Prelude to Freedom

Slavery on the Cleage Plantations

This is a brief summary of Samuel, Alexander and David Cleage from 1810 to 1870 as the family went from owning no slaves to collectively owning over 120. These are the plantations on which the people in this series lived during slavery.

Samuel Cleage
Samuel Cleage

Samuel Cleage

Samuel Cleage was born in 1781 in Pennsylvania.  The family later moved to Botecourt, VA.  His father, Alexander Cleage, owned no slaves according to the Federal Censuses he appeared in.

Samuel worked as a building contractor in Virginia. In 1810 he was 29, had a household consisting of 7 white people and 1 enslaved person.  After his parents died in 1823 he moved his whole household to McMinn County, Tennessee.  He was about 42 years old. Read about the move at C is for Cleage Bricks.

The trip took several years because he stopped to build brick houses at farms along the way, collecting pay in gold and slaves.  Although some sources say that he arrived with hundreds of slaves and barrels of gold, the 1830 Census lists a household of 4 free whites and 15 enslaved blacks. After arriving, Samuel picked out a parcel of about 1,125 acres and using his slaves labor, built a fine brick house.  The land that Samuel Cleage bought was part of the land opened for white settlement when some Cherokee, hoping to profit from the already occurring influx of whites, signed the Calhoun Treaty.  It was called the Hiwassiee Purchase.

Cleage house in 2013.
Cleage house in 2013.  Click to see blue prints and photographs of the house.

In a 1834 agreement between Samuel Cleage and his overseer, 7 slaves were named and 2 little boys were unnamed. Some of the tasks mentioned in the agreement are clearing land, distilling and planting. Article of Agreement Between Samuel Cleage and Overseer – 1834.

By 1840 the household consisted of himself and his wife and 23 slaves.  Eleven are involved in agriculture.  In the 1850 census Samuel and his wife shared their home with his son David, his wife and 2 small sons.  They now owned 31 slaves, 1,200 improved acres and 20 unimproved with a value of $20,500.  That translates to about $560.000 in today’s dollars. Samuel Cleage died in 1850 at age 69.

Alexander Cleage
Alexander Cleage

Alexander Cleage

Alexander Cleage, born in 1801, was the oldest son of Samuel and Mary Cleage.   He married Jemima Hurst in 1832 when he was 31.  She brought 4 enslaved women to the marriage.  They were named in her father Elijah Hurst’s Will.  The first census I found him was for 1840. There were 6 white family members and 4 slaves – 3 women and a boy. That is 1 less woman than the 4 that came to the marriage.

By 1850, Alexander was a bank officer.  There were 9 white family members and 31 slaves, 24 women and 7 males.  His real estate was worth $5,750.  In 1852 there was some moving around of slaves from Samuel Cleage’s estate and Alexander came into possession of 12 named slaves.  In 1857 there was a bill of sale for an unnamed slave.

In 1860, Alexander was a farmer with estate was worth $43,500 and a personal estate worth $55,000.  There were 7 family members, 52 slaves and 8 slave dwellings.  He wrote his Will that year and gave the names of the 12 slaves his wife received at her marriage and “their increase”, plus two men.  I only recognize 2 of the names as being the same as those in Elijah Hurst’s  Will.

In 1870, Alexander was a 69 year old farmer.  He owned land worth $40,000 and his personal estate was worth $20,000.  Two of his 2 children, a young man 23 and a girl 13, at home and both attended school during the past year. Everyone in the family was literate.  There are no slaves in the household, but the 16 year old live in black servant is illiterate and she has not attended school during the past year.

David Cleage
David Cleage

David Cleage

David Cleage was born in 1806 in Virginia.  I have 2 bills of sale for 3 named slave boys, ages 10, 11 and 13 for 1841 and 1842.  In 1846 David married Martha Bridgman.  She brought at least 1 enslaved girl with her, Charlotte who was about 10.

In 1850, David Cleage was 44. He was a cashier at the bank in Athens, TN.  His real estate is valued at $1,000.  He and his family are sharing a home with his parents.  He owns 32 slaves.

