Slaves of My Lady’s Manor: The Curtis Family


William Curtis was a profitable farmer of My Lady’s Manor.  His family intermarried and supported the Sparks family in their mutual endeavors.

  • In his household of 1830, six slaves were enumerated:
    • 1 Male under 10 years of age
    • 1 Male 10-23 years of age
    • 1 Male 24-35 years of age
    • 2 Females under 10 years of age
    • 1 Female 10-23 years of age
  • In 1840, four slave were enumerated
    • 1 Male under 10 years of age
    • 1 Male 10-23 years of age
    • 1 Female 24-35 years of age
    • 1 Female 36-54 years of age
  • In 1850, eight slaves were enumerated
    • Female–(1810)
    • Male–(1817)
    • Male–(1825)
    • Female–(1830)
    • Male–(1843)
    • Female–(1846)
    • Male–(1848)
    • Female–(1850)–Four months old. Likely to be the child of one of the older female slaves.
  • In 1860, nine slaves were enumerated
    • Female–(1812)
    • Male–(1825)
    • Male–(1842)
    • Female–(1845)
    • Male–(1850)
    • Female–(1851)
    • Male–(1851)
    • Male–(1853)
    • Female–(1853)

The woman born in 1812 may have been the mother of the children: at least of the female born in 1850 or 51. The other potential mother born in 1830 is not enumerated in 1860 while the child remains part of the household. The household seems to have preserved some coherency, with only the male born in 1817 and the female born in 1830 not showing in the household. William Curtis died in 1863; his will shows that even at that late date William refused to emancipate his slaves. There are only two names given:

  • Ellen was given to William’s son John S Curtis
    • In 1870 an Ellen Johnson (1848) is enumerated in the household of Archebald Smith (1825), and his wife is Harriet Smith (1827).  It is possible, although very speculative, that Ellen married into Joshua Johnson’s family.  Ellen has two children: John H (1867) and Mary E (1869).  They are in close proximity to John S. Curtis.  While a young woman named Cynthia Young (1856) works in the Curtis household
  • Lewis was given to his daughter Rachel Sparks. The will reads: “…a negro boy named Lewis to dispose of as she may see proper”.

    • Hazel Sparks a great-granddaughter of Rachel Sparks[wife to Daniel] would remark that her grandparents [William Curtis Sparks and Susanna Hoover] had slaves.  They may have owned slaves prior to the will’s 1863 execution, but they are not listed in the 1850 Slave Schedule.

William’s sons: Levi, Eli, William divided the remaining “servants” equally. What I assume to have been a family was divided in a familiar and painful scene even as emancipation neared. They were however not sold it seems.  Dr. Loren Schweninger compiled petitions regarding slaves.  Included in the compilations is this “Petition of John S. Curtis and William Curtis … 25 August 1863 Estate executor seeks to sell property “negroes excepted” (Baltimore County Register of Wills MSA SC 4239-18-85)


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