Washington County, Missouri was built largely with slave labor. Many of the early founding families owned slaves who did most of the work.  Sadly most of the names & life stories of these slaves have been lost & forgotten in the mists of time.

The first slaves arrived in Upper Louisiana (Missouri) circa 1720 when Philip Francois Renault brought 500 slaves from San Domingo to work the lead mines.  In 1723 Renault received a grant for one & one-half leagues of land in the area which is now Washington County.  Mining operations continued for many years along Big River, Mineral Fork & Fourche Renault creeks.

Moses Austin, founding father of Potosi, arrived in Washington County, Missouri circa 1797.  He received a Spanish grant of 7,153 aprents & he & his 40 to 50 slaves & employees sank the first mine shaft in Missouri & began mining & smelting lead.  They built the first reverbatory furnace west of the Mississippi River. They also built bridges & roads, a store & a blacksmith shop, a flour mill, a saw mill, a shot tower, & turned out the first sheet lead & cannonballs made in Missouri.

The notorious duelist John Smith "T" arrived in Missouri circa 1800 & after residing in Ste. Genevieve a few years he settled in Shibboleth in what is now Washington County.  Smith "T" kept a number of slaves who were experts at making weapons. His slave gunsmith, Dave, had five mechanics working for him in a shop built expressly for his use. The slave's only duty was to keep the rifles, guns, and pistols in order. 

The James Huitt Sr. family arrived in Washington County in 1805 settling on Big River in the northern part of Belleview Valley bringing one slave with them.  In 1814 they had six slaves.  By 1828 Elizabeth Huitt had 14 slaves.  Some of the slaves are buried in the Huitt-Brock Family Cemetery on the property of the old farm on Brock Creek.

Thirty households of settlers & slaves arrived in Bellevue Valley from the Iredell & Lincoln counties of North Carolina 30 Nov. 1807.

The prominent Perry family settled in Washington County circa 1808.  At the time of his death in 1825 William M. Perry owned nearly 40 slaves.

Many slave owners treated their slaves humanely such as in the Huitt family.  It is said that when the slaves were legally freed there was mourning between them & members of their former masters' family because of the loving bond that developed over the years.  But life was hard & some slaves suffered greatly at the hands of their owners & overseers.  In 1829 Jacob Fisher mercilessly beat one of his female slaves, Patience, to death with a stick.  There was a large bruise on her right hip, a cut above her right eye, her left ear was smashed & partly torn off, & her neck & both arms were broken. Although it was legally permissible to whip one's slaves killing them was in violation of the laws of Louisiana. No legal action was taken against Fisher but due to the extreme disapproval of the community about his actions he left Washington County.

The Carson sisters owned slaves & had a plantation near Belgrade.  During the Civil War their home was burned & they were forced to cross Big River at night to seek refuge at the home of their brother.

The Manning brother at Palmer were large dealers in buying & selling slaves.

The Mathias brothers at Palmer were also dealers in slaves.

George Breckenridge was a large plantation & slave owner & was located on Big River & Clear Creek.

John Rice Jones was a slave owner & all of his children owned slaves.

There were many other slave holders in Washington County besides the ones mentioned above.  More information on the slaves of Washington County will be added to this page as it is acquired...............


Westover - Ambrose (Slave) - Whaley - Henry - Brickey - year 1818



JOHN SMITH "T" was the first man in Washington County indicted for murder.  In the 1821 circuit court of the county, Smith T. admitted that he had shot Richard Rose at Samuel Thompson's stillhouse, four miles north of Potosi - but avoided punishment by claiming that Rose had tried to persuade some of his slaves to leave him.



This building on Lot #18 in Caledonia was built by slave owner Jacob Fisher in 1824 & is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was originally used as a stage stop & inn.  The house had 12 rooms & a dirt floor basement with separate quarters in the back for slaves.  In 2006 it became the Caledonia Wine Cottage.  After the opening of the slave quarters numerous persons began experiencing periodic paranormal occurrences throughout the house.  For more information click here.


The Casey Home on High Street in Potosi was built by slaves in 1825.      Photographed: 23 Sept. 2002

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John Smith T became very upset when his younger brother, Rueben, died in 1828. He was convinced that the slaves of Rueben's father-in-law poisoned Rueben while practicing black magic.


