Hammond-Davies Slave Bible RecordsHAMMOND-DAVIES

Record Type: Bible Record ~ Slave Births, Deaths & Marriages
Surnames: Hammond, Davies
Year: 1830-1865
Location: GA, SC, MS
Contributor: Alane Roundtree


The Hammond-Davies Bible first came to my attention in November 2003 when the owner of the bible contacted me to ask if I would be willing to examine the manuscript entries to help determine who may have written the slave births, deaths and marriages recorded within its pages. In February of the following year the owner sent me photocopies of the original autograph manuscript which I transcribed into a compilation and analysis entitled, “The Hammond-Davies Bible: A Record of Slave Births, Deaths & Marriages 1830-1865.” The earliest date recorded in the bible is the marriage of “Charles and Patience in Burke about the year 1830,” and the last date recorded is the death of their nineteen year old son “Charley” [Charles] on 03 July 1865. The marriage dates of eleven enslaved couples are documented from 1830-1856. The oldest person recorded in the bible is “Dinah, mother of Peter” who died in 1856 at the “noball” [sic] age of ninety years, making her estimated birth year 1766. Locations recorded in the bible include plantations in Beech Island, South Carolina; Bolivar County, Mississippi; and Burke County, Georgia.

It was my conclusion after studying the handwriting and manuscript entries that the bible was in the possession of members of both the Davies and Hammond families; namely Thomas Jones Davies (1830-1902) and Marcus Claudius Marcellus Hammond (1814-1876). Both men owned or had ties to plantations in Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi during their lifetimes. There is strong evidence to suggest that some of the individuals recorded in the bible may have been enslaved by Thomas Jones Davies’ father, Thomas W. Davies, who was enumerated as the owner of 79 slaves in the 1830 Census for Waynesboro, Burke County, GA. T. J. Davies and M.C.M. Hammond were business partners and brothers-in-law. Hammond married Davies’ sister Harriet Pamela Davies of Augusta, Georgia in 1842. The two men jointly purchased plantation property in Bolivar County, Mississippi in1856. In 1863, advancing Union troops through that state necessitated their evacuation to South Carolina. During the Civil War Davies owned the Palmetto Firebrick Works near Bath in Edgefield County, South Carolina where enslaved laborers supplied bricks and pottery vessels for Confederate munitions plants and hospitals. After the war Davies “grew rich” from kaolin mining which produced the prized white clay which was used by African Ancestored potters in the area to create face jugs. M.C.M. Hammond was a West Point graduate, soldier, and planter who served one term in the South Carolina legislature. He was also the younger brother of South Carolina governor and United States Senator James Henry Hammond who espoused, “The African must be a slave, or there is an end to all things and soon.” Positive identification of the owner of “Malvern” Plantation in Beech Island, South Carolina would seem to hold the key to determining who wrote the majority of the bible entries.

The Hammond-Davies bible provides an invaluable source of genealogical information regarding the enslaved men, women and children whose births, deaths and marriages were recorded within its pages. It is my great hope that sharing this information online will provide someone with the means to bridge the present to the past and reclaim a piece of their lost heritage.

I would like to acknowledge the previous owner of the bible who recognized its immense genealogical and historical value to the African American community and was willing to freely share that information with me, as well as various South Carolina institutions, historical societies and genealogical organizations. If not for his rescue of the manuscript it may have been lost forever. The Hammond-Davies bible was sold at auction by Swann Galleries in New York City on Feb. 25, 2010.

Alane Roundtree has been extensively researching the family histories and genealogies of the Silver Bluff Slave Community of South Carolina and their descendants since 1998. Her research encompasses the lives of the men, women and children who were enslaved at the Silver Bluff, Cathwood, Cowden and Redcliffe Plantations of James Henry Hammond in Barnwell and Edgefield Counties, South Carolina. You may contact her at alaneroundtree@gmail.com.

[Reference source: Archived – afriendoffriends.com]