South Carolina Runaway Slaves 1730-1790
Number of runaway slaves: 2,424
African origins specified: 508
TOP 3 BREAKDOWN OF AFRICAN BORN SLAVES
“Angola” (mostly Bakongo) 149 – 29% of African specified
“Gambia” (incl. Mali/Senegal) 61 – 12% of African specified
“Ebo” (Igbo & related ethnic groups) 49 – 10% of African specified
Above summaries are based on the HIGHLY interesting collection of runaway slave advertisements published in American newspapers in the 1700’s: “Runaway Slave Advertisements : a Documentary History from the 1730’s to 1790, Volume 3, South Carolina”. This very extensive work was put together by Lathan Windley in 1983 and has been used by many historians ever since. Besides ethnic/regional origins you can discover many more fascinating details about these advertised runaway slaves if you read the texts closely. The advertisements can be consulted online (after registration) via this great website: The African American Experience.
In the remaining part of this blogpost i will provide a full overview of the slave ethnicities to be found in the advertisements and how they relate to known slave trade statistics. Then i will zoom into the most frequently named origin of these runaway slaves to find out how “Angolan” they really were. The linguistic connection between the Gullah and the Black Seminoles who fled to Florida originally from South Carolina is also explored. On the very end i will highlight/quote some intriguing clues about African ethnicity in South Carolina as found within these short but often very informative newspaper advertisements. But first let me emphasize the following:
By no means is this data presented as fully representative of the ancestral make up of the present day population of South Carolina! It’s more complex than that 😉 As always when it comes to sample based data you will have to take into consideration how representative these advertisements might possibly be. It should be clear that only a sketchy and partial snapshot of the ethnic composition of the South Carolina slave population can be hoped for when knowing that:
- The total number of slaves being advertised was 2,424, of whom only a minority of 508 persons had their African origins specified. The total slave population of South Carolina is estimated to have been about 20,000 in 1730 and about 107,000 in 1790 (according to wikipedia). So obviously only a very small proportion of the entire slave population is being covered.
- In fact the advertisements also greatly underestimate the frequency of socalled “maroonage” that is the act of slaves running away, as slave owners usually didn’t bother to report such cases in newspapers at all. Especially around the time of the American Revolution it is estimated many thousands of slaves ran away in just a few years (for an excellent online overview see: Runaway Journeys).
- The restricted timeperiod being studied (1730’s-1790’s) is leaving out the crucial formative era of the late 1600’s/early 1700’s as well as the later period of the early 1800’s when a substantial number of Africans was still arriving in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
- The advertisements were not done completely at random: a higher proportion of skilled (and therefore more “valuable”) slaves seems to be reported; most slaves ran away from places very near Charleston; there’s a peak of advertisements right before the American revolution of 1776 and also around 1739 when the Stono Rebellion took place (Polllitzer, 1999, p.59).
Despite all these limitations it’s still very informative to at least see what kind of ethnic groups were present in South Carolina according to the advertisements. However the “country names” being used for the slaves are often hinting more to their regional origins in a wider sense than specific ethnic groups! (see also “Ethnic identities of African-born slaves: valid or imposed?“)
It’s useful in this regard to compare these South Carolina runaway slave advertisements with those from other US states and especially with those from Jamaica (see also “Ethnic Origins of Jamaican Runaway Slaves“). As can be seen from the chart below there’s a great contrast within the frequency of ethnic details being supplied. Correlating with the share of locally born slaves in the total slave population. Colonies with a majority of locally born slaves, such as Barbados and Virginia, logically reporting very few specified African origins in contrast with Jamaica which is known to have had a majority of African born slaves throughout the 1700’s. South Carolina being somewhat inbetween. These locally born slaves were known as “Creoles” in Jamaica and other parts of the West Indies but in the American newspaper ads the commonly used term was “country born”. There’s also some other striking differences in terminology between the US & the West Indies which i will discuss later on.
Only a minority of the runaway slaves in South Carolina is being described as African-born which has to do with the increasing share of socalled “country born” slaves (see also “From African to Creole“). These “country born” slaves (incl. also slaves brought over from other states and the West Indies) are interesting in themselves as they reveal a great deal about the demographics of the nascent African American population, more on them in a future follow-up blog post. But let’s first start with a full overview of the African ethnic/regional origins as specified in the advertisements.
Comparing the ethnic/regional names being used with those appearing in Jamaican advertisements (see “Ethnic Origins of Jamaican Runaway Slaves“) we see many familiar terms, however there’s also some notable differences:
- In South Carolina “Angola” seems to have been the preferred term for designating Central African origins, even if ethnically speaking they could have been the exact same people as referred to as “Congo” in Jamaica (more details in next section).
- A different type of composition may have existed for Biafran slaves, a clear majority of them named “Eboe” but also 9 “Calabar” and only 1 “Moco” in South Carolina, while in Jamaica the “Moco’ label was used much more frequently in addition to “Eboe”, and “Calabar” was rarely mentioned at all. The sample size for South Carolina is rather small though. The inclusion within the Bight of Biafra region of the socalled “Pawpaw” – named after the slave port Popo located in presentday Benin – seems to have been a mistake by Pollitzer.
- West African origins were very often lumped together by the imprecise term of “Guinea” in South Carolina, while Jamaican slave owners tended to be more specific. From the context of the advertisements it seems “Guinea” was used most likely for the socalled Lower Guinea region (inbetween Liberia and Nigeria, see also the Maps Section). So that might include more origins of “Grain Coast” as well as “Gold Coast” than specified.
- Instead of “Mandingo” the “Gambia” reference was much more popular in South Carolina than in Jamaica. It is known that actually most of the captives embarking from the Gambia were collected from interior locations in eastern Senegal and western Mali.
- Upper Guinean ethnicities like Bambara, Fula, Kissi and Temne are surprisingly often being specified by South Carolina slave owners but mostly not so by Jamaican ones. Perhaps betraying a greater familiarity with these peoples based on a greater share of slaves with these origins in South Carolina. However these same terms do appear in the Anglo-Caribbean Slave registers.
In the above chart there’s also an attempt being made to correlate the regional origin proportions for the runaway slaves with those of documented slave trade records. As Pollitzer (1999) is using outdated slave trade estimates and regional definitions which are not always compatible it might be more useful to compare with this insightful graph:
Looking back at the Top 3 most frequently mentioned runaway slave origins it seems that the socalled “Angola” and “Gambia” highest rankings are justified as they are very much in line with the prominent documented slave trade records for “West Central Africa” and “Senegambia”. It also seems to corroborate the linguistic findings i blogged about earlier (Comparing the Gullah language with other English-based Creoles.)
However it seems that the number of “Igbo” runaway slaves might be inflated when compared with the slave trade records directly from Africa. Many historians have remarked about the socalled ethnic preferences of slave buyers in South Carolina and how these contrasted whith those of Virginia (e.g. Phillip Morgan in “Slave Counterpoint”). Especially for the Bight of Biafra there was a clear difference, slaves from this area being predominant in Virginia (~40%) but in South Carolina the socalled “Eboes” had a reputation of being prone to resist enslavement by either committing suicide or fleeing (the folktale of the Igbo landing in neighbouring Georgia might be a remarkable testimony). These runaway advertisements seem to be in support of that assessment as the Igbo appear to have run away disproportionately to their numbers.
However we should not forget about the substantial intercolonial slave trade taking place between the West Indies and South Carolina and to some degree also with Virginia and other northern states. For example the also quite numerous mentioning of the “Coromantee” is more easily understood if we take into account the African born slaves, incl. many from the Gold Coast/Ghana, being imported via Jamaica, Barbados and other parts of the West Indies. Likewise it could be that more Igbo’s ended up in South Carolina via the West Indies or even via Virginia than by direct slavevoyages from Africa. Either way it seems that the direct slave trade between South Carolina and the Bight of Biafra peaked inbetween 1731-1760, and this timeperiod is covered extensively by these runaway advertisements from inbetween 1730-1790.
