Monday, February 1, 2016

Legacy of Slave Holders

Wow!  I had no Clue Before!

I knew so little about our family background before getting into genealogy and having my DNA tested.  I knew the surnames of my Mom, Dad and Grandparents on either side and where they were all born.  I knew that they migrated from Oklahoma to California about 1940-41 and that they lived the life of poor Okies.

I always thought that my family would have been too poor to have any slaves.  I don't think my grandparents or parents knew very much beyond their own lives.  They were struggling to survive.

They worked in the fields picking cotton, hoeing cotton, picking fruit, or whatever else kind of field work they could get.  My Dad worked in the Orange shed in the winter and eventually, he made boxes for table grapes later.

When I found the first record that one of my ancestors owned slaves, I was in shock!  I had a physical reaction feeling like someone had punched me in the stomach.  Then, I felt numb not believing it was possible.

Why did I have this kind of reaction?  As I mentioned, I just didn't think that my ancestors would have had the resources to have been slave owners because we had lived in extreme poverty.  Another reason is because I felt and knew that slavery was wrong.  I feel very strongly about it.

Am I at fault because some of my ancestors owned slaves?  No, but I still feel horrible about it.  Can I change anything?  No, I can't change anything about the past.  I do feel a burning desire to learn more about the slaves.  Who they were, what their names were, how they were treated, and what happened to some of them after emancipation, and where they are buried.

We can always do something about the here and now....


  1. Good Day Helen
    I am related to the Favors family in Rayle GA Wilkes County. My grandfather was Royal Favors aka (Roy). I am of African descent. As have attempted to trace my heritage I have found it was not uncommon for poor whites to own slave. Owning 'property' was a sign of status. White men that did not own land could not vote and had not standing in the community. I would invite you to read Dr. Thomas Sowell's "Black Rednecks and White Liberals". It is a fascinating read about the Antebellum South and the mentality of some poor white slave holders. I do not hold grudges or take up offences for the actions of our ancestors. We live and we learn. It is possible we are distant cousins.

    --Ruby Lowe--

    1. Hello Ruby, I just now ran across your message. I do have the book that you recommended by Dr. Thomas Sowell, but I have not had a chance to read it yet. Have you had your DNA tested?
      I have assisted one cousin of African descent that I met through 23andme a DNA testing site. I had no idea how we were related. About a year later, I ran across my Faver/Favor/Favors line. His name was similar and he was from that area.
      You and I might very well be related.

  2. Helen, I feel like you on the slave ownership, I have been doing research for many years and so far the Griffin ancestors are batting zero, no slaves. I'm very happy with that.
    Kay Griffin Snow

  3. It's funny you posted this today Helen, I just ran across a slave schedule in Missouri in 1860 for a number of Pence kin and their brothers-in-law. I was shocked but I guess not surprised. Just saddened. No names, just descriptions. Susan Pence