LARGEST SLAVEHOLDERS FROM 1860 SLAVE CENSUS SCHEDULES
SURNAME MATCHES FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS ON 1870 CENSUS
Transcribed by Tom Blake, May 2003
PURPOSE. Published information giving names of slaveholders and numbers of slaves held in
Brazoria County, Texas, in 1860, is either non-existent or not readily available. It is possible to
locate a free person on the Brazoria County, Texas census for 1860 and not know whether that
person was also listed as a slaveholder on the slave census, because published indexes almost
always do not include the slave census.
Those who have found a free ancestor on the 1860 Brazoria County, Texas census can check this
list to learn if their ancestor was one of the larger slaveholders in the County. If the ancestor is
not on this list, the 1860 slave census microfilm can be viewed to find out whether the ancestor
was a holder of a fewer number of slaves or not a slaveholder at all. Whether or not the ancestor
is found to have been a slaveholder, a viewing of the slave census will provide an informed sense
of the extent of slavery in the ancestral County, particularly for those who have never viewed a
slave census. An ancestor not shown to hold slaves on the 1860 slave census could have held
slaves on an earlier census, so those films can be checked also. In 1850, the slave census was also
separate from the free census, but in earlier years it was a part of the free census.
African American descendants of persons who were enslaved in Brazoria County, Texas in 1860,
if they have an idea of the surname of the slaveholder, can check this list for the surname. If the
surname is found, they can then view the microfilm for the details listed regarding the sex, age and
color of the slaves. If the surname is not on this list, the microfilm can be viewed to see if there
were smaller slaveholders with that surname. To check a master surname list for other States and
Counties, return to Home and Links Page.
The information on surname matches of 1870 African Americans and 1860 slaveholders is
intended merely to provide data for consideration by those seeking to make connections between
slaveholders and former slaves. Particularly in the case of these larger slaveholders, the data
seems to show in general not many freed slaves in 1870 were using the surname of their 1860
slaveholder. However, the data should be checked for the particular surname to see the extent of
The last U.S. census slave schedules were enumerated by County in 1860 and included 393,975
named persons holding 3,950,546 unnamed slaves, or an average of about ten slaves per holder.
The actual number of slaveholders may be slightly lower because some large holders held slaves in
more than one County and they would have been counted as a separate slaveholder in each
County. Excluding slaves, the 1860 U.S. population was 27,167,529, with about 1 in 70 being a
slaveholder. It is estimated by this transcriber that in 1860, slaveholders of 200 or more slaves,
while constituting less than 1 % of the total number of U.S. slaveholders, or 1 out of 7,000 free
persons, held 20-30% of the total number of slaves in the U.S. The process of publication of
slaveholder names beginning with larger slaveholders will enable naming of the holders of the
most slaves with the least amount of transcription work.
SOURCES. The 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedules for Brazoria County, Texas (NARA
microfilm series M653, Roll 1309) reportedly includes a total of 5,110 slaves. This transcription
includes 72 slaveholders who held 20 or more slaves in Brazoria County, accounting for 3,950
slaves, or about 77% of the County total. The rest of the slaves in the County were held by a
total of 160 slaveholders, and those slaveholders have not been included here. Due to variable
film quality, handwriting interpretation questions and inconsistent counting and page numbering
methods used by the census enumerators, interested researchers should view the source film
personally to verify or modify the information in this transcription for their own purposes. Census
data for 1860 was obtained from the Historical United States Census Data Browser, which is a
very detailed, searchable and highly recommended database that can found at
http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/census/ . Census data on African Americans in the 1870 census was
obtained using Heritage Quest’s CD “African-Americans in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census”,
available through Heritage Quest at http://www.heritagequest.com/ .
