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Station 11: Slavery
Altogether there are about forty graves in the cemetery, including the graves of several enslaved persons. We do know that Dicy received part ownership of an enslaved woman named Jude and any children Jude might have later. The birth of at least one of these children, Sarah Horner, on June 27, 1830, is recorded in William and Dicy’s family Bible. Betty Austin Aston, then at age 99, had a clear recollection of “Aunt Sarah”, daughter of Jude, who was still working for the family when she, Betty, was a small child about 1898 or 1899.
Back in those days, it was not at all unusual for the enslaved, who were all freed by President Lincoln’s 1862 Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War, to remain with their masters’ families and continue to work indefinitely even though they had been freed. In many families, the enslaved were like a part of the family; and though they had lived a life of servitude, this was the only life that they had ever known. So even though they had been freed, many stayed and were compensated by free room and board, and other amenities.
Some of the enslaved at Lonesome lived in the original log house, sleeping in the upstairs area over the original kitchen. Later, after the enslaved were sold or freed by President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, this part of the original log house was torn down and replaced with the present kitchen.
Slavery was a part of everyday life in Tennessee during this time. Although slavery existed throughout the state, most enslaved persons lived in Middle and West Tennessee. The majority of African Americans who lived in the state were enslaved. Twenty-five percent of white families in Tennessee owned enslaved persons.