Stories

Lives.

Dudley and Eve McGuire – William McGuireToby and BetsyDavid Straws, Sr.Peyton PleasantsGarrett SandersJames SandersIsham Nelson

Dudley and Eve McGuire were sold with their two children from James Monroe’s Highland plantation to Florida. Their family continued to increase in Florida, eventually encompassing six children: William, Hannah, Patsy, Jane, Ellen, and Richard. Dudley died sometime before 1855. Eve lived with her youngest son Richard after emancipation, dying after 1870. Dudley and Eve’s legacy, though mostly undocumented while enslaved, continued with their descendants, who took the surname McGuire. Their children played a founding and integral role in the 1873 establishment of the Casa Bianca Missionary Baptist Church in Monticello, Florida.
Back to the Top

William McGuire was the eldest son of Dudley and Eve. He was born in Albemarle County, Virginia around 1825, and was about three years old when President James Monroe sold his family to Florida. At Casa Bianca, he married Bella. They had six known children: Bill, Rhody, Moses, Minty, Rebecca, and Georgeann. Rebecca and Georgeann were born after emancipation. In 1860, William, his wife and four children were sold by Ellen Beatty to Tallahassee lawyer Robert Williams. In a subsequent deed between Williams and Beatty, Williams promised to “insure the lives of said negroes for and during the voyage from Florida to the said William’s Landing on the Mississippi River in Louisiana.” Though it is not certain if William and his family went to Louisiana, evidence suggests that they did. According to the 1880 census, his daughter Rebecca was born in Louisiana in 1865. To date, the 1870 census listing William McGuire has not been found. By the early 1870s, they were in Jefferson County, where his daughter Georgeann was born around 1872. The next year, Williams was one of the trustees who purchased the land for the Casa Bianca Missionary Baptist Church. He purchased his own acre of land in 1884. William disappeared after the 1885 Florida census, but his wife Bella was still living with her grandchildren in Jefferson County in 1900. At that time, she owned her home mortgage free.
Back to the Top

Toby (b. 1789) and Betsy (b. 1794) were a couple held in bondage by President James Monroe. They lived at his Highland plantation in Albemarle County, Virginia. In 1828, Monroe sold Toby and Betsy and their seven children to Joseph M. White of Florida. Toby and Betsy made the forced journey to Jefferson County, Florida, where they labored on the Casa Bianca plantation. On the eve of the Civil War, Toby, Betsy, and their son Ceaser, were sold to Tallahassee lawyer Robert Williams. This 1860 bill of sale was the last document in which we find Toby and his wife Betsy. Their descendants took the surname Sanders after emancipation.  Many of them continue to live in Jefferson County, Florida.
Back to the Top

David Straws, Sr. was born in Kentucky and was enslaved at Casa Bianca. He was part of his slaveholder Ellen White’s life estate. David married Dudley and Eve’s daughter Hannah.  After emancipation, David Straws became the first pastor of the Casa Bianca Missionary Baptist Church. There are probably many descendants of these Straws in Florida today.
Back to the Top

Peyton Pleasants was born at Casa Bianca around 1842.  His mother was Lucy, the only female captive of the slave ship The Antelope purchased by Richard Wilde.  Peyton was also the grandson of former Monroe slaves Toby and Betsy.  In 1860 the owner of Casa Bianca, Ellen White, sold Peyton to her nephew J. Patton Anderson, who had been managing the plantation for nearly five years.  Anderson joined the Confederate Army and ultimately rose to Brigadier General.  He took Peyton, who may have already been Anderson’s personal servant at Casa Bianca, with him to continue in that capacity. In 1863, Anderson wrote back to his wife Etta that he had to find a replacement for Peyton, who had now been assigned to be the permanent company cook.

J. Patton Anderson to Etta Anderson, Nov. 9, 1863. J. Patton Anderson Papers, University of Florida.

After the war, Peyton took the surname Pleasants.  He signed a contract supervised by the Freedmen’s Bureau to work on Anderson’s land.  He married Mary Lawton in 1867, with whom he had four children: Milly, Paul, Peyton, and Abe.  We lose track of Peyton in the 1890’s. His wife Mary purchased land in Jefferson County in 1892.  Does anyone have any information to share?
Back to the Top

