Welcome to the Restore the Ancestors Project!

This project is a collaboration between Fold3 (Formerly Footnote.com), the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, FamilySearch and Lowcountry Africana, to digitize every surviving estate inventory for Colonial and Charleston South Carolina from 1732 to 1872, as well as selected Bills of Sale for the same period, in a FREE collection.

When the project is complete, the names of more than 30,000 enslaved ancestors from Charleston and surrounding counties will be restored to history in a free online collection, preserved for generations to come.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays from Restore the Ancestors!

To the wonderful volunteers who make the Restore the Ancestors project possible, we wish you very Happy Holidays! We'll be on a brief hiatus until the New Year. We will see you then.

Thank you so much for all you do, from the crew at Restore the Ancestors!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle: Bills of Sale Open New Research Windows for Estate Inventories

The new free Footnote collection SC Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale contains estate inventories which span the years 1732-1872. Through your generosity as volunteers, we have been working since July to index the estate inventories.

The inventories are already opening incredible research windows for discovering enslaved and free South Carolina ancestors.

We have now started indexing the bills of sale in the collection, which span the same years as the estate inventories. Even at a first glance, we are amazed at how they mesh with the estate inventories and provide additional information and leads for further research.

From the Estate Inventory of Lucretia Radcliffe, 1821 indexed by Sandra J. Taliaferro, we learned the names and ages of 277 enslaved ancestors on three plantations in Colleton County, SC.

The bills of sale for enslaved families sold from the estate reveal many more details about the slaves and slaveholders named in the inventory.

  • Remarkably, the bill of sale to Thomas Smith Grimke reveals that the enslaved ancestors he purchased in 1821 were three generations of a single family: "Peter & his wife Sophy and their two children called John & Nancey and their grandchild named Eliza the daughter of Nancy."
  • The estate inventory includes 15 slaves belonging to the estate of Elizabeth Piatt (also rendered Pyatt, Pyeatt). Bills of sale reveal that Lucretia Radcliffe was the Executrix of Piatt's estate. 
  • We learn from bills of sale that Alexander B. Wilson purchased 69 slaves from the estate in 1822, and subsequently sold 69 slaves to Lionel H. Kenedy in 1825. 
  • The bill of sale to Lionel H. Kenedy also suggests that there were family ties among Lucretia Radcliffe and Sophia Shepheard and Alexander B. Wilson (two of the purchasers from Radcliffe's estate), and includes a specific reference to the book and page number of a marriage settlement filed in 1816, 9 years before Kenedy's purchase. 

The estate inventories and bills of sale in this free Footnote collection are each remarkable in their own right, but together they open important windows for further research. And it is your volunteer efforts that are bringing these incredible records into the historical light.

We at the Restore the Ancestors Project thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you are accomplishing, and we know the Ancestors must be smiling.

We wish you a Joyous Holiday Season! 

Please click here to view the Estate Inventory of Lucretia Radcliffe: Almonbury, Cockfield and Harrison's Plantations, 1821.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We Are Thankful for You

This Thanksgiving is very special, we have so much to be thankful for at Restore the Ancestors.

Quite simply, we are thankful for YOU.

For all of you who have come and made this project a success, 10 pages of indexing at a time. 10 pages at a time, you have now indexed more than 4,600 pages. In those pages you have made 184,791 annotations. You have turned this small indexing project into the mouse that roars, and we are sincerely grateful for your contributions.

We are thankful for Angela Y. Walton-Raji and George Geder, our advisory board members who have worked so hard to make this project a reality.

For Cheryl Palmer, our very first volunteer, who patiently and cheerfully worked through startup technical difficulties.

For Carol Wilkerson and Thomas MacEntee, who have poured their hearts into raising awareness of the project.

For Felicia Mathis, who stepped into a leadership role and makes it a point to thank every volunteer claiming their Ancestors badge.

For Alana Thevenet, our Co-Director, who coordinates the overall indexing progress, frets over every new microfilm that's posted for indexing, and blazes through pages like nobody's business.

For Penny Worley, Sheri Fenley and Khalisa Jacobs, who came on Day 1 and have stayed ever since.

For everyone who has come and indexed 10 pages and taken great care with the records.

