Last year, I did a major series on the so-called "French Negroes of Illinois," focusing on the Micheau family of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois. In that series, I traced the origins of the French Negroes of Illinois from slaves brought from Haiti by Pierre Renault, who was seeking silver and gold.
Also in that series, I recounted the story told by George Micheau (1852-1942) in a letter of how his family escaped from slavery in 1864. The family had been held by one John Highly of Washington County, Missouri.
Yesterday, my research into this family took a dramatic turn.
I was following my admonition to re-examine areas that one has explored before. I was checking various websites for the several permutations of "Micheau." I was on the Washington County (Mo.) Genealogical Web Page when I spotted a link there that I had not seen before. It was a link to a page about the African-American history of Washington and Iron Counties, Missouri. That page had a list of slave emancipations. To my surprise, among these was George "Misho"
who later moved his family to Randolph County, Illinois! This would be George Micheau, Sr. (1812-?), father of the George who wrote the letter described above. See here and here.
Well! Well? Well . . . .
According to the website, Washington County court records show that in 1846 George Micheau, Sr., was given a license to live as a free man in Missouri upon the posting of a bond secured by one Steven D. Mullowny. In 1850, the census shows him living with a white couple, Garland and Clarissa Nuckols. The 1850 slave schedule also shows that Garland Nuckols of Washington County owned two slaves: an 18 year old girl and a 1 year old girl.
One must wonder if the two slaves might be the wife and child of George Micheau. The young woman seems to match the age of George's [later] wife, Margret. Perhaps he was living in the Nuckols household to be near them and ultimately purchase their freedom. No record has been found showing that George and Margret had a female child. The 1870 census shows them with six sons.
So wait a minute . . .
If George Micheau was a free man in 1846 (and as late as 1850), how is it that he was a slave in 1852 [George, Jr., was born in 1852 and his letter suggests he was born into slavery] or in 1864 when his family escaped from John Highly? And just who are Steven D. Mullowny and Garland and Clarissa Nuckols?
There are some possible explanations for this apparent discrepancy. But first, we need more information. Next step: get the original documents from the Washington County court.
Obviously, there's more to be known about the Micheaus. Once again, looking again has paid off again.