Above: Currier &
Ives' "A Cotton Plantation on the Mississippi"
There is no question
that ownership of slaves in any family history is an uncomfortable issue
for descendants of ancestors who owned them. However, to know who
we were, we must know what happened both in the nation and our own
Wills, genealogy, and census books give us clues to family involvement
in this practice which divided the nation and was one of our greatest
a tobacco planter who had both white indentured servants who gained
freedom later in payment for their passage from England as well as
who did not. The estate mentions individually "1 negro woman and
child", "1 woman servant" and "2 men servants" right along with 100 head
of livestock, pots, furniture and clothing items. He willed them
to various of his children.
Son John Maddox
also mentioned slaves, leaving to his wife Sarah all of his lands and
of his negroes, with the exception of specific bequests of negroes.
They are referred to in this manner: "girl Judith, Born 1734, girl
Jane, man Robert, girl Elizabeth, girl Yalla, man Ned, Man James, girl
Lotty, negro boy called William," etc. His wife Sarah, when she died,
them similarly to other descendants. She provided that the mulatto
Ann be set free and given various personal items. (Mulatto, in this
sense, is an individual whose parentage is both black and white.)
Another, she willed Catherine, daughter of Ann, is to be set free when
she reaches the age of 16 and is not to be "put to the hoe" during the
interim (in this sense, she was not to be sent to work in the fields,
but to be assigned lighter duties.) Some slaves were domestics,
others were field workers. (Domestics worked inside
the house, field workers worked outside and had a harsher life.)
Children of slaves became slaves themselves.
The census of 1790
a John Maddox of Pickawaxon, MD as having 24 slaves but most who did
them, held one or two. By their ages and gender, most were domestics.
One Maddox freed all his field hands when they reached 31 years of age.
Hurley's book Maddox: A Southern Maryland Family annotates
no less than 86 slaves by name, held and passed by one Maddox plantation
owner to another.
Crawford, fm Hurley's book. Below: Advertisement for Beecher's
book, fm Chronicle of America. Right: drawing of Kentucky river barge.
lifestyle in the Maddox family is so far hard to
by. Robert King Maddox wrote an article in Hurley's book of
his recollection of former slave Joe Crawford (b 1830), owned by
his great grandfather Charles John Maddox (1819). Maddox wrote his
father remembered Joe well. Joe knew all about farming and did many
of the chores on the farm, as planter, blacksmith, harvester and
when needed. The account says that he had been given his freedom
at the end of the Civil War. Like many others of the period, he did
not want to leave the household, and was welcomed to stay as long as he
wished. Joe was well known in the area, doing chores for anyone who
needed his services. He died in 1917.
Harriet Beecher Stowe,
who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book known to millions
the Civil War, may well have cast characters in her book from three
(a man, woman, and small child) owned by George Harris, one of the
families married into the Kentucky Maddoxes. (Snow Hill
Heritage Books, pg 54.)
We have some
details, that a Kentucky Maddox lost his life at the hands of the
KKK in the 1930s. We presume Maddox ancestors were on both sides
of the national slavery controversy during the time in American history
it was prevalent. Some early branches of the family were comparatively
well-to-do and their records were more detailed and showed they owned
A St. Louis paper wrote about a Maddox
farmer and treatment of his slaves. Most other farming
Maddoxes were not families of means and most probably struggled through
frontier and colonial life without owning them. However, many early
we have records about were Southerners and during the Civil War, are
as taking up the Confederate
There are many
with the Maddox surname--some
of their ancestors are former family slaves and others married into the
Maddox family. It was common for freed slaves to take on the surname
of the families who held them. We are interested in gathering more
information on the holding of slaves and their lives from publications,
and Americans named Maddox of any color.
--by B Maddox, Webmaster