When I wrote about Wade before, it was in the context of how to find someone in a census when the surname is so mangled that it is hard to find. This time I want to talk about a salient feature of the censuses that I did find that involved him and his family. Namely, the 1850 census shows the family as Mutlatto. Mutlatto can be used in several sorts of situations, but generally it means someone of mixed racial heritage. Some correspondents have wondered if Wade Borin could have been Black German, which might look like Mutlatto, but I have a photo (which I’ll try to add to this post) of Wade and Mary (Dardinger) Borin which makes him look somewhat dark complected, but not particularly German. More importantly, his given names, “Wade Hampton” were well known in South Carolina in the 18th century and earlier . Wade Hampton I was an officer in the Revolutionary War and also the War of 1812. His son Wade Hampton II also served in the War of 1812 and Wade Hampton III was a colonel in the Confederate Army. After the War Wade Hampton III was Governor and Senator from South Carolina. Of particular interest is that according to Wikipedia (which see for more info on the Wade Hamptons) at his death Wade Hampton I was said to be the wealthist planter in the US with over 3000 slaves. This brings up the question of whether the Burdens came from the Hampton line and were freed at some point before Wade Burden was born? I don’t have any absolute answer, but it’s always possible it could be answered with a genetic test. Wade and Mary had nine boys and a girl, so there are undoubtedly a lot of Borin males running around who could be tested. Of course, since they don’t have the Hampton surname, it might mean that the connection was via a mutlatto daughter.
The other interesting question is why Wade Burden changed his surname to Borin and went white? I read a book a number of years that pointed out that for the most part people with black blood in them identify with their black line even when and where there’s no necessary reason to do so. I don’t know how modern blacks would respond to this question. I had a black roommate for two years in college, but he was an Ibo from Nigeria and did not have any knowledge of black culture in the US. Likewise I have some black friends now, but they’re also either recent immigrants or we haven’t actually talked about racial identification. Anyway, I’d be interested in anyone’s input.
BTW, Mary was 18 and Wade 27 when they married in 1871. But in the 1860 census, when he’s still with his family in what’s now West Virginia, he’s listed as Mutlatto while in 1870 when he’s working as a farm hand he’s listed as Hampton Boran (white). It may be he changed his racial classification so he could join the regular Union Army, and then stuck with it.