Samuel Irwin was reputedly born in Antrim, Ireland about 1780 and died in Abbeville, South Carolina about 1859. In 1850 he was living in Saluda Regiment, Abbeville with his wife Elizabeth, his granddaughter Ellen F Spellors and his sister Isabella Cowan.
His Will dated Sept. 1852 acknowledged only two children, Jane Irwin Purdy and James Irwin. Samuel Irwin also made provision for his wife Elizabeth, grandaughters Ellen/Eleanor Spellors, Elizabeth A, Margaret A and Sarah G Purdy, grandsons Samuel and Robert Irvin, James H Purdy, Samuel A Purdy, William A Purdy and Samuel's sister Isabella Cowan.
As he directed what was to become of the people he enslaved, Samuel Irwin named the following family groups:
Kiza & her children Tilda & Mary Elizabeth
Little Bet & her children , Charlotte, Emma, Laura, Jane, Anna, Henry, Margaret
Polly & her daughters Allsy, Louisa, Froney also known as Dos, & her son Israel
He also named Newman, his 'manservant'.
In spite of acknowledging the enslaved childrens' mothers, Samuel Irwin intended each enslaved child to be given to each of his grandchildren upon their coming of age. In this way, he compounded further the break up of the families he enslaved.
In the 1870 Census for Abbeville County, there are 14 Black Americans with the surname Irwin or variants. Although we cannot know what names the families chose after Emancipation it is interesting to note that there are two Betties enumerated, one of whom was born about 1838.
1830 US Federal Census
1840 US Federal Census
1850 US Federal Census
1850 Slave Schedule
Bettie Irving b.1838 in the 1870 US Federal Census
South Carolina, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1670-1980, ancestry.com (accessed 14 Feb. 2023)
South Carolina Naturalizations 1783-1850, compiled by Brent H Holcomb, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., Baltimore Maryland 1985
Abbeville Banner 24 Nov. 1859
Alexander Austin was born in Co. Antrim, Ireland about 1793. His wife was Isabella Coleman, born 1819, also of Co. Antrim. In 1850, Alexander and Isabella were recorded as living in Abbeville, South Carolina with their daughters Lethe A (11), Susan (9), Sarah (3), Martha A (2) and sons John (7) and Robert (5). Austin was enumerated as a farmer with Real Estate to the value of $1500.
In the same year, Austin enslaved seven people, a woman aged 70, a man aged 60, a woman aged 55, another woman aged 18 and three boys aged 15, 14 and 10. Neighbouring slaveholders were James Johnson, Noah Reeves, William P Martin, William Long, Frances Johnson, Daniel Gent, George Mattison and John Smith.
By 1860, Alexander and Isabella had three more sons McJohnson (8), Samuel (6) and Franklin (4). In 1860 Alexander Austin's Real Estate was valued at $3500 and his Personal Estate as $7765. William Faut, Overseer, was also resident in his household. Faut had a Personal Estate of $400.
The people enslaved by Austin in 1860 were four women aged 95, 65, 22 and 18, two young men aged 20 and 18, a boy aged 2 and a baby girl of 6 months.
Alexander Austin died in Abbeville in May 1864 preceded by his son Robert who died in Feb. of the same year whilst serving in the 6th South Carolina Cavalry. Isabella died in 1878 and they are buried at Friendship Presbyterian Church, Laurens County, South Carolina.
J H Austin, the executor of Alexander Austin's will was living in Donalds Township, Abbeville in 1870.
It has not been possible to locate a will or probate documents for Alexander Austin as yet or any other document that names the people enslaved by him.
1850 US Federal Census www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8Q8-C42
1850 Slave Schedule www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:HRW4-VP6Z
1860 US Federal Census www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZTW-49H
1860 Slave Schedule www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:WKTD-9WW2
Memorial 1864 www.findagrave.com/memorial/9399182/alexander-austin
1870 US Federal Census www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8T9-LDJ
Abbeville Press 8 Jun. 1866.
William Hill was born in 1805 in Co. Antrim to a Presbyterian family who supported the United Irishmen. He arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1822. By 1824 he had established himself as a storekeeper. He married Anna Hamilton Donald, the daughter of Major John Donald of Donaldsville. They went on to have six sons and four daughters. He served in the Seminole War in Florida in Captain Thomas Parker's company.
By 1850 he is recorded as a farmer with Real Estate to the value of $2,500 residing in Saluda, Abbeville County. At this time he owned four enslaved people: two women aged 35 and 21, and two boys aged 15 and 12. He is not the only William Hill residing in Abbeville County in 1850 but he is the only one recorded as Irish-born at that time.
In 1852, he was elected to the local court as Court Ordinary. He served in this role until 1868, at which time his position was retitled as Judge of Probate. Throughout his life Hill maintained correspondence with his brother David Hill and three letters can be found in the Irish Emigration Database which refer to his slaveholding activities. The Irish Emigration Database was established in 1988 and contains items from 1700-1950, Three-quarters of the collection are from the period 1820-1920 with a concentration of material from the Province of Ulster.
In a letter dated 24 Jan 1855, to his brother David, William Hill acknowledges ownership of seven human beings, 'three young Negro fellows' unnamed and 'two Negro women' one of whom is only sixteen years of age but already the mother of two children, also unnamed. It is important to note that this young girl was only thirteen years of age when she had her first child.
William Hill goes on to boast that his 'Negro property' is worth $6,000. It is clear from the letter that Hill understands that his brother David considers slavery to be morally wrong but he deflects criticism by reconstituting it as a difference of opinion, a defence in common use by slaveholders of the time. He continues by questioning the belief that slavery and Christianity are inconsistent and does not appreciate the attempts of David McAurtry to make him reconsider his position as a slaveholder.
In 1860, William Hill is recorded as Court Ordinary (Judge) of Abbeville County with Real Estate valued at $8,000 and Personal Estate of $12,000. Personal Estate includes the market value of the human beings he enslaved. The 1860 Slave Schedule records his ownership of 14 enslaved people, the oldest a 62 year old woman and the youngest a newborn baby boy.
William Hill's letter dated 2 Sept. 1865, bemoans his loss of wealth ($30,000) following Emancipation, which includes the loss of all but three of the people he enslaved.
In spite of his career as a slaveholder, William Hill was lauded as a person of 'character and integrity' at the time of his death in 1886.
I have been unable to find documents which name the people enslaved by William Hill to date and would welcome any information about them.
Letters from William Hill, Abbeville, South Carolina to his brother, David Hill, Co. Antrim, Ireland, Irish Emigration Database (www.dippam.ac.uk/ied) (accessed 14Jan. 2021).
1850 U.S. Federal Census
1850 Slave Schedule
1860 U.S. Federal Census
1860 Slave Schedule
(familysearch.org) (accessed 12 Jan 2021).
Abbeville Messenger 19 Jan. 1886
Mitchell, Arthur, South Carolina Irish, Charleston (2011), p. 64.
Patrick Calhoun, born in Donegal, Ireland in 1727, died in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1796. Patrick Calhoun and his wife Martha Caldwell were the parents of politician John Caldwell Calhoun 1782-1850, Catherine Calhoun Waddel, William, James and Patrick Calhoun.
Enslaved people named in the Estate Inventory of Patrick Calhoun on 25 Jan. 1797:
Men & boys
Women & girls
Sources: South Carolina Wills and Probate Records 1670-1980 (ancestry.com) (accessed 17 Nov. 2020).
Camden Weekly Journal, 27 Mar. 1855.
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.