Tag Archives: Virginia

Slavery in Lynchburg, Virginia


     While a student at Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Virginia, I wanted to get just one thing out of school, myself!  I never considered the possibility of going to college.  Like many young men during the early 1960’s, I assumed that I would be drafted into the army soon after graduating in 1963.  What would come after that was anyone’s guess.

Rather than the army, I spent three years attending the Lynchburg Branch of the University of Virginia.  There weren’t any so-called community colleges in Virginia at that time, at least not that I am aware of.  The Lynchburg Branch of UVA was the forerunner of what later became Central Virginia Community College.  The Branch provided the first two years of college at a bargain price.  I believe the tuition was a mere $240 per semester, or was it a year?  I do not remember exactly.

Because I never thought of going beyond high school, I had to take several high school algebra and geometry courses in addition to the traditional freshman and sophomore classes.  Hence, it took me three years to get the two.

There were some really terrific teachers at the UVA Branch.  Some were professors at the main campus in Charlottesville.  One who I particularly remember was Mr. Anderson, a graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.  Mr. Anderson would ride the Trailways bus down to Lynchburg one night a week and teach philosophy.  After class, some of us would walk to the bus station with him and discuss philosophy, while he waited for his bus back to Charlottesville.

There was one faculty member in particular who had a profound influence on my future.  Benjamin W. Wright, Jr. taught history at the UVA Branch and later at Central Virginia Community College.  He was a very demanding teacher, as were most college and university professors in those days before the rapid decline of higher education in America.  I took every course he offered, both semesters of Western Civilization and both semester of U. S. History.  Mr. Wright required three book reviews, three detailed map projects, and a research paper for each of his classes.  During my forty-two years teaching history at various colleges I could never have required that much for any of my classes, intro or upper level.

Mr. Wright challenged me to do a research paper on slavery in Lynchburg for the second half of the U. S. History survey during the spring semester of 1965.   I did so, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my undergraduate years.  I did the research at the old Jones Memorial Library located on Rivermont Avenue.  Handling old newspapers and other documents stored in the library at that time was pure joy.

I kept that paper, as well as others I did while at the UVA Branch and later at Lynchburg College.  Recently I decided to retype the paper and post it on my blog for anyone interested in the subject.  A copy of the original was in the Jones Memorial Library for many years, but I believe it failed to survive the closing of the library in 1987.

I retyped the paper without making any changes, except to correct the misspelled words noted by Mr. Wright.  That old portable, manual typewriter of mine did not have a spell check, like the laptop computer I am using to type these words.



Paul R. Waibel

University of Virginia, Lynchburg Branch

United States History Term Paper

May 6, 1965

Benjamin W. Wright, Jr., Instructor



I.      Antislavery

  • Antislavery Sympathy of the Lynchburg Quakers
  • The Anti-Abolitionist Meeting of 1835
  • The American Colonization Society

II.     The Slave Trade

  • Professional Slave Trading
  • Individual Slave Trading
  • Free Negroes and Slavery

III.    Slave Labor

  • In Local Industry
  • Employment of Lynchburg Slaves Outside the City
  • Domestic Slave Labor

IV.     Slaves and the Law

V.      Slave-Master Relationship

VI.     Some Lynchburg Census

VII.   Notes

VIII.  Bibliography

IX.     Important Sources Consulted But Not Quoted



Antislavery Sympathy of the Lynchburg Quakers

            The first mention of the existence of slavery in Lynchburg is one of antislavery sympathy.  In reading the records of the Meetings of Women Friends of the South River Quakers, we find the first mention of slaves dated “the 12th day of the 10th month 1763” with the comment, “The instruction of negroes among us is too much neglected.”[1]

It is not surprising that the antislavery sympathy in Lynchburg should come first from the Quakers.  The Quakers were the first abolitionists in Virginia.  “As early as 1711 in Virginia, steps were taken definitely to wipe out slavery.”[2]  The Meetings were directed in 1775 and 1776, “to expel all those who refused to let their slaves free.”[3]  Before members of the Quaker faith could receive letters of transfer from one Meeting to another, they had to be free of, in addition to debts, etc., ownership of slaves—“he must own no slaves.”[4]  Quakers were disowned for holding slaves and were forbidden to buy, sell or hire slaves from their masters or to act as overseers.[5]

Lynchburg Quakers were no longer buying and selling slaves in 1771.  Referring back to the records of the Meetings of Women Friends in 1771, we find, “Friends are clear of buying and selling negroes,” and, on April 4, 1798, the record reads:  “None among us hold slaves except where the mistress only have right and we believe the greater bear testimony against this practice.”[6]

The rules imposed upon members of the Quaker faith governing their relationship with the institution of slavery, were strictly enforced.  According to the records the following persons were disowned by the South River Meeting held in Campbell County,[7] for purchasing or holding slaves:

Moses Kendrick, “8-18-1787”  Disowned “for purchasing a slave and holding liberated slaves in bondage.”