Given the widely publicized Sierra Leone connections of the Gullah it may seem surprising that any apparent Sierra Leone origins are not mentioned that often in the advertisements. (In fact in the chart featured in Pollitzer (1999) the “Bambara” should be excluded from the “Sierra Leone” region as this slave ethnonym is commonly thought to refer not only to the presentday ethnic group called Bambara living in Mali but more generally so also to any interior, upriver ethnic group from Senegambia.) A likely explanation for this outcome can be found in the slave trade numbers depicted above and their distribution according to timeperiod. For Sierra Leone the time period 1791-1820 is clearly the period when most slave trade occurred with South Carolina. As the runaway advertisements under study are limited to the period of 1730’s-1790’s the subdued Sierra Leone presence makes more sense. For Senegambia it’s instead 1761-1790 which saw the greatest intensity of slave trade with South Carolina and during 1700-1730 it was clearly the number one supplier of slaves. While for West Central Africa it’s also 1791-1820 when slave trade peaked however the earlier period of 1731-1760 also saw many Central Africans entering South Carolina and they were clearly predominant at that time.
‘Looking for Angola’, but what about Congo?
The northern Europeans knew the entire coastline of Central Africa south of Cape Lopez as “Angola,” and they designated slaves they purchased there as “Angolas,” employing the term in a sense entirely different from, and considerably less distinct than, Portuguese and Brazilian uses of it. (Miller, 2002, p.28)
However, the “Angolas”reaching the Caribbean and North America aboard the ships of the French, Dutch, and English from 1670s onward had begun their Middle Passages at any of the bays north of the Zaire – Mayumba nearest Cape Lopez, then Loango, Malimbo, Cabinda, and the “Congo” River (as the Zaire was known) mouth itself.(Miller, 2002, p.29)
“Looking for Angola” is the name of a very intriguing archeology project “aimed at discovering the location “Angola,” a maroon community that thrived on Florida’s southwest coast from 1812-1821.” Many of these maroons, also known as Black Seminoles nowadays, had originally fled from South Carolina/Georgia, and the naming of their settlement “Angola” seems to have been done in honour of the “Nation” they were thought to hail from. For more details see also this website and this paper. More discussion on the Black Seminoles will follow later on. But first i will try to provide more clarity on the socalled “Angolans” in South Carolina.
As already touched upon earlier there seems to have been a different usage of terms to designate similar Central African slave origins in South Carolina when compared to Jamaica. It’s striking that the more commonly used term (in the West Indies) “Congo” is only used 3 times while “Angola” is mentioned no less than 149 times in the South Carolina advertisements. Actually also in other contemporary documentation from South Carolina the term “Angola” seems to have been clearly preferred in the 1700’s. As mentioned in the quotes above it’s crucial to realize that the modernday country of Angola did not exist in the 1700’s and varying geographical interpretations were in use among the European colonial powers!
The below overview, taken from the Slavevoyages Database, makes it very clear that the slave ports being used by English/American slave traders were almost all located to the north of the Congo (a.k.a. Zaire) river. Only the presentday Angolan port of Ambriz seems to have been an exception but there’s no recorded slavevoyages from that place to South Carolina and it seems to have been minor overall and also located in Bakongo territory (to the north of Luanda) either way.
It seems the socalled “Angolan” runaway slaves from South Carolina were therefore actually mostly being shipped over from the socalled Loango kingdom, located along the Congolese coastline (for more details see also the West-Central Africa page in the Maps section). Instead of being embarked from the main Portuguese settlements in Angola located much more to the south: Luanda and Benguela. The third main slave port of Angola, Cabinda, was indeed frequently visited by English and other North European traders (aside from Portuguese as well). However Cabinda is actually not within Angola’s main boundaries but rather an enclave (or pene-exclave more properly 🙂 ) on the north side of the Congo river.