Ultimately, it's not about pages and annotations, it's about restoring the names of tens of thousands of enslaved ancestors to the historical record.

For the hours and the heart and soul you have poured into restoring the ancestors, we thank you with all our hearts, and we wish you a safe, warm and happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for YOU.  :0)

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Did 50 Badge

Introducing ... the I Did 50 Badge!

Did you index 10 pages of SC Estate Inventories, then decide to stay and index more? We are so very grateful if you did, but until now we have not had a special way to thank you for your contribution. Well now we do! If you have indexed 50 or more pages, you can proudly claim your I Did 50 badge with our sincere gratitude.

Here is another nifty little graphic you can post on your blog or website:

We thank the following volunteers who have indexed 50 pages or more:

Felicia R. Mathis
Fran Ellsworth
Jeanette Williams
Jennifer Stokes
Jessica Keifer
Kristin Williams
Leslie Ann Ballou
Lori English
Sandra J. Taliaferro
Vicky Daviss-Mitchell
Vivian Nicholson
Whitney McKim

Sincere thanks for your contribution,  from the crew at Restore the Ancestors!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Volunteer Discoveries, Week Ending Oct 15

Check out the amazing documents our volunteers discovered this week! Many, many thanks to you, our fabulous volunteers!

Enslaved Ancestors on 4 Plantations of James McPherson, Beaufort, SC, 1834 Indexed by Sandra J. Taliaferro

Slaves in the Estate of William Small, St James Santee, Charleston, SC 1834 Indexed by Sandra J. Taliaferro

106 Slaves in the Estate of Arnoldus Bonneau, Charleston, SC, 1820 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis

206 Slaves in the Estate of James Clark, Edisto Island, SC, 1820 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis

416 Slaves, Estate of Thomas Horry, Charleston and Georgetown, SC, 1820 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis

Slaves in the Estate of Alexander Robert Chisolm, SC and GA, 1827 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis

In these 6 documents, the names of more than 1,000 enslaved ancestors have been restored to the historical record. Thank you San and Felicia!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thank You to These Volunteers Who Finished Their 10!

We are so happy to thank the following volunteers who have finished their 10 and claimed their Ancestors Badges!

Carol (@webduck on Twitter)

Michael Daugherty

Robin Foster (@savingstories on Twitter)

Sandra Taliaferro (@sjtaliaferro on Twitter)

Thomas MacEntee (@geneabloggers on Twitter)

Please wear your Ancestors Badges proudly, with our sincere thanks!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Week's Volunteer Document Discoveries!

Here is a list of documents that YOU (!) our wonderful volunteers, discovered this week! Amazing discoveries just keep coming and all because of YOUR hard work! We cherish your contribution.

You may have noticed Alana's name on many document discoveries. Alana Thevenet is the Co-Director of Lowcountry Africana and the Africana Heritage Project. She now adds Indexing Coordinator Extraordinaire to her list of accomplishments!

Very many thanks to Felicia Mathis, Robin Foster and Khalisa Jacobs for their hard work this week, and their wonderful document discoveries!

This Week's Discoveries:

Slaves at the Chachan Plantation of Francis Cordes, Berkeley, SC, 1856 Indexed by Alana
173 Slaves at Spring Plains Plantation of Francis Cordes, Sumter, SC, 1856 Indexed by Alana
Slaves in the Estate of Mary Price, Charleston, SC, 1855 Indexed by Alana
4 Generations of Slaves on Motte and Broughton Plantations, Berkeley, SC Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis
Sale of Enslaved Ancestors, Estate of Daniel G Joye, Charleston, SC, 1853 Indexed by Robin Foster
Sale of Slaves in the Estate of Robert M. Allen, Charleston, SC, 1840 Indexed by Felicia Mathis
135 Enslaved Ancestors at the White Hall Plantation of Thomas Porcher, 1843 Indexed by Alana
Enslaved Ancestors, Goshen Plantation of Thos Porcher, Berkeley, SC, 1843 Indexed by Alana
306 Slaves in the Estate of John J Pringle, Georgetown, SC, 1843 Indexed by Alana
Slaves at Eldorado and Fannymead Plantations of Mrs. F.M Pinckney, SC, 1843 Indexed by Alana
Slaves at Fairfield and Moreland Plantations of Thos Pinckney, Berkeley, SC Indexed by Khalisa Jacobs
John Carmille of Charleston Seeks to Free His Enslaved Wife & Children Indexed by Alana

Peace and Blessings,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Amazing Volunteer Discovery: 4 Generations of Slaves on Motte and Broughton Family Plantations, 1829-1865

The estate inventory of Mary Motte of Berkeley, SC, taken in 1842, lists the names, family relationships, birth dates and occupations of 84 enslaved ancestors at Farm Plantation in Berkeley, SC. Three generations are represented in this estate inventory.

