Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Questions on the Georgia Land Lottery and African-American Lines

Question from Anonymous:
”I've found where my ancestor won bounty land in Georgia in the 1827 draw. He was living in Henry Co, GA at the time and I have the land lot # and the county name on his draws. However this ancestor is my brick wall and I would like to see what information he put on his application for bounty land. I have no idea who to contact for a copy of his application - it is not on the Georgia archives site. Can you give me some direction or do I have to hire someone to get this?”

There really isn't an application like you think of an application. He might have had to present his evidence for his eligibility but he didn’t have to fill out any sort of paperwork.  If he met the requirements of the draw, his name would appear on an eligibility list and then his name would be placed in a barrel (or some sort of container).  All of the lots were placed in another barrel.  They would draw a name out of one barrel and then a lot out of the other one and that is how the land was assigned. Here are the rules for the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery.


Another question from an anonymous reader:
”Do you have any black lines in your family that you have researched?”

I have found no African-American direct lines in my family and my DNA shows no African ethnicity. I do have many slave owners in my lines with slaves listed as mulatto so the possibility of collateral lines is certainly there. I have helped a few researchers with their African-American lines to the extent I was able (I am not an expert). 

A Spires family researcher contacted me a couple of years back.  She was researching the post Civil War black Spires families in Lincoln County, Georgia.  I had info on all of the white Spires families so we were were trying to compare our data. 

In 1860, there were two slave-owning Spires families in Lincoln County. Zachariah and his son William.  Zachariah had 18 slaves, ages 2-60.  William had  7 slaves, ages 10-25.  On the 1870 census there are 31 Spires listed as black.  I was working with this other researcher to see if we could match up any of the male slaves and younger female slaves to the blacks listed on the 1870.  The white and black Spires were living next to each other which indicates that the former slaves continued to work for their former owners after they were freed.  We were in the early stages of our research when the other researcher stopped emailing.  I have no idea what happened.  I put the project aside.  I would like to go back and look at this again. 

I think this particular case study has some good potential because of the apparent continued relationship between the families.  Also, there was one mulatto listed in 1860.  There are none listed in 1870 but that doesn’t mean much because the race designation was in the eye of the beholder (enumerator).  There could easily be some blood connection between the two families.   After some preliminary work with the census records, the next move would be looking at the Lincoln County deeds.  The Lincoln County deeds are intact and could give us some names if father Zachariah Spires deeded slaves to his son William.   Thanks to you, I now I have yet another project on my plate!  It might be a good thing that you sent your question to me anonymously. 


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Michele, perhaps you can give me some advice. I would like to find the living descendants of the 5 slaves owned by my gggrandmother in 1860.

    The problems are these: 4 of the 5 slaves were female, so trying to locate blacks with a "Poore" surname in the 1870 census doesn't really work. I don't have first names for any of the slaves, so I can't search that way. Because the slaves were freed with the end of the Civil War, there are no wills to check.

    Any thoughts on how to move ahead with a search?

  2. One of the first places to start is The Freedmen's Bureau records. Many times the name of the former master is listed. Here is where you need to go for info http://freedmensbureau.com/

    Were you able to find the one male under the name of Poore in the 1870? He is most likely related to the females and that would give you a start. I will say that many times slaves did NOT keep their name of the former owner. It is a good thing if they did (from a research standpoint) but you can't count on that. Check the will of your ancestors father. His father may have willed him one or more of the slaves. You can also go through the deed records to see if someone deeded him the slaves. You can check the newspaper if the slave sales and auctions were recorded. They usually didn't refer to the slaves by name in these articles but it might give you some info on whether he bought the slaves or was deeded/willed them. There are other resources. A good one is if there was any "slave chronicles" or reminiscences written by former slaves in your county of interest. Many time they left detailed accounts of their former lives including the names of their former owners.

    Hook up with African American researchers that are working in the same county as you. They might have some info that you need.

    It is a difficult search but not an impossible one.