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ABRAM'S PLAINS PLANTATION

 Stovall, Granville County, North Carolina

(click photo for larger image)

PLANTATION NAME: ABRAM'S PLAINS PLANTATION
ASSOCIATED LINK(s):  
ORIGINAL OWNER: Samuel Smith (1729-1800)
BUILT: 1766
ASSOCIATED SURNAMES: Smith, Webb,  Downey, Davis
HISTORY:

Abram's Plains is a plantation named for a battle in the French and Indian War at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec. The plantation house, composed of eighteenth and nineteenth century components, reflects the long continuity of a single family's ownership of the plantation established by Samuel Smith in 1766. Smith was a prominent citizen of Granville Count in the pre-Revolutionary, Revolutionary, and post-Revolutionary periods, serving in civil and military positions of responsibility. Under his ownership the plantation he named Abram's Plains prospered from raising of tobacco, as did much of the northern Piedmont. The rear portion of the present house and a structure near the main house are believed by descendants to date from this eighteenth century period. The present front portion of the house, is believed to have been replaced the earlier house in 1830, and to have been built for Smith's granddaughter and her husband, Sara P. Smith Downey and Samuel Smith Downey. The property has remained for seven generations in the hands of Smith descendants.
In 1766 Samuel Smith (1729-1800), his wife and three children left Essex County, Virginia, and moved to Granville County, North Carolina. Smith purchased land in the Grassey Creek area near Buffalo Creek, and there began the construction of his plantation. According to family tradition, he selected a site for the family dwelling at the "edge of the plain of the Buffalo," where he had slaves excavate a cellar and a foundation for the house. He named his new plantation Abram's Plains after the 1759 British victory at the Plains of Abraham during the French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Year's War). One of Smith's descendants, Jonathan K. T. Smith of Memphis, TN, testifies that Smith was not at the famous battle "being only a nominal member of the Essex militia but he still took this great victory to heart."
When Samuel Smith died in 1800 he left his Granville plantation property to his widow, Mary Webb Smith. She died in 1827 only about a month before her son, Alexander Smith. Apparently at their deaths the Smith plantation passed to Alexander Smith's widow, Ann A. Beasley Smith. After several transfers of ownership within the family, it eventually passed down to Ann Alexander Smith Downey in 1851, who married Isaac H. Davis in 1853.  

SLAVE POPULATION: Samuel Smith's Estate indicated he had 33 Slaves at the time of his death in 1800. In 1800, Mary Smith (widow of Samuel), had 30 Slaves; in 1810, James W. Smith had 25 Slaves, Alex Smith had 52 Slaves; by 1820, Alex Smith had 72 Slaves (he had different plantations), Maurice Smith had 28 Slaves.
SAMUEL SMITH, Will dated September 19 1800, Granville Co. Slaves named in Will, probated Nov. Court 1800 (WB 5, Pg. 101):

To wife, MARY SMITH, 6 Slaves:
PHILLIS and her 5 children MARTHA, RACHEL, BEN, THOM, MINTOR

Son JAMES WEBB SMITH:
JACOB & JUDITH

Son JOHN SMITH:
MINTHUS & DANIEL

Son WILLIAM SMITH:
ISAAC & SARAH

Son MAURICE SMITH:
GEORGE & YOUNG ROSE

Lend to daughter MARY WILLIAMSON, during her natural lifetime, then given to her children:
FANNY, NEPTUNE & LETTY

To daughter ELIZABETH DOWNEY:
SELA and her 3 children
CLOE and her 2 children

Lend to daughter JENNY MURPHEY, during her natural lifetime, then given to her children:
SAPPHINY & MOSES, and all their offspring
DINAH

To son ALEXANDER SMITH:
LEY and CLARISSA and their offspring

To daughter ANNE SMITH:
PHILL, LUCRETIA, PAUL
 

Inventory of SAMUEL SMITH, dec'd, taken February 1801, by MARY SMITH, JAMES W. SMITH, WM. SMITH, MARY SMITH:
33 Slaves-

1. Y. HANNAH
2. S. HANNAH
3. ROSE
4. BEN
5. CEASAR
6. WINNEY
7. MILLEY
8. GOIN
9. GLOSTER
10. HARRY
11. LAUREY
12. SOOKEY
13. LUCY
14. LENDEN
15. AMEY
16. WILL
17. Y. WINNEY
18. ESSEX
19. PHILLIS
20. MARTHA
21. RACHEL
22. BENJAMIN
23. TOM
24. MINTOR
25. PHILLIP
26. LUCRETIA
27. POLL
28. GEORGE
29. Y.ROSE
30. SYPHARE
31. CLARISSA
32. DINAH
33. LETTY
 
RESEARCH NOTES: Abram's Plains has a family cemetery where many family members were buried, the oldest being Samuel Smith, b. Dec. 3, 1729 -d. Oct. 6, 1800, the original of which is a foot stone that reads "S. S." In more recent years, a military marker was placed in the cemetery which bears the birth and death dates of Smith.


Samuel Smith tombstone; Samuel Smith military marker ; Mary Webb Smith tombstone

MISCELLANEOUS:

National Register of Historic Places; Abrams Plains, Wikipedia; Abram's Plains Cemetery; Will of Samuel Smith, Granville Co. Will Book 5, pg. 101; Samuel Smith Downey Papers 1762-1965, Duke University Libraries

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