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Our Roots, Ancestry & Historical Facts

The Descendants, Our Story page 5

Part V: The Snell Family and SLAVERY


I started digging into the Snell family history.  Our Great-Great-Grandmother Sarah Snell was born in 1863 right after Abraham Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.  She was the mother of Laura Jones and daughter of Orange & Julia Snell.  I found a strong presence of slavery in the town where she was born, Newton.  The most prevalent place slavery existed with our family was in Daleville and Newton with the Snell family.  The Snell family was deep rooted in slavery.  Orange Snell, our Great- Great-Great-Grandfather was born a slave in 1835 North Carolina.  He migrated (forcibly uprooted and moved) to Georgia and then to Dale County Alabama with his slave masters.  Great-Great-Great- Grand-Daddy Orange was bought by the Snell family in Macon County Georgia or Dale County Alabama. 


He was bought by William Snell or one of William’s sons, John C, Jacob Snell or David.  Between the four of them, they owned nearly 2000 acres of land around Daleville, Newton, Pinckard and Midland City Alabama.  They owned all the land in and around Newton.  Eventually they divided their land into lots and resold the lots making a nice profit.  They also owned about 55 slaves in Dale County; one of those slaves was probably Orange, Sarah’s father.  The Snell family had a deep rooted, well connected and intimate relationship with slavery and the slave trade.  In 1860, this group also owned another 40 slaves in Emanuel County Georgia.


After the Alabama War of 1812 with the Creek Indian Nation, the Indian land in the southeastern section of Alabama was made available to white settlers at $1.25 an acre on a first come first served basis.  In the 1820s, the Snell family and their slaves, had migrated from South Carolina to Georgia and then to Alabama to make land claims.  In 1830, the first Snell family members began to show up in Dale County Alabama.


The Snell family ran farms throughout Dale County.  Instead of using the term plantation, they used the word farm for slave owners who owned less than 25 slaves per farm.  The Black Belt of Alabama defined the term “Slave Plantation”.  In 1860, Dale County had a total population of 12,300 people, 1,800 were slaves and 10,500 were whites (sometimes Indians were listed as white and some Indians owned slaves).  This was a small slave population compared to the more heavily populated counties that made up the Alabama Black Belt.  The Black Belt consisted of counties that had a 60 to 80 percent slave population; Sumter with 17,000 slaves, Greene with 23,000 slaves, Perry with 18,000 slaves, Marengo with 25,000 slaves, Wilcox 18,000 slaves, Dallas with 26,000 slaves, Lowndes 20,000 slaves, Montgomery 24,000 slaves and Macon 10,000 slaves (see slave population map under Our Roots Page 2).  This Black Belt of heavily populated slave counties formed a boarder completely crossing, from east to west, the lower middle section of Alabama.  Any slave south of the Black Belt had very little chance of escaping north to freedom.  To draw a comparison to escaping from slavery, imagine quitting your job today, packing up your car with your belongings and driving north to live in Canada in order to escape racism.  Escaping racism is not quite as intense as escaping slavery, but the unknowns of where will you live and will you find work still exist.


In the 1800s, Alabama sold land in sections of 40 acres.  Some former slaves got tired of waiting for Uncle Sam to hand over their promised 40 acres and mule.  In 1885, Great-Great-Great-Uncle Moses Creech purchased 40 acres of land near Sylvan Grove.  Although I did not see any mention of him buying a mule, I am sure he owned one.  In 1891, Moses’ son, Cousin Theophilus Creech, purchased 80 acres of land near Sylvan.  Both of their Land Grants are posted on this website.  Despite the conditions, most slaves maintained a since of pride.  Sarah Snell born 1863 in the middle of the Civil War had to be a strong proud woman to survive the aftermath of slavery.  The former slaves that did survive slavery do so by forming societies amongst themselves, finding ways to bond and help each other and sticking together.



Brian Clark

Moses Creech land grant

Theophilus Creech land grant


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