Google is the gift that keeps on giving.
After finding out that a Dr. Stirling owned some of my great, great-grandmother Tempy’s relatives, I punched his name and a few other facts into the search engine and was thrilled when a collection of papers popped up.
According to the inventory of this special collection at the Louisiana State University, the Lewis Stirling family papers have a plethora of information on the family’s slaves including everything from a register of slaves to itemized lists of clothing and shoes handed out to those in bondage.
This weekend, I spent a day at Princeton University’s Firestone library where a copy of the papers is also stored and after many hours, I had barely scratched the surface of the five microfilm reels archiving this family’s antebellum years. Even though I haven’t gotten to the info I’m looking for, the Stirling papers make for fascinating reading. All of the wills I’ve read so far stipulate that slave families are not to be separated (which makes me wonder why my great, great-grandmother got separated from her mother, siblings and aunt). And in a three page contract with an overseer, one Stirling slave owner goes to pains to explain exactly how slaves should be disciplined (never with more than a dozen stripes and never with the butt end of the whip) and that the owner should be called if the overseer thinks they’ve done something to merit harsher treatment.
Can’t wait to see what other insights the Stirling Family Papers hold.