|Enslaved from birth, George Fordman was not Black, but part indigenous and part white. George Fordman explains to his interviewer how he came to be enslaved in a tragic history that begins with White people forcibly driving his indigenous ancestors from their home in Indiana in 1838. After his ancestors walked all the way to Alabama, the George family “automatically” enslaved them, even though they were not Black.
In the full interview (see link below) George Fordman describes the “dark trail” of his childhood, in which the reader learns that George Fordman’s enslaver was his father and his grandfather.
In this first person excerpt, the interviewer records how George Fordman was emancipated and how he came to be called George Fordman.
Note: Mistress Lorainne enslaved George Fordsman. Her husband was Ford George, who was dead at the time of the events described. Ford George incestuously raped Eliza, an enslaved person who was also Ford George’s daughter. The person being interviewed is the child of Eliza and Ford George.
… [Ford George’s mother] named me Ford George, in derision, but remained my friend. She was never angry with my mother. She knew a slave had to submit to her master and besides Eliza did not know she was Master Ford George’s daughter.
… Five years before the outbreak of the Civil War [the enslaver] Mistress Hester called all the slaves together and gave us our freedom….
[George Fordman’s grandmother continued to work for the George family, and George Fordman remained on the George plantation. Several years later, when the Civil War was over,] the Freedmen started teaching school in Kentucky the census taker called to enlist me as a pupil. ‘What do you call this child?’ he asked Mistress Lorainne. ‘We call him the Little Captain because he carried himself like a soldier,’ said Mistress Lorainne. ‘He is the son of my husband and a slave woman but we are rearing him.’ Mistress Lorainne told the stranger that I had been named Ford George in derision and he suggested she list me in the census as George Fordsman, which she did, but she never allowed me to attend the Freedmen’s School, desiring to keep me with her own children and let me be taught at home. My mother [Eliza]’s half brother, Patent George allowed his name to be reversed to George Patent when he enlisted in the Union Service at the outbreak of the Civil War.
Formerly enslaved person
|Birth Year (Age)
|AL or KY
|Themes & Keywords
|Education, Emancipation, Family, Violence
|Trigg County, First Person, Enslaver Father, Notable