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An Act of Genealogical Kindness: An African American Family in Antebellum Laurens, SC

In September of 2016 I received an envelope in the mail from an elderly (80-something-year-old) white woman who lives in Gray Court, Laurens County, South Carolina. The envelope contained photocopies of grave markers she came across during a walk in the woods near her home. Bless her heart, she took the time to record the information she could read, and to consult a member of the Laurens Chapter of the South Carolina Genealogical Society. The mailing included her telephone number, and I had a delightful conversation with her about her discovery and her desire to disseminate the information.

She had found the (apparently) abandoned burial place of Matthew Franklin, a free man of color who died about 1820. Franklin was buried near his wife Dinah; her date of death is unknown but it appears that she and his children survived him but were still enslaved at the time of his death. My correspondent included a note that describes "some sort of Dwelling" facing "The Road close to the graves." That dwelling can be seen in the second image I uploaded to Findagrave (see above). You can find Franklin’s probate file on Ancestry; it is full of genealogical information. Interestingly, the executors of his estate were white Garrett men, who were members of the family that enslaved my Garrett ancestors! There is much work to be done to fully document Matthew Franklin’s family, but I wanted to share the known information as quickly as possible. I have created Findagrave memorials for Matthew and his wife and posted to several Facebook pages relevant to Laurens, SC genealogical research; feel free to join in sharing!