Slave Given Names: A Closer Look

For obvious reasons, great emphasis is placed on surnames in genealogy. Without a surname list your research will not take you very far. But at a recent lecture, the presenter’s advice to “look at the given names” stuck in my mind. It didn’t take long for me to learn that this practice will take you further than you may think. Yes, it applies to obvious misspellings. But where it really began to shine for me was when I realized that many given names of slaves — especially females — are actually nicknames.

Also, among the artifacts displayed in the Black History Month exhibit at the Clayton Library for Genealogical Research included a framed sheet of slave nicknames. As I scanned the paragraph-style presentation, I came upon the name, “Sukie” which is a variable of the spelling of my great-grandmother’s given name. After many unsuccessful attempts to find her in any Census record, I set her aside and continued my research.

Link Graphic Female Nicknames copy

Female Nickname List

The presentation of the nicknames was in paragraph form with each nickname in bold followed by the associated given names. This was an attractive presentation. But I needed the information in list form. So I expanded on the exhibit copy and a few lists I found online and came up with these lists for starters. I also separated the lists into male and female. I hope they will be of benefit to you.  The link to the female list is to the left.  The link to the male list is at the end of this post.

CCAL_Barge_Papers_Page_4 copy

Page 4 of “The Barge Papers” Courtesy of the Cobb County Arts Alliance

When I got home, I went through some material I had obtained earlier from a gentle lady at the Cobb County Arts Alliance, I came upon a handwritten page from “the Barge papers.” On that page were variations of the ancestor I had been calling, “Seuk”: “. . . Suckey, Sukie, Sook, Suck . . .” No one knew how to spell it. Then just as I surmised I should include these variations in my search, I thought to take another look at the slave nickname list from the exhibit, it hit me. Her name was Susan.

Then, I went through my Legacy Family Tree records and there she was — right under my nose as I had suspected. Susan JORDAN — enumerated in the 1880 Census with her parents and two siblings. A quick analysis indicated she was 10 years younger than Thack. Now, I can focus on how close in proximity their families lived. I’ve already determined that the entry of one of her relatives is directly above Thacker’s in the 1867 Return of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Book for Cobb County, GA. This tells me they could have gone to the court house together. And they, more than likely, were neighbors. So this weekend at the library, I’ll take a closer look at the Jordan family. (As she rubs her palms together . . .) Can’t wait!

Link Graphic Male Nicknames copy

Male Nickname List

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Chronicles: Resurrecting My Genealogy Research

I’ve finally gotten around to resuming my family history research. And I know my research toolbox will need to be refreshed. So this blog is my genealogy commonplace and my preferred means of sharing PALMER/MABLE ancestry.

During my interim, I joined a few genealogy groups on facebook.  But I prefer to share my discoveries, along with my process, on a platform that allows my creative expression to come through as well.  Daughter will be my primary means of searching and sharing — with social media as a secondary resource. And I’m encouraged to find that my data management system was so efficient that I can actually pick up right where I left off.

Highlighted excerpt from 1940 Census

1920 Pulaski County, IL Census: Floreta [sic] V. MABLE enumerated at age 4 with her parents, William and Essie MABLE.
(Source: archive.org. Reel 393 – 1920 Illinois Federal Population Schedules – . . . Pulaski Co. (EDs 92-103) . . .

I notice many bloggers post images of the census pages. I will, more than likely, do the same at some point. And while I do have the 11×17 printouts of library microfiche scans, I’m glad that I also took the extra step of extracting these enumerations onto 8.5 x 11 forms.

I admit there’s nothing like seeing the names and details of my ancestors in the handwriting of the enumerator on the official census form (Details about my Mother at age 4 are captured on line 60.) But, in the interest of research — and to minimize scrolling — I will be referencing carefully-extracted data on my utilitarian census extraction forms in my posts. It’s the same data — just extracted onto standard-sized paper for ease of reading. Plus reading my own handwriting keeps me grounded. We can always satisfy our waves of nostalgia by viewing the actual census forms — and using them to create conversation pieces, memorabilia, and works of art.

I hope having these extracts and other documents at my immediate disposal will prompt more questions. In my analog Census Binder, I keep the slaveholder census forms behind those of my ancestors. An asterisk in front of the surname indicates data related to a slaveholder family member.

My most elusive ancestors, as of this writing, continue to be my maternal great grandparents, Thacker and Seuk MABLE. “Thack” was pretty easy to track back to 1850. And legend has it that he came into the MABLE fold when his owner, Pheriby AYCOCK of Newton County, GA, married Robert MABLE of Cobb County, GA. I came about this information in a most serendipitous manner which I will share in future posts. For now, I plan to scout out the Deed of Gift from Joel AYCOCK to Phereby AYCOCK that contains Thack’s name and search through probate records to learn more about our connection with the AYCOCKs. I don’t think Seuk was an AYCOCK slave.

I have an unfounded suspicion of who “Thack’s” mother is — just a hunch based on an observation. But we all know how that could turn out. And I have yet to locate the last slave in my paternal line.

Like countless others, I haven’t been able to track my paternal ancestor, Montgomery PALMER, beyond the 1870 census. Early in my research, I came across specific details in the (maternal) MABLE line that all but consumed my research time and efforts. Since the (paternal) PALMER line will carry the surname through posterity, I will make a greater effort to restore this surname to the same authority level for future generations.

So this is the beginning of my Chronicles series at Daughter of Slave Ancestry. I’m happy to return to ancestor sleuthing. This time I’m able to share as I go and, hopefully, pick up some virtual friends and research tips in the process.

I won’t mar my debut with what caused me to lay my ancestors aside.  For now, I’m comfortable with the realization that it happens.  I may become sentimental enough to share a few details in a future post. I’m just glad to find Thack and Seuk right where I left them.

See also: Beginnings