Anders Family
David Asbel Anders with
Jim and Tina Smith Anders

US GenWeb Project

Rufus and Florence Hall Owen Family in 1947
Rufus and Florence Hall Owen and children

US GenWeb Archives Project


Transylvania County, NC 

GenWeb Project

NC GenWeb


  Slavery In Transylvania County


Slavery affected every family that lived in what is now Transylvania County, North Carolina prior to emancipation. And since our present lives are built on the events of the lives before us, the realities of slavery in our region continue to effect us. It is an aspect of our history that can never be erased and will never be forgotten.

Slave research is important for both the descendants of the slaves themselves as well as the families of the owners. Large plantations could have a slave population larger than the current population of our town of Rosman. More common in our region, the one or two slaves in a household actually lived within the single home. Whatever the situation, its existence created relationships between families and individuals that influenced their day-to-day lives. Sometimes these relationships were extremely harsh as demonstrated by neck irons in the estate of some owners. Sometimes they were far more caring and included provisions for the lifetime care of slaves. And, yes, on occasion these relationships created genetic ties between the families.

Documentation on slaves and free colored persons before 1866 is rather sketchy. Having a legal status somewhere between a man's milk cow and his wife didn't leave much reason to give personal information such as names on records such as census reports. In contrast, slaves were given more attention that white household members in the tax records. Their descendants can prove to the dollar that their ancestors were playing a valuable role in the community. Something you can't always assume for other folks. But like it or not, too often we are left with numbers instead of names.

An additional factor complicating slave research in present day Transylvania County is that the county was not formed until 1861. During the Civil War, some records continued to be maintained in the parent counties of Jackson and Henderson. As a result, the majority of slave records are located outside of Transylvania County.

Part of the purpose of this research kit is to help identify these individuals with names and provide their descendants with useful research resources. But it is also designed to help learn about all ancestors involved and to reunite families and communities who share this past. Only this time, relationships will be based on friendship and community and some occasional really good eating.

Caution - As our understanding of complex racial mixing improves we continue to recognize that a person's racial ancestry usually cannot be fully accounted for with a single letter or classification. The documents used to designate race often reflect more of a person's legal status than the majority of an individual's ancestors. Slaves could have any combination of African, Caucasian or American Indian ancestry - and usually did.

- Linda Hoxit Raxter, originally posted 01 FEB 2003


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