The Cliffords, Part 2: Family Scandal

This is a continuation of my account on the Clifford family. For more information, see Part 1. In 1878, Sophia Clifford sold the land that she and Lewis had bought in Iowa. Apparently her sons (Fred was 20 and Charles was 15) wanted to seek more opportunities out west rather than stay and work the…

Can Census Records be Wrong?

Featured Image: Taking the Census. Illustration in Harper’s Weekly, 1870. Found in Library of Congress Digital Collection. A few decades ago, it was very difficult to find one’s ancestor in a census record. You had to go to an archive or library and really know what you were looking for to find the record. Today,…

I give and bequeath to my son William J Ray my yellow boy slave Allen until my son Benjamin F arrives at the age of twenty one years, at which time my boy Allen is to be set free.

Allen Ray

My brother recently uncovered the will for my ancestor, William Calvin Ray in Murray County, Georgia. In it he mentions “my yellow boy slave Allen.” this is my first encounter with a slave owner in my family tree. I have a lot of ancestors in the South, so I figured a slave owner would turn…

Finding Families in Testate and Intestate Probate Records

It is relatively easy to find ancestors in the United States from 1850 on because of the availability of Census Records on multiple genealogy websites. However, before 1850, only the heads of households were listed on the census, making it hard to find all the members of a family and very difficult to trace your family back for…