The hire of Blunt and Miles for perilous work.

On 12 December 1851, Lewis J. Dortch and John T. Barnes arranged with James F. Jenkins, guardian of the minor heirs of Willie Atkinson, for the hire of two enslaved men, Blunt and Miles. Dortch and Barnes were partners in a turpentine and lumber business in South Carolina; presumably, Dortch and Barnes intended to send the men south to perform this grueling, dangerous work.

Dortch and Barnes promised to pay Jenkins $250 and to provide Blunt and Miles with three shirts, three pairs of pants, one hat, one blanket, one “round” jacket, one pair of woolen socks, and two pair of double-soled shoes. All the clothes were to be made from new cloth, and one “suit” was to made of wool. (A round jacket was a short jacket of heavy cloth with wide lapels and two rows of close-set buttons.)

Finally, in a chillingly frank acknowledgment of risk, Dortch and Barnes promised “to return said negros Blunt & Miles if living” on 1 January 1853. 

Dortch, Barnes, and witness John Wilkinson lived in and around Stantonsburg, in what would become Wilson County in 1855. Atkinson, whose wife Sallie was related to Wilkinson, appears to live northeast, just below Town Creek, in a section that remained in Edgecombe County. More about Atkinson’s enslaved community, including Miles and Blount, soon.

L.J. Dortch Estate Record (1854), Wilson County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979,

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