AFRICAN-AMERICAN RESEARCH IN ROANE COUNTY, TENNESSEE  
Compiled by Robert L. Bailey

Primary sources of information in Roane County records are located in the following records:
 
Estate Records, Books A-F, for the time period of 1802-1863. The estates often mention slaves in wills and inventories of estates. In some cases, relations as well as the age of the slave is mentioned. The slaves mentioned in Estate Book F (1857-1863) are presented in the file, slave.est. In some cases, slaves are set free by the will.
 

Bills of Sale: These are located in the Deed Books and also are mentioned in the County Court Minutes. These records usually give the name of seller and the purchaser, as well as the name and age of the slave. Unfortunately not all bills of sale were recorded. The file, slave.bil, contains all of the recorded bills of sale found in the Deed Books and County Court Minutes, from 1801 to 1825 only. There are others from 1826 up to and during the Civil War. Those have not been abstracted yet.
 

Census Records: The 1830 and 1840, lists the slaves by age categories. The following age categories apply for these censuses: under 10, 10 to 24, 36 to 55, 55 to 100 and 100, &c. The slaves schedules give the actual age of the slaves, but unfortunately they do not give the names of the slaves. It should be pointed out that not all slaves that appear in a certain household may belong to that person. Some slaves may have been hired from other people.
 

Miscellaneous Records:
 

Plantation Account Books: There are no known account books kept by individual families that have survived for Roane County.
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There is a black marriage book from 6 Jul 1865 to 13 Feb 1879. This book has been transcribed by Paul W. Lemasters and appears in the book, Marriage Records, Roane County, Tennessee, 1856-1880, by Patsy H. Pierce.
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Prior to the 1835 Constitution of Tennessee, free blacks could vote. Therefore, free blacks could be found on the tax lists paying poll taxes. A poll tax was for men between the ages of 21 and 50 and it had to be paid before you could vote. Unfortunately, the 1835 Constitution took this right away.
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In the County Court Minutes, there are some records of slaves being set free. Gideon MORGAN set free a slave in 1821, Edmond Thornton MORGAN and in this case it appears that Edmund Thornton may have actually been Gideon's son. Thomas N. CLARK set free a slave, Peter HAWKINS.
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There some cases in Chancery Court of slaves filing lawsuits. One of the more well-known cases involve Harry and Keziah & others, former slaves of Solomon GEREN, who sued the administrators of the Solomon GEREN'S estate. Harry and Kissiah GERON are found on the 1850 Roane County Census, Family No. 1627. Another lawsuit involved the slaves of Gideon MORGAN. The following family information on the Gideon MORGAN slaves in following court cases: JORDAN, Lewis W. vs. Elizabeth BLACK & slaves - Chancery Court - 1847 and the case, MARGRAVE, W.W., Trustee &c. vs. Nathaniel BAXTER & others - Chancery Court - 1857:
 

Charity [MORGAN] (b. ca 1790's-d. 1834-1847). She had six children:

1. Amy (b. 11 Nov 1813-d. 1859 from Hemmorrage of Lungs) md George WASHINGTON - after Amy died, George married a woman in Nashville

a. Mary - went by Mary M. BLACK in 1873 - had 3 children in slavery

A. Caroline (d. 3 Jun 1859)

(1). had a child (b. 1856/1857)

B. John

C. Mildred Jane

b. Rufus - died without issue

c. Ellen, b. 30 Dec 1832 [went by Ellen GILES in 1873]

d. Cora (b. 1850's-d. by 1860)

e. William (b. 1850's-d. by 1873)

f. Dempsey (-d. Summer of 1865 at Loudon, TN)

g. Franklin (Frank) (b. 8 Nov 1836-d. in Nov 1860 from "scauld received by explosion on Steam Boat Harry Hill") - there is no proof that he belongs to Amy, but he is often listed with Amy's children

h. Jerome, b. 16 Feb 1838 [went by Jerome WASHINGTON] "Memphis" written by his name in 1873]

2. Sidney (b. 25 Jul 1815-d. by 1873) md George HAWKINS (-d. by 1873)

a. Calvin, b. 17 Nov 1831 goes by Calvin HAWKINS - on 1870 Roane County Census) md Emaline ____.

b. Luther Pope, b. 20 Aug 1833 [went by Luther HAWKINS in 1873]

c. Amaziah (male) [went by Amaziah VESSEL in 1873]

d. Spriggs

e. Mathew (b. 30 Nov 1836-ranaway on 26 Apr 1863 and went to McMinn County where he had a wife and had worked the previous year) - went by Mathew HAWKINS in 1873

f. Gideon, b. 14 Jan 1839 [went by Gideon HAWKINS]

3. Newton, d. 1834-47 - died without issue

4. Edmond, b. 1830 [went by Edmond ADAMS in 1873]

5. Lorenzo, b. 1833 [went by Lorenzo ADAMS in 1873]

6. Elizabeth - in one record as being a daughter of Charity but no other record could be found
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There were a few free black families in Roane County. There was a black man named Felson BAZEL, who was born probably in the 1750's and died in 1822 in Roane County. His wife's name was Catharine, and she was a white woman. They had at least one son, named Samuel BAZEL. Samuel BAZEL married 5 May 1812 in Roane County, Eliza SCOTT. Samuel and Eliza appear to be the parents of all of the BAZELS in Roane County. Another free black family in Roane county are the GALLIMORES. David GALLIMORE (b. ca 1790 in VA) and James GALLIMORE (b. ca 1792 in VA) who appear to be brothers lived in Roane County. David GALLIMORE married Susan DUPPEE and James married Elizabeth DUPPEE. Both Susan and Elizabeth appear to be white women.
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There is another interesting record found in County Court Minute Book 1849-1861 is: 6 Jun 1853, "In the case of Primes(?) a man of color late a revolutionary soldier Peter B. POSTEN a witness proves that Primes died in Decr. 1848 or January 1849 that he left his Primons his only heir and no widow and that he is a disinterested witness." SOURCE: County Court Minute Book (1849-1856), page 342.
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Some records of death and births are listed in the white family's Bible Record. Also, there are references to the slaves in the personal correspondence of the slave owner. The Bible of Thomas Norris Clark (1763-1847) contains the following births:

Births of Black Family

Jack son to Jack & Phillis was born in Fluvanna Cty, State of Virginia in November 1789.

Mariah was born in Fluvanna County Virginia in August 1791

Rose was Born at the North Fork of Holstein in August 1793

Hannah was Born at the North Fork of Holstein in the [torn] of February 1795.

[torn]bert was Born in the Grassy(?) [torn] Valley July 1796

Tom(?) [torn] was Born in the Grassy Valley July 1798.

Mary Daughter to Nelly & Harry was Born at So. West Point the 26th of November 1824.

Washington the son of Nelly & Harry was born at So. West Point the 29th April 1826

Charles Son of Nelly & Harry was Born in December 1827

Andrew the son of Nelly & Harry was Born in November 1829

[Note: at this point it appears that the handwriting changed.]

Malinda was Borne Febry. 18, 1830.

Jinn(?) was borne February 1833.

Rody dauter of Milly Was Borne July the 30, 1829.

Marthy dauter of Milly was borne December 16, 1831.

Luisa dauter of Milly was borne November 18, 1833.
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From a Book in possession of The Roane County Heritage Commission:

State of North Carolina, Green County. October Term 1879 (sic). Ordered that Ishmael DONELSON born 1788. Rachel DONELSON born July 16th 1790. George DONELSON born 7th February 1793. Sally DONELSON born the 1st day of March 1796, and Betsey DONELSON born the 4th day of August 1798 the Children of Rhoda DONELSON a free Born Mulatto Woman be bound to Martha Jones SHEPPARD until they arrive at the age of twenty one years. I hereby certify the above copy be a true extract from the minutes of Green County Court. Given under my hand and seal of the County and State at affixed this 18th day of April Anno Dom 1804. Attest. J. HOOKER, C.C. Recorded 20th December 1808 Jno. PURRIS, D.C. R.C.

State of Tennessee, Roane County. Be it Remembered that on the 20th day of December 1808 Rhoda DONELSON a Mulatto woman about 45 or 6 years of age and considerably pitted by the Small Pox presented to me an Instrument of Writing or Copy of Record from the Clerk of Green County & State of North Carolina, which is now on Record in my office, whereby it appears that She the said Rhoda DONELSON was born free. These are therefore to permit the said Rhoda DONELSON to pass and repass within the limits of this State and enjoy all the priviledges given by law to free people of Colour unless she hereafter Should be guilty of Some Crime for which the laws of this State would punish her as an offender. Given under my hand at office in Kingston the day first above written. Henry BREAZEALE, Clerk of Roane County by his Depty. Jno. PURRIS.

State of Tennessee, Roane County. Be it remembered that on the 20th day of December 1808 Rhoda DONELSON a mulatto woman presented to an Instrument of Writing or Copy of Record from the Clerk of Green County and State of North Carolina which is now on Record in my Office. Whereby it appears that on said Rhoda was born free. And whereas it appears that on the 10th day of May 1801. She the said Rhoda had a daughter named "Cresa" which daughter was born free. These and therefore to permit the said Cresa to pass and repass within the limits of this State and enjoy all the priviledges given by law to free people of colour. Unless She hereafter should be guilty of some Crime for which the laws of the State would punish her as an offender. Given under my hand at Office in Kingston the day first above written. Henry BREAZEALE Clk., Roane County By his Depty. Jno. PURRIS.