The McCrary Slaves – Who Were They?

It all started with finding out about Martha, the 14 year old black child who was “deeded” over to Mary Jane Kellum McCrary from her father Thomas R. Kellum.  See past post here.  This had me digging into additional records to find out what other slaves Irvin and Mary Jane McCrary owned. It has become a major research project that I am still in the middle of, but I wanted to share the process thus far.

From the 1849 and 1850 tax assessments, I determined that the Irvin McCrary family owned no slaves, but by 1854 they owned Martha (perhaps others?) and then by the 1860 Slave Schedule they owned 12 people.  But no names and then the Civil War happens and I lose them.

Irvin McCrary Slaves

Irvin McCrary Slaves

But wait, there is another clue.  Just how did they get so many slaves in such a short time? Well, I believe they may have inherited some of them from Irvin’s father Matthew who died in 1855.  And in these records for Matthew there are names for the slaves he owned.

This is the 1848 tax assessment for Matthew McCrary:

Matthew McCrary 1848 Tax Assessment

Matthew McCrary 1848 Tax Assessment

The 1849 tax assessment for Matthew McCrary:

Matthew McCrary 1849 Tax Assessment

Matthew McCrary 1849 Tax Assessment

The 1850 Slave Schedule for Matthew McCrary:

Matthew McCrary 1850 Slave Schedule

Matthew McCrary 1850 Slave Schedule

The probate document listing all the slaves that Matthew McCrary owned at his death:

Matthew McCrary 1855 Probate Record pg 40

Matthew McCrary 1855 Probate Record pg 40

So what does this mean?  I created a table trying to see who these people were, what were their names were and when were they born.  It’s not perfect and I am guessing that that the slave schedule and tax records were about as accurate about age as the U.S. census records were!

Matthew McCrary Slaves

My next task is to try to find these people in the 1870 census records and the Freedmen’s Bureau records which are not all indexed.  I might just have to join the Freedmen’s Bureau  Project to help this along…anyone want to join me?  If anyone else has ideas on other records I might look at, I would love suggestions.

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9 Responses to The McCrary Slaves – Who Were They?

  1. Pingback: Legacy of Slave Ownership – Matthew McCrary’s Slaves Part 2 | Ascending the Stairs

  2. Barbara McCrary says:

    I am trying to get family history regarding my husbands Great Grandmother who was.native american / black. They lived in St. louis, Mo.

  3. Ebony McCrary says:

    I am I descendent of this slave trade! I bought the book and even tried to reach out to the family but they wouldn’t not respond! I’m look for for Madison mccrary. He was the first slave in my family that was born on this plantation! Do you think you could help us because they won’t give us our records! Help please!

    • Rachelle says:

      Hello, I am happy to share any information I might have on Matthew McCrary and the people he enslaved. What book are you referencing? Were your people from Lawrence County, Alabama? Sadly there were quite a few McCrary families all over Alabama that owned slaves. I just want to make sure we are talking about the same people. Please share what you know about Madison McCrary.

  4. Arline McCray says:

    Good Evening How are you doing my name is Arline McCray/McCrary my Grandfaher name is Horace Chester McCrary born Dec 25,1873 in Alabama and he died July 11,1945 in Detroit Wayne ,Michigan,and his father name is William Blunt McCrary/McCray born March 1850 in Alabama and died in Huntsville Madison Alabama but can’t find our who his Parents are I’m talking about William Blunt McCrary and was they in Slavery.

    • Rachelle says:


      I don’t think that William Blunt McCrary was part of the family of slaves owned by Matthew McCrary and his children. As you could see in the will in this blog entry, there was no one named William who would have been 5 years old in 1855. That is not to say he didn’t change his name, but it is probably more likely he was part of another McCrary family who owned slaves in Alabama. There are quite a few, I am sad to say.

      I am afraid there is no easy way to get a quick answer to who William’s parents were, but here is what I would do:
      1) research each McCrary family in the 1850 and 1860 census in Alabama
      2) look at the slave schedules for 1850 and 1860 and determine who your best candidates are who fit the age range for William and his parents
      3) look for wills, tax and deed records for those families to see if anyone matches
      4) there might be some linkage with the name Blunt?
      5) have you looked at the Freeman records to see if William is listed in those? He would have been 15 at the end of the Civil War and might have had reason to create Freeman records
      6) who is he living with in the 1870 census? What are the family names around him? That might help if you see other names you recognize from wills, tax and deed records.
      7) Have you taken any classes or bought a book about doing African American research? I have a book called The Best of Reclaiming Kin by Robyn N. Smith based on her blog that gives great ideas of how to find records to help bridge this gap. Check out her blog

      Good luck!

  5. Ronald McCrary says:

    Here is a link to the McCrary Slave labor Camp in New Market, Alabama. It is the oldest slave labor camp in Alabama. Titus, an African Slave came to Alabama with Thomas McCrary. I’m a decendent of Anderson McCrary, Madision McCrary, Percy McCrary and Alvin McCrary Sr. I have
    the names of the the McCrary slaves going back to 1773. Anderson was born in Virginia & so was his wife.

    • Rachelle says:

      Ronald, thank you so much for your comment!

      No doubt my McCrary’s were related to the Thomas McCrary of New Market, AL – as they all came from Laurens County, South Carolina. I think that they were probably 2nd cousins, though I will have to do some research. My Thomas McCrary (1763-1835) settled in Lawrence Co, AL.

      Can you send the article/link to the McCrary Slave Labor Camp? I would like to learn more about this. How have you found the process of doing research in Alabama? Have you found any resources particularly helpful?

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