This document, an affidavit concerning the free status of Sally, Harriet and Martha who were emancipated by Stephen Oliver in Charleston, South Carolina in 1819, lists the names and exact birthdates of Martha’s children, and Harriet’s children and grandchildren.
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The State of South Carolina
City & District of Charleston
Personally appeared before me, William H. Inglesby who affirmed according to his religious belief, that he was personally present on the 25th February 1819, and saw Stephen Oliver duly execute a Deed of manumission according to the provision of an Act of Assembly entitled “An Act respecting slaves, Free negroes, Mulattoes and Mestizoes, for enforcing the more punctual performance of Patrol duty, and to impose certain restrictions on the emancipation of Slaves” and passed on the 20th Dec 1800, by and in which deed of manumission, the said Stephen Oliver “emancipated & set free from Slavery and bondage three female slaves viz Sally, a black girl then aged ten years, ten months & twenty five days, Harriet, a mulatto then aged five years ten months and eight days, and Martha, a Mulatto then aged two years, one month and twenty days – as will all appear, reference being had to the Office of Clerk of Court of Common Pleas for Charleston District aforesaid Manumission Book No. 5, pages 198 & 199.
This Deponent further affirms that from reliable Sources, and from the best of his knowledge and belief, the said Harriet has now alive the following named children born of her that is to say: Charles born on 11 September 1837 Mary born December 8th 1839, Eleanor born November 20, 1842 Samuel born November 2nd 1844 – and Sarah born 18 Aug 1846.
That Mary, daughter of the said Harriet has had born of her the following named children: Joseph Tolle, born 6th March 1856, Sarah Tolle, born 5th Nov 1857, Eleanor Tolle, born 8 October 1859, and Samuel Tolle, born 18th Aug 1861.
This Deponent further affirms, to the best of his knowledge and belief that the said Martha, who was manumitted contemporaneously with Sally and Harriet, as aforesaid has had since the period of manumission born of her the following named children, that is to say: Frederick Marshal, born on [blank] 1838 Thomas Williams, born on [blank] 1844, and James Williams, born on 7th April 1846. All which said children of Harriet, Mary and Martha; also Harriet, Mary and Martha themselves are alive at this time; as is also Sally, who was manumitted with Harriet and Martha.
Affirmed to before me this 27 March 1862.
James A. Duffus.
Notary Public & ex off Magt.
Wm. H. Inglesby
Recorded 26 March 1862.
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 Sally, Harriet and Martha, Emancipated by Stephen Oliver in 1819. Miscellaneous records, 1771-1868, v. 6K 1860-1868, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLV-LL2D?i=116&cat=476811, frame 117 of 351, accessed 12 Sep 2017.