Travel and Transfer

Draft posted 20220312

In December 1830, Lewis set off from St. Inigoe's Manor in on a trip to visit his family in Baltimore (roughly 100 miles) and then to Georgetown (roughly 50 miles). Trained as a blacksmith, Lewis had a good working relationship with Joseph Carbery, SJ who was the manager at St. Inigoe's at that point. Carbery had given Lewis permission to make the trip, but toward the end of January 1831 he began to worry because he'd not heard from Lewis. The weather that winter was bad, and perhaps Lewis had been delayed. Carbery wrote to George Fenwick, SJ at Georgetown to inquire as to whether Lewis had reached that destination, since the weather had certainly been to bad for him to make his way back home to St. Mary's County.1 Similarly, Carbery was willing to allow Sam and Hilary to also make the trip to Georgetown to meet Lewis. Sam was due to get married in February and he wanted to visit his parents first. Sam and Hilary did not make their trip because the weather was too bad.2

Carbery's willingess to allow these enslaved people to traverse hundreds of miles between the various sites owned by the Jesuits may not have been unusual. This temporary travel was related to personal and family relationships. In other cases, the notations for travel offered no explanation. On July 1, 1796 the manager at Bohemia Manor allowed , but did not elaborate on their destination or the reason for their trip.3 However, much of the traffic between the Jesuit properties was related to day to day labor issues. For instance, on November 1, 1797, Bohemia's manager sent Suky to Baltimore with provisions.4 Skilled laborers frequently shuttled between the farms to assist with major projects. In 1825, Charles, a carpenter, was detailed from St. Thomas's Manor to St. Inigoe's Manor to complete a special project.5

Each of these individual trips existed within a web of reciprocal relationships among the enslaved people and the various Jesuits charged with accounting for their time and activities. By all indications, there relationships seem to have been positive and in some ways beneficial to the parties involved, but in some cases the shuttling between sites was more fraught. In 1827, Stephen's pass allowing him to travel from Georgetown also included a letter detailing a personal saga. William Feiner, President of Georgetown College was sending him back to St. Thomas's Manor because the plan to send him and his wife to the new Jesuit mission in Missouri had collapsed. Stephen was married to a woman who was not owned by the Jesuits, but they intended to buy her so that the two could go together to the Missouri mission. Stephen was willing to go, but his wife was not and she did not actually seem to want to have anything to do with him. Furthermore, the Jesuit's claimed that Stephen's bad conduct prevented him from being hired out. So, their only recourse was to send him back to Francis Neale at St. Thomas's Manor.6

Stephen's failed venture to Georgetown suggests another category of travel that would have been significantly more disruptive to the lives of the enslaved: estate transfers. Over the decades that the Jesuits owned enslaved people in Maryland they periodically moved large groups of people from one plantation to another. These moves were permanent and required those enslaved people to leave their family and friends and adjust to life in a new place, with new managers, overseers, and surrounding communities of other enslaved people.

The first major transfer occurred in 1765 with the establishment of St. Joseph's Manor. After securing the land for the mission, Joseph Mosley, SJ set out across the Chesapeake Bay with eight enslaved people. Those the brought with him--two men, one older woman, and five children--left behind 65 of their friends and family at White Marsh. The group included Nanny Cooper and her son Tom who was 30 years old, and Frank and five of his children. Certainly the transfer was not nearly as dramatic as being sold away to Georgia or Louisiana, but the day to day adjustment must have been significant. Separated from their loved ones, the small group had to endure life in the barest of accommodations until they, Mosley, and hired hands managed to to build up the plantation from the ground up, including fortifying and expanding the housing and clearing the property for farming.7

Decades later another group of enslaved people faced the disorientation of transfer not to establish a new plantation but as the result of a long drawn out conflict, and finally, a death of a Jesuit. Since the whole enslaved population was supposed to be owned in common once the Corporation for Roman Catholic Clergyman was established in 1792, they were not usually subject to the disorientation and upheaval that accompanied the death of an owner, which might result in the separation of family members through inheritance. Nonetheless, irregularities in that arrangement did arise, and John Ashton, SJ, participated in many of those irregularities. Between 1792 and 1810, Ashton was embroiled in a set of freedom petition lawsuits filed my members of the Mahoney and Queen families while he was manager at White Marsh. These contentious actions and their outcomes considerably strained Ashton's relationship with his cousin John Carroll, who as Archbishop of Baltimore and an established leader in the province found himself regularly trying to account for the expense and disorder of Ashton's management and relationship to the larger Jesuit community. In 1801, Carroll removed Ashton from his position at White Marsh. Eventually, Ashton settled near St. Thomas's Manor and continued his personal control over a larger number of enslaved people (had Ashton taken them from White Marsh?).8 In February 1815, Ashton died, leaving a will that accounted for the distribution of his real estate and a number of enslaved people.** In executing that will, Notley Young, SJ had eleven enslaved people appraised by Wilfred Manning and George Jenkins in 1816. Then, in February 1817 Giovanni Grassi, SJ, President of Georgetown College had those individuals transfered away from the St. Thomas's area to St. Inigoe's Manor, roughly 50 miles to the south.9

