Slave ownership is sticky and not in good way. I wanted to know what happened to Matthew McCrary’s slaves when he died (see past post). I haven’t found a document that told of the final disposition of his slaves in the court records yet. I did find a record that stated that the intention of the heirs was to sell the land and investments, but to not sell the slaves. My assumption has been that they most likely divided the slaves among Matthew’s wife Mary and his 7 living children: Louisa, Reason, Irvin/Irwin, Thomas, Matthew, Lyman and America. This led me to the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules to support or dispute my theory. I found that Louisa (Matthew’s oldest child) and her husband Thomas Davis are the only ones who owned slaves in 1850 and appear to have the same slaves in 1860 with one additional child. None of the other heirs owned any slaves in 1850, but by 1860, all of them owned slaves. It is likely that some/most of the slaves were inherited from Matthew’s estate. Either way, whether they inherited or not, what it does confirm is that they all participated in the institution of slave ownership. There was not one dissenter who chose not to own slaves. Yes, slavery is very sticky.
This begs all sort of questions and I may or may not ever find out the answers to:
- Why did they have these slaves?
- Did they use them for farm labor or house slaves?
- Did they consider their feelings and desires when making decisions?
- When some of the family moved to Arkansas and Tennessee prior to 1860, did they honor family units or split families up?
- Did they believe in the institution of slavery or were they just too morally lazy to take a stand?
- Were they non violent owners or were they cruel? It seems ridiculous to say kind and owner in the same sentence.
So, I am taking a small break from this research – quite frankly it makes me profoundly sad. I will return, but I need something to pick up my spirits…so moving on to Civil War doctors and nurses. [Picture smiley face]