Garrett Sanders  was the enslaved blacksmith at Casa Bianca.  One of the sons of Toby and Betsy, as a boy he lived at James Monroe’s Highland plantation in Virginia.  He was sold along with his parents and siblings to Joseph White in 1828.  He was around eighteen years old at the time of the sale.  While at Casa Bianca, Garrett would have been responsible to making and repairing plantation tools, such as hoes and plows, and other hardware in use at the plantation.  After emancipation, Garrett moved to nearby Taylor County with his brother James and sister Peachy and their families.  He continued his occupation, appearing as a blacksmith in the 1870 census.  In August 1867, while living in Taylor County, he registered to vote in the first Florida election in which a freedman could participate.  In the early 1870s, the families moved back to Jefferson County where Garrett, identified as a Radical Republican, voted in the 1876 presidential election.  He continued to work as a blacksmith and also farmed.  In 1880, his widowed sister Peachy and her children lived in his household.  Five years later, Garrett lived with his grandniece and grandnephew.  His sister Peachy disappeared from written records after 1880.  Garrett last appeared in any document in 1885.  Further details about his life are at this time unknown.
Back to the Top

James, or Jim, Sanders was another son of Toby and Betsy. He lived at James Monroe’s Highland plantation as a child until the sale of his parents and siblings in 1828. He was around eight years old when sold. At Casa Bianca, James most likely labored as a field hand, clearing the fields for planting and harvesting the crops of cotton, sugar cane, and corn. After emancipation, he and his wife Lucy, with their four children, Katie, Garrett, Ann, and Elijah, moved to nearby Taylor County. By January 1873, the family returned to Jefferson County, where James rented nineteen acres of land from a local planter. By 1885, he rented thirty-five acres of land, producing 150 bushels of corn, 50 bushels of sweet potatoes, and 7 bales of cotton. James owned his own farm by 1900, and within the next decade, his farm was mortgage free.
Back to the Top

Isham Nelson was born around 1832. He was the son of the enslaved woman Hope. Isham, Hope, and his brother William were held in bondage by Joseph White’s brother Everett, who served as Casa Bianca’s overseer until his death in 1835. After Everett White’s death, Hope, Isham, and William were sold at the Monticello courthouse. Their buyer, Robert Rose, then sold the family back to Joseph White. Sometime after 1844, Isham married Jane McGuire, the daughter of former Monroe slaves Dudley and Eve. Together, they had five children before emancipation (William, Rose, Robert, Clement, and Isaiah) and two children after emancipation (George and Eliza). His wife Jane died after 1870, and Isham remarried a woman named Lucretia before 1880. Isham Nelson was one of the founding trustees of the Casa Bianca Missionary Baptist Church. One of his descendants, Willie Nelson, was a deacon of the church when it was rebuilt in 1972.
Back to the Top

Garland Monroe, whose father once belonged to President James Monroe, says that slaves used to meet in the mountains near Monticello, out from Charlottesville.  “I’m gittin’ on to ninety, but I recollec’ my daddy an’ two older brothers slippin’ out nights to go to meetin’. Brothers would tell me all ’bout it nex’ day. Dey had what dey called a stump preacher;ole man Tucker Coles it was. Dey call him a stump preacher ’cause he used to git up on a stump an’ preach to de slaves—you see, up dere’ rounst Monticello ole patterollers would keep away, so de slaves
ain’t bothered to build a hut an’ put pots all roun’ like dey did in some places. Jus’ preached right in de open, an’ if de patterollers come, dey would jus’ run down de mountain side ‘long paths dat
de patterollers didn’t know nothin’ ’bout.Well, once patterollers did break up a meetin’. My brothers tell meall ’bout it de nex’ day. Ole Tucker Cole was jus’ a-preachin’ ‘wayan’ shoutin’ when dey hear patterollers creepin’ in de bush close by.Slaves started runnin’ down de mountain side, not too fas’, jus’ fas’ ‘nough to keep de patterollers chasin’ ’em. My brother, Henry,went on runnin’ ahead o’ de res’. Down at de foot of de mountain was a creek. “Hardware Creek,” was its name, an’ dere was log laid ‘cross it so’s you could git to de other side widdout gittin’ wet.
My brother got down dere ‘fore all de res’ an’ stuck a slice-bar under one end of de log, an’ den dere come de patterollers. Henry was hid ‘hindst de bushes, an’ when de fus’ two three patterollers git to walkin’ careful-like in de middle of de creek, Henry took an’ pried up dat log an’ thowed ’em all in de water. Patterollers yelled an’ cussed de slaves somep’n terrible, but time dey got dey clothes wrung out de slaves was home in bed.”

From The Negro in Virginia / compiled by workers of the writer’s program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Virginia.

 

From The Negro in Virginia / compiled by workers of the writer’s program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Virginia.