By 1860, the number has risen to 75 slaves living in 8 slave dwellings. He is still a cashier at the bank, real estate worth $2,000 and personal estate worth $90,000.  The household includes 5 family members and an overseer.

In 1870 David was 64,a   retired banker with real estate worth $18,700 and a personal estate worth $41,995.  All 7 people in the household are literate. The children between ages 21 and 8 attended school within the last year.

 Sources:  I used documents founds on Ancestry.com and Familysearch.com, several bills of sale that I have copies of, “The Cleage Slaves and the Bricks of History” by Joe Guy and “Botetourt County, Virginia Heritage Book – 1770-2000”

From Slavery to Freedom – 56 Former Cleage & Hurst Slaves

I pulled this list together using documents from the plantations of Samuel, Alexander and David Cleage and Elijah Hurst. All four were located in McMinn County, Tennessee. During 2015, I am going to go through the list and write about each person that I can find after Freedom in 1865. I completed 4 earlier.  You can read their story by clicking on the linked names.  I will start tomorrow with a general description of each plantation.

  1. Bill Cleage – 1807
  2. Henry Cleage – 1824
  3. Lea Cleage –
  4. Fannie Cleage –
  5. Peter Cleage – 1817
  6. Jerry Cleage – 1831
  7. Bob Cleage- 1830
  8. Jim Cleage 11832
  9. Big Annie Cleage
  10. Matilda Cleage
  11. Charity Cleage – 1838
  12. Caroline Cleage – 1836
  13. Jim Cleage  – 1822
  14. Joe Cleage  – 1844
  15. Sally Cleage  – 1842
  16. Arch Cleage  – 1836
  17. Margth Cleage   – 1838
  18. Charles Cleage  – b.1828
  19. Mary Cleage  – 1821
  20. Henry Cleage  – 1848
  21. Lydia Cleage   – 1851
  22. Joe Cleage  – 1808
  23. Jane Cleage  – 1834
  24. Lynd Cleage  – 1841
  25. Frank Cleage  – 1813
  26. Phillip Cleage  – 1831
  27. Lewis Cleage  – 1830
  28. Sam Cleage  – 1850
  29. Jeff Cleage  – 1837
  30. Martha Cleage  – 1831
  31. Lea Cleage  – 1818
  32. Julian Cleage  – 1809
  33. Patsy Cleage  – 1847
  34. Amy Cleage – 1825
  35. Jeff Cleage – 1858
  36. Juda Cleage – 1814
  37. Charles Cleage – 1848
  38. Angelen Cleage – 1850
  39. Lewis Cleage – 1852
  40. Laura Cleage – 1859
  41. Frank Cleage – younger than Laura
  42. Jane Cleage –
  43. Adaline Cleage –
  44. Tom Cleage –
  45. Frank Cleage – 1816
  46. Tom Lane Cleage –
  47. Harry Hurst
  48. Jeff Hurst
  49. Rachel Hurst
  50. Peter Hurst
  51. Auston Hurst
  52. Tom Hurst
  53. Nancy Hurst
  54. Judi Hurst
  55. Jerry Hurst
  56. Dorcus Hurst (bill of sale 29 Jan 1827)

 

The Death of Sam Cleage – part 2

sammuel cleage deadI have looked for the original article about the death of Samuel Cleage in 1850 with no results, other than this short item.  After reading the obituary, I noticed the following items along with ads for ink, land, “newest goods” and the Forest Hill Academy.  There was an article about the new President Filmore and the ads below, which jumped out at me.

The newspaper came from this site Library of Congress Historical Newspapers, The Athens Post.

Chancery Sale of 22 Negroes

chancery sale of negroes
Click to enlarge.

“By virtue of a decree of the chancery court at Cleveland, Tennessee made at __ February term, 1850 in the case of John D. Traynor and his wife Mary Ann Traynor and others against William B. Cozby, William McDonald and David Ragsdale Administrators of John Cozby deceased and others.  I will on Tuesday, the 20th day of August next, expose to public sale at Smith’s cross Roads, in Rhea County, Tennesseem twenty two Negroes belonging to the estate of said John Cozby, deceased.

The above Negroes will be sold on a credit of six months the purchaser giving bond with two or more suffcient securities for the price of the slave or slaves purchased.  James Berry C. & M.  July 12, 1850 – 4 Pr’s fee $3.50     94.”