Making this finer distinction is very important if you want explore the ethnic origins hiding behind this label of “Angolan” slaves. Regrettably a commonly made mistake (also by historians!) is to just take this contextspecific terminology of the 1600’s/1700’s at face value and assume generic Angolan origins right away. In many charts detailing the African origins of South Carolina you will therefore often see Angola appearing and not Congo. Both Angolan and Congolese are mere post-colonial nationalities of course and both multi-ethnic countries show ethnic overlap in their border provinces. Especially the Bakongo are numerous both in northern Angola and western Congo (DRC & Brazzaville).
But the two main ethnic groups from Angola, the Ambundu and Ovimbundu, are only found in Angola, and given the slave trade patterns described above it seems that ancestral connections with these Mbundu people are much less likely for South Carolina and African Americans in general than for Brazilians for example. Instead it seems that the Bakongo are being referred to mostly (but not exclusively) by both the term “Angola” as used in South Carolina and “Congo” as used in the West Indies. This also goes for the Africans slaves involved in the famous Stono Rebellion which took place in South Carolina in 1739.
“More recently John Thornton revisited the Stono slave rebellion that Wood so ably analyzed, and he concluded that despite contemporary accounts that described the uprisen slaves as Angolan, the rebels were more probably from Kongo. He argues that actions which to their pursuers (and chroniclers) seemed nonsensical – such as dancing, music making, and pauses along the road – actually relate to the maroons’ Kongolese military practice.” (Landers, 2002, p.228)
It is known from recent research that the very first Africans to arrive in Virginia were indeed from Angola proper. (see e.g. Virginia’s First Africans).The Portuguese slaveship carrying them from Luanda had been captured by Dutch pirates and subsequently they were sold in the USA instead of its intended destination in Mexico. Also in their own colony of “Nieuw Amsterdam” there were many Angolans present, as Dutch pirates continiously attacked Portuguese shipping in the early 1600’s and they even occupied Luanda for a few years in the 1640’s. For a brief period the Dutch were becoming the most important slave traders as they took over former Portuguese colonial possessions. And it seems very possible that more Angolan slaves were transported by them to the Thirteen Colonies in the first half of the 1600’s. This might have set in motion a historical precedent whereby the name “Angola” caught on and stuck also in the late 1600’s and 1700’s when the Central African slaves arriving in the US and especially South Carolina (transported by English/Americans ships this time) were no longer actually coming from Luanda or other southern ports in Angola but rather from the Kongolese coastline.
The Black Seminole-Gullah connection: a shared Bakongo legacy?
“Runaway slave advertisements and notices in South Carolina indicate that during the 1730’s, approximately 57 percent of the runaways came from the Kongo-Angola region. During the 1740’s, the percentage of Kongo-Angola runaways increased to 61 percent. Between 1735 and 1765, Kongo natives made up the majority of the former slaves listed in the Saint Augustine [Florida] records of black marriages.” (Dixon, 2007, pp.17-18)
“In fact, the Stono rebels were headed for Spanish St. Augustine to avail themselves of the well-known religious sanctuary available in that colony – a sanctuary their predecessors had secured in 1693. After that date the Spanish government in Florida freed runaways from the British colonies, granted them homesteads, and permitted them to elect their own political and military leaders in return for their religious conversion, military service, and fidelity. “(Landers, 2002, p.228)
“ As archaeologists like Leland Ferguson have demonstrated, enslaved and escaped Africans spread Kongo traditions southward down the Gullah Coast from South Carolina to Florida.15 Some of these traditions survive to this day in the famous cemetery at Sunsbury, Georgia and in the Bosque Bello cemetery on Amelia Island, Florida where black graves are still decorated with white ceramic chickens and white conch shells–Kongo cultural markers described by Robert Farris Thompson and others.” […]
“Kongo traditions also found their way into interior Florida as Central African slaves escaped bondage and became vassals of the Seminole nation.” (Landers, 2002, p.231)
The above quotes should make it sufficiently clear that the predominance of Kongolese runaway slaves in the South Carolina Lowcountry was continued in Spanish ruled Florida where many found refuge and some of them eventually formed the distinct Black Seminole group. It’s striking also that in the Spanish documentation the very same Central African slaves from South Carolina were mostly named “Congo” rather than “Angola’s”, perhaps because the Spanish were more in tune with the ethnic composition of Angolans/Congolese. But perhaps also because the Spanish were more likely to document the way these runaway slaves would selfidentify themselves:
Charleston South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, May 16, 1769.
