Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project*: The Camps of Rutherford County North Carolina

"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,

Thomas Camp, my sixth Great Grandfather, died in 1798, leaving 10 children from his first marriage and 12 children by his second wife. Six of these younger children remained in the Rutherford County area of North Carolina for the rest of their lives . Thomas' will makes no mention of any slaves, but looking at the wills of his children who lived in Rutherford County provided some information as to how they had managed the property which had been left to them in their father's estate.

Son Crenshaw Camp, in a will written in 1808, ten years after his father's death, mentioned one slave, a Negro boy named Embro who was to be given to Crenshaw's brother George Camp.(1)

Daniel Camp, another of Thomas' sons, served as the sheriff of Rutherford County, NC in the late 1790s. In the middle of a book of will transcriptions was information concerning a slave transaction that involved Daniel. The slave Stantee had been the property of William Nevills and was described as "an african by birth nearly thirty six years of age about five feet ten, high complexion, very dark".(2) Sheriff Camp had overseen the public sale of Stantee to Lewis Beard; the auction had been held on 25 August 1795 to settle a debt of Mr. Nevills.

The will of a William Camp in this volume turned out not to be "my" William Camp. The will, however, provides information concerning several slaves who were part of the estate of another William Camp.(3) This will, proved in Rutherford County in February of 1855, mentioned the following:

  • a negro woman named Ferre to my wife Elizabeth
  • a negro boy named Wade to my wife Elizabeth, Wade to go to my son John Camp upon her death

There were several interesting records concerning Thomas Camp's son Joshua Camp.(4) The inventory of the estate provided the names of 17 slaves who were part of Joshua's estate: 

  • [men] Sandy, Major, Dick, Sam, Frank
  • [women] Liz, Judy, Harriet, [fourth woman's name was unreadable]
  • [boys and girls] Gardison, William,  Adam, Henderson, Albert, Polly, Martha, Victory.

Additional probate documents concerning Joshua Camp's estate (pages 673-674 of the same volume of records) provided further information concerning the sale of some of the slaves in October of 1853, including:

  • Frank was purchased by J T Camp [Joshua's son John T Camp, estate executor]
  • Sandy was purchased by J T Camp
  • Dick was purchased by John First
  • William was purchased by James Phillips
  • Albert was purchased by George Camp [probably Joshua's son]
  • Nancy Camp [Joshua's widow] purchased an unnamed male and female
  • Major was purchased by J O Simmons

After I wrote the first draft of this post, I was looking for other Camp family members in the 1870 census for Rutherford County, North Carolina. In my search I saw the census records of two Rutherford County residents who may well have been some of Joshua's former slaves - Frank Camp and Gardison Camp - now farmers, now free, now with their own families, their stories continuing.

Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.

(1) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Wills 1782-1898, vol. A-F, p85, will of Crenshaw Camp; accessed on FamilySearch,

(2) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Wills 1782-1898, vol. A-F, p44, indenture between Daniel Camp and Lewis Beard; accessed on FamilySearch,
(3) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Wills 1782-1898, vol. A-F, p287, will of William Camp; accessed on FamilySearch,
(4) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Estates, 1847-1854, Vol. C, p 183, estate of Joshua Camp; accessed on FamilySearch,


  1. Mary, thank you so much for mentioning the Slave Name Roll Project on your blog and contributing. I've added links to this post to the project page.

  2. How may I go about finding out the name of the slave owner by using the slave’s name? I am a descendent of a Nigerian slave that birthed mullato children. My maternal great father was a Camp from Rutherford County North Carolina.

    1. Although some formerly enslaved people chose their own surnames, a number did assume the surname of their former owners. Since you know the surname, Camp, of your maternal great father, I would suggest starting with gleaming as much information as possible from the 1870 and beyond census about your maternal great father and his family, things like age, place of birth, race of family members. Then, look at the Slave Schedules of the 1860 census for Rutherford County, NC to see if you can locate a similar family or group of slaves; the Slave Schedule will list the slave owner and some information concerning the individual slaves. If you find someone who might have been the possible owner of your ancestor, then start to research the will and probate records of that ancestor, perhaps look at old newspapers for information concerning property/slave sales. It is a lot like looking for the old needle in a haystack, but searching for records relating to the slave owner might lead you to information concerning your ancestor. I wish you well.