A Time Line: 1850-1860

Slave Laborers at Work

The slave population at Somerset was among the largest in antebellum North Carolina.

A Perpetual Cycle of Labor…

• According to the Census of 1850, Josiah III owns the following livestock:

  • 27 horses
  • 28 mules
  • 50 milk cows
  • 30 oxen
  • 56 other cattle
  • 250 sheep
  • 400 swine

He also has:

  • 250 pounds of wool
  • 700 barrels of peas and beans
  • 600 barrels of sweet potatoes
  • 15 barrels of Irish potatoes
  • 1,500 pounds of butter
  • 100 tons of hay
  • 300 pounds of flax
  • $30,000 worth of Indian corn
  • $6,000 worth of wheat
  • 288 enslaved people

His sawmill produces 50,000 feet of board timber.

• Josiah Collins maintains a daily record of tasks assigned to slaves, who work the perpetual cycle of planting fields, tending, harvesting and storing crops, and preparing fields for replanting. Jobs differ for men and women, boys and girls, and children under ten. Working with a black crew leader, the youngest members of the slave community pick chintz bugs from plants and catch the plantation's supply of fish. Women and men are equally engaged in harvesting trees, hauling wood, building coal kilns, digging ditches, and killing hogs.

• Peter and Elsie Littlejohn, along with fourteen other slaves, are accused of attempting to poison the overseer, Joseph Newberry. Consequently, they are sold to a slave trader. The couple's son-in-law, blacksmith Diamond Reeves, runs away but is caught and returns to Somerset Place.


1785-1819 || 1828-1839 || 1840-1843 || 1850-1860 || 1860-1865


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