillon, Ohio, 30 March 1925, Page 1: Part 1  Part 2  Children in addition to Mrs. Mack were Mrs. Lula Pasley, Mrs. Ella Thomas, and Mrs. Viola Pasley, and sons Samuel, Clarence, Fred and Vernon Yarbrough.  

YOPP – Bill Yopp of Georgia. Former Slave Becomes Santa/Georgia Veterans Handed Gifts, Oakland Tribune, 24 Dec 1919, Page 3.

YOUNG –  Judy Young of Rhode Island. Ms. Young lived with the William Green family. Former Slave Is Dead At 110 Years, Evening Telegram, Elyria, Ohio, 29 Sept 1911, Page 8.


Generations of Somerset Place: From Slavery to Freedom by Dorothy Spruill Redford. Somerset Place was the third largest plantation in North Carolina. The book has several photos of enslaved people and enslavers. Among surnames mentioned: Alexander, Baum, Bennett, Blount, Bowsers, Brickhouse, Bryants, Cabarrus, Channel, Chapman, Coke. Collins, Dale, Davenport, Davis, Dickinson, Fenner, , Fox, Granby, Hall, Harris, Hills, Hope, Jenkins, Johnson, Keyes / Keys, Leary, Leigh, Littlejohn, Lowther, Lynch, McCleese, Muse, Owens, Pailen, Pettigrew, Phelps, Reeves, Roberts, Rowsoms, Sessons, Spear, Spruill, Tarkington, Wood, and Young.

Before enslaved people in the South were free, their enslavers “pacified” them (as one historian put it) by allowing black dances. The attendees had to produce passes on demand. In “A Diary from Dixie,” by Mary Chesnut, written in 1860-65, she told of Lawrence and wife Molly attending a ball in Richmond, Va. Lawrence left his pass in another jacket and was arrested when police were called to quell a disturbance at the event. Mollie, who quarreled frequently with her husband, was delighted. Page 217-218.

An unfortunate turn of events at a ball in 1852 produced a newspaper article valuable to genealogists 170 years later. “Black Balling,” The Daily Dispatch, Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Nov. 1852, Page 2. A “subscription ball” and supper in the Washington Hotel was raided by police. Enslaved people involved: 
ANDERSON, Peter, enslaved by William Anderson Jr.; BAKER, Edloe, enslaved by James Hagan; BROOKS, J., enslaved by Dr. McCaw; BURR, I., enslaved by H. Lee; CARTER, Charles, enslaved by Dudley & Johnson; CHAMBERLAIN, D., enslaved by H.B. Dickinson; CHAPMAN, Charles, free; CLARK, Henry, enslaved by Mary Tompkins; COOPER, H., enslaved by S.S. Myers; CRUMP, W., enslaved by N. Mills; DADNEY, Elijah W. enslaved by J. Davis; DAVIS, A., enslaved by C.S. Claiborne; DAY, James Henry, free;  EDUMUND, Charles, enslaved by T.T. Johnson;  EVANS, Nat, enslaved by J.G. Blakey;  FINLEY, J. and L. BURWELL, enslaved by J.P. Ballard; FOUNTAIN, William, enslaved by L. Ginter; GREEN, N., enslaved by W. Boulding; GREEN, Patrick, enslaved by D. Ward; HARRIS, R., enslaved by Wordsworth & Co.; HARRIS, Robert, enslaved by Wordsworth & Turner, received 10 lashes; HAWKINS, W., enslaved by Haxall & Brothers; HENRY, J., enslaved by C. Hartwell & Co.; HILL, Carter, enslaved by P. Robinson’s estate; HILL, Hezekiah, enslaved by William Lewis; JACOBS, C., enslaved by J. Thomas Jr.; JACOBS, R., enslaved by J. Thomas Jr.; JOHNSON, George, enslaved by J. McKay; JOHNSON, Tom, enslaved by W. Anderson; JONES, W., enslaved by R.B. Murray; LEWIS, J., enslaved by James G. Blakey; MARSHALL, R., enslaved by W.B. Pleasants; MCKEY, S., enslaved by J. Caskie, no pass; MITCHELL, J., enslaved by T.T. Johnson; PLEASANTS, N., free; POWERS, Samuel, enslaved by William H. Davidson (no pass); PRICE, W., enslaved by C. Stebbins; ROBERTSON, William, enslaved by T.B. Bigger; SCOTT, Milenva, enslaved by J.S. Foster; SCOTT, Peter, enslaved by L. Lambert; STANARD, J., enslaved by J.G. Blakey; TINSLEY, W., enslaved by S. Greenhow; VALENTINE, William, enslaved by James Brown, no pass; WHITE, James, enslaved by W. Anderson Jr.; WINSTON, J., enslaved by F. H. Dean; WINSTON, Washington, enslaved by M.P. Valentine; and YOUNG, Nat, enslaved by Q. Blain.