Obediah Kerby, “8-18-1792”  Disowned “for purchasing a slave and holding in bondage.”

Richard Tullis, “12-15-1792”  Disowned “for retaining a negro in bondage.”

Samuel Moorman, “3-21-1795”  Disowned “for holding a slave.”

Thomas Jackson, “12-11-1802”  Disowned “for hiring a slave.”

Samuel Fisher, “8-12-1820”  Disowned “for disposing of a colored man into slavery and not instead granting him freedom.”[8]

Also the children of Edith Easley who had attended the services at South River to “a degree of satisfaction,” could not be received in 1798, “on account of their father holding slaves.”[9]

In 1790 the first serious rumblings of the question of slavery were heard in Lynchburg.  The strong antislavery sentiments of the South River Quakers were until 1790 restricted to the Quakers themselves.  They had already freed their own slaves and were now moved to speak openly against others not in their society.  Says Douglas Brown: “The anti-slavery movement for all was on its way.”[10]  Even so, “In 1814 the records of South River complained that its members were ‘free from slavery but reluctant to speak against it.’”[11]

The Anti-Abolitionist Meeting of 1835

            On August 27, 1835, an anti-abolitionist meeting was held in Lynchburg.  The meeting was called because at the time an outside group was agitating the slaves and urging them to rebel by force.  Samuel J. Wiatt was chairman and R. H. Toler was secretary.  As an outcome of this meeting a strong vigilance committee was appointed in each ward, with instructions to suppress anything looking to abolition.  The meeting also resolved to petition the state Legislature to pass laws keeping out of the state so-called reformers, to strengthen the police force and request the postmaster to detain all incendiary publications.  However the most important outcome of the meeting was the action by the merchants in which they bound themselves not to trade with any place whose representatives interfered with the slaves.[12]

The action by the merchants which was aimed at the Northern agitators had a disastrous effect upon the Quakers in the Lynchburg area.  Largely as a result of this action the remainder of the Quakers left the area and headed west.[13]  Pressures placed upon the Quakers because of their antislavery sentiments caused many of them to leave earlier.  “When the Civil War finally broke out only a small remnant was left anywhere in Virginia and the old South River Meeting House had already been abandoned and was fast falling into ruins.”[14]

The American Colonization Society

            Eminent Virginians had long fought for the gradual abolition of slavery.  As a colony before the formation of the United States they struggled with the crown and later when Virginia became a member of the United States they had to struggle against proslavery sentiments in Virginia and the Nation as a whole.  When one views the efforts made by leading Virginians to abolish slavery in the state, it is not surprising that the “very backbone of he American Colonization Society was in Virginia.[15]

The American Colonization Society which had branches in the North as well as the South and foreign nations,[16] founded an auxiliary chapter in Lynchburg.[17]  Of the founding of the Lynchburg Chapter, Asbury Christian makes these comments in Lynchburg and Its People:

. . . . . in August, 1825, the colonization society, with Rev. John Early president, was started.  The purpose of this organization was to raise means to send to Africa ‘all free people of color’ who desired to go, and all slaves who were freed on that condition.  Regular meetings were held, a large amount of money raised . . . . a good work was done for the negroes who desired to return to their original home.[18]

Thus we see that after the Quakers were removed as an antislavery force the Colonization Society took their place.  Outside of Lynchburg and Its People there appears to be no mention of the activities—success or failure—of the Society in Lynchburg.  We can only study the activities of the Society on a state-wide or nation-wide basis and draw our conclusions from it.   It is safe, I feel, to take this course of action.  However due to the lack of space and the limited area of my topic I will confine myself to a very few remarks.

On the whole the Colonization Societies were becoming quite successful prior to 1831.  They had received the backing of many prominent Americans.

Among the nationally known men who were members of this society, (American Colonization Society) . . . . were such distinguished men as Francis Scott Key, John Randolph, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Charles Fenton Mercer, John Marshall, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, and a long line of other prominent Americans.[19]

The Colonization Society received both federal and state aid, and in Virginia in 1832 the House “passed a bill which provided for the deportation and colonization of the free negroes of the Commonwealth, (1832) and such as thereafter might become free.”[20]  After the Nat Turner insurrection the Society fell a victim to the censorship which began to prevail in the South and gradually declined.


Professional Slave Trading

            Slave traders set up businesses in Lynchburg just as they had in all other major cities of the South.  Four traders—George Davis, M. Hart, E. Myers and Seth Woodroof—advertised in the Christmas, 1845 and other numbers of the Lynchburg Republican.[21]  Slaves were also bought and sold by local individuals who, like the traders, advertised in the Lynchburg papers.

