Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware from the Colonial Period to 1810

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2014-01-06 07:07Z by Steven

Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware from the Colonial Period to 1810

Genealogical Publishing Company
392 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780806350424

Paul Heinegg

As he did for Free Blacks in North Carolina and Virginia, Paul Heinegg has reconstructed the history of the free African American communities of Maryland and Delaware by looking at the history of their families.

Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware is a new work that will intrigue genealogists and historians alike. First and foremost, Mr. Heinegg has assembled genealogical evidence on more than 300 Maryland and Delaware black families (naming nearly 6,000 individuals), with copious documentation from the federal censuses of 1790-1810 and colonial sources consulted at the Maryland Hall of Records, county archives, and other repositories. No work that we know of brings together so much information on colonial African Americans except Mr. Heinegg’s earlier volume on Virginia and North Carolina. The author offers documentation proving that most of these free black families descended from mixed-race children who were the progeny of white women and African American men. While some of these families would claim Native American ancestry, Mr. Heinegg offers evidence to show that they were instead the direct descendants of mixed-race children.

Colonial Maryland laws relating to marriages between offspring of African American and white partners carried severe penalties. For example, one 18th-century statute threatened a white mother with seven years of servitude and promised to bind her mixed-race offspring until the age of thirty-one. Mr. Heinegg shows that, despite these harsh laws, several hundred child-bearing relationships in Delaware and Maryland took place over the colonial period as evidenced directly from the public record. Maryland families, in particular, which comprise the preponderance of those studied, also had closer relationships with the surrounding slave population than did their counterparts in Delaware, Virginia, or North Carolina. Mr. Heinegg recounts the circumstances under which a number of these freedmen were able to become landowners. Some Maryland families, however, including a number from Somerset County, chose to migrate to Delaware or Virginia, where the opportunities for land ownership were greater.

Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware is a work that will be sought after for its commentary on social history as for its genealogical content and methodology. No collection of African American history or genealogy can be without it.

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Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina from the Colonial Period to About 1820 (Fifth Edition)

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Virginia on 2014-01-06 06:58Z by Steven

Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina from the Colonial Period to About 1820 (Fifth Edition)

Genealogical Publishing Company
2 volumes; 1355 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780806352800

Paul Heinegg

The third edition of Paul Heinegg’s Free African Americans of North Carolina and Virginia was awarded the American Society of Genealogists’ prestigious Donald Lines Jacobus Award for the best work of genealogical scholarship published between 1991 and 1994. This fifth edition is Heinegg’s most ambitious effort yet to reconstruct the history of the free African-American communities of Virginia and the Carolinas by looking at the history of their families.

Published in two volumes, and 300 pages longer than the fourth edition, Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina from the Colonial Period to About 1820 consists of detailed genealogies of 600 free black families that originated in Virginia and migrated to North and/or South Carolina from the colonial period to about 1820. The families under investigation represent nearly all African Americans who were free during the colonial period in Virginia and North Carolina. Like its immediate predecessor, the fifth edition traces the branches of a number of African-American families living in South Carolina, where original source materials for this period are much scarcer than in the two states to its north. Researchers will find the names of the more than 10,000 African Americans encompassed by Mr. Heinegg’s genealogies conveniently located in the full-name index at the back of the second volume.

Mr. Heinegg’s findings are the outgrowth of 20 years of research in some 1,000 manuscript volumes, including colonial and early national period tax records, colonial parish registers, 1790-1810 census records, wills, deeds, Free Negro Registers, marriage bonds, Revolutionary pension files, newspapers, and more. The author furnishes copious documentation for his findings and an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

A work of extraordinary breadth and detail, Free African Americans is of great importance to social historians as well as genealogists. The fifth edition traces many families who were covered in previous editions back to their 17th- and 18th-century roots (families like those of humanitarian Ralph Bunch, former NAACP president Benjamin Chavis, and tennis stars Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson, that would go on to fame or fortune). Providing copious documentation for his findings and an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources, Mr. Heinegg shows that most of these families were the descendants of white servant women who had had children by slaves or free African Americans, not the descendants of slave owners. He dispels a number of other myths about the origins and status of free African Americans, such as the “mysterious” origins of the Lumbees, Melungeons, and other such marginal groups, and demonstrates conclusively that many free African-American families in colonial North Carolina and Virginia were landowners.

