Scuffalong

Clear green water, tulip poplars, sepia photographs, Japan, creeks, metaphors, etymology, hand-lettered signs, holding things in my hands, old things, pocosins, passports, the sound of Portuguese, clean lines, muted colors, pomegranates, Mountain Dew in a can, Mount Olive-brand sour pickles, Havana, country roads, country wisdom, turns of phrase, hot sunshine, Sharpies and Uniballs, gods of the crossroads and protectors of travelers, small groupings of similar things, children on their birthdays, serendipity, ancestors, lists, Polaroid pictures, pedicures, back stories, Sapelo Island, soaking tubs, a hard massage, privet blooming at roadside, sliced ruby-red tomatoes sprinkled with salt, blackberries, wild cherries and hogplums, sensitive singer/songwriters, Orion and the Evening Star, Wikipedia, maps and atlases, nostalgia, New Orleans, slow winks, slow grins, scuppernongs, drawls, the long curve of an inner thigh, the warmth held in the hollow of a neck, a warm palm in the small of my back, the taste of salt on a collarbone, learning, grace.

Feb 9
Rowan County, North Carolina, 1863. The Civil War is on, and the Rebs need money. In 1861, the Congress of the Confederate States of America had passed a statute authorizing a tax (at 50 cents per $100 valuation) to help finance the war effort. Taxable property included real estate, slaves, merchandise, stocks, securities, and money.  (Later, agricultural products and anything else they could think of.) In the 1863 assessment, for the first time, the North Carolina General Assembly required taxpayers to list their slaves by name. Assessments for only eight counties survive. Rowan is one of them.Look in the bottom left corner. J.W. McNeely identified his seven slaves for the tax assessor, who duly recorded: Lucinda, age 47, value $750. Julius, 25, $1500. Henry, 22, $1500. Archy, 14, $1200. Mary, 13, $1000. Stanhope, 11, $900. And Sandy, 12, $950. Total valuation of Lucinda, her sons, and grandchildren: $7600. Remember Alice, the 3 year-old that Sam and J.W. McNeely bought with Lucinda? She was Archy’s mother, and Mary, Stanhope and Sandy were probably her children, too. Alice herself is gone — dead or sold — as is John. Julius was born a few years after the McNeelys purchased his mother. His father is unknown, but was probably a slave on a neighboring farm. Henry, though, was John Wilson McNeely’s boy. His only child, in fact. J.W. paid taxes on him nonetheless. 

Rowan County, North Carolina, 1863. The Civil War is on, and the Rebs need money. In 1861, the Congress of the Confederate States of America had passed a statute authorizing a tax (at 50 cents per $100 valuation) to help finance the war effort. Taxable property included real estate, slaves, merchandise, stocks, securities, and money.  (Later, agricultural products and anything else they could think of.) In the 1863 assessment, for the first time, the North Carolina General Assembly required taxpayers to list their slaves by name. Assessments for only eight counties survive. Rowan is one of them.

Look in the bottom left corner. J.W. McNeely identified his seven slaves for the tax assessor, who duly recorded: Lucinda, age 47, value $750. Julius, 25, $1500. Henry, 22, $1500. Archy, 14, $1200. Mary, 13, $1000. Stanhope, 11, $900. And Sandy, 12, $950. Total valuation of Lucinda, her sons, and grandchildren: $7600. Remember Alice, the 3 year-old that Sam and J.W. McNeely bought with Lucinda? She was Archy’s mother, and Mary, Stanhope and Sandy were probably her children, too. Alice herself is gone — dead or sold — as is John. Julius was born a few years after the McNeelys purchased his mother. His father is unknown, but was probably a slave on a neighboring farm. Henry, though, was John Wilson McNeely’s boy. His only child, in fact. J.W. paid taxes on him nonetheless. 


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