Anybody here descended from slave owners?

My father grew up on a North Carolina tobacco farm. They grew brightleaf tobacco which is apparently a real bitch of a back-breaking job to pick but is mighty profitable. This strikes me as the kind of situation that would cause a farmer to resort to “cheap” labor. Namely, slaves. I’ve never asked if any of my ancestors were slave owners out of discretion, but I wonder. My grand dad was hardly wealthy, but tobacco is always in demand. So it’s possible.

My moms family? No way. Dirt-poor coal miners don’t own their own house, much less another human being.

Anybody here descended from the consumer side of the human trade?

Yes. I found out this year that a relative of mine was a captain of a slave ship.

My mom’s side of the family had a fairly large timber plantation in East Texas. One great Aunt was the first woman in the state to join her profession, and she later made a strong showing when she ran for governor. Mom’s mom was sort of a black sheep of the family. She eventually wound up in a small house on some family land. Her best friends were black, old family friends and lived directly on the other side of the tracks. At least some ancestor lived in the state before the war and was active in politics.

Yes, on both my mother’s and my father’s sides of the family.

Generations of southern planters on mom’s side, so several lines engaged in the practice in the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. We have farm journals, wills, and oral histories. According to those oral histories, supposedly my great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers were everything short of abolitionists ( :rolleyes: ) in that they taught the houseservants how to read, allowed the slaves to keep whatever outside wages they might have earned, and didn’t rely on the whip.

You have to go back six generations on dad’s side, but in the middle 18th century my New York Yankee 4x great-grandfather (Orange County, NY) bequeathed his slaves to his various children via his last will and testament.

I’m thoroughly neutral as to the pride/shame aspect of this. I didn’t know any of these people personally, was in no position to influence what they did, and I cannot change what they did. That said, I personally find the concept of human slavery to be abhorrent.

No, and I doubt it.

Mother’s side was Lithuanian (she was first-generation American), and didn’t get here till after the turn of the century.

Father’s side goes back to colonial times (I’m DAR-eligible on that side), but were almost all in Pennsylvania, so though it’s not impossible I’m assuming “no.”

My parents seems to be the opposite of the OP. My Mom grew up on a North Carolina tobacco farm, Dad’s family were coal miners. Anyhow, Mom’s side probably had some slave owners at one time or another.

Given that Mom’s side of the family has been in the South since Jamestown, it’s more than likely.

I’m not into genealogy, but I would be shocked if some of my ancestors weren’t slave owners at some point. My dad’s family has been in North Carolina since before the Revolutionary War, so I’m sure that someone at some point owned slaves.

My dad’s family also has an alleged “Indian princess” in the family tree, so I’d be pretty surprised if I wasn’t also descended from slaves in some way as well.

I think I’m breaking even. It’s a matter of public record that the founding patriarch voted pro-slavery in the lead up to Bloody Kansas. But the family tended pro-union in other respects, and a few went on the warpath with the jayhawkers. Plus we had a bunch of Indians running around all the time so I think the vote was based more on batshit orneriness than any tangible investment in slave labor.

Mom’s side is old Gawgia though, so definite yes on that end.

Nope. My family tree branches back to the Auld Sod; we were all poor immigrant farmers who settled Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado after the 1860s.

Those of you who are saying, “I assume so, because my family was from [insert Southern state here],” is that a safe assumption? I was under the impression that, even during the height of slavery in the US, it was far from a foregone conclusion that any given white person or family would own slaves.

Most Southerners never owned slaves. But if your family has been there since the beginning, and intermarried extensively, the odds go up substantially. Without digging into Mom’s geneology work, I’m guessing. Most of the family were farmers or shop-keepers, but some were much better off. So I went with the “worst-case” scenario rather than try to keep the family name spotless.

None on my Mother’s side. Connecticut was a free state. My father’s side on the other hand… His mother was a Quaker, so none there. On his father’s side, we found one ancestor, a widow, whose will mentioned a couple of slaves who helped her on the farm. They were granted their liberty and 20 dollars each in the will.

That’s all we could find.

Not in America, no. (I’m the first in my family to settle down in the US.) But my ancestors in Korea certainly did - they were of the landed gentry.

True, but as silenus points out, if your family’s been here long enough, odds are that there is at least one slave owner in the bunch. My family were cotton and tobacco farmers–farm owners, not tenant farmers. It would be naive to think that they didn’t use slave labor on their farms.

I recently found out that one of my maternal grandfathers (back in the 1800’s) was a slave owner; his 8 slaves were included in a census report on his family. This was in Alabama.

Made me feel vaguely dirty.

No. As a matter of fact, I am descended of slaves. My Cherokee ancestors (my father’s side) were owned by Andrew Jackson according to records found during my mother’s geneology obsession period.

Of course, on my mother’s side, we trace our roots back to the Hapsburgs of Prussia, so not so much slaves as indentured servants/serfs/etc. Why should it make anyone feel dirty to be descended of wealthy people who owned slaves? By our standards today it is wrong, but at the time it was not. Come on people, we cannot change the past, only the future, don’t regret, just effect change!

Oh, and to answer for myself: my mom is Vietnamese, so that whole side is right out. And Dad’s ancestors were Mormon Pioneers who emigrated to Utah from the Northeast, so it’s unlikely.

Yes; my family owned a small plantation near Beaufort, I think. I have an uncommon last name - I’ve never met another white person with it who wasn’t closely related. I’ve met a pretty good number of black people in South Carolina with my last name, though, presumably because my people owned their people. It’s awkward.

Why is that side right out? There’s a long history of slavery in Vietnam.

And almost everywhere, really. Most of us may not be descended from American slaveholders, but go back far enough, and we’re all pretty likely to be descended from slaveholders or slaves, or both, in some country at some time or another.