By Natonne Elaine Kemp
Go to the Library of Virginia’s website and select “Search the LVA Catalog.” Once on that page, in the search field, enter the bible’s accession number. The result will be a hyperlink. Click it and a scanned image of the family bible will appear.
I review both bible records. The family bible for the years 1853 to 1854 contains handwritten notes of births predating 1853. One in particular catches my eye. Mildred was born September 29th, 1835.
John B. Coates and his wife Jane did not have a child named Mildred. I believe this notation refers to my 4th great grandmother. According to the 1870 census, Mildred Jackson was born about 1835.(12) The 1880 census indicates Mildred Jackson wasborn about 1830.(13) And the 1900 census identifies Mildred Jackson’s birth date as September 1834.(14)
For those researching ancestors from Louisa County, another helpful online resource is the “VaGenWeb Genealogy Project” at http://www.trevilians.com/. This website has an Index to Slave Names which one may view by slave name or owner. John B. Coates, Jane F. Coates and Nelson Moss are not listed as owners. This website also has an Index to Probate Records. John B. Coates and Jane F. Coates are not listed. However there are two entries for Nelson Moss. One of the entries is a will recorded 12 December 1796, where John Moss left a slave to his wife, three slaves to his son-in-law and wife (i.e., John Moss’ daughter), and six slaves to his son Nelson Moss. Although John Moss identified by name the slave bequeathed to his wife and the names of the three slaves bequeathed to his son-in-law and daughter, unfortunately for me, John Moss did not identify by name the six slaves bequeathed to his son Nelson Moss. The wealth or dearth of information available online at the local level will vary with location.
Following the four step process outlined above, you will likely identify the Virginia slave owner. This four step process however is not foolproof. The name of the child or the name of the mother was not always reported and in some cases, neither name was reported. As an example, I have another 3rd great grandmother who was born in Louisa County about 1861-1864. From her marriage license of 1882 in Hanover County, I learned the name of her mother. Despite this information, I have not located these ancestors in the 1870 or 1880 censuses. A search via Virginia, Births and Christenings, 1853-1917 has not yielded any results.
Also, please keep in mind, where your ancestors resided at the time of the 1870 census may not have been the county or city where they were born. For instance, I have an ancestor who was living in Hanover County at the time of the 1870 census but was born in Caroline County (information obtained from his marriage license).
Using this four step process I have identified the slave owners of three 4th great grandmothers from Virginia. Besides Mildred Jackson, I found the other two 4th great grandmothers listed in an inventory of 1839 (Louisa County) and an estate paper of 1842 (Caroline County). Please remember this four step process is one research strategy and may not be helpful to every researcher.
Once you identify the slave owner, the quest for information does not end. Your journey is just beginning as you research the slave holding family as thoroughly as possible. I must continue my research of Nelson Moss, John B. Coates and Jane F. Coates in the hope of learning more about my 4th great grandmother Mildred Jackson and possibly her parents.
Thanks to FamilySearch.org one may overcome the hurdle of the brick wall of slavery in Virginia.
12 “United States Census, 1870,” index and image, FamilySearch
(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MFGL-ˇT3C : accessed 14 Jul 2013), Mildred Jackson in entry for Andrew Jackson
13 “United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch
(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MC5J-ˇQM7 : accessed 14 Jul 2013), Mildred Jackson in entry for Andrew Jackson, 1880.
14 “United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MMN5-ˇ2MX : accessed 14 Jul 2013), Mildred Jackson, 1900.