Enslaved People of the Vance Family

End Notes

[1] In the 1880 Census, Richard and Aggy's son Hutsel/Hudson identifies Virginia as the state of birth for both his parents.1. In the 1880 Census, Richard and Aggy's son Hutsel/Hudson identifies Virginia as the state of birth for both his parents.

[2] This is based on the belief that they were born in Virginia, as was David Vance, so they most likely were given to him by his father when they migrated to North Carolina or purchased just before. However, this is unconfirmed and is not the only possible explanation.

[3] Priscilla Vance identifies Hudson/Hutsel and Ann as children of Aggy in her 1835 will.

[4] Young Dick (Richard II) is believed to be a son of Richard (I) based on his name and information from the 1980 Fred Baird Interview conducted by Bob Terrell. Fred recalls his mother, birth name Emily Vance, speaking of her uncle Hudson. The 1870 Census Record for Richard Vance (II) lists a 15-year-old daughter named Emily; this would make her about 32 at the time of Fred's birth, making it reasonable to assume this is Fred's mother. If this is the case, it suggests that Hudson and Young Dick were brothers. Richard (II) would not have been named with his siblings in Priscilla's will of 1835 because he was owned by David Jr. before that time.

[5] "Third Generation Will Bury Vance" Asheville Citizen-Times. Sat 25 Dec 1909, pg. 5. In describing Hudson's funeral arrangements, the article mentions that Hudson and his four brothers belonged to Col. Alexander, who would have been a neighbor of the Vance family. It is unclear if Richard (II) was one of the brothers mentioned and we do not know if the men referred to were biological brothers or other slaves he grew up with.

[6] In David Sr.'s will of 1813, he indicates his wish that Richard, Aggy, Jo, and Leah, and any children they have after David's death, be freed upon his wife Priscilla's death: ". . .with their increase during her natural life of the four oldest negroes surviving her [Priscilla], or as many as do survive her, to-wit: Richard, Agga, Jo and Leah. It is my will and desire that they have full liberty and I do by these presents give them full liberty to go and live with any of my children where their own children live, not as slaves, but as old acquaintances who have labored and spent their strength to raise my children and their own also. I enjoin upon my children who may have the children of said old Black people not to confine them, but let them go awhile to one and awhile to another where their children may be, I enjoin upon my children to see that the evening of the lives of those Black people slide down as comfortably as may be. The four negroes (and any increase that may be) it is my will and desire that my wife will them among the children at her pleasure and discretion, only keeping in view merit and necessity." The necessity he may be referring to here is the legal need to will the freed slaves to someone because the law prohibited freeing slaves without court approval, generally requiring a "meritous" action.

[7] Aggy is the only one of the slaves David Sr. intended to be freed who is mentioned in Priscilla's will of 1835. Richard (I), Leah (I), and Jo are presumed to have died between 1813 and 1835.

[8] A note is written by Mira Baird Vance on behalf of Aggy at the bottom of her 14 Sep 1830 letter to Margaret Davidson (David Vance Jr.'s niece). The note states "old Agnes sends her love to Jane and Wilson and Anne and the black people here is all well and tell Jane old Hannah (presuo*) has a fine son in her old days" *this word is difficult to read and cut off: possibly Preswood, an alternative of Prestwood, referring to the freed woman who would live with the Vances in 1838.

Since Jane and Wilson are named in Aggy's note before Anne, who is possibly Aggy's daughter Ann, one wonders if Jane and Wilson were not also Aggy's children born after 1813. No other evidence has been found to support this. Anne is a common name at the time and this could easily be a different person than Aggy's daughter.

[9] In Priscilla Vance's will of 1835, she states that Hudson and Ann are not to be sold prior to the death of their mother, Aggy. The proceeds from their sale were to be divided among Priscilla's four daughters. Although Young Dick is also believed to be Aggy's son, he was willed to David Jr. in 1813 and so would not be mentioned in Priscilla's will.

[10] In David Jr.'s letter to his sister Jane Vance Davidson dated 03 Feb 1836, he laments being unable to sell Ann and Hudson because of the restriction in his mother's will. In the same letter, David references a letter from Jane to their mother in which she mentioned "the affliction of your family, and the death of Peter". Since the money from the sale of Hutsel and Ann was to go to David's sisters, it seems likely that Jane Davidson's family (or one of her sisters' families) was experiencing financial troubles. But, David makes no apparent move against his mother's wishes

[11] The 1837 records of members and elders for the Reems Creek Presbyterian Church listed two "colored members," including Aggy Vance, who is listed as deceased by that year.

