County, North Carolina
Slavery In Robeson County
Transactions in slaves began with the first recording of deeds in Robeson County.
The first deed for slaves was entered at the November Term, 1788, when Jesse Jernigan, Sr. sold 14 slaves to Jesse Jernigan Jr., for 1600 pounds "North Currency." The slaves were sold Sunday, Thomas, Harrie, Toney, Sunday, Frank, Sam, Hannah, Dinah, Silvey, Venous, Winne, Young and Hannah. In some cases these individuals can be traced through later deeds, wills, and estate records by their first (and only) name until after the end of the Civil War in 1865. It appears that slaves in Robeson County sold for about 11.4 pounds in 1788 (Robeson County Deed Book A, pp. 215-216). The names of slaves and their owners were well recorded in the Saddletree vicinity as transcribed in church minute books after 1820.
Ownership of slaves in Robeson often became a point of argumentation. Slave ownership was very close behind land ownership in financial ratings of whether a family was poor, average, or well-to-do. Slaves were portable and could be easily moved. In addition, Robesonians sometimes failed to follow every tenet of the law regarding slave property.
In October, 1792, John Eagan [Regan] placed an ad in the Fayetteville Gazette (Oct. 30, 1792, Vol.I, No. 13; the name Eagan was easily in error as Regan because the printer was "verbally given" the advertisement) warning all persons not to have any dealings with certain Negro slaves Rose, Amelia, Sam, Hannah, Ned and Rhodey, which he claimed were bequeathed by Levi Glass to a daughter, Becky. The slaves could have been worth upwards of three thousand dollars - a considerable sum. Regan had intermarried with Becky Glass (newspaper of Tuesday, Dec. 11, 1792, Vol. I, No. 19). In December, John White responded in the same paper (Tuesday, Jan. 2, 1793, Vol. I, No. 22) that he had obtained the six slaves legally from the estate of Levi Glass. In his will written in 1779, Glass left his plantation called Lumber Bridge to his children, including Becky. White had purchased the slaves at a Sheriff's sale in Robeson to satisfy a judgment against Glass. White intended to show that Regan's retention of the slaves was illegal and that they were held without his consent. He warned the public about buying the slaves .
In a letter written in January, 1793, White claimed that eighteen months earlier he had exchanged two slaves, Amelia and Hannah, with Cader Hawthorn of Robeson, and took, in return, a fellow named Jack: "Of the means which Eagan [Regan] made use of to possess himself, of the Negroes from Hawthorn, I cannot positively say ...Hawthorn and his father, in my absence, took the fellow [Jack] from my yard. For this theft, I have entered a complaint with the Attorney-General."
John Regan's later will (Will Book I, pp. 154-56), dated 1814, left a total of 23 slaves. The exact or final disposition of the slaves does not appear in newspaper accounts but their names may appear in other documents. Submitted by: Dr. Morris F. Britt, 4222 Town & Country Drive, Charlotte, NC 28224.
(Sources: Robeson County Deeds, issues of The Fayetteville Observer, 1792, 1793. - Transcribed by: J.A. Scott]
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