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Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Young Family of Franklin

On this date in 1877, Charlotte Young of Franklin, Tennessee published an ad in the Southwestern Christian Advocate (New Orleans, LA). She was seeking information about her mother and brothers who were sold to "speculators" during slavery near Alexandria, Virginia.
“Mrs. Charlotte Young,” Lost Friends Ad, The Southwestern Christian Advocate (New Orleans, LA), August 9, 1877, Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery, accessed April 22, 2018, <a href="http://informationwanted.org/items/show/1203" rel="nofollow">informationwanted.org/items/show/1203</a>.
Charlotte was born about 1832 in Virginia.  I have not been able to determine any information about her early life, but assume based on this ad that she may have also been enslaved by Barnard Hoe near Alexandria, Virginia.  I think that it was around 1840 when her mother and brothers were sold away from Charlotte.

At some point, Charlotte met her husband Samuel and in 1849 - when she was 17 years old - their son Sam Jr. was born in Virginia.

Around 1850, Charlotte, her husband Sam and their infant son were brought to or sold to Franklin, Tennessee.  It was a common practice during this time period for enslaved people to be redistributed from the Upper South to states further south and west where cotton farming was more profitable.

Lewis Miller, Sketchbook of Landscapes in the State of Virginia, 1853-1867. Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia; slide 84-896c.
This sketch, entitled, "Slave Trader, Sold to Tennessee" depicts an all too common scene at the time of people being sold - in this case from Virginia to Tennessee.  People were shackled together, two-by-two in "coffles" or chain gangs.  They were forcibly marched long distances where they were sold like animals.  It is possible this is what happened to Charlotte, Sam and their infant son.  Or perhaps they were moved to Franklin along with the other possessions  - like furniture and livestock - of the people who enslaved them.  

Charlotte and Sam's next son Moses was born in Franklin, Tennessee in 1851, and Eli joined the family in 1857.  Perhaps the gap in time between Moses and Eli indicates that Charlotte and Sam Sr. were separated for a time.


The family lived through the Civil War and all the fighting that raged in and around Franklin from 1861-1865.  On Christmas Day 1865, Sam Sr. entered into a one-year labor contract (along with two other African American men Nelson Wilson and Ryal Atkison) to farm about 212 acres for C. A. Merrill. Young and his partners agreed to "take charge" of the farm and "furnish [21] hands and cultivate" the farm in "good order". The men were to farm 100 acres in cotton and the balance in corn or a mixture of corn and oats. Young and his partners agreed to deliver the cotton to Merrill's cotton gin the same day it was "pict from the fields."  They were to commence to plow the farm "immediately."  The contract implies that a "dwelling house" was provided on the property because they were instructed not to cook in it and to deliver it in good condition at the end of the year. They were also instructed not to have "any crowds . . . assemble there that may annoy the neighborhood."  Merrill was to receive half of the crop at the end of the year.  The large size and relative sophistication of this share cropping arrangement implies that Sam Young and his partners were well-respected and trusted. 

However, tensions remained high between many African Americans employees and landowners - the complete reversal in the social structure, and to some degree the political structure was hard for many whites to accept.  In July 1867 an armed conflict broke out between two rival political groups - divided largely along racial lines - in Franklin. Sam Sr. was involved and was wounded.  He was interviewed and his affidavit appears below. According to his statement, he was working to keep the peace and was marching with the members of the Loyal League (a group of largely African American men who generally aligned with the Republican Party) when they were fired upon by Conservatives and former Confederates on the public square in Franklin.  He was injured, but not seriously.  [The topic of the Franklin Riot deserves a fuller exploration than I can give it here, but this brief synopsis will give you some sense of the conflict.  I also have many newspaper articles from the time period clipped here if you would like to read the original sources.]



During this time it is likely that Sam's sons were working with him - either farming or as stone masons - which was Sam's primary skill, but they were also learning to read and write. Middle son Moses must have displayed some aptitude for school work because in 1869 his name appears as a second year student at Central Tennessee College in Nashville - a school for students of color.  That same year, his older brother Sam Jr. married Nancy Southall in Franklin. In 1870the family was shown in the federal census living in Franklin.  Sam and the two older boys were working as stone masons.  Sam Jr. and his wife Nancy had added a granddaughter to the household   By 1872Moses was employed as a school teacher in Franklin, according to a bank deposit record with the Freedman's Bank in Nashville. 



In 1873, Sam Sr. appears to be farming as well as working as a stone mason, because his cotton entry into the Williamson County Fair that year won him a $25 prize.

Nashville Republican Banner, October 7, 1873, page 3

By August 1877, Charlotte was searching for her mother and brothers and published the above ad looking for them.  Its not clear whether she ever found them.  Tragically, the following year, Sam and Charlotte's family home was destroyed by fire.  The loss was reported in the Nashville newspaper.

Nashville Republican Banner, Saturday August 3, 1878
During this time period, Sam Jr, and his wife added several children to the family, but Sam Jr died in 1879 of heart disease, and I suspect that his wife Nancy also died.

In the 1880 Federal Census, Charlotte and her husband were still living in Franklin.  They were raising their five grandchildren and living with another daughter in law.  I think their youngest son Eli had passed away, and I can find no record of Moses.  Sadly, I also lost the trail for both Charlotte and Sam Sr.  

One of their grandchildren - Annie Grace - married and stayed in Franklin the rest of her life.  She worked as a hotel cook as a newly wed while her husband James Mitchell worked as a mail carrier.  Later James would become a popular minister in town.  He was employed as a pastor at various churches in town and worked for Presbyterian, Methodist and AME Churches throughout his life.  The couple never had any children, but were active in the community.  Annie went to college and worked as a teacher later in her life.  They lived on Columbia Avenue in Franklin where they often hosted meetings of the various clubs that they participated in.  The legacy that Charlotte and Sam left behind through their contributions to Franklin and those of their children and grandchildren is long lasting and enduring.  

1 comment:

  1. I love the stories found in records. The way you put this together made it very interesting.

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