[12] David Sr.'s will of 1813 lists 18 enslaved people. He indicates that Richard, Aggy ("Agga"), Jo, and Leah are the four oldest, but no other ages are given. James, Simon, and Dory are willed to Samuel Vance. Abram, Phillip, and young Dick are willed to David Jr. Isaac, Peter, and Harry are willed to Robert. Celia is given the choice of Esther or Leah, with the other person going to her mother, Priscilla; she appears to have chosen Esther as Leah is listed in Priscilla's will and Esther is not. The other seven enslaved people are willed to Priscilla Vance. These people are: two married couples, Richard and "Agga" and Jo and Leah; Moses; Isham; and Washington.

[13] In the 1870 Census, Richard Vance (II) (63 years old) is listed as the head of the household at his Reems Creek property. He lived adjacent to the property where his brother, Hutsel Vance is living. Hudson lives with his family and Abraham Vance, who is believed to be the Abe who was formerly a Vance slave. Richard lives with his wife, Nancy (50), and their three children Elisha (18), Julia (16), and Emily (15). Richard is a farmer and owns $125 in personal property, which is about $2,300 in 2014.

[14] The papers of the 1844 estate sale of David Vance, Jr. indicate that Ann, Venus, Leah, and Leah's four children were purchased by Mira Baird Vance. The documents list the following five people sold to other individuals: Abe, sold to M M Weaver; Jim, sold to John O Roberts; and May and May's two children, sold to John Benjamin. Richard (II) and Phillip, willed in 1813 to David Jr., are both conspicuously absent.

An announcement for this estate sale in the Asheville News on July 12, 1844 indicated that one of the enslaved men was a blacksmith. He is identified as a young man at the time. Given the significantly higher sale price for him, it seems most likely that Jim was the blacksmith.

[15] As was common for former slaves who married prior to the Civil War, Richard Vance and Nancy Weaver Vance registered their marriage in Buncombe County on September 1, 1866. They indicated that they had been married since 1825. Early Buncombe County Afr.-Am Marriage Records: 1814-1868, Pack Library Ref. No.: NC 929.375688. Buncombe County Register of Deeds, Book AA, Page 207.

[16] From the 1900 census record for Elisha Vance. Although Elisha's and Harriet's ages do not match with the 1880 census record, the child Jacob's age and the location do, so we believe this 1900 record is for the same Elisha.

[17] There are three adults and five children listed in the 1850 slave schedule for Mira Vance. They are: a woman aged 44, a man aged 40, a woman aged 35, a boy and girl aged 8, a girl aged 2, and a boy aged 1. In 1860, there are three adults and two teens, to wit: a woman aged 54, a man aged 51, a woman aged 44, a girl aged 16, and a girl aged 14.

The oldest two people are believed to be Leah Vance Erwin and Sandy Erwin (see note 33). In her husband's estate sale, Mira purchased two other adult women: Ann and Venus (see note 14). In his essay "Boyhood and Education Begun" for his brother's biography Life of Vance edited by Clement Dowd, Robert Vance describes their nanny Venus as a "warm-hearted old servant" (p. 13). This is, admittedly highly subjective account, suggests that she was older than the woman listed in these schedules. Additionally, Robert and others list Venus as his and his siblings' nanny, but the woman in these schedules would have been 13 when Robert was born.

Because of this, we believe the younger adult woman in Mira Vance slave schedules to be Ann and assume that Venus died sometime between 1844 and 1850, as it seems unlikely that she was sold out of the family. These schedule list the woman we believe to be Ann as 35 years old in 1850 and 44 years old in 1860, making her birth year around 1815.

[18] This assumption is based on the fact that her parents, Aggy and Richard, never seem to be hired out or otherwise leave the Vance family members, who are living on the Reems Creek property at the time of Ann's birth.

[19] It is unclear if this decision was made as a result of the legal restrictions in freeing a slave, Priscilla disagreeing with her late husband's request, or a family need for the funds (David Jr. seems anxious to sell the two young people, although the funds would go to his sisters).

[20] In the 1870 census, Hudson Vance lists his age as 48, giving a birth year of about 1822. He is a farmer with $175 of personal property ($3,310 in 2015 dollars). His wife, Elmira, is a house keeper. She lists her age as 47, giving her a birth year around 1821. Abraham Vance (71) and a young black woman named Philis Coleman (18) also live with Hudson and Mira, but have no occupations. Hudson is the only person in the household who can read. No one can write. They are listed as the household immediately after Hudson's brother, Richard, and his family.