Two years later, many of the slaves listed in Mary Motte's estate inventory were sold. The sale record lists the names of purchasers and those they purchased. By comparing the estate inventory and the sale record, we can begin to learn the names of those sold from Farm Plantation, and who their subsequent slaveholders were.

Mary Motte's estate inventory refers to "Miss Broughton," who left Mary Motte a lifetime estate in a group of enslaved families. Miss Broughton is likely Miss Charlotte Broughton, Mary Motte's younger sister. Charlotte Broughton's estate inventory, made at Farm Plantation in 1829, appears to list many of the same slaves in Mary Motte's estate. Some are listed with parents, so the entire document trail reveals four generations of slaves on Broughton and Motte family plantations.

We've built a Footnote page for these assembled documents, you may view it here: 4 Generations of Slaves on Motte and Broughton Family Plantations, 1829-1865.

This amazing document trail was discovered by Felicia R. Mathis, when she volunteered to index 10 pages of this free Footnote collection. What will YOU discover in YOUR 10 pages? You can go right here to volunteer to index!

Many thanks and Blessings to Felicia for making this remarkable discovery!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Staying the Course, Keeping the Faith

Greetings Genfriends, Wonderful Volunteers,

We are sure you must have a million questions in the wake of today's announcement that Ancestry.com will acquire iArchives, the parent company of Footnote.com. The announcement came as a bit of a surprise to us as well.

The wonderful folks at Footnote.com have reassured us that nothing will change for this project. Footnote.com will continue to operate as it does now and, blessedly, our collaboration agreement calls for index and images to remain free, not behind a subscription wall.

I do know this - faith and focus brought us this far and will carry us forward. The Ancestors will continue to emerge.

And you can bet that the moment we have further news we will share it right here with YOU, who are the heart, soul and driving force of this project. Your efforts are already having an enormous impact - three descendants have found ancestors because of the incredible work you are doing.

For now, we plan to do exactly what the title of this post says: Keep the Faith and Stay the Course. 

Peace and Blessings,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SC Estate Inventories: Restoring African American History in Burned Counties

[This is the second of a series of posts where we will take an in-depth look at the new FREE Footnote Collection SC Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732-1872. Today we focus on how your hard work in indexing these records is restoring history for SC's burned counties. Here's a link to the first article in case you missed it.]

Researchers seeking African American family history for Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton, Georgetown and Orangeburg Counties in South Carolina face major challenges, as some or all of those counties' Antebellum records were destroyed by fire.

Records for Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton and Orangeburg Counties were evacuated to Columbia for safekeeping during the Civil War, but were burned there in February of 1865 when Union troops passed through that city. Georgetown records were removed to the Chesterfield courthouse but were burned there in March of 1865.

Researchers seeking to reconstruct the slave genealogy of South Carolina's burned counties have had to rely upon plantation journals and church records to reconstruct family history.

Until now, that is. Until YOU! Your volunteer indexing efforts are bringing tremendous new discoveries to light for South Carolina's burned counties, and new document discoveries are emerging every week!

Here are records you, our wonderful volunteers, have discovered for Beaufort and Georgetown Counties so far. If you are researching in burned counties, please be sure to continue checking the Index Page for new discoveries:

Beaufort County:
Slaves in the Estate of William Edings, Beaufort County, SC, 1859 Indexed by Toni
Slaves at Spring Island and Pineland Plantations, Beaufort County, SC, 1859 Indexed by Toni
Slaves at the Clydesdale Plantation of D E Huger, Beaufort, SC, 1855 Indexed by Alana

