2014 Spring Ancestor Challenge

When Luckie Daniels (Our Georgia Roots & Our Alabama Roots) and Felicia Mathis (Echoes of My Nola Past) invited me to join them on the new African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research (AAGSAR) Group they were launching via Facebook, I had no idea that I would be joining, in my opinion, one of the BEST collaborative genealogy group for “serious” family historians and researchers in 2014. Luckie said it best when she wrote, “Slave Ancestry IS CHALLENGING WORK,” in one of her messages to the group. From that message comes one of the most exciting projects I have ever worked on with a group via the Internet . . . the  2014 Spring Ancestor Challenge – No Brick Walls Permitted!

I have accepted this challenge which officially begins Tuesday, October 1, 2013 and ends April 1, 2014. In essence, this is MY ANCESTOR WORK, but I’m not alone on this journey! I have met some awesome group members who have made the setup and preparation for this challenge so-so sweet (sending a special shout-out to the Texas Tribe . . . woo-hoo!). So I have a support system that is willing to lend a helping hand, consult with me when I need it, and support me when it looks like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing!

So without further adieu, here’s my 2014 Spring Ancestor Challenge  . . .

Masters & Slaves: The Texas Routts

The Challenge:

To determine the approximate date/location of my 3rd great-grandfather Osborn Routt’s birth in Virginia, as well as the approximate date/location of his death in Washington County, Texas.


Slave Owner(s):
William Robert Routt from Northumberland County, Virginia
Joseph William Routt from Huntsville, Madison, Alabama & Chappel Hill, Washington, Texas




Texas – Chappel Hill, Washington County
Alabama – Huntsville, Madison County
Virginia – Northumberland County


It was the “5 Generations” photo I found above in an old family photo album featuring my 97-year-old 2nd great-grandmother, Lula (Routt) Green, that initially launched my research into my father’s side of my family tree. Based on a few names my dad could remember, I was able to glean from the 1870 & 1880 census records that Lula Routt, born 12 September 1867 in Chappel Hill, Washington County, Texas, was the daughter of Osborn and Sallie Routt. Lula was born just 2 short years after slavery ended in Texas. Prior to 1867, her parents were slaves on one of the major plantations in the Washington County, Texas area. To learn more about who the slaveholders were in that area, I wrote to Chappel Hill’s local Historical Society, who put me in contact with one of their respected historians, Nathaniel Winfield, in 1998. It is through email conversations with Mr. Winfield, that I discovered that Osborn & Sallie Routt were probably once slaves on his great-grandfather’s plantation – Mulberry Bower. According to Mr. Winfield, his great-grandfather (Joseph William Routt) came to Chappel Hill, Texas from Huntsville, Alabama in the mid 1840’s. Both the 1870 & 1880 census records report Osborn was born in Virginia about 1835. If Osborn was born in Virginia, how did he end up in Texas on the Mulberry Bower Plantation? Well according to a free Google e-book I was fortunate to download titled, A History of Texas and Texans, Volume 4 by Frank White Johnson, Joseph William Routt was the son of William Robert Routt, ” . . . a slaveholder and planter of Virginia . . . ” So in light of that family connection it is very possible that William Routt may have been the original owner of Osborn which resulted in him being passed down to the son as a part of the father’s estate.

Related Post – Treasure Chest Thursday: Mulberry Bower


Google Book: A HISTORY OF TEXAS AND TEXANS by Frank White Johnson
Genealogy of the Joseph William Routt Family
Genealogy of the William Robert Routt Family

References Needed for Further Review and Analysis:

Probate Will of William Robert Routt
Probate Will of Joseph William Routt
Estate Inventories for William Routt & Joseph Routt
Insurance Policies for William Routt & Joseph Routt
Plantation Records for William Routt & Joseph Routt (if available)
Sharecropping Records for Osborn Routt
1850 & 1860 US Federal Census Slave Schedules for William Routt & Joseph Routt
Tax Records for William Routt, Joseph Routt, and Osborn Routt
U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880
U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885
U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918
Washington County, Texas Death Records
Local Histories & Pamphlets
Chancery Records Index
African-American Newspapers
Church & Baptism Records*

For Family, Friends, and Visitors:

What have I missed?
Are there any other references and resources I need to explore?
If yes, let me know in the comment section below!

*Special thanks to Shellye (My Genealogical Journey) for reminding me to include Church & Baptism Records to my list as well!


11 thoughts on “2014 Spring Ancestor Challenge

  1. Pingback: Osborn Routt

  2. Hi Liv:

    Although, “the ancestors are in charge” as Luckie
    Daniels puts it I know that it must be difficult being on the Ancestors Challenge journey during this time of the year however, I was wondering how the journey was coming.


    • Hi Shellye! Yes indeed, the ancestors are in charge and though the holidays are just about here, I have been able to get in some quality research time believe it or not! I had an opportunity to travel to the county seat (Brenham, Texas) where my ancestor’s lived near in October. Then the first week in November I got a chance to spent some quality time researching at the Texas State Library in Austin, Texas!

      So I’ve been quite busy! I’m also waiting to hear back from some of the government agencies, university’s special collections, and other archives I’ve written to for information too. So there’s lot going on behind the scenes. But I will be blogging about my endeavors and my finding real soon . . . woo-hoo!


  3. This challenge is exciting indeed. Looks like you have all the sources I would
    add to your list of resources Church records for baptism, confirmation or
    marriage. In the Danish West Indies they had the state
    church and most of the slaves had to be baptized and name change in some


    • @minkyadoo – THANK YOU so much for that additional information!!! I had not thought about church records and the Routts were definitely members of a local church in Washington County. So I will definitely be adding that information to my list here shortly. Again thank you!!!!


    • Hey Renee sis! THANK YOU so much for stopping by and checking out the challenge. Trust me when I say that you and the other group members are DEFINITELY my inspiration and motivation to take on this challenge. So get that AC posted and let’s get busy!!! Again, THANK YOU!


  4. This is another great challenge and what a good way to break down those you know what’s that we have gotten stuck on…. I’m looking forward to reading about your journey and helping in this challenge as well… That’s what this group is all about!!!!


  5. Who knew Ms. TEXAS would touch my heart this night?

    Even though I know we’ve made an AMAZING amount of progress in a short window of time, some days I go to bed thinking — what the heck are you doing?! Do folks get it? Can this work?

    Tonight, I know… at least 1 has gotten it! We are a community capable of supporting & championing one another. Our Ancestors matter. We will fight for their voices to be heard. And we’ll do it together.

    Thanks Sister… our Ancestors are in charge:)


    • @OurGerogiaRoots – Who knew is right — LOL! Oh Luckie, I must THANK YOU for the invite that started this whole journey off. I’ve loving every minute of the group and I look forward to all that this challenge has to offer. You just remember . . . Don’t mess with Texas — LOL!


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