Saturday, January 4, 2014

SC Freedmen Bureau records-a study

It would be a mistake to label the newly digitized South Carolina Freedmen Bureau as “African American” records.  During the period of reconstruction the army provided humanitarian aid to "poor white citizens, refugees and freedmen".  Undoubtedly the labor contracts are going to move many African American slave ancestors from the 1870 census to the plantation they came from at the end of the war. Labor contracts were made between freedmen and planters.  The first 100 images of the Richland District labor contracts Jan-Dec 1866 (roll 98) provide remarkable new data.  Elm Savannah, Shiver, Deer Pond, Homeplace plantations are represented in the early contract images.  The freedmen are mostly identified by first name but there are some with last names in the record.  My favorite so far is image 10. This is a contract between Edward Arthur and a slew of Tollivers.  The Tollivers are still prominent in the Arthurtown area outside of Columbia. 

There are also recorded expenditures between mostly white property owners and the army for property rentals and crop purchases.  In the series Columbia (acting assistant commissioner–District of Columbia), Roll 70 Reports of Persons and Articles Hired July 1867-Dec 1868 records the rental of property between several Columbia property owners including: Charles Logan, Mrs. E.S. Bailey, W.K. Greenfield, Mrs. Hussing, and Mrs. A.F. Smith.  The Logan School on Elmwood Ave was later named for Logan who rented a home to house teachers during reconstruction. I wonder if his interest in education began with his association with Freedmen Bureau schools.

In the same series, Monthly Report of Lands (roll 69) describes the confiscation of property near the corner of Henderson and Senate St.  The property was owned by Col. Blanton Duncan.  A confederate officer from Kentucky, Duncan came to Columbia in 1862 to run the confederate printing press.  He apparently fled Columbia at some point during the war. His property was used to house Freedmen Bureau officers. 

Anyone with ancestors, black or white, who were property owners needs to check these records.

Next: schools!

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