One of the central documents that has been used to learn about the enslaved African Americans who lived at St. Mary’s Manor was a list compiled by Dr. Brome in 1867. While his slaves had been freed by this point, and the Civil War was over, there was still plenty of confusion and discontent among white planters, particularly in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, about the status of blacks, and the loss of their labor and property. For former slave owners like Dr. Brome, their slaveholdings not only constituted the means of labor, but also represented their social standing and were significant financial investments. In particular, as slaveholders who had lived in a state that remained with the Union, they believed that they were afforded compensation for the slaves they lost during and as a result of the Civil War.
There had been some legal precedent to this claim: Maryland laws preceding the Civil War had allowed for compensation in the event that slavery was ended. This was not the case in 1867, however, although there was a small glimmer of hope that the Federal Government would provide compensation. Therefore, the Maryland general assembly accumulated the necessary data. A number of former Maryland slaveowners, therefore, submitted lists of their slaves, including their first and last names, age, gender, their physical condition, terms of their enslavement, and the means by which they became free: all of this data would have been necessary in determining the monetary value of the individual. In the end, Dr. Brome, and his mother Ann Aschomb, who also owned slaves, was only reimbursed for the slaves who enlisted in the Union Army, and was only given $100 per soldier: a sum significantly lower than their actual value. Because these documents were submitted to the state of Maryland, they have remained in the the archives. Recently, the lists from St. Mary’s County have been fully transcribed and we have made these transcriptions available on the website.
For our purposes as researchers, this document is immensely valuable, since it gives a glimpse into the family structures that may have existed on Dr. Brome’s plantation. It also gives us insight into the period during the Civil War, indicating that the plantation landscape was much more fragile during war time. A number of slaves took the opportunity to escape with the Union Army or enlist when the opportunity arose. Because of this list, we are able to track down those who enlisted.
We are also hopeful that this list will give us the opportunity to link the individuals who were enslaved at St. Mary’s Manor to living descendants. Because we have first and last names, there is a chance that, through genealogical research, these links can be made. With that end in mind, we have fully transcribed the document and made it available here on our website. We would like to encourage you to contact us if you believe you may be connected to one of the individuals on the list. Some of the names of larger families include Biscoe, Butler, Gough, Dyson, and Whalen.
You can visit our Genealogical Page here, and view our transcription of the document, as well as the transcription done Agnes Callum and made available online by the Maryland State Archives. These two transcriptions differ, in part because we have been able to use comparative documents such as the 1870 census to verify or change some of the names.