This yellowed newspaper announcement was carefully preserved by a relative, and sent to me when they cleaned out their clutter. Fortunately. My parents divorced when I was a young adult, and their wedding momentos became casualties of the fight. I am grateful to pack rats who unload their goodies to subsequent generations of pack rats. And to those of you who are divorced, a tiny plea to preserve memories of your relationship’s beginnings. Someday your children and grandchildren will want to see where they came from.
Travel south from Chase City, Virginia on the Boydton Road about 15 minutes, turn left at Dodson Corners onto Hunter’s Lane. Follow the bend to the left, through a grove of pine to the meadows shorn of their grass by cows now shunning the noon heat among the shade of oak trees. Sitting on your left will be the headquarters of the Butcher’s Creek Hunt Club. This house marks the site of the Old Dodson Place, the homeplace of George and Florette Strickland’s family during the depression, and where my father, Norman, grew up. The youngest son in a family of four boys, Norman was born this day 1928.
This past spring I returned to this land, to breathe some ancestral smells, look out on rolling land my father once walked. Had it not been for the company of coon dogs who rushed to greet me, I would have tramped through the long grass, risking contact with some very healthy poison ivy, to look for crumbled buildings and civil war trenches, farm garbage dumps and Grandfather-dug watering holes. The air was hot and muggy, heavy with the fragrance of wild honeysuckle and white wild rose.
Towering above me were oak trees, just acorns on the ground when my dad shot squirrels out of their predecessors. Thick brambles of poison ivy, honey suckle, rose, and pricker bushes grew at their base. It would have been along hedgerows like these that rabbits hopped out, to eat by the road’s edge. And my father with buddy Charles D. would slowly approach in his daddy’s 1938 Ford pickup truck. While one boy drove, the other would lie on the huge front fender, flat on his belly, rifle in hand. Spot the rabbit, catch it in the scope, pull the trigger. The rabbit went from being vermin to being dinner.
Norman Scott Strickland grew up to leave this farm, to leave Chase City. He was coworker to fellow General Electric electrical engineers for 35 years, a choir member of countless church groups, a community leader, a good neighbor; a gardener, a bird watcher, a dog lover. Most of all Norman Scott Strickland was a gentle friend, ever ready with a smile, particularly for his wife, and six children, and two grandchildren. After losing a third battle to cancer 16 July 2006, Norman returned to the red soil of Mecklenburg County, where I can come and leave a stone in remembrance of his life well lived.
AS the country’s enumerators set out to collect data for the young nation’s seventh federal census, Congress was once again battling to find a compromise that would settle the slavery agitation once and for all–AND preserve the Union. By the fall of 1850, California had been admitted as a free state, Texas had its boundaries redrawn to accommodate the eventual states of Arizona and New Mexico, a severe Fugitive Slave Act had been imposed nationwide, and the District of Columbia’s slave trade (not slavery) had been banned. This was life after the Compromise of 1850, an earnest attempt to save the Union from disintegration.
William, Anderson and siblings were living in a world in which six of the first ten presidents were slave holders, and the eleventh, President Polk (1845-1849), made slave transactions from the White House. Abolitionists were a small but increasingly vocal fraction of the northern population. Pro-slavery advocates, like John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, constructed arguments to guarantee slave holders’ rights citing the Fifth Amendment’s protection of private property. The culture of Franklin and Wake Counties, North Carolina, then, would most certainly have condoned and encouraged the mindset that led the Strickland children to treat Leah’s “lot of slaves” as real estate, property to be guarded, valued and settled.
As the political storm swirled, Leah’s health deteriorated. Sometime between 1 June 1850 and February 1851, Leah Jeffreys Strickland died.
BY 1851 Jasper of Wake County, North Carolina, Anderson of Franklin County, North Carolina and Nick of Fayette County, Tennessee had already sold their right title to the slaves to brother William. John Hilliard of Franklin County, North Carolina had apparently sold his claim to Isham Young, John W. Perry, and Turner Young. Therefore, on 2 May 1851 the group gathered to make the partition of Leah’s “lot” included: William G. Strickland, Joseph Hopkins and wife Julia, John Hopkins, administrator for wife Elizabeth, deceased, Jefferson Richards, administrator for seriously ill wife Ellen, Thomas Perry for wife Jane, Simon K. Strickland, Arabella Strickland and Isham Young, John W. Perry and Turner Young.
