This is the second book in which Mrs. Motes makes the genealogical records of South Carolina’s ante-bellum African-American population more accessible to researchers. On the heels of her Free Blacks and Mulattos in the South Carolina 1850 Census, she has now abstracted all references to African Americans that could be found in the Deed Books for Laurens and Newberry counties, South Carolina, between 1780 and 1827. Both of these counties in northwest central South Carolina were formed from the Ninety-Six District in 1785, so some of the record abstracts actually pre-date the existence of the counties by five years, when deeds were first recorded in Charleston.
Based on Laurens County Deed Books A-L and Newberry County Deed Books A-G, Blacks Found in the Deeds of Laurens & Newberry Counties, SC covers Deeds of Gift, Deeds of Sale, Mortgages, and references to manumission found in deeds, among twenty-six different kinds of deeds found in the Deed Books. Each abstract gives the date the deed was filed; the names and counties of residence of all parties to the transaction; the amount of the transaction, if any; the names of the African Americans mentioned in the sources, along with any identifying comments (age, height, children, etc.); the names of witnesses and the justice of the peace; and the date the deed was recorded. In some cases, the abstracts list the surnames of free blacks, their dates of birth, or an occupation. In all, more than several thousand African-American slaves and freed men and women living in South Carolina between 1780 and 1827 have been rescued from the obscurity of South Carolina’s deed books, and each of them is easily found in the index to Mrs. Motes’ carefully transcribed volume.