Desha County Arkansas 1860 slaveholders and 1870 African Americans





Transcribed by Tom Blake, May 2001

PURPOSE. Published information giving names of slaveholders and numbers of slaves held in Desha County, Arkansas, in 1860, is either non-existent or not readily available. It is possible to locate a free person on the Desha County, Arkansas census for 1860 and not know whether that person was also listed as a slaveholder on the slave census, because published indexes almost always do not include the slave census.

Those who have found a free ancestor on the 1860 Desha County, Arkansas census can check this list to learn if their ancestor was one of the larger slaveholders in the County. If the ancestor is not on this list, the 1860 slave census microfilm can be viewed to find out whether the ancestor was a holder of a fewer number of slaves or not a slaveholder at all. Whether or not the ancestor is found to have been a slaveholder, a viewing of the slave census will provide an informed sense of the extent of slavery in the ancestral County, particularly for those who have never viewed a slave census. An ancestor not shown to hold slaves on the 1860 slave census could have held slaves on an earlier census, so those films can be checked also. In 1850, the slave census was also separate from the free census, but in earlier years it was a part of the free census.

African American descendants of persons who were enslaved in Desha County, Arkansas in 1860, if they have an idea of the surname of the slaveholder, can check this list for the surname. If the surname is found, they can then view the microfilm for the details listed regarding the sex, age and color of the slaves. If the surname is not on this list, the microfilm can be viewed to see if there were smaller slaveholders with that surname. To check a master surname list for other States and Counties, return to Home and Links Page.

The information on surname matches of 1870 African Americans and 1860 slaveholders is intended merely to provide data for consideration by those seeking to make connections between slaveholders and former slaves. Particularly in the case of these larger slaveholders, the data seems to show in general not many freed slaves in 1870 were using the surname of their 1860 slaveholder. However, the data should be checked for the particular surname to see the extent of the matching.

The last U.S. census slave schedules were enumerated by County in 1860 and included 393,975 named persons holding 3,950,546 unnamed slaves, or an average of about ten slaves per holder. The actual number of slaveholders may be slightly lower because some large holders held slaves in more than one County and they would have been counted as a separate slaveholder in each County. Excluding slaves, the 1860 U.S. population was 27,167,529, with about 1 in 70 being a slaveholder. It is estimated by this transcriber that in 1860, slaveholders of 200 or more slaves, while constituting less than 1 % of the total number of U.S. slaveholders, or 1 out of 7,000 free persons, held 20-30% of the total number of slaves in the U.S. The process of publication of slaveholder names beginning with larger slaveholders will enable naming of the holders of the most slaves with the least amount of transcription work.

SOURCES. The 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedules for Desha County, Arkansas (NARA microfilm series M653, Roll 53) reportedly includes a total of 3,784 slaves. This transcription includes 24 slaveholders who held 50 or more slaves in Desha County, accounting for 2,056 slaves, or 54% of the County total. The rest of the slaves in the County were held by a total of 180 slaveholders, and those slaveholders have not been included here. Due to variable film quality, handwriting interpretation questions and inconsistent counting and page numbering methods used by the census enumerators, interested researchers should view the source film personally to verify or modify the information in this transcription for their own purposes. Census data for 1860 was obtained from the Historical United States Census Data Browser, which is a very detailed, searchable and highly recommended database that can found at . Census data on African Americans in the 1870 census was obtained using Heritage Quest's CD "African-Americans in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census", available through Heritage Quest at . In comparing census data for different years, changes in County boundaries, such as the taking of part of Desha County in 1871 to form part of Lincoln County and Desha acquiring part of Chicot County in 1879, have not been considered, on the presumption that the changes would have affected the comparison groups equally. For more precise comparison, the affect of the boundary changes should be fully calculated.

FORMAT. This transcription lists the names of those largest slaveholders in the County, the number of slaves they held in the township where the slaves were enumerated, the name of the township and the first census page on which they were listed. The page numbers used are the rubber stamped numbers in the upper right corner of every set of two pages, with the previous stamped number and a "B" being used to designate the pages without a stamped number. Following the holder list is a separate list of the surnames of the holders with information on numbers of African Americans on the 1870 census who were enumerated with the same surname. The term "County" is used to describe the main subdivisions of the State by which the census was enumerated.

TERMINOLOGY. Though the census schedules speak in terms of "slave owners", the transcriber has chosen to use the term "slaveholder" rather than "slave owner", so that questions of justice and legality of claims of ownership need not be addressed in this transcription. Racially related terms such as African American, black, mulatto and colored are used as in the source or at the time of the source, with African American being used otherwise.

PLANTATION NAMES. Plantation names were not shown on the census. Using plantation names to locate ancestors can be difficult because the name of a plantation may have been changed through the years and because the sizeable number of large farms must have resulted in lots of duplication of plantation names. In Arkansas in 1860 there were 69 farms of 1,000 acres or more, the largest size category enumerated in the census, and another 307 farms of 500-999 acres. Linking names of plantations in this County with the names of the large holders on this list should not be a difficult research task, but it is beyond the scope of this transcription.

