slave hire

One Negro Man Ben.

On 26 January 1864, administrator J.T. Dew filed in Wilson County court his inventory of the personal estate of Isaac Farmer. After a list of debts owed to the estate, he added a short list of personal property, including an enslaved man named Ben.

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Dew later filed with the court a receipt for the hire of Ben to Theresa Farmer in 1865.

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Isaac Farmer Estate (1863), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

The estate of David Jordan.

James D. Barnes reported the results of the sale of David Jordan’s personal property in January 1856.

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An enslaved “boy” (who may actually have been a grown man) named Harry was not sold with Jordan’s gold watch, walking cane, cigars, chamberpots, “champaign,” and poultry. Rather, he was leased to Robert Simpson for twelve months for $100.00.

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Jordan may have purchased Harry from the estate of his mother Sally Jordan, who had died in 1827. The inventory of her possessions included this notation of enslaved men Turner and Harry.

David Jordan Estate File (1856), Wilson County; Sally Jordan Estate File (1827), Nash County; North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com

Bob is hired for one year.

On 1 January 1857, Jesse Minshew, acting for the partnership Minshew & Caho, hired Bob from John A. Sam, guardian of William H. Applewhite, for one year for $146. Minshew & Caho agreed to furnish Bob with three suits of clothes (one woolen), a pair of shoes, a hat and a blanket.

William H. Applewhite was the son of Henry and Orpha Pike Applewhite. His father died when he was eight years old, leaving him and his siblings inheritances that included Bob and other enslaved people. As the guardian of a minor, John Sam’s job was to protect his interests and increase his assets, and sending Bob to work for Minshew & Caho was calculated to do just that. (It’s not clear what kind of business Wayne County farmer Jesse Minshew and steam miller John M. Caho were engaged in.)

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

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.

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:

The estate of Hickman Ellis, Sr.

James Barnes was administrator of Hickman Ellis‘ estate. Among his duties in 1861, he secured a doctor’s visit for an unnamed enslaved woman staying at John Owens’ farm:

Barnes hired out Ellis’ slaves to assorted kin and neighbors in 1861. J.R.P. Ellis leased Peter and Chana for $9.00; Jonathan T. Dew, Jack for $10.00; Lorenzo Felton, Margaret and an unnamed child for $3.00; D.S. Richardson, Liza and two children for $1.00 and Tempe and one child for $3.50; John Carter, Netty and one child for $1.75; John I. Sharpe, Rose for 25 cents; and Jackson Lassiter, Hannah for free. The estate paid Barnes $5.00 to care for Harriet and two children.

He also obtained “docttrin” for “negar Jack,” “Aren when was burnt,” Milbry and Netty’s fellow in October 1861.

In 1862, these individuals and several others were hired out again, along with several fields and the “low grounds”:

A court-appointed committee charged with dividing Hickman Ellis’ enslaved property filed its report at Wilson County Court on October Term 1863. Ellis’ daughter Spicey received Jim, Netty, Aaron, Rose, Mary, Hannah, Old Peter and Old Chaney, valued at $11,050. The remaining enslaved people — Jack, Margaret, Elvy, Hewel, Tempy, Peter, Harriet, Gray, Hardy, Chaney and child Isaac, Eliza, John, Milbry and child Betsy, and Nancy — were held in common by Unity Ellis and Hickman Ellis (Jr.)

 

Hickman Ellis Estate (1860), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Rhoda Shallington.

W.E.J. Shallington‘s mother died about four years after her son. Her estate consisted almost totally of promissory notes, but “There is one negro boy belonging to the estate 18 years old” and “There is one negro woman belonging to the estate 42 years old.”  005277156_01824.jpg

Rhoda Shallington’s personal effects were sold off, and her enslaved property hired out on 28 December 1864 for what all parties believed would be a year. Both the boy Arch and the woman Dilley went to her son David Pender Shallington for hyper-inflated rates that approached the sales prices of just a few years before.

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Estate Records of Rhoda Shallington, Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of W.E.J. Shallington (or: “Hines has gone to the Yankees.”)

When Dr. W.E.J. Shallington died without a will at the end of 1860, his widow Sarah Shallington relinquished her right to administer his estate to David L. Hardy. The Shallingtons had minor children, and Hardy had the unenviable task of managing the estate to provide income for the family during the entirety of the Civil War.

Dr. Shallington held six people in slavery, and on Christmas Eve Hardy hired all of them out through 1 January 1862. Willis went to William Hamlet for $156.00; Hines to Gray B. Sharp for $60.00; Ann to widow Shallington for the nominal sum of $1.00; and Critty and her two children to Hamlet for $31.00. J.D. Rountree rented the Shallingtons’ house and lot in Wilson for $15.00

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Though the account is not in the estate file, Hardy likely rented out the group 2 January 1862 through 1 January 1863 as well. The process repeated on 2 January 1863, with Willis, Hines, and Critty and her children going to J.H. Bullock and Ann remaining with Sarah Shallington. George Barefoot rented the house and lot at a cut rate.

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The following year, the hiring out took place at Joyner’s Depot [Elm City] for the period of 28 December 1864 to 28 December 1865. (Or so the parties intended. Events at Appomattox would intervene.) Willis, Critty and her children went to Jordan Winstead at inflated rates (reflected also in the house rental); Ann, to Sarah Shallington. Hines, perhaps smelling freedom in the air, had “gone to the Yankees.”

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With no enslaved labor to tap as a resource, by 1869 D.L. Hardy’s account of rentals contained a single line item: “6 March 1869, To amt rec’d for rent for house & lot from David Strickland cold. [colored] to Jany 1st 1870 $14.00. The house was vacant for 2 months as I could not rent it out at the 1st Jany 1869 on satisfactory terms.” Strickland renewed his lease on 1 January 1870 at an increase of four dollars a month.

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In the 1860 census of Coopers township, Wilson County: Roda Shallington, 69; [daughter-in-law] Sarah, 36; and Mary Ann, 15, Caroline, 12, and Fredrick Shallington, 1. Roda claimed $5000 in personal property, and the rest of the Shallingtons, $3800. (This constant amount likely represented their (anticipated) inheritance from recently deceased W.E.J. Shallington.)

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: David Strickland, 30, farm laborer; wife Fillis, 28; and children Isaac, 2, Amanda, 12, and Samuel Strickland, 8; William Farmer, 1; and Jane Mosely, 9.

There are no Shallingtons, black or white, listed in the 1870 census of Wilson County. (In fact, I have found none of the men and women listed in W.E.J. Shallington’s estate using the surname Shallington.) However, in the 1880 census of North Wilson township, Wilson County, widow Sallie Shallington, 55, is listed as a member of an otherwise African-American household: Aaron Edmundson, 31, well digger; wife Ann, 26; and their children Earnest, 5, and Hattie, 3. (The census taker, perhaps startled by the unexpected arrangement, wrote a W over the B he initially recorded for her race. Also, this may be the Ann hired out above, if that Ann were a child.)

Estate Records of W.E.J. Shallington, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.