Lafayette F. Mauzey was born in Ray County, Missouri in 1835. His family had strong southern roots, typical for families in the newly admitted slave state. His mother's family had owned a family of African descent for multiple generations - a way of life that Lafayette eventually separated himself from. His son Oscar, my great-great-grandfather, reported that the separation came after his father had seen the horrors of the treatment of the slaves. Oscar detailed one such incident involving a man being tied to a tree stump as punishment from which the man died from exposure to the elements.
Grandpa Lafayette married in 1858 into a family staunch in their pro-slavery beliefs. The first years of Lafayette and Sarah's married life were spent in Platte County, Missouri in which slaves in 1850 accounted for 61% of the general population. In 1860, the family was still at home in Platte County but by 1864 Lafayette had enlisted in the 12th Kansas volunteer regiment - enlisted to protect free-state Kansas from Sterling Price's advancement. During his brief period with the 12th, he fought in the Battle of Westport in October 1864, which is known as the "Gettysburg of the West" and a turning point in Price's Confederate advance.
Grandpa Lafayette's shift in his feelings towards slavery has always interested me. Why? Surely he had noticed the horrors of slavery his whole life, was the neglectful murder of that one slave what brought on the change or was it more? My interest in other Bleeding Kansas and Civil War Kansas topics as of late caused me to take another look at possibly why Grandpa Lafayette shifted in his beliefs. I believe I found it, buried in information we already had.
"L. F. Mauzey was converted
from the error of his ways
in the year of our Lord 1864
in Missouri, and moved
to Kansas the same year."Perhaps Grandpa Lafayette's transformation was not just a philanthropic one, but a spiritual one as a result. After the war, Grandpa Lafayette went on to become a minister of the Gospel, pro-Temperance and anti-gambling (both of the last two, his father was all but). Isn't it funny how the answer to our genealogical questions are sometimes right under our noses? This time it took a period of putting the research to the side and coming back at it with fresh eyes and asking different questions ;)
Part of my genealogy quest on this side of the family has been to pursue the histories and trails of the family that was unfortunate enough to be owned by my own. I owe it to that family who had been enslaved by mine to preserve what past I can find on my end so hopefully it will benefit their descendants someday if they choose to pursue their past. The recent revisiting of the unnecessary murder of that poor man has pressed upon me to regroup my efforts to dig into this family's story once again.