Largest US County Slaveholders in 1860



Transcribed by Tom Blake*, April to July 2001

(updated October, 2001 and December 2004 - now actually includes 19 holders)

PURPOSE. Published information giving names of slaveholders and numbers of slaves held is almost non-existent. It is possible to locate an ancestor on a U.S. census for 1860 or earlier and not realize that ancestor was also listed as a slaveholder on the slave schedules, because published indexes almost always do not include the slave census. 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 would have been counted 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.

SOURCES. 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 . This data indicated that in 1860 there was only one slaveholder in the United States holding 1,000 or more slaves in one County, and there were fourteen holders holding 500-999 slaves in one County. The 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedules NARA microfilm series M653 for the respective Counties were consulted to locate these sixteen slaveholders and to determine the number of slaves held in the particular County. In reviewing the film for Beaufort County, South Carolina, the transcriber found two holders with more than 500 slaves, whereas the Historical Browser indicated only one. One of the Beaufort holders, Middleton, was actually enumerated as "Jno. J. Middleton and 5 others", which might have some bearing on the way his count was considered by the Historical Browser. Charles Heyward, with 491 slaves, was included by the transcriber in this list as one of the three from Colleton County, South Carolina, because he was the third largest holder counted by the transcriber in that County and may have been counted in the Historical Data Browser as one of the three holders there with 500 or more.

Since initially compiling and posting this list, the transcriber has discovered additional slaveholders with more than 500 slaves in one County on the 1860 slave census, who apparently were missed by the historical census browser. Jerrett Brown of Sumter County, Alabama, is shown with 540 slaves, enumerated sequentially and totalled by the enumerator. Jno. Robinson in Madison County, Mississippi is listed with five separate plantations in sequence, each with a different overseer, with a combined total of 550 slaves. Slaves were only counted together, by this transcriber, if they were enumerated together in one place within the County schedules, because it could not be determined from the face of the schedules whether listings of the same name in different places within the County was in fact a listing of the same person: however, for Acklen, Duncan, Robinson and Worthington, contiguous listings were combined. The holders listed here held 11,406 slaves or about 1 out of every 346 slaves in the U. S. in 1860.

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. .

FORMAT. This transcription lists the names of these largest slaveholders, the name of the State and County (or Parish in the State of Louisiana) where the slaves were held, the film roll number and first page, and the number of slaves held in the County. 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, except for three counties in South Carolina, Beaufort, Colleton and Georgetown, where the numbers used are the page numbers for the respective subdivision within the County.

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.

PLANTATION NAMES. Plantation names were not ordinarily 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. For example, in Alabama in 1860 there were 482 farms of 1,000 acres or more, the largest size category enumerated in the census, and another 1,359 farms of 500-999 acres. Linking names of plantations in a 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. Plantation names included with the enumerations of the holders on this list were for Acklen (Loango, Panola, Killarney, Lachlomond, Bellevue and Angola.Plantations) and for Worthington (Red Leaf, Meanie?, Eminence and Sunnyside Plantations). The contiguous Duncan listings included names of "employers", which were probably persons hiring slaves held by Duncan.

SLAVEHOLDER LIST (in descending order by number of slaves):

Estate of JOSHUA J. WARD, at SC, Georgetown, roll 1235 page 212, holding 1,130 slaves.

STEPHEN DUNCAN, at MS, Issaquena, roll 598 page 420B, holding 858 slaves.

J. BURNESIDE, at LA, Ascension, roll 427 page 31B, holding 753 slaves.

MEREDITH CALHOUN, at LA, Rapides, roll 430 page 178, holding 709 slaves.

WM. AIKEN, at SC, Colleton, roll 1234 page 1 of Jehossee Island, holding 700 slaves.

JOHN L. MANNING, at LA, Ascension, roll 427 page 31B, holding 670 slaves.

JOS. A. S. ACKLEN, at LA, West Feliciana, roll 428 page 291, holding 659 slaves.

R. F. W. ALLSTON, at SC, Georgetown, roll 1235 page 120, holding 631 slaves.

JOSEPH BLAKE, at SC, Beaufort, roll 1231, page 89 of Prince William Parish, holding 575 slaves

JNO. ROBINSON, at MS, Madison, roll 600, page 418, holding 550 slaves.

JERRETT BROWN, at AL, Sumter, roll 35, page 188B, holding 540 slaves.

ARTHUR BLAKE, at SC, Charleston, roll 1232 page 307B, holding 538 slaves.

JNO. J. MIDDLETON, at SC, Beaufort, roll 1231 page 33 of Prince William Parish, holding 530 slaves.

ELISHA WORTHINGTON, at AR, Chicot, roll 53 page 104, holding 529 slaves.

DANIEL BLAKE, at SC, Colleton, roll 1234 page 103 of St. Bartholomew, holding 527 slaves.

Estate J. C. JENKINS, at MS, Wilkinson, roll 604 pages 385B and 395, holding 523 slaves.

J. HARLESTON READ, at SC, Georgetown, roll 1235 page 105, holding 511 slaves.

JNO. BUTLER, at GA, McIntosh, roll 148 page 207, holding 505 slaves.

CHARLES HEYWARD, at SC, Colleton, roll 1234 page 78 of St. Bartholomew, holding 491 slaves.

*Blake is the name of the paternal step-grandfather of the transcriber, which was assumed by the step-family, and no connection to the Blakes on this list is known to the transcriber.

Return to Home and Links Page for links to names of 11,020 slaveholders in 1860, plus the names of every slaveholder in Charleston, South Carolina (the County with the most slaves in 1860), all holding about 792,219 persons in slavery (more than 1 out of every 5 slaves held in the United States in 1860).

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