Am I not a man and a brother.
Slaves of Our Ancestors

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By Tom Rue

Among the more shameful passages in American history is the forcible taking of humans from the African continent for shipping to the "land of the free," where they were sold as property to European settlers and their descendants. My own ancestors were among those who perpetrated this crime against humanity.
On this page is the sketchy information which has come to my hands in the course of family research in hopes that it may provide some clues to assist the descendants of those slaves who may now be seeking to document their own roots and heritage of survival.
Anyone seeking or having information concerning any of the people named below, or any of these or allied surnames, is invited to contact me.
Other data will be added as data is found. Consult original documents whenever possible. This page is posted to aid researchers, and perhaps also to generate some personal self-reflection upon the meaning and impact which the doings of history confer upon modern America.

The last will and testament of William Billingsley, of St. Mary's County in the Province Maryland, dated "this Eleventh Day of August Anno Dom. 1745", proven and admitted to probate on 16 December 1745 (witnessed by Rachel Billingsley and James Kuch), after leaving his two year-old "hogg" to his daughter Mary Wood, a ewe and a lamb to his daughter Ann Hardesty, and "unto my son William Billingsley and my son James Billingsley my two negroes Sambo and Ben I also desire that my son William make his choice of them by Christmas after my Death." (Will quoted in full by Davis, Harry Alexander (1936) in The Billingsley Family in America, Tuttle Publishing Co., Rutland, Vermont, p. 30).

In the 1800 census of Chatham County, North Carolina, Joab Brooks (Jr.) is enumerated with a household consisting of one free male under age 10, one free male between the ages of 25 and 45, four free females under age 10, one free female of 20 and under 45 years of age, and nine slaves. "Joab Brooks, Jr. was b. 01-29-1770, m. his first cousin, Ruth Terrell Brooks, daughter of Isaac and Ruth Terrell Brooks, of Chatham County, N.C. Ruth Terrell Brooks, b. 09-17-1774, d. 11-01-1884. They lived on the old Joab Brooks, Sr., plantation and they are buried there in the family burial ground by the road their fathers sponsored in the State legislaturer and helped to build." (Kellam, Ida Brooks [1950], Brooks and Kindred Families, privately published, p. 28). [Question: Did they get their hands dirty helping to build this road, or did slaves actually do it?]

In the same 1800 census of Chatham County, the household of Joab's younger brother and sister-in-law, Isaac and Ruth Evans Brooks, is shown as consisting of one free male of 10 and under 26 years, one free male above age 45 years of age, one free female under 26 years of age, one free female above age 45 years of age, and 16 slaves. "Isaac Brooks, b. about 1774, m. in Chatham County, N.C. Ruth Evans, b. 1775, daughter o fRuth Evans of same county whose will was dated 11-24-1802 and probated 1803." (Kellam [1950], p.28). [Note: I have not had an opportunity to review this document. It may identify the household's 16 slaves by name.]


William R. and Sarah Rice appear in the 1850 census of Cole County, Missouri. In the Slave Schedule (p. 484, line 6), William is enumerated as the owner of one 42 year-old Black female.


The last will and testament of James Rue, "of Bensalem in the County of Bucks and Province of Pennsylvania[,] Yeoman", proven and admitted to probate on 1 January 1760 (Bucks County Estate #1004), gives and bequeaths to his wife Mary Rue, "my Best Bed and Furniture best Chest of Drawers, best Table, and Looking Glass, Six best Chairs, all my Pewter, Potts, Kittles, Brass Ware, MilkVessells, best Cow, best Riding Horse or mare, a Good Side Saddle and Bridle, and my Negro Woman Called Hannah, To Hold to Her, her Heirs and assigns for Ever." An appraisal of James' goods and chattels was taken on 31 December 1759 by John R[u]binot and Thomas Rodman and included "included four horses, five cows, seven sheep, six swine, [and] a Negro Wench" valued at 40 English pounds, together with various household items and livestock.

Capt. Benjamin Rue of the Navy of Pennsylvania and hero of the Battle of Valcour Island, listed in the 1790 census of Philadelphia, had a household, together with his wife, Mary Taylor Rue, consisting of one white male over 16, one white male under age 16, three white females, and one slave.

Richard Rue, possibly the Richard Rue who married Jane Vandyke on 9 Jan 1735 is shown in the 1790 census in Bucks County with two white males over age 16, one white male under ag 16, three white females, five slaves. This may be the same Bucks County farmer who appears again in the 1800 census with a male and female over 45, one female under 10 and one non-white free person. Richard died before 4 March 1803, when his estate was inventoried (Bucks County Estate #3186). See Utermohlen, William J. (In Press), The Bucks County Rue Family, unpublished mss.

Featured publication
Mrs. Freddie Rue Shearin of Bakersfield, Ca. describes herself as the "self-proclaimed black RUE genealogist (no formal training just a class here and there and then there is my books). I only want to help." Interested researchers may contact her at:
Posted here with the author's permission, all rights reserved, is a copy of Mrs. Shearin's 16-page article SLAVES SPENCER AND SARAH STAMPS (1996), being an account of the descendants of Spencer STAMPS and (b. 1810) and Sarah STAMPS (b. 1820) both of Va.; and of Elijah RUE who married this couple's youngest daughter, Harriett STAMPS.
For more details on this family, link here

Related Links
Slave holders in Bucks County - on the site of the Fenton-Loftus family of Philadelphia.

Resources and Bibliographies
soc.genealogy.african newsgroup and faq
Excerpts from slave narratives - edited by Steven Mintz, University of Houston
Afro-American Genealogical Research - Library of Congress
Africans in America - PBS series released October 1998
African-American Family History Research - Missouri State Archives
Researching African-American History - Indiana State Library
African-American research - The Library of Michigan
African-American genealogy - Carrier Library, James Madison University
African American genealogy - St. Joseph County Public Library, South Bend, Indiana.
Afro-American genealogical research Norfolk Public Library, Norfolk, Virginia.
African-American genealogy books - The Memorabilia Corner