The value of the twenty-two slaves was listed as $10,824. There being eleven children of Leah Jeffreys Strickland there were eleven lots assigned to the group. Each lot was valued at $984, and “…therefore charge the more valuable dividends with such sums of money respectively to be paid to those of inferior value respectively, as will make an equitable division.” The freeholders assigned to devised this distribution, Alpheus Jones, Noel Night, John M. Fleming, William H. Hood and HW Montague, listed the following:
Lot No. 1 Dennis and Hannah allotted to W.G. Strickland and valued at $850
Lot No.2 Richard and Candis allotted to Isham Young, John W. Perry and Fenner Young and valued at $925.
Lot No. 3 Fenner and Elizabeth allotted to W.G. Strickland valued at $1075
Lot No. 4 Riddick and Patience allotted to Arabella Strickland valued at $1000
Lot No. 5 Mariah and Andrew allotted to W.G. Strickland valued at $950
Lot No. 6 Mary and John K. Polk allotted to Jefferson Richards, Admr. Valued at $975
Lot No. 7 Carolina and John Peter allotted to Simon K. Strickland valued at $975
Lot No. 8 Sarah age 20 and Sarah age 12 allotted to W.G. Strickland valued at $1025
Lot No. 9 Martha and Alfred allotted to John Hopkins Admr valued at $875
Lot No. 10 Buck and Matilda allotted to Joseph Hopkins and wife valued at $1000
Lot No. 11 Giles and Ann allotted to Thomas Perry valued at $1174
17 March 1852 William G. Strickland purchased Richard and Candis, the negroes drawn by Isham Young, John W. Perry and Fenner Young.
Leah’s lot had remained in the Strickland family for 25 years, hired out perhaps, but never sold to the Deep South. William G. took care to purchase claims to the lot from three brothers, and then to purchase the two slaves who were allotted at Leah’s estate distribution to outsiders. His family in 1852 then included at least these slaves: Andrew, Hannah, Candis–all named in the first transaction of 1837–Dennis, Richard, Fenner, Elizabeth, Mariah, Sarah (20) and Sarah (12). At his death in 1864 William’s widow, Sophia Ivey Strickland, listed 24 slaves as property; the Emancipation Proclamation had not changed the lives of these family members. At least some of these slaves belonged to the “lot”: Sarah, the elder, had five children, Sarah the younger nicknamed Sallie had four children, and Fenner.
From here the “lot” disappear from my records. Perhaps they resurface in Freedman’s Bureau records, Federal Census’ or marriage records as Stricklands, living and working in the free soil of Wake County, North Carolina.
In my post “The Cloak of Defeat” I stated my intention to put out the details of all my family’s people, including their slaves, so that somebody somewhere might be able to shout “THEY are mine!” Since slaves were known only by first names in legal documents I am providing dates, locations, and slaveholder surnames with the hope such details are substitute keystone information. I welcome your ideas and suggestions in the comments.
In 1827 Mary Gray Jeffreys of Wake County, North Carolina, bequeathed a “lot” of slaves to her daughter Leah Strickland, for life, remainder to her children. The right and title to this “lot” and their increase was given for unknown reasons to Newton Wood, of Wake County, North Carolina, to be effective during the life of Leah Jeffreys Strickland, wife of John Perry Strickland. At Leah’s death the right and title to these Negroes was to be passed on and divided among her eleven children: William Gray, Elizabeth (Hopkins), Matthew Nick, John Hilliard, Anderson Perry (my great-great-grandfather), Julia (Hopkins), Jasper D., Jane (Perry), Simon K., Arabella (Baker), and Ellen (Richards).
Upon Mr. Wood’s death (between 1827 and 1837), the right and title or claim to this “lot” was left to his children in undivided fourths: Mrs. Richard Barnum, Thomas N. Wood, William W. W. Wood, and Dallas R. Wood.
On 31 October 1837 the eldest of Leah’s children, William G. Strickland, purchased Mr. and Mrs. Richard Barnum’s interest and title to these slaves for $275. The Barnum’s resided in Wake County, N.C. At the time of the deed’s writing the “lot” included: Buck, Reddick, Andrew, Hannah and three children, Candace and four children, Patience and three children, and Martha.
