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Monday, June 18, 2012

What would you be worth to John McDowell's hiers?

As a researcher, you hope and pray that your ancestor's slaveowner died before the end of the Civil War.  Imagine that it's September 1861 all over again, the worse time of your life: "Massa" is died.

Will you be rented out?  Or, will his executors have you sent to the Oktibbeha County Courthouse where the auctions are held to pay off his debts?  Will you and your loved ones remain as one?  Or, will you be split up amongst his hiers and their families?   Today, three suspicious men have come by the plantation. 
 
What follows is a transcription of the actual slave inventory and appraisement of John McDowell's estate.  To give you a buyer's perspective and for the purpose of this exercise, I have eliminated their names and reframed it with a focus on property value.  In 1861, his slave inventory, valued at $7874.97, represented a fourth of his estate.  Based on your own age, exactly what would you be worth to his hiers?

NB: Harriet McDowell, the "Sand Creek" Boyd family matriarch, is found at the bottom of this post as the 66 year old "girl" who is described as superannuated (i.e., no longer of monetary value).  On the 1870 U.S. Census for Oktibbeha County, she was also described as blind.     

Sex                          Age                 (1861 Dollars)                x20 =            (2012 Dollars)     Remarks
girl                       2                  $  233.33                                 ($  4,666.60)
girl                       2                  $  200.00                                 ($  4,000.00)
girl                       3                  $  300.00                                 ($  6,000.00)
girl                       4                  $  316.66                                 ($  6,333.20)
girl                       4                  $  300.00                                 ($  6,000.00)
girl                       5                  $  350.00                                 ($  7,000.00)
girl                       6                  $  416.66                                 ($  8,333.20)
girl                       7                  $  483.33                                 ($  9,666.60)
girl                       8                  $  600.00                                 ($12,000.00)
girl                       8                  $  566.66                                 ($11,333.20)
boy                    10                  $  700.00                                 ($14,000.00)
boy                    14                  $  400.00                                 ($  8,000.00)   double jointed
girl                     17                  $  700.00                                 ($14,000.00)   burnt hand
girl                     19                  $  900.00                                 ($18,000.00)
boy                    21                  $1000.00                                 ($20,000.00)
girl                     23                  $  666.66                                 ($13,333.20)   unsound
girl                     24                  $  400.00                                 ($  8,000.00)   unsound
boy                    24                  $1000.00                                 ($20,000.00)
girl                     26                  $  966.66                                 ($19,333.20)   & infant
girl                     27                  $  966.66                                 ($19,333.20)   & infant
boy                    28                  $  800.00                                 ($16,000.00)   bro ankle
boy                    29                  $1000.00                                 ($20,000.00)
boy                    29                  $1000.00                                 ($20,000.00)
girl                     30                  $  908.33                                 ($18,166.60)   & infant
boy                    31                  $1000.00                                 ($20,000.00)
boy                    32                  $1000.00                                 ($20,000.00)
boy                    32                  $  966.66                                 ($19,333.20)
girl                     33                  $  966.66                                 ($19,333.20)   & infant
boy                    35                  $  966.66                                 ($19,333.20)
boy                    41                  $1000.00                                 ($20,000.00)
girl                     50                  $  486.66                                 ($  9,733.20)
girl                     53                  $  133.33                                 ($  2,666.60)
girl                     63                  $  100.00                                 ($  2,000.00)
girl                     66                  $  000.00                                                   superannuated 

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