James Huitt, Sr. lived on Big River in the northern part of Belleview Valley.  After James Huitt's death in 1814 his slaves were divided among his heirs in 1829:

We the undersigned appraisors having been appointed by an order of Court and duly sworn to apraise and distribute the slaves of the estate of James Huitt Deceased among the heirs of said Deceased have performed that service and make the following report to wit:

14 negroes Valued at.............................$3,545.00

To Elizabeth Brock widow of James Huitt Decd. two negroes - Hannah & Cyrus .........725.00 which she agrees to take for her part

Lemuel Huitt - two Rolin & Rachel infant...................235.00

William Huitt one Boy Isom at.............................450.00

James Huitt one Boy Russel at.............................300.00

Green Huitt one Boy Major at..............................250.00

Wilkinson Huitt three Boys at Jackson, David, and Joseph at .....................335.00

Polly Huitt one girl at 400.00

Leaving for two absent heirs to wit Elijah and John two women Rachel and Eliza and one Boy Alson at ................$850.00

Amt. $3,454.00

Appraisors:  John Hutchings, Samuel Henderson, James Robinson

State of Missouri - Washington County - Sworn to and Subscribed to before me this 4th Day of Frbruary 1829 Certified under my hand this Day and year afore said

Andrew Goforth, Justice of the Peace




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Front view of old Presbyterian Church which was built 1832/33.  It now serves as a museum.

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Slave gallery in old Presbyterian Church


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Old worn stairway leading to slave gallery in old Presbyterian Church on Breton Street in Potosi.




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Robert Blackwell probate record of 1847 includes notice of sale of slaves - $3.00, appraisal of slaves:  one negro woman named Lucy $400.00, one boy named John $200.00, one small girl named Mary $175.00.  Total sale of slaves belonging to the estate of Robt. Blackwell - $775.00.  Mr. Blackwell lived in the area of Cadet.  At right is a picture of the Blackwell property as it looked in 2014.  It was strip mined in the 1960's & most of the land is now overgrown with forest & groundcover.



1850 Slave Owners In Washington County, Missouri - Enumerated by:  D.E.Perrymann
The 1850 slave schedules for Washington County listed over 200 slave owning families with over 2800 slaves.  Below are the surnames of the slave holders.  Often there were multiple families with the same surname but I only listed the name once.

Aldridge, Ashbrook, Batterton, Bening, Bequette, ?Berkinbur?, Blackwell, Blome, Boas, Bolounty, Booth, Boulduce, Boyer, Brechenridge, Brickey, Brice, Brill, Brinker, Brock, Buford, Burns, Bryan, Byrd, Carson, Casey, Castleman, Catlette, Cheatham,     Cole,   Compton, Cook, Cotter, Covington,  Cresswell, Davis,  Dean,  Desloge, Doan, Duclos, Dugan, Dunklin, Edmunds, Eidson, Ellison, Engledove, Evans,  Fitzpatric, Frissell, Godat, Goff,  Goodykuntz, Gordon, Gratiot, Grey, Green, Grider,  Haefner, ?Hagum?, Harris, Harrison,  Hawkins,   Hicks, Higginbotham, Honsey, Horine, Howard,  Huffmann, Hugahn,  Hughes,  Hulsey,  Hunt, Hunter,  Hutchings,  Johnson,  Kendall, Kennett, Lamarque,  Leigh, Livingston,  Long, Lynch, Madden, Major, Manning, Martin, Mathews, Maxwell, McClanahan,  McCrackin,  McCrary, McDaniel, McGready, McIlvaine, Miller, Minks, Misplay,  Mitchell,   Moor,  Murphy,  Nichols, ?Norvel?, OBuchon, Owens,  Parkin,  Parkinson, Perry, Pierpoint, Pinson, Rambo,  Relf,  Roberts, Robinson,  Roussin, Ruggles, Rullidge,  Russle,  Scott,  Settle, Silvers, ?Simmons?, Shaver, Shore, Sloan, Smith, Springer, Staples,  Stephenson,  Stewart, Sulivan, ?Swan?, Taggot, Tenison, Terrill, Thomas, Thompson, Twidy,   Wallen, Walton, Webber, Westover, White, Wilcox, Williams,  Wingo, Woods, Yeargan



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The Hopewell Spring was built by slaves probably belonging to John Evens around 1858 as that is when the town of Hopewell was founded.  Photographed: 2005



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Sweet Memories Sandwich & Ice Cream Shop ~ From: The Miner's Prospect (1990 Souvenir Edition) ~ Francis X. Connelly House - The builder is unknown.  The small house in the back (no longer exists) was referred to by old-timers as the slave house.  The slaves had been freed but continued to live with the Connellys.  The slaves slept in the little house but ate in the kitchen of the big house. 


