Friday, December 3, 2021

Can Slave Families be Traced before 1870?

U. S. Freedman's Bank Records, 1865 - 1874

a3Genealogy Question Bag 

 A genealogist recently explained that slave families can't be traced, because before 1870 they were not named in the census.  I've read your blogposts that suggests otherwise.  Is it really possible to trace slave families?  How do you [a3Genealogy] connect the families if the slaves were sold on a auction block or separated from family?  Regards, Lorenzo

Thanks for submitting this question. Yes, genealogists and family historians can often "trace" and "connect" slave families.  

First note: genealogy is not a regurgitation of census records.  Good genealogy research will include historical documents and records, to uncover information. This is to say tracing a slave family does not start or end with the 1870 Federal Census.  However, unless manumitted before the enumeration of the 1870 Federal census, this was the first attempt to name ex-slaves. Early manumitted persons may be named in earlier enumerations. BUT...we are only talking census records here. Let's cover a few other resources. 

There are so many other records and documents to turn to in order to gather parents and siblings names.  Here are just three of our favorites.
  1. Military Records: Did your African American ancestor serve in the Civil War, or a veteran of later military service? Parents were often named, the depositions of family members were identified in pension records, plus other nuggets can be gathered: slaveholder names, residences, etc.  Full records are held at NARA - Archives I, Washington DC. However, researchers may begin this research on
  2. Southern Claims and Border State Claims: Researchers may find names of slaves and their ages; slave connections recounted by slaveholders, ex-slaves or free coloreds. Start here to learn more about Southern Claims.
  3. Freedman Bureau Records from 1865 - 1874. The image above proffers an outline of a full ex-slave family to include parents and siblings and hints on where to research - residence. James was born abt. 1833, well into the era of slavery.  

Lest Us Not Forget DNA
And remember DNA is a wonderful tool to connect with distant cousins. It is through DNA analysis that identifying the Most Recent Common Ancestor is possible. In tandem, we often use deeds, wills, probates, court minutes, etc, to connect slave families that have been identified through DNA

Lorenzo, keep in mind this slave family research can be arduous and time consuming.  But, it is indeed possible.  

Be Historically Correct

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate Accessible Answers

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Let’s Talk Quaker Research (The Midwestern Friends)

Map by John Shoebridge Williams, from Milton Franklin Williams, “The Williams History: Tracing the Descendants in America of Robert Williams, of Ruthin, North Wales, who Settled in Carteret County, North Carolina, in 1763.” (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1921).

The Midwestern Friends

What if your Quaker ancestors didn’t just land and settle in with a Meetinghouse and associated records in the Minutes Books? What if they were not only advocates but dedicated to a movement? Were your ancestors part of the Hicksite movement, Congressional,  or the Orthodox? What if they left North Carolina and Kentucky and moved to Ohio, or another Midwestern State. 

Where to Begin Quaker Research

Monthly Meetings in North America, A Quaker Index, Thomas Clark Hill, pg 213

Quaker researchers know the key to tracing Quaker ancestry begins with the following reference books:

  • Monthly Meetings in North America, A Quaker Index, Thomas Clark Hill.[1]
  • Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Volume I -V, Wm Wade Hinshaw[2]

The Issue
Records are everywhere! Once again the genealogists must put on one’s ferreting cap for this research. Yes, there are quite a few records online, some of the Society of Friends cemeteries, Monthly Meeting Minutes, and more; but, historical research on the Meetinghouses of interest is vital to any to understand the migratory paths, the original and the settlements of our Friends’ ancestors.

The good news is that many of the Quaker records are extant; just keep in mind the following:

  1. Records are not centrally housed
  2. Members jumped from one Meetinghouse to another relocation
  3. They followed idealistic and cultural changes based on the era and timeframe.
  4. Meetinghouses were often absorbed by a neighboring Meeting due to internal influences, i.e. low membership.
  5. Rarely do the Minutes note their members by race. Therefore, each member of interest requires individual full genealogical research on each of the viable candidates. Why? -because many of the African American Quakers (or those who lived in the communities); or moved from NC to the Midwest with the Quakers, carried the same names. So don’t get caught with the wrong “Charles Osborn.”   

Where to Research Midwestern Quaker Records? 

Sure, your research still follows standard collections - to include deeds, wills, probates, obituaries, newspapers, etc., but understanding the climate and the times is vital:·       “A Great and Good People” Midwestern Quakers and the Struggle Against Slavery, Hamm Thomas D, Indiana Magazine of History, Vol 100, No 1 (March 2004) pp3-25; online access: Jstor.

