Thomas Jones Davies Bible Records (1830-1865)

South Caroliniana Library


This Bible, dating from 1841, contains records of the births, deaths, and marriages of enslaved African Americans presumably owned by Thomas Jones Davies (1830–1902), of Beech Island, South Carolina. It augments the South Caroliniana Library’s existing holdings of papers documenting the planter’s activities in South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi.

The vital statistics contained within the Bible span the years 1830 to 1865 and record eighty-two births, thirty-six deaths, and eleven marriages—all of enslaved individuals. Locations in South Carolina mentioned in the records include “Malvern” and “Gardner’s Swamp Plantation” in Beech Island and “Swamp Place” near Hamburg. Other locations include “Cherry Hill” and “Waldburg” in Burke County, Georgia and “Edgefield” and “Barnwell” in Bolivar County, Mississippi.

Examples of entries recording births include: “Chloe, daughter of Judy and Simon (owned by Samuel Clarke, Esq.) was born February 14—St Valentines day—at my Swamp Place 1857” and “Eliza daughter of Robert & Martha born at Barnwell June 20 1860. The first child born on the plantation.”

Some of the records of deaths are quite extensive and describe not only the slave’s death, but also give a brief history of the subject’s life. Examples include:

“On the night of Jan 23d 1856 at the late residence of W.W. Starke Esq. Dinah mother of Peter. Her age was remarkable. She was owned by MC Hammond Esq and sold with others to WH Baldy Esq and by him allowed to live with me in 1850. Since then she has had her freedom, having been a child of my grandmother and hence my attention to her in the decline of her life. She was probably ninety years of age. Was buried at Malvern. Died of pneumonia and old age.”

“Isaac Gardner aged about forty eight was killed by the night train to Charleston in December 1856. He had been to Hamburg frolicking and is supposed to have been drunk. He was found dead under the track on the following day. He was without exception the most industrious negro I ever knew and almost invaluable on a plantation. He leaves no family save a young wife.”

“Died Tuesday morning January 5th- 1858 at Malvern Caesar the oldest and best of all my fathers negroes living at that time. He was constantly a faithful and dutiful servant and above all my negroes the most reliable. I felt deeply and sincerely attached to this old man. His age was near seventy. Died of disease of the heart—was found dead in his bed at Malvern.”

“Arch—aged about 65 died at Malvern Nov 1st 1863[.] He was a slave of Th. W. Davies and recd a wound crushing his ankle coming out from Mississippi a fugitive from the accursed Yankees. The wagon wheel passed over his ankle bre[a]king it.”

According to outside sources, Thomas Jones Davies was born at “Summer Hill,” a property in South Carolina across the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia. He served as a staff officer in the Confederate States Army and helped develop the kaolin mining industry in Aiken County after the Civil War. Davies was buried in the Hammond family cemetery in Beech Island near his brother-in-law, James Henry Hammond.

Acknowledgements
Henry Fulmer of the South Caroliniana Library suggested this collection for digitization. Materials were scanned on an Avision fb 6080E bookedge scanner with Avision software as color TIFFs at 24-bit and 600 ppi. High quality JPEGs were created from the TIFFS and the associated preservation metadata was added to an Excel spread sheet. The metadata records follow the Western States Best Practices Dublin Core format. Tabitha Y. Samuel (MLIS candidate, University of South Carolina) created the metadata, scanned the images, and created a webpage for the collection. The JPEGs for the collection were then uploaded to CONTENTdm. The TIFFs will be maintained as archival masters on a SAN server and backed-up to a DVD. Henry Fulmer also provided contextual information for this page.

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