This is from 11/18/2012.
Hello family! Here is the second family history installment. Feel free to add or ask questions. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!!
The thirteenth amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865 and ratified on December 6, 1865. The 1870 census would be the first time all citizens would be recorded with their full names. One the problems encountered with researching our family has been tracking down relatives before the 1870 census. If your relative did not appear in the 1860 census this was an indication that your ancestor was a slave or in our case they may have been listed under their former master’s name. In the1860 census, there were 488,070 Free People of Color (FPOC), 3,953,761 slaves, and the white population was 27,001,490.
The growth of FPOC population was discouraged in Milledgeville. According to James Bonner’s book Milledgeville, Georgia’s Antebellum Capital there was a tax issued on all FPOC based on age and sex. The tax was anywhere from $6 to $16. Any FPOC wanting to live in Milledgeville permanently was charged $50. There was even a $2 canine tax to be able to own a dog. FPOC had to have a bond of good behavior and certificate of good character to be able to conduct business in town. It appeared that certain washerwomen got special treatment though.
The 1850 census had no record of any of the Bell’s or the Steele’s. By accident did see a familiar name in the 1860 census. I noticed that Jane Brooks on the 1870 census is listed as Jane Gilbert. Remember from the last writing Jane Mitchell, Brooks now Gilbert is the mother of Sarah/Sallie Keen and Laura Annie Mitchell. So she is the grandmother to all the Steele children as well as the Bell Children. (link to how the Bell's and Steele's are related). On the 1860 census Jane Gilbert is listed as a FPOC, occupation washerwomen. In addition also listed is Laura Brooks, washerwomen (Laura Annie Mitchell) under Laura is Edward Brooks 11 months. Edward Brooks is Edward E. Bell born in June 30, 1859. Laura’s next child Warren Charles Bell (my great grandfather) would be born on August 19, 1862. Laura had 4 other children by Warren Bell, which included George G. (1864), Ella N (1867) Annie E. (1870) and Frank (1872). I cannot find Warren Bell Sr. listed anywhere as a FPOC. He is listed on the 1870 census as a waiter in a hotel and in 1880 as a house servant. There is more research on this to follow.
Also listed on the FPOC page is Sarah Brooks seamstress (Sarah/Sallie Keen) with her children Charles Brooks (15 carpenter’s apprentice), Augustus Brooks (age 14), Frank Brooks (age 11), William Brooks (age 9) and Ada J. Brooks (age 6). These of course are the Steele children. The big surprise is the addition of William. I have checked the Dead Book (started in 1869 to record death’s in Milledgeville) and he is not listed. Either he passed away before 1869 or he never took the Steele name. Just another mystery to add to the list.
So why and how did the name Brooks get in the mix? It was commonplace for former slaves to take their previous master’s name or the name of the plantation where they lived. At the time of the 1870 census many former slaves changed their names to reflect their occupation or took their actual father’s name. Keen may be a clue to Sarah's father’s real name, it not substantiated but Laura was supposedly the child of Governor David Mitchell which is why she may have adopted the name of Mitchell. And the Steele children took their father’s name.
I will continue to find out more about Brooks, Bell's and the Steele. I have attached an photo of a tintype photo that Big Mama had in her album. It is not labeled but maybe this is Jane Gilbert, Brooks,Mitchell!!
Happy Thanksgiving! T