The professional slave traders advertised their offers in the Lynchburg Virginian and the Daily Republican.  It appears their main interest was in the purchasing of large quantities of Negroes rather than the selling of individuals.  This is not too difficult to understand.  The speculator’s “slave pen” or “office” was generally well known to everyone in the surrounding area.  They knew where to go if they wished to purchase a slave and did not need any advertisements to guide them.  On the other hand if the speculator was interested in gathering together a quantity of Negroes for shipment to the deep south cotton country, it would be necessary for him to announce his intentions to the plantation owners and other holders of slaves.  Thus we find that the ads placed by slave traders in the local papers dealt mostly with the purchase rather than the sale of slaves.

To the slave traders the Negroes were big business.  George Davis alone advertised in the June 9, 1845 Republican, for two hundred young Negroes of the usual ages.[22]  This advertisement not only indicates the large numbers of slaves called for by the traders but also indicates that there was a generally known and accepted range of ages that would be purchased.  Davis also offered to match the prices that could be gotten in Richmond or elsewhere and would go anywhere to inspect and make offers.[23]  He did not mention in this advertisement why he desired such a large quantity of Negroes, but he also advertised as a partner of M. Hart’s (“Davis and Hart”) to “buy any number of negroes that would suit the Southern market.”[24]  It is quite clear then that the large quantities called for by the slave traders were intended for shipment to the Deep South cotton kingdom.[25]

Seth Woodroof was also a very enterprising slave trader in Lynchburg.  He “sought from 75 to 150 between ages of 10 and 25, later extended to 30.”[26]  “By 1852 he had a newly erected brick building on First or Lynch street, behind the Farmers’ Bank,”[27] where he guaranteed to “keep them as secure as if they were placed in the jail of the Corporation.”[28]

Not all slave traders who advertised in the Lynchburg papers were necessarily from Lynchburg.  J. B. Mc Lendon advertised for Negroes between ten and thirty years old.  He could be called on at the “Washington Hotel, Lynchburg, or address him by mail.”[29]  From this I believe we can safely assume that Mr. Mc Lendon was some sort of traveling speculator who set up temporary quarters at the Washington Hotel.  He would probably purchase a quantity of Negroes from this area and then move on to another community.   Where did he keep the Negroes he purchased?  From the previously cited advertisement by Seth Woodroof we can assume that it was customary to keep them in the jail of the Corporation.

Individual Slave Trading

            Individuals advertised in the Lynchburg papers to sell or purchase slaves.  Micajah Davis, Jr. advertised in the August 8, 1855 Lynchburg Virginian, a twenty-seven year old Negro woman and her “four very likely[30] children.”[31]  His intentions were to sell five slaves, and the advertisement leads one to feel he hoped to do this in a one package family unit.  Others advertised a desire to purchase slaves.  A good example of this is a private individual who advertised in the Virginian for a Negro boy sixteen to twenty years old.[32]

A large number of advertisements appearing in the papers for the sale of Negro slaves were placed by the administrators of the estates of deceased persons announcing the auctioning off of the deceased’s property.  One such advertisement is titled “Public Sale of Negroes,” and reads in part:  “Billy and his wife Hannah and their three children, Daniel, Essex, and Mary, or so many as may be sufficient to satisfy the debt named in said deed.”[33]  This advertisement is an important example in that, unlike the one by M. Davis, Jr. previously quoted, this seller will break up the family if necessary.  The advertisement concludes, “it may take all to satisfy the purpose of the aforesaid.  The balance will be sold at the same time and place.”[34]  The advertisement was placed by “Balda McDaniel, adms. Of Henry Clark, dec’d.”  Credit was often extended in such sales of Negroes for twenty days to twelve months.  As a rule however, they were sold for cash.

Slaves sold for high prices even when the transaction was carried on between individuals.  A receipt, dated October 2, 1858, shows a Mr. D. Nowlin paid $950.00 for two Negro slaves guaranteed sound and healthy.[35]  Another receipt, dated October 16, 1858, just twelve days later than the previous one, shows David Nowlin paid $450.00 for a Negro slave forty-six years old.[36]  Neither receipt was on paper which would suggest the seller was a dealer.

The prices paid by David Nowlin seem like bargains when compared to the prices brought by some sales at two times when one would expect the prices of slaves to have fallen sharply.  Despite the frenzy of possible, or known, war between the states, slaves continued to bring good prices.

Bryan Akers, the auctioneer, sold, on April 12, a lot at the following prices:  A negro woman, nine hundred and ten dollars; a negro boy, seventeen years old, eleven hundred and thirty dollars; a girl, eighteen years old, eleven hundred dollars; a boy twelve, six hundred and forty dollars; a woman fifty, with child, seven hundred and sixty dollars.  The terms of the sale were cash, and the right of dower in the negroes was retained.  The price of slaves had not yet begun to depreciate.[37]

The Proclamation of Emancipation was issued on January 1, 1863.  It had little effect upon the price of slaves in Lynchburg.  During the same month in front of the Market House a Negro man of forty, a carpenter, sold for $3,120.00, a boy eighteen years old sold for $1,860.00, and a girl fifteen years old sold for $1,500.00.[38]  “The price of slaves had really gone up since the proclamation.”[39]

Free Negroes and Slavery

            It is a historical fact that free Negroes in the South owned slaves.  Consequently we should not be surprised to find that free Negroes in Lynchburg also held slaves.  Richard Parsons of Campbell County, a free Negro who owned property in Lynchburg, owned nine slaves.[40]  Russell Thomas a free Negro of Lynchburg who was a grocer, held one slave.[41]  We cannot know for sure what the motives were behind these Negroes who held in slavery members of their own race.  We need only ask ourselves, what were the motives behind the white people (Romans, Spanish, etc.) who also held in slavery members of their own race.  However we are, I think, safe in assuming that neither Parsons nor Thomas engaged in the buying and selling of slaves on a commercial basis.  But they are not all.  There were others.

