Simon, 57, $200 (rheumatism). Ceasar, 54, $400 (“crip.”). Perry, 45, $300 (“bad rupt.”). Isaac, 36, $1400. Charles, 32, $1450. Nelson, 32, $1450. Edward, 32, $1450. George, 31, $1450. Ellick, 26, $1500. Henry, 17, $1500. Thom, 14, $1200. Giles, 14, $1200. Dallas, 7, $400. Alfred, 4, $300. John, 25, $1500. Juber, 24, $1500. Nancy, 36, $1000. Ritta, 32, $1100. Harried, 23, $1200. Liza, 23, $1200. Laura, 11, $650. Louisa, 8, $400. Jennie, 4, $250. Ellen, 5 mo., $100. Allice, 3 mo., $200.
As did his brother John M. McConnaughey, James C. McConnaughey was required to pay taxes on the slaves enumerated by a Confederate tax assessor canvassing Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1863. James reported owning the 25 people listed above, whose total value was just over $23,000. What were their links to one another? What were their links to John M. McConnaughey’s slaves?
Cohabitation records shed some light. In 1866, North Carolina afforded freedmen the right to legalize marriages made during slavery by appearing before county justices of the peace to register their relationships. Rowan County cohabitation registers not only record the names of the parties and the length of their marriage, but the former owners of each party. Listed below are registrants who named one of the McConnaugheys (John, James, or James’ son Joseph) as an owner:
George Hall (Dr. Joseph McConnaughey) and Mary Cowan (N.N. Nixon). 3 years.
Simon Hall (James C. McConnaughey) and Nancy McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey). 20 years.
David Litaker (Elizabeth Litaker) and Hagar McConnaughey (John M. McConnaughey). 13 years.
Abram McConnaughey (John M. McConnaughey) and Eliza Barger (John Barger). 6 years.
Charles McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey) and Lucinda Kerr (Dr. [illegible] Kerr). 15 years.
Edward McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey) and Loretta McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey). 4 years.
Nelson McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey) and Martha Graham (James C. McConnaughey). 11 years.
Isaac McCorkle (Dr. Joseph McConnaughey) and Ann Kerr (George C. Barnes). 14 years.
George Washington Miller (John M. McConnaughey) and Eliza Catherine Kerr (John M. McConnaughey). 9 years.
Hezekiah Mitchell (Lueco Mitchell) and Louisiana McConnaughey (John M. McConnaughey). 6 years.
Except Martha Graham, the seven freedmen and women who named James C. McConnaughey as their former master are readily identifiable in his 1863 tax assessment. The two who named Joseph (George Hall and Isaac McCorkle) also appear to have been listed with James’ slaves in 1863. (There was no tax listing for Joseph McConnaughey, who did not inherit slaves from his father until 1864.)
Later Rowan County marriage records also disclose family relationships among McConnaughey’s bondsmen. These documents reveal that Simon Hall (who also used the name McConnaughey) and Nancy McConnaughey’s children included the 17 year-old Henry, 14 year-old Giles, 8 year-old Louisa, and probably 4 year-old Jennie listed in 1863. Further, when Jupiter “Juber” McConnaughey married in 1870, he listed his parents as Simon Hall and Cynthia McConnaughey. The age gap between Simon and Nancy suggests that she was his second wife, and Cynthia McConnaughey may have been first.
Perry McConnaughey was named on a marriage license as the father of Thomas McConnaughey, perhaps 14 year-old Thom above. If so, where was Thomas’ mother Rockey, who was also named as the mother of Alexander “Ellick” McConnaughey on an 1883 marriage license? (Alexander gave his father as Toby McConnaughey.) Perry himself named his parents as John Henderson and Pricilla McConnaughey when he married in 1867. Alex and his first wife Judy share a household — no children — in the 1870 census of Atwell township, Rowan County.
Isaac appears twice in the 1870 census — once as Isaac McConeehugh, age 45, with wife Ann, 35, and sons Thomas, 4, and Edmon, 2, then a few households later as Isaac McCorcle, 45, with wife Ann, 42, and son Thomas, 4. (A reminder of the vagaries of the United States federal census.) Neither boy was born at the time of the 1863 tax list. Isaac and Ann married about 1852. Were there older children? Are they among those name in the tax list?
Both John M. McConnaughey and James C. McConnaughey owned slaves named Charles. The whereabouts of the Charles McConnaughey who formerly belonged to John are discussed here. The Charles in the 1863 list above would appear to be the Charles McConnaughey, 40, listed with wife Phillis and ten children in the 1870 census. Who, then, is the Charles who reported a 15-year marriage to Lucinda Kerr in 1866? Is Phillis Lucinda? If so, I have not found any other reference to her by that name, though there are plenty of references to “Phillis.”
Dallas McConnaughey named Edward and Ritta McConnaughey as his parents when he married in 1876, ten years after they registered their cohabitation. Sadly, Loretta “Ritta” may not have enjoyed freedom long. She does not appear with her husband and son in the 1870 census, when they are listed in the household of John M. McConnaughey in Mount Ulla, Rowan County.
Though Nelson and Martha McConnaughey’s cohabitation certificate seems to indicate that both were enslaved by James C. McConnaughey, evidence suggests that in fact, Martha and their children had a different owner. Neither Martha nor their oldest children David, born about 1859, and Maria, born about 1861, are listed among James’ human property. (As an aside: Abram McConnaughey presided over the marriage of Nelson and Martha’s son David McConnaughey in 1879. Was he a relative?)
Harriet McConnaughey appears in the 1870 census of Locke township, Rowan County, with R. McConnaughey, a 55 year-old male, Mary McConnaughey, 35, and Hiram McConnaughey, 4. Harriet’s age is consistent with the “Harried” listed in 1863, but the other adults do not appear on that list, and relationships among them are indeterminate.
There’s a seven year-old Alice McConnaughey listed in John M. McConnaughey’s household in the 1870 census among an assortment of his and James’ former slaves. She is listed under Eliza McConnaughey’s name, as if her daughter. (This Eliza appears, at 23, too young to be the Eliza listed above, but in 1880 is listed as 39, so….)
In summary: in 1863, James C. McConnaughey’s 25 enslaved laborers comprised at least two intact families (Simon, his wife Nancy, their children, and his son; Edward and Ritta and their son); a father and son (Perry and Thom); at least three men married to women who were enslaved elsewhere (Isaac, Charles, Nelson); two apparently unmarried women (Harriet and Eliza); three possibly unmarried men (Caesar, George and John); and three or four children whose relationship to the others cannot be determined (Alfred, Laura, Ellen and Alice.)