1866: Freedmen Sam & Jake Cross AL

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lelliott19

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I've posted before about my own family connections - Dr. Cross, who was a surgeon in the Confederate Army; Sam Cross, his servant, who accompanied him to the army; and Mary Ann Francis Harris Cross, his wife back home, and her version of the burning of their home by Union forces. I've located another interesting document, so, in case you missed those previous posts, Ill repeat a few details in a short version to provide context for the document.

BACKGROUND INFO
Sam Cross was 5 years younger than Dr. Cross. Both were born and grew up on the Cross Family Plantation in North Carolina. When Dr. Cross reached adulthood, and before he traveled to Pennsylvania to attend Medical School, Sam was "gifted" to Dr. Cross by his parents. When he moved to Alabama to start a medical practice near Florence, Sam came along too. In addition to Sam, Dr. Cross owned a number of slaves, mostly (as far as I can tell) inherited from his wife's family, and operated a large family farm in Northwest AL. Sam accompanied Dr. Cross to the war. Afterwards, the two men made it back home alive - together. On January 4 1869, Dr. Cross deeded a house and land to Sam, in the town where they lived, making Sam Cross one of the first freed African Americans in Alabama to own real estate.

FREEDMEN AGREEMENTS
I was doing some "casual :nah disagree: reading" yesterday and ran across Alabama, Freedmen's Bureau, Field Office Records, 1865-1872, Roll 34, Fair copies of contracts, Tuscumbia, AL. The document contains copies of agreements between freedmen and the whites who wished to employ them. If you have not read them before, I will say that some of the content is pretty shocking.

For example, many of the agreements, approved by the Freedmen's bureau, specify that the employer will provide "substantial and healthy rations" ---which turns out to mean 3.5 pounds of bacon and a "peck" of corn meal per worker per week. Clothing is sometimes specified - 2 pair of pants, a shirt, a pair of socks, and, sometimes, a coat. One contract was approved by the Freedmen's bureau which required a freedwoman to work as a house servant for a year in exchange for room, board, and a calico dress, to be received in the Fall. And almost all of the contracts noted that the freedmen and women were "colored."

Besides the period wording, there were requirements that I found especially troubling. In some of the contracts, approved by the Freedmen's bureau, was a clause specifying that the freedmen and freedwomen had to "obey the orders of the employer and his family" and were not allowed to leave the employers premises without permission. (!) Many of the contracts specified that freedmen and women were to labor from sunup to sunset every day, Sundays usually excepted, with an hour for dinner. Most of them required the freedmen and women to reimburse the employer for clothing, but some required them to reimburse for rations, medical bills, and clothing. And still more required the freedmen to reimburse the employer for any damage or loss of farm implements. Some specified that the mules and horses provided could not be used for anything other than the crop.

NEW DOCUMENT
Anyway, enough about the contracts in general. I was pleased to locate an agreement filed between Dr. Cross & Sam Cross and Jake Cross. I was happy to find that my ancestor planned to provide Sam & Jake with food (not "rations" of bacon and meal) and to cover their medical care at his own expense. He did not note Sam & Jake as "colored"; he did not say that they had to "obey his orders"; he did not specify Sam & Jake's work hours; and he did not prohibit them from using the horses for other purposes.

For those who have trouble reading period documents, here is the transcription:
Agreement
This agreement entered into near Cherokee Franklin Co Ala., Jany 1st 1866 between Wm C Cross on the one part & Sam and Jake on the other part. Witnesseth that the said Wm C Cross is to furnish one team & all the necessary implements for husbandry with food for themselves & horses for & in consideration of one half of the cotton & one third of the corn crop, which they may make during the present year. Wm C Cross also agrees to furnish them clothing at cost & their Doctor bills at his expense. Said Sam & Jake Cross agree to cultivate my garden & attend to my stock & do any other work on the place that I may desire when not employed in cultivating or gathering their crop.
Signed & Sealed in presence of witnesses
(Signed) Wm C Cross
Sam (X his mark) Cross
Jake (X his mark) Cross
Witnesses:
Wm H Farris
Edney Wiley
Given in duplicate, approved, and registered March 13, 1866 in Green County (signature of Freedmen's agent illegible)​
1866 Sam Cross Jake Cross Freedmens Bureau Agreement.JPG

Alabama, Freedmen's Bureau, Field Office Records, 1865-1872, Roll 34, Fair copies of contracts, Tuscumbia, AL., page 121.
@alan polk @Pat Young this will be of interest to yall.
 
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