It wasn’t news to Mariann Regan that she descends from southern slave owners. In fact she even wrote a memoir about it a couple of years ago entitled “Into the Briar Patch” which recounts her complex reflections on that family legacy.
A retired professor of Literature and English, she’s also an avid family history researcher whose most recent posts on her genealogy blog “Into the Briar Patch” (yes, same title), relate to something which WAS news to her: the names and relationships of the slaves who were owned by her ancestors.
Mariann learned of the details behind her family’s business in 19th century South Carolina when she and a cousin came across a journal in her cousin’s attic with the following words on its cover: “Negro’s Ages 1848”.
As she explains in the first of her 6 posts on this subject:
“ A few weeks ago, my first cousin and I found an old, weathered journal in her attic…one among many, in an unexamined box of documents left to her by her mother. The cover reads, “Negro’s Age’s 1848,” [sic] and underneath, (the name) “L. L. Fraser.” The writing is barely visible…
There are 37 handwritten pages. The title of each page is the first name of the parent—typically an enslaved African-American woman.
Underneath is a list of children, by first name and birth date. The dates range from 1804 through 1879.
Several Fraser patriarchs owned slaves in my family. Here is a father-son-grandson line:….”
Mariann then goes on to provide a color-coded transcription of the entire 37-page journal.
Here are some images of a few of those pages:
At the close of her first post in this series Mariann notes:
“I’m copying each page of this…journal before I turn it over to the South Carolina Historical Society for the archive. Maybe these pages can be used to detect more family lines. I’ll put them in a later post.”
Which is exactly what she does as she goes on to publish the entire journal in five succeeding posts on her blog. But one of the most heartfelt statements Mariann makes to her readers is this one:
“I’m fervently hoping there is someone out there in genealogy land who will find this post helpful in their family research.”
And that’s why I’m writing this post.
I’m hoping that one of my readers on GeneaJourneys may know (or may know someone who knows) how to help Mariann achieve her goal of passing this 37-page handwritten list of slave names on to potential family members. I’m sure you’ll agree this is quite a discovery and it would be fabulous if living descendants of those named in the journal could be found.
Below are links to Mariann’s blog, “Into the Briar Patch” with all six posts on her ancestor’s journal, “Negro’s Age’s 1848”. (Her blog, by the way, was named one of the top 40 genealogy blogs of 2013 by Family Tree magazine. Take a look at her bio on that blog as well–it’s equally impressive.)
So how about it, genealogy friends? Would you consider reposting this post that you’re reading right now or one of the links to Mariann’s posts (above) on your own blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other form of social media that you use to converse with other genealogists?
Perhaps together, as one massive genealogy community, we could spread the word about this marvelous genealogical treasure that its owner wants so much to share.
Let’s do it!
These slaves need to be claimed by their descendants, and their descendants need to be found.
Mariann Regan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her blog at: mariannsregan.com.
Copyright © 2013 Patricia Desmond Biallas
Photos published with permission of Mariann S. Regan, “Into the Briar Patch”