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A Brief History of Jefferson and Amanda Cary
Jefferson nor Amanda Cary are mentioned in the
standard reference work for early
Cary was a slave of John J. Cary (son of the colorful
Jeff Cary grew up and worked in the environs of Thomaston, a village whose
population hovered somewhere between 400 and 500 persons before the Civil War. Downtown city businesses and
residences were intermingled with fields and farms. In any direction from
the courthouse, town streets quickly, but with no perceptible demarcation,
became country roads. Large plantations operated on the outskirts of
town, while wealthy slave-owning merchants and farmers lived in houses near the
town square, and scores of hired slaves served the local businesses as stableboys, depot hands, laborers and tradesmen, and served
the white families as domestic servants.
Amanda Beall was another young resident of Thomaston,
slave of the highly-successful town merchant, Alpheus Beall. She had joined
Jefferson and Amanda, being owned by separate masters, ran a double risk of
having their family disrupted by an owner's death or financial failure.
Indeed, it was not long before such anxieties became an imminent threat to
Next, John J. Cary's indebtedness threatened Jefferson and Amanda's
family. Early in 1848,
No sooner did it seem that Jeff's and Amanda's family was safe from John J. Cary's financial problems, than the dispute over the Beall estate was finally settled by arbitration, and the estate was divided into three parts. The record of arbitration shows that the two local lawyers tasked with making an "equitable distribution" of Alpheus Beall's slaves were fully aware of the several slave families they were affecting, even though the process of division could not legally recognize them. Mothers and their young children were kept together for practical reasons, but teenagers were distributed according to their appraised value, regardless of family, to make the three shares equal. Fortunately for Amanda, her eldest child (Ellen) was only eight years old, so all three children were kept together with her.
a year, however, Mary Stallings was dying. In her will, not long before
her death in the autumn of 1854, she wrote, "I prefer that my Negro women Amanda & Martha
be sold so as to be convenient to their respective husbands, but I do not
intend hereby to require my said Executor to sell them or either of them, I
leave it to his sound discretion to act as he chooses." Her estate
was inventoried and appraised on
years intervene before available records reveal more information about
Jefferson Cary, Amanda, and their children. As previously told, Thomaston
plantation owner WiIliam Lowe had bought
the decade of the 1850s, Jefferson Cary had experienced other evidence of the
fragility of his extended slave family. His half-sister, Susan, and her
infant child were sold away from the
H. Lowe inherited the entire Lowe estate, including 32 slaves, by right of his
marriage to William Lowe's daughter, his cousin, Emma R. Lowe. By then,
the Civil War had run half its bloody course, and in little more than two
years, the U. S. Cavalry commanded by Major General James H. Wilson would bring
a message of freedom to
summer and fall of 1865 was a time of upheaval and transition for all people in
freedom, new arrangements for paid labor were devised to replace slave
labor. Free labor involved contracts, and contracts implied
literacy. In January of 1866, a freedmen's convention at
Cary (alias Lowe) and his family worked in 1866 on William Spivey's farm.
A letter from J. Clarke Swayze, Freedmen's Bureau
"...I have also to present you the case of Jefferson Carey of Upson county, who has come thirty miles to lay his case before me. He has worked two hands steady from March until now, and two others part of the time. Farmed himself and family; and only bought 28 lbs Bacon at 25¢ per lb. and six bushels of potatoes at 75¢ per bushel, from his employer, Mr. Wm. Spivey, and yet, upon settlement, he is brought 80¢ in debt. The man farmed upon shares for half, and raised 12 wagon loads of corn, 5 stacks of fodder, 6 stacks hay, about 50 bushels potatoes, farmed 8 acres of cotton. Mr. James Green, agent of the Bureau, approved the Contract several months after the work was commenced, and according to his own admission, did not read the contract, and yet upon settlement held the freedman strictly to its provisions, which I believe, from what I can learn, without seeing the contract, contains provisions with reference to feeding stock, which covered all that had been made. The simple fact is the man and his family gave their services, farmed themselves, and were brought out in debt."