Colleton County:
Sale, 93 Slaves and 3 Plantations of Alexander England, Colleton, SC, 1850 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis
110 Slaves in the Estate of Eliza Flynn, Colleton County, SC, 1845 Indexed by Toni
1,648 Slaves in the Estate of Nathaniel Heyward, Colleton, SC, 1851 Indexed by Aaron Dorsey

Georgetown County:
Slaves in the Estate of Esther Belin, Sandy Knowe Plantation, Georgetown, SC, 1851 Indexed by Penny Worley
Slaves in the Estate of Samuel Cordes, North Santee, Georgetown, SC, 1858 Indexed by Alana
Slaves at Hopsewee Plantation, Santee River, Georgetown, SC, 1854 Indexed by Alana
Slaves at the White Oak and Ogilvie Plantations of Joseph Manigault, Georgetown, SC, 1844
Slaves at Indian Field Plantation, South Santee, Georgetown Co., SC, 1863 Indexed by Alana
117 Slaves in the Estate of William McKenzie Parker, Georgetown, SC, 1861 Indexed by Toni
Slaves in the Estate of Eliza Pinckney, Santee, Georgetown County, SC, 1863 Indexed by Toni
141 Slaves in the Estate of Robert Pringle, Georgetown, SC, 1861 Indexed by Penny
Slaves at Harrietta Plantation, McClellanville, Georgetown County, SC, 1859 Indexed by Alana
Slaves at Tranquility Plantation, North Santee, Georgetown, SC 1859 Indexed by Alana and Toni
Slaves at Arundel Plantation, Georgetown, SC, 1859, in Family Groups Indexed by Alana
Slaves at the Litchfield Plantation of John Tucker, Georgetown Co, SC, 1859 Indexed by Alana
Enslaved Families at Litchfield and Holly Grove Plantations, Georgetown, SC Indexed by Alana

All of these documents have been rediscovered through your volunteer efforts!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Power of YOU: Volunteers Are Restoring 140 Years of Seamless African American History

What's so special about SC Estate Inventories, 1732-1872, the new FREE Footnote Collection you can help index?

This week we'll be talking about all the ways this collection is helping restore the African American past in South Carolina. Today we start with the most remarkable aspect of this new collection:

This is the entire run of estate inventories for 140 seamless years of SC history! The collection contains every surviving estate inventory for Colonial South Carolina and Charleston District, from 1732-1872.

If an Ancestor was ever listed in an estate inventory in Charleston and that document survives, it is in this new, FREE Footnote collection.

Ponder 140 years of seamless history for:

  • Enslaved Communities on South Carolina plantations
  • Free African Americans in Charleston
  • European American families in South Carolina

140 years of history. Generations of enslaved and free Ancestors. Records for enslaved communities on specific plantations across one and 1/2 centuries.

These documents were hibernating on microfilm until now - until YOU. We may never know the full impact of your indexing efforts because they will continue to unfold for future generations. That's a pretty good thought to begin our series exploring this incredible document collection.

Did we mention that Footnote.com is our hero? They took on the expense of digitizing and hosting the 23,000 pages in this collection without placing a single image behind a subscription wall. These records are free, and will remain free. :0)

Here's where you can view the new FREE collection SC Estate Inventories, 1732-1872.

Most important, it is through your volunteer efforts that these records will be indexed and made searchable on Footnote.com and Internet search engines such as Google. If you have volunteered to index records, please accept our sincere gratitude. If you are ready to volunteer, you can go right here to sign up!

New Volunteer Discoveries - Monday Sept 20

Check out these new documents YOU, our fab volunteers, have discovered!

Sale of 93 Slaves and Kelvins Grove, The Oaks and Rathamay Plantations, Estate of of Alexander England, Colleton, SC, 1850 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis

Slaves at the White Oak and Ogilvie Plantations of Joseph Manigault, Georgetown, SC, 1844 Indexed by Penny Worley

Slaves at the Longridge and Sandy Run Plantations of John Willson, Berkeley, SC, 1857 Indexed by Alana Thevenet

360 Slaves in the Estate of Philip G. Prioleau, at Ward's, Sportsman's Retreat and Cottage Plantations, Berkeley, SC, 1845 Indexed by Toni

Sincere thanks and huge Props to Felicia, Penny and Alana for bringing these documents back into the light of history!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Preservinators Reunite to Restore Ancestors

In October of 2009, officials in Sumter County, Florida proposed to relocate an historic African American cemetery in order to clear the way for an industrial park. A miraculous thing happened when their plans were made known - members of the Internet genealogy, history and preservation communities came together to unite their voices with descendants whose loved ones were at rest in the Lake Panasoffkee Cemetery.

