Addison

References to Addison are few in the first year of Caroline’s Journal, only ten in total. Her description of him on 16 April, at war’s end, suggests why, “The little boys, Addison, Scott and Tom, went along with me and carried some corn…” But if Addison’s youth was the reason he first appeared infrequently, his mentions for the remainder of the journal would reflect his maturation. The number of his entries more than triples the following year, and the rate accelerates after that.

While Addison would continue to perform tasks typical for youngsters – running errands, undertaking simple tasks, and helping his elders, by the winter of ’65 he is cutting wood and driving a tumbrel. In the spring he is helping out in the kitchen and goes seining with Hardie. In the summer of ’66 he is not only assisting in the garden, but he is in the fields with the “hands.”

As is typical with teenagers, Addison finds ways to both annoy the Littlepages and earn their praise. But it is likely Addison assumed some of his roles more quickly than if he had been born a few years earlier. There was a labor shortage at Woodbury, specifically a shortage of men. It began in 1862 when six male slaves in their prime crossed the Pamunkey and “absconded” with McClellan’s army during the Peninsular Campaign. Two male Woodbury slaves, 60 and 31, died that year as well. Another man was “carried away” by US Army soldiers in the summer of ’63. Combining these losses with the death of her husband and Liv residing a Union prison camp, by the summer of ’64 half of Woodbury’s males over the age of 12 listed on the 1860 US Censuses were absent.1 So while we do not know Addison’s exact age through the journal, we can assume circumstances drew him into assuming grown-up jobs at Woodbury more quickly than normal.

Caroline seldom directly states slave family relationships in her journal. But her text often provides clues. For example, Caroline mentions on 3 July, 1864 that a Dandridge brought a bucket of flour from a neighbor, Mrs. Tebbs. A year later presumably the same Dandridge, now free, is cutting oats at Woodbury with Jim and Frederick. In November Dandridge appears at Caroline’s kitchen door and asked for money to buy Martha a pair of shoes. Caroline gives it to him and also permission for Martha to attend a meeting with him. Two weeks later Dandridge appears at Woodburry to kill Patsy’s hog. It is becoming clear that Dandridge has more than ordinary business at Woodbury.

At the end of 1865 Dandridge comes to live. On 30 December Caroline writes,

I made a bargain with Dandridge today. Rented him a house and garden for $25. Am to give $23 for Patsy the ensuing year and one day in every week, also will allow her to cook every other week. – – Will give the same for Martha and allow her a day in every week. Will give them a dress a piece this winter.

The following week she writes,

Dandridge made some complaints to me this morning respecting Addison, who had offended Bill, and he saw cause to correct him. After having some conversation with him, he became reconciled, but not to the satisfaction of Bill.

On 7 March, 1866 Caroline entered,

“To gratify Dandridge, I permitted Martha to sleep at the quarters with the family. He said he wanted all to be together and on their own hook, where they could lie down Master and Mistress, and as far as possible their wishes are accomplished.”

These entries suggest Dandridge had been in a relationship with a Woodbury woman for years, but lived apart as slave family members often did. But was her name Martha or Patsy? The 1880 US Census for King William lists a Black farm laborer named Dandridge Claiborne, and his wife Patsie. He is 60 and she 55.2 Twenty years later the 1900 US Census shows an Addison Claiborne, 50, heading a household in King William. With him are his wife Susan, 36, and their daughters Tena and Maggie, 14 and 12. Fourteen years later a Virginia Certificate of Death was issued for Addison Claiborne, 70, of King William. His parents are recorded as Dandridge and Patsey Claiborne, both of King William. The Informant was Susan Claiborne. Now that these pieces fit, what happened to Martha?

  1. The 1860 Census does not show Bill or Hardie living at Woodbury. Bill had left home to work as a merchant and Hardie was at the Navel Academy. That census also shows R. F. Jordan, 35 living at Woodbury, probably an “overseer.” As he is never mentioned in Caroline’s Journal, Jordan likely left at the beginning of the war.  (back)
  2. Just to make things interesting, that same KW Census shows another Black farm laborer named Dandridge Claiborne with a wife named Patsie. They were listed as 70 and 65. Could it be they moved during the enumeration and were counted twice?  (back)