Saturday, November 24, 2012

Priscilla Dowell's Slaves: Part 2


Priscilla Dowell, to whom your were introduced in my Blog post on November 21st appears in the US Census in 1860. Although the census gives her birthplace as Maryland, this may not be correct. Most of her older siblings were born in Maryland; but most of her extended family was already in Rowan County, NC during the middle 1780s.
Dowell
Name:
Priscilla Dowell
Age in 1860:
70
Birth Year:
abt 1790
Birthplace:
Maryland
Home in 1860:
Lower Division, Wilkes, North Carolina
Gender:
Female
Post Office:
Brier Creek
Value of real estate:
______
Value of personal estate
$5,500
Household Members:
Name
Age
70
It is interesting that she is shown as owning no real estate but having personal property valued at $5,500. I am assuming that most of this $5,500 was the value of her 5 slaves.

The 1860 Slave Census was taken less than a year after Priscilla wrote her will. In that census Priscilla was listed as owning the following slaves:


Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the five slaves enumerated were the same as the five listed in her will. If that is correct we can put this information together with the names listed in Priscilla’s will:

Name
Age
Gender
Race
Jude
46
Female
Black
Henderson
18
Male
Black
Payton
16
Male
Black
Eloisa
12
Female
Black
Jo
1
Male
Black

It seems ironic that the 1850 and 1860 Slave Censuses were conducted so that each slave could be counted as two-thirds of a person in the apportionment of seats allowed to each state in the US House of Representatives. Priscilla Dowell was willing for the Executor of her estate to select good homes in this neighborhood and to sell her slaves at two-thirds their book value. Was this a coincidence? Was it customary? Was it a good faith gesture on the part of Priscilla to find humane placements for her slaves?

If Priscilla had no real estate of her own, these slaves were either household slaves or were loaned out to neighbors who had land to plant.

I will report more on this story as I am able to unravel it.

4 comments:

  1. I have a collection of information from slave deeds listing slaves sold by Priscilla Dowell that were part of the James Gwyn Papers http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/g/Gwyn,James.html I am likely descended from slaves of the Gwyn family of Surry County. Recently I saw that of my "DNA cousins" has the names Martin and Dowell in his history (I have not connected with this person yet) and it led me to search some more this morning which led me to your blog. I would very much like to talk with you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great talking with you Sasha. I think we will both be enriched by sharing our information.

      Delete
  2. I have always been curious about my ancestors. My maiden name is Sandra Dowell. I was just reading some of the names that were posted and some are family names that I have recalled through the years. The name "James" stands out the most because it is my father's name. I don't know much about my family but I am really interested in finding out more. I am a black female living in Montgomery, AL. I am only 41 so my knowledge is very limited, but I do have older aunts and uncles who are still alive. I just would not know where to begin! However, just in reading these inserts makes me wonder about my ancestors.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sandra,
    I'm glad I was able to stimulate your curiosity about your family history. Please contact me by email: Dowell AT one-name DOT org.

    ReplyDelete