from the subscriber’s plantation on Savannahriver, near Purrysburgh, about six weeks ago, a likely young new negro fellow, about five feet eight inches high, and about twenty five years of age, had on when he went away a white negro cloth jacket, breeches and cap, his jacket buttons are only notted cloth of the same, his breeches had no kneebands, he has a ringhole in each ear, calls himself POMPEY, speaks little or no English, calls his country name CONGO.”
A very fascinating and revealing connection can be made between the presentday Gullah population of the South Carolina Low Country and their “cousins” the Black Seminoles who originally resided in Florida where they found refuge fleeing from South Carolina/Georgia. Because they descend mostly from South Carolina runaway slaves in the 1700’s the Black Seminoles might have preserved cultural Gullah features which are more in line with African origins predominant in the 1700’s while later additions from the early 1800’s could be mostly missing for them.
Nowadays the Black Seminoles also live in Oklahoma, Texas, Mexico and the Bahamas as a result of their ever continuing pursuit of freedom. It’s most regrettable that their language, called “Afro-Seminole Creole” by linguists, is under threat of becoming extinct. Despite being distinct in its own right it’s considered to be very closely related to the Gullah language as it would have been spoken in the 1700’s. For more details see these two insightful online articles:
Below quotes clarify the fascinating links between the Gullah and the Black Seminole:
“The Afro-Seminole Creole language is an English-related Creole. It is a descendant or derivative of the Gullah language. Due primarily to the isolation of the Black Seminoles, the Afro-Seminole Creole language (ASC, hereafter) has, according to linguist Ian Hancock, “preserved far more of its original character than has Gullah.” […]
“The ASC is considered to be “almost identical to the conservative Gullah of a century ago . . . but it does not have the non-English sounds which Gullah has.” The African influence on the Gullah language is reflected in the incorporation of Sierra Leone Krio and Mende terms. However, the Mende did not have a strong presence in Sierra Leone until after 1800, therefore, Mende words are not found in the ASC. The ASC language formed prior to 1800“ (Dixon, 2007, p.23)
“ASC [Afro Seminole Creole] lacks much of the Mende and other African-derived lexicon found in SIC [Sea Island Creole, a.k.a. Gullah]. Nevertheless, ASC [Afro Seminole Creole] contains about forty words of African provenance, some half of which are traceable to KiKongo/KiMbundu” (From “Further Studies in the Lesser-Known Varieties of English” (Hancock, 2015, p.259)
“Known African cultural retentions, particularly in the area of religious expression, seem to confirm Rebecca Bateman’s supposition that the “Black Seminole naming system represents strong evidence for the existence of a naming system which bears striking similarities to the Kongo-Angola naming system.” The act of naming a child was considered a religious matter that warranted a ritual ceremony in many West African cultures. Historical evidence clearly suggests a strong Kongo-Angola influence in the Black Seminole culture, especially in the practice of naming.” (Dixon, 2007, p.22)
As a closing thought about the Congolese/Angolan, and more specifically Bakongo legacy in South Carolina, we should realize this heritage is not only measured in cultural/linguistic terms (e.g. the Kongo lexical predominance in the Gullah language: “Comparing the Gullah language with other English-based Creoles.“). Or the fascinating place names of Bantu origin as shown above. It’s even more profoundly in bloodlines and genetics that we might find substantial traces of Central African ancestry in South Carolina. Future DNA testing will undoubtedly uncover more of these inherited connections.
