I would be remiss to not mention the slaves that the Ferneyhoughs would have had during the 18th and 19th centuries. This isn’t to say that slaves were not present at Sligo prior to the Ferneyhoughs it’s just that the majority of our research has focused on the family who owned and operated Sligo for the longest period of time.
In 1783 we know of Edmund Hollinger, the son of Barbara Hollinger a free woman, who is indentured to John Ferneyhough Sr. for training in coach making. I realize he is not a slave but I wanted to mention him all the same. By 1788 Edmund has turned 21. By 1806 it is verified under oath that Edmund is a free man and has appropriately served his apprenticeship.
In 1799 we know that there is one runaway slave named Daniel. I plan to write what we know about his story in a separate blog post.
In the early 1800s we have the names of Cornelius, Anderson, and Sally (listed as mulatto).
In 1823 to 1824 the names of the slaves along with most of their ages are as follows: Mary (25); Joice (18); Betty (9); William (7); James (4); Aaron (2); Reuben.
In 1833 the names of the slaves along with their ages (and in two instances their trade) are as follows: James (blacksmith) (45); Sally (cook) (35); Mary (16); Join (10); Juddy (12); Jim (7); Scipio (3); Bell (4); William (1).
I am trying desperately to not confuse you by throwing out so many different dates but I also want to be sure that my information is corroborated by actual documentation. So, from the 1829 plat we know that there were at least four buildings on the property: The dwelling, a kitchen, a carriage shop, and a smith shop. With that being said, we know that by 1860 Sligo is 44 acres (according to John Ferneyhough Jr.s’ will). None of the plats mention slave quarters despite the fact that we know there are slaves.
In the 1860 United States Census Slave Schedule in Spotsylvania County we know that John Ferneyhough Jr. owned 16 slaves ranging in age from 1 year old to 35. I do not know how any of these 16 slaves relate to the aforementioned slaves listed by name because no names are given, just their ages and sex.
We also know the names of slaves thanks to varying documents such as John Ferneyhough Jr.’s will (1860) which leaves “one negro man named George,” a “negro boy named ‘Ned’,” and a “negro woman Corinna” to a daughter-in-law. Also, in the 1937 Works Progress Administration (WPA) of Virginia Historical Inventory we learn of an old slave referred to as “Uncle Isaac” who attempted to save some of the Ferneyhough’s belongings from the Union soldiers. The WPA also states that the Union soldiers burned “all but one of the out-buildings” and threw many of the Ferneyhough’s belongings in the well.
After the Civil War I cannot say what happened to the slaves or where they went. However, on one of my many walks along the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail in downtown Fredericksburg I happened to stop and read an informational sign about the slaves of Fredericksburg during the Battle of Fredericksburg. It states that “many slaves saw opportunity in the resulting chaos (of the arrival of the Union army across the river at Falmouth)…(and) thousands of…African-Americans left their homes, seeking their own freedom through the Union lines.”
If anyone has more information to share about the slaves at Sligo I would love to hear from you. Especially any descendants or further information of their stories since so little is known.