Though these estate transfers were unsettling for the individuals involved, each of them sent people to places that lay within a 50 mile radius. In the 1820s, the enslaved people at White Marsh faced the possibility of being transferred much further afield. In April 1823, Adam Marshall, SJ, the Procurator of the Maryland Province of Jesuits, agreed to send six enslaved people with Charles Van Quickenborne, SJ, to the new Missouri mission. First the group settled in Flourisant, MO to found the Saint Stanislaus novitiate and farm. In 1829, two more large families from White Marsh were sent to Missouri, just as the Jesuits established a new college in St. Louis.10 Unlike their fellow bonds people who were periodically moved between Jesuit-owned estates in Maryland, these transfers ripped nearly two dozen enslaved people away from their friends and family in a way that would undoubtedly ensure that they would never see them again.

  1. Joseph Carbery, SJ letter to George Fenwick, SJ (January 19, 1831) MPA, Box 64, Folder 3 (1831-MPA-64-3-Carbery-Fenwick-1831-01-19.json)
  2. Joseph Carbery, SJ letter to George Fenwick, SJ (March 16, 1831) MPA, Box 64, Folder 3 1831-MPA-64-3-Carbery-Fenwick-1831-03-16.json
  3. "Bohemia Daybook, 1790-1799," Maryland Province Collection, Box 1, Folder 1, Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Georgetown University. (July 1, 1796) (1790-MPC-1-1-Records of Bohemia-1790.json)
  4. "Bohemia Daybook, 1790-1799," Maryland Province Collection, Box 1, Folder 1, Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Georgetown University. (November 1, 1797) (1790-MPC-1-1-Records of Bohemia-1790.json)
  5. Francis Neale, SJ, letter to Fidor Dzierozynski, SJ (January 1, 1826) MPA, Box 61, Folder 9 (1826-MPA-61-9-Neale-Dzierozynski-1826-01-10.json)
  6. "A pass for Stephen" (July 5, 1827) , Feiner: Georgetown College Letterbook, 1827, 04/01/1827-11/24/1827, Dubuisson, Etienne - Feiner, William, Collection, Box 1, Folder 5, Georgetown University Manuscripts, Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Georgetown University.
  7. Md.-N. Y. Province Archives, DB, Father Mosley's Day-Book, inscribed by him on the outside : Day-Book, Bohemia, 1764. St. Joseph's, Talbot County. Ditto, 1765 g alias Tuckahoe.Inside : Fr. Joseph Mosley ; ff. 1-5. [Hughes, 331-332] and George Hunter (Offcial report from the Superior, Father G. Hunter, to the Provincial, Fathter Deunett in Rome), "Missiones in Marylania" (July 23, 1765), Maryland Province Archives, Box 57, Folder 1, Special Collections, Lauinger Library, Georgetown University. Letter, Joseph Mosley to Mrs Dunn (his sister), 1766-10-14, Early Jesuits' Papers Collection: Joseph Mosley, Box 1, Folder 7).
  8. Eric Robert Papenfuse, “From Redcompense to Revolution: Mahoney v. Ashton and the Transfiguration of Maryland Culture, 1791–1802,” Slavery & Abolition 15, no. 3 (December 1, 1994): 38–62,; "Rev. John Ashton," Archives of Maryland: Biographical Series (Maryland State Archives); "Ashton, John," O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law & Family, edited by William G. Thomas III, et al. (University of Nebraska-Lincoln); and William G. Thomas III, A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020).
  9. Mention the fact that Ashton left property and enslaved people to Charles and Elizabeth Queen, assumed to be his children with the enslaved woman Susanna Queen?
  10. "Valuation of Slaves," MPA, Box 35, File 6, Item 5. and Giovanni Grassi, SJ, letter to Br. Joseph Marshall, SJ, (February 6, 1817) Catholic Historical Manuscripts Collection, Box 6, Folder 8.
  11. Adam Marshall, SJ, Contract for transfer of enslaved people from Maryland to Missouri (April 10, 1823) Jesuit Archives and Research Center, St. Louis, MI. (JA-MIS-2-001-20018-001-001of002-Contract-1200x1536.jpg) and Kelly L. Schmidt, Sean Ferguson, and Claire Peterson, “Enslaved People in the Jesuits’ Missouri Province,” Slavery, History, Memory, and Reconciliation Project, 2020,