Records documenting enslaved people showcased in Bexar County for Juneteenth

‘There’s a ‘wow,’ and then, there’s also a gasp,’ says San Antonio African-American Community Archive and Museum president

Records documenting enslaved people showcased for Juneteenth in Bexar County
Records documenting enslaved people showcased for Juneteenth in Bexar County

SAN ANTONIO – Within the Bexar County Spanish Archives are records of enslaved men, women, and children being bought, sold, and even leased out during the 1850s.

“There’s a ‘wow,’ and then, there’s also a gasp,” said Deborah Omowale Jarmon, president and CEO of the San Antonio African-American Community Archive and Museum.

SAAACAM researchers had seen much of the material, but its president saw it for the first time Friday.

David Carlson, Ph.D., the Bexar County archivist, showed her some of the records he had on display. Watch below.

David Carlson, Ph.D., the county archivist, showed some of the records he had on display at Bexar County Spanish Archives.
David Carlson, Ph.D., the county archivist, showed some of the records he had on display at Bexar County Spanish Archives.

He said that, in honor of Juneteenth, “We are simply showcasing some of the county records that have been used by researchers delving into the history of African Americans in Bexar County.”

Carlson said the handwritten legal records show Bexar County has long been a society with slaves.

It can be an enlightening but emotional experience to read what they contain, even for Bexar County Clerk Lucy Adame-Clark.

The new county clerk elected last year said reading about slavery is much different than actually seeing the recorded sale of a human being.

“It got me to the point where I really wanted to just walk away and cry,” Adame-Clark said.

She also said that, as the first woman and the first Latina to become county clerk, “I knew it was very important and very imperative to preserve that history.”

Over the next 18 months, Adame-Clark said the materials will be digitized for online use by academic researchers and the public, especially now that more people are tracing the roots.

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.