FORMER SLAVES. The 1860 U.S. Census was the last U.S. census showing slaves and slaveholders. Slaves were enumerated in 1860 without giving their names, only their sex and age and indication of any handicaps, such as deaf or blind Slaves 100 years of age or older were supposed to be named on the 1860 slave schedule, but there were only 1,570 slaves of such age enumerated, out of a total of 3,950,546 slaves nationwide. The transcriber noticed no such slave on this enumeration. Freed slaves, if listed in the next census, in 1870, would have been reported with their full name, including surname. Some of these former slaves may have been using the surname of their 1860 slaveholder at the time of the 1870 census and they may have still been living in the same State or County. Before presuming an African American was a slave on the 1860 census, the free census for 1860 should be checked, as almost 11% of African Americans were enumerated as free in 1860, with about half of those living in the southern States. Estimates of the number of former slaves who used the surname of a former owner in 1870, vary widely and from region to region. If an African American ancestor with one of these surnames is found on the 1870 census, then making the link to finding that ancestor as a slave requires advanced research techniques involving all obtainable records of the holder.

MIGRATION OF FORMER SLAVES: According to U.S. Census data, the 1860 Desha County population included 2,655 whites, 20 "free colored" and 3,784 slaves. By the 1870 census, the white population of Desha County had decreased almost 18% to 2,185, while the "colored" population increased a slight 3% to 3,934. (As a side note, by 1960, 100 years later, the County was listed as having 10,784 whites, almost a four fold increase, while the 1960 total of 9,972 "Negroes"was about two and a half times what the colored population had been 100 years before.) Where did the freed slaves go if they did not stay in the County? Pulaski County saw an increase of 10,000 in the colored population in those ten years, but no other County in the State showed a significant increase. Between 1860 and 1870, the Arkansas colored population increased by 11,000, to 122,000, about a 10% increase. Where did freed slaves go if they did not stay in Arkansas? States that saw significant increases in colored population during that time, and were therefore more likely possible places of relocation for colored persons from Desha County, included the following: Georgia, up 80,000 to 545,000 (17%); Texas, up 70,000 (38%); North Carolina, up 31,000 (8%); Florida, up 27,000 (41%); Ohio, up 26,000 (70%); Indiana, up 25,000 (127%); and Kansas up from 265 to 17,000 (6,400%).


ABERCROMBIE, C. H.?, 109 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 221

BAILEY, James, 68 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 222

BALLARD, Thos. P.?, 59 slaves, Bartholomew Twp., page 215B

BALLOU?, I.? L. & W. A., 77 slaves, Redfork Twp., page 232B

BLACKBURN, L. P. & C. H., 74 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 228

BYNUM, F. W., 133 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 224 & 225B

ELLIS & JENKINS, 59 slaves, Redfork Twp., page 235B

FLOURNAY & JOHNSON, 89 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 226

FLOURNAY, T. B., 114 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 224B

GONDER, J. M., 65 slaves, Redfork Twp., page 231

HENRY, G.? P.?, 101 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 226B

HIGBY?, J.? J.?, 98 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 227

HOLMES, Finley, A. C. Holmes Agent, 67 slaves, Bartholomew Twp., page 215

JOHNSON, Henry J., 59 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 223B

JOHNSON, Matilda, 119 slaves, Redfork Twp., page 234

MAPLES, Josiah, 69 slaves, Redfork Twp., page 230

MARTIN & BRANCH, 183 slaves, Redfork Twp., page 233

MCBRIE?, Hector, 60 slaves, Redfork Twp., page 236

MONTGOMERY, R., 56 slaves, Wilkinson Twp., page 238B

RIDLEY? & LONG, 67 slaves, Redfork Twp., page 232

TAYLOR, J,. M., R. S. Taylor agent, 101 slaves, Franklin Twp., page 218B

THOMPSON & MARTIN, 108 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 223

WARFIELD, W.? P., 69 slaves, Mississippi Twp., page 222

WATSON, Geo B., 52 slaves, Redfork Twp., page 229


(exact surname spellings only are reported, no spelling variations or soundex)

(SURNAME, # in US, in State, in County, born in State, born and living in State, born in State and living in County)

ABERCROMBIE, 66, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0

BAILEY, 2281, 39, 1, 16, 10, 0

BALLARD, 633, 24, 0, 7, 6, 0

BALLOU?, 11, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0

BLACKBURN, 418, 29, 0, 7, 5, 0

BRANCH, 976, 30, 1, 3, 2, 0

BYNUM, 251, 2, 0, 2, 0, 0

ELLIS, 2094, 64, 1, 24, 19, 0

FLOURNAY, 6, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0

GONDER, 10, 2, 0, 1, 1, 0

HENRY, 2782, 83, 14, 22, 15, 1

HIGBY?, 10, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0

HOLMES, 2804, 91, 15, 27, 19, 1

JENKINS, 3848, 65, 3, 24, 19, 0

JOHNSON, 33402, 823, 70, 307, 196, 10

LONG, 1828, 39, 2, 17, 14, 1

MAPLES, 47, 3, 3, 0, 0, 0

MARTIN, 5318, 144, 9, 54, 33, 0

MCBRIE?, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0

MONTGOMERY, 1303, 44, 1, 18, 13, 0

RIDLEY? , 316, 9, 1, 2, 1, 0

TAYLOR, 11696, 274, 10, 104, 64, 1

THOMPSON, 8826, 259, 6, 90, 64, 1

WARFIELD, 263, 5, 1, 1, 1, 0

WATSON, 3567, 112, 4, 35, 26, 1

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