You are probably right in assuming that prior to the end of the Civil War your black CARELOCK ancestors were probably slaves belonging to a man named CARELOCK.Tracing your ancestors prior to that time will be very difficult, if not impossible.Occasionally wills and other legal documents of white individuals listed names of slaves with very brief descriptions with regard to sex and approximate age.However, the slaves were named by first name only, and rarely mentioned relationships of the slaves to each other.
The censuses would be of help in identifying families surnamed CARELOCK who owned slaves.The 1790, 1800, and 1810 censuses only listed the number of slaves in a given household.The 1820 census listed "free colored persons" by sex and age ranges, but still only listed slaves by numbers.The 1830 and 1840 censuses listed both slaves and "free colored persons" by sex and age ranges.The 1850 and 1860 censuses listed all individuals by age, sex, and color, as well as other useful information such as occupation, place of birth, etc.You should have good luck in finding your ancestors in the censuses from 1870 on, when blacks started using surnames, especially if your ancestors stayed in the same geographical area.(Remember, though, that most of the 1890 census was destroyed by fire.)
Since I know from previous correspondence that your ancestors lived in Union Co., NC, and it appears that the majority of black CARELOCKs came from that area, I searched my database for white CARELOCK males who lived in Union Co., NC, and were of the right age to have possibly owned slaves.The most likely candidate seems to be William A. CARELOCK, b. 1818, NC; d. Aug. 23/24, 1862, Union Co., NC; bd. Old CARELOCK Cemetery near Union Baptist Church, south of Monroe, NC.I have not searched any of the Union Co., NC, censuses before 1880, so consequently do not know whether or not this individual owned slaves.William's father was born in Mecklenburg Co., NC, and migrated to Texas with a daughter and son-in-law.The only brother that I have identified for William so far moved to Louisiana.William had some sons.The oldest sons would have been relatively young at the end of the Civil War and eventually migrated to other states, and the youngest sons were too young to have owned slaves.
Remember that you cannot automatically assume that all slaves owned by an individual were biologically related to each other.Therefore, not all black CARELOCKs are necessarily biologically related to each other.