In hope of reuniting with their families, some freed slaves placed classified ads in newspapers:
“$200 Reward. During the year 1843, Donald Hughes carried away from Little Rock as his slaves, our daughter Betsy and our son Thomas, Jr., to the state of Mississippi, and subsequently, to Texas and when last heard from they were in Lagrange, Texas. We will give $100 each for them to any person who will assist them, or either of them, to get to Nashville, or to get to us any word of their whereabouts, if they are alive. Thomas and Georgia Smith”
“Information Wanted of Hessy Carter, who was sold from Vicksburg in the year 1852. She was carried to Atlanta and she was last heard of in the sales pen of Robert Clarke (a human trader in that place) from which she was sold. Any information of her whereabouts will be thankfully received and rewarded by her mother, Lucy Pickens, Nashville”
In Freeman, Pitts explores the turbulent and violent time after the official end of war and assassination of President Lincoln. He draws from historical classifieds to emphasize the steadfast efforts of freed slaves looking to reconnect with their loved ones. Pitts tells NPR’s Audie Cornish that most people weren’t aware of what was going on at the time.
“To me, it’s such a fascinating and little known fact that all of these African-Americans newly freed slaves went to such lengths to reconstitute their marriages and reconstitute their families,” he says.