       For Abolitionists and African American Friends Research

Obituary: U.S Quaker Periodicals, 1828 – 1929

North Carolina Friends (Quakers) were quite active in Pasquotank County, NC and surrounding counties. Many became Midwestern Quakers in their effort to relocate “Free-Coloreds” to Ohio, Indiana, other free states, and presumably Liberia; as well as guide and protect “runaway” slaves. They were abolitionists and active in the Underground Railroad. Of course, many of the stations also had Free-Coloreds who served as agents on both ends.

Keeping in mind that many in the Midwest were abolitionists or anti-slavery. These records may be found in unfamiliar places. This is also a great place for African American descendants of this region to begin their research:

  • a3Genealogy blog articles:
  • Quaker Heritage Center, at Wilmington, Quaker College.
  • Earlham College, IN 
  • Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad; Geography of Resistance, Cheryl Janifer LaRoche, 2013 Indiana and Ohio
  •  Wilberforce College, HBCU
  • Quaker Heritage: Chester Meeting House
  •  Harveysburg Free black school in Warren County, OH, museum
  •  Greene County Ohio Archives, manumissions black populations, Wilberforce College 

Just to get you started!
Note: The a3Genealogy Research Team, recently completed two large Friends - Quakers, Abolitionists and Underground Railroad projects.  This does not include the recent project on the Midwestern Quakers and the Impact of Ohio and Indiana Native Americans.  This white paper is forthcoming.

[1] 1997, University of Wisconsin - Madison. 
[2] Publisher: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1973, Baltimore

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate Accessible Answers

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Voted the Best 2021 Holiday Gift - $39 DNA Kit


Voted the Best Holiday Gift for 2021
Extended to 5 Dec 2021.

The a3Genealogy DNA team unanimously voted MyHeritageDNA Kit for $39
as the best Holiday Gift, 2021, thus far! Use this link:

Let us know what you think!  

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate Accessible Answers

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Tips to Locating Civil War Medical Records

Field Hospital, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps
near Brandy Station, VA., March 1864; Library of Congress

Using Medical Records for your Veteran
By now genealogists and family researchers probably already know there were two classifications of Civil War veterans: 1) regular army 2) volunteer. We also know 2 out of 3 deaths were caused by disease vs. war wounds from the battlefield.   These numbers often discourage researchers from seeking their veteran’s medical records. But much can be learned from carded medical files and field records of hospitals.  

What is Available?
Although many of the Civil War records are widely known, here are just a few resources you may wish to add to your “Research Arsenal.” These are textural records (loose paper) archived at the National Archives. Know that the references below are part Record Group (RG) 94: Records of the Adjutant General, 1762-1984.
POW, Civil War

Researchers can expect to find the soldier’s rank, date of admittance and return to duty, information, status and often treatment of complaint. If the soldier (or prisoner of war- POW) died in the field, this was often noted also.

Researchers often aren't sure where to begin. Start with the printed indices.  There are the indexed listings of both hospitals and surgeons.  

Other Resources
  • Carded Medical Records for Volunteer and Regular Army and Navy Personnel. Record Group (RG) 94.12.3. Best source is the NARA website.
Series from Record Group 94: Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 – 1984. This RG includes the US Colored Troops (USCT), 1861-1865, register of patients.  This series also contains references to the series "Reports and Correspondence, 1861 - 1888" "Surgeons' Reports on Medical Operations in Various Commands, 1861-1865", "Reports on Surgical and Medical Cases, 1860-1879”
  • Records Relating to Medical Personnel
    Was your ancestor an officer or physician during the Civil War, to include nurses and matrons? Be sure to review the textural records of 94.12.4
A key use of these records is to verify that you have the correct "William Smith!" By referencing an entry exam recently, we were able to follow the correct Smith and verify his service which allowed us to follow the soldier: he had scarlet fever as a child, and rheumatism. 

Preliminary Examination of Recruit, Statement of Applicant

Also, be sure to reference the Veteran and Widow Pension Files. These records - affidavits, doctor notes, and correspondence - often provide details of wounds and hospitalization in the veterans files.  

Provost Marshal General Records may also provide information on your ancestor’s medical and physical condition.  Visit: Forgotten Provost Marshal General’s Records.

