Please help me to find her – Reconnecting Families After Slavery

Information Wanted Ads: Reconnecting Families After Slavery

As late as July 31, 1902, there were still formerly enslaved Americans using national newspapers in hopes of somehow reconnecting with the families shattered by slave owners before the end of the Civil War nearly 40 years before. These are a tiny sample of the requests in The Christian Recorder.

I was thinking about writing more about this phenomenon in post-Civil War America, but I feel that the messages, and the people asking for help, made themselves very clear.


February 4, 1865 – Of John Pierson, son of Hannah Pierson. When last seen by his mother he was about 12 years of age, and resided in Alexandria, Va., Fairfax county, from which place his mother was sold to New Orleans, La., by one Alexander Saxton. Nine long and dreary years have passed away since his mother has seen him. Through the reverses of this war she has made her way to New Bedford, Mass., where she now resides. Her name is now Hannah Cole. Any information concerning him or his grandmother, Sophia Pierson, will be thankfully received by his anxious mother.

February 18, 1865 – INFORMATION WANTED – Mrs. Harriet Mayo, of Detroit, Michigan, wishes to make inquiry of Joseph Mayo, Richard Mayo, Aaron Mayo, and Lucy Mayo. The last she heard of them they were in Petersburg, Virginia. She now thinks they are some where within the lines of the Union army. Any one knowing of their whereabouts will please address MRS. MATILDA ROBINSON, No. 88 Mullet St., Detroit, Mich.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

June 3, 1865 – Of Asberry or Rousbey Henry, who was sold from Hagerstown, Maryland, to Tallahasse, Florida, in 1838. When last heard from, in 1847, he was at the latter place.

July 22, 1865 – Edith Chappel left Columbia, South Carolina, on February 20th, 1865, with the army of Gen. Sherman, from the residence of Mrs. Henry Lyons. Her aunt, Fannie Bostick, can be found with MR. A.L. HART, 327 Lombard St., Philadelphia.

August 5, 1865 – Information is wanted of Mrs. Nancy Massy. She was born and raised in Gochland County, Va. She was owned, about fifteen years ago, by John Michey. Her name before marriage was Nancy Brown. Any one who can give any information in regard to her is requested to address, Sergeant OLMSTED MASSY, Co. B, 76th U.S.C.L., Via New Orleans, La.

August 5, 1865 – Of Abbie Davis, daughter of Rachel Davis, who was born at Wilmington, Delaware. She was carried to Cuba, by Mr. Guelle, for Mr. Peter Bodway, over thirty-five years ago. Since then she has been with Mr. Martin, of Texas, and latterly with Mr. A. Bell of New Orleans. She kept a wash house in New Orleans, about 1862. Her husband died about 7 years ago. Any information will be most thankfully received by her distressed mother. RACHEL DAVIS, Care Christian Recorder, Box 2975, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

January 26, 1867 – Information wanted by Eliza Riley, of her daughter Rina Jane Hinton. She left Marion County, Missouri, in 1864. Her husband, Thomas Hinton, lived in Philadelphia, previously to his wife’s going to him. The man that owned him was named William Logan. He lived in Philadelphia. Any information of her will be thankfully received by her mother. Direct to REV. HENRY BROWN, Quincy, Illinois, Box 769.

February 2, 1867 – Information wanted of Mary Buckner who formerly belonged to Mary Morrison, in Culpepper County, VA. Also of Daniel Reuben and George Buckner, formerly belonging to John Miller. Any information will be very thankfully received by, ROBERT BUCKNER, Post Office Box 317, Logansport,

September 10, 1870 – Of my brother ROBERT, formerly belonging to Mr. Lemuel Wren, of Memphis, Ten., by whom he was sold to Mr. Thos. Cotton, at Cottonwood Landing, on the Mississippi River, two hundred miles above Memphis. Any information wanted of him will be gladly received by his brother. LEWIS CASH, Memphis, Tenn

October 1, 1870 – Information wanted of my brothers, Richard, Levi, Elijah, and Elisha; also, my sisters, Falbia, Ann Maria, and Maria Ann. They were born in Toliber County, Ga. They were the children of Benjamin and Maria Ann Johnson. When last heard from they were in Georgia. Please address NATHAN PARKER,

November 26, 1870 – Information wanted of Molton Rogers Deshields, son of Levi and Harriet Deshields, (supposed to be in California), who was taken away from Jamestown, Summerset county Md., about six weeks before the Emancipation, by Arthur Wolford, son of Deven Wolford, of Prince Ann. $10 will be paid for any information of his whereabouts by his mother, HARRIET DESHIELDS. Address 351 Hamilton Street, Albany, N.Y. Ministers please publish.

January 2, 1873 – Benjamin Moten wished to know the whereabouts of his two brothers, Albert Moten and Miles Tucker Moten, formerly from Albemarle County, Virginia. They have been missing for ten years. If any information can be given, Address, BENJAMIN MOTEN, West Manayunk Montgomery County, Pa.

June 12, 1873 – Of my mother Eliza Elder and my sister Sarah Sikes of Columbus, Mississippi. If any person can give the desired information, please address PARMELIA DYER, In care of A.M.E. Church, Box 156, Terre Haute, Indiana.

February 22, 1877 – Information wanted of Jane Chase, daughter of Abraham and Malialia Chase and sister of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Chase. She was sold into Georgia by Thomas Dulin, about twenty-six years ago. Any information concerning her whereabouts will be thankfully received by her brother. 1017 Redman St., Phila.

January 1, 1880 – OF MOTHER and two sisters. My mother’s name was Margaret Weir; my sisters’ names were Estaline and Josephine Weir. They were sold out of Thomas Sidleton’s family, Pettis County, Md. I hope that this will inform mother that her daughter, Elisa Weir, is living in Springfield, KY.

January 1, 1880 – INFORMATION WANTED OF MY MOTHER. I was parted from her about the year 1852 and sold to a speculator by the name of Alex Hopkin and was brought to Georgia. She only had two children at that time. My name is Patience. My sister’s name was Pilsey. My mother’s name is Harriet and at that time was owned by Wm. Harrison, of Nash County, North Carolina. My marriage name is now, Patience Arnett. Please help me to find her.

January 1, 1880 – INFORMATION WANTED OF HENRY and Sally Carey, children of Burrel Carey. They formerly belonged to a man by the name of Wm. Robinson who lived near Woodville, Rappahannock Co., VA. Wm. Robinson sold them to a man by the name of James A. Monafee of the same locality. It is said that they were sent to the South during the war. Sally Carey is now about thirty years of age. Henry is about Twenty-six. Their father now lives near Harrisburg, PA. It will be greatly to these children’s advantage if they can be found. Address Rev. John C. Brook, 120 Mary’s Avenue, Harrisburg, PA.

These kinds of messages continue to appear in The Christian Recorder into the early 20th century, decades after the end of slavery in the United States.

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