With a single voice, we urged Sumter County Administrators to abandon the plan and preserve this historic cemetery. And it worked. Sumter County abandoned the plan to relocate the cemetery and created a preservation easement around it, so the cemetery will not be endangered again.

For want of a name to describe this community that banded together for a cause, we jokingly referred to ourselves as the Preservinators.

Well Genfriends, three of the Preservinators have now reunited to bring you the Restore the Ancestors Project. 

George Geder, Angela Y. Walton-Raji and Toni Carrier are once again scheming and dreaming, this time to rock this effort to restore the names of more than 30,000 enslaved Ancestors in South Carolina. 

And once again the Internet genealogy family is banding together to achieve an important goal. We sincerely thank everyone who has volunteered and indexed records. Your efforts are already having an enormous impact. In the two months since the project launched, three descendants have found ancestors in these records, as a direct result of your hard work.

Look out world, the Preservinators are back!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Welcome New Volunteers!

We would like to welcome two new volunteers, Geraldetta and Felicia!

Thank you so much signing up to bring the Ancestors' names and lives back into the light!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Welcome to Our New Volunteers!

We bid a warm welcome and so many thanks to new volunteers who answered the call to index!

  • Michelle
  • Leah
  • Darla
  • Fran
  • Glenis
  • Nicole
  • Kathleen
  • Thomas
  • Robin
  • Sandra
Welcome! :0)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle: Thomas Fenwick Drayton Purchases 26 Slaves from Estate of Mary M. McUen

While indexing her 10 pages, Karen Meadows-Rogers discovered a document that further illustrates:

  • The treasures waiting in these extraordinary records
  • How these documents pull the pieces of the puzzle together
  • Why indexing matters

Karen discovered the record of the estate sale of Mary Middleton McUen. On Feb 11, 1851, auctioneer Alonzo J. White sold 106 enslaved ancestors to 14 buyers. Thomas F. Drayton purchased 26 slaves on that day.

As you may already know, for the past three years, Lowcountry Africana has been gathering documents to restore the lineages of slaves on Drayton family plantations in SC, FL, GA and TX.

Thomas Fenwick Drayton owned the Fish Haul Plantation on Hilton Head Island, SC. It came into his ownership very late in the Drayton family slaveholding history, when his wife Emma Catherine Pope inherited the plantation in trust for her minor children.

After three years of searching, we have found only a scant few documents that shed light on Fish Haul Plantation and the enslaved community there.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Volunteer Discoveries!

Alana has discovered three incredible records this weekend:

Slaves at Cottage Plantation, Theodore Samuel Gaillard, Berkeley, SC, 1855

Slaves at the Farmfield Plantation of John H Corbett, Berkeley, SC, 1855

Slaves at the Clydesdale Plantation of D E Huger, Beaufort, SC, 1855

Here is the index page for all of the Footnote Pages we've built for SC estate inventories:


The Ancestors must be smiling :0)

Happy Ancestor Hunting!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why Indexing Matters: 1,648 Slaves in the Estate of Nathaniel Heyward, Charleston, Colleton and Beaufort Counties, SC

Your contribution to indexing the new FREE Footnote Collection South Carolina Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732-1872 makes an enormous difference.

Please visit our Why Indexing Matters Page to see why!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Our Volunteers Speak!

Have you volunteered to index records in this free Footnote collection? Would you like to tell readers why you felt it was important to do so?

If you would like to share your thoughts, you can add a comment to this post.

Your efforts make an enormous difference and will for generations to come!

More Than Names: How Individual Documents Can Bring the Pieces Together

In one of the most incredible discoveries yet in the new FREE Footnote Collection South Carolina Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732-1872, volunteer Aaron recently discovered a list of 1,648 slaves on 15 plantations of Nathaniel Heyward, made in June of 1851.

This document is remarkable in its own right, with the vast amount of information it reveals. But it also creates bridges between several documents already available to the research community. Together, the documents span the last generation of enslaved ancestors on Heyward family plantations.
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