A Friend of Friends Friday: Manumissions of Sam Snowden’s family, District of Columbia

This post is written as part of the weekly “A Friend of Friends Friday” genealogy blogging meme. Visit the GeneaBloggers shared Google Reader list for additional entries from this and other blogs.

In 1829, two records appear in the manumission register of Anne Arundel County, Maryland:

To all whom it may concern, Be it known, that I Thomas Snowden of Anne Arundel County in the State of Maryland, for divers good causes and considerations me thereunto moving, and also in further consideration of One dollar current money of the United States in hand paid, have released from slavery, liberated, manumitted & set free, & by these presents do hereby release from slavery, liberate, manumit & set free, my negro woman Viney, being of the age of [___] years, the wife of negro Samuel, commonly known by the name of Sam Snowden, of George Town in the District of Columbia, which said negro woman is able to work & gain a sufficient livelihood & maintenance and the aforesaid negro Viney I do hereby declare to be henceforth free, manumitted & discharge from all manner of servitude to me, my executors, administrators or assigns forever. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this ninth day of June 1829.

Thomas Snowden

Signed, Sealed and delivered in presence of Stephen Beard [,] W H Woodfield

On the back of the aforegoing was thus endoresed, to wit:

Received on the day of the date herein before mentioned the sum of one dollar, it being the consideration in full above mentioned.

Thomas Snowden

Witness. Nicholas Dorsey of Lloyd.

Maryland Sct. Anne Arundel County to wit

On the twenty first day of September 1829 personally appeared Thomas Snowden part to the within deed of manumission, before me the subscriber a Justice of the peace for the County aforesaid, and acknowledged the same to be his act & deed for the purpose therein mentioned, and the said negro within named, to be henceforth manumitted and discharged from all services to him, or to any claiming under him, and to be free & manumitted according to the act of assembly in such case made and provided.

Acknowledged before Nicholas Dorsey of Lloyd.

Record the 15th day of October 1829[1]

Followed by this deed:

Whereas I Thomas Snowden of Anne Arundel County in the State of Maryland did heretofore promise & agree to, & with, Saml. Snowden a free black man (the husband of my slave Viney) of George Town in the District of Columbia, to set free & manumit the following Children of the said Saml. and his wife (who I have this day & year hereinafter mentioned, manumitted & set free) To wit, one Girl named Ellen aged about thirteen years one named Pricilla aged about ten years & one Boy named Peter aged about 14 months. In consideration that the said father had ever since their respective births been at the sole expence of supporting, maintaining, & clothing them. And whereas the said Children, by reason of their minority cannot at this time be manumitted, I have agreed with the said Samuel, in order to carry into affect my said agreement as far as in my power to execute these presents. Now know all men by these presents that I the said Thos. Snowden in consideration of the aforesaid premises, and also in further consideration of the sum of five dollars (money of the United States) to me in hand paid by the said Samuel, at & before the sealing and delivering of these presents, the receipt wherof I do hereby acknowledge and also upon the further considerations herein after specified, have granted, bargained & sold, and by these presents do grant, bargain & sell unto the said Samuel his executors, administrators & assigns his said three Children untill the said Girls shall each attain the full age of Sixteen (16) years and untill the said Boy shall attain the age of twenty one (21) years, when they & each of them may be able to work and gain a livelihood and maintenance; at which said respective times it is hereby understood & agreed that the said three Children are to be free and manumitted & discharged from all manner of servitude to the said Thomas & Samuel or either of them or their securities, administrators or assigns – and also this further condition that the said Samuel his executors, administrators or assigns shall during the said respective terms of servitude of the said Children find them comfortable maintenance & clothing – and that the said Samuel may with approbation of the Orphans Court of Washington County of said District of Columbia bind them out to some usefull trade, or occupation for any time not longer than till full age, that is to say the Said Girls to Sixteen (16) years of age, & the Boy to twenty one (21). And also on this further consideration that the said Samuel his securities administrators or assigns shall not send or carry the said Children or either of them out of the County & District aforesaid; And also on this further condition that immediately on the arrival of the said Girls at the said ages of sixteen years, and the Boy at the age of twent yone they & each of them are to be & are hereby released, & liberated, manumitted and set free from all manner of slavery & servitude whatsoever, to the said Thomas & Samuel or either of them, or their securities, administrators or assigns forever. And the said Thomas Snowden for himself his securities & administrators doth hereby further covenant & agree to & with the said Samuel Snowden his securities administrators & assigns, and each of them, that he the said Thomas Snowden, his executors & administrators or any of them shall and will at all times hereafter at the request of the said Samuel Snowden his executors administrators or assigns, at his or their cost & charge make execute or cause to be made executed, delivered & acknowledged all and every such further and other act, deed or assurance, for the better & more perfect conveying and transferring the service of the said three Children during the said term herein before expressed and for the more effectual manumission of the said three Children at the several and respective ages herein before mentioned as the said Samuel Snowden his executors, administrators or assigns shall direct or require for the more effectual transfering and making over the service of the three Children during the several and respective term of years herein before mentioned, and for the manumission of them, & each of them at their arrival at the ages herein before mentioned. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this ninth day of June 1829.

