Slavery

“Don’t know who she belonged too.”

Julia Washington of Wiggins Street, Wilson, died of gastritis on 29 June 1913.  Her son Aaron Washington provided the information used to complete her death certificate. At 62, Julia had been born about 1851. Aaron knew Julia’s father was Sam Barnes and her mother was named Patience. However, he did not know Patience’s maiden name because he did not “know who she belonged too.”

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An account of the sale of Negroes.

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On 3 January 1859, administratrix Mahala Barnes sold two families belonging to her deceased husband Elias Barnesestate. Elias’ brother Joshua Barnes purchased Axey and her two children for $1321 and Rachel and her child for $1105 on behalf of the estate of Jesse Barnes Sr., who was Elias and Joshua’s late father.

Estate of Elias Barnes (1856), North Carolina Wills and Estates 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Hired from Franklin County.

Slaveowners needing additional labor sometimes looked beyond the borders of Wilson County for supply. In January 1857, W.H. Privett, Stephen Privett and J.D. Rountree agreed to pay Dr. P.S. Foster $375 for twelve months’ hire of enslaved men Gaswell and James. Gaswell and James were to receive the usual clothing provided to hired slaves and were to be returned to Foster in Louisburg the following 1 January.

  • Dr. P.S. Foster — Peter S. Foster is listed in the 1860 census of Franklin County as a doctor with $5500 real property and $48,555 of personal property.
  • W.H. Privett
  • Stephen Privett — in the 1860 census, Stephen Privett is a 50 year-old farmer living in Black Creek township, Wilson County.
  • J.D. Rountree — in the 1860 census, Jno. [Jonathan] D. Rountree is a 40 year-old merchant living in the Town of Wilson.

Slave Hire-1857, Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Hired for twelve months.

On 2 January 1857, Bassett Sikes and B.H. Bardin promised to pay Elizabeth Farmer $162 for the hire of two enslaved woman, Chaney and Merica, for twelve months.

  • Bassett Sikes — in the 1850 census of Greene County, North Carolina, Sikes is listed as a 44 year-old merchant with $4000 in personal property.
  • B.H. [Benjamin Howell] Bardin — in the 1860 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County, Bardin is a 34 year-old farmer who claimed $12,800 in real property and $42,500 in personal property. His personal property would have included the 21 slaves he reported in the 1860 slave schedule.

Slave Hire-1857, Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

The estate of Nathan Blackwell.

We examined the will of free man of color Nathan Blackwell here, in which he left his estate to sons Nathan, Exum, and Josiah Blackwell and named Asberry Blackwell as his executor. Nathan directed Asberry, who was probably his brother, to “take Andrew and see to his labor for my children to the best advantage also take my children and take care of them.”

Andrew was an enslaved man.

Nathan Blackwell died sometime in 1846 in a section of eastern Nash County that is now Wilson County. His personal assets were sold on 16 August 1846, and buyers included his relatives Peter Blackwell and Drucilla Blackwell, as well as Stephen and Josiah Powell, who were likely relatives of his deceased wife Jincey Powell Blackwell. Willis Jones was listed among debtors to the estate.

Nathan Blackwell’s orphaned sons were minors. Ordinarily, they would have been placed with a white family via involuntary apprenticeship. However, their father’s estate had assets, and a couple of white men, Jarman Eatman and Mabry H. Hinnant, took turns as their guardian. Exum seems to have died not long after his father

As requested, “negro Andrew” was hired out and his lease fee applied to Blackwell’s estate for the benefit of his boys. Jesse Simpson, for example, hired him for about 54 dollars on credit in the year 1848.

Nathan Blackwell Estate Records (1846), Nash County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Robert Simms Sr.

Robert Simms Sr. of Wayne County made out his will on 18 December 1789. It entered probate in April Court 1891. Simms’ landholdings were in the area between Contentnea and Black Creeks, which is now in Wilson County.

  • to wife Mary Simms, a life interest “negro man Roger and his wife beck,” “one boy Jack,” and “one boy Pompey,” with remainder to son Benjamin Simms
  • to son Benjamin Simms, “Negro girl Chaney
  • to son Robert Simms, “a Negro boy named Boston
  • to daughter Susanna Simms, “a Negro gairl Named Rashel
  • to son Barnes Simms, “negro boy Charles
  • to son Abm. [Abraham] Simms, “one Negro man named Jim and one Negro boy named peter

Robert Simms Jr. submitted this undated inventory of his father’s property to court in July Term 1791:

A 26 August 1791 account of sales from Simms’ estate shows that his daughter purchased Roger for two pounds.

Will of Robert Simms (1789), Estate Records of Robert Simms (1791), Wayne County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The case of caries of the tibia.

In 1828, the North American Medical and Surgical Journal published an account of Stantonsburg doctor Josiah R. Horn’s treatment of an undiagnosed bone disease in an enslaved man’s leg. The man is unnamed, and his suffering is unspeakable, despite Dr. Horn’s best efforts. Ultimately, his leg was amputated at the thigh, and he recovered.

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Architect Lipscomb’s entry into the slaveholding class.

From the entry “Oswald Lipscomb (1826-1891),” North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary:

“Oswald Lipscomb (July 26, 1826-Feb. 3, 1891) was a carpenter from Virginia who came to North Carolina as a young man and became a leading builder in the newly chartered railroad town of Wilson, specializing in the picturesque residential styles popular in the mid-19th century.

“Lipscomb soon established himself as a successful citizen. He married well, wedding in 1855 Penelope Rountree, daughter of a prominent and wealthy merchant, and they had two children, James and Penelope, before the mother died. Their son James went to live for a time with his uncle, James Rountree, and like his uncle became involved in the local textile industry. In 1860 Oswald Lipscomb, aged 34, headed a household that included only himself and 8-year-old Penelope. Though a carpenter by trade, he had moved into the land and slaveholding class and identified himself as a farmer, with his real estate valued at $5,000: between 1855 and 1858 Lipscomb had bought several town lots and a 345-acre farm. His personal property was valued at $17,960, much of which represented his ownership of 9 slaves, including 5 men ranging from 20 to 71 years of age, a woman of 17, and three children. By 1861, he sold his real estate including the farm for over $10,000; he may have sold his slaves as well.”

Heartbreak Day.

On 27 December 2019, Time magazine published Olivia B. Waxman’s sobering and insightful article on the hiring of slave labor, “The Dark History of New Year’s Day“:

“Americans are likely to think of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as a time to celebrate the fresh start that a new year represents, but there is also a troubling side to the holiday’s history. In the years before the Civil War, the first day of the new year was often a heartbreaking one for enslaved people in the United States.

“In the African-American community, New Year’s Day used to be widely known as “Hiring Day” — or “Heartbreak Day,” as the African-American abolitionist journalist William Cooper Nell described it — because enslaved people spent New Year’s Eve waiting, wondering if their owners were going to rent them out to someone else, thus potentially splitting up their families. The renting out of slave labor was a relatively common practice in the antebellum South, and a profitable practice for white slave owners and hirers.”

Please read the article and revisit these blog posts: