I am speechless. These last couple of days, I have returned to researching more on my own biological side of the family. Prior to then, I was researching my mom’s Italian ancestors from my adoptive side of the family because I just love Italian research and I am working on a biography about my mother’s paternal grandfather.
Well, yesterday, I made some great discoveries on my maternal family. I found marriage certificates and death records confirming names that go way back into slavery. While I have not been able to go beyond that, I know I am getting close to hopefully discovering more parentage or even confirming an origin for a few surnames.
Today, I decided that I was going to try to research my paternal family. I don’t know too much about that side of my family, but I did know that I was beginning to get tired of looking at shrub. My biological father’s tree was beginning to look like a sprouting branch compared to the other side, my biological mother’s tree, which looks like a massive red wood tree – for those who knows trees, that’s tall.
Using my DNA matches and records I had found online, I was able to confirm my earlier findings and trace back 2 generations. When I had found all I could reach, one surname stuck out. I do know why, but it did. Lake. It just doesn’t sound like a slave owner’s last name. I looked around at the 1870 and 1880 US Censuses, which this ancestor appears. No Lakes nearby. But I see a King family. In 1870 this King family is living close by and he’s a farmer. I notice that my Lake, Perry Lake, is a farm laborer. Perhaps my Perry Lake and his family are associated with this King family – George W. King.
I go further back into the records. I find this same George King and his family in the 1860 and 1850 US Census records, and I also find George W. King, himself, in the 1860 and 1850 Slave Schedules. Looking at the number of slaves and their ages that George W. King owns, I approximate the ages based on the records I’ve found for my Lake family members that would have been born during the time that slavery still existed.
For those who do not know, not all slaves kept their slave master’s surname. Also sharecropping was very common for former slaves post the Civil War, and often did this on the lands of their former masters.
Based on my findings, I theorize that my 3rd great-grandfather, Perry Lake, and his family were enslaved by George W. King prior to the Civil War and Emancipation.
This realization is shocking. It brings perspective to such harsh history, but reality. Slavery did occur, and my own ancestors were once enslaved. I’m glad my own people were strong enough and brave enough to survive long enough to have me. I appreciate them. Yet, seeing such a revelation, is still mind blowing and disconcerting. I am glad that I was able to come to this hypothesis, but at the same time, I am saddened.
***Disclaimer: I am not saying that the King family and my Lake family are associated. I am not saying that the King family owned my Lake family. This is simply just a hypothesis and I know that more research needs to be to confirm or disprove this theory. I also know that I may never know. But it puts everything into perspective.