Who was Enslaved at Highland?

This page is currently under development. Please check back periodically for additional information about the enslaved community at Highland.
Enslaved men, women and children were held in bondage on this property starting in 1793 with Monroe’s purchase of Highland, through 1828 when Highland was sold to the Bank of the United States, and slavery continued at Highland under different owners until emancipation in 1865.

Personal details about individuals held in slavery are precious. All historical records are incomplete, and this is even more true for those records documenting generations of people who were held in slavery. The glimpses we glean from letters, legal and financial documents, newspaper advertisements, and record books provide a stark vision of a world in which individuals were bought and sold in legal transactions to accommodate labor needs and debts. In these glimpses we also see—and we know deeply—that there are heartbreaking stories of spouses, and parents and children suffering separation from one another, or living under the constant threat of separation. The historical records shared below create the framework of sparse biographies of individuals held in slavery at Highland. You are invited to explore this collection and follow as we compile, organize, and add other entries.

It is difficult to choose language to describe enslavement. In the work on this page, we avoid referring to an individual as a slave, following the preference not to define a person by this legal status, preferring enslaved mother, son, or blacksmith, for example. The legally enforced status of slavery controlled so much of a person’s life, and we seek to recognize the humanity of each individual within that system. We use the terms bought, sold, and owned, employing them with the acknowledgment that even though these are everyday words, they are jarring when applied to humans as property. We should pause and reflect on all that is contained in these concepts.

Do you have information to add or share? Please contact us at info@highland.org.

The individuals listed below were enslaved at Highland and are known through their presence in historic documents. Click “Show more” to examine primary sources that provide details of family relationships, work roles, and dates living in Albemarle County.

Charles

Born: before 1796
Died: after 1828
Family relationship: Son of Dick and Hannah; brother to Dick, Wilson, Spotswood, Jesse, Nelson, a sister (name unknown) and two younger brothers (names unknown)
Role: unknown

Charles was born enslaved to the estate of Charlottesville resident Peter Marks, who purchased property from James Monroe in 1790 and mortgaged 33 enslaved people as part of the agreement. Marks died in 1795 before paying his debt to Monroe. Charles was then purchased by James Monroe’s uncle, Judge Joseph Jones, while Monroe was abroad serving as Minister to France. He was sold locally in Virginia between late 1827 and early 1828. This local sale meant that Charles was not part of the group sale from Highland to the Florida territory in 1828.

More about the transaction between Marks and Monroe: http://www.histarch.illinois.edu/highland/ashlawn3.html

 

Daniel

Born: unknown
Died: unknown
Family relationship: unknown
Role: unknown

Daniel was physically assaulted while rented out by Monroe to Albemarle County planters Joseph Brand and Thomas Jefferson Jr. (nephew of Thomas Jefferson through his brother Randolph Jefferson), causing James Monroe to sue for property damage.

 

Dudley

Born: before 1809
Died: after 1844
Family relationship: husband of Eve; father of William, Hannah, Patsy, Jane, Ellen and Richard
Role: unknown

Dudley was enslaved to the estate of Monroe’s uncle, Judge Joseph Jones in Loudoun County, Virginia until 1809 when he was transferred to James Monroe. He was sold with his wife Eve and their two children in 1828 from Highland to Joseph White, owner of Casa Bianca plantation in Monticello, Florida. Dudley and Eve appear to have had four more children in Florida. Dudley was enslaved for at least sixteen years at Casa Bianca (1828-1844), but does not appear on any subsequent inventories after the year 1844.

More about Dudley: https://taketheminfamilies.com/stories-2/#Dudley

 

Eve

Born: about 1800
Died:  after 1870
Family relationship: Wife of Dudley; mother of William, Hannah, Patsy, Jane, Ellen and Richard
Role: unknown

Eve was sold with her husband Dudley and two children in 1828 from Highland to Joseph White, owner of Casa Bianca  plantation in Monticello, Florida. Eve and Dudley appear to have had four more children at Casa Bianca plantation. After emancipation, Eve was listed as living with her youngest son Richard in Jefferson County, Florida in the 1870 census, both listed under the last name “McGuire.”

More about Eve: https://taketheminfamilies.com/stories-2/#Dudley

 

George

Born: about 1796
Died: unknown
Family relationship: Husband of Phebe
Role: laborer

George and his wife Phebe ran away from Highland the night of Monday July 3, 1826. It is likely that George or Phebe had previously spent some time at Monroe’s Oak Hill property in Loudoun County, Virginia since the ad presumes “they are supposed to be making for the county of Loudon [sic].” The couple’s fate is unknown.

It is not thought that this George helped construct the surviving guest house at Highland. This 1826 runaway advertisement is the first documentation of his presence, which means he could have been purchased after the completion of the guest house in 1818. The George who most likely helped build the guest house is George Williams, who is mentioned in letters within four years of the construction of the guest house.

 

George Williams

Born: about 1786
Died: after 1836
Family relationship: Husband of Ann Williams; father of two children (names unknown)
Role: “plantation hand,” assisted with carpentry

It is likely George Williams helped construct the surviving guest house at Highland, alongside enslaved carpenter Peter Malorry. While Monroe owned more than one George, George Williams is the only documented George of an appropriate age to build the guest house in 1818. He is also the only George documented within four years of its construction. It’s apparent from inventories and correspondence that George Williams was primarily at Oak Hill in Loudoun County, Virginia, but was temporarily moved to Highland during late summer 1818 for the purpose of building new structures for Monroe.