The two volumes include the following family surnames: Abel, Acre, Adams, Africa, Ailstock, Alford, Allen, Alman, Alvis, Ampey, Ancel, Anderson, Andrews, Angus, Archer, Armfield, Armstrong, Arnold, Artis, Ashberry, Ashby, Ashe, Ashton, Ashworth, Atkins, Aulden, Avery, Bailey, Baine, Baker, Balkham, Ball, Baltrip, Banks, Bannister, Barber, Bartly/Bartlett, Bass, Bates, Battles, Bazden, Bazmore, Beckett, Bee, Bell, Bennett, Berry, Beverly, Bibbens, Bibby, Biddie, Bing, Bingham, Binns, Bizzell, Black, Blake, Blango, Blanks, Blizzard, Blue, Bolton, Bond, Boon, Booth, Bosman, Bow, Bowden, Bowers, Bowles, Bowman, Bowmer, Bowser, Boyd, Brady, Branch, Brandican, Brandon/Branham, Braveboy, Braxton, Britt, Brogdon, Brooks, Brown, Bruce, Brumejum, Bryan, Bryant, Bugg, Bullard, Bunch, Bunday, Burden, Burke, Burkett, Burnett, Burrell, Busby, Busy, Butler, Byrd, Cane, Cannady, Carter, Cary, Case, Cassidy, Causey, Cauther, Chambers, Chandler, Chapman, Charity, Chavis, Church, Churchwell, Churton, Clark, Cobb, Cockran, Cole, Coleman, Collins, Combess, Combs, Conner, Cook, Cooley, Cooper, Copeland, Copes, Corn, Cornet, Cornish, Cotanch, Cousins, Cox, Coy, Craig, Crane, Cuff, Cuffee, Cumbo, Cunningham, Curle, Curtis, Custalow, Cuttillo, Cypress, Dales, Davenport, Davis, Day, Dean, Deas, Debrix, Demery, Dempsey, Dennis, Dennum, Derosario, Dixon, Dobbins, Dolby, Donathan, Douglass, Dove, Drake, Drew, Driggers, Dring, Driver, Drury, Duncan, Dungee, Dungill, Dunlop, Dunn, Dunstan, Durham, Dutchfield, Eady, Easter, Edgar, Edge, Edwards, Elliott, Ellis, Elmore, Epperson, Epps, Evans, Fagan, Faggott, Farrar, Farthing, Ferrell, Fielding, Fields, Findley, Finnie, Fletcher, Flood, Flora, Flowers, Fortune, Fox, Francis, Francisco, Franklin, Frazier, Freeman, Frost, Fry, Fullam, Fuller, Fuzmore, Gallimore, Gamby, Garden, Gardner, Garner, Garnes, George, Gibson, Gilbert, Gillett, Godett, Goff, Goldman, Gordon, Gowen, Grace, Graham, Grant, Grantum, Graves, Gray, Grayson, Gregory, Grice, Griffin, Grimes, Groom, Groves, Guy, Gwinn, Hackett, Hagins, Hailey, Haithcock, Hall, Hamilton, Hamlin, Hammond, Hanson, Harden, Harmon, Harris, Harrison, Hartless, Harvey, Hatcher, Hatfield/Hatter, Hawkins, Hawley, Haws, Haynes, Hays, Hearn, Heath, Hedgepeth, Hewlett, Hewson, Hickman, Hicks, Hill, Hilliard, Hitchens, Hiter, Hobson, Hodges, Hogg, Hollinger, Holman, Holmes, Holt, Honesty, Hood, Hoomes, Horn, Howard, Howell, Hubbard, Huelin, Hughes, Humbles, Hunt, Hunter, Hurley, Hurst, Ivey, Jackson, Jacobs, James, Jameson, Jarvis, Jasper, Jeffery, Jeffries, Jenkins, Johns, Johnson, Joiner, Jones, Jordan, Jumper, Keemer, Kelly, Kendall, Kent, Kersey, Key/ Kee, Keyton, King, Kinney, Knight, Lamb, Landum, Lang, Lansford, Lantern, Lawrence, Laws, Lawson, Lee, Lephew, Lester, Lett, Leviner, Lewis, Lighty, Ligon, Lively, Liverpool, Locklear, Lockson, Locus/Lucas, Logan, Longo, Lowry, Lugrove, Lynch, Lyons, Lytle, McCarty, McCoy, McDaniel, McIntosh, Maclin, Madden, Mahorney, Manly, Mann, Manning, Manuel, Marshall, Martin, Mason, Matthews, Mayo, Mays, Meade, Mealy, Meekins, Meggs, Melvin, Miles, Miller, Mills, Milton, Mitchell, Mitchum, Mongom, Monoggin, Month, Moore, Mordick, Morgan, Morris, Mosby, Moses, Moss, Mozingo, Muckelroy, Mumford, Munday, Muns, Murray, Murrow, Nash, Neal, Newsom, Newton, Nicholas, Nickens, Norman, Norris, Norton, Norwood, Nutts, Oats, Okey, Oliver, Otter, Overton, Owen, Oxendine, Page, Pagee, Palmer, Parker, Parr, Parrot, Patrick, Patterson, Payne, Peavy, Peacock, Pendarvis, Pendergrass, Perkins, Peters, Pettiford, Phillips, Pickett, Pierce, Pinn, Pittman, Pitts, Plumly, Poe, Pompey, Portions, Portiss, Powell, Powers, Poythress, Press, Price, Prichard, Proctor, Pryor, Pugh, Pursley, Rains, Ralls, Randall, Ranger, Rann, Raper, Ratcliff, Rawlinson, Redcross, Redman, Reed, Reeves, Revell, Reynolds, Rich, Richardson, Rickman, Ridley, Roberts, Robins, Robinson, Rogers, Rollins, Rosario, Ross, Rouse, Rowe, Rowland, Ruff, Ruffin, Russell, Sample, Sampson, Sanderlin, Santee, Saunders, Savoy, Sawyer, Scott, Seldon, Sexton, Shaw, Shepherd, Shoecraft, Shoemaker, Silver, Simmons, Simms, Simon, Simpson, Sisco, Skipper, Slaxton, Smith, Smothers, Sneed, Snelling, Soleleather, Sorrell, Sparrow, Spelman, Spiller, Spriddle, Spruce, Spurlock, Stafford, Stephens, Stewart, Stringer, Sunket, Swan, Sweat, Sweetin, Symons, Taborn, Talbot, Tann, Tate, Taylor, Teague, Teamer, Thomas, Thompson, Timber, Toney, Tootle, Toulson, Toyer, Travis, Turner, Tyler, Tyner, Tyre, Underwood, Valentine, Vaughan, Vena/Venie, Verty, Vickory, Viers, Walden, Walker, Wallace, Warburton, Warrick, Waters, Watkins, Weaver, Webb, Webster,Weeks, Welch, Wells, West, Wharton, Whistler, White, Whitehurst, Wiggins, Wilkins, Wilkinson, Williams, Willis, Wilson, Winborn, Winn, Winters, Wise, Womble, Wood, Wooten, Worrell, Wright, and Young.