For More Information

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate Accessible Answers

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Claim It! Southern Claims Commission Case Files

We have become accustomed of hearing misinformation. The latest in the news? A half baked truth about reparations to slaveholders.  As a fellow genealogist who works A LOT in this research type, I would be remiss if I did not share a favorite presentation of a3Genealogy entitled Claim It! which highlights the Southern Claims Commission Case Files.

10 Reasons to Research Southern Claims Commission Case Files?

This record collection can lead the family researcher / genealogists to uncover more on their ancestors, as it holds a wealth of historical information on the community, kinships, and proof of applicants’ claims.


Plantation conditions

Vital records

Location of residence(s)

War service

Property ownership

Name changes


Slave ownership: often with names

Slave loyalty 

 Making a Claim: Who, What, When, Where & How  

Q: Who could make a claim?  And Who did it? 

A: Union Loyalists / Supporters. This included property owners during the Civil War, former slaves and free born coloreds.  Basically, if it was your ancestors’ property, and they allowed for the Union Army/Navy to use their property, and can prove it, many filed a claim. There were 22, 298 claims and about 220,000 witnesses.  Witness may have been a slave or ‘free-colored.” 

Q: What could be claimed?
       A: Property Reimbursement

Q: When could the union loyalists/supporters make the claim?
     A: 1871-1873

 Q: Where (or Which) states were eligible?
       A: 12 southern state


Q. How to make a claim?
     A: With proof and most often witnesses. Researchers will find proof in the form of a petition accompanied by testimonies; depositions of witnesses and reports penned by special agents.

 Slaveholder, Ex-Slave, Free Coloreds

As mentioned, the claims were based on reimbursement for the Union to use property (horse, mule, food from storage, slave, etc. But, the claims were a bit different to prove 1) ownership 2) proof of value.

 Slaveholder had to provide proof of …

  • Being an abolitionist or union supporter
  • Owning a plantation and having a loss
  • Claimant information to prove kinships
  • Places of residences
  • Wills and probates if pertinent to the claim (ownership)

 Free- Coloreds had to provide proof of …

  • Legally manumitted: manumission papers proof
  • War Service
  • Proof of kinship, inheritance

Slave: Ex slaves could also claim but had to prove...

  • Slaveholder information
  • War Service (contraband)
  • Name Changes
  • Property Ownership

Where are the Records
These records have been digitized on and The originals and microfilmed versions are held in NARA Record Group 217 for the approved / settled claims.  Disallowed (failed to prove), and barred claims (often because they did not meet the deadline of 3 Mar 1873), can be found in RG233, House of Representatives. For more information read NARA Southern Commission Case Files and Approved Case Files, 1871 - 1880

Slave Compensation Claims
Although this will require a separate blog, let’s not confuse the Southern Claims Commission Case Files with the Slave Compensation Claims which was compensation for loss of “slave’s service.”

Remember, although slavery was illegal in the rebellion states due to those specific slaves being freed by the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), it was still legal in the Union loyal border states.

 Slave Compensation Claims allowed loyal slaveholders in the Boarder States, think Kentucky, Missouri, Delaware, Maryland (and some neighboring states), to be compensated for permitting their slaves to enlist in the Union efforts ($300); or were drafted ($100).

More to come on Slave Compensation Claims.

 Be Historically Correct!

Kathleen Brandt
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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

5 Great Tips for Western Missouri Research - aka Kansas City Metro

 Why Western Missouri?
Because that's where Kansas City is!

As we celebrate the bicentennial of Missouri, let's take a look at a few great researching tips.  See below for where to look for 1. local history; 2. journals, diaries and manuscript;
3. Civil War records in Missouri; 4. Native American Removal Records; and 5. African American Resources. 

1.  Newspapers: Learn the history.  Why not start with a hundred years from today?  Of course there are local history books and an abundance of articles on your ancestors' counties and communities

100 Years Ago: 1921- 2021.

2.   Journals, Diaries and Original Manuscripts 

Your ancestors may have kept a record as they crossed the overland trails to the west, or their stop in Westport, MO, or Independence MO for a wagon train.  Be sure to visit the Merrill J. Mattes Research Library.  

3. Civil War Provost Marshal Records. 

Your Missouri (and Kansas, No. & So Dakota, and Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota) Civil War veterans' register, descriptions, arrests for desertion, and medical records are held at the National Archives (NARA)- Kansas City.  This is a perfect reason to visit Kansas City. Yes, it's closed to the public for now due to the Covid19 Delta Variant spread, but keep an eye on the website for reopening: National Archives (NARA)- Kansas City

4.  Native American Removal Records
On my first Native American research job, I hit the jackpot. I needed to verify the Native American names of Enrollee's.  This allowed me to trace the correct ancestors.  Voila! The books were waiting for me in the Kansas City National Archives Records Administration (NARA).    

