Abraham Blackburn, Newburgh, NY, finds his mother after writing 256 letters of inquiry

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Abraham Blackburn, Newburgh, NY, finds his mother after writing 256 letters of inquiry


Newspaper report of family reunification


Abraham Blackburn sold away from his mother in 1862.


Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL) (reprinted from the Newburgh Journal)


December 8, 1886


Newburgh, NY
Knoxville, TN
Richmond, VA
New Market, Jefferson County, TN
Henderson County, NC


Jesse Nasta






A Newburg Colored Man's Long Search for
His Mother -- Both Sold in 1862

An incident has just come to light in this
city which is a strong reminder of old slavery
days in the South, and which illustrates sever-
al phases of human character. Mr. Abraham
Blackburn, a colored man 35 years old, had
been in the employ of the late Rev. John
Forsyth D.D., since March, 1878. He has
always been sober, industrious, and reliable.
Added to this Abraham is intelligent and
In August 1862, Abraham, his mother, three
sisters, and three brothers were sold into Rich-
mond, VA., to Andrew Blackburn, a large slave-
holder. They were by him carried to New
Market, Jefferson County, Tenn. Abraham
Blackburn, was a mere boy. At New
Market the children were all separated from
their mother, she being sold again. From New
Market Blackburn, the purchaser, took the
children to Henderson County, North Carolina,
where they were one by one separated from each
other, Abraham reaching the North some
years ago. The mother was never seen or
heard from by any of her children until last
From the time Abraham reached the estate
of manhood he has felt a keen interest in the
welfare of his mother, and has long wanted to
find out where she was and to see her. Of late
years, he has adopted various plans which he
thought would lead to the restoration of his
mother to him. For the last four years and
six months this dutiful son has been follow-
ing up every clew that he had a idea would
lead to the learning of his mother's where-
abouts. He failed repeatedly, until yesterday.
Then he received a letter from his aged
mother's own hand. It now transpires that
the mother has resided in Knoxville, Tenn.,
ever since the close of the War of the Rebellion.
During the long search 236 letter have been
written with the hope of finding this young
man's mother. That there will be rejoicing
when the reunited mother and son meet goes
without saying. The mother is alone in the
South, except for a sister Eliza, who resides at
Richmond, Va. Abraham has written a letter
to his mother expressing the wish that she come
here and spend the winter, and then she can
go back South, if she so desires, in the spring.
There appears to be no doubt that the mother
will avail herself of the invitation extended
by her dutiful son, and that she will reach
Newburg at an early date. Of the children
who were sold with Abraham Blackburn, at
Richmond, in 1862, the latter has track still of
the following: William, who is (younger) at
Syracuse, N.Y.: Mary (older) in South Car-
olina: Clara, in Rutherford County, South
It is the purpose of Abraham Blackburn to
remain at the house of the widow of Dr. For-
syth during the the coming winter, where he will
be an able assistant, as he always was, to the
Rev. Dr. Forsyth, who valued his services very
highly. In conversation with Abraham, it
transpires that Dr. Forsyth did good work
during the last few years in assisting the former
in his search for his mother. And the young
man speaks in high praise of his late employer
for the benevolent and kindly interest he took
in assisting him in this direction. Above all,
Abraham returns his grateful thanks to God
for reuniting him with his mother whom he
loves so well. -- Newburg (N.Y.) Journal




“Abraham Blackburn, Newburgh, NY, finds his mother after writing 256 letters of inquiry,” Newspaper report of family reunification, Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL) (reprinted from the Newburgh Journal), December 8, 1886, Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery, accessed January 24, 2020, http://informationwanted.org/items/show/2835.

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