In 1849, Isaac Conner before J.B. Earnest, Magistrate, to file an affidavit respecting the free status of Betsey (also rendered Betsy in the same document) Conner. He offered as evidence a written statement of E.H. Edwards, made in 1836, that states that Betsey Conner was freed by a Deed of Emancipation in his possession.
Isaac Conner’s testimony provides further detail: that in April of 1825, he made and executed manumission papers for Betsey Conner. Isaac Conner states that the manumission papers were held by him until 1835, when they were transferred to Genl. E.H. Edwards, and after the death of E.H. Edwards, the original papers were lost or mislaid.
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Suggestions for Further Research
If you find documentation for a free African American ancestor in Charleston, there are several record sets you can consult to pick up a further document trail. Here are some starting points:
- If your ancestor was free, you should be able to find them in census records for census years after their emancipation.
- The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has microfilmed records of the State Free Negro Capitation Tax, a tax free people of color were required to pay annually. The twenty-nine books in this publication list names of many free blacks who lived in Charleston between 1811 and 1860.
- You may be able to locate your free ancestor in city directories. Ancestry.com has digitized Charleston’s city directories in the collection “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.” You can view print copies of Charleston city directories in the South Carolina Room at Charleston County Public Library.
- Your free ancestor(s) may have owned property. You can check the Register of Deeds in your county of research interest.
- You can browse the free FamilySearch collections “South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977” and “South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732-1964” for probate records such as wills, estate inventories and estate accounts for free black ancestors. These will be interfiled with probate records of free white citizens. Note that these collections are not indexed, so you will need to browse the index pages of individual volumes to see if your ancestor’s name is listed. If you find your ancestor’s name, note the page number and browse to that page number on the microfilm.
Affidavit Concerning the Freedom of Betsey Conner,Miscellaneous records, 1771-1868, v. 6B-6C 1844-1849, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLV-2917-M?cat=476811 /span>, frame 397 of 567, accessed 4 Oct 2017.