I can’t tell the story of my family without peeking at the pages of other families stories. I’m researching other families, literally looking through the footnotes of others hoping to find the missing chapters of my ancestors’ lives. I’ve uncovered quite a few records from the Dobbins line on the maternal side of my family. To recap, I strongly believe that this branch of my family was once owned by Moses W. Dobbins Jr. His father, Moses W. Dobbins Sr., was an early rector at the University of Georgia. Junior moved to Stewart County, Ga., sometime between 1850 and 1860. He went on to enlist as a private in the Confederate Army and is said to have personally attended to Robert E. Lee.
Dobbins returned to Stewart County, and in 1864 was doing relatively well, according to the tax list below. He owned seven slaves and there were 14 slaves among his three sons. Their combined worth: $21,000. In 1868, a tax list shows Dobbins owns about 270 acres. The value is illegible.
But by 1870, things weren’t looking so great. After corresponding with another Dobbins researcher, I learned that Moses Dobbins Jr. was ‘destitute.” A cousin gave him a farm in Fulton County, Ga., and he and his family moved there, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Meanwhile, Alfred and Laura Dobbins, my third great-grandparents, remained in Stewart County, most likely on the same land they had worked as slaves. Alfred Dobbins was a sharecropper, and had at least two employers between 1865 and his death, which was sometime after 1880 but before 1900. Alfred Dobbins appears as a laborer on tax lists for Lucius Humber and T.P. Kimble. (Kimble was a neighbor to Moses Dobbins at one point).
These records provide an excellent resource for tracing the lives of my ancestors. They also help illustrate the constrained “freedom” ex-slaves had following the Civil War.