Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Civil War and Refugeeing in Texas

At the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Texas had nearly two hundred thousand slaves. For the next four years, the fate of the Peculiar Institute would be settled on the battlefield across the South. Of all the states in the Confederacy, Texas suffered the least from military invasion or destruction of property. Thus the institution of chattel slavery remained undisturbed.

For this reason, the state was seen as a haven for safeguarding slavery through a system called “refugeeing.” Refugeeing was the movement of slave owners and their entire enslaved population to remote places in their state, other states and even other countries. Louisiana provided most of the owners who brought or sent their slaves to Texas, followed by Arkansas and Missouri. Some slaves came from as far away as Mississippi and Tennessee. Texas became a prime location because it was assumed that slavery would continue to exist in the event of a Confederate defeat.

The victory of Ulysses S Grant’s at Shiloh in the spring of 1862 and the subsequent surrender of New Orleans, along with the ensuing movement of the Union forces up the Mississippi River, dramatically increased the number of refugees into Texas. Charles Gear and Randolph Campbell estimate that between 38,000-50,000 slaves were transported into the state during the Civil War.

This phenomenon of refugeeing, like all movements of slaves, disrupted some families. It also carried additional burdens of servitude since chattel slavery would not be abolished in Texas until 19 June 1865.

As a genealogist conducting slave era research in Texas, refugeeing pose unique challenges in trying to identify the last slave owner of my great great great grandfather Isaac Haynes. The common method of identifying the slave owner is to locate one’s ancestor(s) in the 1870 Federal Population Schedules and then try to locate all white landowners listed in close proximity to one's enslaved ancestor. The next step would be to locate the identified landowners in the 1860 Federal Population Schedules and Slave Schedules for the same county. However my ancestor arrived in Texas during the Civil War in 1862 as a part of refugeeing. In addition, I am unaware of which state he migrated from prior to arriving in Texas. Thus examining the 1860 Population and Slave Schedules will not be applicable yet.

Instead research of Leon County records in particular tax and deed records will need to be conducted. Tax records will need to be examined to identify individuals who paid taxes on slaves and show up after 1862. This will help me to identify potential individuals. This list of identified individuals will then need to be located in the 1870 Federal Census Population Schedule for Leon County. Deed records will also need to be examine as a cross reference with the information I will gather from the tax rolls and 1870 census. Only after examining these records will I be able to identify a potential slave owner and prior residence for my great great great grandfather Isaac Haynes.