Researcher Profile: Alane Roundtree

Alane Roundtree has been researching the family histories and genealogies of the Silver Bluff Slave Community of South Carolina and their descendants since 1997. This includes the individuals and families enslaved at Silver Bluff, Cathwood, Cowden and Redcliffe Plantations.

In 1998 she transcribed the slave birth and death registers recorded by James Henry Hammond and compiled them into the document, “Slave Births and Deaths Recorded at Silver Bluff, Cathwood, Cowden and Redcliffe Plantations in South Carolina, 1831-1864.” From that data and other resources she created the first comprehensive family group reports and biographies of the individuals enslaved on Hammond’s plantations.

In 1999 her research was referenced in The Augusta Chronicle by staff writer, Margaret N. O’Shea, in her metro news feature articles, “Families Discover Roots” and “Letters Explain Slavery Views” (The Augusta Chronicle, 03 October 1999, Augusta, Georgia.)

She has authored several case studies and reports regarding individuals and families enslaved on the plantations of James Henry Hammond (1807-1864) including; “A Case Study of Wesley ‘Sam Jones’ Johnson,” “A Biographical Directory of Possible Slaves Enumerated in the 1860 Slave Population Schedule at Redcliffe, Edgefield County, South Carolina and Their Immediate Family Members,” “Resources for the Research of African Americans Enslaved at Silver Bluff, Cathwood, Cowden and Redcliffe Plantations,” “There is Rest for the Weary: A Record of the Final Resting Place of Some Former Silver Bluff Slaves, Cohlvin Cemetery, Silver Bluff Plantation Sanctuary, Jackson, South Carolina,” and “The Hammond Township Districts Directory.” Several of these studies were donated to Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site, the Silver Bluff Plantation Audubon Sanctuary and the Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society from 2001-2007.

In 2001 she created the now defunct AOL Hometown webpage, “List of Surnames of Persons Enslaved at Silver Bluff, Cathwood, Cowden and Redcliffe Plantations, South Carolina, 1831-1865,” which comprised the inaugural list of 62 slave surnames compiled from her research.

In 2001 she transcribed from microfilm the account book of the Richmond,Virginia slave trading firm of Henry Nicholas Templeman and his partner William H. Goodwin, “Templeman & Goodwin Account Book, 1849-1851.” The account book contains the names of 100 slaves; the names of their purchasers and their purchase price. Twenty-five slaves were recorded with surnames. Several slave women were recorded with unnamed children. Permission to post her transcription on AfriGeneas was denied by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. (Templeman & Goodwin Account Book, The Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Microfilm Number M-3508, one reel.) A letter writing campaign then ensued encouraging UNC to digitize the record book to make it more accessible to researchers online.  In 1852, the Templeman residence was on the northeast corner of Broad and 11th Streets in Richmond, Virginia where the slave trading firm of Templeman and Goodwin was also located. H.N. Templeman was in business at least as early as 1843 when he purchased a slave named Alonzo in Virginia and sold him in a Charleston slave market to Governor James Henry Hammond. In 1841, it is believed that William H. Goodwin held kidnapped freedman Solomon Northrup (12 Years a Slave, 1853) in his slave pen at Broad and Union Streets in Richmond, Virginia. This area which comprised the central slave trading market in Richmond is known as Shockoe Bottom. James Henry Hammond of Silver Bluff frequented the slave markets in Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia, purchasing slaves from such prolific Virginia slave traders as the Davis Bros. and Templeman and Goodwin.

In Feb 2004 she was consulted on the historical significance of a privately held family bible dating from 1841 with entries for slave births, deaths and marriages, and was asked to transcribe the records. She concluded that the bible had been in the possession of members of both the Davies and Hammond families, specifically Thomas Jones Davies, (1830-1902) the son of Thomas W. Davies, and Marcus Claudius Marcellus Hammond (1814-1876) who was the  younger brother of James Henry Hammond and the brother-in-law of Thomas Jones Davies.  A copy of her transcription of the records, “The Hammond-Davies Family Bible: A Record of Slave Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1830-1865” was donated to the Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society. Additional lists she compiled from the records include, “List of Place Names, Residences & Slaveholders Which Appear in the Hammond-Davies Bible Records, 1830-1865,” “Names of Slaves at Malvern Plantation, Beech Island, South Carolina,” “Names of Slaves at ‘Barnwell’ Plantation in Bolivar County, Mississippi,” “Surnames of Slaves That Appear in the Hammond-Davies Bible Records,” among others. The bible was later sold at public auction at Swann Galleries in New York City on 25 Feb 2010 as part of their Printed and Manuscript African Americana Department collection. The bible is cataloged as the “Thomas Jones Davies Bible Records (1830-1865)” and is archived at the South Caroliniana Library on the campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