Three Lynchburg barbers who were free Negroes—Armistead Pride, Claiborne Gladman, and Thomas Gladman—“held one, two, and three slaves respectively.”[42]  Claiborne, unlike Armistead or Thomas, apparently held slaves on a commercial basis.  Says Luther P. Jackson in his book Free Negro Labor and Property Holding in Virginia, 1830-1860:  “Claiborne Gladman had manumitted the slave members of his family in 1817, but after this event he held slaves apparently on a commercial basis.”[43]  So we have seen that the free Negroes of Lynchburg also were slave holders and to some extent may have engaged in the holding of slaves on a commercial basis.


In Local Industry

            With antislavery and the slave trade behind us, we will now examine slave labor and its employment in Lynchburg.  Most people when they think of slavery, picture in their mind a crew of Negroes cropping tobacco or picking cotton in the hot blistering sun on some southern plantation.  This of course is an accurate picture, but there is also another picture of slavery in the prewar South.  This is the picture which one gets who has given some study to slavery and its application in the major Southern cities, and in particular the industrial cities of Virginia—Richmond, Petersburg and Lynchburg.

Slavery was becoming an economic burden in Virginia prior to 1831.  “The records show beyond question that up to 1830-31 there was a steadily growing body of public opinion in Virginia . . . that slavery was an economic, moral, and social evil.”[44]  This is largely evident from the Virginia Slavery Debate of 1832.[45]  The chief agricultural center had shifted to the deep South cotton country causing slavery to be a burden upon the economy of the upper South.  Those who owned plantations found that the slaves’ services were no longer needed.    They had to find a new source of employment for them, sell them south to the cotton growers, or free them.  Unfortunately certain power structures prevented the later from being realized.

The Virginia cities of Petersburg, Lynchburg and particularly Richmond were fast becoming the industrial centers of the South.  Richmond was the major industrial city of the South and was thought of by contemporaries as the manufacturing heart of Dixie.[46]  In these three cities slavery was being applied to an industrial economy.  Richmond’s Joseph R. Anderson’s Tredegar Works (Tredegar Iron Company), a major employer of slave labor, was regarded as a “test case of adaptability of slavery to heavy industry.”[47]

Lynchburg’s industry was largely in tobacco processing and manufacturing of railway cars, steam engines and agricultural implements.  Her growth in the field of tobacco was phenomenal.  “In twenty-three years of the town (23 years after incorporation in 1805) . . . [it] is stated to have become the point for the largest tobacco inspection in the United States.”[48]  Somewhat later but of equal importance was the development of heavy industry in Lynchburg.  Kathleen Bruce notes that:

Between 1855 and 1860 in the Piedmont town of Lynchburg on the James River, and in Petersburg at the falls of the Appomattox, twenty miles by railway from Richmond, men were manufacturing railway cars and almost as great a variety of steam engines and agricultural implements as were made in Richmond.[49]

Yet there is still more.  As early as 1828 the Lynchburg Manufacturing Company was founded to manufacture cotton.[50]

Because their services were not needed on the plantations, slaves owned by masters in the counties were often sent into the cities (including Lynchburg) for employment.[51]  Those slaves who were sent to Lynchburg were employed largely in the tobacco factories, where they worked side by side with free Negroes.[52]  Kenneth M. Stampp has these comments to make about the employment of bondsmen and their importance in the society of the tobacco towns:

Almost all of the thirteen thousand workers in the tobacco factories of the Virginia District were bondsmen.  The majority of them were employed in the three leading tobacco manufacturing cities—Richmond, Petersburg, and Lynchburg.  These slave workers were not only a vital part of this industry but also a curiously paradoxical element in the society of the tobacco towns.[53]

Employment of Lynchburg Slaves Outside of the City

            Negro bondsmen from Lynchburg were hired out by their masters to industries outside of the city.  We find evidence of this practice in various advertisements in the Lynchburg papers calling for Negro labor.  The Thedegar Iron Works of Richmond advertised in the January 10, 1863 Daily Republican for five hundred, “able-bodied NEGRO MEN, to be employed by us at our Blast Furnaces, in Botetourt county, and at our Coal Mines, on the James River seventeen miles above this city.”[54]  In the same paper on January 12, 1863, The Marion Magnetic Furnace in Smith county sought to employ sixty Negro men (also wanted 40 Irishmen) as “Wood Choppers, Colliers, Teamsters, & c.”[55]  On January 23, 1863, J. M. Harris advertised for seventy-five Negro men, “to work on the repairs of the JR&K Canal, and North River Improvement for the year of 1865.”[56]  He was obviously a man who believed in planning well ahead.

