SC African American Resources

South Carolina Dept of Archives & History...database search

South Carolina Dept of Archives & History

Richland County Library...Obituary Index

This database contains obituary and death notice information from the Columbia, SC newspapers:

The State (1892-1923, Jan-Jun 1924, 1925-1927, 1950-1951,1958-1963, Jan-Aug 1964, 1965-1969)

The Palmetto Leader (1925-1928, 1930, January-April 1931); Columbia's foremost African American paper

Obituary Index to The State for World War II servicemen killed in action (1941-1949)

SC Death Index on line

1915 - 1956

1868 Voter Registrations:

The 1868 Voter registration is arranged by county, then by registration precinct and then alphabetically by polling precinct. Names are listed alphabetically by the first letter of the surname, with whites and African Americans grouped separately. The registrations are unindexed. In 1868 many of your ancestors participated in the political aspects of South Carolina. The South Carolina General Assembly during reconstruction, consisted of several African Americans, of which a picture of them is available in the SC Archives picture file.

Blacks voted and participated in public life. It was not until 1723 that blacks were denied the right to vote in Virginia. Blacks also voted in North Carolina until 1715, in South Carolina until 1701, and in Georgia until 1754. After emancipation they regained that right. State Archives and some states have them on microfilm

Benjamin F. Randolph was a Methodist minister and Reconstruction era Republican Legislator. In 1868, resentful whites began gunning for blacks who attempted to campaign for public office. While seeking re-election, Randolph was warned to stay out of Abbeville County, but he rode the rails into Abbeville on October 16, 1868. As he emerged from the train, in Hodges Depot, he was ambushed by three white men and killed.

In 1871 Nineteen Black, men founded the Randolph Cemetery as a memorial to fellow African American Benjamin F. Randolph, whose monument towers over 6 feet and greets you as you enter this place. Randolph Cemetery is a Historical Cultural Treasure of National Significance. It holds the remains of nine SC Black Legislators from the Reconstruction Era. Charles M. Wilder, first black Postmaster of Columbia, Henry Cardoza, Fabriel Myers, William B, Nash, R. J. Palmer, William H. Simmons, Samuel Thompson, and Lucious Winbush.

1869 State census:

The 1869 State census is another record of value. The State census names only the HOH and list the other occupants by age. They are unindexed. The SCDAH has the schedules for all Counties except Oconee and Spartanburg. In their circular they state that they do not have Clarendon County, however, I have had this microfilmed and Clarendon County, if not the entire County, is indeed there.

1875 State Census:

The 1875 State Census is another record of importance. The SDAH has this in the original book form. This too was microfilmed. A copy for the general public was placed in the open files, but it has vanished. It can be requested at the SCDAH reference desk for the asking. This too is unindexed. The SCDAH has all schedules for Clarendon, Oconee, Newberry and Marlboro counties, and partial schedules for Abbeville, Beaufort, Fairfield, Lancaster and Sumter counties.

South Carolina Resources That Should Not Be Overlooked:

1869 Militia Enrollments:

These volumes list males between the ages of 18 and 45. They are arranged first by county and then by township within each county. Names are arranged alphabetically by the first letter of the surname and are listed under the townships. Given are the age, occupation, residence and race. It is unindexed.

The Freedmen Bureau was in existence from 1865-1872. Newly freed slaves had no tools they had no shelter, they had no cooking utensils. The temporary solution to this problem, approved by Congress March 3 1865 was the Freedmen Bureau. The first Welfare Agency. It was the Urban League, WPA, CIO, and the NAACP. It gave medical aid to some one million freedmen, established hospitals, social agencies and distributed over twenty one million rations, many of them to poverty stricken whites, it established day schools, night schools, institutes and colleges. The State of South Carolina forbade any freedman to follow any occupation except farming and menial service and required a special license to do other work. The National Archives houses these records. For a history of the Freedmen's Bureau click below

NARA...Freedmen's Bureau

Indexes to Deposition Ledgers in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company 1865-1874 List the names of the depositors in 26 branch offices.

Register of Signatures........unindexed...contains signatures of and personal identification data in 29 branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company.

