Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tracing the Sir Name Bilbrew Part II

Our Link to Slavery
A Brief History on Slavery in the United State of America (USA):

  The definition of slavery covers slave systems in historical perspective in which one human being is legally the property of another, can be bought or sold, is not allowed to escape and must work for the owner without any choice involved. As Drescher (2009) argues, "The most crucial and frequently utilized aspect of the condition is a communally recognized right by some individuals to possess, buy, sell, discipline, transport, liberate, or otherwise dispose of the bodies and behavior of other individuals. A critical element is that children of a slave mother automatically become slaves (By Law). A law used by Male slave owner to deny legal obligations or freedom to their offspring of slave mothers.  

The first documented event of Africans, arriving in present day United States were part of the San Miguel de Gualdape colony (most likely in present day Georgia), founded by Spanish explorer Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon in 1526. The ill-fated colony was almost immediately disrupted by a fight over leadership, during which the slaves revolted and fled the colony to seek refuge among local Native Americans. De’Ayllon and many of the colonists died shortly afterwards of an epidemic, and the colony was abandoned, leaving the escaped slaves behind on North American soil (The original Black Native Americans).

Thirty nine years later in 1565 the colony of Saint Augustine in Florida, founded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles became the first permanent European settlement in North America, and now the oldest city in the United States. The colony included an unknown number of free and enslaved Africans.

The first English colony in North America, Virginia, first imported Africans in 1619, a practice established in the Spanish colonies as early as the 1560s. Most slaves were black and were held by whites, although some Native Americans and free blacks also held slaves; there were a small number of white slaves as well. Before the widespread establishment of chattel slavery (outright ownership of a human being, and of his/her descendants), much labor was organized under a system of bonded labor known as indentured servitude. This typically lasted for several years for white and black alike. People paid with their labor for the costs of transport to the colonies.

In being accurate and fair on this subject I must restate the fact that there were Black slave owners by the 1860s. There were two main reasons, 1. Freed blacks being unable to acquire family members by legal means sought to purchase their family’s freedom. 2.There were slave owners of color (mainly Creole, and Mulatto) that had acquired land and slaves from there European fathers (mainly French). They were planters mainly in the New Orleans/Louisiana area ( Antoine D. Dubuclet mulatto male and a sugar planter owned over 100 slaves). Source: Ancestry.Com 1860,70, and 80 United States  Federal Census

Slavery was a contentious issue in the politics of the United States from the 1770s through the 1860s, becoming a topic of debate in the drafting of the Constitution. In 1808 Congress bans the importation of slaves from Africa, however the smuggling of slaves started as well 2nd and 3rd generations of African slaves could be legally imported from the Caribbean Islands and the other Americas. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, an estimated 12 million Africans were shipped as slaves to the Americas.  Of these, an estimated 645,000 were brought to what is now the United States. By the 1860 United States Census, showed the slave population had grown to four million.

Between 1810 and 1860, in the United States, world demand for cotton triggered the largest internal forced migration of slave laborers that has ever occurred in the history of the world. As a result, Northern and Upper South (Virginia, North and South Carolina) slaveholders exported to the Lower South nearly one million black laborers between 1790 and 1860.

In 1861 the southern states seceded from the United States of America and formed the Confederated States of America led by Jefferson Davis. Declared civil war against the Union by the act of attacking Fort Sumter in South Carolina. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation declaring all persons held as slaves within the Confederate states “are now and henceforward shall be free”

1865 The Civil War ends, President Lincoln is assassinated, and The Thirteenth Amendment was added abolishing slavery throughout the United States. On June 19, 1865 (Black Independence Day) Juneteenth slavery in the United States effectively ended when 250,00 slaves in Texas finally received the news that the Civil War had ended two months earlier. The southern states passed the Black Codes and the Ku Klux Klan (K.K.K.) is establish

(an excellent resource for Black History) ,,, and

The Bilbrew Family’s Plausible Link To Slavery

The 1870 United State Federal Census is one of the first sources and the first census
after the Civil War that shows the surname BILBREW  as people of color. You should also note for some of them, their estimated year of  birth will show a time period during the height of slavery in the United States.


George Bilbrew (52) in 1870 was born around 1818 during the time period of slavery. He was born in the same county as slave owner William P.Bilbrew (Bedford county, VA) I believe I can safely say the surname Bilbrew was that of a slave owner and a member of our family may have chosen (however undocumented) to retain the name or chose the name before arriving in Mississippi.

