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Freedmen’s Bureau Census of 1865 and 1867

Did you know that the Freedmen’s Bureau conducted an 1865 census and 1867 census of the people of color in counties in southwest Virginia?  The Genealogy Committee of the Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center is hard at work transcribing the 1865 colored census.  Once finished, it will be available at the museum for research or purchase.  The 1867 census will be their next project.

Digitized images of the records are available at FamilySeach.org.  You can use the FamilySearch search engine on that page to locate specific people listed on the census or you can go below the search form to browse through the images in the collection. The 1865 Census of Montgomery County, Virginia can be found on film 004152454, images 228-275.  The 1867 Census is on film 004151181, images 978-1083.

Information that can be found on these census records includes name, color (black, mulatto, quadroon or octaroon), sex, age, status on January 1st 1863 (slave or free), former owner, former place of residence, occupation, and rate of wages paid per month and more.   Some of the slaves are listed with a surname, others only with their first name.    The census is organized by former owners, so you can look at groups of slaves that are living together and may (or may not) be related.

Here is an example of information found on the 1865 census about an individual – Anderson Stiff was a 30 year old black male.  He was a slave on January 1, 1863.  He was owned by Hoyd Smith, who lived in Montgomery County.  In 1865 he was employed by his former owner and was unable to read.  Anderson was paid $25 for six months, plus board and clothes. 

In 1867, Anderson Stiff was 31, black and a farmer.  He was married to Philice, a mulatto, age 22.  Both were slaves in January 1863 and were unable to read and write.  They were employed by George Garnand.  They were “comfortable” rather than in needy circumstances.  They had a legal lease to farm the land.