Monday, September 19, 2016

Orphans of Freedmen in Apprentice Records 1866 Jefferson County, Mississippi

"Mississippi Probate Records, 1781-1930," images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), Jefferson > Minutes 1862-1870 > image 184 of 440; county courthouses and public libraries, Mississippi.

My friend and colleague, Annette Bowen found some interesting documents that tell a story of African American children being apprenticed within months of emancipation.  Here is her note to me.

I was looking through Jefferson County Mississippi Probate Court Minutes for the year 1866 and stumbled upon numerous items referring to apprenticing children.  Many of the applications gave the age and birthday.  Most of the children seemed to be "freedmen" so I assume they were children of slaves, newly freed.  Most said they were orphans but a few said their mothers had given approval.  Some specified that they would learn a trade like blacksmith, but most didn't.  Girls were apprenticed to age 18 and boys until age 21.  I don't remember seeing these before and thought you might be interested.  
Indeed I am interested!  Thank you Annette!

Here is one of the URLs that have apprenticeships. You need to be signed in to Family Search for the links to work.

The above URL is in regard to the matter of the apprenticeship of Leonard Hamilton and John W. Martin, Orphans of Freedmen. Here are some key excerpts of the record:

Leonard Hamilton was aged sixteen years on the 31st day of December A.D. 1866 and John W. Martin aged thirteen years on the 31st day of December 1866.    
[Since the day is the same, this does not appear to be a birthday rather it is a statement of their age at the time of apprenticeship.]
H. B. McClure will teach or cause to be taught to each of the said orphans the Blacksmith's trade and that he will at the expiration of terms of Apprenticeship pay to the said Leonard the sum of one hundred dollars and the said John W. the sum of two hundred dollars and pay to each the sum of twenty dollars per year

Matilda Wilkes is also mentioned as the orphan of Freedmen on the same page.

Attempts to locate Leonard Hamilton born about 1850 in Jefferson County, Mississippi in the 1870 census using full name, last name only and first name only were unsuccessful.

Attempts to locate John W. Martin born about 1853 in Jefferson County, Mississippi in the 1870 census using full name, last name only and first name only were also unsuccessful.

H. B. McClure was also not found in Jefferson County, Mississippi in 1870.  But I did find a blacksmith named James McClure in the 1870 census and on

Birth: May 28, 1822
Death: Nov. 17, 1891
Buried: Fayette Cemetery, Jefferson County Mississippi
Find A Grave Memorial# 46624479
Home in 1870: Township 9, Jefferson, Mississippi Image: 29 of 119

He had apprentices residing with him in 1870 but they were all white.

The above URL mentions the following persons:

Anna Darden to apprentice:

Patsy Bell, 12 years old
Henry Bell, 9 years old
Caroline [no last name] 12 years old

Anna Darden was found in the 1870 census of Jefferson County, Mississippi but the young black people that were listed near her did not have names in the census.
The above URL mentions the following persons:

Mrs. H.M. Griffin to apprentice:
Delia Griffing born Nov 12, 1852
Rose Griffing born June 3, 1858
Addison Griffing born May 29, 1856
Ann Harrison born July 17 1853
Harry Harrison born May 28 1857

Mrs. H.M. Griffing was  found in the 1870 census as follows:

Name: [Mrs.] H M Griffing
Age in 1870: 53
Birth Year: abt 1817
Birthplace: Mississippi
Home in 1870:  Township 9, Jefferson, Mississippi
Race: White
Gender: Female
Post Office: Fayette
Value of real estate: View image
Household Members:
Name Age
John J Griffing 62
H M Griffing 53
Jacob Herring 26
Anna Herring 17

There were several black families listed near the Griffings and the Herrings.  The similarity of the names Herring and Harrington are notable.

There is an eighteen year old black male named Addison Bruin? on line 27 of the previous page of the census.

I have heard of this apprenticeship process occurring in other localities.  This could be a great opportunity to uncover more buried records on African Americans in the reconstruction period.

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