Henderson County Kentucky
Sale and Separation of George William Warfield
By Carolyn L. Warfield
The complexity of heritage lets me construct my
ancestor’s identity even though his name varied across time as an
imposition of a condition. This case concerns a transfer of ownership
for my paternal great-grandfather, George William Warfield, of Henderson
County, Kentucky in the early 1850s, and the characteristics of building
this case by pulling out consistent clues offered in the primary
sources. Prior to the late 1840s, the sale of slaves was a personal
business transaction which was not tracked or announced to the public
except through public auction.1 Slaves sold to settle an
estate were generally sold at the county court house.
George Warfield was sold about age 12, after farmer
Richard Warfield (1773-1838) perished by death. Richard Warfield’s farm
was in Henderson County near the Uniontown Road in Walnut Bottom. In
1838, Warfield died intestate, 2 leaving his next of kin to
administer his estate, which placed my relatives in uncertainty and
unstable circumstances. George was born to Anna Warfield the previous
year and successfully reached adolescence before his life forever
Richard Warfield’s youngest son and namesake, was
orphaned as a minor when his father expired, and placed under the
guardianship of an older brother who administered the family estate
until Richard Nicholas was 21 years old. As a 30-year old farmer in
Henderson County in 1850, Richard Nicholas Warfield (1820-1896) enslaved
three Negroes: one female, age 26, one male, age 12, and one female, age
4.4 The 1850 Federal Census for District 1 of Henderson
County found Richard Nicholas Warfield living next door to his nephew,
Samuel R. Hopkins, age 6, in the household of his parents, Arthur J. and
Elizabeth L. (Warfield) Hopkins. Later in 1908, Samuel R. Hopkins, age
63, declared he had known George since childhood. “He belonged to my
uncle Richard N. Warfield and was sold to William Beverley,” according
to Hopkins’ general affidavit.5 The 1851 and 1852
Agricultural Schedules of Richard Nicholas Warfield recorded his
ownership of four slaves in both years. Richard N. Warfield settled his
father’s estate in between his marriage to Anne Eliza Church and their
removal to Saline County, Illinois in 1852, where she passed in 1853.6
As a point of clarification, William Posey Beverley
(1818-1906), son of William and Sarah Anne (Posey) Beverley, was
George’s second enslaver. Beverley and his father migrated from Virginia
to Henderson County in 1832.7 Thus William P. Warfield
inherited the fertile farmland his father owned after he died, about
1837. William Beverley had no will. William P. Beverley’s life followed
the occupation of farming, living upon his farm but in later years
resided in the city.8 As local planters the Beverley’s
produced tobacco and other staples. Over time they cultivated 525 acres
of land lying on the Canoe Creek water course and owned property
situated on the Lick Creek, Ohio River, and Green River water ways.9
In 1880, a map of the Beverley’s larger farm near Spottsville
Road (Parcel 42, District 5, of Lower Henderson) appeared in An
Illustrated Historical Atlas of Henderson County Kentucky.10
The 1850 Federal Census for District 1 of Henderson County listed
William P. Beverley, age 31, living with his family, wife Catherine, age
23, and infant daughter Cornelia, in a home valued at $6,300. Among the
14 anonymous enslaved workers under Beverley’s control in 1850, one was
a 12 year-old male.11 In a 2 January , 1903 deposition, my
ancestor George appeared for a special examination of the Bureau of
Pensions and asserted “prior to the war I was a slave and belonged to
William Beverley who lived three or four miles east of Henderson. He now
lives in Henderson.”12
To further substantiate my ancestor’s transfer of
ownership, reference is made to a portion of the 1851 Will of Mrs. Sarah
Anne Beverley (William Posey Beverley’s mother), where she stated “any
other slaves or property of any description that I may die possessed of,
or not mentioned, or otherwise disposed of by this will, I give to my
three sons Robert [Gaines], William [Posey] and Henry [M] to be equally
divided among them.”13 Although these bondspeople were
anonymous, in the 15 August 1853 Deed of Bequest from Henry M. Beverley
to Frances C. Beverley (his wife), Henry acknowledged a boy in his
possession named George, about 15 years old, whom he granted and
conveyed to his wife Frances.14 William Posey’s younger
brother Henry sometimes managed the smaller Beverley farm situated on
the Green River water course.
Subsequently, on 19 September 1864, George enlisted in the Union Army as
a private in the 118th U.S Colored Infantry at Owensboro
(Daviess) County, Kentucky, 15 and said, “when I enlisted I
was required to enlist under my master’s name, therefore enlisted and
served under the name of Beverly.” He knew he was being victimized, but
empowered himself by exercising an agency he felt was his birthright
when he confronted the institution of slavery.
1. Notable Kentucky African American website.
Illustrated Historical Atlas of Henderson County Kentucky, Philadelphia,
PA: D. J. Lake and Co., 1880, 6.
3. Appraisable Property, 1838 Will of Richard Warfield, Henderson County
KY: Book B, p 483; December 24, 1838 County Court, Henderson County KY
Court Order: Book D, p 382. Warfield’s land was located on the Ohio
River above the mouth of the Green River.
4. Ancestry Library Edition, 1850 Slave Schedule for Richard N. Warfield,
Dist. 1, Henderson Co., KY.
5. Ancestry Library Edition, 1850 Federal Census, Richard N. Warfield, Dist
1, Henderson County, KY: Line 11, Dwelling #220, Family #230; Arthur J,
Elizabeth L. and Samuel Hopkins, Lines 6-8, Dwelling #219, Family 229;
George William Warfield Pension Certificate #679671, Washington D.C:
National Archives Records and Administration.
6. Richard N. Warfield Family Group Sheet; communication with James
Pearce, living descendant of Warfield family in 2008.
7. Edmund Starling, History of Henderson Kentucky, 814; January 1837
Henderson County KY Court Order: Book D, 298.
8. Edmund Starling, History of Henderson Kentucky, 814, 815.
9. Beverly Family Tax Lists, Henderson County Kentucky: 1840-1850, Beverly
Family Agricultural Schedules: 1849-1852, Henderson County Kentucky.
Illustrated Historical Atlas of Henderson County Kentucky, 16.
11. Ancestry Library Edition, 1850 Federal Census for William P. Beverley,
Dist 1, Henderson County, KY: Lines 36-38, Dwelling #201, Family #210;
1850 Slave Schedule for William P. Beverley, Dist 1, Henderson County,
KY; An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Henderson County, Kentucky,
Philadelphia, PA: D. L. Lake and Co., 1880, 16.
William Warfield Pension Certificate #679671, Washington, D. C.:
National Archives Records and Administration.
Will for Sarah A. Beverley, Henderson County Kentucky: Book C, 108.
Deed of Bequest from Henry M. to Frances C. Beverley, Henderson County
Kentucky, Book P, 27, 28.
William Warfield Pension Certificate #679671, Washington, D.C.: National
Archives Records and Administration.