While looking through the 1894 very fragile copy of The Freeman, I came across a column called Lost Relatives. There were many columns like this after the Civil War where people wrote hoping to find family members – mothers, brothers, sisters, children – that were sold away to other plantations. This column was written 29 years after the war and people were still hoping to find their loved ones. It must have been amazing to find your mother looking for you when you never expected to see her again. When you didn’t know if she was dead or alive. The emotions I feel finding my long dead ancestors in wills and census charts, pales by comparison. Click to enlarge.
For more information about the Lost! newspaper items, go to this link Lost! African American Search Notices After Slavery.
35 thoughts on “I have not seen him since the war”
Oh, Kristin…I am barely breathing; this is an amazingly powerful post you’ve given us today! I do not have words for this…
I almost didn’t do it because I couldn’t think of anything for the Sepia Saturday prompt. Then I remembered the masthead and while copying it, I saw the notices. It’s been here for years and I don’t remember reading those before.
How poignant these postings are. The very words ‘belonged to’ stir the soul.
I heard a song once, on youtube, it was about a mother during the Civil War who finds her son Henry. I wanted to add it to the page. Unfortunately I didn’t write down the name and all my googling of lyrics is not finding the song. More’s the pity. Would have been perfect.
What a wonderful resource for anyone searching for those families now, 150 years later. I wonder if the newspapers like this one have been indexed anywhere.
Just followed up on my question. Here’s a site to see issues of The Freeman from 1888 to 1915. There are missing issues but quite a lot available. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=FIkAGs9z2eEC
Thank you for the link!
Today I saw this amazing site that relates to what you are working on. http://mappingthefreedmensbureau.com/
The article itself was an amazing find – thanks for sharing!
I’ve had that issue of the newspaper for years and just noticed the notices today as I was copying the masthead.
This post was as heart-warming as it was gut wrenching. I could feel the pain of those searching for long lost relatives. I am left emotionally drained and hurt by this post. As hurtful as it is to imagine the sorrow of those searching for family members, it is also uplifting to know that these searches occurred. Plus, this post gives sources, for those of us looking for the history of our families, that I never knew existed or never thought to use.
Thank you, Kristin.
You’re welcome Arbrie. Let me know if you succeed in finding a relative in your search through notices.
Great info. Thanks for the share!
Yours was a short post focussing on a single image, but so powerful and moving. Thank you for enlightening me.
Sometimes I think less is more.
Thanks so much for all the well written information,, some of which was new to me. The link to the Freedman Newspaper was noted. I will review as I have time. Thanks again!
It makes me wonder if any of my people wrote notices looking for those they had been seperated from.
Those notices must have been very useful for actually finding relatives back then, as well as useful for genealogists now.
I wonder if they were. So many of those looking or lost would have been unable to read or write.
Very powerful! Thanks so much for sharing this. I agree that sometime less is more.
Those are some very powerful and serious ads!
So moving! I just hope at least some of those people were successful in finding those long-lost family members.
It gave me a shiver! So moving!
Thank you for sharing.
It make me wonder how our people were able to survive so much loss due to the actions of other people.
I wonder about that too. We had to be able to distance ourselves to some extent from what happened or we would have gone stark raving mad.
A powerful bit of ephemera that shares that quality of hope found on the improvised notice boards people put up when searching for family members in catastrophes in our time. I’d found the Google archive on The Freeman before when doing research on musical artists. It is a rich source of names, stories and photos of prominent people otherwise not found in regular newspapers.
The sorrow of still searching after 30 years! I wish I could see a sequel to these ads: “Found Relatives” describing happy reunions. It would bring joy to the reader, not to mention the joy of finding a relative still alive.
I’ve got tears in my eyes after reading your wonderful post, so sad but so powerful.
Both this piece (and your subsequent update post) are quite fascinating and serve to remind us all that trade was not always limited to patent medicines and iron stoves. And this, we should never forget.
Thank you for sharing this clipping. The spare entries speak worlds of pain. By coincidence I am just teaching my introductory U.S. ethnic literature course Charles Chesnutt’s short story, “The Wife of His Youth,” from exactly the same period. After having read these advertisements in The Freeman (how/where did you find that old copy?) the pathos of Liza’s long search is brought home to me much more powerfully, and Mr. Ryder/Sam’s turnaround at the end, along with the response of his whole society, becomes all the more understandable.
I will share this with my students, if I may.
I read “The Wife of His Youth” years ago. I only remember a shadowy story of his dark skinned wife from his slavery days not fitting in with his present life. I don’t remember if she found him or how it happened. I think I will take another look.
Of course you can share it with your students!
My historian friend, Paul Lee, gave me a copy he had when I was researching my family in Indianapolis. My father’s mother’s family was in Indianapolis at that tiime but they didn’t appear in the paper. I don’t remember how he happened to have a copy. Now I’m thinking of my grandmother’s family being there while these were being published.
I just read the story and I hadn’t remembered how it ended. It can be found here http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/maai2/identity/text1/chesnuttyouth.pdf and does go well with the notices.
Thank you for reminding me of the story.
It is interesting that my Grandmother was a Turner in the Murray, Iowa area. The add was for the Des Moines, Iowa area which is north of Murray, and hours drive. It would be interesting to see if I ever got around to do the Turner family tree to see if he was a part of the family.
Let us know if he is.
Heartbreaking to read these ads and wonder how many were successful. The horrors we commit against each other are endless. I also think of those who were in the camps during World War II who lost track of relatives, never knowing if they’d survived. I have seen a few stories where relatives have finally been reunited though they ended up in different parts of the world. I’d like to hope that there were some good results from these ads with some prayers being answered.
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