What do you do about slaves in wills?

+12 votes
539 views
As I am adding the wills of my ancestors I see many names of slaves being bequeathed to heirs. Is there a place where slave names should be added?
in Policy and Style by Wanda Richards G2G5 (5.9k points)
This doesn't answer your question, but President Washington's slaves were freed at his death, President Jefferson's slaves were not freed at his death.
It would be interesting to know what happened to those freed slaves. I always wonder what would keep a white person from taking a freed slave and saying: "This is my slave"? Did they thrive? Where did they go? When they were freed was there a list of those that were freed?

Ten Facts About Washington & Slavery · George Washington's Mount ...

www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/slavery/ten-fa...

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Mount Vernon

By law, neither George nor Martha Washington could free the Custis dower slaves. Upon Martha Washington's death in 1802, these individuals became property once again of the Custis estate, and were divided among the grandchildren. By 1799, 153slaves at Mount Vernon were part of this dower property.

Slavery · George Washington's Mount Vernon

www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/slavery/

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Mount Vernon

At the time of George Washington's death, the Mount Vernon estate's enslaved ... at eleven years of age when he inherited ten slaves from his deceased father. ... Washington became the only slave holding founding father to free his slaves.

Washington's Will: A Decision to Free His Slaves · George ...

www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/slavery/washi...

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Mount Vernon

... written several months before his death in December 1799, George Washington left directions for the emancipation of all the slaves that he owned, after the death of Martha Washington. ... They would finally become free on January 1, 1801.

George Washington and slavery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_and_slavery

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Wikipedia

George Washington, the first President of the United States, held people in slavery for virtually all of his life. His will provided for freeing the enslaved people he held upon thedeath of his widow Martha Washington. In January 1801 Martha freed her husband'sslaves, just over a year after his death.

2 Answers

+3 votes
 
Best answer
The names of the slaves can be mentioned in the narrative bio of the slave owner, either by way of the inclusion of a transcription of the will or otherwise. In addition, it would be good to create a separate profile for each of the slaves, where their slavery would be mentioned in the narrative bio. There are, however, no fields where it would be appropriate to indicate slave-slave owner relationships.
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (217k points)
selected by Margaret Summitt
The system is set up to go by surnames, but with a slave, you don't really know what that might be. If one were looking for their slave ancestors, it would seem that they would be looking by geography or plantation name or surname of owner. I don't see how the present system is set up to deal with that. With slaves it's almost impossible to know how the slaves are related to each other. Sometimes it might state "Sadie and her daughter go to my daughter Phoebe" but that would be all you would find.
Searches under the owner's surname and location should find the owner's profile. Once there, a review of the narrative bio would show them the slaves' names. Absence of last name info is probably always a big problem with connecting slaves with their descendants.
+4 votes

Some WikiTreers create sections in the slave owner's profile to prominently list the names of the slaves (which might help descendants find them -- particularly if there's not enough data to create a profile for the slave).

Also, please place the profiles of the slaveowners and slaves in appropriate categories, such as state-specific or county-specific subcategories of Slave Owners in America, Owners Who Freed Slaves, USA and American Slaves.

 

 

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
How about also creating a pdf or photo of the will and add it to the profile of the slave owner in their media section, then as the slave profiles are created, they can be linked to the will from the media section?

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