I’m continuing my tour through the voluminous information that can be discovered about our African-American ancestors in Freedman’s Bank Records. Last week was the first post in this series, and I’m suggesting that everyone take another look by *browsing* through these records. I’m giving examples in this series of all the things we can uncover.
Many of the African-American groups and institutions like churches and benevolent groups that existed during Reconstruction can be discovered by browsing. This information may not be available anywhere else. Here are a few examples:
The Beaufort, SC branch held several cards for the Sons and Daughters of St, Phillips Calvary Society. Several society leaders are named:
Mary Roach served as President of the Daughters of Zion No. 2 in Beaufort. Other officers are also named:
Howell Echolls is the preacher at Freedmans Colored Methodist Church in Huntsville, AL:
His card also shows he was literate as he signed his own name. You’ll want to look for this, because the vast majority of the account holders could not write.
You’ll find groups of people, couples and family members with cards, so don’t stop if you find one match. A close look will show that Howell Echols, pastor of the church above, as well as his wife Ann also held a separate accounts at the branch. Also, notice that Howell’s parents are given as Green and Sallie Buford, but he does not have that surname:
The 1870 census locates the couple, and Howell’s occupation is “Presiding Elder”:
Brothers Samuel and Henry Cartwright both had accounts in Huntsville. Samuel named the regiment he served with in the Civil War:
They are living right next to each other in 1870, and Henry’s birthplace of Virginia is matched on the census:
Notice the census left out the “w” in Cartwright.
Lafayette Robinson and wife Fannie had a joint account. The card reveals that his sister Frances is the wife of Sandy Bynum, and his niece Sisia and nephew John (children of Sandy and Frances) also had an account:
The two families lived right next door to one another:
The cards uncover that Frances is Lafayette’s sister. The cards also show something else. Children were encouraged to open accounts. John’s card calls him a “schoolboy” and the census shows he was only 5 years old and his sister was also 5 when an account was opened in their names. The census also shows us that the sistyer’s proper name is Mary, and that “Sisia” must have been a nickname.
Stay tuned next week, when I’ll continue my travels through these amazing records.