None of these advertisements mention the price that would be paid for the bondsmen’s labor, although the Marion Magnetic Furnace did offer “customary prices.”  All were in agreement in that they would furnish the slaves with provisions and clothing.  The Thedegar Iron Works even guaranteed that they would be well guarded.

City Employment of Slave Labor

            The extent to which slaves were employed by the city itself for public works, etc., I have not been able to discover in my limited research.  In Slavery in the Cities, Richard Wade did careful research into the employment of bondsmen by city governments and the tasks they performed.  He made this general statement which I believe would hold true for Lynchburg as well as the cities which Mr. Wade studied.

Municipal works depended heavily on slave labor.  Gangs of Negroes graded, paved, and cleaned streets, built bridges, collected garbage, dug canals and sewers, and generally provided the muscle for city projects.[57]

Mr. Wade also states that owners were usually paid from twenty-five to fifty cents a day for the slave’s labor.

Domestic Slave Labor

            Slaves were often hired out by their masters to serve as servants, cooks, etc., in Lynchburg homes.  Advertisements placed in the Daily Republican and Lynchburg Virginian both offered and sought to hire slaves to serve in local homes.  R. H. glass ran an ad in the Daily Republican on January 10, 1863 which read:  “I have for hire a servant girl, 17 years old, for nurse or house servant.”[58]  Another advertisement read, “for hire two negro women—one a good Cook, Washer and Ironer; and one accustomed to house work, about 15 years old.”[59]  Others sought to hire labor and advertised to this effect.  One such advertisement read:  “WANTED IMMEDIATELY—A colored GIRL, (slave preferred) from 12 to 14 years of age, to nurse an infant.  A trusty girl will find a good home by early application at the Virginian office.”[60]


            The standing of the slave in the eyes of the law was not the same as that of a free person.  In Lynchburg the position of the slave before the law was the same as in all other cities of the South.  If a law were broken by a free person he was fined a set sum of money.  fIf the same law was broken by a slave (and in some cases a free Negro) he or she could receive as many as thirty-nine lashes.  Occasionally the slave or his master could pay a fine in lieu of the usual punishment.  This was not always so since it was left up to the discretion of the Magistrate.

The town of Lynchburg passed, on November 29, 1844, Ordinance VIII titled, “An Ordinance to provide for the recovery of fines and penalties generally; and to fix the mode and extent of punishment in certain cases.”  Section three of Ordinance VIII read:

Be it further ordained, That in all cases of penal laws within this Corporation, where free persons are punishable by fine, slaves shall be punishable by whippings; and in cases where the extent of such punishment is not stated, it shall be fixed at the discretion of the Magistrate:  Provided, That such punishment shall not exceed twenty lashes for any one offence; and provided moreover, that the Magistrate may, if the nature of the offence be such as to render it proper, suffer a slave, or some body for him, to pay such punishment.[61]

From this ordinance we can get a general idea of the law and its application to both free men and slaves.  Simply stated, punishments were dealt out according to the rule—fines for free persons, whippings for slaves.

The citing of a few ordinances as examples will serve to illustrate further the above and to some extent the areas covered.  Sections five and six of Ordinance I passed November 29, 1844 forbid slaves to sell on their own articles of food.  It was titled “An Ordinance to prevent violations of good morals and decency,” and read:

Be it further ordained, That any slave living within this Corporation, who shall hereafter sell, or expose to sale, with the same any butter, eggs, foods, or vegetables, shall receive any number of lashes on his or her bare back, not exceeding fifteen; unless such articles are the actual property, and sold for the benefit of his or her owner.

Be it further ordained, That any owner of a slave or slaves, who shall suffer such slave or slaves to own or keep any horse, cow or hog, for the use of such slave or slaves, without showing to some member of the common council how the same is maintained, shall pay a fine of five dollars for every such offence.[62]

This ordinance sought to improve the morals and decency of the Negro slaves by making their masters accountable in part for their actions.

Section five of Ordinance II, “An Ordinance to secure orderly conduct, to restrain and punish persons guilty of disorder, and concerning the cage,” passed 29th November 1844, dealt with “any person who defaces or injures any part of the Post Office, or the Cage, or any building, etc. about the Post Office or Cage, or the Market Place proper.”  Offences by a free person were punishable by a fine of five dollars.  If the offence was by a slave, “he or she shall receive on his or her bare back any number of lashes, not exceeding thirty-nine.”[63]

And so it goes much the same with all of the ordinances.  Occasionally an ordinance instructed that the lashes be “well laid on,” or that the punishment be doubled for additional offences.  Acts of the General Assembly relating to Lynchburg were also included with punishments running much the same as the city ordinances.


