I’m pretty sure this site was brought to my attention in a presentation by Tony Burroughs at FGS2011.
One of the sites I recommended in my WMGS presentation on African American research was the Digital Library on American Slavery, a joint project between the Race and Slavery Petitions Project and the Electronic Resources and Information Technology Department of University Libraries at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is a searchable database of slaves and slave owners mentioned in petitions presented to legislatures across 15 southern states between 1775 and 1867. The material is searchable by Name (first or last), States, and keywords within the petitions.
I’ve searched a both slave names and owners and I have actually hit on the major landowners that I suspect owned members of my family—like John R. Hampton, who is listed as a defendant in an 1853 Bradley County petition. I tried searching for my 2nd Great Grandfather Sandy York in the hopes that “Sandy” was a rare enough name. As it happens it is relatively common but in the three pages of hits there was only one in the database for Arkansas. I really wanted him to be mine. I mean… look at the information that came with this record!
A whole slave household with owner information and a long list of source documents related to the petition!
It could theoretically have been Sandy—who knows what last name a slave might have taken or been given—but when you have a lead (or, in this case, faint hope) make sure you follow that person out to determine their line and if it might actually overlap with yours.
This turned out to be Sandy Hopkins of Sevier County, AR who still lived in that county at the time of the 1870 Census when I know Sandy York was already settled in Bradley County. Don’t make the mistakes I have seen all over “the Internets”… really test out theories. Don’t just add whatever you find to your tree—study the information and try to verify it.
Oh and if you have any Hopkins relatives in Sevier County, AR, check out to this site soon.