Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves in all southern states in rebellion. Many slaves had heard about this law that was to become legal and many stayed up anticipating the moment that they would become free. As I reflect on what this means for slaves in the south I think of my children’s ancestors who were enslaved in Lauderdale County, TN on the plantation of David Gilliland. I think of what they must have been thinking when this date came to pass. I am also very proud of them. Through researching David Gilliland I discovered that all of his slaves had runaway by 1864 when he had written his will. I have since discovered that one of his slaves, Major Gilliland/Gilden/Bates, went on the join the United States Colored Troops to fight against slavery. I like to imagine that on this day they celebrated their independence. I like to imagine that even if they were unable to leave the plantation on this exact date that they knew that they would eventually be free. Here are a few mentions of runaway slaves found in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. I hope that they too eventually got their freedom.
Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal January 1, 1857 edition