Collection Number: 00389-z

Collection Title: Robert A. Jones Account Book, 1817-1828.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.


This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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Size 1 volume
Abstract Robert A. Jones (Active 1817-1829) was a white owner of a cotton plantation that used enslaved labor and a large landholder in Halifax County, Bertie, and Wake Counties, N.C. His account book, 1817-1829, provides extensive information about the labor of enslaved people, free Blacks, and North American Indians at Occaneeche, the Grove, Indian Woods, and New Hope plantations, as well as at plantations he administered for his ward Willie W. Jones and Mary Montfort Jones, in Bertie County, and James Johnston in Halifax County. Some lists of enslaved people include biographical information. The account book also documents Jones's personal and household expenses and his work as treasurer of the Wardens of the Poor for Halifax County, 1820-1822.
Creator Jones, Robert A., fl. 1817-1828.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Robert A. Jones Account Book #389-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of the Records of ante-bellum southern plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series J.
Acquisitions Information
Received before 1940.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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Robert A. Jones (Active 1817-1829) was a white owner of a cotton plantation that used enslaved labor and a large landholder in Halifax County, N.C., where he served as treasurer of the Wardens of the Poor and treasurer of the Roanoke Navigation Company. Jones enslaved people and owned property elsewhere in North Carolina as well, including Bertie and Wake counties. Plantations he either owned or helped manage included the Grove, Occaneeche, New Hope, and Indian Woods. He appears also to have operated a paper mill outside Raleigh, N.C., and a blacksmith shop in Halifax. Between 1817 and 1826, Jones served as guardian for Willie W. Jones, who was possibly his nephew. Willie was the son of Mrs. Mary Montfort Jones, for whom Robert Jones acted as estate administrator after her death in 1825. In 1823, Jones was also appointed estate administrator for James Johnston (d. 1821), former postmaster of Halifax County, who died intestate.

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Robert Jones's account book, 1817-1829, provides extensive information about the labor of enslaved people, free Blacks, and North American Indians. Enslaved people are recorded by owner, with notes on their hiring out. There are also accounts for wages paid, monies lent, and goods sold to other laborers (see, for example, on pages 329-334). There are also accounts with enslaved midwives. Jones also recorded when he purchased an enslaved person. Of note is an undated inventory (p. 183-184) of people enslaved by him. Jones documented his charitable giving to enslaved people and free Blacks, usually indicating racial distinctions, and age groups, giving some indication of the makeup of the local Black population of Halifax. The plantations where Jones enslaved people included Occaneeche, the Grove, Indian Woods, and New Hope. The precise locations of these plantations is not clear, but probably were in Halifax, Bertie, and Wake counties, N.C.

The labor of enslaved people and free Blacks can also be found in account records for the plantations that Jones managed for his ward, Willie W. Jones, of Bertie County, between 1817 and 1826; for Willie's mother, Mary Montfort Jones, whose estate he administered after her death in 1825; and for James Johnston of Halifax, whose estate he was appointed by a commission to administer in 1823.

Business accounts Jones maintained for his ward, Willie W. Jones, appear mostly on pages 105-106, 207-209, 343-352, 389-396, and 401-412. Covering the years 1817 to 1826, these accounts record expenditures made on Willie's behalf and arrangements for the hire of people enslaved by Willie M. Jones in Bertie County. Included are several lists of enslaved people giving ages and number of children. Jones often made copious notes on his decisions about hiring out enslaved people, as well as on his other financial actions.

Entries Jones made in his account book as administrator for the estates of Mary Montfort Jones and James Johnston include lists of enslaved people, inventories of property, accounts, and copies of memoranda and other legal papers. Entries for Mary Jones appear between pages 413-430. Entries for Johnston appear on pages 373-376 and 417-418.

Jones's own plantation and business accounts are mostly with commission and hardware merchants, overseers, hired hands, and other plantation owners for the hire of the people enslaved by them. Accounts with Richard Carter, overseer at New Hope Plantation in 1822 and 1825, appear on pages 341 and 387-388. Accounts with Solomon Griffin, overseer at Indian Woods Plantation in 1818 and 1824, and Jonathan Skiles, overseer at an unknown location in 1818, appear on pages 129-130 and 385-386. Accounts with Micajah Griffin, overseer in 1821, appear on pages 309-310. In addition to the accounts about enslaved people and laborers, there are accounts with veterinarians; artisans, such as blacksmiths, cabinetmakers, and waggoners; and independent businessmen, such as well diggers, auctioneers, and surveyors. Jones also recorded monies spent for taxes and for the purchase of livestock, cotton seed, cotton for resale, and coal, which was used in his blacksmithing concern. Other business accounts are for deposits to the Newbern Bank and for stocks held in the Roanoke Navigation Company (p. 165 and 397) and the Halifax Bridge Company (p. 398). There is limited information about Jones's other business activities, which included operating a paper mill and blacksmith shop and acting as treasurer of the Roanoke Navigation Company.

The account book also includes Jones' personal and household expenses. Jones kept personal and household accounts with grocers and dry goods merchants, hatters, weavers, tailors, shoemakers, barbers, and doctors. Personal accounts also appear for electioneering and travel expenses, literary and newspaper subscriptions, monies lent, and individual charitable contributions. Of note in his personal accounts are expenditures for many popular entertainments of the day, including gambling (cards, cockfighting, horse racing, and lotteries), the circus, subscriptions to balls and the Jockey Club, and admission to Punch and the Devil shows. Other personal expenditures he made were for subscriptions to the Bible Society and for the preaching of a Reverend Wright.

Accounts Jones kept as treasurer of the Wardens of the Poor for Halifax County appear between 1820 and 1823. Pages 189-197, 361-362, and 369-370 list names and amounts contributed either by or to individuals.

Other entries include property inventories and personal notes and observations. Scattered notes to himself in the volume concern bookkeeping techniques, his thoughts on his spending habits, the purposes of his personal charity (e.g., he gave $10 to E. Wade "to start him in the World,") and comments on the character of individuals with whom he dealt. Two enclosures are one receipt from Richard Carter, dated 27 January 1826, for timber sawed and one undated page of miscellaneous calculations.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jill Snider, May 1992

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Conscious Editing Work by: Nancy Kaiser, July 2020. Updated abstract, subject headings, biographical note, scope and content note, and container list.

Since August 2017, we have added ethnic and racial identities for individuals and families represented in collections. To determine identity, we rely on self-identification; other information supplied to the repository by collection creators or sources; public records, press accounts, and secondary sources; and contextual information in the collection materials. Omissions of ethnic and racial identities in finding aids created or updated after August 2017 are an indication of insufficient information to make an educated guess or an individual's preference for identity information to be excluded from description. When we have misidentified, please let us know at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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