Re: "Very Small Percentage" Owned Slaves
Some of the points you mention are reflected in the experiences of a plantation owner named James Wiley Belvin, who in 1831 inherited 32 slaves as his share of his father's estate. Belvin moved to Georgia and these slaves were named in a security deed in order to mortgage a plantation of 1,100 acres valued at $10,000. Belvin was successful, and by 1856 he owned 3,480 acres of land and 76 slaves, the latter figure being a natural increase since he reportedly did not buy or sell slaves. Among the slaves were Tom, who served as overseer for many years; Dinah, who became a maid servant for two of Belvin's daughters who entered Wesleyan Female College at Macon in 1862; and Sam, an orphaned slave raised with Belvin's son, James Peter Coladen Belvin. The latter two went to war together, Sam remaining in the rear to look after horses and supplies, while James P. C. Belvin served as Assistant Adjutant General in the Quartermaster Department (Company K) of the 11th Georgia. The two came home at the end of the war. But the sole owner of these slaves was James Wiley Belvin, who was too old (born circa 1809) to have been an active participant in the war. At war's end, he gave his son 607 acres to start his own plantation, and as of 1869, James Peter Coladen Belvin owned 1,825 acres of land, with 13 families of his former slaves working on his plantation. Out of 115 slaves living on the senior Belvin's plantation before the war ended, 80 of them chose to stay on the plantations of both father and son after the war. Many of these former slaves elected to keep the Belvin surname when given their freedom, as indicated on the 1870 census, including Sam Belvin. This information was given to me by a descendant of James Wiley Belvin.