This is a copy of the U.S. Census of the year 1860, for St. Georges Parrish, Accomack County, Virginia.
This document is significant on a number of levels. First, it is a listing of African American families. As we know, in 1860 most African Americans were enslaved in the southern states of America. These families being listed in the U.S. Census means that they were so-called ‘’free negroes’’. Slaves would not be listed in the census because they were property. ‘’Free negroes’’ were American citizens, therefore, they would be list in census records.
Now, if you go about halfway down this document at number 17, you see the family of Sabra Sample. She became head of household after the death of her husband, Isaac Sample. Listed below Sabra, are there four children, John, Isaac, William, and Rachel.
What is also significant about this family is that they would soon become part of my Nock family, by marriage. Rachel, not long after this census was taken, would marry my great-great Grandfather, Samuel Nock.
I’ve often been told that the Nock side of my family were descended from ‘’free negroes’’, but I never had proof of this. Though I still don’t have 100% proof on the Nock side of my family, there is clear proof on the Sample side of my family. As I’m sure many of you know, there was a large number of ‘’free negroes’’ in Accomack County during the slave period. Some historians put the percentage as high as 50%. It was however, significantly lower in Northampton County.