On 28 February 1842 William and his younger brother, Matthew N. Strickland, paid three hundred dollars for the remaining interests in these slaves from Thomas N. Wood and William W.W. Wood, then residents of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Dallas R. Wood had died. At the time of these deeds the “lot” included: Buck, Reddick, Andrew, Hannah, Maria, Candace, Giles, Caroline, Patience, Richard, Mary, Ann, Sarah, a child, Matilda, Dennis, Martha, Sarah, a girl of about 14 years of age, and Fenner.
In 1845 Jasper Strickland, the seventh child of Leah and John P. Strickland, became indebted to a William A. Jeffreys of Franklin County, North Carolina, in the amount of $300. For one dollar Jasper “granted, bargained, sold, assigned, transferred and set over” to Mr. Jeffreys his future share in the “lot.” If he remained unable to pay this debt by 1 January 1846 then William Jeffreys could advertise the impending sale for twenty days and then proceed to sell the “lot” at public auction to the highest bidder, at the Court House in the city of Raleigh, County of Wake, North Carolina. At the time of this indenture the “lot” included: Buck, Reddick, Andrew, Fenner, Dennis, Dick, Giles, Hannah, Candace, Sarah, Martha, Patience, Mariah, Caroline, Mary, Ann, Matilda, Salley, Betsey, John, and Daniel.
On 27 June 1846 big brother William paid Jasper $303.10 in full payment for his future right title and interest in the “lot”. This payment was evidently meant to provide Jasper with the cash necessary to secure his debt to William A. Jeffreys thereby securing the ownership of the “lot”–Buck, Reddick, Andrew, Fenner, Dennis, Dick, Giles, John, Hannah, Patience, Martha and child Elizabeth, Sarah, Caroline, Sarah, a small girl, Ann, Candace and child John, Mariah, Mary and Matilda–who were in the possession of (Matthew) Nick Strickland and William at this time.
In the fall of 1846 M. Nick Strickland and William G. Strickland had Benjamin Marriott and John Harris determine the value of the slaves, and in December 1846 William bought Nick’s present interest in the “lot” for the sum of $250 and his future claim to the “lot” for $590.90.
Hereby in consideration of the sum of five hundred and ninety Dollars and 90 cents to me in hand paid bargain Sell and deliver unto Wm.G. Strickland one undivided Eleventh part of thereof the negro slaves herein after named it being my own sher (sic) of said slaves as Bequeath (sic) to me by my grandmother Mary Jeffreys Deceased. And I do further hereby in consideration of the sum of two hundred and fifty Dollars Give bargain and Sell and Deliver unto the said Wm. G. Strickland my undivided moity or half of said slaves during the life of our mother Leah Strickland it being our Interest in said slaves which I purchased from Newton Woods children for the life of my said mother to wit one half the said WG Strickland haeving (sic) bought the other half Provided that nothing in this Deed shall Release or aquit the said Wm. G. Strickland form the obligations set forth in said agreement on file in the court of Equity aforesaid (sic) to permit our mother Leah Strickland to have a limited use of the said slaves for her necessary support though upon the terms therein stated to wit the negroes which were bequeath (sic) Mary Jeffreys Deceased unto Leah Strickland for Life and afterwords to her children the Said negroes and present (sic) issue Named as follows Brink (Buck), Reddick, Dennis, Dick, Giles, Condin (Candace) and her child John, Mary, Ann, Sarah jr., Andrew, Sarah, son (last two words marked out), Fenner, Sarah Sr., Hannah, Patience and her child John, Martha and her child Elizabeth, Caroline, Matilde, Maren (?)
The 1847 North Carolina Tax List suggests that the “lot” now all resided with William G. Strickland, on his 436 acre farm in St. Matthews Township, Wake County, North Carolina.
In November 1848 Anderson Perry Strickland joined brothers Jasper and Nick in selling his future claim in the “lot” of Leah’s slaves to brother William. As the eldest brother had amassed land and slaves during the 1840s, Anderson had set out on his own, establishing a home, a marriage and a family in the neighboring county of Franklin, North Carolina. By 1848, Anderson’s obligations may have made the prospect of $500 cash more appealing than the prospect of someday inheriting some slaves.
Tate, Carla. Strickland Records and Family Groups. North Carolina: self-published, 2007.