A Likely Negro Girl for Sale!

likely negro girlThe subscriber has a likely NEGRO GIRL which he will sell on reasonable terms.  Said girl is in her 15th year, likely, o good size, healthy and stout.  His residence is in McMinn county, 12 1/2 miles South of Athens on the road leading to the mouth of Ocoee.  Any person wishing to purchase can call and see for themselves              Thos. Trew  McMinn co., July 26, 1850 – 3   96

 Run Away

ran away“From the subscriber living in Monroe county, head-waters of Estanallee creek, a black woman named EASTER, very black, about 38 years old, pleasant countenance, and quick spoken.   She left on the 15th last; had a good lot of clothes, and took with her two quilts, two counterpanes and many other bed clothes.  Said woman was formerly owned by Capt. Thos. Pagmore. She may be in that section or making her way off.

Any person who may arrest said girl and return her to me, or confine her so that I can get her will be liberally rewarded for their trouble.  ELIZABETH CARTER, July 30, 1850-   96″

Death of Sam Cleage – July 20, 1850 Athens, TN

Samuel Cleage was the owner of my 2 X great grandfather, Frank Cleage. In July of 1850, Samuel Cleage was killed by Ambrose Griffith. Unfortunately the only information that I have is a very splochy xerox copy of an article from (I think) a 1850  Athenian Post.  I do not have the previous article that talks about the reason for the argument that led to the murder.  I looked for Ambrose Griffith in the 1840 and 1850 and 1860 census.  The only person by that name was a young man born in 1842 (too young to have been the murderer.)  In 1860 he was overseer for Samuel Cleage’s son, David. 

After Samuel’s death, my great grandfather, Frank ended up with Samuel’s other son, Alexander. He was mentioned in these three documents: A letter to the overseer from Samuel Cleage in 1834,  Bill of sale from David to Alexander Cleage in 1852, The Will of Alexander Cleage in 1860.

Samuel Cleage
Samuel Cleage
Sam cleage dead complete
Click to enlarge.

“In the last issue of our paper appeared an account of a difficulty between Samuel Cleage and Ambrose Griffith in which the former was cut and stabbed by the latter.  This occurred on the morning of the 17th June.  Sam Cleage died of his wounds the following Saturday night.  The funeral sermon was preached on the succeeding Monday by the Rev. J.H. Martin at Mars Hill Presbyterian Church, Athens of which the deceased was a member.  His friends who were with him in his last hours state that he was conscious of his dying condition and full of hope – even forgiving(?) the miserable man who’s fatal act was depriving a stricken wife and  _____  children of their natural protector. We are __________ with him ___ and_____ was regarded him as ________ Since his connection with the church which occurred seven  years ago, his walk had been consistent with _____ actions.  The widow and the ______ children ___ the ___ this afternoon that was___upon them.

It is said that Griffith remained secreted in the neighborhood until he learned that Cleage was dying and then fled the country.  We are not advised whether any steps are being taken to have him captured and brought to ______ for his crime.  This is the fourth murder committed within the last two or three years – two in this town and two in the immediate vicinity-  and in neither case has any vigorous or well directed effort been made to bring the murderer to the seat (?) of justice.  Here as elsewhere the community is horrified at such things for a day or two and then drops into stolid indifference until  startled(?) by the announcement of another bloody tragedy.  It is so all over the United States.  Punishment for crime of the higher grade is the exception and immunity the rule and the fault rests not with the officers of the law, but a demoralized and degenerate public sentiment which hunts down and sends a  petty thief to the penitentiary and lets the red handed murderer escape without an effort.”