[21] Hudson Vance (listed as Hutsel) and Mira Mills Vance registered their marriage in Buncombe County on September 1, 1866. They indicated that they had been married since 1849. Early Buncombe County Afr.-Am Marriage Records: 1814-1868, Pack Library Ref. No.: NC 929.375688. Buncombe County Register of Deeds, Book AA, Page 206.

[22] This incredibly difficult to read deed was registered on 17 January 1877. Hutsel appears to put up "2 hardy cows (?) years old and black and white" against his debt. He agrees to pay the debt by the first of August that year or allow the cows to be sold to cover the cost. Buncombe County Register of Deeds, Book 38, Page 123.

[23] At the time of the 1880 census, Hudson (listed as Hutsell) and Mira Mills Vance are living in the Reems Creek township. Harriett Horn (white, age 22) and three mulatto children (Lillia Dunnahigh, age 9; Andrew Horn, age 4; and Richard Horn, age 1) are living with them.

[24] Hudson and Harriet's relationship is confirmed in official documents for three of their children. Andrew Horn's death certificate, Ohio Department of Health file 21539, filed April 1945, deceased's birth year 1882; Jacob Vance's marriage license, Buncombe County, book 133, page 46, applicant's birth year 1884; and Leannel Vance's death certificate, Ohio Department of Health file 55735, filed Sept. 1927, deceased's birth year 1888.

Although Andrew's record shows an inconsistent birth year, it is most likely the same person and a mistake was made in that recording. Given that Andrew Horn was older than Richard Horn, it seems very likely that he was also Hudson's son. It is unknown if Lillia was Hudson's daughter or, indeed, if she was even Harriet Horn's daughter.

Jacob's marriage record also indicates that Harriet is living in Buncombe County in 1905 even though she was not living with Hudson in the 1900 census. It is unclear when Harriet and her kids moved to Ohio, but it may have been related to the manner of Hudson's death (see note 27).

[25] Based on age, location, and parents' birthplaces relative to earlier census records of Hudson Vance, we believe that we have the correct record for the 1900 census. The census worker's handwriting is difficult to read and the name is typically transcribed as "Hanse Vance." However, the third letter appears to this researcher to be taller than the rest of the lower case letters, suggesting a "d" or "t" rather than an "n," further supporting the belief that this is Hutsel/Hudson Vance. Source: 1900 Census for North Carolina, Enumeration District 146, Sheet 9, Family 143.

[26] Hutsel Vance and Mamie Berry registered for a marriage license in 1901. Buncombe County Register of Deeds, Book 133, Page 45.

A Mamie Berry, born June 1858, is registered as a widowed head of household in the 1900 Census for Buncombe County. She had five children, although only her 22 year old daughter, Beedie, was still alive. She was born in South Carolina, as was her father, but her mother was born in North Carolina. She is a cook and her daughter is a laundress. They rent a house and both can read, but not write.

[27] Hudson's death was covered by the Asheville Citizen-Times twice, on December 24th and December 25th. Both articles mention that he was being cared for by the Sondley and Ray descendants of his former owner, Col. Alexander. He was to be buried in the plot at the Alexander Chapel in Reems Creek that was set aside as a slave cemetery by Col. Alexander.

The first article mentioned that Hudson had had a paralytic stroke several weeks prior to his death and the families were paying another black man to take care of him. That man is said to have left the home a couple days before the fire and, alone, Hudson attempted to warm himself with a large fire that got out of control. The story Jacob, Hudson's son, told his grandson is that the fire was set to kill Hudson for sleeping with a white woman. The Citizen-Times makes no such claims, but it probably wouldn't even if it were true. No copies survive of the one paper which may have confirmed the family story, The Colored Enterprise, (the paper may even have ceased printing by then).

[28] This is based on the assumption that Jo and Leah (I) are the parents of Leah (II), see note 26. In the 1880 census, Leah (II) lists North Carolina as the place of birth for both her parents.

[29] This hypothesis is based largely on Leah's (II) name and her position within the family. Jo and Leah (I) were afforded a higher status in the family as was Leah (II). It is possible that the consideration given to Leah (II) was a result of her parents in a similar fashion to the treatment Ann and Hudson seem to receive as a result of being Aggy's children. Leah (II) was also referred to as young Leah, which was a common substitute for "junior." It is important to note, however, that Leah is a very common name at the time and she may just have been younger than Leah (I).

