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Census of Contraband Camp, Tybee and Cockspur Islands, GA, 1862, Slaveholders Listed

Tybee Island Frank Leslie

“Tybee Island, Savannah River, Ga.- Views of the lighthouse and barracks” — Frank Leslie, 1896

Tybee Island

Taking Hilton Head for the base of operations, the army and navy are conjointly making a series of strategic moves which must, sooner or later, bring South Carolina and Georgia to their fealty. So soon as the foothold here was made secure Tybee Island was seized and held, and now other operations are in progress for a flank advance upon Savannah.

Charleston, too, is receiving a share of attention. Within three days a force has been landed at Otter Island, and a battery there, commanding the entrance to the Ashepoo River, one of the inland routes between these cities, which the rebels themselves erected and deserted, is now under our control.                                                                                                                                                             —     New York Times, December 20, 1861

Contraband Camp, Tybee and Cockspur Islands, GA

Following the capture of Port Royal by Union Naval forces in November of 1861, the United States Navy maintained a strong presence on the Sea Islands in South Carolina and Georgia. Escaping enslaved people began seeking asylum from naval vessels that were conducting reconnaissance along the coastal islands in March and April of 1862. Not having quarters for those who flocked to the boats, the US Navy established contraband camps at Otter Island, South Carolina and at the Naval post for Tybee and Cockspur Islands in Georgia2.

In an earlier post, we published a list of contrabands at the Otter Island, South Carolina contraband camp. The five lists below record the names, former slaveholders and former residences of those settled at the contraband camp at the Naval post for Tybee and Cockspur Islands, Georgia.

The lists below are searchable. You may also choose how many table rows to display per page. These lists were transcribed by Alana Thevenet.

Report of Six Negroes Arrived & Employed at the Post at Tybee Island, GA Com’d by Brig. Gen. Gillmore, March 1st 18623

(Please note that the list below refers to “Wilmington, S.C.” Wilmington is actually in North Carolina.) 

NamesAgeHeight: Ft.In.DegreeOccupationOwners NamesOwners ResidenceOwners CharacterArrived at this postEmployed at this post asRemarks
Brutus Bullos376' 1/12"2dLaborerMrs. BarltonWilmington, S.C.Disloyal to the UnionDec 16, 1861Laborer & BoatmanEmployed as Deck hand on Schr John [illegible] Feb 16 1862
Newberry235' 10"2ddo.do.do.do.do.do.
Billy Jenks195'5"2ddo.do.do.do.do.do.
Commodore Perry285'6"2ddo.do.do.do.do.do.
Bob Roberts205'8"3ddo.do.do.do.do.Officer Servant
John Patrick255'5"2ddo.Ephraim BennetBraddocks Point Hilton Head, S.C.do.Jan 27 '62Laborer & BoatmanReturned to Braddocks Point being here a few days only

Inventory of 13 Contraband Negroes at the Post Tybee Island, GA, March 15, 18625

 

(Please note that the list below refers to “Wilmington, S.C.” Wilmington is actually in North Carolina.) 

NamesAgeHeightDegreeOccupationMasters NamesMasters ResidenceMasters CharacterArrived at this postEmployed at this post asRemarks
Joseph Brown alias Newberry 23235'10"2dLaborerMrs. BarltonWilmington, S.C.DisloyalDec 16th 1861Laborer & Oarsman
Billy Jenks195'5"2d " " " " " "
Commodore Perry285'6"2d " " " " " "
Bob Roberts205'8"3d " " " " "Officers Servant
Samuel Mackey305'10"CarpenterMiss MackeySavannah "March 2d 1862Boatman
Morris Pinckney235'5-1/2"LaborerMrs. PinckneyCharleston " " "
Tom Webb285'11" "Geo WebbSavannahIn Rebel Army " "
Wally Scott205'6" "[Illegible] DessoneyGrainsville " " "
Daniel Polite265'8" "Mrs. J. SkulkBluftonDisloyal " "
Cesar Graham425'8" "Dr. J. Kirk "In Rebel Army " "
Ishmeal Hines225'7"WaiterElliot GarretSavannah " "Officers Servant
Ned Polite455'5" "J.G. Wattsdo.DisloyalMarch 1861Officers Servant
Anthony Bailey225'5" "Wm FripSt Helena IsdIn Rebel Army " 10/62 "
Benj Peterson325'9" "Jas HamiltonBlufftonDisloyalWith 7th Comm Vol "
Esau Fawkes255'4" "Jas HunterSavannah "Dec 27/61 "
Josiah Simmons145'0" "Jas R. LawtonHilton Head "Dec 20/61 "
Thos Frazer145'0" " " " "Mar 13/62 "
Jerry Abersham165'8" "Sarah Th[illegible]Savannah "Dec 22/61 "

Inventory of Eighteen Contraband Negroes at the Post, Tybee Island GA, March 31, 18626

(Please note that the list below refers to “Wilmington, S.C.” Wilmington is actually in North Carolina.) 