Bill of Sale for Charity, Caroline, Jim, Joe, Sally, Arch, Margth, Bill, Charles, Mary, Henry and Lydia Cleage

This is a copy of a companion Bill of Sale to the one that conveyed my 2 X great grandfather Frank Cleage from David Cleage, Walter Nutter and Elizabeth H. Nutter to Alexander Cleage.  After the death of Samuel Cleage, father of David, Elizabeth and Alexander, died there was some shuffling around of slaves, livestock and household property between the sibling.  In each document 12 slaves and the same amount of money are exchanged.  This is one of three Bills of Sale that I have of those transactions.  It is transcribed below. As always, click on them to enlarge.  There was no punctuation in the document and I added none.bill of sale david cleage 5Bill of sale - David Cleage

Know all men by these presents that we Alexander Cleage and Walter Nutter and his wife Elizabeth H Nutter have this day bargained and sold to David Cleage and his heirs and assigns forever Charity fourteen,  Caroline sixteen  Jim thirty  Joe eight  Sally near ten  Arch sixteen  Margth fourteen  Bill forty five  Charles twenty four  Mary thirty one  Henry four  Lydia one year of age

For five thousand two hundred and fifty dollars being his distribution share out of the proceeds of the slaves of Samuel Cleage deceased  We warrant said negroes (sic) to be slaves for life and that we as the heirs at law of Samuel Cleage have a right to convey them

Given under our hands and seals this 20th day of March 1852

Witness

Sam H Jordon                                            Alex Cleage

Geo W Mayo                                      Walter Nutter

Elizabeth H Nutter

State of Tennessee

County of McMinn

Personally appeared before me Geo W Mayo clerk of the county court of said county Alexander Cleage  Walter Nutter and Elizabeth H Nutter wife of said Nutter the bargainers to the above bill of sale with whom I am personally acquainted each of whom acknowledge the due execution of the same on the day and year it bears date and for the purpose therein expressed and that the said Elizabeth Nutter wife of the aforementioned Walter Nutter was by me examined privately and apart from her said husband Walter Nutter who declared that she executed same knowingly & free from any compulsion or restraint on the part of her said husband Walter Nutter

Given under my hand at office in Athens the 20th day of March 1852

Geo W Mayo clerk

Bill of Sale

Alex Cleage

Walter Nutter

Elizabeth H Nutter

to

David Cleage

Bill of Sale for Joe, Jane, Lynd, Frank, Phillip, Lewis, Sam, Jeff, Martha, Lea, Julian and Patsy Cleage

This is a copy of the Bill of Sale that conveyed my 2 X great grandfather Frank Cleage from David Cleage, Walter Nutter and Elizabeth H. Nutter to Alexander Cleage.  After the death of Samuel Cleage, father of David, Elizabeth and Alexander, died there was some shuffling around of slaves, livestock and household property between the siblings.  This is one of three Bills of Sale that I have of those transactions.  The documents are transcribed below. As always, click on them to enlarge.  There was no punctuation in the document and I added none.

slave docs cleage to alexto alex coverKnow all men by these presents that we David Cleage and Walter Nutter and his wife Elizabeth H Nutter have this day bargained and sold to Alexander Cleage and his heirs and assigns forever Joe forty four years of age  Jane eighteen  Lynd eleven  Frank thirty nine  Phillip forty  Lewis twenty six  Sam ten  Jeff five  Martha twenty one  Lea thirty four  Julian forty three  Patsy five

For five thousand two hundred and fifty dollars being his distribution share out of the proceeds of the slaves of Samuel Cleage deceased  We warrant said negroes (sic) to be slaves for life and that we as the heirs at law of Samuel Cleage have a right to convey them

Given under our hands and seals this 20th day of March 1852

Witness

Sam H Jordon                                            David Cleage

Geo W Mayo                                               Walter Nutter

                                                                       Elizabeth H Nutter

State of Tennessee

County of McMinn

Personally appeared before me Geo W Mayo clerk of the county court of said county David Cleage  Walter Nutter and Elizabeth H Nutter wife of said Nutter the bargainers to the above bill of sale with whom I am personally acquainted each of whom acknowledge the due execution of the same on the day and year it bears date and for the purpose therein expressed and that the said Elizabeth Nutter wife of the aforementioned Walter Nutter was by me examined privately and apart from her said husband Walter Nutter who declared that she executed same knowingly & free from any compulsion or restraint on the part of her said husband Walter Nutter

Given under my hand at office in Athens the 20th day of March 1852

Geo W Mayo clerk

Bill of Sale

David Cleage

Walter Nutter

Elizabeth H Nutter

to

Alex Cleage

 

Cleages In Black and White

Several days ago, I found the will of Alexander Cleage, which mentioned my Cleage Ancestors: Frank, Juda and Lewis Cleage by name, as he willed them to his wife. After finding the will, I did two things.  First, I went back through the other documents I have concerning the white Cleages and slavery.  I found a bill of sale wherein David Cleage and his sister Elizabeth sold some of their inherited slaves (including my great-great grandfather, Frank) to Alexander.  I had believed that my family went from Samuel Cleage to son David, and remained with him, after Samuel’s death.  This cleared that up.

