What a Slave Census Can Tell Us
Thought I would end the work week with a little crowd-sourcing related to my Silas Chandler biography. Right now I am analyzing the journey from Virginia to northeast Mississippi that was made by Gilderoy “Roy” Chandler and Louisa Garner, along with fourteen slaves in 1839. One of those slaves was Silas. I am relying a great deal on secondary sources such as Joan Cashin’s A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier and Charles Sydnor’s helpful, but dated book, Slavery in Mississippi to fill in some of the unknowns.
I am basing the number of 14 slaves on the 1840 slave schedule, which places the family in Oktibbeha County, part of which would eventually comprise Clay County. It is likely that the family started out from Virginia in late summer or early fall. Here is the information from the slave schedule:
- Male, Under age of 10: 3
- Male, Between ages of 10 – 23: 3
- Male, Between ages of 55 – 99: 1
- Female, Under age of 10: 1
- Female, Between ages of 10 – 23: 5
- Female, Between ages of 55 – 99: 1
What explains this particular distribution of slaves, which likely accompanied the Chandlers west? What challenges did Gilderoy anticipate for the first few years in Mississippi and how might the presence and forced labor of these particular slaves have helped to overcome them?
I have my own ideas, but I would love to hear what you think.