Looking for manumissions… on the part of my family

Posted on January 11, 2010 by


A couple of months ago,  I purchased a book that provides information about the African-American manumissions for Washington County, Maryland. The objective… to see if I had any family members who freed slaves in the 1850s and even as late as the early 1860s, in advance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Now, as I mentioned in another post, almost exactly one year ago (see here), I am aware of my Moore ancestors owning slaves in Maryland. I know that, in 1825, my fourth great grandfather, James Draden Moore, sold slaves into the deep South, but later seemed to change his position on the matter of selling slaves outside the county. As his Will shows, he did not make arrangements for the freedom of slaves upon his death (1840), but he did specify that they could not be sold outside the county. There are a number of reasons why he may have made this decision, some being more compassionate than others. I know nothing about what happened to those slaves after his death, and I need to make time to research the matter more carefully.

So, with the purchase of this book on manumissions, I hoped to find something new. Unfortunately, there was nothing about James or his wife freeing any slaves. That said, however, I did learn that one of his sons, Joseph Saunders Moore*, did execute a deed of manumission on November 27, 1858. The result was the freedom of William Gasper, then “about 40 years of age… 5 feet 4 1/2 inches high, of a brown copper color, [with] a small scar on the right hand and one on his forehead.” I’ll admit, it’s not a lot of information, but worth documenting in the family records.

*I think I’ve mentioned Joseph Saunders Moore in a few places in some posts. In addition to being the brother of my third great grandfather, Cyrus S. Moore, he was also an active advocate for the Constitutional Unionist party in the Clear Spring area.