1860 Slave Owners In Washington County, Missouri
Often there were multiple families with the same surname but I only listed the name once.

Aminet, Anthony, Bell, Benning,   Blounty, Boas, Bolduc, Boothe, ?Boyand?, Boyer, Boyd, Brechenridge, Breckenridge, Brock, Bryan, Byrd,  Campbell, Carson, Casey, Castleman, Catlette, Chalfant,  Cheatam & ????, Clarkson, Coffee, Cole, Coleman, Cresswell,  Davis, Deane, Desloge, Dugan, Dunklin, Engledove, Evans, Eversole, Flynn,  Frissell, Gratiot, Gray, Green, Griffith, Haefner,  Harris, Hawkins,  Highly, Hill, ?Horine?, Horton,  Hulsey, Hunter,  Hutchings, Jamison,  Johnson,  Joel, LaMarque, ?LeBaugaine?, Long,  Malloy,   Martin, Manning, Mathews, Maxwell, McCormick, McCracken,  McFarland, McGready,  McIlvaine, ?McMoore?, McMurtry, McSpadden,  Misplay, Nicholson, OBuchon, OHanlin, Parkin, Peery, Perry,  Poston, Relfe, ,?Ropin?, Rutledge, Scott, Settle, Sherlock, Shore, Sloan, Smith, Springer,  St. Gem, Stevenson, Summers, ?Tagart?, Taylor, Tennison, Thomas, Thompson, Wallen,Walton, Wash.Silvers&Levi, ?Waugh?,  Wingo


Photographed:  2007

Window opening from upstairs foyer to the slave quarters

Trap door in floor of slave quarters where slaves went downstairs directly into the kitchen.



At right is a picture of the old Bust family mansion.  It & the grounds are said to be haunted & that there may be ghosts of slaves there too.  For more pics & info go to:

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ST. JAMES CATHOLIC CHURCH-North Missouri St. -  Built 1859-1861.  The bricks were made from local clay by slaves.  Citizens of all denominations took refuge here & prayed for their lives when Gen. Shelby's Confederate troops bombarded the nearby courthouse with cannon fire during the "Battle of Potosi".  The rebels captured the town Sept. 27, 1864.          Photographed:October, 1998



Correspondence of the Missouri Republican [St. Louis]
Washington County, [Missouri] June 27, 1862
SAMUEL LONG a large slave owner was murdered by Union soldiers during the Civil War. For complete story go to:



The new Presbyterian Church at right was designed by John Anderson Lankford famous American black architect who was born in Potosi & was the son of former slaves. 

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Follow the links below for more information on other sites.









JOE CASEY - "I did not get to see my daddy long. He served in de first of de war and come home sick and died at Cadet. I was born at Cadet. I lives here in Festus and am 90 years old. My mother was Arzella Casey and was a slave in Cadet. Tom Casey owned both my mother and father. De master had a pretty good farm end dat was where I worked when I was a boy. Mr. Casey never hit me a lick in my life. He was sure good to us..................For complete narative go to:

PETER CORN:........I went den out in Washington County at Fotosi and stayed with my two uncles out dere. I served in a iron factory dere for about two years. Sometimes I would get $5 a day. Den when de price would fall off I would get less.....................For complete narative go to:

WES LEE:  I've had 12 children and I was married 55 years when my wife died. I only got 6 children livin' now, 4 boys and 2 girls. One of my girls, Alice, is a teacher................. I went naked, barefooted, and hungry and send my daughter to school............. Bessie is my other daughtor, and she has taught school for 18 years.................taught at Cape Girardeau 4 years, at Lost Creek in Washington County 2 years...................For complete narative go to:



"African-American History Of Washington County" by Elizabeth Launer




SOURCES:  Colonial Ste. Genevieve by Carl J. Ekberg - Frontier Swashbuckler - The Life & Legend of John Smith T - Dick Steward  -;