Look for Your Ancestor in South Carolina Voting Records

Robin Foster
by Robin Foster
For the next few blog posts, we will focus on how you might be able to identify your ancestors in resources generated between 1865 to 1876. If you remember, last week we found research avenues in Identifying Research Avenues for Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance, (1861-1952).” Well, Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance is the son of Beverly Vance (1832-1899) and his wife, Matilda Dunlap Vance (1841- ). We searched for Beverly Vance in the voting registrations and found he voted in 1868.

Voter Registrations 1868


First, go to the Abstract of Voter Registrations Reported to the Military Government, 1868. View the Collection Homepage. Richland Library has created an index for Richland County. You will need to choose the county to search by sliding over to it:

I made sure that I had Abbeville County highlighted:
Next, I clicked on that county and election precinct to search it. The election precincts written in cursive on the top right of the page:
Next, I moved down the page and found Vance’s white and colored. The only colored Vance was Vance, Beviler.” That was the way they pronounced his name. We do know that the correct spelling of his name would have been Beverley Vance. I found it used in a Senate testimony. All others refer to him as Beverly Vance or Bev:
Now, it is time for you to try to find family members in 1868. Only men voted during this time period. Make a list of who you would like to search for. Check for family members who voted. Make sure you check the white section for people who may have enslaved your family or hire them as freedmen.
Do you realize that you can piece lost history together? We will show books that have these voters mentioned as for or against the Republican and Democratic parties. These were quite violent times. The Democratic party were the planters who wanted life to go back the way it was during enslavement. The Republicans were made up of all colors who were starved out and shot at to try to get them to give in.
These books were published by the senate, and some were written by people from both sides. Your story might be in the old newspapers telling how a person was killed or put in jail. At any rate, you will be able to add to your story if you find your ancestor among the records.

Sharpen the Saw

Try to find an ancestor among the 1868 voters in SC. Be sure to record the county and election precinct. Are there any other people like family members or plantation owners that you can also identify? Let us know in our Facebook group, and be ready for the next post!

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