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Plantation and Will Records

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  Plantation and Will Records

Slavery was a business and slaves equaled money.  In a business, one keeps accounts and detailed records of daily business activities and transactions. An inventory list would contain six  bushels of corn along with three slaves for example.  A birth of a slave meant an increase in inventory.  A death of an escape of a slave meant a reduction in inventory. The purpose of a slave catcher was to bring back valuable property.  Plantation owners kept detailed records of their slaves because on them rested their livelihood.

Various plantations records come from Inventory/Estate lists, Wills, Day books or daily logs of plantation activity, Correspondence which could be letters that may mention a plantation and its slaves, "Master's Records" or personal notes or diaries of the plantation owner, "Doctor Visits" -slave owners did call doctors for their slaves.   It would have not been practical to not tend to a sick slave.  Some owners wanted sick slaves to at least get well enough to sell them later. Some slaves were allowed to have weddings.  Various state laws governed marriages between between two slaves and also between free blacks and slaves and the resulting children.  Records were kept for these as well. Also, some owners recorded slave births, deaths or weddings etc in their family Bibles for safe keeping.

Thanks to Nikki Williams for her contributions to this page.

If you have genealogical information related to plantation records in any Mississippi County and would like to share with others, email Dorian Jefferson, the MSGenWeb African-American Resources Coordinator.
 Plantation Record Links   

Marshall County Plantations

 Will Record Links  

Disposition of Slaves of Elias Spencer

Will Listing Slaves

© - Dorian Jefferson
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