3 Replies Latest reply on Jul 13, 2021 11:13 PM by Norm Pritchett

    Seeking meanings to information on 1850 & 1860 Slave Schedules


      I am researching my enslaved ancestors. Why are mulatto slaves listed as "fugitives" on the 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules? What does "fugitive from the state" mean?

        • Re: Seeking meanings to information on 1850 & 1860 Slave Schedules
          Susannah Brooks Pioneer

          Mulatto slaves are not normally listed in the 1850 & 1860 slave schedules as "fugitive from the state".  Without being able to see the schedule you are referencing, I would assume that the slave owner was listing all the slaves that he owned including one or more who had escaped or fled, who happened to be mulatto.

          1 person found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking meanings to information on 1850 & 1860 Slave Schedules
              Norm Pritchett Newbie

              I am excited to discover another person who has seen this in an 1860 slave census.  Muhlenberg County, Kentucky is a research interest of mine and in its 1860 slave census, every single mulatto slave is marked as a fugitive of the state, and every single black slave is not.  That is a statistical impossibility.  More specifically, in that column of the forms, the mulattos are indicated with a number code which census enumerators were authorized to use to refer to private notes.  As I understand it, there was contention back then about the requirement to ask this question, and recording the information in this way served as a compromise.  But why were there markings for mulatto only?


              Prior to coming across this, I had long suspected there was an unknown Underground Railroad operation in that county, mainly from scattered  bits of very circumstantial evidence.  When I encountered this unusual pattern in the slave enumeration, I became convinced my hunch was right, though there was still no hard evidence.  At least, not until a just a few years ago when a local citizen stumbled across a family letter from an individual during that period, who I suspected was part of that UGRR operation.  The letter lacked much detail, as I understand, but it did confirm the existence of a previously unknown Underground Railroad operation in the county.


              --Norm Pritchett

              Lacey, WA

            • Re: Seeking meanings to information on 1850 & 1860 Slave Schedules
              Cara Jensen Tracker

              Dear Ms. Pierce,


              Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


              Column 6 on the 1850 & 1860 U.S. Census Schedule No. 2 - Slave Inhabitants “fugitive from the state” was meant to enumerate “the number of uncaught escaped slaves in the past year”.  For information about the 1850 & 1860 U.S. Census, see the Census Bureau technical documentation and questionnaires as well as the FamilySearch Research wiki for United States Census Slave Schedules.


              We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!


              1 person found this helpful