[30] Leah is believed to be the oldest woman listed in the 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules for Mira Baird Vance (see note 33). These sources list Leah's birth year around 1806. In her family's 1870 census record, Leah lists her age as 72, placing her birth year around 1798 (see note 38). Her age ten years later is listed as 70, with a birth year of 1810 (see note 37). This wide range casts doubt on her age. Despite the notorious inaccuracies of the slave schedules, these seem to be the more reliable sources than Leah's own census records. Her position within the family, as well as the consistency of the slave schedules, suggest Mira would have had a better idea of Leah's birth year than Leah would in her old age. Mira may have gotten this information from her husband, who would have been a boy or young man when Leah was born and may have been able to remember her age based on his.

[31] Leah was willed to David Vance, Jr. in 1835 by his mother, Priscilla Vance. Leah is listed as already being in David's possession, which makes sense since Priscilla was living with her son after her husband died.

[32] Sandy and Leah Erwin registered their marriage on 25 August 1866. They had been married for 25 years, since 1841. Despite the fact that Leah's maiden name is not listed on the registry, the fact that no other Sandy Erwin has been found in the Buncombe County Census records in 1870 or 1880 makes us confident that this is the Sandy and Leah who were owned by the Vance and Baird families. Early Buncombe County Afr.-Am Marriage Records: 1814-1868, Pack Library Ref. No.: NC 929.375688. Buncombe County Register of Deeds, Book AA, Page 67.

[33] The 1850 slave schedule for Mira Vance included a 14-year-old boy, a 10-year-old girl, a 6-year-old girl, a 4-year-old girl, and a 1-year-old boy. They are believed to be the children of Sandy and Leah. It is unclear if Ann every married or had children, but one or more of these children may be Ann's. The oldest two or three were likely purchased by Mira in 1844.

The 1860 schedule included two girls, 14 and 12 years old. They may be the 6 and 4 year old children in the previous census with an error in dates. Or, one or both girls may have been purchased between that time and the others were sold or passed away.

[34] In Holston Methodism Volume 5, page 209, Mira's son-in-law Richard N. Price wrote an obituary for her which said: His [Sandy's] wife, Leah, was one of the finest cooks and housekeepers in the country. Both of these faithful servants reached the age of near a hundred years.

[35] At her late husband's estate sale in 1844, Mira Baird Vance purchased three adult women and four children. They were: Venus, who was an old woman when they are children according to Robert Vance's recollections published in Dowd's Life of Vance; Leah, who was born circa 1800 according to her post-slavery census records; Ann, who was the daughter of Richard and Aggy; and Leah's four young children. It seems most likely that Leah is the oldest woman in Mira's 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules. Although her birth year varies a great deal between her 1870 and 1880 Census records, the schedules are within the range.

Hannah Erwin Baird willed Sandy to Mira's brothers in 1849. She asked them to share the proceeds of the sale of Sandy, but not to sell him out of the family. Mira's son-in-law, Richard N. Price, notes that Sandy was living with Mira prior to emancipation. This would suggest that Sandy is the adult man in Mira's 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules. The age listed suggests a birth year is close to the ages given in his family's 1870 and 1880 Census records.

[36] Rev. Richard N. Price, Mira's son-in-law, noted that Sandy and Leah Erwin attended the funeral of their former master. He also indicated that Sandy "bought his time" (i.e. bought his freedom) before the end of the war. It should be noted, however, that his account was written thirty-five years after the funeral and may be subject to error. Taken from Price's obituary for Mira Vance written in Holston Methodism Volume 5, page 209.

[37] In 1880, Sandy and Leah Erwin were living in the 9th Township of Asheville. They both listed themselves as 70 years old, contradicting earlier records, although Sandy's age is the closest to expectations. Sandy was a farmer and Leah kept house. Both were born in North Carolina, as were Leah's parents. Neither could write, although Sandy could read.

They lived with two granddaughters—Lear (or Leah) Williams (14) and Jennie Williams (12). Both girls attended school within the previous year. Both girls list their mothers' birth place as North Carolina, but do not know where their father was born.

[38] Sandy Erwin and Leah Vance Erwin were living in the Sulphur Springs Township during the 1870 Census. Sandy was a farmer who lists his age at 63; he could read, but not write. Leah was a house keeper who lists her age at 72; she could neither read nor write. They lived with two children, Joseph Erwin (7) and Jane Erwin (5), who are believed to be their grandchildren. Both were born in North Carolina. Sandy and Leah owned $80 worth of personal property, which is about $1,475 in 2014 dollars.

