Freedman’s Bank Records Open New Doors, Reveal Much

The Freedman’s Bank, a distinct entity from the Freedman’s Bureau, was established by Congress on March 3, 1865.   The bank’s official name was the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company.  The bank’s purpose was to assist African-Americans recently freed from bondage to adjust and thrive economically. It had branches in 16 states and the District of Columbia, where former slaves, black soldiers,and their families could deposit and build their savings.   Additionally, many community organizations participated with the bank.  At its height, the Freedman’s Bank held more than $3.7 million in assets.

In 1870, however, the Bank began engaging in more speculative and risky investments.  By the time a nation-wide depression came on in 1873, the Bank was in a very poor position to defend its assets.  The bank was terminated on June 29, 1874.   Thousands of depositors lost their money.

Nonetheless, while it operated, the Freedman’s bank was an important institution in African-American communities.  Today the records of nearly 500,000 depositors offer a significant element of African-American history and genealogy..  The records are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration and are available on sites like Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest,

In the last ;post, we displayed a depositor card for George Gines [Guion] who’s identified there as George “Guynes.”   We know that this is the same family as the one enumerated in the 1870  census as follows:

1870 Census Bank Record
George Guion George Guynes
Dinah Dianah
Dick Dick
Ed
Henry Henry
Wesley Wesley
Oscar Oscar
Caddo Parish, Shreveport Office

The Bank record in this case is not as detailed as some are, but it provides us with excellent information. For example, it seems to validate our revised hypothesis that Ed and Henry are not the same person. That still raises the question of just where Ed was at the time of the 1870 census.

This record gives us some new information to consider. The record says: “Draws for himself [and] Walpool.”  And it adds: “Wills to family.  Deposited by Walpool.”

So who were the Walpools? It’s not a name I’d ever heard  in connection with the Gines family.  Could this be Dinah’s family?  Census records say she was from Georgia.  Bank and census records place the Walpools as natives of Crawford County, Georgia.  This is not sufficient to tie them together, but it’s an important clue. We’ll explore that angle some time in the future.  But the matter goes to shpw how Freedman’s  Bank records can open many doors.

OFF
Craig

2 Responses to “Freedman’s Bank Records Open New Doors, Reveal Much”

  • karen burney says:

    Hi Craig-

    I am glad you solved the Ed/Henry separate or same people puzzle. By the way, I have seen black and white Walpools/Walpoles in census and death records in Shreveport and Frierson (Desoto) records.

    Great work!

  • Mavis J says:

    Great post about the history of the Freedman’s bank. I learned something new. Wishing there were some Freedman’s records for ancestors.


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