Monday, February 3, 2014

No Longer Forgotten: the Enslaved Laborers of “Brick House,” Union County, South Carolina

Tonight, I was browsing the Union County, South Carolina Inventories, Appraisements, Sales, 1845-1853 microfilm that has been digitized and uploaded to by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although I didn’t find what I was looking for in researching more about the Danner slave-owners of that county, I was awestruck by the meticulous way the estate of John Jeffries, Sr. was inventoried on October 31, 1851. The appraisers took the time to record the enslaved people by family groups, names, and ages! As I browsed the names of the enslaved families, I kept saying to myself, “These are many people’s enslaved ancestors!” Rather than being buried and forgotten in that inventory, I decided to give them visibility on my blog, in hopes that a descendant researching for their Jeffries (or another surname) ancestors will one day find them here. This will undoubtedly be a genealogical goldmine!

I desired to see what I could find out about John Jeffries, Sr. from my most immediate source – the Internet.  Google can be your best friend, informationally (is that a word?). According to descendant and researcher Brenda Sparks, John Sr. was born on March 6, 1760 in Camden, South Carolina. Indeed, he is reported as being 90 years old in the 1850 Census of Union County. He died nearly a year later on January 29, 1851. John Sr. was a soldier of the American Revolution (1775 - 1783). He served as a private under his father, Captain Nathaniel Jefferies, South Carolina Troops. He purchased land in Union County from his father and started a plantation that became known as "Brick House." Known as “Brick House John,” he lived there until his death at age 91. Also, according to Sparks, some people had claimed that the bricks were purchased in London and shipped to Charleston, South Carolina. Really?? Nevertheless, she found documentation that proved that the bricks were made by John’s slaves.

The 1850 Census for Union County reported John’s property value at $30,000. Also, the 1850 Union County Slave Schedule reported 137 slaves for him. Unfortunately, no names were recorded in the slave schedules. However, the following images from his estate record revealed their names in family groups, described as Lots. Hopefully, from the following images, you can see their names.

The lots of enslaved families inherited by his heirs were also reported:

John Jeffries, Sr. also wrote a will eight days before his death, on January 21, 1851. The following will transcription was uploaded by Brenda Sparks.

Know all men by these presents that I, John Jefferies, of the State and District aforesaid, being weak in body but of firm and disposing mind, memory, and judgement do ordain and appoint this as and for my Last Will and Testament hereby declaring all former wills to be null and void and of no effect.

Article 1: I will and ordain that all my property both real and personal shall be equally divided among all my legal heirs -- that is my sons John, James and William Jefferies shall each receive one ninth part of my estate. My daughters Ann Smith, Sarah Smith, Ellen Wilkins, and Cynthia Graham shall each receive one ninth part of my estate and that the children of my son Nathaniel Jefferies, deceased, shall receive one ninth part of my estate to be equally divided between them also that the children of my son Samuel Jefferies shall receive one ninth of my estate to be equally divided among them and also that the Lucey and Frances Farr daughters of Ellen Goudelock, decd., shall receive the share to which their mother would have been entitled had she been living to be equally divided between them.

Article 2nd: I will and ordain that five competent persons or a majority of them shall proceed appraise and divide all my Negroes among my Legatees herein before mentioned as equally as may be and if in their judgement the chair allotted to the heirs of Nathaniel Jefferies and Samuel Jefferies, decd., cannot be divided without injury to the parties there and in that case my Executors are hereby empowered to expose the same to public sale for the benefit of said heirs.

Article 3rd: I will and ordain that the above mentioned appraisers shall appraise all my land contained in a recent survey by John Gibbs, Esq. and if in their judgement, it cannot be equally divided among my heirs, herein before mentioned, they shall divide it into suitable tracts and my executor shall sell the same for the benefit of all Legatees aforesaid.

Article 4th: I will and ordain the Executers shall expose to sale all stock of all kinds, plantation tools, wagons, carts and all other effects of which I may be possessed with the exception of my notes, bonds, credits and accounts which they are to collect for the benefit of my heirs aforesaid.

Article 5th: Whereas I have heretofore made considerable advance of property to my children and have taken receipts for the same, I will and ordain that each one shall account to my estate for the value of said receipt without interest in receiving his part of my estate as it is my will that each Legatee as before named shall ultimately receive an equal portion of my estate.

Article 6th: And I hereby appoint my sons, James Jefferies and William Jefferies and my grandsons John Jefferies and William Jefferies sole executors of this my last will and testament.

Given under hand and seal this 21 January 1851. John Jefferies L. S.
Wit: James Farr, M.M. Montgomery, H. Goudelock, Jas. B. Smith, Zachariah Tate

John Jeffries, Sr. had married Rachel Barnett in 1782, and they had the following nine children. The places of death of the children may give a researcher indication where some of the enslaved "Brick House" families were probably taken after 1851. Interestingly, I am aware of a number of Jeffries families of Tate and Marshall County, Mississippi! Some of them lived near my ancestors in Tate County, which is adjacent to Marshall County. Hmmm....

Their nine children were:

     (1) Nathaniel Jeffries, b. 1783, Union County, SC; d. February 28, 1842, Union County, SC
     (2) Ann Jeffries, b. 1785, Union County, SC; d. February 13, 1874, Union County, SC
     (3) Samuel Jeffries, b. 1788, Union County, SC; d. December 08, 1845, Union County, SC
     (4) Sarah Jeffries, b. 1790, Union County, SC; d. December 20, 1873, York County, SC
     (5) John Barnett Jeffries, II, b. 1793, Union County, SC; d. September 08, 1869, Elmore Co., Alabama
     (6) Ellen Jeffries, b. 1795, Union County, SC; d. November 16, 1854, Marshall Co., Mississippi
     (7) Cynthia Jeffries, b. 1798; d. 1881.
     (8) Colonel James Boyd Jeffries, b. 1802, Union County, SC; d. April 29, 1866, Union County, SC
     (9) William Barnett Jeffries, b. 1805, Union County, SC; d. August 05, 1852, Marshall Co., Mississippi

If you read this post and are aware of someone researching for their enslaved Jeffries ancestors from Union County South Carolina, Marshall County Mississippi, or Elmore County Alabama, feel free to share this blog post.