Researchers report that only about 15% of former slaves took the surname of their last holder(s). Consequently, connecting former slaves to previous holders is a challenging task. However, resources like newspaper articles, can make tracing ancestors of color back into slavery a less difficult endeavor.
Sarah Robinson's death announcement appeared in a Baldwin County, Georgia newspaper. It clearly links this former slave with Mrs. Newell's family, wife of Captain C.F.Newell. The announcement declares, "she had been a nurse in Mrs. Newell's family for two generations".
This excerpt from a local newspaper article identifies Jack Brook’s former slave holder as Doctor Green.
Jack Brooks, a well known old negro of Baldwin county, will be in line at the reunion in Macon next May. He was cook in a cavalry troop during the war and he…. He was owned by Dr. Green, who was Superintendent of the state sanitarium....
Milledgeville News, February 23, 1912
Although Wilkes Flaggs lived as a free man of color, his name does not appear on any of Baldwin County's Free Persons of Color registers. Dr.Tomlinson Fort, who held him as a slave,described Wilkes Flagg as a remarkable man and clarified his status in an article published June 22, 1901 in the Chattanooga News.
Rev. Wilkes Flagg was born in Virginia about 1802. Before he was grown he was brought to Milledgeville, Ga, and there sold to Dr. Tomlinson Fort, who put him to work in a blacksmith shop. Dr. Fort's Children taught Wilkes to read and write...his accounts.
The laws of Georgia at that time prohibited any owner from freeing a slave except on condition that the slave was removed from Georgia.Wilkes enlisted the sympathies of the wife and children of Dr. Fort, who induced Dr. Fort to allow Wilkes to use the shop , after his ordinary day's work was finished , received the proceeds of that kind of labor and in this way buy himself. It resulted in Wilkes buying himself, then buying his wife Lavinia and their only child Wilkes, Jr.
About 1855 or 1856, Dr. Fort took Wilkes with him as a servant through several of the free states of the north, and when he returned a suit was brought to sell Wilkes into slavery under the statue of free Negroes going to free states and returning to Georgia. Wilkes had been regarded as a free man of color at that time for nearly thirty years, and until the trial of that lawsuit, few people knew that he was the slave of Dr. Fort.
Chattanooga News, June 22, 1901, republished in the Union Recorder, Milledggeville
Bob Spencer was a faithful employee of the Milledgeville Factory for twenty years. Although the following newspaper article excerpt does not explicitly identify a former slave holder, his connection to the McComb family probably warrants further investigation.
Bob Spencer, formerly Bob McComb, a colored man , has worked at the Milledgeville Factory, as a fireman, for twenty consecutive years. During all this long time , as a slave, and a freedman, Spencer has been faithful in the discharge of every duty.
Silvey Crumbly, an old black woman, caught fire and suffered severe burns while residing on Mrs. Roxy Jarratt's place. A likey clue to her former slave holder is Mrs. Jarrat's family history.