Nearly four years after Daniel Dill’s death, the estate administrator received permission from the court to sell three enslaved persons: Sam, John and Nancy. Daniel’s probate file contains the sad details.
First, I thought it might be helpful to clarify my exact relationship to Daniel (my mom asked about this the other day). Here is a graphic that shows how my great-grandmother Lola Timmons is related to Daniel (for privacy reasons, I’m not showing the the generations after Lola).
Daniel was a brother of Lola’s great-grandfather.
The public auction took place on March 21, 1859 at noon on the steps of the courthouse in Mobile, Alabama [ref 1175]1. This was a little unusual – usually slaves were sold at the Slave Market just a couple blocks away from Daniel’s home.
Despite the former administrator Edwin Gould’s recommendation that Nancy and John (mother and son) be sold together (“it would be proper and humane”, he said [ref 1148]), each of them was sold separately.
Sam was sold for $1,270 to S. Festorazzi – this would be Sylvester Festorazzi and we have mentioned him previously. Festorazzi also owned a confectioner’s shop and was one of Daniel’s competitors. Sam had been hired out to him many times in the past after Daniel became ill. Slaves were enumerated by age and gender in the 1860 census, just one year after he was sold. I believe we can see Sam in the record for Festorazzi2. The age is off a bit but I doubt the enumerators were very careful about that.
John was sold for $1,300 to James Marsh. In the 1860 census, James Marsh is listed as a “trader” and is quite wealthy. In 1850, he had 16 slaves included in the census; by 1860, that number had grown to 23. I don’t know for sure that the entry highlighted below from the 1860 census is actually John, but it seems to fit3.
My guess is that Marsh rented out all his slaves as a money-making venture. His agent was Isaac Wood, who is listed in the census as a butcher. There was probably a lot of opportunity to rent out slaves to the warehouses and docks in the busy port of Mobile. I don’t know whether John’s skills as a pastry chef/confectioner were actually put to use by his new owner.
Finally, John’s mother Nancy was sold – for a price of only $11. So heartbreaking. And worse, the buyer was Jasper Strong. I introduced you to him in an earlier post. He was a military contractor in Pensacola, building forts and other military improvements on behalf of the United States government4. He owned over 100 slaves. From the 1860 census, we see two elderly black women enumerated – it’s possible that one of these women is Nancy5.
Note that Strong owned several elderly slaves. I don’t know how he would have used these people, other than in some sort of service role as cooks or laundry workers on behalf of his work force. It was a terrible fate for Nancy – separated from her son and now part of a slave work force for a military contractor.
In the 1850 census slave schedule, John was identified as “mulatto”6. This adds another sad dimension to Nancy’s life – John’s father was likely a white man. It makes me wonder, could John’s father have been a member of the Dill family? Is John somehow my cousin too?
Their lives no doubt took at least one more dramatic turn in the ensuing war years. The Civil War changed the life trajectory of everyone involved in this story. Next time.
1All references to the probate file are image numbers from Ancestry’s online version. See Original Will Records, Daniel Dill, Pigeon Hole No 85, Files 9-41, 1814-1946, Index, 1813-1957; Author: Alabama. Orphans’ Court (Mobile County); Probate Place: Mobile, Alabama.
2Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Alabama, Mobile County, City Ward 3, page 2.
3Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Alabama, Mobile County, Northern Division, page 77.
5Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Florida, Escambia County, Navy Yard and Vicinity, page 6.
6Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Alabama, Mobile County, Mobile, image 43 of 81.