Friday, December 2, 2011

A True Confederate's Genealogy

I am not sure how I missed this before  but David Tatum, an officer of the SHPG runs his own blog, A True Confederate.   Recently David has posted snippets of his family record for the world to see. Let me start by saying I think this is a fabulous idea. Bringing genealogy to the mass public to help in research is always a good idea and I encourage it. I can remember the countless hours my Grandfather and I spent combing through libraries in the hopes of finding the name of the ship Maurice Baker traveled to Virginia on in 1640. How wonderful it would have been to have some outside influence and thoughts come in to that search. Even if they were dead wrong the new addition can reveal a truth and spur a new direction. Why just look at the inquisitive nature of David, Kindred Blood and myself as we try to figure out what random words mean in David's snippet of genealogy in order to reveal the larger picture.

If anyone knows what "Sound Bacon" is, please let me know. What I want to address however, is David's original comments when making this post.
"This post shows the weekly food allowance for the slaves owned by an ancestor."

As it does. The document indicates this very well. What some of the items are on that list, is obviously still in the works.

"I can see it now - a Yankee blogger crying / " But what did the owners eat"?[sic]"

I'm not a Yankee....and I try not to cry so I guess I will have a go at this. I do not consider that a relevant thought. It is probably a safe bet that masters ate better than the slaves, so I will just move on from that pointless question.

(The "Yankee Bloggers" follow up) ""What type of home did the owners have as compaired to the slaves"?[sic]"
Pretty much the same premise as above. 

"Yea I guess that's fair / but what do the CEOs of major companys [sic] have for dinner as opposed to the guy in the mail room? And what about living conditions ?"
This is where I take a different path than David. I don't think either questions are really the interest here. I am much more interested in solving the issue of what exactly the slave rations were for W.H. Tatum's slaves in 1840. After that chestnut is cracked, then I can move on to broader questions. But making the comparison of CEOs of major companies to their workers is not the same comparison as master to slave. Though I agree this modern corporate feudalism is a seemingly justified comparison, it still is improper. We have to keep schema in mind. The 21st century mindset cannot co-exist with the 19th century mindset. In order to have a better understanding, historians have to attempt to simulate the mindset of that time. We do this by using resource material such as primary source documents. After all, the worker of that major company can leave. Yes he will probably starve and be unemployed, but he still has that freedom.A slave cannot.
This is not however, a slam on David or his attempt at researching genealogy. It is just an example of why proper methodology is important when researching history and sometimes even genealogy.


  1. A few notes:

    This document, like the earlier one Dave put up, appears to be one recorded some years after the events described. (It appears to be a page from the same blank book.) Given that it refers to 1840, it could easily be that this was recorded 30 or 40 years after the fact. It's important to keep in mind, then, that this is a recollection, as opposed to a contemporary record, and we don't know if the author was going by any references other than memory.

    Except during hog-killing time, which in Texas occurred around the time of the first frost, the bacon would likely not be fresh, but smoked or salted like the fish. Quantities are not given for milk, eggs, and vegetables, but these probably varied somewhat. Vegetables, in particular, would have varied a lot according to season, and I doubt this exact formulation could have gone on year-round, including through the winter.

    It would be interesting to know how this list translates into caloric intake, but I imagine that depends a great deal on how it's stored and prepared, which we really don't know.

    There's more on this page than Dave reproduces. I agree that it would be a great resource to put this material online, but Dave is, I suspect, being selective in what he shares.

  2. Thanks Andy.

    I felt that the book seemed out of place and the notes selective. I would like to see the article in its entirety.

  3. I don't think that can be sound bacon. There is the pure physical matter of how you fit bacon into a form best measured by tablespoon. That would surely aid the case for ground bacon. There is also a heavy handwriting change between that (G/S) character in question and what must be an (S) in the word Salt following shortly thereafter. The character disputed character does fit the mold for several handwritings in representing a(G)

  4. It isn't a G. There is a (Y) above the disputed word whose tail comes down and intersects the word in question. It is most likely an (s). The letter shapes throughout have slight differences but they do match.

  5. Daniel W. wrote:

    "There is the pure physical matter of how you fit bacon into a form best measured by tablespoon."

    I know there's a crossbar written in, but tablespoons make no sense in the context of the other amounts listed -- pecks, quarts, whole fish. It's got to be pounds, "lbs."


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