“West-Central Africans not only constructed the plantation complex; they also sowed the seeds for the uninterrupted growth of the African-descended population. Following the Stono Rebellion and the outbreak of King George’s War, both in 1739, South Carolina’s African trade foundered under the weight of prohibitive duties on importation of enslaved people and decreased trade generally. People from West-Central Africa thus constituted the last large influx of Africans for another decade. This brief respite coincided with the stabilization of self-reproducing communities by the end of the 1740s” (Brown, 2002, p.300)
“A glimpse of the importance of West-Central African men in this regard may be gleaned in the retention of the Bantu word tata in Lowcountry speech. Indeed, tata was the only African term for “father” maintained throughout the Lowcountry into the twentieth century” (Brown, 2002, p.302)
” As such, the perceptions and preferences of Carolina planters affected the much larger realm of Atlantic commerce far less than some scholars have supposed. While the wishes of rice growers and sellers certainly encouraged the importation of as many people from Senegambia, Sierra Leone, and the Windward Coast as possible” (Brown, 2002, p.303)
“Throughout the duration of the trade in enslaved Africans, people from West-Central Africa arrived in such large numbers that they formed one of the largest African communities in the Lowcountry. They lived in every district of the region since the first captive Africans landed in Charleston. They also represented the last victims of the Atlantic trade. From the first to last, West-Central Africans and their descendents inhabited the Lowcountry and made it their own land.” (Brown, 2002, p.305)
Clues of African Identity
Even though the advertisements are generally brief and to the point they sometimes contain surprising and valuable details about the runaway slaves, despite the obvious eurocentric bias. Below i will just quote some of the ones that seem to indicate retention of African identity in South Carolina. There are however many other interesting aspects to be discovered when browsing the advertisements, especially about family members helping to hide runaway slaves, the presence of freed blacks, racially mixed slaves etc. In a future blogpost i will follow up on the socalled “countryborn” or American origins of these South Carolina runaway slaves. But first let’s continue exploring their African origins!
African “country names”
It’s interesting how often also the socalled “country names”, the original African names of the slaves, are being mentioned by the slave owners. Apparently the new names they had in mind for their slaves were not being maintained as they might have wished… It might be that the information about these original names was mostly obtained from fellow slaves btw, interrogated after the runaway slave had left already. Also noteworthy is how even locally born or racially mixed slaves would sometimes be known by their African names, that is second or perhaps even third generation South Carolina slaves, showcasing that this type of African retention was sometimes carried across the generations. Below examples just for illustration, there’s many more to be found.
Charleston SouthCarolina and American General Gazette, February 21, 1781.
“Two Guineas Reward.
RUN away a young negro fellow, named Quamina, well known in and about Charlestown by his impudent behaviour; he has told me to my face, “he can go when he pleases, and I can do nothing to him, nor shall I ever get a copper for him”
Charleston SouthCarolina Gazette and Country Journal, May 7, 1771.
from the subscriber’s plantation at Edisto, on the 4th of April last, a Mustee fellow named CUDJO, near 40 years of age, […]”
Charleston SouthCarolina and American General Gazette, November 11 to November 18, 1774.
“THREE HUNDRED POUNDS REWARD
RUN away or stolen from the subscribers, the following NEW NEGRO MEN, viz. SHELALY a tall, well made fellow, of the Kissey country, whose country name is Bobodandy, speaks little or no English, but can tell his own name if he will,”
State Gazette of South Carolina (Timothy), July 31, 1786
“Five Guineas Reward. RUNAWAY From the Subscriber on John’s Island, about six weeks ago, A NEGRO FELLOW named SAMBO and a Wench FATIMA. Sambo is about 5 feet 9 inches high, very surly countenance, speaks bad English, and is of the Guinea country, but has been many years in this State. Fatima is about the same height, country born, a likely wench, but very artful.”
South Carolina Gazette (Timothy), August 27, 1753
“STROLLED away from my house, about midnight between thursday [sic] the 16th and friday the 17th instant, a tall well made new negro man (of the Mindinga country) of a yellowish complexion, can speak no English, […] His name is John, but he will more readily answer to the name of FOOTABEA, which he went by in his own country.”
SouthCarolina Gazette (Timothy), April 11 to April 18, 1748.
