Monday, March 12, 2007

Caswell County Slave Traders

North Carolina Tobacco Planter & Slave Dealer Archive

Estmated Value $8000 - $12000
Minimum Bid $4000
Next Bid $4750

Archive of slave dealing and tobacco planting documents and letters of Dr. George Robertson (1808-1855) & family of Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina, dated 1837-1865, including Dr. Robertson's ledger book in which he records his tobacco and slave sales. Dr. Robertson and his associates acquired funds from New York, The Bank of Raleigh, and the Bank of North Carolina at Milton to buy slaves on speculation. According to the ledger they bought slaves in Hillsboro, Raleigh, and Fayetteville, and then these slaves were transported as far south as Alabama to be sold for profit. Over one million enslaved men, women, and children were sold by American slave dealers and traders from the Signing of the Constitution to the eve of the Civil War as the demand for American slaves shifted from the tobacco plantations of North Carolina and Virginia to the cotton & rice fields of the Deep South. It was men like Dr. Robertson who were riding this wave of migration and making a profit in the sale of human flesh. In addition to buying and selling slaves, Dr. Robertson operated a tobacco warehouse and prizery. It appears from the records that slave prices are directly related to the current market prices of tobacco and cotton. It is known that Caswell County, North Carolina, from where Dr. Robertson operated, was one of the five wealthiest counties in the state, and saw over a million dollars expended in 1836 on slave speculation. This collection is an important record of the southern plantation economy and the transformation of the interstate slave trade. This lot includes: Slave & Tobacco ledger book kept by Dr. Robertson, 132p. folio, 1837-1845, with his notes and figures on the purchase and sale of his goods. Mentions many prominent central North Carolina citizens, who sold tobacco to Dr. Robertson including Abisha Slade, on whose plantation in 1839, a slave named Stephen accidentally cured the first bright leaf tobacco. There are several references to 'bright' or 'yellow' tobacco, being sold for top prices in the ledger. The sales of tobacco are recorded by weight and at where he sold it. Also noted are different investors or clients of his as well as Dr. Robertson selling his own crop. The slave sales and purchases are recorded as "3 Negroes (boys) at Richmond $25254Girls at Oxford 25001 boy5002 Negroes at Raleigh (Jim & Dina) 1400$6925. Paid Thos. McGeher in cash $2040.25. premium on gold 21.75 debt all settled 2062.002 negroes at Durham $1192" As well as profits being accounted for as this entry under title of Debits of Dr. R.J. Gryn " Profit $130 on Holcomb & Girl100 on Jas Johnston Girl148.60 on J.e. Brown65.00 on J. King350 on Susan & Children150 on the sale to Lea150 on Alvis to S. Moore ( Alvis swap for Carter) $1093" and under Credits of by Richard Gwyn "Check on N. York $500premium on same 10check on N. York 700pr. 28Recd of Jas Lea $371525We (Robertson & Gwyn) own A. Flack $450Robertson pd & sent out by Gwyn 2 women of his own Sylva & Esther value $1100. Robertson pd for Nuty & her 2 children for himself & Gwyn $529.50 & Violet $600owe for of Anderson & Zach L. Hooper the other at $550 $275$6500" In 1841 Robertson writes "Profits made by Me & Gwyn on Brown $150 lossOn Alvis 150on First trip 722" Dozens of slave entries appear throughout, the operation appears to increase in size as Dr. Robertson later notes "Cost of 10 Negroes $3499.50". Also recorded are expenses for traveling and purchased slaves by name and price under the titles "First Trip"; "Second Trip"; and 3d Trip." Other entries read "Profit on Mary & 4 chdn. 200made on Julia 30$1208.06 due from Willis 2 Dec. 1843 & sent out 6 negroes not partnershipCash for Runaways 69Jail Fees on Runaways $9.80" and much more. Leaves are loose, shows it has traveled and also been used later to keep recipes as some pages have newspapers clippings pasted in, else a nice and scarce accounting of a slave dealer during the 1840'; Autograph Letter Signed, "Saml. T. Hill, 1p. quarto, Greensboro, North Carolina, September 22, 1842, addressed to Dr. Robertson, "Mr. Rm. Sloan wishes to purchase the girl you bought of John Graves, Julia; and he wishes to drop him a line to know what you would take for her: and on what terms you would trade her off - he wishes you to let him know immediately as he wants a girl of character"; Autograph Document Signed, "Abner Miles" 1p. octavo, "Recd. Of Robertson & Willis six hundred dl. For Abraham a slave for life aged some 25 yrs old which boy I warrant sound & healthy in body & mindthis 28th day Dec. 1847"; Slave bill of Sale signed by "James Miles", 1p. quarto, January 25, 1837, "This day Received of Granderson M. Sharp six hundred dollars in full pay for a negro boy named Henry aged about nine years the said boy I do warrant sound in body and mind and free from the claim or claims of myself or any other person and is slave for life" with added manuscript "Henry was born 10th October 1827." Fineplus; Autograph Document Signed, "John Cobb" 1p. quarto, August 1, 1840 and reads "Where as by virtue of a decree of the court of pleas & quarter sessions of the county of Caswell & state of North Carolina I have this day proceeded to sell at Blackwell's store to the highest & best bidder the negro slave mentioned in the petition after having give Twenty days publick notice by advertisements at he court house door and then other publick places in the county of Caswell which said petition was