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African American Research in Trinity County

Introduction

I hope to add more history and family information to this page, as it is an on-going research project.  I am also collecting Trinity County African American family genealogy and if you have information, photos or stories you wish to share please contact me at tchcmuseum@windstream.net.  Please feel free to contact me for further information. 

Say My Name page is dedicated to African American's that I have researched.  You'll find family group sheets, and other biographical materials.  It is a work in progress and I hope to add many more to the site.  If you wish to include your African American Trinity County family on this site, please contact me at tchcmuseum@windstream.net 

Brief African American History in Trinity County

It is clear in our county's history that African American's were here in Trinity County as early as the 1840's, and possibly the late 1830's, as southern state plantation owners began migrating to this area.  In that time, this area was a part of Houston County.  Trinity became a county in 1850, the residents in the area of Trinity County at the time of enumeration were enumerated in the 1850 US Federal Census for Houston County.  The 1850 Slave Schedule was also enumerated in Houston County.  Later in 1860, Trinity County’s Slave Schedule was enumerated in Trinity County, showing a total of 136 Slave Owners and 955 slaves. 

Early white settlers came to the area and settled around the Alabama Creek area and the first County Seat, Sumpter, was located just south of that creek.  Many of the slave owners listed in the 1860 Slave Schedule lived in this area, others settled a bit further north in the area now known as Apple Springs and many more through out the rest of Trinity County. 

A slave owner named F.B. (Franklin Bolivar) Sublett, established his plantation on thousands of acres on the Trinity River bottom, located between the now city of Trinity and the Trinity River on the Elijah Roberts Survey.  He is noted to have one of the largest number of slaves in the county (117) and in the state of Texas at that time.  The Sublett's arrived in Texas in the early 1820's, first settling in San Augustine County.  Franklin Bolivar Sublett and his mother, Ester J. Sublett and younger brothers, Philip A. and Henry W. appear in the 1860 US Census for Trinity County.  Ester Sublett and sons are also shown in the 1860 US Census for San Augustine County and Ester is shown on the 1860 San Augustine County Slave Schedule (pages 18-19) as owning 46 slaves in that county.  The Sublett plantation here in Trinity is thought to have been established in the 1850's after Ester Sublett inherited the property from her father Elijah Roberts.  Franklin B. Sublett died in about 1867 and after his death his younger brother, Philip A. Sublett (Jr.) took over the plantation operations until his death in about 1873.  Other plantations were established around the Pennington area and various places that were conducive to agriculture. 

Another large slave owner enumerated in the 1860 Trinity County Slave Schedule was J. T. Evans.  In the book, A History of Trinity County, Texas, 1827 to 1928, by Flora G. Bowles, beginning on page 23, she writes about the J.T. Evans plantation. This book is available online through The Portal to Texas History website:

 http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth61097/m1/1/?q=History%20of%20Trinity%20County%20Texas

In the 1870 US Federal Census, there were 3 districts enumerated; Sumpter, Pennington and Trinity County.  At that time there were 41 blacks enumerated in Sumpter, 11 in Pennington District and the remaining 1017 in Trinity County. 

Emancipation in Texas became law on June 19, 1865.  Soon after small communities of blacks began to develop.  Nigton, which is located within a few miles of Apple Springs was one of the first and largest African American communities to be established by the former slaves.  This land was in close proximity to several of the slave owners as they were listed in the 1860 Slave Schedule and 1860 US Census.  Many black families were beginning small farms, purchasing property, and or working for the white farmers which were probably previous owners.  Another area close to Nigton was known as Lacy, named after the Lacy's who began farming in the area.  You'll find most of the African Americans who lived in this broad area enumerated on pages 26-30 (approx) in the 1870 Trinity County Census. 

Another area where a number of African Americans appeared in the 1870 Census was around the Sublett plantation near Trinity.  You'll find that area enumerated on the census pages 54-60 (approx).

In 1870, when African Americans first appeared on the US Census, Trinity County’s population of Blacks, according to the enumeration, had grown to approximately 1069.  In this enumeration the place of birth was stated and recapped as follows:

 

Total Born in Africa

1

Total Born in Alabama

69

Total Born in Arkansas

29

Total Born in Florida

6

Total Born in Georgia

34

Total Born in Kentucky

11

Total Born in Louisiana

75

Total Born in Maryland

2

Total Born in Mexico

1

Total Born in Mississippi

144

Total Born in Missouri

14

Total Born in North Carolina

31

Total Born in South Carolina

31

Total Born in Tennessee

16

Total Born in Texas

571

Total Born in Virginia

34

Total Black Population in 1870

1069

 

From this chart, a total of 571 (as enumerated) people are stated as being born in Texas, 362 of these people were born in 1865 or earlier.  1870 Index Chart with place of Birth

I have prepared a chart with African Americans indexed alphabetically, showing where found (line and page number) on 1870 US Census.  I provide these references only as a clue to help with your research, and are not necessarily exact. 

1870 US Federal Census African American-Alpha Index   Please note, this page is a big file and may take a minute to upload.

In the1860 Slave Schedule Chart I have included the white owner's place of birth, and wife's place of birth as possible links to further explore .  This Chart shows slaves age, and I have included the approximate year of birth, and how old they would have been in 1870. 

1860 Trinity County Slave Schedule Chart  Please note, this page is a big file and may take a minute to upload.

African Americans were included in Trinity County Marriage Records, which begin here in 1876.  

The lumber business came to Trinity County in the early 1880's and many able bodied black men began working for the mills and in the logging fronts, and other occupations as farmers, laborers, draymen, barbers and blacksmiths.  New mill communities began to develop in Groveton, Willard, and Trinity, Westville, Friday, and Josserand during that time. 

Black cemeteries may be found on our Trinity County Cemetery page:  http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txtrinit/cemetery/cemindex.htm

Updated 11 June 2014 /skw