The "two hands steady" and "two others part of the time" who had worked the farm were probably Jeff, his two sons, and Amanda who would also have cooked and kept house.
Disenchanted with his experience as a sharecropper in
Jefferson Cary about this time shook off the surname Lowe, which probably had
little significance for him, and resumed the
Jefferson and Amanda Cary probably did not
as Jefferson and Amanda Cary needed to move from Thomaston to
White's Historical Collections, p. 666, says
Upson County Deed Book G, 669; deed of trust dated
 Upson Superior Court, loose records (January Term 1892), interrogatories of Amanda Cary and Susan Drake, in William Guilford, heir-at-law, &c., vs J. S. King, administrator of Guilford Speer; also, Upson County Deed Book G, 669; deed of trust dated December 23, 1852.
 Ellen was sold from the Cary trust 6 January 1857, probably to her slave husband, Guilford (see Barred and Disallowed Case Files of the Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880, claim of Guilford Speer, Commission no. 10515, Office no. 400, Report no. 3, 1873, testimony of J. T. Sandwich that Guilford “bought his wife and paid for her”). Upson Superior Court, loose records (January Term 1892), interrogatory of Susan Drake, in William Guilford, heir-at-law, &c., vs J. S. King, administrator of Guilford Speer, states that Ellen died when her daughter Susan’s child was “eleven or twelve years old”—Caroline was born about 1852.
David E. Paterson, A Frontier Link with the
Federal Population Census, 1870,
 Edwin L. Cliburn, In Unbroken Line, A History
of the First Baptist
Thomas R. R. Cobb, A Digest of the Statute Laws of the State of
 Upson Superior Court Writ Book H, 247-276, William & Elisha H. Beall vs William J. Starling, administrator of Alpheus Beall
 Upson Superior Court Minute Book B, 530.
Upson Will Book A, 154. Mary C. Beall had married
William J. Stallings on
 Upson Will Book A, 154. Upson Record of Accounts Book D, 209 and 629.
 Upson Record of Accounts Book E, 408. This record does not indicate the kinship of Amanda, Peter and Jeff, but the name coincidence strongly suggests their identity.
Drake-Flewellen-Cary letters, "Memorandum of sale of 4 of J J Carys negroes on
 Carolyn Walker Nottingham and Evelyn Hannah, History of Upson County, Georgia (1930; rpt 1969), 645.
 Wm. Guilford & others (Freedmen) to Gen. Dean, letter of August 3, 1866, Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Georgia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869 (National Archives Microfilm Publication: M798), Unregistered Letters Received (roll 27).
 J. Clarke Swayze to Gen. Davis Tillson, letter of December 27, 1866, Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Georgia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869 (National Archives Microfilm Publication: M798), Unregistered Letters Received (roll 29).
 John D. Allen to Gen. Davis Tillson, letter of November 2, 1866, Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Georgia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869 (National Archives Microfilm Publication: M798), Unregistered Letters Received (roll 25).
 Upson Superior Court, loose records ((May Term 1852) in the case of Thomas T. Wyche & wife vs Thomas B. Greene et al., Bill of Injunction, Relief, etc.
J. Gaines, African Methodism in the South; or, Twenty-Five Years of Freedom
About the Author: David E. Paterson, AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum manager, was born in Scotland, UK, grew up in Seattle, WA, and lives in Norfolk, VA. He is married to the former Judy L. Moody of Memphis, TN. David is completing his MA in History from University of West Florida with a concentration on the American Old South and Reconstruction. David's slavery-related work has appeared in American Archivist, and Oxford University Press has commissioned him to write two biographies for the forthcoming African-American National Biography. His long-term research goal is to write a history of Upson County, GA.
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4 Sep 2004 . 4 Sep 2004
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