Access to the Records

The Freedman's Bank records are a part of Record Group 101, Records of the Comptroller of the Currency. Because of the bank's close association with the Freedmen's Bureau, researchers often confuse these records with those of the bureau, which is a separate body of records, Record Group 105. The microfilm collection of the Freedman's Bank records are available in the National Archives buildings in Washington, D.C., and College Park, Maryland. The unfilmed records are available only at College Park. Send written inquires regarding these records to the Textual Reference Branch, National Archives at College Park, MD 20740-6001. Some of the regional records services facilities may also have copies of the microfilmed records; however, researchers should contact the nearest region for information concerning their availability.


Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands National Archives

Freedmens Bureau On-Line

Freedmen's Bureau Records on-line South Carolina

Reports and Issuances

Civil War Soldier & Sailors System

and their Civil War Records on-line through the National Parks Service

A brief history by Bennie J. McRae, Jr.United States ColoredTroops

SC 1st USCT Vol. Inf.

Tax Returns/Record Books:

The records are arranged by county or parish. Names are listed alphabetically by the first letter of the surname. The abbreviation "PC", which stood for persons of color follows the names of African American and mulattoes. For a listing of the returns that survived, consult the SCDAH reference desk.

1865 Comptroller General’s 1865 Capitation and Dog Tax Book:

If your Ancestors were in Sumter this record list the freedmen together under the name of the employer on whose farm they may have worked on and list their residence. Sometimes, only the firstname of the freedmen is listed.

Birth & Death Records: SC- Death Index at the SDAH 1915 - 1949

Most birth and death records were required at one specified time, however, there were no restrictions regulating that they had to be registered. Many birth and deaths went unregistered well into the 1930's and 1940's.

Birth Certificates:

The State of SC began keeping birth certificates on January 1, 1915. The SCDAH has a bundle of 1940 Cherokee County birth certificates and an index to Barnwell County births from 1915 to 1958. Birth Certificates are kept at the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201

Death Certificates:

The State of SC began keeping death certificates on January 1, 1915. By law, the public cannot research a death certificate until it is at least 50 years old. The SCDAH only holds those certificates from 1915 through the year before the 50 year restriction. Death Certificates for all years are kept at the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201


South Carolina began keeping marriage licenses on July 1, 1911. Marriages did not have to take place in the county of residency. Some states have the marriages on microfilm, while other states have only the marriage books. Many of the original books are still in the county probate offices. The SCDAH has marriage records for two cities: Aiken, 1909 - 1910, and Charleston, 1877 - 1887. They also have records for 11 counties.

Established Marriages:

Marriages that took place before records were kept can sometimes be found in what is known as Established Marriage Books. Be sure to consult these books for your ancestors that wanted it to be known that they were married.


Southern Divorce records filed by women, often named slave women as the cause; Miscegenation. "Climbing the back fences". Charles L. Blockson, Black Genealogy.

Before 1869, divorce was unheard of. Between 1868 - 1878, when a legislative statue again banned divorce, one could be granted in the court of common pleas. Divorce became legal in the state of SC in 1950.

The Dept. of Archives and History, SC, has Marriage and Divorce records from Beaufort and Charleston 1866-1868, and a few Divorce records from Spartanburg Divorce Proceedings, 1869-1871, 1877-1878; and Union County Index to Divorces, 1962-1967.


Petitions were filed by whites because of the extensive mixing between Indian tribes and blacks, the tribes could no longer be considered pure. Look for these petitions and your ancestors.

Judgment rolls,,,court of common pleas.

South Carolina Guardianship papers: The SC law of 1822 prohibited free persons of color from returning to the state once they had left. It also required every free male of color, over the age of fifteen to obtain a white guardian, who was to appear before the county clerk to attest to the good character and habits and to accept guardianship. The SCDAH has a few of these records for Anderson, Chester, Fairfield, Greenville, Kershaw, Lexington, Marlboro, Pendleton, Pickens and Union. I have compiled the Free Blacks and their Guardians of Sumter County.

