top of page

Finding Our Slaves

Research at the National Archives and Beyond Presentation




If we had a photograph with slave names or knew the locations where they lived - we would know our slave family.  Although I still do not have many pictures of my slave ancestors, I knew a location and have a Spinning Wheel.

One Hundred Seventy-four year old Spinning Wheel helped me find my slave family


Spinning Wheel Led to Paternal Slave

from South Carolina


Tracing the owners of my family's spinning wheel and census led to the estate papers of my GGG grandfather.  The name of his wife and children were listed.  Next, the death certificate of one of their daughters listed her mother's maiden name of Peay.  The family owned property originally owned by the Chestnut and English families per deed records.  An English woman married a Peay. There were Peays living near my family.  Looking at these European Peays, discovered Peay family Wills and Estate papers.  Austin Ford Peay's Will listed only eight out of hundreds of slaves to be emancipated.  Six of these eight slaves were my GGG grandmother and her five children. 



1968 Parents and Grandparents visit with family in Lugoff, South Carolina.  Grandfather's parents were Letty Harris and Athais Simons


1870 Census - Letty (Harris) Simons parents were Holland and Penelope (maiden name unknown at this time) Harris in Kershaw County.  


1870 Estate Papers of Anderson Qualls – listed spinning wheel’s value at $1.00.  Spinning wheel given to my great grandmother, Letty (Harris) Simons.


1850 Census –  Holland Harris' parents were Bolin and Betsy Harris in Kershaw County .  Penelope was the daughter of Anderson and Louisa  Qualls.  The Harris and Qualls family were Free People of Color (FPOC).


1926 Death Certificate – Penelope Harris’ death certificate listed her mother Louisa’s maiden name as Peay. 


1841 Will of Austin Ford Peay filed – listing Louisa and her five children are to be freed. 



I, Austin F. Peay of the District of Fairfield and State aforesaid, calling to mind the uncertainty of life, do make, publish and declare this my last will and testament, in manner and form following, viz.


Item 12. I give and bequeath six eight of my slaves, viz. Amy, Nelly,

Louise & her children: Elizabeth, John, Robin/Robert, George and Sarah

to my son Nicholas Peay in trust that he will as soon as practicable after my decease, procure the emancipation of said slaves; but in case they cannot be emancipated, or in case they would prefer remaining in their present condition, then it is my will that they be allowed to enjoy as much liberty as they do at present.


1840 Census showing a) Bolden Harris family and b) Anderson Qualls and family as FPOCs in Kershaw County.  Austin Ford Peay, slaveholder in Fairfield County.


1830 Census a) Roland/Boland Harris was listed in Kershaw and b) Anderson Qualls and family as FPOCs in Fairfield County as FPOCs.


1830 Census – Austin Ford Peay, slaveholder in Fairfield County.


1823 - Roland/Bolden Harris' Guardianship Petition in American Digital Library on American Slavery (



1830 Census for Four Related FPOC Families

Surnames:  Harrell, Harris (2) & Qualls

Line 4, Anderson Quarles, husband of Louisa as head of household, 1830 Census, Kershaw County, SC.

1830 Census Page 1, Kershaw County, SC.  Line 4 Bolden Harris.  Line 6, Bolden's brother George Harris.

Line 4, Page 2 - 1830 Census for Anderson Quarles

1830 Census, Page 2, Kershaw County, SC.  Line 4, Bolden Harris.  Line 6, George Harris

Death Certificate Led to Maternal Slave Family from Missouri

The death certificate of my maternal grandfather led to diccovering not only my maternal Slave family but the delightful reunion with a living Slave cousin.  Grandfather McQuerry's mother's name was listed in his death certiifcate and the state and city of their birth.  Using census, traced the Ramsey family to 1840.  Then discovered an online book and a living co-author of the book  which and who revealed information about the family and community.  Visited the Missouri State Archives, found four manumission deeds and wills and estate papers from 1861 and 1863.  Attended MAAGI (Mid-Western African American Genealogy Institute) introduced me to a shared cousin connection.  Cemetery records revealed additional family, church members and the community.  Online genealogy post and E-mail connected descendants of former Ramsey Slaves together. Facebook is connecting new, long lost families.

Ramsey Slave Descendants



Reunited after 200 years

Slave Cousins Working Together Again

 Separated Never Again


bottom of page