This morning our distant cousin Kenneth Burton sent me photo copies from a couple of pages in a book on the Jacob Burton family of Chambers County, Alabama. Kenneth has done a lot of work on this line and his sharing has been invaluable. It is through his work we know of our furthest back African American ancestor, Harry Burton born about 1796.
As that sinks in to me, we can confidently make the following inference. As the 1848 document is similar to the 1864 version (full analysis is pending) we know that Harry and Rosa were associated with the family well before the 1840 census, accounting for Jacob’s knowledge of the families, spouses and children, of those he enslaved. A quick look at the 1840 census and the information about those held as slaves we see the following:
Slaves – Males – Under 10: 6
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 4
Slaves – Males – 36 thru 54: 1
Slaves – Females – Under 10: 8
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 5
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 3
Harry was listed as being 54 years old in 1848. That would correlate as being 46 years old in 1840. The one male 36 – 54 is therefore Harry. Our understanding is that Rosa was born about 1805, and she would be one of the females aged 24-35 in 1840. We can state with confidence, nearly 25 years before the news of emancipation reached them, we *know* where Harry and Rosa were.
That’s sinking in, I can tell my grandkids of their ancestors on this line going back 8 generations – themselves, their dad, Poppa, Big Grandma, her mother Ruth, “Grandma Carrie” as referred to by their great grandmother, Carrie’s mother Harriet, to her father Jeff Burton, to his parents Harry and Rosa, residents of Chambers County, Alabama in 1840.
From the 1848 version of the will we know the family they were surrounded by, including the kin that didn’t share their bloodlines.
But it hit me this morning, we know more about the relationships they were forming outside of those enslaved by Jacob Burton. I hadn’t realized before this morning, on the 1850 Federal Census, in consecutively numbered households, we have Thomas B Erwin and Jacob Burton. We know Thomas as brother of Hezikiah F Erwin, and wife Elizabeth Owen as daughter of Robert Owen. We know these families were neighbors and by implication those they enslaved were living nearby as neighbors.
As of 1850, how many people were enslaved by these families, at the Chambers County, Alabama location? How many of our DNA cousins, at this late date, can be tracked back to these sets of families?
I reviewed the 1850 “Slave Census” for Chambers County. In 1850 we see Thomas B Erwin is associated with 45 people held as slaves. For Jacob Burton we see 36 people were held as slaves (appearing just below Thomas B Erwin).
What more can we learn of the lives of our kin in the 1850’s, 1840’s and earlier?