The estate of Isaac Scarborough, part 1.

We met James Scarborough and the people he enslaved here and here and here. His son Isaac Scarborough, born in 1780, came into possession of Scarborough House just before his death and passed it on to his younger daughter, Susan Scarborough Bryant.

Isaac Scarborough made out his first will in Edgecombe County on 21 August 1826. In it, he left twelve enslaved people to his wife Nancy Scarborough — Sooky, Harry, Agnes, David, Austin, Elsy, Jinny, Amy, Abel, Orange, Caswell, and Charlotte. [N.B.: Isaac Scarborough married two women named Nancy. The maiden name of his first wife is not known. Nor is her death date.]

In 1848, Scarborough married Nancy Barnes Tyson. In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County, Isaac Scarborough’s household included himself, his wife, their infant daughter, and Nancy Tyson’s children by her first marriage to Abner Tyson, and Scarborough reported 33 enslaved people.

Isaac Scarborough made out his will in October 1853. To his wife Nancy, he left a life interest in the tract of land on which they lived near present-day Saratoga, which he had purchased from Joab Horne in 1841, as well as the adjoining tract purchased from Louis Dilda in 1847. [These purchases totaled more than 1400 acres on White Oak Swamp.] Isaac also left Nancy outright “the following slaves (viz) Mary, Edith, Harriet, John, Himbrick, Abraham, and Gray Hilliard ….” and a life interest in Harry, Orrin, Rose, and Austin, who were to pass to their daughters Victoria and Isaac Susan after Nancy’s death. Isaac’s remaining enslaved people, who were not named, were also to pass to their daughters in equal shares.

Isaac Scarborough died in early 1857, and his estate entered a lengthy probate. The file is rich with references to the enslaved people whose lives were upended by his death.

In this post, we examine documents from 1858 through 1860, including hire lists and a receipt for the care of “a n*gger woman.”

First things first, to keep the plantation going and income flowing, some of Scarborough’s land was rented and enslaved people were hired out. (Those belonging to the estate, that is. The men and women bequeathed directly to widow Nancy Scarborough were not subjected to these transactions.)

For the period 6 March 1857 to 1 January 1858, widow Nancy Scarborough hired David and Ned for ten dollars each, a price that suggests their old age or disability. She was also paid by the estate for the care of four women with small children — Charlotte with three, Jinny with three, Debby with three, and Chaney with two. Joseph Payne hired Daniel ($139) and Lucy and her child ($40). Jacob Byrum hired Abel ($160) and Bill ($110), and James J. Taylor, Jesse ($95, Toney ($40.50), and  Mary ($70); John Felton, Hannah ($13.50); and Rufus W. Edmundson, Milly ($2.75).

At the end of 1858, the cycle started all over again, with people from Isaac Scarborough’s shifted around to spend a year with the highest bidder. Bill went to David Webb for $73. David went to Jonathan Weaver for $137.25. James Barnes took Abel for $175.25. Lewis S. Dilda took Daniel for $175.00. Jonathan Bulluck took Jesse ($127) and Milly ($12). Ned remained with Nancy Scarborough, who also took Augustin for $2.50. (Augustin’s absence from the previous year’s hire and his low lease rate suggests he was a young child, perhaps 6 or 7 years old.) Lucy and her child remained with Joseph Pane ($25), and Hannah with John Felton ($25.25).

Curiously, there’s a second account that appears to have been filed for the same year. The heading is somewhat ambiguous — is this account for the year that ended 31 December 1858? Patrick Bynum hired Bill ($140), Hannah ($42), and Milly ($43); Nancy Scarborough hired David ($141); James Barnes hired Abel ($178) and Daniel ($190); Hiram Webb, Jesse ($167); Jonathan Bulluck, Toney ($99.75) and Ned ($112); James J. Taylor, Mary ($85); and Isaac C. Moore, Augustin ($34.50). David Webb took in Jinny and her three children, and Nancy Scarborough took in Charlotte and her three children, Debby and her four children, Lucy and her two children, and Chaney and one child.

On an unspecified date in 1859, the estate paid Anna Walston two dollars “for A visit to A n*gger woman.”

For the year following 30 December 1859: Bill ($125) and Jinny and two children went to David Webb; David ($50), Hannah ($50), and Milly ($50) to Nancy Scarborough; Abel ($179) to James Barnes; Daniel ($170) to William Gardner; Jesse to Hiram Webb ($180); Tony ($111), Ned ($139), and Ashley ($25) to Jonathan H. Bulluck; Augustin ($62) to William Woodard; and Mary and a child ($60) and Lucy and two children ($30) to John Harper. Nancy Scarborough agreed to payment for the care of Charlotte and three children, Debby and five children, and Chaney and one child.

On 9 January 1860, James J. Taylor received a ten-dollar credit from James Barnes, guardian of Isaac Scarborough’s minor heirs. Why? The unnamed woman he had hired the previous year had had a child, thereby diminishing her usefulness.

On 2 June 1860, Joshua Walston received two dollars for “Services rendered by my wife in attending to negro woman in 1859.”

A receipt for care of women with children during 1859 and 1860:

In December 1860, again, the community is picked over and divided up for the next year. David Webb hired Bill ($120) and Jinna and two children ($10); Nancy Scarborough hired David ($50) and Ashley ($46); James Barnes hired Abel ($175); William Felton hired Daniel ($170); Hiram Webb hired Jesse ($150); Elbert Felton hired Toney ($111) and Ned ($135); Isaac Moore hired Augustin ($64); Garry Bargeron hired Hannah ($55) and Charlotte and her two children ($45); and David Amason hired Milly ($37). Nancy Scarborough agreed to take payment for care for Debbie and her five children, Lucy and her two children, and Mary and her two children.

As seen, members of Isaac Scarborough’s enslaved community were moved from year to year as their hire arrangements began and ended. Given Saratoga’s proximity to the county line, it is not surprising that several of the men who bid for their services lived beyond Wilson County in Pitt and Edgecombe Counties. Thus, we see that, even when a community was not broken up by sales, the death of an enslaver profoundly destabilized communities.

Estate of Isaac Scarborough (1859), North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979,

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