Bittersweet Gold – Say Their Names


A Black genealogist’s dream is to find a record beyond census records that can serve as proof of who our ancestors were and how they lived. A birth certificate, a bible, a death certificate are in many cases dreamed about, prayed for. What my mother found all those years ago and the team just came across fairly recently was the will of Darius Curtis, the person, along with his wife, children, sisters, brother, father and mother-in-law held our Stephen, his family and other captive for what we believe to be at least from his birth until 1867.

White folks who enslaved human beings had luxuries beyond belief, not the least of which was being able to generate and keep records of their ancestors. While painful every time I come across the wealth of information documenting a white family, I am ever so grateful when their records lead me to a major discovery or even the smallest thread we can tug on.

Shortly after Darius Curtis took the gift from his father, i.e. our ancestors, with him, as his property to Texas in the late 1850s,  he died. Forgive me lord, but part of me wishes his demise was at the hands of one of my ancestors. In his will, the document of which is shared here in part and in full listed the names of his slaves and what he wanted done with them, right after the paragraph in the will where he bequeathed a pocket watch to his daughter.

To see the names of my great great great grandfather, Stephen and great great great grandmother, Adaline was to say the least, bittersweet. But it was definitive proof. Proof who owned them. Proof of their names, though not their birth names. and a way for us to connect the past with the present in a way we hadn’t ever gotten before. Yes, it is gold, but it is tainted.

Here are the names in the will. Note: the names are believed to be listed in by age and gender

  • Stephen
  • Dick
  • Freeman
  • Solomon
  • Simon
  • Spencer
  • Charlotte
  • Fish
  • Adaline and her children
  • Dolly and her children

Though we know many of the names of all of Adeline’s and Dolly’s children referenced here. We cannot, sadly, ever be absolutely certain.