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.

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.


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