NamesAgeHeight Ft. In.OccupationMasters NamesMasters ResidenceMasters CharacterArrived at this postEmployed at this post asRemarks
Joseph Brown235'10"LaborerMrs. BarltonWilmington, S.C. [sic] DisloyalDec 16th 1861Laborer & Oarsman
Billy Jenks195'5" " " " " " "
Commodore Perry285'6" " " " " " "
Rob Roberts205'8" " " " " "Officers Servant
Samuel Mackey305'10"CarpenterMiss MackeySavannah "March 2d 1862Boatman
Morris Pinckney235'5-1/2"LaborerMrs PinckneyCharleston " " "
Tom Webb285'11" "Geo WebbSavannahIn Rebel Army " "
Wally Scott205'6" "D. DessoneyGrainsville " " "
Daniel Polite255'8" "Mrs. J. SkulkBluftonDisloyal " "
Cesar Graham425'8" "D.J. Kirk "In Rebel Army " "
Ishmeal Hines225'5"WaiterJ.G. WattsSavannah " "Officers Servant
Ned Polite455'8" "Elliot Garret "DisloyalMarch 10th 1862 "
Anthony Bailey225'5" "Wm. FripSt. Helena Is'dIn Rebel Army " "
Benjamin Peterson325'5" "James HamiltonBluftonDisloyalWith 7th Comm Vol. "
Esau Fawkes255'9" "Jas. HunterSavannah " " "
Josiah Simmons145'0" "Jas. R. LawtonHilton Head Is'd " " "
Thos Frazer145'0" " " " " " "
Jerry Abersham165'8" "Jas HunterSavannah " " "

Inventory of Twenty One Contraband Negroes at the Post, Tybee and Cockspur Islands, April 15, 18624

NamesAgeHeight: Ft-InOccupationMasters Name
Masters ResidenceMasters CharacterArrived at PostEmployed now asRemarks
Joseph Brown235'10"LaborerMrs. BarltonWilmington IslandDisloyalDec 16, 1862Laborer & Boatman
Billy Jenks195'5" " " " " " " "
Commedore Perry285'6" " " " " " " "
Bob Roberts205'8" " " " " "Officers Servant
Samuel Mackey305'10"CarpenterMiss MackeySavannah "March 2d 1862Boatman
Morris Pinckney235'5-1/2"LaborerMrs. PinckneyCharleston " " "
Tom Webb285'11" "Geo. WebbSavannahIn Rebel Army " "
Wally Scott205'6" "D. DeponeyGainesville " " "
Daniel Polite265'8" "Mrs. J. SkulkBlufftonDisloyal " "
Cesar Graham425'8" "Dr. John Kirk "In Rebel Army "Boatman
Ishmeal Hines225'7"House ServantJ.G. WattsSavannah " "Officers Servant
Ned Polite455'8" " "Elliot Garret "DisloyalMarch 11, 1862 " "
Anthony Bailey225'5" " "Wm FripSt. Helena IslIn Rebel Army " 10 " " "
Benj Peterson325'9" " "James HamiltonBlufftonDisloyal " 12 " " "
Esau Fawkes255'4" " "James HunterSavannah "Dec 27, 1861 "
Josiah Simmons145'0" " "Jas R. LawtonHilton Head " " 30 1861 " "
Thos Frazer145'0" " " " " "Mar 13, 1862 " "
Jerry Abersham165'8" " "Sarah ThistleSavannah "Dec 22, 1861 " "
Joe Casey155'4" " "Wm KirkBlufftonIn Rebel ArmyApril 1862 "
Lewis Richards114'0" " "A. PonceSavannahPrisoner of War " 11 1862 " "
Robert455'8" " "Lewis Cole " " " " " "

Inventory of Nineteen Contraband Negroes at the Post, Tybee & Cockspur Islands, April 30, 18624