Free African Americans ranks as the greatest achievement in black genealogy of this generation! No collection of African-American genealogy or social history is complete without this two-volume work.

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Surprises in the Family Tree

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-01-06 01:55Z by Steven

Surprises in the Family Tree

The New York Times

Mitchell Owens

John Archer first appears in Northampton County, Va., in the mid-17th century. He started a family that prospered, fought in the Revolutionary War and built a mansion. Generations later, Archer’s blood trickled down to me. It mingled in my veins with DNA from a gravedigger in 17th-century Württemberg, Germany; from an Appalachian clan with a recessive gene that turns their skins indigo blue; and from a rich young widow in Jamestown, Va., whose fickle heart led to America’s first breach-of-promise suit, in 1623.

I have been researching my past for two decades, since I was in high school, so finding a new ancestor is hardly startling. Learning about John Archer three years ago, however, was startling. He was black, a slave or indentured servant freed around 1677. I am white. That’s what it says on my birth certificate. Now I know better, thanks to Paul Heinegg.

A retired oil-refinery engineer in Collegeville, Pa., Mr. Heinegg, who is white, has compiled genealogies of 900 mixed-race families who lived freely in slaveholding states in “Free African Americans of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia” and “Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware.” (The information is posted on a Web site,

Mr. Heinegg’s research offers evidence that most free African-American and biracial families resulted not from a master and his slave, like Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, but from a white woman and an African man: slave, freed slave or indentured servant.

“Most of the workers in colonial America in the 17th and early 18th centuries were indentured servants, white and black,” said Dr. John B. Boles, a professor of history at Rice University in Houston and the editor of “The Blackwell Companion to the American South” (2001). Since there was not a clear distinction between slavery and servitude at the time, he said, “biracial camaraderie” often resulted in children. The idea that blacks were property did not harden until around 1715 with the rise of the tobacco economy, by which time there was a small but growing population of free families of color. Dr. Boles estimated that by 1860 there were 250,000 free black or mixed-race individuals…

…Tracing those communities has not been easy. ”People of color are often not identified as such in early records,” Mr. Heinegg said. ”For example, an individual might appear in deeds and court records and leave a will without ever mentioning his race.” Sometimes a person’s race can be discerned only by studying the tax assessed on nonwhites. If a man paid the tax on his wife but not himself, Mr. Heinegg said, it meant he was white but she was not.

An added challenge is that racial identity can mutate from free black to white in just a few generations. In my Archer ancestors’ case, it was mixed marriages and a cross-country move: my great-great-grandfather Esquire Collins and his wife, Roxalana Archer, are listed as mulatto in an 1800’s Tennessee census but show up as white on a later Arkansas census. ”You crossed over as early as you were able to,” said Antonia Cottrell Martin, a genealogist in New York. Mixed-race families who had difficulty passing sometimes explained dark complexions as coming from an American Indian or Mediterranean ancestry. ”It’s what people in the South used to call Carolina Portuguese,” said Dr. DeMarce, who comes from a mixed-race background…

Read the entire article here.

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Family Tree’s Startling Roots

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2012-03-21 19:16Z by Steven

Family Tree’s Startling Roots

The New York Times

Felicia Lee

Thirty-nine lashes “well laid” on her bare back and an extension of her indentured servitude was Elizabeth Banks’s punishment for “fornication & Bastardy with a negroe slave,” according to a stark June 20, 1683, court document from York County, Va. Through the alchemy of celebrity and genealogy, that record and others led to the recent discovery that Banks, a free white woman despite her servitude, was the paternal ninth great-grandmother of Wanda Sykes, the ribald comedian and actress.

More than an intriguing boldface-name connection, it is a rare find even in a genealogy-crazed era in which Internet sites like, with more than 14 million users, and the popular NBC program “Who Do You Think You Are?” play on that fascination. Because slavery meant that their black ancestors were considered property and not people, most African-Americans are able to trace their roots in this country only back to the first quarter of the 19th century.

“This is an extraordinary case and the only such case that I know of in which it is possible to trace a black family rooted in freedom from the late 17th century to the present,” said the historian Ira Berlin, a professor at the University of Maryland known for his work on slavery and African-American history.

Mary Banks, the biracial child born to Elizabeth Banks around 1683, inherited her mother’s free status, although she too was indentured. Mary appeared to have four children. There are many other unanswered questions, but the family grew, often as free people of color married or paired off with other free people of color.