5. African American Resources
"Where to begin with African American Research?" is a common question we get in the Midwest. Why not start at the nation's largest stand-alone public genealogy research library in America - the Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC).  MGC also has a very impressive online presence not just for African American Research. Be sure to check out the  Genealogy Quick Look, too.

Celebrate Missouri!

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Bible, Letters, Photos - What's Your Favorite Family Memorabilia?

From Kansas to California
Sometimes it's just fun to find old letters that piece together the family photos, the family bible, death certificates, and obituaries.  We know that Wiley J, 1807 and Louisa (Griffin) Morris, born 1817 had five children. As with most of our ancestors, this family separated,  moved, resettled, and descendants failed to know they existed until the genealogy was conducted. 

Three of the offsprings of Wiley and Louisa (Griffin) Morris -  Wiley (Tobe), sister Sarah Adelade (married Willis Cox), and youngest brother David Morris, 1850 settled in Kansas, and later moved to Oklahoma. Daughter Martha's family settled in New York; now most of her descendants live in Pittsburgh. And, son William and any descendant of his has not yet been discovered. 

One son of Tobe's and many children of brother David include daughters Addie, Hoolie, April and Lou  [Louise] went to California. But this family travelled between Kansas and California for family visits. They also wrote, confirming their close-knit family and relations. 

The following two letters are between all 3 cousin "groups" of Kansas: with the following mentions:
Family Bible

         Pearl (Morris) Simpson, daughter of Tobe, nicknamed "Duck"
         Jessie (Jess), Granddaughter of Wiley (Tobe) Morris
David's Descendants
         Addie Belle Tucker, daughter of David, nicknamed "Sister"
         Hoolie (looks like Ollie), daughter of David
         Louise, daughter of David, seamstress in CA. (Often called "Big Sister")
         Cleave, son of David, lived in Kansas but visited California
Sarah Adelade (Morris) Cox Descendants
         Myrtle and Pauline, granddaughter of Sarah Adelade (Morris) Cox
         Mattie Cox, daughter of Sarah Adelade Morris Cox (mother of Myrtle and Pauline)

Letter 1 from Addie Tucker, CA to cousin Pearl Simpson, KS 28 Sept 1954

Hello, well I don’t know what to say_______this is I am so glad to rite you.  This is your cussin Addie , your uncle Dave Addie they called me Sister.  Duck [ aka Pearl]  I wish I could see you. Can you come to see me. I would come to see you but I am sick all the time with hi-blood pressure [pressure] & haven’t seen you in a long time. I got  a chance to see Jessie last night but I were [was] so glad she gave me your address. I have thought about you so much thinking I would never here [hear] from you. But thank God for this blessing.  Send me your picture so I can see you.  Well all of us is about dead so I sure do want to see you cousin. Mat [Mattie Cox] girls live out here. Mirtle [ Myrtle] and Pauline. I have Pinks picture taken with me when I was 17 years old and have 2 sisters out here April and Lue [Louise]. Brother Cleave did [moved] last month. Excuse Bad spelling. All so [?} and don’t see to good. But I am ok and I do thank God for my youth. Well answer at once. I sure do want to see you all [and] hear from you and family. So goodbye. Hope to hear from you. Your cousin Addie Tucker 631 E 52nd St, Ph ad4-1056, Los Angeles, CA. 

 Letter 2 to Pearl (Morris) Simpson, Great Bend Kansas from Jessie and Myrtle

Dear Aunt Pearl

Here I am at Myrtle’s and we both have said how we wished you were here. I told her yesterday I could all most see you laughing at us fussing. Myrtle is just as fast as ever. Last night she had a beautiful party for me. Alright in the morning before the party she went out to her club. I went sight seeing. She got home about 4:30. She fixed a wonderful dinner. Had her party food already and was yelling at John and I to come to dinner at about 6. And she did have lovely party food.  Some gal. Her house is beautiful I will tell you about it when I see you in Omaha.  But I have found nothing more beautiful in L. A. I surely have gone to many one [ size] with ever convenience. She sill has somebody coming and going all day. [  ] He has a nice job with the telephone company. I had a visit with [Hoolie]. She is fine. Today Myrtle and I going out to day to a place they call Farmers Market and to Lane Bryants store. Then on & on into the nite. Well also today I am going to see Sister Addie. I can’t tell her last name. But will later. She keeps saying how she would love to see "Duck” when , well Aunt Pearl there was 25 all together 1-2-3- cousins [first, second and third] that goes from 1 to 72 that was a party. Mattie Earl’s family and Uncle Dave’s kids. Oh I will tell you later. But fun O yes Ollie [Hoolie] had a nice dinner down town for me. Will see you later. Love Jessie. 

