03 August 2010

Sketch of the Life of the Late Joseph Bond, Part II

[In 1872, thirteen years after the death of Joseph Bond, the following sketch was written as a "Letter to the Editor" to the Macon Weekly Telegraph by a friend of Mr. Bond. It is a very long article filled with much fluff I will break up into parts. It is an interesting read however, for a few reasons. The death of Mr. Bond was not natural, he was killed by an overseer from a neighboring plantation. This article tells of this incident while also speaking to the character of Mr. Bond and his relationship with his slaves. Go to Part I.]

Macon Weekly Telegraph
24 September 1872
(Viewed online at GenealogyBank.)

Sketch of the Life of the Late Joseph Bond [continued, Part II]

The only office he ever held was that of an aid-de-Camp to the Governor of Georgia, which conferred upon him the title and rank of Colonel. I think it was under the administration of Geo. W. Crawford, and that was conferred upon him without solicitation on his part.

Owning such a number of slaves and cultivating so many different plantations, of course he was compelled to employ subordinates to aid him, but these subordinates were simply his lieutenants. They originated nothing, except as to inferior details. They simply were expected to obey orders emanating from him. Like a competent and successful military commander, he exacted the most implicit obedience to his orders as commander in chief of all the forces on his farms. He superintended the pitching of his crops in the early spring, designated the fields which should be planted in cotton and other crops, and directed how it should be done; prescribed the mode and method of cultivation during the entire season, as well as the gathering and preparation for market of such as were sold, and the preservation of such products as were to be consumed on the place. It was said of him, that so perfect was his system, and so thorough was his knowledge of his business, that he could sit in his mansion on the hill in Macon, over one hundred miles from any of his farms, and tell with certainty what field on each farm the hands were at work in at any given time.

All of his farms were the most fertile in the section in which they were located, and models of neatness in all of their appointments. The houses in which his slaves were lodged were all of the best description -- neat framed houses with brick chimneys, properly ventilated and always kept scrupulously clean and neat. Once a year they were whitewashed inside and out, and all trash and garbage of every kind under and around them cleaned up and carted away. An abundant supply of water was provided by wells dug in the negro quarter, convenient of access to all, and provided with an easy-working windlass, good bucket and rope. A nursery was provided on each place. This was a large house surrounded by an abundant shade, and kept under the care of an aged, competent and trustworthy "mammy" or "granny," to which all the small children, including the sucklings in their cradles with their nurses, were taken each morning, when the mothers went to the field. And this mammy, or granny, was responsible for their care, good treatment and safe keeping during the absence of their mothers. With the help of their nurses and the older children -- but too young to perform any other labor -- their food was prepared and distributed by her during the day; and her long switch was often called into requisition to preserve order among the older ones, and to awe them into obedience to her mandates. Her rule over them was similar to that of the village pedagogue over his pupils -- despotic but mild -- because her responsibility to the master, and in his absence to the overseer, with the oversight and watchfulness of the parents for their children's welfare, operated as a constant check upon her, and secured her little charge against either cruelty or neglect.

A hospital was also established on each place, to which all the sick were taken immediately. If attacked in the field, they were ordered to report there at once; if at their houses during the night, as soon as the fact was ascertained the same course was pursued. An experienced nurse was assigned to each, and held strictly accountable to himself to carry out the orders of the physicians, while of the latter none but the best within reach were employed by him. A good supply of medicines, such as were usually given for the cure of diseases incident to the climate and locality, were kept constantly on hand. This nurse, generally a female, was also supreme in her sphere. If medicine was prescribed by the physicians for a patient, and ordered to be given at stated intervals, it had to be followed to the letter. If the patient was refractory, the nurse could call in as much help as she needed to compel obedience, and administer the dose however nauseous it might be.

His mules were all of the best quality, selected with great care, and adapted to the work of the farm. As soon as one became so far advanced in years as to be unable to keep up with the rest of the team, it was sold and its place at once supplied by younger and more vigorous stock. Wagons, harness and all plantation equipments, were models of their kind. Fences were kept in perfect order, put up in straight lines, with the ends of the rails on the outside, even from top to bottom they were close enough to keep out pigs, and high enough to turn any larger animal of the jumping kind. Gates were provided at all places necessary to facilitate communication through the farms. Gin houses, packing screws, barns, cribs and shelters of the best and most convenient patterns were provided. A lock upon any building except the smoke house, dairy and workshops, was not thought of.

He owned a corps of carpenters who went from place to place, as necessity required, to build, repair, renew and keep everything in perfect order. Blacksmiths and wheelrights, and the best of their color that could be procured, were always kept in sufficient numbers to do the work of his various plantations.

A hog feeder, an aged and trustworthy man, was kept on each place, who was furnished with a mule and cart, and whose daily business it was to look after that stock and keep it in good condition. The result was, that an abundant supply of good wholesome meat, raised at home, was always in his smoke houses, and often -- in fact nearly every year -- he had a large surplus for sale. Stocks of cattle, and some of them of the purest breeds, furnished not only beef in its season, but an abundant supply of milk for the small children under the care of granny, and often for anyone who liked it, while an ample supply of butter for use at the plantation house in the various places, as well as for his own family consumption in Macon, was also produced. The milk and butter department in each place was also committed to the care and responsibility of one person.

He was a dear lover of fine stock of every kind, and one of the best judges of all kinds of stock, I ever knew. No jockey, however keen at a bargain, could put off on him an inferior animal, but if it came up to his standard, he would pay a good price. He kept a few of the finest horses, of purest blood, and as fleet of foot as any in the State. It was no uncommon thing for him to ride ten or fifteen miles an hour, in going from one plantation to another.

He was passionately fond of athletic sports, and encouraged them among his slaves. Often would he cause them to assemble in the yard of the plantation house to engage in wrestles and foot races, giving a prize of some kind to reward the victor and induce a spirited emulation among them. In his early days he often took part himself. He was very fleet of foot, and to his weight and size, could cope with any son of Africa in a foot race, wrestle, or at the end of a hand spike. He would often get off his horse in the log rolling season and amuse himself, as well as encourage the hands, by lifting with them. At the end of each year his cribs and barns were filled with corn, fodder, peas and pumpkins, his smoke houses groaned under their load of bacon, and his cotton bales were counted by the thousand. He was kind-hearted, noble and generous in the extreme. He did not belong to the codfish aristocracy. He was one of nature's noblemen. With him "worth made the man -- the want of it the fellow." The poor but deserving man, whose crop had failed, and who was in want of corn or meat, had but to make that want known, and his cribs and smoke houses were at his command until that want was supplied; but for the lazy and the thriftless he had no sympathy and no charity. He delighted to do a favor when he knew it would be appreciated by one who was deserving, but he did not hesitate to refuse bounty to one of the contrary character. He was a good judge of human nature, and took in at a glance the points of character, as by intuition, of whoever was clothed in white skin or a black one.

~ Go to Part III

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