NO SURNAMES LISTED: Mary and Julia, enslaved by J. George; Harriet, enslaved to S.S. Morton; Maria, enslaved by J. Fisher; Lucy, enslaved by P. Harrison; Ann, enslaved by T.R. Price; Elizabeth, enslaved by R. B. Carrington; Ann, enslaved by Mrs. Tompkins; Lucy, enslaved by J. F. Barnes; Jane, enslaved by J.H. Crenshaw; Martha, enslaved by J.P. Ballard; Maria, Betsy and Eliza, enslaved by J.O. Steger; Elvira, enslaved by M.B. Pleasants; Lucy and Martha, enslaved by T.M. McCance; Charlotte, enslaved by George Taylor; Catherine and Peggy, enslaved by J.F. Barnes; Columbia and Abby, enslaved by J.A. Smith; Amanda, enslaved by M. Tompkins; Agnes, enslaved by J. Wingfield, no pass; Caroline, enslaved by E. Whitaker; Maria, enslaved by J. James; Betsy, enslaved by Dr. Tucker; Catharine, enslaved by J. Stebbins, no pass; Ellen, slave to J. Picot; Emmory, enslaved by J. Bailey; Sabrar, enslaved by H. Lee; Mary Ann, enslaved to W.W. Stead; Angelina, enslaved by Mrs. Chamberlain; Ann, enslaved by C. Bates; Georgianna, enslaved by J.H. Mitchell; Sarah, enslaved by L. Mordies; Breno, enslaved by L.H. Trigg; and Charlotte, enslaved to J.H. Hicks.


Old Pay-Rolls Show Value of Negro Slaves, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, W.Va., 12 Aug 1926, Page 12. Article, dateline Mobile, Ala., about old payroll records of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Oldest record "made out and signed" by slaveowner Oliver Beers who was associated with the railroad in 1858. Tom, Washington, Anthony, Jefferson & John (no last names) worked in section gangs before the Civil War.

Interesting Census Figures, Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Wis., 14 Feb 1882. 

Washington, DC, based company, with a branch office in Savannah, that was registering former slaveowners, for a fee, with the aim of collecting money for slaves lost through emancipation.. Utopian Dream. With a Strong Probability of Fraudulent Intent, Burlington Hawk-Eye, Iowa, 12 April 1886, Page 8.

JONES – The Rev. Richard R. Jones, Va., Pa. Colored Preacher Sues City Of Roanoke, Bluefield Daily Telegram, W.Va., 04 March 1905, Page 1. Sued local officials for failure to protect him against mob violence. (Rev. Jones probably wasn't a former slave. But I thought the story would be of interest.)

"One of the Colored Boys in Blue" writes letter to the editor about effort to keep African American vets out of the Spanish War Veterans organization. Takes Issue with Cogan: Colored Veteran denies that Comrades are Barred by OrganizationsWashington Post, 20 Sept 1907, Page 2.

Negroes Want Soldiers Dispatched to Tuskagee (sic), article with NY dateline, printed in Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, 05 July 1923, Page 14. Lives of R.R. Moton, president of Tuskegee Institute, and surgeons at the veterans hospital in Tuskegee, Ala., threatened. 

Pictures of the African American Civil War Memorial in Frankfort, Ky. Memorial lists 142 soldiers from Central Kentucky. Find a Grave. These are my photos and anyone is welcome to them.

Mose Bunch, photo of a man who was a slave to the Hight family of Summers Co., W.Va. Writing on back of photo. Article about the Hight familyShared by a visitor to West Virginia Memories.

Books with a West Virginia connection: 
History of the American Negro, Vol. 7 (1923), WEST VIRGINIA EDITION, A.B. Caldwell, HathiTrust Library. 
Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story by Cicero M Fain III. Amazon.
Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930–1942 by Christopher Wilkinson. Amazon.
Colored People by Henry Louis Gates. Amazon

Other sources
International African American Museum’s Center for Family History in Charleston, S.C., one of the first genealogical centers focusing on African Americans.

JSTOR, “a digital library for the intellectually curious,” has several publications of The Journal of Negro History. : Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the United States in 1830, Research Department of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Jan., 1924), pp. 41-85 (45 pages); Colored Freemen as Slave Owners in Virginia, Samll Goldsmyth, James Radford, David Jones, Peter Hawkins, John H. Russell, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Jun., 1916), pp. 233-242 (10 pages); Eighteenth Century Slaves as Advertised by Their Masters, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Apr., 1916), pp. 163-216; and Absentee Ownership of Slaves in the United States in 1830, Department of Research of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Apr., 1924), pp. 196-231.
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. The published volumes containing edited slave narratives are arranged alphabetically by the state in which the interviews took place and thereunder by the surname of the informant. Library of Congress.
Guide to African American ManuscriptsCollected by the The Virginia Historical Society.
Unknown No Longer, free database with the names of (as of September 2011) 1,500 slaves from Virginia.
Appalachian History: Stories, Quotes and Anecdotes, article about "memory jugs" found on African American graves.
Texas Slave Narratives.
LAST SEEN - Thousands of “Information Wanted” advertisements taken out by former slaves searching for long lost family members. 
​The WPA and the Slave Narrative Collection
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