Slaves in Chatham County

In Pittsboro, North Carolina, there is a statue of a confederate soldier facing north up Hillsboro Street. On the pedestal of Mt. Airy Granite there's often a wreath .

He was dedicated Augut 23,1907. North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Walter Clark was the orator and was introduced by Mr. Henry London. The statue was presented by Mrs. H. A. London and received by Lieutenant O. A. Hanner. Colonel John R. Lane served as Chief Marshall for the occasion.

J R Lane owned 3 slaves before the war. H A London owned 20. Clark was from Halifax County.

Who is the soldier defending, and who is he defending against? What does he represent? Who places the wreath? What does the Civil War mean in Chatham County? Maybe he's defending against all these questions. 

Apart from the statue, there is little to remember the war between the states, yet one cannot help but hear echoes down to the present.

Was there much slavery in Chatham County?  There is the roadside sign about George Moses Horton on 15-501, but no ante-bellum plantations to visit, no battlefields to tour. 

It turns out the numbers are readily available.  By summarizing them, perhaps some answers may emerge.  

In 1860, the decennial US census enumerated 12,855 free people in 2,521 families in Chatham County, meticulously transcribed by Sue Ashby as part of the NCGENWEB project.  Her records account for 12,800.  Microfilm is here.  In that census, slaves were also enumerated on separate slave schedules that listed them by owner, age, gender and color.  Their names were not recorded.  You can look up the numbers at The University of Virginia historical census browser:

North Carolina99262266156312509033105933%3465828%

Virginia had the most slaves of any state.  North Carolina had a slightly higher proportion of slaves and a slightly higher proportion of slaveholding families.

The schedules have been transcribed, and they can be aggregated from the records.  Since the slaves are not named, they are difficult to identify, especially because families were broken up as individuals were sold.    Due to a duplicate page, there are actually 733 owners and 6177 slaves.  There is no consistency of spelling between the free census and the slave schedules, so matching slaves with owners requires some guesswork.

Oddly, slaves are listed by age for each owner.  As a result, it is impossible to make any inference about family groups.

In short, one in three people in Chatham County was owned by someone else, and one in three families had slaves.  This is roughly similar to the whole state.

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