This is a project to review the deed books of Randolph County, North Carolina to find references to slavery. Until the end of the Civil War in 1865, enslaved people were bought, sold, given, and otherwised conveyed as personal property. The handwritten deed books of the time provide evidence of this fact. All deeds shown here come from the Randolph County Register of Deeds in Asheboro.
This project was made by Wil Mahan of Randolph County. It was inspired by, but separate from and not affiliated with, similar efforts in outher counties by the People Not Property slave deed project of UNCG University Libraries, North Carolina Division of Archives and Records, and North Carolina Registers of Deeds, among others. See the Acknowledgements below for some of the people who have supported and encouraged the project in Randolph County.
"Slave deeds" are property deeds - bills of sale, deeds of trust, divisions of property - registered with county courts and registers of deeds that contain information about enslaved individuals. Sometimes these individuals are listed only by number, but more often they are listed by name and age, providing invaluable historical information for historians and genealogists.
In celebration of Juneteenth in 2023, the NAACP of Asheboro/Randolph County created a banner listing the names of all individuals discovered in these slave deeds. This temporary memorial is currently displayed in front of the Historic Courthouse in Asheboro.
See the list of 614 slave deeds. They were found interspersed among the thousands of handwritten pages of land and property transfer deeds in Randolph County from 1779 to 1865.
Many deeds record the sale of more than one enslaved person. We have compiled a list of all persons mentioned.
Not all sales of enslaved persons were recorded in deeds. Therefore this work necessarily gives an incomplete glimpse of the true extent and impact of slavery in Randolph County.
Five of the deeds that mention slavery appear to be associated with emancipation of enslaved persons: b12p196 b12p225 b13p183 b16p208 b18p190. Three of these specifically mention the Society of Friends (Quakers).
Randolph County was created from Guilford County in 1779. Slavery existed in the United States from its beginning until the Civil War of 1861-1865 led to abolition.
In 1860 enslaved people made up about 10% of the population of Randolph County. Although this is believed to be lower than in surrounding counties, likely due to the influence of Quakers, slavery was integral to Randolph County's economy until emancipation.
Here you can also view the Randolph County Slave Census for 1850, 1860 (Western divison), and 1860 (Eastern division). Unfortunately, the names of the enslaved persons are not listed, only slave owner names, and the age, sex, and "color" of the enslaved persons.
This project was inspired by the above-mentioned People Not Property - Slave Deeds of North Carolina and those who contributed to it.
Thanks also for the encouragement and support of the Randolph County/Asheboro NAACP and its President, Clyde Foust; Chuck Egerton; Ty Brueilly; and Jane Braswell.
This website and collection of deeds was created by Wil Mahan of Randolph County. Email with any comments or questions.