Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: A young girl named Rachael

Following my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a monthly post until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors. These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

A young girl named Rachael

The young girl whose name is being released today was not born into slavery. Rachael was born to a free woman in about 1796. She was orphaned by 1801 when she was bound out at the age of 5. Her name was found in the Record Book of Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1801.1

Record book, 1788-1803, page 68, top. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

At a Court Continued and heald for Kanhawa (sic, Kanawha) County the 15th day of April 1801. Present David Robinson, Thomas Rodgers, John Rousch, Obadiah Fugua and William Owans, Gentlemen.

Record book, 1788-1803, page 68, middle. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

It is Ordered that the overseers of the poor, binds to William Sterritt a poor Orphan Negroe Girl name Rachael, about five years of age according to Law.

It is Ordered that the overseers of the poor, binds to Tramus Wathans, a poor orphan Negroe Girl about two years old according to Law.

The entry following Rachael‘s is for a younger orphaned girl who is unnamed. I’ve included it as there is the possibility that she might be Rachael‘s younger sister.

More information on Rachael was found in another entry dated 1809 when she would have been about 13 years old.2

Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, image 252 of 857. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

On the Petition of William Sterritt, with the approbation of the Court, It is ordered that said Sterritt transfer to Francis Monin the time of Servitude that yet remains of Rachael a negro girl born of a free woman who by an Order of this Court at April Term 1801 was directed to be bound out to said Sterritt until she arrived at the age of 18 years, provided said Monin give Bond with approved Security in the penal sum of six hundred dollars Conditioned for the delivery up from Servitude of the said free negro girl when she arrives at the Age of 18 years and that he will not attempt to reduce her into Absolute and permanent Slavery & not to remove her out of this State.

The records were found while I was searching for entries for the years 1808-1810 for one of my ancestors. These record books are not indexed collections nor is there an index in the front or back of the books.

The names Sterritt and Monin were not found on the Kanawha census in 1810 or 1820.

Rachael would have obtained the age of 18 years about 1814. Even though it is expressly stated that she was not to be reduced into absolute and permanent slavery, I felt the need to share these records with her name in this series.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Record book, 1788-1803” (browse-only images), FamilySearch. Microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse, Charleston, West Virginia. Film 530753, DGS 8218841, image 151 of 291, page 68. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSG6-X9SV-M?cat=55519 : accessed 25 February 2021). 
  2. “County Court record book, 1803-1880” (browse-only images), FamilySearch. Microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse, Charleston, West Virginia. Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, Film 521643, DGS 8613717, image 252 of 857, left page, middle. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34Z-SSN9-N?i=251&cat=295049 : accessed 25 February 2021). 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

7 thoughts on “Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: A young girl named Rachael”

    1. The project link still works but no one is maintaining the site, i.e. new links are not being added. However, as long as the information is being placed on the internet with the ability to search and find it, it is helpful to descendants of the enslaved ancestors. Thank you, Eilene.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Interesting—so she was really never a slave. More an indentured servant? I’ve never heard the phrase “bind out” before, but that’s what it sounds like. I wonder if this was done to white orphans also—or were there better options like foster families, adoption, even an orphanage. Thanks, Cathy—very interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Binding out orphaned children was a widespread practice throughout the colonies from Massachusetts to South Carolina. The children (poor, illegitimate, orphaned, or abandoned) were raised to adulthood in a legal condition of indentured servitude. It was a practice meant to maintain social stability.
      Rachael was one of these children. Being the child born to a free black woman made her a free person. But I have to wonder if, by putting her into bondage, she may have become an enslaved person after she reached 18 even though it was clearly stated that she should not be enslaved. Thank you, Amy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. It probably happened more to white children than black. Most of the black children were already enslaved and in the care of a slaveholder. Most children were bound out to persons who would apprentice them. The children were learning a trade they could practice as adults. Of course, the person they were bound to got cheap labor.

        Liked by 1 person

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