In 2005 her research of the Silver Bluff Slave Cemetery (Cohlvin Cemetery) was used to help secure an SCDAH in-kind service grant for the Audubon Center at the Silver Bluff Plantation Sanctuary in Jackson, South Carolina. The grant was used to conduct a non-invasive survey of the ancient slave burial ground by New South Associates forensic archaeologist, Dr. Hugh Matternes.

In Feb 2009 she was contacted by David Kamp, editor and writer for Vanity Fair, to consult and conduct research for the VH-1 production, “50 Cent: The Origin of Me,” a documentary of rapper Curtis Jackson’s family history in Edgefield County, South Carolina.

In Feb 2010 her 2004 transcription of the “The Hammond-Davies Bible: A Record of Slave Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1830-1865,” was published online as the first featured collection on A Friend of Friends, an inspirational website created by researcher, Luckie Daniels, which was dedicated to the restoration and preservation of slave documents, manuscripts and artifacts.

In Mar 2010 she corresponded with Dr. Stephen Deyle, Associate Professor of History at the University of Houston and an expert on the domestic slave trade, regarding her research of the traders associated with slaves sold to James Henry Hammond of Silver Bluff Plantation, South Carolina. In 2013, Dr. Deyle served as a historical consultant for the Academy Award winning film, “12 Years a Slave”.

In Mar 2012, she was invited by Natonne Elaine Kemp, the editor of Homeplace, the official newsletter of the Old Edgefield District African American Genealogical Society (OEDAAGS) to submit her article, “The Hammond Township Districts Directory, Aiken County, 1876,” The article discussed the author’s discovery of the Reconstruction era ad hoc voter registration roll in the Papers of James Henry Hammond in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. The township directory or census was created as part of the “Straight Out Plan” during the Campaign of 1876, as a means to identify, intimidate and disenfranchise Black voters in that precinct. “Dead Lists” were also created from the information gathered in the directory. The author donated a copy of the directory to the Beech Island Historical Society in 1998.

In July 2013 she was contacted by researcher, Sarah Goldberg, regarding information for a Google Arts & Culture online exhibit called The Prince of Emancipation discussing the life of the Hon. Prince Rivers (1824-1887). The exhibit was produced for Associate Professor of History, Matthew Pinsker’s the House Divided Project at Dickinson College, which provides resources for teachers on the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

In 2016 she was invited by authors Edna Gail Bush and Natonne Elaine Kemp to write the introduction for their book, There is Something About Edgefield: Shining a Light on the Black Community Through History, Genealogy and Genetic DNA, (Rocky Pond Press Inc., Takoma Park, MD, 2017). The book was recognized by the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission with their “Preserving Our Places in History” 2017 Project Award and was a 2018 American Book Fest “Best Book Awards Finalist” in the category of United States History. The book also earned a preview by Mr. Harlan Greene in The Journal of Southern History. 

In August 2017 she was contacted by Dr. Linda Cherry to exchange information on the remarkable life and history of her 2nd great grandfather, Senator Lawrence Cain, of Edgefield County, SC. Extensive research by the Cherry family culminated in the book, Virtue of Cain, written by Cain’s great-great grandson, Kevin Cherry, Sr. and published by Rocky Pond Press, Inc., Takoma Park, MD, in 2019. She was part of the team which provided copyediting services for the final draft of the book.

From 1998-2019 Alane’s research has produced a genealogical and family history database which includes over 300 surnames with direct, ancestral, or kinship ties to the Silver Bluff Slave Community of South Carolina. Her work recovering and reconstructing the family histories and stories of this remarkable enslaved community and their descendants continues. Please contact her at elmoreroundtree at AOL dot com.

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