NamesAgeHeight: Ft-InOccupationMasters NamesMasters ResidenceMasters CharacterArrived at PostEmployed now asRemarks
Joseph Brown235'10"LaborerMrs. BarltonWilmington IslandDisloyalDec 16, 1862Laborer & Boatman
Billy Jenks195'5" " " " " " " "
Commedore Perry285'6" " " " " " " "
Bob Roberts205'8" " " " " "Officers Servant
Samuel Mackey305'10"CarpenterMiss MackeySavannah "March 2d 1862Boatman
Morris Pinckney235'5-1/2"LaborerMrs. PinckneyCharleston " " "
Tom Webb285'11" "Geo. WebbSavannahIn Rebel Army " "
Wally Scott205'6" "D. DeponeyGainesville " " "
Daniel Polite265'8" "Mrs. J. SkulkBlufftonDisloyal " "
Cesar Graham425'8" "Dr. John Kirk "In Rebel Army "Boatman
Ishmeal Hines225'7"House ServantJ.G. WattsSavannah " "Officers Servant
Ned Polite455'8" " "Elliot Garret "DisloyalMarch 11, 1862 " "
Anthony Bailey225'5" " "Wm FripSt. Helena IslIn Rebel Army " 10 " " "
Benj Peterson325'9" " "James HamiltonBlufftonDisloyal " 12 " " "
Esau Fawkes255'4" " "James HunterSavannah "Dec 27, 1861 "
Josiah Simmons145'0" " "Jas R. LawtonHilton Head " " 30 1861 " "
Thos Frazer145'0" " " " " "Mar 13, 1862 " "
Jerry Abersham165'8" " "Sarah ThistleSavannah "Dec 22, 1861 " "
Joe Casey155'4" " "Wm KirkBlufftonIn Rebel ArmyApril 1862 "
Lewis Richards114'0" " "A. PonceSavannahPrisoner of War " 11 1862 " "
Robert455'8" " "Lewis Cole " " " " " "
[The information on Lewis Richards and Robert is crossed out.]

Suggestions for Further Research

If you find an ancestor’s name among these lists, there are several avenues of research you can pursue next. Here are some starting points:

  • Search Freedmen’s Bureau records to see if your ancestors had further interactions with the U.S. military or the Freedmen’s Bureau. You can start at www.discoverfreedmen.org to search for your ancestor’s name. 

 

 

  • Search for your ancestor in the 1870 and 1880 U.S. Census. Note their location in relation to the slaveholder – did they return to their pre-1862 homes, or choose to live in an entirely different location?

 

  • Research the slaveholder in the U.S. Census Slave Schedules. Note the age of your ancestor in the 1862 list, then search the 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedules for the name of the slaveholder, to verify that they held an enslaved person of the gender and age that would match your ancestor’s age in 1860.

 

  • Research the slaveholder’s genealogy to identify other slaveholding family members. In most cases you need not start from scratch, you may find family trees on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org that have been posted by descendants. Do be sure to conduct your own research to verify the family relationships in any family tree you find.

 

  • If your ancestors were adults in 1862, search for probate records for the parents of the final slaveholder in the list transcribed here, to see if your ancestors are mentioned in wills, estate inventories or estate accounts. South Carolina probate records and Georgia probate records are searchable on Ancestry.com.

If you would like to learn more about the contraband camps at Otter Island and Tybee Island, please see the book Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy, by Barbara Tomblin2. The book is searchable at Project Muse.

References Cited

[1] Leslie, Frank. 1896 “Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War.” New York, NY: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1896. Digitized by The Florida Center for Instructional Technology. 

[2] Tomblin, Barbara 2009 Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy. University Press of Kentucky, pp. 66-68.

[3] “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Two or More Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-MK9J-G?cc=1845948&wc=M6KL-T38%3A165419801%2C165440901 : 22 May 2014), Records by Number and Date > 00821-01078, Mar.-Apr. 1862 > image 470 of 1211; citing NARA microfilm publication M416 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

[4] “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Two or More Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-MV97-NR?cc=1845948&wc=M6KL-T38%3A165419801%2C165440901 : 22 May 2014), Records by Number and Date > 00821-01078, Mar.-Apr. 1862 > image 754 of 1211; citing NARA microfilm publication M416 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

[5] “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Two or More Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-MK9C-Y?cc=1845948&wc=M6KL-T38%3A165419801%2C165440901 : 22 May 2014), Records by Number and Date > 00821-01078, Mar.-Apr. 1862 > image 475 of 1211; citing NARA microfilm publication M416 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

[6] “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Two or More Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-MK38-3?cc=1845948&wc=M6KL-T38%3A165419801%2C165440901 : 22 May 2014), Records by Number and Date > 00821-01078, Mar.-Apr. 1862 > image 473 of 1211; citing NARA microfilm publication M416 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

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