I shouldn’t have been astonished.
The Mecklenburg County, Virginia U.S. Federal Census of 1860 enumerated two Dodson households–my white 2nd great-grandparents, James and Sarah, and his brother and sister-in-law, Benjamin and Delia.
In the U.S. Federal Census of 1870 James and Sarah were enumerated with 9 children; Delia, widowed by a Union sniper bullet in 1864, was listed with 6 children. An unrelated white Dodson family, William, Lucy and 4 children, is also listed.
Sixteen additional households carried the Dodson name, and 6 individual Dodsons lived with other families. All of these Dodsons were black and mulatto. The freed. The emancipated. The formerly enslaved men, women, and children of my ancestors.
Abram, John, Mary, Frankey, Philip
Lucinda, Alexander, Alexander
Reuben, Nansey, Alice, Clarisa, Nancy, Edward
Armstead, Lucy, Archer, Henrietta, Keziah, Nathan, Mary
Mary, Jordan, Emma, Mary
Alexander, Joanna, Lorice, Petius, Joseph W
James, Martha, Amos, Henry, James, Nathan, Charles, Fannie
Harriet, Richard, Mary F, Margaret
Alexander, Maria, Charles, Selina,
Richard, Harriet, with Celia Hepburn and her children, Mary F. Margaret A., Robert H.
Edward living with Stokes, Harriet, and Elvira Walker
Ellen Dodson living with Clarissa, Samuel, Oton, Margaret, Matilda, Samuel, and Henry Hepburn
Susan living with a white family
Alice living with a white family
Nancy living with the Dailey family
Richard, Harriet, Mary F., Margaret
Narcissa with the Gillespie family
I am humbled to realize that I spent almost a decade documenting “my line” before asking the whereabouts of the unnamed of 1860, enumerated by a number, sex, skin color, and age. In the 1870 census their names and occupations, who they live with, who they live by, begin to unravel a knotty, complicated story.
I am in the process of mapping their social network, curious to know if I can connect these names to previously collected Dodson records, picking up strands of my ancestral story with all the Dodsons of Mecklenburg County.