- Connecticut had slavery. Contrary to what many of us would like to believe, your Connecticut ancestor may have owned slaves or been enslaved. The Fairfield Museum has a helpful timeline of the history of slavery.
- Being free did not mean you were allowed a last name. Many Connecticut families had their births, deaths, and marriages registered only with their first names and the word “negro.”
- It did mean you could own land. I just came across a deed of sale from about 1770 that I’m pretty sure was to an African-American man. But I’m not sure his descendants will ever succeed in finding his records. Why? Because there wasn’t a last name listed.
- You may have to think a little bit differently to find your ancestors. In African-American genealogy, there’s a lot of talk about an 1870 brick wall… Why? Because the 1870 census was the first one to list former slaves. But what do you do if your ancestor was emancipated in 1790?
Looking for more helpful hints? It’s not too late to sign up for class. https://www.maect.org/CourseCatalog/ScheduleView.asp?ScheduleId=6417