CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE PAST
This carved shell "cameo" was found in the slave quarters of this plantation, and was made by one of the people who lived there. See "Shell Carver's Cabin" for more details.
|The 1870 U.S.
census was the first census to list the personal names of
African Americans prior to that time, slaves were
listed only by age and gender, and occasionally with
other identifiers, such as "mulatto", to
indicate when the census taker assumed that a person was
of "mixed blood". Sometimes the place of birth
was also mentioned in many cases, people who lived
on the Jordan Plantation and other plantations told
census takers that their birthplace was
"Africa", or said that their parents were both
there. (This web site contains a list of Brazoria families with documented
connections to Africa),
After the Civil War ended in 1865, and the slaves were freed, names began to be included on census rolls. Many ex-slaves stayed on the plantations on which they had been enslaved, as sharecroppers and tenant farmers. So, to some degree, the 1870 and 1880 census rolls give us clues about who lived there earlier, and we can assume that no one lived there until the plantation was founded in 1848. Unfortunately, all United States census records for the 1890 census were destroyed in a fire, so there is a 20 year gap in the census records, from the 1880 census to the 1900 census.
We also have voting records from 1868, which list all males of voting age in Brazoria, Texas, including African Americans. In addition, the McNeill family still owns some of the original plantation account books, prepared by the plantations managers and owners, and these offer additional clues about who lived on the plantation until the late 1880s. We have a chart with some of this information on this web site.
At some point in the future we plan to include more copies of those account book records, and copies of census records, on this web site.
For information about how Demography, another anthropological discipline, can be used to help us who lived on the plantation before and after the war, see "Demography and Continuity at the Jordan Plantation", by Kenneth L. Brown.
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‹ Carol McDavid 1998