Absalom White, a free black

Emancipation of Absalom White

In 1838, Samuel Audrain emancipated his slave, Absalom White, making him a Free Black, as listed on the 1850 census. He’d purchased the old slave who had been born in Virginia, from Pierre Chouteau years before, and brought him to Missouri, without his wife and children. He didn’t free all of his slaves, only Absalom.

Know all men that I Samuel W. Audrain Jr. In consideration for the fidelity of my negro slave named Absalom White do hereby liberate emancipate and forever set free

In 1850, Absalom lives in the city of St. Charles, a free black, where he had bought property, Lot 5 in Nathan Boone’s survey, today’s Madison Street. He’s to be found in the 1850 census, alone, 72 years-old and on the property he had bought, and built a house, in 1848. He also bought a slave that same year
, a little four-year old girl named Emily.

Emily had cost $150 from David Wells. And in 1851, Absalom made his will,

I give and bequeath unto my daughter Emily now aged about five years and to her heirs and assignees, my house and lot in which I now reside


He also wrote

my daughter who belongs to me, after my death, I hereby liberate and set free

He even amended his will in 1852, when she is nearing ten years old, leaving instructions on how she is to be raised, and taught to read the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Absalom can read and write.

When Absalom dies in 1854, there is a grand funeral in French Creole style.
But Emily is not emancipated.

In fact, for years, she remains in St. Charles, growing up in the home of her Gaurdian, Erastus Porter. In 1860, she is listed as a domestic in his home. Her property is in limbo as well, and despite the money owed to his estate and her, the property is often in jeapordy. Taxes get behind, even though money is owed to the estate.

With the end of the Civil War comes new legislation, allowing former slaves to marry those that have lived as husband and wife, and Emily marries George Brown. She and George marry April 6,1865, immediately after that law is enacted. Finally, in 1870, she and George make their home given to her by her father, raising their young family. They have five children, 3 girls and 2 boys, one little boy named Absalom for his grandfather.


  1. Dorris Keevan-Franke,

    I really enjoy your blog and all of the interesting historical stories that you research and share.

    Beverly Graves Phoenix, AZ


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