Plantation records: Public & Private

Public: Agricultural and slave census, deeds of conveyance and plats, wills and inventories of estates and equity court cases


The two major repositories that hold these records are the South Carolinian Library in Columbia and the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston. Private records often hold the personal diary of the planter, memoranda books, records of crops and weather medical and other information about the slaves on the plantation. Possibly some information on selective breeding; when women were given incentives to produce children for the slaveowners (additional slave labor); sometimes done with the promise of freedom after a certain number were produced.

The Colored National Labor Union has preserved many sharecropping records for the years 1869-1874, housed at the National Archives and the Library of Congress

Civic, Social and Fraternal Organizations:

The Brown Fellowship Society, restricted to Mulattos. Membership was limited to 50.

When successful Charleston free blacks found themselves barred from the exclusive Brown Fellowship Society, they organized the Humane Brotherhood Society and limited its membership to "Free Dark Men". 35 members. Consult, Browning, Beginnings of Insurance Enterprise Among Negroes, pp 422-8, to learn more about these organizations.

Church Records:

Slaves were required to attend the church of their masters, they were placed in the galley for two reasons, they could sing, and if they were in church they could not run away.

St. Marks, in Sumter county, had a number of slaves members. In the church records of St. Marks Church, this is noted on page 49: Confirmation Feb 25, 1854 at St Marks Chapel servants of Gov. Richardson : Lewis, Lucretia. May 4 at St Marks Chapel servants of Gov. J. P. Richardson: Abram, Pool, Wartee, Ned, Delia, Edinboro, Brass, Phyllis, Lucien, Wilson, Bella, William, Amelia, Vicy, Lecricia. May 4 at St James Chapel servants of J. B. Richardson: William, Lucy, Jenny, William (Big), servants of Tho. C. Richardson: Job, Nora, Edmund. Communicants of St Marks Clarendon 1855 colored: Belonging to Hon. J. P. Richardson: Abraham, Mary....A’s wife, died April 12 1856, Lucien, Cretia... L’s, Louis, Communicants St Mark’s 1855 colored belonging to R. C. Richardson: Harriet, Fanny, Edmond. July 1856 belonging to J. P. Richardson, Pool, Adele, Wastee, Amelia, Phillis, Lenah, Nancy, Vicy, Lue, Delia. The last entry for colored reads: Colored Bacchus. (names in boldtype are my ancestors)

"The foregoing list of Colored Communicants is the record of the time when the Church could preach the Gospel to servants in it’s integrity, teaching obedience and faithfulness to their Masters. Now in 1865 the work of the Church among the Blacks seems closed, and for the present at least, is here. B. E. Habersham"

These slaves are listed in the marriage, death and confirmation records along with their masters. Although slaves marriages were not recognized as lasting relationships, slaves were afforded the opportunity to hold the ceremony. If a slave marriage was officiated by a white minister or preacher, the statement, "what God has joined together let no man put asunder", was left out of the text.

Special Census Schedules 1890 Union Veterans and Widows: Since African American made up the majority of South Carolinians who served in the Union Army during the civil war, this census is of special value to African American genealogists.

County Records: Estate\Probate records, Will books, Inventory, Appraisements and Sale books

Conveyance books: County

Conveyance books record the transfer of real property, deeds of gift for personal property and sometimes mortgages

Manumission Books: County

Barnwell Manumission books 1803-1845

Charleston County Index to Manumissions (A-D), 1801-1848 not extant

Magistrates and Freeholders Court Records:

Heard criminal cases involving slaves and free people of color.

Magistrates and Freeholders Court records are available for Anderson 1829-1865, Camden 1793-1795, Clarendon 1863-1865, Fairfield 1839-1865, Greenville 1852-1854, Kershaw 1802-1861, Laurens 1808-1865, Marlboro 1840-1851, Pendleton 1819-1828, Pickens 1829-1862, Richland 1847-1850, Spartanburg 1807-1865, Sumter 1853-1865, Union 1816-1865 and York 1862.

Secretary of the Province and Secretary of State Misc. Records, Mortgages, and Marriages Settlement Records Series 1729-1865:

These records are legal documents-mortgages, bills of sale, manumissions, certificates of free status, deeds of trust, and marriage settlements. These records were recorded in the offices of the Secretary of the Province and the Secretary of the State. Alphabetical indexes to these records are available, listed under the Slaveowner.

FHC (LDS) films on BILL of SALES of NEGROES (SC)

1799 - # 23439 23451

SC Mortgage Records...primarily, mortgages of see information on this forgotten resource click below

South Carolina Mortgage

Warrants for land, list the slaveowners and their slaves:

Warrants for lands in South Carolina...1692-1711 4 see the names of the slaves listed in this resource click below

South Carolina Warrants for Land

South Carolina Memorials (Registration of Land Grants) 3 Fiche FHC and SCDAH

List slaves that were brought to the Americas under the headright system which gave 50 acres to the registrant. SCDAH

Coroners Inquisitions:

Coroners Inquisitions did not survive for all counties. I have had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time extracting all the data from over 750 inquest dating from 1858 up to the 1940's, of the box from Clarendon County, containing information that you cannot find on a death certificate, many were before death records. Testimony from witnesses may have been family, friends, or even neighbors, with all kinds of information, the jury of inquest, were the surrounding neighbors. The SCDAH, also has microfilm from the Clarendon County Coroner’s Book.

Central Registers, Descriptive Roll of Convicts in the Penitentiary, Discharges & Escapes and Prisoners Lost By Death...these records lists the inmates name, occupation..age..height..race...complexion..County..crime..sentence...These records are unindexed. The descriptive rolls are according to penitentiary #, the index to prisoners is alphabetical by the first letter of the lastname and another index is according to the prison #.....SCDAH

Misc. Descriptive Roll of Inmates at SC Penitentiary

Governors papers..applications for the apprehension of convicts, applications for pardons and warrants and rewards....SCDAH

Execution Files:

Includes pictures, family background, physical description, age, height, weight, and death certificate. The amazing thing is that the informant on many of the death certificates, was the individual that was executed. He or she was his own informant......SCDAH

Newspapers are another source of research:

For a listing and to read some old news extracted from SC Newspapers go to

Black News taken from old SC Newspapers

For a listing of Alabama newspapers go to

Alabama Black Newspapers

General Court Sessions of the probate court

South Carolina Negroes is available at the FHC on microfiche 6093941, and at the SCDAH book arena

Slavery in South Carolina FHC on microfiche 6049356, also SCDAH

Black Carolinians in South Carolina FHC on microfiche 6088737, also at the SCDAH book arena. Check SC African American History on-line

SC African American History on-line

Courts of Equity and Common Pleas: The Court of Equity was abolished in 1868. Its function transferred to the court of common pleas. Good source for names of litigates in cases involving sharecropping contracts and lawsuits involving debts. Records from the court of equity also hold information on cases concerning the legal determination of color involving persons of mixed race.

State Government Records often contain information on African Americans before the Civil War. Two of these sources are Memorials and Petitions to the State legislature. These are usually found at the State Archives because they were sent to the Government for special considerations.

Court Records contain genealogical information for African Americans. Federal Court records that are more than 30 years old are sent to the National Archives branch that services the state in which the court is located. Many such records can be found in Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and the Negro, by Helen Tunnicliff Catterall, This is a 5 vol. set that abstracts reported cases from the high courts of the states and counties. Each abstract contains the case name, the volume and page number of the digest in which the case report can be found, and the date of the case, with index:

Vol. 1 Cases from courts of England, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky.

Vol. 2 Cases from courts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee.

Vol. 3 Cases from courts of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana.

Vol 4 Cases from courts of the New England states ( Conn, RI, Mass. Ver. N H, and Maine) Del, MD, NJ, NY, PA. and the District of Columbia.

Vol 5 Cases from courts of states north of the Ohio River (Ark., Cal, Ill, Ind. Iowa, Kansas, Mich., Missouri, Neb, Ohio, Tex, and Wisconsin), Canada and Jamaica.

