Monday, October 21, 2013

Search the Slave Owner's Church Records


Atty and Hager Whalum with a Grandchild
Photograph Courtesy of the late Christopher Whalum,
Direct Descendant of Atty and Hager

If church records are available from the area where your ancestors were enslaved, take the time to look them over. You may be surprised at what you find. Church records from the time period are fragile, for public use the records are likely on microfilm or have been transcribed. Check with the public library of the area, college/university library and state archives to see what is available.

I found the Union Church Presbyterian Church Session Records 1820-1887 on microfilm at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. I found a few references to people connected to my family. Below is one of those examples.

Atty, an infant slave was baptized May 17th 1840.
Atty, his parent(s), and other members of his family were members of the Union Church Presbyterian Church in Jefferson County, Mississippi.

The slaves were referred to as servants in the Session Records and the names of over 90 enslaved people were named in the records. Once I realized the slave owners of my family were members of this church, I decided to research the slave members.

Atty was born about 1837-1839 on John Mitchell's plantation in Jefferson County to his mother Mary, and father Henderson Whalum who was a slave of Gilbert Buie. Atty's mother was a slave of John J Mitchell of Jefferson County, MS.

Atty's Father: Henson a servant of G. Buie, Jr.,...were received as members and baptized on May 13, 1834.

Atty's Mother's Nieces and Nephew: ...William...Ally...Edny Catherine...Caroline... were received and baptized November 20, 1853, Slaves of J J Mitchell.

Atty served with the 6th Regiment, United States Heavy Artillery during the Civil War. His pension records confirmed members of his family and slave owners. After the War, he returned to Jefferson County, married Hager Nevils in 1869. The couple had several children: Mary b. 1871, Daniel b. 1876, Alex b. 1878, Sylvester b. 1880, Lou Fannie b. 1882, Lou Augusta b. 1882, Lester b. 1884, Laura b. 1886, Lillie b. 1891, and Thomas b. 1894.

Atty died March 24 1928, buried in the Hickory Block United Methodist Church Cemetery. The African American members of Union Church Presbyterian Church split from the church to form their own church, Hickory Block.

Atty's descendants married into my maternal family.

10 comments:

  1. Wow Linda, this is wonderful...loved reading this site.

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  2. I so agree with you Linda about the treasures these church records can hold. I've scoured church records for any sighting of my Ancestors for a VERY long time. My Catie was taken to Wilkes County with a Minister to reconstruct The Smyrna Church. He built the slave gallery so she & others could sit there. Can you imagine what the records from this time period could tell me? Beautiful treasure you have there Linda...

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    1. Those records would have a good conversation with you about Miss Catie and the slave community.

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  3. Church records sound like a wonderful source. Several of the churches that my ancestors attended have closed or were consolidated with other churches years ago. My sense is that many of the old records have been lost as a result--but I keep hoping that they'll turn up somewhere.

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    1. It would be nice to have church records from Helena's church, a nice accompaniment to the diary.

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  4. What an awesome discovery. I've tried searching church records during slavery as well as after slavery. Haven't had much success, yet but not giving up.

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    1. I hope you find a church record beneficial to your research, don't give up.

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  5. Love your articles. Can;t wait for the next one.

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