FORMAT. This transcription lists the names of those largest slaveholders in the County, the
number of slaves they held in the County and the first census page on which they were listed. [At
the time of this transcription, the census images online through Ancestry.com include the first four
pages of this 1860 slave schedule under Brazoria and the balance of the Brazoria schedule under
Brazos County.] The page numbers used are the rubber stamped numbers in the upper right
corner of every set of two pages, with the previous stamped number and a “B” being used to
designate the pages without a stamped number. Following the holder list is a separate list of the
surnames of the holders with information on numbers of African Americans on the 1870 census
who were enumerated with the same surname. The term “County” is used to describe the main
subdivisions of the State by which the census was enumerated.
TERMINOLOGY. Though the census schedules speak in terms of “slave owners”, the
transcriber has chosen to use the term “slaveholder” rather than “slave owner”, so that questions
of justice and legality of claims of ownership need not be addressed in this transcription. Racially
related terms such as African American, black, mulatto and colored are used as in the source or at
the time of the source, with African American being used otherwise. The term “County” is used
to describe the main subdivisions of the State by which the census was enumerated.
PLANTATION NAMES. Plantation names were not shown on the census. Using plantation
names to locate ancestors can be difficult because the name of a plantation may have been
changed through the years and because the sizeable number of large farms must have resulted in
lots of duplication of plantation names. In Texas in 1860 there were 87 farms of 1,000 acres or
more, the largest size category enumerated in the census, another 468 farms of 500-999 acres,
and 6,831 farms from 100 to 499 acres in size. Linking names of plantations in this County with
the names of the large holders on this list should not be a difficult research task, but it is beyond
the scope of this transcription.
FORMER SLAVES. The 1860 U.S. Census was the last U.S. census showing slaves and
slaveholders. Slaves were enumerated in 1860 without giving their names, only their sex and age
and indication of any handicaps, such as deaf or blind Slaves 100 years of age or older were
supposed to be named on the 1860 slave schedule, but there were only 1,570 slaves of such age
enumerated, out of a total of 3,950,546 slaves, and the transcriber, though not specifically looking
for such named slaves, did notice the following named slaves: 100 year old female black Rose[?]
held by S. S. Perry on page 105; 100 female black Betsy held as the only slave of Elias Brigance
on page 106; and 102 male black John held by the Mann Estate on page 125B. Freed slaves, if
listed in the next census, in 1870, would have been reported with their full name, including
surname. Some of these former slaves may have been using the surname of their 1860 slaveholder
at the time of the 1870 census and they may have still been living in the same State or County.
Before presuming an African American was a slave on the 1860 census, the free census for 1860
should be checked, as almost 11% of African Americans were enumerated as free in 1860, with
about half of those living in the southern States. Estimates of the number of former slaves who
used the surname of a former owner in 1870, vary widely and from region to region. If an African
American ancestor with one of these surnames is found on the 1870 census, then making the link
to finding that ancestor as a slave requires advanced research techniques involving all obtainable
records of the holder.
MIGRATION OF FORMER SLAVES: According to U.S. Census data, the 1860 Brazoria
County population included 2,027 whites, 6 “free colored” and 5,110 slaves. By the 1870 census,
the white population had decreased about 12% to 1,791, while the “colored” population had
increased about 12% to 5,736. (As a side note, by 1960, 100 years later, the County was listed
as having 67,054 whites, about 34 times more than in 1860, while the 1960 total of 9,073
“Negroes”was not quite twice more than what the colored population had been 100 years before.)
In comparing census data for the years indicated, the transcriber was not aware of any relevant
changes in county boundaries.
Where did the Brazoria County freed slaves go if they did not stay in the County? Between 1860
and 1870, the Texas colored population increased by about 70,000, a gain of approximately 38%.
Some Texas Counties posting increases of about 15,00 to 4,500 colored persons from 1860 to
1870 were: Austin, Bastrop, Fayette, Fort Bend, Grimes, Harris, Smith, Walker and Washington.
Other states that saw significant increases in colored population during that time included the
following: Georgia, up 80,000 (17%); Florida, up 29,000 (46%); Alabama, up 37,000 (8%);
North Carolina, up 31,000 (8%); Ohio, up 26,000 (70%); Indiana, up 25,000 (127%); and Kansas
up from 265 to 17,000 (6,400%).