Hi Simpson sorry I didn’t get to see you again. We went on [stopped] every place and finally got to NY and we sure did our number there. Great to have Jess. [?] meddled with her business to my own[?]. Smile. Love Myrtle. 

The family bible also confirms kinships as do many newspaper articles and other family records. 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Monday, July 26, 2021

The Innocent Hair Diary: Surname Change, Scalp Treatment Patents, & Scandals

Elsie Perry, KCK Hair Diary

Another Rabbit Hole

It seemed harmless - the 4 page diary with specific instructions of "Frederick Scalp Treatment." But that was the beginning of the Rabbit Hole. My intentions were to write a short post sharing this diary -  a 20-30minute blog post and call it quits. But, the a3Genealogy Code of Research - 3 Question Rule -  is ingrained  


What is the a3Genealogy Code of Research?

Simply, every document should provide the researcher with 3 questions - What is the document telling you?

For starters: 

  1. From whence did  Elsie Perry, Kansas City, Kansas, get this steam treatment instruction?
  2. Who was Frederick?
  3. Why did Frederick have a steam machine and what was the Frederick Vita?

Follow Me Down the Genealogical Rabbit Hole

Surname Change

So, as mentioned, it started out with "Look at Mrs. Perry’s Diary." But the seemingly endless road led me to all the rave of late 1920’s to 1930’s, information on the steam machine inventor, Ernest O. Frederics, from Kalthof-Iserlohn Germany, whose original surname was Speikerman. And yes, his name was Frederics, not Frederick.

1924 U.S. Passport, 423367, NY Supreme Court


Ernest Otto Frederics, born 25 Jul 1884, married Gertrude Hathaway, 14 Aug 1917 in Manhattan, NewYork. (1)  He was naturalized 7 Jan 1921.(2)

He was known worldwide for his "perfected" hair perm machine, hair products, and hair processing techniques.

The Scandal

This power couple had a rather public divorce. Ernest later remarried. But, what's a family story without scandal? 

The wrongful institutionalization of wife Gertrude in a well planned scheme to access her trust fund and dethrone her from E. Frederic Inc. by her ex husband and brother was covered by news outlets across the nation. Read article above "Ducks Asylum, Asks Who's Looney Now."  This scandal ended in a state Supreme Court intervention and involved detainment in California to hiding in New York.

The Perm Machine

This is a rare vintage 1930's Professional Ladies Hair Salon Perm machine. Frederics "Vita-Tonic- Waves," Hair Scalp Treatment Vaporizer, Mfg: E. Frederic's Inc. was one of 29 patents.

Image Source 

The Patents
With 29 patents there's much to learn through applications about Ernest Frederics.  

Image: Google Patents US1940451

Patent A45D2/34

African American Hair Too?

Next set of questions? I’m just starting with the basics here, but did this permanent treatment work on all hair types i.e.:“African American hair?” Why do I ask, you wonder. Because the diary was that of Elsie Perry, a black widow of a railroad man, Ernest Perry, of Kansas City, KS. And, we all know that textures of hair vary. I have not yet found any ads in the African American newspapers, but will research the KC Call newspaper and others later. Was the steam machine affordable? Where did one buy the products?


Now I know, even in the 60’s permanents were burning and destroying hair shafts and strands, so what was going on with the finger waves of the 1920’s pushed by Frederics?


For the Genealogists

There's always more to our ancestor’s story, so don’t forget the “history:"

Births, marriages, deaths, naturalizations, and passport dates are great timelines.  But the story was fleshed out through newspapers, court records, patent records, surname changes and Elsie Perry's diary pages.

(1) New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937, Marriage 1917 ; (image in author's files).

(2) New York County Supreme Court Naturalization Petition Index, 1907 - 1924; (image in author's files).

Note: Author was able to locate the family of Mrs. Perry and all original artifacts, photos and letters have been returned to the family. 

Kathleen Brandt