In 1850, Antrim-born John McKeegan (1802-1881) was living in Charleston with his wife Ann who was also born in Ireland. He enslaved ten human beings in the same year, ranging in age from 100 years to 8 years of age. McKeegan was a blacksmith with Real Estate valued at $20,000.
It was possible to glean the following information about John McKeegan's purchase and sale of human beings from Births, Marriages and Deaths, South Carolina, Charleston District, Bill of Sale of Negro slaves 1774-1872
18 Jun. 1824 purchased a boy named Toby from William H Wilson
17 Apr. 1825 purchased a boy named HardTimes from Edward W North
14 Dec. 1825 purchased Ebber, a 'negro boy said to be a Blacksmith' from Thomas R Smilie
26 Jan. 1826 purchased Phillis from Edward Blake Linning
10 Apr. 1829 purchased Nancy and her two daughters Susan & Phillis from Margaret Gidiere
17 Mar. 1830 John McKeegan sold a boy, Bob to Neil McKegan
17 Mar. 1835 purchased David 'a negro boy about 16 years of age' from Catherine Barinem(?)
8 Mar. 1836 Nicey & her daughter Susan
13 Feb. 1837 purchased Nero from A C D Bryan
19 Feb. 1839 purchased Cato a 'negro boy warranted to be sound' from J Ripley S Hammett
9 Dec. 1839 purchased Andrew age 19 from Phillip J McFreeney (?)
5 Aug 1839 purchased a boy named Henry from Frederick Wittpen
21 Aug. 1840 McKeegan sold a 'negro boy' Henry to J H Otis & A Rolain
8 Oct. 1846 McKeegan sold a woman named Nancy, and her children Phillis & Isaac to Vincent Nayele.
20 Jan. 1853 purchased Dandy, a boy, from Robert D Parker
4 Sept. 1854 purchased Phoebe and her daughter Rose from John Smith, Jnr.
In 1860, he enslaved nine people, ranging in age from 32 years to a toddler aged one. His Real Estate was valued at $30,000 and his Personal Estate at $23,000. He was a member of the Hibernian Society in Charleston. In 1845, he sponsored one of the people he enslaved, Peter age 20, to become a Roman Catholic.
In 1881 in his will, McKeegan left a fund of $50,000 to commence the rebuilding of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Charleston. He also left his house to a formerly enslaved person, Robert Morrison.
There are a number of Robert Morrisons living in Charleston in 1880 with a racial designation of Black or Mulatto. However, there is only one who is a Blacksmith. Robert Morrison, born 1818 with his wife, Louisa Morrison, and daughters Jane & Martha Morrison, assumed daughter Mary Keith and her husband Tony Keith. They were living on South Street in the household of Dolly Johnson, born 1810. I have been unable to verify that he is the man who inherited the house at this time.
Sources (all accessed 4 Feb.2022)
1840 US Federal Census (9 enslaved people)
1850 US Federal Census
1850 Slave Schedule
1860 US Federal Census
1860 Slave Schedule
1880 US Federal Census
Death Certificate 1881
Robert Morrison 1880 US Federal Census www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6S9-MYR
Mitchell, Arthur, South Carolina Irish (The History Press, Charleston, 2011), p. 71.
Krebsbach, Suzanne, 'Black Catholics in antebellum Charleston', The South Carolina Historical Magazine (Apr. 2007, 108:2), p. 156.
With special thanks to Greg Koos, author of Freedom, Land & Community, A History of McLean County, Illinois 1730-1900 (due to be published in 2022) for research assistance.
(Robert) Michael Gaffney was born about 1775 in Granard, Co. Longford. About 1804 he established a tavern and lodging house at the crossroads of a road from North Carolina to Charleston and another from Charlotte to Georgia. This became known as Gaffney's Crossroads. From these humble beginnings, Gaffney (City) became the county seat of Cherokee County when it was formed in 1897. Cherokee County was formed from parts of York, Union and Spartanburg Counties.
In 1850, the U.S. Federal Census recorded M Gaffny, living in the household of his son, H G Gafney (Henry Green Gafney). The 1850 Slave Schedule recorded Michael Gaffney as the owner of 32 enslaved people, ranging in age from 60 to a newborn baby.
A marker at his graveside records him as a man who had 'a life of many trials, considerable worldly success and long continuous struggles with the sins and evils of the world.'
It has not been possible to access a copy of Gaffney's journal at this time, The Journal and Genealogy of Michael Gaffney: From Ireland to the Backwoods of South Carolina : the Travels, Adventures, Trials, Quaint Observations and Economic Conquests of the "Father of Gaffney" from 1797 to 1845 published by Scotia-Hibernia Press, 2004.
Sources (all accessed 3 Jan. 2022)
1850 US Federal Census (www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8Q2-PLM).
1850 Slave Schedule (www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:HRWZ-2VT2).
Mitchell, Arthur, South Carolina Irish (Charleston, South Carolina 2011), pp 60-1.
This is a Census substitute for the families enslaved by William McKenna who died in 1859. The map is 'live' if you click on a pin you will find further information about the families. If you are related to any of the families and would like to add additional information to the map, please contact me on Twitter twitter.com/saytheirnamesIr Your contribution will be acknowledged unless you wish to remain anonymous.
Source: Auction Catalogue 1861, Lancaster County. Diocesan records and Episcopal Papers (1816-1993), Catholic Diocese of Charleston Archives, (U.S.A.).
Heisser, David, ‘Bishop Lynch’s people: slaveholding by a South Carolina prelate’ in The South Carolina Historical Magazine, 102:3 (July 2001), pp 238-62.
William McKenna, part 2, Mandee Jones b.1835
Martine Brennan (Curator)
Enslavement to citizenship: African Americans in Irish Slaveholder records by Martine Brennan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.