filed and the decree obtained at June term 1840 and Whereas George B. Robertson became the highest and best bidder for the negro girl betty she was accordingly cried and to the said Robertson at the price of Two Hundred & sixty dollars" Fineplus; Autograph Document Signed "Tho. L. Lea" as Sheriff, 1p. quarto, January 3rd, 1842, "Received of George Robertson Six Hundred and one Dollars in full payment for a Negro man Alvis this day sold by me as Sheriff of Caswell County by virtue of a write of executionReceived of George Robertson one Hundred and three Dollars and 50 cents in full payment for a Negro man Archer this day sold by me as Sheriff of Caswell County by virtue of a write of Execution" VGplus; ADS, "W.P. Taylor" as Sheriff, 1p. oblong octavo, May 9, 1842, "Rec'd of George B. Robertson nine hundred & ninety six dollars which I acknowledge in full payment to the following Negroes to wit - Mary Eliza & Adaline" VGplus; ADS, "William Yancey" 1p. oblong octavo, July 8, 1843, "Received of Robertson & Gwyn three hundred dollars in full payment for a certain negro woman by the name of Molly which woman I warrant to be sound and healthy" ADS. "H.G. Hampton" sherrif, 1p. folio, January 8, 1844, Surry County, North Carolina, "Whereas by virtue of sundry executions in my hand against H.M. & J.A. Waugh, I haveduly sold at auction at the court house door in Rockford on the 8th day of January AD 1844 a negro boy Sandy, a Negro girl Nancy & a Negro woman Mary & her three children. When & where Robertson & Wooden became the last & highest bidders for the same at the following sums to wit for Sandy $506, for Nancy $399, for Mary and her three children $1071 Making the sum of $1916Sandy the age of twenty three, Nancy the age of fourteen, & Mary of the [age] of Twenty six & her children about 5 years is the oldest, about four & then youngest about 18 months of age" Fineplus; Slave bill of sale, 1p. octavo, August 31, 1844, Caswell Co., North Carolina, "Received of George Robertson & Willis four hundred & fifty dollars in full payment for one negro girl by the name of Mariah about sixteen or seventeen years old" Poorplus; Slave bill of Sale, 1p. quarto, May 10, 1848, "Received of Robertson & Willis five hundred dollars in full pay for a negro man named Ben aged some twenty years old"; Slave bill of sale, 1p. oblong octavo, May 8, 1854, "Received of George Robertson eleven hundred & sixty dollars in full pay for a girl named Roxanna aged some 16 or 17 years old" Goodplus; Autograph Letter Signed by Dr. Robertson's son Joab, 2p. quarto, Montery Butler CO. Alabama, December 26, 1854, "My dear Pa and all I wrote last that we sold but two above twelve hundred and fifty dollars Draft payable 15th Feby. Oliver 900 hundred dollars sight draft. Tom Anderson sold I expect a woman and two children for 1500 dollars. They are on trial times very dull here. Farmers wont pay as much as they did last year. I think I will collect nearly all the debts without much trouble but none of them will pay the 1st of January for River low and freight so high they cant and wont send their cotton off. Lee that bought Jackson and Jo I am fearful will bother me. James Thigpen paid me sight draft for $800 doll and draft on 1st day of January for 200 doll making $1000 dollars and said he would try to collect or borrow balance. I think traders will have a hard time judging from this section of country. Knight offered me $3000 dollars for Lucy and children and Monroe. I also offered 900 dollars for Ann. I heard that Fred Hall had collected the Pool DraftMr. Anderson says that the Farmers wont pay more than 1100 to 1200 for good fellows and good girls 900 to 1000 but rather things they will do better in spring. All well but Polly Luck with cold and Mr. Arden boy Edmon sick with cold" VGplus; Autograph Letter Signed "Joab Robertson" 2p. quarto, Athens, Alabama, January 10, 1855, "Dear Pa and alla man speaks of taking Henry and Polly at 2200 I wont know until tomorrow. I will be in Mobile by the 21st of this month and send you what funds I have and the men all promised to pay last of this month and 1st of Feby. I will go there from Mobile and collect. I will leave Negroes with J.H. Anderson until I come back which will be but few days. I would not buy any more negroes unless they should fall. I am asking 1300 and will take 1250 for best boys. Times very dull duller than last year. I was offered three first rate girls at 900 each, offered them todaycotton continues lowRice, Walkers, and Watson all in Montgomery sold none a week agoI just sold Henry and Polly at $2150 dollars in cash. Poly sold Henry no man would pick on Henry and Polly would strike the fancy of nearly all it wont do to buy negroes that has any affect at all. He had one leg smaller and shorter than the other" VGplus; Pair of partly printed slave bills of slave, sold to "Geo. Robertson & Son" for John and Susan. VGplus; Articles of Agreement where BJ Johnson & James T. Alexander purchase several negroes and the plantation of Joseph Morris, in Lincoln County, North Carolina, VGplus; Receipt dated 1861 for shoes for negroesplus; Manuscript document, 1p. folio, pencil "[N]ames of our Negroes wh[o] were freed in 1865." And lists the names and ages of forty-seven (47) enslaved men, women, and children who were freed by the Union forces. They are noted as "All were good looking, sound & healthy. 1865." Fairplus; A few miscellaneous business documents. A fine representation of the financial workings of a well know southern slave trader.

Source: Raynors' Historical Collectible Auctions

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