What A Great Resource! Slave Deeds Index At The New Hanover County Register Of Deeds
I have been a little scatter brained lately when it comes to my research. I should have a plan but...blah blah blah you know how it is. Sometimes, I just can't stop myself from searching for something shiny and new on one of my ancestors. This is how I came across this particular clue for my 3rd great grandfather, Jacob Kerr of Sampson County, NC.
You can read more about Jacob in these posts:
Information found in Slave Deeds of New Hanover County - Series Two, Volume One
Doc # 3043
Grantor: Herring, John
Grantee: Kerr, James
Enslaved Person(s): Bur, Jacob
I gasped when I saw this the other night. If you are into family history, you know what I'm talking about. It's that feeling of oh my goodness. What have I discovered here. Is it? Could this really be? Then that feeling of ...
What did I find? Well, before I go too much further I want to highlight a resource that is available online. For those of you who happen to have ancestors who were slaves in New Hanover County, take a look at the New Hanover County Register of deeds website. Once you arrive on the home page you'll see a tab that reads "Slave Deeds."
When you click on that tab, you'll come to this page.
Back in 2013, some Cape Fear Community College students began to index slave transactions that took place in New Hanover County. You can read more about this project here and here.
An important thing to keep in mind when researching ancestors, is to be aware of when and how counties were formed in the areas your folks came from. My 3rd great grandfather Jacob Kerr was from an area in Sampson County, NC that was once part of New Hanover County. You may need to look at records from more than one county when researching your family.
I didn't want to rely on just an index entry of course. I needed to gather more information to determine if this entry did pertain to my Jacob Kerr. I called the New Hanover County of Register of Deeds office to see if I could obtain a copy of the actual document. The lady I spoke with wasn't familiar with the slave deeds but was very friendly and helpful. She gave me an email to send my inquiry to. She told me to include the information from the index and any other information I thought would be helpful in finding the deed in question. This was Friday afternoon. I thought, well it probably won't be until Monday or Tuesday I might here something. Guess what I received within two hours of sending my email? Now that's a quick turn around!
Finally, I had a chance to view the document but that's of course when those other feelings start to come out. Those were feelings of sadness and disgust. This was a Bill of Sale for children. Children! Babies who should have had the chance to grow up with their parents and other kin but instead were shipped off to places and people unknown. When you have slaves in the family tree discovery arrives through bittersweet trails.
So is it the bill of sale for my Jacob Kerr? I tend to believe it is. This is why.
a) Based on his age listed on census records, my 3rd great grandfather was born around 1820.
The transaction date was February 28, 1822. Two children were sold on this day. Bur is referred to as a "girl" while the other, Jacob, a "child." Why not boy? Maybe this was to indicate he was quite young perhaps under the age of three.
b)Prior to this finding, I had guessed that Jacob Kerr was probably a slave of the family of James Kerr prior to the Civil War because of the proximity in which the two families lived. On my post Jacob and Gabe Kerr Purchase Land , I wrote about how Jacob and his son Gabe paid off a bond that was created by James Kerr that allowed for Jacob to purchase his land. You can get a sense how near the families lived to one another from looking at this plat map.
This is an old plat map for Dr. John D. Kerr, Jr.'s land that was passed down to him from his grandfather James Kerr. The arrows noted on the map point to the location of land that was originally owned by my 3rd great grandfather Jacob Kerr.
c) Finding similarities in naming practices can indicate a connection between families. Quite a few of the names found among Jacob Kerr's descendants can also be found in James Kerr's family.
Examples: James, Daniel, Ida, Jane, Katie, John
The names Jacob and Gabriel which were the names of two of my 3rd great grandfather Jacob Kerr's sons. Those names aren't found in the family of James Kerr. They are however found among the relatives of John Herring. John Herring is the man who happened to sell Jacob to James Kerr.
If I can stay awake long enough, I will get another post out tonight. It'll feature the slave deed and it's transcription.