Bleak House Plantation:

The Search for Enslaved Ancestors


For additional Information about the Enslaved People at Bleak House visit Alice Cannon's visualization of this community.

Suppose someone has traced their ancestry to Allen and Judy Reed (both aged 44) in the 1870 census for Fredericksville Parish (see Figure 1 below). The couple is listed with five children, Henry, Rebecca, Constance, Elizabeth, and Ada (aged 23 to 15), and all are mulatto. Allen Reed is a gardener. The largest landholders nearby are Mary Harper and Warner Wood.


Figure 1: 1870 Census Entry for Allen and Judy Reed's Household

To begin tracing this family backwards in time, we turn to the birth records database to see if two or more children can be found with a mother Judy. There are three Adas, but only one (spelled "Aider") of the right age (Figure 2). She was born to a "Judy" belonging to James B. Rogers. We next sort by Rogers to see if Judy had other children that match the census.


Figure 2: Birth Records for Enslaved Mothers and their Children

Only one other child born to Rogers’s Judy is present: Billy born in 1857, who is absent from the 1870 census.

 

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