“RUNAWAY on the 17th Instant, and supposed to be gone in a Canow to the Southward, two Angola Negro Men, one named Moses, middle siz’d, his Country Name Monvigo, had on a Linnen Jacket, broad Cloth Breeches with silver’d thread Buttons,and a woollen mill’d Cap; the other a tall, lusty and elderly Fellow, named Sampson*, his Country Name Goma”
South Carolina Gazette (Timothy), October 23, 1751.
“Run away from the Subscriber, living on the Northside of Black River, a Gambia new negro fellow bought of Messrs Austin and Laurens in July last, answers to the name of Manso, is very black and middle sized, mark’d on the forehead with a cross, and three perpendicular strokes on each cheek”
South Carolina Gazette (Timothy), July 17 to July 24, 1755.
“RUN AWAY in January last, a middle sized, middle aged negro fellow, named London, but his country name is Appee: He came from St. Croix last year, speaks broken English,”
South Carolina Gazette Extraordinary (Powell & Co.), August 10, 1772.
“ST. MATTHEW’S PARISH, JULY 25, 1772. RUN AWAY
From the Subscriber, in St. Matthew’s Parish, on the 19th Inst. Two new NEGRO FELLOWS, OF the Gold Coast Country, bought the 6th Instant, at Mr. GERVAIS’s Sale, neither of them can speak any English. One, a likely made Fellow, supposed to be about five Feet seven Inches high, appears about Twentyfive Years of Age, very black; his Country Name FODEE. The other, a slim made Fellow, about five Feet four Inches high, supposed to be about Twentyfour Years of Age, very black, his Country Name MAMBEE”
Charleston SouthCarolina and American General Gazette, July 15 to July 22, 1771.
“RUN away from the subscriber on Hilton Head in May last, a thin spare Negro Boy named DARBY, formerly called Quackoe, of the Guinea country,“
Charleston South Carolina and American General Gazette, May 14, 1778.
“RUN away on the first day of May instant, a Negroe boy named Charlestown, his country name Tambo;“
Unlike for the Jamaican runaway slave advertisements i wasn’t able to find any clear references to African forms of music making (banjaw, gumba) or religion (Obeah). However below advertisements do seem to point towards an appreciation or at least recognition of African talent in these domains to some degree.
South Carolina Gazette (Whitmarsh), May 19 to May 26, 1733.
“Run away, from Mr. Alex. Vanderdussen’s Plantation at GooseCreek, a Negro Man named Thomas Butler, the famous Pushing and Dancing Master.”
South Carolina Gazette (Timothy), April 8, 1745.
“Run away from the Pelham Privateer, two Negro Men, viz.
Joseph Johnson, born in Bermuda, speaks very good English, had on when he went away a light colour’d Cloth Coat, a speckled Shirt, Oznabrug Frock and Trowsers. Thomas Ebsery, born in Jamaica, a tall slim Fellow, hard of Hearing, he beats a Drum very well and is well known amongst the Negroes in Charles Town, having been here before with Capt. Thrasher.”
South Carolina Gazette (Timothy), November 19, 1750.
“Run away from the Subscriber, at Bacon’s Bridge, a negro fellow named Newman, pretends to be a sort of Doctor,”
South Carolina Gazette (Timothy), May 1 to May 8, 1749.
“RUN AWAY from the Subscriber’s plantation at Stono, about a month ago, a negro fellow named Jack, lately belonging to Mr. Robert Thorpe (and was his driver) and formerly to Mr. Pendarvis deceased; he is a middle aged tall negro, very sensible, and speaks good English, is very expert in hunting, and is pretty well stock’d with cloaths.”
Charleston South Carolina Gazette and General Advertiser, January 15 to January 17,
“RAN AWAY A NEGRO MAN named DAVY, by trade a Carpenter, formerly the property of Mr. Hart, the chairmaker, and lived some time with Mr. Cooke the Carpenter. He is a stout fellow, about 5 feet 10 inches high, 35 or 40 years of age, stoops a good deal, wears a long beard, and is well known in Charlestown as a fiddler.”
Gazette of the State of South Carolina (Timothy & Boden), March 31, 1779.