            After one has made a study of the slave trade, the hiring out of slaves to industries, the treatment of slaves at the hands of the law, etc., he is likely to conclude that all slaves were cruelly treated and held in bondage that is best described as a living hell.  No doubt this was very true in many cases, but in others it was not.  The life of some slaves was far better than they could have expected as free men.  The life of a free Negro was not always as rosy as one would like to think.

The life of a free Negro anywhere in the South was far from being a truly free one.  He was often bound by the same restrictions in social life and before the law as were the bondsmen.  In the Lynchburg area the free Negro men worked mostly in the tobacco industry.  When the season was over they did whatever came their way.  The women were often forced to resort to prostitution.  There is evidence which shows that a free Negro woman in Lynchburg operated a house of ill repute.  Where the bondsman who happened to land in a good home had security, the free Nero had none.

Of course not a great many slaves were fortunate enough to land in good homes.  But some did and they respected their masters just as their masters respected them (bearing in mind they were slaves), and remained loyal throughout the dark hours of the Civil War.  We can find several examples of the existence of this type of relationship in Lynchburg and the surrounding area.  One such slave was Blind Billy whom I have found mentioned in several sources.  Margaret C. Cabell in 1858, spoke well of Blind Billy and several other Negroes both free and slave.  Says Mrs. Cabell in Sketches and Recollections of Lynchburg:

There in Lynchburg many colored persons, both free and slaves, who possessed very good characters, and some of them were remarkable for good sense as well as for moral virtues.  There were uncle Cato and aunt Sopby his wife, Arthur Holcombe, Armistead pride . . . .

There was BLIND BILLY, who will long be remembered, though the soft clear notes of his flute are now no more heard.  Like all blind persons, he possessed a great talent for music, and at balls, parties, and military parades, he was a most important personage.  Billy was a slave, owned by the late Dr. Howell Davies; and there was not an inhabitant of the town who would pass Blind Bill without at least a kindly word. . . . . His death, occurring a few years since, left in the musical world a chasm not easily supplied; for who can now play so sweetly for us those touching old Scotch airs, which tearfully recall the loved, the lost—or who can so gladden us with the sounds of merry music as poor Blind Bill! [64]

Silas Green a slave in Franklin County tried hard to join the Confederate Army.  He enrolled himself with the others of the county but when it came time for him to join the army in the field his master refused to let him go.  He then formed a company of his own, drilled and prepared for camp, but again he had to stay behind while the others went off to fight.  He later came to Lynchburg where he pursued the calling of a drayman.[65]

Blind Billy and Silas Green are not the only examples.  On May 8, 1861 and old Negro who had served as a drummer in the war of 1812, came to Lynchburg with one of the Roanoke troops.  “When asked if he could go through the war, he replied, ‘yes Marsa, I spects to lib to git old linkum’s skull.’”[66]  Gabriel Hunt who in 1927 was a janitor at the Campbell courthouse and a Confederate veteran pensioner, spoke of the happenings on Samuel Pannill’s Green Hill plantation, on which he was a slave, “with the pride of one who participated there.”[67]


            A meeting was held, on September 30, 1865, to “express the sentiments of the citizens of Lynchburg in regard to the situation at that time.”  From it arose this statement, “we recognize the abolition of slavery as an existing fact (and have no purpose or wish to attempt its restoration in any form).”[68]  Thus slavery was officially ended and so accepted by the citizens of Lynchburg.

This paper has been a brief summary of the institution of slavery and its many aspects as it existed here in the city of Lynchburg.  It is not all that could be said and further research by a competent authority could, I am sure, result in a good size volume.

In dealing with Quakers further research could have been conducted and included the family history of the Lynch family, founders of Lynchburg and members of the Quaker faith.  I could have mentioned that Dr. John C. Lynch, son of John Lynch founder of Lynchburg, was poisoned by a slave.  The slave was tried but acquitted because the court was not unanimous.  There is no finer example of strong Quaker convictions in regard to slavery than the actions by John Lynch and his second son Edward, who became the administrators of John C. Lynch’s estate.  At the end of the trial they emancipated the slave saying it was not for them to judge, and that freedom and liberty was the natural right of every man.[69]

I could have mentioned other forms of “slavery” that existed in Lynchburg for a short time.  Further research could be done on the Barnes family who moved to Lynchburg in 1829 from New York, and who brought with them a little white bond servant girl.  The girl was seldom fed and one day a neighbor woman observed Mrs. Barnes with the girl tied to a bed post, beating her with a stick, and then throwing a shovel of hot embers over her.  The girl later told of “how she had been put into a box, shut up in the baker, hung by her thumbs, and in many other ways cruelly treated.”  After being run out of Lynchburg, Mr. Barnes complained in a letter to the New York Courier of how bad he had been treated in Lynchburg.[70]

I have mentioned earlier a book by Richard C. Wade titled Slavery in the Cities.  In this book Mr. Wade made a careful study of slavery and its application in the major cities of the South.  He dealt in the general areas of slave labor in industries, homes, etc., and the slaves relationship with the law (social life, also).  I have tried to follow Mr. Wade’s example and cover much the same areas in my paper as he did in his book.  Although he did not mention Lynchburg, he did give good coverage to Richmond the only major industrial city in the South during the period.  Since Lynchburg had an industrial economy similar to Richmond’s, although on a smaller scale, I was able to draw helpful parallels between them.  I think I can say without putting myself on the spot that the picture presented by Mr. Wade in his book, is representative of Lynchburg as well as the cities he covered.

