Before Rosa Parks: The Ancestry Of Irene Morgan Part IV

Well one week and a day and I will be home.

Finals are coming up and I have been studying, catching up on The Voice, filling out internship applications, and doing some family research.

Sometimes I wish I was Henry Louis Gates Jr. or at least worked with his team of researchers. I am still stuck on how to trace someone back to slavery or before the 1870s. I know it baffles many scholars, yet I still want to go back as far as I can. I usually do not like to post my assumptions, but this post will be different. I will post two different potential leads on the Amos family pertaining to Irene’s grandfather, John Amos and his ancestry. The next post will cover her grandmother’s ancestry. Unfortunately, I was unable to discover Irene’s mother’s, Ethel, maiden name and due to the lack of records covering marriages, especially black marriages, I do not know how much I will be able to uncover about her ancestry. Still, I found some interesting facts about Irene, the most fascinating—her great-grandfather is Brazilian. I been studying the country of Brazil for months now for research papers because one of my roommates back at my home college is Brazilian and I missed her (blog shout out to Marianna). So, it was a funny find. Also on a side note, she got engaged! It is hard missing out on everything when you are on the other side of the world especially wedding planning, but I can go on and on. So, enough about Brazil, let’s meet the two potential John Amos .


Sorry I a little note before we start. I only found the 1880 Census for John Amos in Baltimore, Maryland. The 1890 is not viewable for this state (got burned in the fire) and by the 1900 Census I believe John Amos passed away for his wife was listed as a widow. This is all I have to work with.

Another side note, I have will be using databases from this website as well as tips from an article written in the Family Tree Magazine. They can be found here and here.

Option #1
He Could Have Been Free…

“During slavery, the Federal Census did not list the names of slaves (although there were rare instances where a first name is provided by the owner). Since most blacks were enslaved in the decades prior to1870, the names of the majority of African Americans were not recorded in the census before that year. Free African Americans WERE documented.”

Taken from National Archives

In 1850, there were approximately 74, 723 free blacks in Maryland alone rising from 62, 078 blacks in 1840. From the 1880 Census, John Amos and his family lived in District 9 of Baltimore, Maryland. Searched through countless databases, I should have written them down, but most can be found in the links above. As I was searching through Ancestry, there were no matches for either John or his wife within the 1870 Census. There were not any even potential matches.

So I went way back to the 1850 Census.



This is the household of Abraham Amos within the 1850 Census. Abraham was a 45 year old laborer married to Gracy Amos. They had seven children including a 6 year old son name John Amos born around the same time as Irene’s grandfather. Then I was telling myself, “Christina, there is more than one John Amos in the United States during this time who match the same exact criteria.” So, I searched and there was no other John Amos did not meet the race requirement. Again this doesn’t mean anything only that I have a strong lead.

I decided to search for Abraham’s household in the following census during 1860.



Guess who is missing—John, but everyone else is in the household, but John would have been between 16 to 17 years old. He was at a reasonable age to either wed or live outside of the household. Also I found another Amos family living two blocks away. This could be another lead if this actually is the right lead.


For the 1860s Census, I found two potential leads for John Amos. The first:


I know talk about being barely legible.

In Bryantown, Charles, Maryland, John worked as a servant under the Canter household. No other information could be taken from this document.

The second:


In Marshall, Hartford, Maryland, John, being only 17 years old, worked as a servant under the Morse household. The only additional information provided on this census was that this John was unable to read and write.

1870s Census—again no luck. No John Amos at all. Well no African American ones. Then the 1880 Census is the one with John and Martha Amos, Irene’s grandparents.


Okay, so what if he was a slave…

There is always this possibility as well.

John was born around 1844. He would have been around six years old in 1850 and 16 in 1860. Using the tip that a former slaves usually takes on the last name of his master, I began to search slave records.

1850 Slave Schedule

Turns out there was a slave owner named John T Amos from Hartford, Maryland. He owned five slaves and one was a male around the estimated age of John.



First is from the 1850s, the second 1860s.

In the 1860 Census, there appears another slave who matches the age qualification for John, yet due to the lack of resources and details, I cannot say this is him because there always is a possibility that this is a completely different person.

I believe I only wrote this blog to show what it is like to do genealogy research pre-1870s, even pre-1900s. When I do research like this, it is rarely publish just because you can only base it on what you can find, which you. Slave schedules have no names, only an owner and ages of whoever he owns. Still, you can only hope and expect to find something even if it is only a small possibility.

Well until next time,


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