Next, I set up a tree for the white Cleages on Ancestry.com. Through the shakey leaves I found another will. This one for Elijah Hurst, father of Alexander’s wife Jemima Hurst Cleage. In the will, Elijah deeds Jemima my great-great grandmother, Juda, who (along with several other slaves) he had already given her when she married.  There was a wealth of information and documentation available on Ancestry which I am going through now.

After going through those documents, I will modify the timelines I have for Frank and Juda Cleage.  I am also going to be looking for traditions surrounding giving ones daughter a couple of slaves to take with her when she married.  This is the second case of that I have found in my family.  My great great grandmother Eliza was given to Edmund Harrison’s daughter Martha Harrison, when she married Milton Saffold.

This is the year that I plan to devote some real time to writing up my family history. More about that later.

Related Posts

Article of Agreement Between Samuel Cleage and Overseer – 1834

Cleage Bricks

The Will – 1860

Elijah Hurst Last Will and Testament – 1848

Jemima Hurst age 52
Jemima Hurst age 52

This Will was written by Elijah Hurst, the father of Jemima Hurst Cleage, who married Alexander Cleage, who owned my 2X great grandparents and their 5 children.  In it he leaves Juda (my 2X great grandmother) to Jemima.  She already had possession of her.

Elijah Hurst Last Will and Testament

State of Tenn.  McMinn Co.Will of Elijah HurstMcMinn Co Will Book D, Mar 1841-Dec 1848, Microfilm roll 104, TSLA, pp 245-255.

Dec 2 1844.   Elijah Hurst Will Recorded.   I Elijah Hurst do make and ordain this my last will and testament.

  • 1st It is my will and desire that all my just debts be paid.
  • 2nd I give and bequeath to my son Russel R. Hurst my negro boy Harry during his life; and at his death it is my will and desire that said boy Harry go to his heirs.
  • 3rd I will and bequeath to my son John L. Hurst my negro boy Jeff during his life; and at his death I give and bequeath said boy Jeff to his heirs.
  • 4th I will and bequeath to my son Russel my Cate Tract of land during his life; and at his death I desire the same to go the heirs of said Russel; and in consideration thereof he is to pay a debt I am owing the bank for said tract of land.
  • 5th It is my will and desire that my executor manumit my negro woman Rachel when her tenth child shall have attained the age of ten years; and it is my wish that she remain in McMinn County and that my executors support her out of my estate when she gets too old to support herself.
  • 6th I will and bequeath to my wife Mary the following negroes during her natural life:  Big Peter, Auston, Tom, Nancy, Judi, and Jerry; and at her death I wish them equally divided among my four children; and I will and bequeath to my dear wife Mary all my household and kitchen furniture and such of my farming utensils as my executors may think necessary for her convenience together with all my stock of horses, cattle, and hogs.
  • 7th I will and bequeath to my daughter Jemima Cleage and her heirs forever the four negroes she has had possession of Big Anny, Judi, Jane, and Matilda together with all the other property I have given her.
  • 8th It is my wish that my daughter Sarah Ann Calloway have and enjoy all the property conveyed heretofore in trust for her benefit and I will and bequeath to my daughter Sarah Ann Calloway my baroush carriage and harnesses in consideration of some losses   Sarah sustained on my account.
  • 9th It is my wish and desire that my executors get my mother and sister Delilah to remove from Claibourne County to the County of McMinn and that they attend to them carefully:  For that trouble and for taking care of my dear wife Mary, I have given them Harry and Jeff.
  • 10th It is my will and I do hereby release my son Russel R. Hurst from all debts and accounts he is  owing me on the condition that he attends to the interest of my wife while she lives.
  • 11th It is my will and desire that nothing be ex______ in this my last will and testament to interrupt the partnership existing between my son John L. Hurst and myself until the five years have expired.
  • 12th I do hereby constitute and appoint my two sons Russel R. Hurst and John L. Hurst my executors of this my last will and testament and do authorize and desire that they should act without giving bond and security for the trust, re_____ signed, sealed, published and declared to be my last will and testament this 12th day of December 1833.  Signed Elijah Hurst (Seal).  Witnesses:  Justus Steed, Andrew John, W. F. Keith