I have included in this paper mention of several admirable relationships between slaves and their masters.  These and the short paragraphs at the end on John Lynch and the Barnes’ are, I think, good for general interest and for presenting a more well-rounded picture of the institution of slavery in Lynchburg.




Year                 Whites             Free Negroes              Slaves              Total

1816[71]              1,765               256                              1,056               3,087

1828[72]              2,492               385                              1,751               4,628

1850[73]              4,178               491                              3,401               8,071


          [1] Douglas Summers Brown, A History of Lynchburg’s Pioneer Quakers and Their Meeting House 1754-1936 (Lynchburg, 1936), pp. 82-83, quoting records of Meetings of Women Friends, October 12, 1763.

[2] Ibid., p. 81.

[3] Ibid. pp. 81-82.

[4] Ibid., p. 69.

[5] Ibid., p. 82.

[6] Ibid., p. 83.

[7] The South River Meeting House is the present restored Quaker Meeting House located on Timberlake Road across from Fort Hill Shopping Center.  At one time well outside of the city and on the “edge of the forest,” the Meeting is now surrounded by modern, twentieth-century Lynchburg.

[8] Our Quaker Friends of Ye Olden Time (Lynchburg, 1905), pp. 148-150.

[9] Brown, Quakers, p. 83.

[10] Ibid.,  pp. 62-63.

[11] Ibid., p. 85.

[12] W. Asbury Christian, Lynchburg and Its People (Lynchburg, 1900), pp. 119-120.

[13] Brown, Quakers, p. 89.

[14] Ibid.

[15] J. D. Eggleston, “Southern Leaders’ Attitude Toward Slavery,” reprint from:  The Farmville Herald, XIII (May 30, 1930).

[16] The African Repository and Colonial Journal, V (November, 1829).  See the Journal also for an excellent example of the courageous vigor with which the American Colonization Society fought slavery on all grounds.

[17] Theodore M. Whitfield, Slavery Agitation in Virginia, 1829-1832 (Baltimore, 1930), p. 12.

[18] Christian, Lynchburg People, p. 82.

[19] Theodore G. Bildo, “Voluntary Resettlement of American Negroes in Africa,” reprint from:  Congressional Record (April 24, 1939), p. 4.

[20] Eggleston, “Southern Leaders’ Attitude Toward Slavery.”

[21] Frederic Bancroft, Slave-Trading in the Old South (Baltimore, 1931), p. 92.

[22] Ibid., pp. 92-93.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] When we consider the price paid for a slave we can get some idea of the large amount of capital which was invested in the slave trade.  To purchase two hundred or “any number” would have required many thousands of dollars.

[26] Bancroft, Slave-Trading, pp. 92-93.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Kenneth M. Stampp, The Peculiar Institution:  Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South (New York,1963), p. 261.

[29] Harriet Beecher Stowe, A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Boston, 1853), p. 144, quoting Lynchburg Virginian, November 18, 1852.

[30] “Very likely” is a phrase which appears in almost every advertisement for the sale of slaves.  It must have served to express a very broad list of qualifications supposedly possessed by the Negroes.  The central points in Lynchburg for the sale of Negro slaves appear to have been in front of Lynch’s Warehouse and in front of the Market House.

[31] Vol. III, No. 1.

[32] August 18, ???? [In my original paper I listed the year as 1934, which is obviously wrong.  It maybe 1864 or 1865.], Vol. XIII, No. 1.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Nowlin Family, MS.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Christian, Lynchburg People, p. 192.

[38] Ibid., p. 208.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Luther Porter Jackson, Free Negro Labor and Property Holding in Virginia, 1830-1860 (New York, 1942), p. 219.

[41] Ibid., p. 221.

[42] Ibid., p.220.

[43] Ibid.

[44] J. D. Eggleston, “The Attitude of Virginia Leaders Toward Slavery and Secession,” The Virginia Teacher, XIII (September-October, 1932), p. 6.

[45] Joseph Clarke Robert, “The Road From Monticello:  A Study of the Virginia Slavery Debate of 1832,” Historical Papers of the Trinity College Historical Society, Series XXIV (Durham, 1941).  This is a very good source of information on the slavery debate.

