Introduction to the Combined List of
Those Enslaved at Bracketts Plantation 1800-1865

At the request of a direct descendant, we worked for 3 months to find the names of all individuals enslaved at Bracketts.  This turned out to be much more difficult than we thought. 

The first difficulty was we only had first names within the Watson Papers at the University of Virginia Library.  We quickly saw there were multiples of the same name.  This required us to find additional information for these individuals.  Fortunately, we were able to find birth dates in the Watson Papers thus confirming that there were enslaved individuals with the same first name at Bracketts during this 65 year period.

We consider this an ongoing work due, in part, to the complexity of the records within the Watson Papers journals.

Each of these names will be engraved on individual granite bricks that will comprise the surround for the memorial stone to be placed at the rediscovered slave cemetery. The surround will contain some blank granite bricks so any discovered names can be readily added.

We have scant and fragmented information about those who are interred at the slave cemetery. This research continues, even though it is doubtful if we will ever know the names of all of those who lie there.



Finding the Enslaved People at Bracketts

For more than a year we have been working  to identify the names of those enslaved at Bracketts.  We have made progress recently and have decided to share our work.

We have been working decade by decade from the time David Watson arrived at Bracketts in 1800.  The first decades between 1800 and 1810 are very chaotic with enslaved individuals traveling between David's family home called Clover Plains (now called Ionia) and Bracketts.  They are only about 3 miles apart.  Apparently David was borrowing enslaved individuals, who were owned by his parents, to help him and his new wife Sally with beginning to make Bracketts their own.  So far, the records are very scarce for this first 10 years they were at Bracketts. 

Discovery of the Watson Family Bible gave a huge boost to our search for early enslaved people.


For 30 years the births of enslaved mothers were recorded in it until there was no room left to write on the pages.  All of these bible entries are captured in the assembly of enslaved people beginning with 1820.  This was also a census year and those records contain a total for the number of those enslaved.  These census numbers were used as a guide, not as an authoritative document.  There are good and sufficient reasons for what we have done, we will just leave it there for now. 

So, here is the state of our work for 1820; 30; 40; 50; and 60. We are working on 1870.  This period is much more difficult but, we will keep at it.

Due to the sudden death of David Watson on July 30, 1830, records once again become chaotic.  Sally Watson inherits the enslaved population at Bracketts, but there is an interruption in transition of ownership through one of their sons, George Watson.  We are still trying to figure out what was going on and why Sally's ownership seems to have been delayed for 7-9 years.     The death of David Watson and his last will and testament gives us an accounting of the enslaved people he owned, their ages, sometimes notes about their health, as well as each individual's worth (as required by law).

We will account for and report here the Enslaved People at Bracketts in these periods.  As our research continues, we hope to add details about the lives of these individuals.

1820-1830 Census
1840-1850 Census

1860 Census

Emancipation Day
1870-1880 Census of those still living at Bracketts

Supported by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation’s Enriching Communities Fund