[39] In 1829, Alexander Erwin wills: To Hannah Baird one negro boy named Sandy which she has in possession. Transcription provided by the North Carolina Division of Archives and History.

[40] Hannah Erwin Baird Will. Certified before the court of Buncombe County on 9 January 1849.

[41] This comes from the early and family history sections of Clement Dowd's The Life of Zebulon Baird Vance. These sections were written by Zeb's brother, Robert Brank Vance.

[42] Besides Aggy, Hudson, Ann, and Leah, the following enslaved people were listed in Priscilla's 1835 will: Jim, who was to be sold and the proceeds to go to the orphaned children of Priscilla's late daughter and son-in-law, George and Priscilla Vance Whitson; Jane, who was willed to Jane Vance Davidson and listed as being already in her possession; Isham, who was willed to Celia Vance Brittain and listed as being in her possession; Wilson, willed to Sarah Vance McLain and listed as being in her possession; and Washington, willed to Elizabeth Vance Davidson and listed as being in her possession.

[43] In Jonathan Prestwood's will of 21 Feb. 1838, he states: "I desire that my negro Hannah to be free at my death and the said negro to have her bed & her wearing apparel, two pots which is her own, one table walnut, two chests, one big wheel, said negro woman has her choice to live where & with whom she pleases and makes choice of David Vance as her guardian." Taken from the transcription in "A Lot of Bunkum" Vol 8 Is. 6, p. 82-87, published by the Old Buncombe County Genealogical Society.

[44] According to the 1820 census records for Robert Vance, there were three younger boys/men living with him. Two were between 14 and 25 years old and one was under 14. This would suggest that, in 1813, one boy was probably 4 to 6 years old (since children were not typically separated from their mothers until at least four years of age) and the other two were between ages 7 and 18.

[45] Robert attended medical school in Cabarrus County before setting up practice in Asheville in 1818. His political career would have taken him away from the area, and that may have been the time that Isaac, Peter, and Harry were hired out to the Pattons, something which was referenced in Robert's will of 1827.

[46] In his 1827 will, Robert states: "My boys, Isaac, Peter, & Harry, have been faithful fellows to me, and I have only to regret, that I cannot (consistently) with their own and the (interests) of of the County, place them in a better condition. As I presume they would prefer living with W. Patton, to whom they are now hired, it is my will that they be sold to him, if he wishes to purchase them, for a sum not less than seventeen hundred dollars, [almost $36,000 in 2015 dollars] - if he should not, it is my desire that they be sold to the highest bidder on such Credit as my (executors) may think proper - The an-nual interest arising from the bond offered for them to be (placed) at the (descre-tion) of my mother."

[47] Peter and Harriet registered their marriage with Buncombe County on August 30, 1866. They listed their marriage year as 1826. No maiden name was given for Harriet. Early Buncombe County Afr.-Am Marriage Records: 1814-1868, Pack Library Ref. No.: NC 929.375688. Buncombe County Register of Deeds, Book AA, Page 205.

[48] No census records have been found for Peter or Harriet Vance.

[49] This would be the case if Esther and Isham were to remain with Celia Vance Britton as her family moved within the region.

[50] Since Elizabeth Vance Davidson was already living in Cherokee County at the time of her mother's death, it is assumed that Washington was living there also.

[51] In the 1870 census for Bedford County, TN, we find a James Vance, age 77, whom we believe to be the James owned by Samuel and Christina Vance. He is a blacksmith, born in North Carolina, who can read and write. He is living with a 48-year-old woman named Leah Vance who is probably a daughter. She is a cook, born in Tennessee, who can read and write.

[52] In her February 1865 will, Christina Weaver Vance, wife of Zeb's uncle Samuel, wrote "My desire and request is that my old and faithful Servant Jim, a colored man, that if I should die before he Should, that my Executors shall take care for Jim and see that when he dies that he may be decently buried." Given the amount of time the James willed to Samuel in 1813 spent with this family, this may well be the same Jim. It should be noted, however, that Jim is an exceedingly common name.

Christina Vance also mentions John and Thomas, who were willed to her daughter, Margaret.

[53] A Simon Vance can be found in the 1870 census for Coffee County, TN, who may be the Simon described here. He is a 72-year-old domestic servant who can read but not write. He lives with Vanna Vance, who is 53 years old, who may be his wife. She is a house keeper, born in Virginia who can neither read nor write.


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