slave auction

Auction place.

“For hundreds of years, enslaved people were bought and sold in America. Today most of the sites of this trade are forgotten.” Thus began the 12 February 2020 installation of The 1619 Project, the New York Times‘ initiative that aims to reframe American history by centering African-Americans in the narrative. Wrote Dr. Anne C. Bailey, author of The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History, “Auctions and the sales of enslaved people could be found near or along the major ports where enslaved Africans landed, including Richmond, Va.; New Orleans; Savannah, Ga.; and Charleston, S.C. But the enslaved were also sold in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and at New York City’s 18th-century open-air Meal Market on Wall Street. The sales took place all over the growing nation — in taverns, town squares and train stations, on riverbanks and by the side of the road. Before being sold, the enslaved were often kept in pens or private jails, sometimes for days or weeks. Then they were sold directly from the pens or marched to a nearby auction. Thousands of sales took place each year, right in the hearts of American cities and towns, on the steps of courthouses and city halls.”

In order to create “a more equitable map of American history,” an afterword to Bailey’s piece asks us to help fill in the record by reporting known sites at which enslaved African-Americans were auctioned. I have done so.

One of the earliest posts at Black Wide-Awake displays the 1856 report of Benjamin Bynum to a Wilson County court of the proceeds of the sale of Cate and Sherard at the White Oak tollhouse on the Plank Road. James R. Barnes had bought them for $450.20. I don’t know the exact location of the tollhouse, but it is reasonable to believe that it stood near the spot where the Plank Road between Wilson and Greenville crossed the Buck Branch of White Oak Swamp just west of Saratoga.

Highway 264-Alternate now follows the path of the Plank Road. Here was White Oak Swamp from the Highway 264-Alternate bridge yesterday.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2020.

Booker T. Washington will speak at the colored school.

From Swann Galleries’ catalog for Public Auction Sale 2377, 26 March 2015, “Printed & Manuscript African Americana”:

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Swann Galleries is a New York City auction house founded in 1941. It is a specialist auctioneer of antique and rare works on paper, and it is considered the oldest continually operating New York specialist auction house.

Sold at the White Oak tollhouse.

Pages from BARNES_--_Slaves_Sherard_&_CateState of North Carolina, Wilson County

To the worshipful the Justices of the Cort of Pleas and Quarter Sessions July term 1856 In obedience to an order of said Cort at April Term last I Benjamin Bynum Commesioner appointed by the Cort for that purpose after giving due notice, proceded, on the twenty eighth day of June at the White Oak toll Hows on the plank Road to expose to public sale the following property, vis: Slaves Sherard and Cate heretofore held in common by James R. Barnes and others on a credit of Six months with Interest from the time of sale according to the order of the Cort; when and where James R. Barnes became the purchaser at the price of fore hundred and fifty dollars for Slave Sherard and also of Slave Cate at twenty cents the low bid. Whereupon be the said James R. Barnes executed to me a bond Satisfactory for the purchase money, according to the terms of Sale and took full possession of the said property

All of which respectfully Submited    Benja’n Bynum  Com

Document in Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.