Dear Ms. Coleman,
Thank you for posting your inquiry on History Hub.
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Population Schedules for the 1870 Census in the Records of the Bureau of the Census (Record Group 29) that may contain information about Jessie/Jessy Gray, the plantation on which he resided, and other information on the names he took. For access to the non-digitized schedules, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
For information about the U.S. Census, see the Census Bureau technical documentation and questionnaires.
You may wish to search Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org for the U.S. Census. There may be a fee for using Ancestry. Instead, check for access at your local library as many library systems subscribe to these sites, making them free for their patrons.
In addition, the FamilySearch Research wiki for Mississippi, United States Genealogy may be helpful.
We hope this information is helpful in your research.
Dear Brittany Coleman.
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
There are many ways to approach genealogical research in the National Archives. Because the records in our custody are maintained in "record groups" that correspond with the Federal agency that created them, it is necessary to identify areas in which your ancestors had contact with the Federal government. The records in the National Archives that are most useful for genealogical research include census records and passenger arrival lists of immigrants. These records usually provide information such as age, country of origin, parents, spouses, etc. In order for us to make a search of these records it is necessary for you to provide names, dates, and places. We are enclosing our pamphlet Using Records in the National Archives for Genealogical Research, along with forms for ordering passenger arrival records and census records.
So far as the case of African Americans in the 19th Century and any possible status as to having been enslaved persons, if you are able to find the persons you are looking for by name on the 1860 Census and earlier, it is a good indicator that they were not enslaved people. Those who were slaves were not listed by name, but only by gender and age on the separate US Census Slave Schedule Form. These were done for 1850 and 1860.
Also, while it has long been believed that the surnames of African Americans who are descended from slavery came from slaveholders, the opposite is also true. Some people took other names because they did not want to be associated at all with the people who had enslaved them.
For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at email@example.com.
Please note that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has suspended reproduction and digitization services until further notice due to COVID-19. Orders will not be serviced until operations can resume safely. Once operations resume, document reproduction requests will be filled in the order in which they were received. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
It is very doubtful that Jessie or Charlotte were born free in Virginia and then enslaved in Mississippi. They would have come to Mississippi either with their owner, when he or she moved from Virginia to Lowndes Co or they were sold and transported to Lowndes Co. There were about 400 individuals (white) in the 1860 census for Lowndes Co MS who were born in Virginia, but one person stood out to me as a possible owner. That was Thomas A. Gray b. 1809 in Virginia. Based on the age of his daughter Sarah, who was born in Virginia 1842 or 1843, he moved from Virginia to Lowndes Co sometime between 1842 and 1849. At the time of the 1860 Slave Schedule, Thomas A. Gray owned 14 slaves (4 in his home in Columbus and 10 on his plantation in the county). One of the males would match Jessie's age and one of the females in the town would have been close to Charlotte's age. Most records on slaves were kept by the individual slave owners, so finding such records is almost impossible.
After the end of the Civil War the US government ordered that local courts in slave owning states register (legalize) the marriage of any freedman that wanted their marriage recognized. This is the marriage certificate for Jesse and
Hi Susannah Thanks for this information. This is really helpful and am very glad you were able to locate. Above it says they paid $200 for the marriage certificate. That seems awfully excessive.
Jesse and his friend did not pay $200, but promised to pay a penalty of that amount if they had given false information about Jesse's and Charlotte's eligibility to marry.
Although this website is about financial penalty bond for marriages in England, it gives a good explanation of the system. 5marriagebonds.pdf (york.ac.uk)