Ms. Sykes’s family history was professionally researched for a segment of “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.,” a new series that has its debut Sunday on PBS.

“The bottom line is that Wanda Sykes has the longest continuously documented family tree of any African-American we have ever researched, ” said Mr. Gates, the director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard. He was referring to the dozens of genealogies his researchers have unearthed for his television roots franchise, which began in 2006 with the PBS series “African-American Lives” and includes three other genealogy-inspired shows. Mr. Gates said he also checked Ms. Sykes’s family tree with historians, including Mr. Berlin…

…Johni Cerny, who is the chief genealogist for Mr. Gates’s television programs, noted that many African-Americans with white ancestry could trace their heritage beyond the 1600s to European ancestors. She said 85 percent of African-Americans have some European ancestry.

The unique thing about Wanda is that she descends from 10 generations of free Virginia mulattos, which is more rare than descendants of mixed-race African-Americans who descend from English royalty,” Ms. Cerny wrote in an e-mail message.

More than 1,000 mixed-race children were born to white women in colonial Virginia and Maryland, but their existence has been erased from oral and written history, said Paul Heinegg, a respected lay genealogist and historian. Mr. Heinegg’s Web site,, features books and documents like tax lists that provide information about those families…

Read the entire article here.

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Marriage between blacks, whites and Indians…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2009-10-08 17:19Z by Steven

…Marriage between blacks, whites and Indians was legal in Virginia for most of the 17th century. Genealogist Paul Heinegg found that 99% of all mixed children in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the Carolinas before 1810 came from intermarriages of free blacks with whites. Cases of white masters having children by black slaves were virtually non-existence, making up only one percent of the mixed mulatto population…

Tim Hashaw,  “MALUNGU: The African Origin of the American Melungeons,” Electica (July/August 2001).

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MALUNGU: The African Origin of the American Melungeons

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2009-10-07 18:26Z by Steven

MALUNGU: The African Origin of the American Melungeons

Eclectica Magazine
July/August 2001

Tim Hashaw


They settled in Virginia one year before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. They sparked a major conflict between the Engllish Crown and American colonies one hundred and fifty years before the American Revolution. They lived free in the South nearly two hundred and forty years before the American Civil War.  Yet the African ancestors of the American Melungeons have remained elusive ghosts for the past four centuries; the missing characters in the developing saga of America’s largest mixed community. Now finally, though stridently denied by some descendants and misunderstood by others, the African fathers and mothers of Melungia are beginning to emerge from the dim pages of the past to take their rightful places of honor in American history.

One misconception over Melungeon origins comes from confusion over the status of these African-Americans who, along with whites and Indians, gave birth to this mixed community.  Modern scholars mistakenly assume that the African heritage of Melungeons derives from the offspring of white plantation owners and black female chattel slaves in the years 1780 to 1820.

Wrong on two counts. In fact:

1. The very first black ancestors of Melungeons appeared in tidewater Virginia, not in the 18th century, but in 1619.

2. Not one single Melungeon family can be traced to a white plantation owner and his black female slave. The vast majority of the African ancestors of Melungia were freeborn for more than three hundred years.

This bears repeating.

Melungeons are not the offspring of white southern plantation owners and helpless black slaves. Most of the African ancestors of Melungeons were never chattel slaves. They were frequently black men freed from indentured servitude just like many white servants of the 17th century. Less often, African ancestors of the Melungeons either purchased their freedom from slavery or were freed upon the deaths of their masters.

The black patriarchs of the Melungeons were commonly free African-American men who married white women in Virginia and other southern colonies, often before 1700.  Paul Heinegg in his revealing book, Free African Americans in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware, provides strong evidence that less than one percent of all free Africans were born of white slave-owners.

Understanding the status of the African-American ancestors of Melungeons and the era, in which they came to America, is critical to understanding their history and the origin of the name “Melungeon”….

Read the entire article here.

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