Land Commission: Was established to give landless freedmen and whites the opportunity to become land owners. These sales are recorded in the deeds and conveyances of the respective counties where the commission tracts of land lay.

Internal Revenue assessment lists for South Carolina, 1864-1866.

On 2 microfilm reels ; 35 mm...Series Information (National Archives microfilm publications ; Microcopy 789) Microfilm of original at the National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, DC. Contents Includes index that references counties to districts and indicates whether the county is represented on reel 1, reel 2, or, both reels. This index is found at the beginning of each reel of film.


Film Area

Districts 1-2 ..................... 1865-1866 ------------ 1578451

Districts 2-3 ..................... 1864-1866 ------------ 1578452


Leonardo, Andrea...Collection of Family files\Leonardo Andrea

51 microfilm rolls film numbers from the FHC start 0954524-0954246, also found at the Caroliniana Library

File no 1-18 Abot-Ardis 0944524

19-45 Armstrong- Batson 0954525

46-63 Baugh-Bettis 0954526

64-84 Bettis-Boyd 0954527

85-106 Boyd-Brownlee 0954528

107-124 Brunson-Caldwell 0954529

125-134 Caldwell-Calhoun 0954530

134-144 Calhoun 0954531

144-159 Calhoun-Caskey 0954532

160-179 Cason-Coachman 0954533

180-196 Coate-Conner 0954534

197-210 Conyers-Craig 0954535

211-234 Creighten-Devlin 0954536

235-252 Dial-Duggan 0954537

253-267 Dundas-Ellis 0954538

268-287 Ellis-Floyd 0954539

288-318 Ford-Gilchrist 0954540

319-343 Guilder-Gore 0954541

344-363 Gowen-Hall 0954542

365-376 Hall-Harper 0954543

377-397 Harria-Hemphill 0954544

398-421 Henderson-Horton 0954545

422-437 Houlditch-Hunt 0954546

438-454 Hotto-Johnson 0954547

455-480 Jones Knox 0954548

481-567 Koch-Lenoir 0954549

508-522 Leonard-Loftis 0954550

523-543 Logan-MsCaskill 0954551

544-558 McClain-McCord 0954552

559-587 McCreary-Magee 0954553

588-604 Major-Meadows 0954554

605-628 Meek-Mishoe 0954555

629-646 Mitchell-Moseley 0954556

647-670 Mouchet-Nuckolls 0954557

671-697 O'Brient-Perry 0954558

698-721 Perryman-Prater 0954559

722-742 Pray-Rees 0954589

743-761 Reily-Rives 0954590

762-783 Robert-Russell 0954591

784-802 Rutherford-Scott 0954592

803-826 Seaborn-Shivers 0954593

827-842 Short-Smith 0954594

843-866 Smith-Stubbs 0954595

867-889 Subbs-Thomas 0954596

890-917 Thomas-Turner 0954597

918-943 Turnipseed-Weathersbe 0954241

944-959 WeathersbeeWhitmire 0954242

960-974 Whittington-Winn 0954243

975-997 Withers-Wyatt 0954244

998-1016 Wyatt 0954245

1017-1029 Wyatt-Zimm 0954246

This collection is special to South Carolina in that Andrea researched surnames in and around SC. Georgia and Alabama. There are some instances where slaves are mentioned along with their owners because of marriage, birth, deaths, freedom, guardianship papers, bequests, etc. Very useful in locating and tracing their white counterparts. FHC, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

The City Directories: Not all Cities and States had them. The National Archives and the FHC have limited City Directories. Many Counties in the South had some years printed independently. They can be found at the State Library and at the County Historical Societies. The Library of Congress should also be consulted, for they have a vast majority of Directories that the National Archives doesn't have. I have found this to be a good source, for most blacks found it prestigious to be listed in the City Directory, but found the Federal Census more like an invasion of privacy. City Directories before the Civil War included African American residents. The City Directory for Stocton, California, 1865 also notes the former residence of each person, ex: Virgil Campbell (colored) was pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, lived on Commerce Street below Washington, and came from Arkansas.

Find your ancestors in the colored pages!





Last Update: 10/2008
Web Author: EE Vaughn
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