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African American Elzey's of the Eastern Shore of Maryland

Updated August 1, 2010

John T Elzey
28677 Ocean Gateway
Salisbury, MD 21801
United States
(410) 546-8460

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Ever since Alex Haley's book, ROOTS, cast its genealogical spell, I have been interested in my ancestry. Unlike Mr. Haley, I have not been successful yet in tracing Charles Wesley Elzey, my paternal grandfather, back to Africa. In fact, I have not been able to trace him thus far beyond the early 1800s.

Although Charles Wesley Elzey is believed to have at least three siblings, I have limited this project to his descendants primarily because, given the sources available, his was the easiest lineage for me to reconstruct. Charles Wesley's siblings' names vary by source from Sarah, George, Daniel, James, Danith, Ferdinand, Gabriel, Whittington, and Nathan. At this point it is not possible to document the correct ones to follow, though some have been included.

For years, it has been passed on verbally within the family that Charles Wesley Elzey and his brothers were slaves in Mardela Springs; and that they assumed the last name of Elzey when they were freed. To date, I have found no documentary evidence to support this. In fact, Eubert Brown transcribed and provided me a copy of the 1832 census of free coloured people in Somerset County (Wicomico County did not exist until 1867). This census lists 14 people with the last name of Elzey, ranging in age from 1 to 65. Therefore, the African-American surname of Elzey has existed at least since 1767. Efforts are contining to connect Charles Wesley to them.

Thanks to a lot of dedicated volunteers, some census records of Somerset and Wicomico Counties, Maryland, have been transcribed and posted on the internet. These records were a great source of information. The census data for 1850, 1880 and 1900 are currently available and others are being transcribed and will be available in the near future. These documents record names, grouped by household, and include sex, race, relationship to the head of the household, date of birth, occupation and whether or not one can read, write, or speak English.

Many thanks to family members, relatives and friends who contributed to this project. I sincerely welcome any additions or corrections, and I apologize for any mistakes or oversights. Only through your review and contributions can this project be improved and expanded. Until then, thanks for helping.

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