“RUN away from the Subscriber, a negro Fellow named Quash, formerly a drummer, and well known in most parts of St. Bartholomew’s; he is about 5 feet 10 inches high, spare and well made, very likely and sensible; he carried off with him a drummer’s suit of clothes which he formerly wore when a drummer to the Borough company, with a green coatee and sundry other half worn clothes, as also a gun and a portmantua, containing a few books, papers, clothes, &c.”
Charleston South Carolina and American General Gazette, May 27 to June 3, 1774.
“RUN away the 21st of April last, TWO NEGRO MEN that have been in the country two years, and speak English so as to be understood, viz. Bucharah, a slim made fellow about five feet six or seven inches high, has one remarkable small thigh and leg, occasioned by an old wound; is about thirtythree years of age, and very black; Cupid, his country name Yonge, a small, low, set fellow about five feet three inches high, has an odd cast with his eyes; about twentyseven years of age; is branded on the left arm, above the elbow, BI, but very dull. They are both of a country which they call Sofo, and both speak the Bombra language and Cupid the Fulla language;”
Charleston South Carolina and American General Gazette, January 2, 1777.
“TEN POUNDS reward to any person who will apprehend Abram, a black fellow of the Moco country, having his country marks, particularly very long streaks on his arms, near six feet high, about 30 years old, had on when he went away a white negro cloth jacket and breeches in April last.”
Charleston South Carolina Gazette and General Advertiser, July 12, 1783.
“RUN away, a negro Boy named OTHELLO, about 5 feet high: had on an oznabrig jacket and trowsers, is very lusty, and his head bigger in proportion to his body than ordinary; also a negro Girl, answers to the name of MARIA, about 4 and a half feet high, both of the Gola country, and speaks very bad English”
Charleston Royal Gazette, January 9 to January 12, 1782.
“RUN away from the subscriber, on Christmas day last, a NEGRO FELLOW, named SAMBO, or SAM; he is about five feet high, slim made, and has a small limp or ketch in his walk; he is of a yellowish complexion, and is a little pitted with the smallpox; his upper foreteeth comes a good deal over his lower ones, and his hair is pretty long, being of the Fulla country,”
South Carolina Gazette (Timothy), January 26 to February 2, 1740.
“Run away from James Akin a Negro Fellow, lately belonging to Capt. James Wathen, named Basey, is a short well set Fellow of a tawny Complexion, speaks broken English, and is either an Eboe or Calebar Negro.”
Charleston South Carolina and American General Gazette, August 13 to August 20,1773.
“RUN away from the subscriber in St. Matthew’s Parish, SIX NEW NEGRO MEN; one of them went off in February last, viz. Dibbee, a well set fellow, about five feet six inches high, of the Timine country, his ears bored and his teeth filed, seems about twentyfive years of age and very black.”
Charleston South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, December 5, 1769.
“RUNAWAY, or STOLEN, from the subscriber, in St. Stephen’s parish, on the 28th of October last, a short, likely, yellowish NEGRO WOMAN, about 26 years of age, named BECKEY, of the Ebo country, but looks more like a country born”
South Carolina Gazette (Timothy), August 6 to August 13, 1737.
“RUN AWAY from the Plantation of Isaac Porcher on Wassamsaw, a new Angola Negro Man, named Clawss, […]
N.B. As there is abundance of Negroes in this Province of that Nation, he may chance to be harbour’d among some of them,”
– Brown, R.M. (2002). “Walk in the Feenda”: West-Central Africans and the Forest in the South Carolina–Georgia Lowcountry, in Linda M. Heywood, ed. Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora, 289-318.
– Dixon, A.E. (2007). “Black Seminole involvement and leadership during the Second Seminole War, 1835–1842“, thesis. (link to online PDF)
– Landers, J. (2002). The Central African Presence in Spanish Maroon Communities, in Linda M. Heywood, ed. Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora, 227-242.
– Miller, J.C. (2002). Central Africa During the Era of the Slave Trade, c. 1490s–1850s, in Linda M. Heywood, ed. Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora, 21-70.
– Pollitzer, W.S. (1999). The Gullah People and Their African Heritage.