As I have searched out unusual sources for physical descriptions of our ancestors, I came across UNCG’s collection of Runaway Slave Advertisements collection and wanted to share them with you.
Slavery was a difficult time period in history and continues to evoke strong feelings. Tracing African American genealogy can be difficult both in the research itself and the emotions it evokes. Still, their stories are important. UNCG’s Digital Library of American Slavery is a great resource for African American researchers.
Let’s take a look at the types of information you can find in a runaway slave advertisement.
In this December 1798 ad above, Kate and Myles have runaway from Thomas Lockhart.
Information found in the ad includes:
- Name of slave(s) – Kate and Myles
- Age – Kate as 19 or 20 and Myles was 12-14 years of age [Their approximate birth dates can be calculated.]
- Physical appearance including stature, ethnic origin [Indian extraction], complexion [ Kate was “bright, yet not much of a mulatto”], scars/brands [Kate’s left cheek was branded with I.H.]
- Owner – Thomas Lockhart owned both Kate and Myles
- Former owners and/or previous locations – Kate was from Norfolk and Myles from Halifax County, NC. Myles’s former owner was Col. James Tabb.
In the above Wake County, NC 1803 ad another example of the the type of information regarding a slave’s genealogy is found.
- Location of parents – Isham’s parents live with Philip Alston of Warren County, NC
This third example of information found in this September 1803 ad:
- The existence and location of a slave’s children – Chloe had children living in Edenton, NC
These advertisements are difficult to read, but the slaves’ stories are important to tell. The information held in the advertisements can help connect the slaves’ families. If you are researching African American ancestors be sure and check out UNCG’s collections! They are truly a fantastic source of information for the researcher.
For more resources on African-American genealogy follow my African-American Genealogy Pinterest board.
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