George Bilbrew and Family 1870    *                           

Name            Sex    Race    Age    Birth Year    Birth State                Resident
George          M      Black    52           1818                 VA     Chamblissburg, Bedford, Virginia
Melinda         F       Black    24           1846      
George Jr.    M      Black     6             1864      
Rosa A.          F       Black     4             1866      
Frances         M      Black    14            1856      

Isam Bilbrew and Family                *

Name         Sex    Race    Age    Birth Year    Birth State                    Resident
Isam            M      Black    50          1820                SC          Fredonia, Chamber, Alabama
Barbary       F      Black    45         1825                 GA  
Lisabeth      F       Black    18          1852                AL  
Clarra           F      Black     16          1854               AL  
Viney           F       Black    14          1856                AL  
Henry          M      Black    12          1858                AL  

Cornelius Bilbrew and Family 1880 *

Name            Sex     Race    Age    Birth Year    Birth State                    Resident
Cornelius      M       Black    52           1828                 GA           Marion, Perry, Alabama
Selina              F        Black    38          1842                  GA  
Alice                F        Black    14           1866                 AL  
Thomas         M        Black    11           1869                 AL  
Americus      M        Black     8            1872                AL  
Lewis              M        Black     2             1878               AL  

Micheal Bilbrew                                                 *
Micheal Bilbrew     M       Black      19     1861   AL   Hackneyville, Tallapoosa, Alabama
The oldest child of Cornelius and Selina Bilbrew living on his own.
Alabama, (Census show he was a border and his parents were born in Georgia)

Unknown Bilbrew  1900           *
? Bilbrew      M     Black  65   1835  married to Mary   AL  Lafayette, Chambers, Alabama

Amanda Bilbrew  1930                                        *                                           
Amanda Bilbrew        F        Black      88       1842      GA   Precinct 7, Jefferson, Alabama
(She is shown residing with her son-in-law Charlie 37 & daughter Harney 36 King)
 Source: Ancestory.Com 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1930 United States Federal Census
(1870 was the1st Federal Census after the Civil War)

Ben Bilbrew                                                           *                                  
Ben Bilbrew age 40 in 1900 was born Mar 1860, one year before the Civil War begins. He was born in Mississippi to parents (names unknown) that were both born (dates unknown) in the state of Alabama. Based of Ben’s date of birth, it would definitely place his parents births during the height of slavery. In the 1900 United State Federal Census Ben is shown living in Livingston, Madison County, Mississippi. He was married (spouse unknown) and lived with his sons Prezzy 15,(1885) and Ellis 12,(1887). He could read, write, and speck the English language. He was also a farmer and owner of mortgage free land.
Source: Ancestry.Com 1900 United State Federal Census

Nat Bilbrew                                       
Nat Bilbrew age 63 in 1930 was born in 1867 even though this is two years after the Civil War, we can again place his parents being born doing slavery. He was also born in Mississippi, however the census show is parents being born in Mississippi as well. He was married to Sally at the age of 23 (Nat) and 13 (Sally). He is a framer employed by Gen. Farms. He lives with his wife and son Yandell 24 (1906), and can also read, write and speak English.

Source: Ancestry.Com 1930 United State Federal Census
Up to the1860s Madison, Yazoo, Issaguena and Washington Counties were Planters and Plantation country. The Balford family was one of Mississippi’s largest and most prominent plantation owners in these counties. The Balford family owned multiple plantation (including Homestead of Livingston, Madison County, Mississippi) and hundreds of slaves. Source:

It is also rumored  that the our family’s surname grew from a slave owner in Mississippi by the surname of Bilbo/Bilbro/Bilbrow and was changed in order to dispel the connection to the owner. My research so far has not validated this theory. However I did find a John C. Bilbro of Madison County, also W. O. and John Bilbrow of Rankin County, Mississippi on the 1860 Federal Slave Schedule. The only full names on a slave schedule would be that of the slave owner. Names of slave were not listed, just a count by age, sex, and color (black, mulatto, and creole).

Too see a 1860 list of all the large plantation owners of Madison County Mississippi visit

One other fact to mention is that  in 1860 there were few freed blacks in the state of Mississippi. There was almost 400,000 slaves in the state of Mississippi with only 773 freed Blacks/People of Color. Records show only two males and two females in Madison county, Jackson, Hinds county Mississippi had only thirty six totaled.
Source: or

We must note the 1st large (forced) migration of black slaves in the United States occurred between 1810 and 1860 (Upper South to Lower South). We know now there were slave owner in the Upper South with the surname Bilbrew. The 1870 United States Federal Census also list George Billbrew and family residing in the Upper South after slavery but were born during slavery.

Is it possible our ancestors were part of this migration? YES!
Is it possible that John C Bilbro of Madison CO or  W. O. and John Bilbrow of Rankin CO were owners of some our ancestors? YES!

As we can see the 1870 United State Federal Census, was the first census to show blacks in the South with Sir Names being enumerated. The 1900 United State Federal Census shows the numbers of southern Blacks grow dramatically with direct links and possible links to slavery. We also note the surname Bilbrew among people of color appearing in other southern states in large numbers. It is plausible Ben Bilbrew born in Mississippi before the Civil War was more than likely the child of enslaved parents born in Alabama. Remembering the law (A child born of a slave mother is itself a SLAVE). 

In the next Blog The Bilbrew Family of color begin to appear more frequently on the Federal census in  Mississippi, California, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Georgia.
Please feel free to join this Blog and receive new post email notifications. I look forward to your comments and input as our family’s journey takes us home.
To Madison County, MS and Beyond Part I (Looking For The Tap Roots)

* Dates are of births before, during and immediately after the Civil War

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