Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Forgeys and Slavery

Former Forgey Slaves

I remember back when Helen Irene Forgey visited our family in the early 1990s and told our family about our origins. When she said the family was originally from Tennessee I was quite surprised. I wondered whether the family had anything to do with slavery? It looks like only one of my direct ancestors owned a slave, namely Andrew Forgey born in Ireland. His slave was listed on Andrew's Will and his name was Bacchus. He was Willed to sons Andrew and Hugh Forgey to share. 
Andrew's son James, and his line, were the largest slave holders in the Forgey family. Although they would have been considered small slave holders. The slaves consisted mainly of single family groups. The Census describes two former Forgey slaves as Mulatto, so I wonder if they might have Forgey blood? There was also a mulatto boy?
Mary Forgey 1870 Census Mulatto

Margaret Forgey Mulatto 1870 Census

 From James Forgey's 1831 Will "Item 10. I leave my yellow boy (yellow would be mulatto)  Joseph and his wife Peggy to my beloved wife during her life, and at her decease for them and their issue to be equally divided amongst my daughters, and it is my request that James would keep them at a moderate price and for them not (to be) separated themselves, but their children may be divided between the girls." From his son James R. Forgey's 1853 Will: , "and also that each of my daughters have two servants girls to be selected by my wife. Given under my hand and seal the date above written." From his wife Raechal's will : "Manerva and Matilda Forgey and my own daughter Susan Forgey, have each one negro girl"..."James R. Forgey Jr. the sum of six thousand dollars in cash or negroes belonging to my Estate".

An interesting description of slavery in Tennessee can be found in "Tennessee a Guide to the State". According to this account: "The lot of the Tennessee slave was perhaps less unfortunate than that of many of his brethren. Tennessee's slave code guaranteed the Negro shelter, food, clothing, and medical attention. It protected him when he ceased to be useful, gave him the right to contract for his freedom, and in 1835 granted him the right of trial by jury - a privilege accorded to slaves in only four other States."

Don't know what happened to the former slaves who took the name Forgey? Don't know whether any descendants still carry the name Forgey? Joe Forgey's family seemed to be the only remaining African American family in the area in 1920 (Joseph and Margaret were names handed down in that family. James Forgey's slaves, husband and wife, were Joseph and Margaret).
Joe Forgey Family Mulatto 1920 US Census Knox County, TN

No comments: