In the last article, we discussed the various terms and considerations necessary to properly evaluate source records.  Here we will apply this process to a record relating to the Lowcountry.

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Original Document Source:

Registers of Depositors in Branches of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust, 1865-1874, NARA Micropublication M816, 27 Rolls

Is this source Original or Derivative?

This is an image copy of the original deposit slip.

Does the source contain Primary or Secondary Information?

The signature at the bottom of the slip is (1) not a mark but an actual sig>nature, and (2) not in the same hand as the rest of the handwriting, indicating that it was actually signed by Robert himself. Furthermore, Roberts occupation is listed as Preacher of AME Church. These two facts indicate that Robert was likely literate, and served as the informant of this record himself. This makes all of the information more or less primary.

The following facts are contained within this record:

  • The record was created on 21 November 1871. On this date, Robert S. Tarleton lived in Combahee, near Green Pond, South Carolina.
  • Robert S. Tarleton was born and raised (brought up) in South Santee, South Carolina.
  • Robert S. Tarleton was aged 36 years, as of August 1871. This implies a birthdate of ca. August 1835.
  • On 21 November 1871, Robert S. Tarleton was a preacher of an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
  • On 21 November 1871, Robert S. Tarletons wife was named Nanny.
  • Robert S. Tarleton had three children: Nancy, Joseph, and Sophia, who died in 1865. Their mother is not identified but may be his wife Nanny.
  • Robert S. Tarletons parents were Joseph Tarleton and Sarah Tarleton, who died 29 July 1871.
  • Robert S. Tarleton had two siblings: Dandy, who was sold, and Betsy Scott.
  • James Maxwell came with Robert S. Tarleton, presumably to the bank at the time of this initial deposit.

The next step will be to determine an answer to the question: how reliable are these facts?

The most reliable facts in themselves are those most contemporary to the creation of this record: residence, occupation, wife, and children. We were able to determine that Robert S. Tarleton himself was the informant for this record, and this lends credibility to all of the remaining facts.

What we do not know is whether Roberts parents were still living at the time of the creation of this record. The identities of his parents as reported may be the only potentially questionable fact, if it cannot be proven that Robert knew his parents, due to the disruption of his family by slavery. But again, this record does not state whether Robert was ever enslaved, or born free. These questions will require additional research in other records to find an answer.

Once we have fully evaluated this record by itself, we will have to continue with our search to locate additional records to corroborate and elaborate on the facts contained here. This will be the subject of the next article.

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