An index of slaves that were mentioned by name in the old deed books of Orange County has been compiled and put into an online Orange County NC Slave Records blog.
Orange County Register of Deeds Mark Chilton shared the blog to his social media stating that 4,300 records were reviewed to compile the list.
“We’ve been working for the last year and a half or so on going through all of our old deed books, the original old deed books from when Orange County was created in 1752 onward, and trying to identify all of the places where our old deed’s mention the sale or transfer of slaves from one person to another,” said Chilton. “These old deeds basically commonly mention the names of the slaves, and (we) try to index every single one of those names.”
According to Chilton, the majority of the index was compiled by three interns, UNC students Rae Hoyle and Merisa Tomczak and NCCU student Khadija McNair.
The effort was coordinated by deputy register of deeds James Bartow and edited by Chilton.
“This is a project we’re really excited about. It’s an opportunity to create a new resource, especially for African-American genealogists but also for historical researchers of whatever kind to be able to identify before emancipation where different slaves lived, who they were owned by and, in some cases, who they were related to, who their mother and father were or who their children were,” said Chilton.
Chilton said Orange County wanted to follow suit after a couple of counties in North Carolina created their slave record indexes, Buncombe County being the first.
Especially because Orange County’s records go back further than many other counties, being one of the first counties created in the Piedmont.
“Our old deed books are handwritten, of course, so we were going through handwritten documents page-by-page starting with deed book one and then going all the way up through the end of the Civil War,” said Chilton.
Chilton said that while the records are already starting to help people understand who their family members are, where they came from and their heritage in Orange County, they believe the records will assist in further understanding the institution of slavery.
“These records will really create the opportunity to for people to take a broader look, I hope, at the institution of slavery and understand better how slavery worked, and what it meant and what the consequences of it were,” Chilton said.
To view the compiled list click here.