In the time of slavery in America, families would routinely be torn apart. Parents would be sold from their children, husbands torn from their wives, siblings were separated or ran away, and they would not know anything of what happened to their loved ones.
In the late 1800s, after the Civil War, freed slaves would place Information Wanted ads in newspapers, searching for those family members. A project at Villanova University is developing a catalog of the ads for use by genealogists and researchers.
Carried to Atlanta
“Information wanted, of Caroline Dodson, who was sold from Nashville Nov. 1st, 1862, by James Lumsden to Warwick (a trader then in human beings), who carried her to Atlanta, Georgia, and she was last heard of in the sale pen of Robert Clarke (human trader in that place), from which she was sold. Any information of her whereabouts will be thankfully received and rewarded by her mother, Lucinda Lowery”
"I have found Henry and Mary"
This notice asked for help finding an uncle, aunt and four lost cousins. “I have found Henry and Mary, who are living in Greensboro, Ga. We all belonged to William Hightower as late as 1862 ‘63, and at his death we were divided.”
“I will inform my uncles and aunts that their mother is living in Greensboro; also two of her sons.”
"I left three children"
“My name is Francis. My mother has more children younger than me, two boys and one girl. I do not know their names.”
“When I left Virginia in 1853 I left three children. My daughter’s name is Caroline Wade. Two boys’ Harry and David. Any information will be gladly received.”
Two wives, three sons
“John Walker, a servant of Dr. E. M. Patterson, in 1850, wishes to know the whereabouts of his wife Peggy, and his three sons ... And also the whereabouts of my last wife, Cornelia, who was a slave of Lee Shoot, a Negro trader in Nashville, Tenn.”
"Their one-eyed father"
“Information wanted of my children -- three daughters -- namely Paralee Emily, Ellen, Spikes ... Any information will be thankfully received by me, their one-eyed father, Edmond Spikes, Stanfordville, Ga.”
“Information Wanted of my father Rev. Richard Green, of the A.M.E. Church, a pastor at Galveston, Tex. I am anxious to know his whereabouts, being his daughter -- Daisy Boyd, my marriage name. He is quite white, some people would take him for white. I have not seen him since I was two years old.”
"I never saw any of my people"
“Information wanted of my people. My mother was sold from me when I could but crawl.”
“At the age of three years Jim Finley’s father gave me to Dave Long’s wife. I never saw any of my people. I was about 39 years old last March...”
Father and mother
“Information wanted of Orange and Lucy Nicholson, my father and mother of Caroline, York.”
“It was said I was dead from an accident on the way to Texas. Not so. I live and am married. My name is now Sylvia Bostwick.”
Three sisters sold
My father was named Jackson Jefferson and my mother’s name was Franky Jefferson. Three sisters were sold from them at once, at Petersburg, Va.”
“My first owner was Archee Sheffield, and after he died we were all sold again, and I have not heard from them since. I would be very proud if I could hear from them.”
“Information wanted, of my brothers Thomas and Amiger Moton, sons of Polly Parker of Washington city. When last heard from they were in Canada. They lived in Fredericksburgh, and belonged to Lewis Halton, but escaped by Underground Railroad. Any information would be gladly received by their sister, Frances Parker.”
General Lee's surrender
“I, Henry Flood, of Philadelphia, Pa., a member of Allen A. M. E. Chapel, intend making a visit to my original home and I desire to find my people, from whom I have been separated since the war. I was born in Appomattox Co., Va., near where General Lee surrendered.”