[46] Richard C. Wade, Slavery in the Cities:  The South, 1820-1860 (New York, 1964), pp. 12-13.

[47] Ibid., p. 35.

[48] Kathleen Bruce, Virginia Iron Manufacture in the Slave Era (New York, 1931), p. 123.

[49] Ibid., p. 322.

[50] Ibid., p. 124.

[51] Jackson, Negro Labor, p. 176.

[52] Ibid., p. 74.

[53] Stampp, Peculiar Institution, p. 64.

[54] Vol. 6, No. 19.

[55] Ibid.,  Vol. 6, No. 20.

[56] Ibid., Vol. 6, No. 30.

[57] Wade, Slavery in the cities, pp. 44-45.

[58] Vol. 6, No. 19.

[59] Lynchburg Virginian, August 8, 1865, Vol. 33, No. 1.

[60] August 13, 1865, Vol. 33, No. 3.

[61] Revised Ordinances of the Corporation of Lynchburg, Together with a Digest of the Acts of the General Assembly, Relating to the Town of Lynchburg, rev. by Robert J. Davis (Lynchburg, 1845).

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] (Richmond, 1858), pp. 204-205.

[65] R. H. Early, Campbell Chronicles and Family Sketches:  Embracing the History of Campbell County, Virginia 1782-1926 (Lynchburg, 1927), p. 68.

[66] Christian, Lynchburg People, p. 199.

[67] Early, Campbell Chronicles, p. 264.

[68] Christian, Lynchburg and its People, p. 208.

[69] Early, Campbell Chronicles, p. 68.

[70] Christian, Lynchburg People, pp. 97-99.

[71] Ibid., pp. 58-59.

[72] Ibid., p. 108.

[73] Ibid., p. 148.


The African Repository and Colonial Journal, V, 9 (November, 1829).

Bancroft, Frederic.  Slave-Trading in the Old South.  Baltimore:  J. H. Furst       Company, 1931.

Bildo, Theodore G.  “Voluntary Resettlement of American Negroes in Africa,” reprint from:  Congressional Record, (April 24, 1939).

Brown, Douglas Summers.  A History of Lynchburg’s Pioneer Quakers and Their Meeting House, 1754-1936.  Lynchburg:  J. P. Bell Company, Inc., 1936.

Bruce, Kathleen.  Virginia Iron Manufacture in the Slave Era.  New York:  The Century Co., 1931.

Cabell, Margaret Couch.  Sketches and Recollections of Lynchburg.  Richmond:  C. H. Wynne, 1858.

Christian, W. Asbury.  Lynchburg and its People.  Lynchburg:  J. P. Bell Company, 1900.

[Lynchburg] Daily Republican.  Various Issues.  Lynchburg.

Davis, Robert J., rev. by.  Revised Ordinances of the Corporation of Lynchburg, Together With a Digest of the Acts of the General Assembly, Relating to the Town of Lynchburg.  Lynchburg:  Toller Townley & Statham, 1845.

Early, R. H.  Campbell Chronicles and Family Sketches:  Embracing the History of Campbell County, Virginia, 1782-1926.  Lynchburg:  J. P. Bell Company, 1927.

Eggleston, J. D.  “The Attitude of Virginia Leaders Toward Slavery and Secession,” reprint from:  The Virginia Teacher, XIII (September-October, 1932), 6-7.

Jackson, Luther Porter.  Free Negro Labor and Property Holdings in Virginia, 1830-1860.  New York:  D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc., 1942.

Lynchburg Virginian.  Various Issues.

Nowlin Family.  ms.

Our Quaker Friends of Ye Olden time.  Lynchburg:  J. P. Bell Company, 1905.

Robert, Joseph Clarke.  “The Road From Monticello:  A History of the Virginia Slavery Debate of 1832,”  Historical Papers of the Trinity College Historical Society.  Series XXIV.  Durham:  Duke University Press, 1941.

Stampp, Kenneth M.  The Peculiar Institution:  Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1963.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher.  A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Boston:  John P. Jewett & Co., 1853.

Wade, Richard C.  Slavery in the Cities:  The South, 1820-1860.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1964.

Whitfield, Theodore M.  Slavery Agitation in Virginia, 1829-1832.  Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins Press, 1930.


Drewry, William Sidney.  The South-hampton Insurrection.  Washington:  The Meale Company, 1900.

Hart, Albert Bushnell.  Slavery and Abolition, 1831-1841, vol. XVI of The American Nation:  A History, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart.  New York:  Harper& Brothers, 1906.

Pollock, Edward, ed.  Sketch Book of Lynchburg, Va.:  Its People and its Trade.  Lynchburg:  Edward Pollock and S. C. Judson, 1887.

Speech of Hon. Wade Hampton, on the Constitutionality of the Slave Trade Laws.  (Delivered in the Senate of South Carolina, December 10, 1859), Columbia:  Steam-Power Press of R. W. Gibbes, 1860.

(Copyright, 2016 by Paul R. Waibel)