[APG Public List] [TGF] Slave Ancestry

CL Swope alfonsa at cynthiaswope.com
Fri Aug 27 16:39:24 MDT 2010

(Cross sent to APG/ TGF as was the original message)

I've no idea of the correctness of assumption, but for me it raises the 
idea of mixed blood. Personally I would not discount the possibility of 
Native American mix into the account, even if heralding from a time when 
that might have been a more easily accomplished possibility than in the 
later accounts where the term seems in frequent use and geographically 
widespread use on a VERY brief google review (up to the Civil War).

I did a quick search just now and discovered it found in the ads / 
entries regarding slaves in various locales. I found one for Maryland in 
, found also  in a description of a Union Kentucky sailor in the civil 
war (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyboone/aasailor1.htm)  and also 
found in description  1836 Milledgeville Georgia 
(http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/williams/williams.html) , and Louisiana 
1858 (http://arledgefamilyhistory.org/africamer.html) .

At  The Library of American Slavery it reads:  

"One specific area where inaccuracy or inconsistency may be detected by 
users of this website relates to the color of individuals identified as 
being slaves or free people of color. The color of an individual was 
assigned based on the following two criteria. If an individual slave or 
free person of color was specifically described by his or her color, 
then that color was used. Examples: a person described as black or very 
dark was assigned the color 'black;' a person described as mulatto, or 
copper, or yellow, or dark mulatto, or light mulatto was assigned the 
color ' mulatto'  If an individual's color, however, was not 
specifically provided, that person would be assigned the color 'black' 
by default. "

Another interesting article is found at 
detailing the effects of the 1807 law (in effect from 1808)  prohibiting 
importation, but allowing transport between states. In it is mention 
regarding New Orleans manifests:  "In addition to the official color 
designations of 'negro, mulatto, or person of colour'  many manifests 
indicate the slaves' skin color as black, brown, yellow, tawney [sic], 
dark, or copper. "


Karen J Matheson wrote:
> Does anyone know (and can explain) the significance of recording that a slave is "copper colored" versus black or mulatto?  This is from Texas records ca. 1850-1865.
> Thanks,
> Karen Matheson
> Austin, Texas
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