 

Hannah

Born: unknown
Died: after 1803
Family relationship: Wife of Dick; mother to Dick, Wilson, Jesse, Spotswood, Charles, a daughter (name unknown), three younger sons (names unknown, although “Nelson” is later listed as being a brother to Jesse and Charles in an 1825 deed)
Role: Cook

Hannah was enslaved as part of the estate of Charlottesville resident Peter Marks, who purchased property from James Monroe in 1790 and mortgaged 33 individuals as part of the agreement. Marks died in 1795 before paying his debt to Monroe. Hannah and some of her children were then purchased for James Monroe by his uncle, Judge Joseph Jones, while Monroe was abroad serving as Minister to France. Jones had attempted to purchase Hannah’s whole family, but her husband Dick had an arrangement to work out his freedom with another buyer; her sons Dick and Wilson were also purchased by others ahead of Jones.

More about the transaction between Marks and Monroe: http://www.histarch.illinois.edu/highland/ashlawn3.html

 

Nancy Green

Born: about 1761
Died: after 1836
Family relationship: Wife of Solomon Green
Role: unknown

Nancy Green and her husband Solomon were held in bondage by James Monroe – and after Monroe’s death in 1831, by his heirs – for over 40 years. It is not known when Monroe purchased Nancy or her husband Solomon, but they are mentioned as already being enslaved at Highland prior to 1796. It is assumed Nancy and Solomon are among the individuals Monroe spoke of when he wrote after the sale of Highland that he planned “the removal of some old servants, too old to be sold, to this place [Oak Hill] to be taken care of by us.” (James Monroe to Thos. Swann, 19 May 1828). Nancy’s and Solomon’s names are listed together on an 1836 inventory at Oak Hill (property Monroe owned in Loudoun County, Virginia) after Monroe’s death.

 

Peter

Born: unknown
Died: after 1796
Family relationship: unknown
Role: Gardener

Peter is one of the earliest documented individuals held in bondage by the Monroes. Peter first appears in documents during the Monroes’ early marriage in Fredericksburg, Virginia, a few years before they established residency in Albemarle County in 1789. Peter traveled independently and is referenced at Monroe’s Charlottesville property that would later become the University of Virginia, as well as at Highland.

Peter is often paired in letters with an enslaved woman referred to as “Tenah” and “Thena.” This woman is Thenia Hemings, whom Monroe purchased with her five daughters from Thomas Jefferson in 1794. Annette Gordon-Reed suggests in The Hemingses of Monticello that Thenia may have been sold to Monroe to unite her with the father of her children. When writing letters, Monroe habitually referred to individuals in pairs or groups according to their enslaved roles, which did not always indicate family relationships. Peter is also referred to as “old Peter” in a March 26, 1795 letter (below) when Thenia (1767-1796) would have been 28. It is possible Peter was the father of Thenia’s children as she does bear another child in 1795 after her purchase, but other than the pairing of their names in Monroe’s letters, they are not described as spouses.

 

Peter Malorry

Born: about 1764
Died: after 1836
Family relationship: Husband of Charity
Role: Carpenter

Peter Malorry was enslaved to the estate of Judge Francis Taliaferro Brooke when James Monroe purchased him in the fall of 1817. Documentary evidence shows that Peter Malorry built the standing guest house at Highland with another enslaved man named George. It’s apparent from inventories and correspondence that Peter Malorry was primarily at Oak Hill in Loudoun County, Virginia, but was temporarily moved to Highland during late summer 1818 for the purpose of building new structures for Monroe.

 

Phebe

Born: about 1798
Died: unknown
Family relationship: wife of George
Role: unknown

Phebe and her husband George ran away from Highland the night of Monday July 3, 1826. It is likely that Phebe or George had previously spent some time at Monroe’s Oak Hill property in Loudoun County, Virginia since the ad presumes “they are supposed to be making for the county of Loudon [sic].” The couple’s fate is unknown.

 

Roger

Born: unknown
Died: unknown
Family relationship: Husband of unknown enslaved woman sold South at Carter Braxton’s estate sale on January 30, 1810
Role: Manservant

Roger was enslaved to the estate of Carter Braxton when James Monroe purchased him January 30, 1810. Monroe wrote that he’d purchased Roger “for my own accommodation,” so Roger was likely an enslaved manservant (James Monroe to Fulwar Skipwith, 9 October 1810). Roger’s wife had been “sold to some one to the South at the same time” at the sale Monroe attended, and Roger had communicated to Monroe that he was “desirous of going that way in hope they might finally meet again” (James Monroe to Fulwar Skipwith, 9 October 1810). It is unknown if Roger was able to find his wife after being sold by Monroe to Fulwar Skipwith in New Orleans.

 

Solomon Green

Born: about 1771
Died: after 1836
Family relationship: Husband of Nancy Green
Role: Laborer

Solomon Green and his wife Nancy were held in bondage by James Monroe – and after Monroe’s death in 1831, by his heirs – for over 40 years. It is not known when Monroe purchased Solomon or his wife Nancy, but they are mentioned as already being enslaved at Highland prior to 1796. It is assumed Solomon and Nancy are among whom Monroe spoke of when he wrote after the sale of Highland that he planned “the removal of some old servants, too old to be sold, to this place [Oak Hill] to be taken care of by us.” (James Monroe to Thos. Swann, 19 May 1828)  Solomon and Nancy’s names are listed together on an 1836 inventory at Oak Hill (property Monroe owned in Loudoun County, Virginia) after Monroe’s death.