Alexander Cleage’s Last Will & Testament – 1860

Athens, Tennessee about 1919. Probably taken by my grandfather Albert B. Cleage, SR
Athens, Tennessee about 1919. Probably taken by my grandfather Albert B. Cleage, SR.  Men unknown.

I hadn’t planned yesterday to go to Family Search and look for the Will of Alexander Cleage, but I did.

“I give and devise to my beloved wife Jemima Cleage for and during her natural life the following described Negro slaves – to wit: … Juda and her five children  to wit: Charles, Angelen, Lewis, Laura and Frank… I also give and bequeath to her for her natural life a negro man called Frank the husband of Juda…” 

 30th day of May 1860 Alexander Cleage

Juda and Frank Cleage were my two times great grandparents. Their son Lewis Cleage was my great grandfather, my own grandfather Albert B. Cleage’s, father. I have several other documents that trace them through slavery – a letter to the overseer in 1838 and a bill of sale that mention Frank in 1852, a marriage record for Frank and Juda Cleage in 1866 and the 1870 census, Lewis’ death certificate in 1918.

By the time the will was probated 1 March 1875, my people had been free for 10 years.

These records give me a bare bones outline of their lives. I have no photographs, no stories. Nobody’s memories. These bones and their names. I read the will over and over until I felt it inside of me. I saw my cousins faces, my children’s faces.  All descended from these two people – Frank and Juda Cleage and their son, Lewis Cleage. I wish I could see their faces. I wish I knew their stories. I wish someone had shared memories.  One thing I know is that I will tell the parts of their stories that I can piece together and I will say their names. Frank Cleage born 1816 in North Carolina. Juda Cleage born 1814 in Tennessee. Lewis Cleage born 1852 in Athens Tennessee and died 1918 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

 

You can see a copy of the will here: Last Will and Testament of Alexander Cleage

Click to see more Sepia Saturday posts.
Click to see more Sepia Saturday posts.

The Great Migration Continued

Family_migration_routes_2In the latest episode of Many Rivers To Cross, the Great Migration was briefly discussed. It got me to thinking about my family who pretty much all left the south in the early 1900s. I wrote an earlier series about the Graham side of my family and their move from Montgomery, Alabama to Detroit in 1917. You can read about that at these links:

To continue the story, I will start by writing about my Grandfather Albert B. Cleage and his siblings move from Athens, TN to Indianapolis, IN and finally to Detroit, Michigan, with mention of Uncle Edward Cleage and his family who remained in Athens.

Next I will cover my Grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage and the Reed family’s move from Lebanon, KY first to Indianapolis in the 1890s and on to Benton Harbor and Detroit, Michigan, with Uncle Hugh (Reed) Averette moving out to Los Angeles California.

Finally I will write about Eliza and Dock Allen’s children leaving Montgomery for Chicago, Detroit and New York.

I wanted to add my husband’s family, not sure if I will write them up soon though. They started in Dermott, AR. Catherine Williams went to Seattle, WA. Vennie Jean Williams went to Arkadelphia. Sterling Williams spent time in Little Rock before going to Chicago. Chester and Theola (my in-laws) moved to St. Louis, MO. Members of both the Davenports and the Williams migrated to Chicago.  Many relatives remained in rural AR, although none of my husband’s aunts or uncles.

As I write I will probably come up with stories within stories. This should provide me with writing material for weeks!

To see other posts I’ve written about this series , click this link My Responses to Many Rivers to CrossYou will also find links to other bloggers responding to this series by sharing their own personal family stories.

For those interested, I found the map I used at this site about the Great Migration.