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Lot 0456
The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha, with "Family Record" preceding the New Testament containing nine pages of the births and deaths of the Levensworth Plantation slaves. Modern leather binding in the style of the period.
A fine example of a "slave bible" kept by the plantation owner and used specifically to record the births and deaths of their servants. In the absence of formal record keeping by the government on the slave population, "slave bibles" such as this example can serve as key genealogical resources for the African-American community. The birth and death dates of the slaves in the Levensworth bible begin in 1829 and end in 1890, with earlier inscriptions in pen and later inscriptions in pencil. In total, 80 births and 38 deaths are noted and span at least 2 generations. This bible is of particular interest because the author, apparently a doctor, took great care to note at length the medical afflictions and accidents that caused the deaths of his slaves. One example: "Pliny - native of Africa - died 16th January 1857. He suffered for 2 or 3 years with some ?? - whether organic or functional unknown - of the Heart. He ultimately died of an ?? of the Stomach - probably cancer. he was a member of the Baptist Church for many years. He was honest in deportment (?) and faithful to his owners." Another example: "Ottawa died 6th August 1857. His death was caused by a blow from the sweep of a log carriage, which produced extensive fracture of the skull. Aged about 60 years. He was very active for one of his age." A third example: "Caroline died October 27th 1848. She was infirmed eight days previously by falling from a waggon (sic) going at full speed - the wheel passing over the right leg - tore the flesh from near the ankle to the knee entirely from the bone (the muscles were not separated from the bone) - but little injury to bone except from the bruise. There were symptoms also of internal injury, probably from the wheel passing over the body - she never recovered from the first shock - the system all the time being so ?? as to forbid amputation." While not definitively attributed to a specific plantation or family, the family names of Levensworth and Leavenworth extend through South Carolina, Virginia, and Kansas, and the Bible could be from the Darlington, South Carolina plantation of Dr. Nathan Leavenworth.
Book measures approximately 11.25" x 9.25" x 2.5".


Most pages with extensive foxing, some with repair and backing. Modern book cover.

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The Levensworth Plantation Slave Bible, 1829-1890

Estimate $5,000 - $7,000Oct 21, 2018