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Dorris Keeven-Franke
Public Historian | Author | Curator | Archivist | Genealogist
Public Historian | Author | Curator | Archivist | Genealogist
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St. Charles County will have a new opportunity next spring to experience the story of a Veteran. Not just any veteran, but those that live here or have lived here. These are the stories of our friends, our neighbors and their families. These are stories of our men and women who placed their lives on the line and stepped away to protect us. At the St. Charles County Veterans Museum we will share those stories and give everyone an opportunity to understand that sacrifice. I'm looking to record those stories. I want to hear whatever any Veteran is willing to share. Collecting these audios has become a passion for me. I want to create a audio library for the museum, where people can sit and listen. No one can tell your story better than you, and every Veteran has a story. Call or text at 636-221-1524 or email me at Sccvetsmuseum@gmail.com anytime.
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Great video from O'Fallon's Joe Meier

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Dorris Keeven-Franke commented on a post on Blogger.
While working as archivist for the St. Charles County Historical Society, member Sandy Atkins contacted me when she discovered a handwritten document tucked under a staircase. While renovating a house on Madison Street she found what appeared to be the Emancipation papers of Absolam White, and asked if I could provide more information about Absolam.

Absolam had been a slave of one of St. Louis' early residents, Phillip Choteau when he was sold to early St.Charles slaveholder Samual W. Audrain, Jr.. Interestingly enough it turned out that Audrain emancipated Absolam but not any of his other slaves in 1838. "Know all men that I Samuel W. Audrain Jr. In consideration for the fidelity of my negro slave named Absalom White do hereby liberate emancipate and forever set free"

In the 1850 St. Charles Census 72-year old Absolam is listed as the only free black living in the City of St. Charles, alone in the house that he had built in 1848, on Madison Street. In 1848 Absolam had also purchased a four-year old slave girl named Emily. "I give and bequeath unto my daughter Emily now aged about five years and to her heirs and assignees, my house and lot in which I now reside"

Apparently Emily was his daughter, as he provides for her in his will, also naming two ladies that she have as guardians that will teach her how to read the Bible. He also wrote "my daughter who belongs to me, after my death, I hereby liberate and set free. " Absolam mysteriously dies in 1854, and there is a huge funeral in the old French Creole style. After that, we learn that the court system wasn't exactly sure what to do with the probate of a free black in the slave state of Missouri. Absolam was owed a large sum of $1000 by a neighbor, and he did own the house on Madison Street, which sat right next to a small brick church that was built for the blacks in the City.

Next I discovered a newspaper of the time that described a lynching by the "Bushwackers" (Confederates) of a black preacher named "Reverend White" but unfortunately only the etching of the event was all that survived. With no further information I wondered if the "Reverend" was Absolam White, who lived next door to the Church? While I was never able to confirm that the Reverend and Absolam White were one in the same, it seemed highly likely.

I wondered what had become of Absolam's property and his daughter Emily. The property remained tied up in probate for many years, and was once almost lost for back taxes. And while Emilie does not seem to become the ward of the nice ladies that the will requested, I did find her as a servant of the same gentleman, Erastus Porter, who supposedly involved in building the church for the blacks.

After the Civil War, all blacks who had lived as a couple were to be married and the license fee paid by the master. Emily White becomes Mrs. George Brown on April 6, 1965, and she and her husband would be found in the census living with their five children, one named Absolam, in the house on Madison Street in 1870.

See https://stcharlescountyhistory.org/2014/02/02/emancipation/

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Utopia - Revisiting a German State in America is a traveling international  exhibition that shares the history of over 500 German immigrants to Missouri, in one of the largest most organized German emigration societies in 1834. This utopian group came from all walks of life, religious backgrounds, and parts of Germany in search of political freedom with plans to create a German state in America.
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