In 1834, former President James Madison sold 16 slaves to William Taylor who lived in Point Coupee, Louisiana and owned two plantations: Lakeland and the Briers. Taylor (1782-1850) was born in Orange County, Virginia a cousin to Presidents Madison and Taylor: a fact that presumably made the sale of the sixteen individuals more palatable, at least to Mr. Madison. Taylor was married to Lucy Lewis Thom of Culpeper County, Virginia (1812-1864) who would manage the properties after Taylor’s death in 1850.
I am engaged in discovering as much as possible about the sixteen with the goal of finding a living descendant: an extraordinary challenge, but well worth the pursuit.
Only one known name currently exists: ‘Betty.’
The preferred age of those brought to the south for plantation work was between 15 and 30, suggesting that their birth years would fall between 1804 and 1819 and of course, born in Virginia.
A Taylor diary, letters from Lucy Taylor, Census records and newspaper ads have been found. Further research should reveal land sales, a will and other court records that may disclose names of those enslaved.
An interesting lead from the 1870 Census record notes that living in Ward 6, Assumption, Louisiana was a Black family headed by a James Madison born in Virginia in 1819, married to a Nelly, born in Virginia in 1825 and included a woman named Anna Rose, born in Virginia in 1805, possibly Nelly’s mother.
If you have any related information, please contact me as soon as possible.
Zann Nelson, Director, Montpelier’s African American Descendants’ Project
16439 Reva Rd, Reva, VA 22735
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