Thomas Snowden

Signed, Sealed and delivered in the presence of Stephen Beard[,] W H Woodfield

On the back of the aforegoing was thus written to wit:

Received on the day of the date above mentioned of the said Samuel Snowden the sum of five dollars being the consideration in full as above mentioned.

Thomas Snowden

Witness. Stephen Beard[,] W H Woodfield

Maryland Sct. Anne Arundel County to wit

On this ninth day of June 1829 personally appeared Thomas Snowden the party to the aforesaid deed, before the subscriber a Justice of the peace for the County aforesaid, and acknowledges the same to be his act and deed for the purposes therein mentioned and intended and that the said three negro Children therein named and thereby bargained and sold for the said terms of years and thereafter to be freed and discharged from all services to him or to any claiming under him according to the act of assembly in such case made & provided.

Acknowledged before

Stephen Beard

Recorded the 16th day of October 1829[2]

These two records provide wonderful insight into this family.

It records a marriage of a free black man with an enslaved woman. This caused great difficulty for their children, as the second record expresses. Though their father was free, the children of enslaved mothers bore the status of their mother, and were thus born into slavery. Furthermore, unlike their mother, the children could not be manumitted as minors. Therefore, in order that Sam Snowden (who the deed notes was financially responsible for their care from the time of their birth) could have legal custody of his children, their owner Thomas Snowden had to sell them to their father under terms of service until they each reached legal adulthood, then to be manumitted. This had to have been belittling.

On the other hand, Thomas Snowden, the owner of Viney and the Snowden children, was not required by law to do such. In fact, during this time the interstate slave trade (the “Second Middle Passage”) witnessed hundreds of thousands of slaves being sold from the Upper South, especially Maryland and Virginia, to the developing “Cotton Belt” states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. Thomas Snowden could have legally sold Samuel’s family to the Deep South to never be seen again. That he did not do this, but actually released Viney and the children into Samuel’s care for barely more than the required clerk’s fees ($1 and $5 for the two deeds, respectively), is almost a credit to Thomas.

Of course, though the 1830 U. S. Census no longer remains extant for Anne Arundel County, the 1840 U. S. Census credits Thomas Snowden of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, as the owner of fourteen (14) slaves. These fourteen people were not as fortunate as the Snowden family. [3]

Samuel Snowden appears in the 1830 U. S. Census living in Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, about a year after these deeds were recorded. In his household were the following:

  • 1 “free colored” male, aged under 10 years
  • 1 “free colored” male, aged 55 to 100 years
  • 2 “free colored” females, aged 10 to 24 years
  • 1 “free colored” female, aged 36 to 55 years[4]

This is exactly the composition of this family as recorded in the above deeds.

Moving backward, we find that Samuel Snowden is also enumerated in Georgetown in the 1820 U. S. Census. This year, the following people resided in his household:

  • 2 female slaves, aged under 14 years
  • 1 female slave, aged 26 to 45 years
  • 1 “free colored” male, aged 26 to 45 years[5]

This shows that, even though his wife and daughters were still enslaved at this point, they indeed lived in his household, rather than that of their legal owner, Thomas Snowden. This was extremely rare during this early time period.

Unfortunately, the family has not been located in any subsequent deeds, so the later lives of Samuel and Viney Snowden and their children are unknown.

SOURCES:

[1] Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Manumission Record, Book C 3, pp. 440-441; Maryland State Archives microfilm no. CR 79178.

[2] Anne Arundel County Manumission Record, C 3: 441-444.

[3] 1840 U. S. Census, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, folio 208, line 13, Thomas Snowden household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 July 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M704, roll 157, FHL microfilm no. 13,182.

[4] 1830 U. S. Census, District of Columbia, folio 182, line 6, Samuel Snowden household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 July 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M19, roll 14, FHL microfilm no. 6,699.

[5] 1820 U. S. Census, District of Columbia, page 27, line 11, Samuel Snowden household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 July 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M33, roll 5.

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “A Friend of Friends Friday: Manumissions of Sam Snowden’s family, District of Columbia,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 23 Jul 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

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