The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen's Bureau) was established by an act of Congress after the end of the Civil War. The purpose of the Freedmen's Bureau was to assist refugees and former slaves, as well as address matters regarding land abandoned or seized during the Civil War.
The National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC contains 203 rolls of microfilm of the Virginia Freedmen's Bureau records from 1865-1872. The entire contents of these microfilm rolls are described in microfilm publication M1913. Microfilm rolls 58 & 59 contain the records of the Bowling Green, Caroline County Field Office. The microfilm can be view on site at the National Archives or purchased or rented from their website.
Shortly after the end of slavery, the Freedmens Bureau in Caroline County, VA performed a survey of former slaves in the County and issued marriage licenses to couples who were cohabitating as husband and wife on February 27, 1866. The Bureau also surveyed children of couples who were no longer cohabitating as husband and wife but the father recognized the child to be his. The information from these surveys is documented in:
These registers are an excellent source for locating information regarding former slaves in Spotsylvania County, VA and Caroline County, VA including the last slave owner's name. The original documents can be found at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center in Fredericksburg, VA. They were transcribed by Gary Stanton and are available on the University of Mary Washington website.
After the end of slavery, planters had an abundance of land but no longer could use free labor to farm the land. Former slaves needed a means to make a living. The sharecropping system was designed to meet the needs of both the planters and freedmen. Another duty performed by the Freedmen’s Bureau was to supervise labor contracts between planters and freedmen. These documents are another excellent source for locating information regarding former slaves in Caroline County, Virginia.