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Further Exploration and Assumptions

After the failed trip to the Williamson County Clerks Office, I made a phone call to the Texas State Library, in hopes that they might have information regarding freed slaves. I didn’t care if it was whether they purchased their freedom, how many freedmen lived in Williamson County, or something else. I just wanted information regarding them. Again, I came up dry. Even the librarian who I talked to had no knowledge of records regarding freed slaves prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. She did pass my request onto the archivists there, and I hope to hear back from them soon.

I’ve also been reading two books on African-Americans in Texas, one of which has a title that encompasses our question: The African-American Experience In Texas. But again, neither book really talks about the freed experience in Texas prior to the Civil War. But one had some interesting information regarding runaway slaves searching for freedom. Over 6,000 slaves ran away to Mexico, and many others ran South and merged with Native American tribes. Mexico even refused to return the runaway slaves, and they became free and integrated with the Mexican culture. This is something that never occurred to me. It makes sense, though, seeing as Texas is so far away from the North. When we think runaway slaves, we picture them heading North, maybe following the Drinking Gourd on their way to New York. But the Texan slaves did the exact opposite.

With the lack of information regarding freed slaves, I’ve begun to come to the conclusion that there were either very few freedmen prior to the Civil War, or Texans did not see their freedom as something important enough to chronicle. We’ll see what the Texas State Library comes up with. I hope to find something on them.

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