The Baty surname: African-American origins

+7 votes

I'm heading up the Baty One Name Study and "K" posted this comment in the project page's profile and I thought I would turn our chat into a G2G thread so that we have more room for discussion.

K wrote:

There's an African-American branch early on in the US: see Charles Henderson Batyfor a possible starting point. Charles was born about 1824 in Jamesville, Virginia and is described as both Black and Mulatto in the census records. Usually this means there was one or more white slave owner fathers in the ancestry. I found Charles through my work on profiling the enlisted men of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army. Charles was the brother-in-law of a 54th soldier.

Thanks for your message K.  When I first started in genealogy, I didn't know much about even my own surname except that the family came from Iowa (decidedly a Union State during the Civil War).  I had occasion to call Bank of America and the customer service rep I talked to asked me if I knew much about the origins of my surname.  She asked because she was also a Baty & African-American and she was wondering about her origins.

Later, as I researched the Baty (Beaty & Beatty) surname(s), I found that the "main" family group comes from the border regions between Scotland and England.  Many migrated to Ireland and later to America and picked up the name "Scots-Irish."  I have seen that the Baty name migrated to America, both to the north and the south and there were Baty men fighting on either side of the Civil War.

And in the south we knew of (and now can confirm) the mixing between free-white and slave populations prior to the Civil War, indeed this happened and the frequency at which it happened as been (and currently is) the subject of many genealogy and DNA studies.  One very prominent case was the confirmation that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with a woman who was his slave.  In this article How Slavery Changed the DNA of African-Americans it is stated that African-Americans have about 80% African DNA & in the article If you're black, DNA can reveal an awkward truth cites a 2014 study that says:

...the average ethnicity estimate for African Americans is 73.2% African, 24.0% European, and 0.8% Native American.

In regards to the naming conventions of slaves and slave owners - it is my understanding that slaves were given the name of their slave owner regardless of whether or not sexual exploitation was involved - I think it was just the naming convention of the time.  Does it mean that a white Baty slave owner was involved in sexual exploitation of slaves?  Likely, but I would base that assumption on the practice of the time (proven by DNA) rather than by use of the last name.  That being said, if I was doing a DNA test, the first place I would look for European ancestry would be the slave owner who I share a surname with.

Unfortunately for the descendants of slaves, there has always been a brick wall at the Atlantic crossing.  Thankfully, DNA tests may help to break down walls that before would have been impassable.

I look forward to your, and all Baty family members' participation - hopefully we can learn and share some interesting genealogical history.

This Baty name study project is still new, it will be evolving over time.  We will be adding goals and areas of study.  If you want to add anything regarding your Baty research, lets add it!

- I've already added a category for African-American origins and also a link to this discussion thread.

By the way, there is a Baty name study sticker that you can put on Charle's profile:

 {{One Name Study|name=Baty}}

WikiTree profile: Charles Baty
in Genealogy Help by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
edited by SJ Baty
I just want to clarify that slaves, when freed, in the south, were allowed to choose a surname.  Some chose the name of their slave owner but not all did.
Interesting, I did not know that.  Thanks for sharing.

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