Monday, February 15, 2010

Relatively Speaking, Slave Names & Chancery Cases

If you read cousins Anne's post, Things in Common & Diverse Results, and cousin Karen's post, Names Names Names, you will see that the Wild One's research, though on common ground, is quite, as Anne says, diverse.  We love comparing, we all learn from it, and sometimes we get a good laugh, or cry.

This discussion began, when I found some slave names in early Chancery cases in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.  I believe I have found names before over the years, but have not done much with that information, even though I have had every intention of doing so.  That well meaning intention stated, I really don't think I have had an effective method to do so, but I feel Reflections From the Fence is a great place to start. 

So, lets begin.  My discoveries were made when I was informed that Chancery cases from Isle of Wight County Virginia had been digitized and were available at the Library of Virginia web site.  At the bottom of this page (currently left bottom) you will see a link that says, "Site Index".  Click it and it takes you here.  Now click on "Chancery Records Index" and you find yourself, here.  After reading the intro, click on Search the index, currently the last link of the page, you will find yourself here

After a few visits to the site, I found I get the best results from my search requests by using the "Surname" search, and only using one name, even if I know more names that are involved. 

Note:  Not all Virginia counties have been digitized, I am anxiously awaiting Rockingham County, I KNOW I have several cases there involving my great-grandfather Charles Homan Trumbo, but, I digress.

Now that you know where I was searching, I am going to give you links to several Chancery cases in Isle of Wight that concern my ancestors or individuals I am researching.  I have been downloading pages and pages, at least 500 pages over several long days.  I have tried transcribing a few of them, and to say it is laborious is rather an understatement. We all know old handwriting is a tough assignment, and believe me, some of these pages surely live up to that.

Index number:  1834-024.  I believe this is the earliest dated case I have found. Case has 9 pages, I would draw your attention to page 2, which names slaves, here is a screen shot.

Even if you open this graphic you can see it is a hard read.  The names appear again on page 8, which is a little easier on the eyes.

Here it is after a bit of photoshop editing:

On page 9 of this Chancery case you will find values of the slaves (note the description of Simon, who seems to be the son of Louis, in one sentence on this page he is referred to as " & Louis's small child Simon").

Case # 2: Plaintiff(s) MARTHA MARSHALL &C BY ETC
Index number: 1835-002
Case has 15 pages, please look at page 7. This page gives specific information on which heir received which slave, hopefully that information would aid researchers.

Another related case is
Case # 3 Plaintiff(s) MARTHA MARSHALL &C BY ETC
Index number: 1835-006

Lets take a moment and talk about my ancestors, in hopes that it will assist researchers:

John Marshall was born about 1788, married in 1816 to Martha "Patsey" Darden, and died in December of 1829.

John and Martha had the following children: John Lawson Marshall, Adolphus Marshall, Polly Marshall, Lydia Marshall, Thomas J. Marshall and Martha Marshall.

Martha "Patsey" Darden Marshall, widow married her second husband, Exum Eley in 1832 in Isle of Wight County Virginia.  Exum was a widower having had 7 children with his first wife, Polly B. Moody, they are:  William H. Eley, Exum L. Eley, George W. Eley, James M. Eley, Sally A. Eley, Rebecca (middle initial in question) Eley and Thomas J. Eley. 

Martha "Patsey" Darden Marshall Eley and Exum Eley had 3 children:  Virginia C. Eley, Stephen A. Eley and my direct ancestor, Solomon B. Eley (also found in records as Solomon J. Eley).

All these names appear in the last two cases of the day:

Index # 1850-001 (Note 14 pages)

Case # 5:  Plaintiff(s) EXR OF EXUM ELEY
Defendant(s) MARTHA ELEY ETC
Index # 1850-010 (Note 101 pages)  Researchers looking for slave names in this Chancery case please start by checking out pages 23 and 32. 

As you can see, I will be very busy for months to come digesting and inputing all this information from Chancery cases.  I still have more cases to investigate.  I will let you know if I find more slave names, in hopes that I can give some leads to those who may be looking. 

It is easy to see, that again, cousins that research, even looking in the same time frames may find totally different kinds of records and have totally different results.

* I also draw you attention to these great posts and blogs where discussions on sharing of slave information is ongoing.  No particular order to my list here, just a few of the great places I have found information and hints, and maybe a bit of  inspiration.  No, this is NOT a comprehensive list, just a jumping off point for you, my readers.

Gini, of Ginisology, wrote about Friend of Friends.  Luckie from Our Georgia Roots, talks about this issue on her Monday Madness post.  Wow, she got a lot of feedback on this one. Sandra Taliaferro, from I Never Knew My Father is writing about this subject as well, including the Friend of Friends project. Mavis from Conversations With My Ancestors gave me some great ideas for sharing my slave names, I need to revisit those suggestions again Mavis, thank you so much.

Copyright 2010, CABS for Reflections From the Fence.


Thomas MacEntee said...

Wonderful Carol! This is quite a find!

One thing that would help - and perhaps you can do this in a series of future posts - is to transcribe each letter that lists slave names. This way they can get picked up by Google Search. Otherwise the scanned image won't be able to convey those names out to the blogosphere and the Web.

Carol said...

Thomas, you are 100% right, but, I was having SOOOOO much trouble transcribing even one document that for NOW I went this route. I spent hours and barely transcribed TWO documents. SIGHHHH I printed on legal sized paper, I used the printed and the online version to try and accomplish the deed. The online version can be enlarged quite a bit, but even that did not help much.

But, the WO's know, I am not defeated easily, I have been called the "badger". So, I will keep working on these, but, it will be a slow process as I can only do so much of this brain beating/eyeball blurring work at at time!

geneabloggers said...

Perhaps we could transcribe them as a community effort. Look at Luckie Daniels' post "Why The Dialog Must Continue" ( and the comments.

I think the genealogy community might need a group resource to transcribe and post slave ownership records in order to make them more accessible.


Carol said...

Luckie's dialog/post is one that I mention in the post script area of my post. I need to go over there and give her a link. With the leads/links I have provided here, if ANYONE wants to attempt transcribing I would be appeciative for my own data base, and I would hope that someone could use the finds here.

I think a group resource has merit, oh great leader Thomas! LOL

Sandra Taliaferro said...


Thanks for a great post, and your willingness to share. I'm sure these records will help someone with their research. You are making a great effort to share, and I know you are appreciated for it.

Gini said...

This is wonderful's great that we are all working together and helping each other. Outstanding post.

Felicia R Mathis said...

Thanks so much for sharing. Like Sandra said you're effort is much appreciated. You have made it easier for a descendant to connect with an Ancestor.

Carol said...

Thanks Sandra, Gini and Felica. I so hope that someone finds this useful. Wouldn't that be outstanding??

Renate said...

Carol, I just want to add my appreciation for this post. Someone will receive a blessing from it. THANK YOU.