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Ancestry.com recently posted land and tax records from Tennessee.

You  may recall that Georgia tax records led me to discoveries on the maternal side of my family.

Tax records can be a useful tool in genealogical research, especially for people whose ancestors were once enslaved. Slaves were considered property– sometimes very valuable property– and were treated as such. Slaves were bought, slaves were sold, and, yes, slaves were taxed.

I decided to pore through the newly available records to see if I could connect my great-great-grandfather, Henry Nance, to any of the slaveowning families in or around Nashville. (According to the oral history, my great-great-grandfather, Henry Nance, was born a slave in Nashville, Tenn. His death certificate confirms this).

This is what I’ve found so far:

A C.W. Nance who bought 13 acres in  Davidson County, Tenn., in 1857. (Nashville is its county seat). This wasn’t his first go-round; he purchased 128 acres in February 1843.

An 1839 tax list shows a Josiah Nance of Davidson County owning two slaves and Mrs. E. Nance owning two slaves.

C.W. Nance doesn’t turn up in any tax lists, but I did find an 1850 slave schedule for him. In 1850, C.W. Nance owned six slaves– two mulatto women and four black men.

(Here’s the part where I cross my fingers, hoping dates and ages will match up)

I know that Henry Nance was born around 1837, which would have made him around 13 or so in 1850. Since slave schedules only list sex, age and color of slaves, my next step is to look for a 13-year-old male among C.W. Nance’s slaves.

No such luck. The male slaves are 43, 18, 16 and 23.

I feel like I’m closing in on the bulls eye, but it going to take quite a bit of digging and researching to figure out who’s who and what’s what.

But I’m up to the task.

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