Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tobacco and Slave Ledger Preservation Project

Caswell County, NC 1840's Tobacco and Slave Trading Ledger Collection

"April 8th, 1841 I have just learned with great sorrow that President Harrison is no more- the whole Nation should, yes, I believe they will mourn, Great God what a calamity, Oh, Lord receive him. Blessed be they who die in the name of the Lord."

The ledger consists of 148 pages of recorded tobacco and slave trading information dating from 1837 to 1845. There are letters, bills of sale and other documents dating from 1837-1855.

Part I Tobacco

The first part of the ledger concerns the prizing, buying and selling of tobacco from Caswell County plantations. Important facts such as person selling tobacco, the type and condition of the crop, and location sold are recorded. It is also noted how the tobacco is transported to market. The tobacco was prized into hogsheads. The hogsheads weighed about 1400 lbs full. The hogsheads were taken to Milton on heavy wagons. Once in Milton the hogsheads were loaded onto a bateaux and shipped via the Dan River to the market in Danville, Virginia.

Caswell County North Carolina July 20, 1841 Tobacco sold in
Lynchburg, Richmond, and Petersburg.

Part II Slave Trading

The second part of the ledger is a rare and important record of the North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina slave trade during the 1840's. Expansion of the cotton kingdom during the 1830's greatly increased the demand for slave labor in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. The need for slave labor began to decline in the old tobacco belt region of the upper south. Many enslaved people were "sold south" as a result of debt and estate settlements and economic conditions.

A list of enslaved people by name, some are recorded with surname.
The cost of the trip to Surry County, NC for the auction is noted as $22.85.

Restoration of the ledger

The ledger required a great deal of restoration. During the 1870's it was used as a scrapbook for recipes and remedies clipped from newspapers. The pasted on clippings covered almost half of the information in the ledger. The newspaper clippings had to be hand steamed and carefully removed one at a time. The ledger also lost its cover along the way. The lost cover was replaced with an 1840's style cover bound with leather. Each page was cleaned and stabilized. The Etherington Conservation Group located in Browns Summit, NC restored the ledger and two of the slavery documents.

Caswell County Historical Association1840's Caswell County Tobacco and Slave Trading Ledger CollectionPreservation Project

August 28, 2008

Dear Friend of Caswell County:

A member of the Caswell County Historical Association has funded the purchase and restoration of a rare and important 1840's Caswell County Tobacco and Slave Trading Ledger and associated documents including many slave bills of sale. The collection represents life in Yanceyville Township during the height of North Carolina's plantation economy.

Preservation projects such as this demonstrate the CCHA's commitment to preserving and sharing Caswell County's rich cultural heritage. The CCHA reaches out to the local schools hosting museum tours and genealogy programs. Many small museums are struggling to stay open and maintain their collections. The Richmond-Miles History Museum is no exception. The Museum is in need of funds to maintain our buildings and buy equipment to enable us to care for our collections and conduct basic cataloging and archiving functions.

The Richmond-Miles History Museum is the childhood home of celebrated North Carolina artist and Yanceyville native Maud Gatewood. A collection of Maud Gatewood's art sets the Richmond-Miles History Museum apart from most small town museums. Considered by art historians, curators, museum directors and collectors as one of the most important painters in North Carolina history, Maud Florance Gatewood was born and grew up in Caswe!l County, North Carolina and was fiercely proud of her rural roots. She exhibited widely throughout the Southeast during her lifetime and received numerous awards, including a 1972 award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the l984 North Carolina Governor's Award in Fine Arts, and an Honorary Doctorate from UNC-G in 1999. She was on the Averett University art faculty from 1975-1997 and her life and work have been chronicled in an hour-long documentary, 'Gatewood.' Facing The White Canvass' shown on UNC: - TV.

The CCHA's goal is to raise $ 13,808.82 for the 1840's Tobacco and Slave Trading Ledger Collection. Successful preservation projects help the CCHA fulfill its mission to preserve the history of Caswell County and qualify for grants and foundation assistance. Any funds received over our goal will be used for conservation of existing collections including the Maud Gatewood collection.

The Caswell County Historical Association invites you to participate in this important project and to help us preserve and share Caswell County's rich cultural heritage.

Acquisition of collection 3/2007 $9,428.82
Restoration completed 7/2008 $4,025.00
Museum copy $ 355.00
Goal $13,808.82

Caswell County NC 1840's Tobacco and Slave Trading Ledger Collection Preservation Project

Please return this form with your tax-deductible contribution

Name _____________________________________________

Address ____________________________________________

Donation ___________

Or donate online using PayPal or a major credit card:

Thank you for helping us preserve and share our Caswell County heritage!

All donors will be recognized on the cover page of the museum copy.

Donors of $ 1,000.00 or more will be recognized on a special museum plaque.

This project was separately funded.

The DVD or VHS of :Gatewood: Facing The White Canvass" can be purchased at the museum gift shop or at the CCHA's online bookstore:

Richmond-Miles History Museum

For more information visit the CCHA website at http://

Museum hours are Wednesday-Friday 12:00-4:00

Other times by appointment call CCHA President Karen Oestreicher at (336) 562-5083


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