The African American Experience at Fort Hill

African American at Fort Hill, Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

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African-Americans were a vital force in the operation and economy of Fort Hill, the home of John C. and Floride Calhoun from 1825 to 1850, Andrew Pickens and Margaret Green Calhoun from 1851 to 1871, and Thomas Green and Anna Clemson from 1872 to 1888.

Like many Southern planters of the time, Calhoun raised cotton as a cash crop using enslaved African-American labor to run his household and plantation. The Calhouns owned skilled workers such as gardeners, seamstresses and carpenters in addition to agricultural workers and field hands. Since the slaves who occupied Fort Hill left no written record, their perspective is virtually voiceless in history.

In the 1850 U.S. Census, taken on the 24th day of August, after the death of John C. Calhoun, seventy-five enslaved African Americans lived and worked at Fort Hill.  U.S. Census records provide the ages, gender, and race for the enslaved; there are no individual names listed.  The only names that the 1850 U.S. Census listed are the “Names of Slave Owners,” and, at Fort Hill, that was Floride Calhoun.

1850 Census Page 1
1850 Census Page 2
1850 Census Records
Floride Calhoun

The oldest enslaved person on this census record is listed as an 110 year old woman; from oral traditions, she is most likely Mennemin, who may have been born in Africa. Her husband, Polydore, had died before the 1850 US Census.  The youngest person listed on this census record is a one-month-old baby girl, along with two six-month-old baby girls.  Almost one year after this census record was taken, Stepheney, a thirteen-year-old boy was sold by Mrs. Calhoun to her son A. P. Calhoun.  In the 1851 bill of sale, Stepheney is described as “bright” and a “mulatto”; there are no other wrotten records or information about Stepheney.

In 1854, A. P. moved his family from Alabama in order to purchase Fort Hill from his mother, Floride.  A. P. purchased fifty enslaved persons in 1854, and their first names are recorded along with their ages. 

They were: Sawney, age 59; Tilla, age 50; Ned, age 25; Nicholas, age 18; Jonas, age 16; Jim, age 12; Matilda, age 10; Chapman, age 8; Moses, age 22; Gargar, age 23; Lucinda, age 5; Armstead, age 3; Binah, age 3; Tom, age 1; Cato, age 2; Baby, age 1; Daniel, age 37; Rosanna, age 32; Willis, age 21; Peter, age 12; Dice, age 8; Fanny, age 19; Hannah, age 3; Daniel, age 1; Billy, age 35; Jane, age 30; Mark, age 10; Sawney, age 8; Moses, age 6; Suckey, age 4; Pegg, age 2; John, age 1; Caty, age 0; Mary, age 23; Delphi, age 8; Sally, age 2; Edward, age 4; Peggy, age 5; Isaac, age 23; Cloe, age 37; Amos, age 20; Katy, age 60; Kitty, age 21; Child, age 2; Nancy, age 9; Richmond, age 23; Phebe, age 100; Lucy, age 5; Grandison, age 4; and Jackson, age 2.

By the 1860 U.S. Census, taken on the 20th day of June, fifty-four enslaved African Americans were listed as “owned by” A. P. Calhoun.  Five years later in 1865, after A. P. Calhoun sold his Canebrake Plantation in Alabama in 1863, there are 139 enslaved African Americans at Fort Hill.  Their names along with ages or a specific trade they may have performed are recorded on the appraisal of A. P.’s estate at his death. 

They were: Sawney, age 71; Tiller, age 62; David, age 2; Matilda, age 23; Bella, age 3; Mary Jane, age 1; Jim, age 20; Pheoby, age 25; Laura, age 2; Emaline, age 3 months; Susan, age 22; Binah, age 19; Babe, age 6 months; Armstead, age 14; James, age 11; Fiddy, age 4; Thomas, age 1; Jimmy, age 23; Delphy, age 20; Janice, age 3; Harriet, age 23; Francie, age 17; Christy, age 2; Richard, age 13; Isaac, age 11; Margaret, age 21; Aaron, age 4; Edward, age 32; Fanny, age 7; Allen, age 6; William, age 4; Robert, age 2; Nancy, age 18; Jervis, age 6 months; Peter, age 22; Dick, age 18; Babe, age 6 months; Richard, age 10; Amos, age 35; Sarah Ann, age 35; Binah, age 17; Tom, age 16; Cato, age 14; Moses, age 9; Rose, 5; Izzy, age 4; Peggy, age 88; Isaac, age 33; Edward, age 16; Alick, age 12; Katy, age 64; Cloe, 58; Orr, age 33; Wash, age 39; Hammer, age 37; Daphney, age 18; Sam, age 30; Lucy, age 19; Allison, age 15; Jack, age 12; Jonas, age 29; Chapman, age 25; Harry, age 41; Delia, age 41; Harry, age 23; Margaret, age 20; Sarah Ann, age 12; Eliza Ann, age 14; Jack, age 16; Billy, age 45; Jane, age 38; Amos, age 17; Sue, age 15; Peggy, age 13; Kate, age 11; Alick, age 7; Mary, age 9; Beller, age 64; Sharper, age 33; Richmond, age 33; Caroline, age 30; Solomon, age 11; Tiller, age 8; Simon, age 6; George, age 32;  Martha, age 32; Hammer, age 16; John, age 51; Binah, age 48; Jack, age 9; Frank, age 26; Amy, age 24; David, age 9; Alick, age 7; Betty, age 6; Ben, age 26; Becky, age 22; Lizzie, age 3; Dink, age 26; Susan, age 25; Beck, age 4; Mack, age 23; Ellen, age 22; Amos, age 16; Pheobus, age 34; Kitty, age 34; Robert, age 18; William, age 11; Stephaney, age 8; Mary, age 5; Martha, age 6 months; Jasmin, age 51; Massey, age 42; Jim, age 26; Darcas, age 34; Katy, age 15; Abb, age 32; Joe, age 8; Arthur, age 3; Tom, age 32; Jane, age 28; Moses, age 12; Tom, age 4; Peter, age 50; Ephraim, age 29; Maria, age 20; Nancy, age 3; Stepny, house servant; Alick, house servant; Jane, house servant; Louisa, Billy’s wife, house servant; Ella, age 11, house servant; Louisa, Edward’s wife, house servant; Christy, cook; Isaac, gardener; Pries, coachman; Billy, miller; Nicholas, blacksmith; and Ted, carpenter.   

Lists of African-Americans at Fort Hill (Primary Documents)