The Hulsey, Head and Huff Families of North Georgia.
Or, More Than You Ever Wanted to Know.
The Huff Family

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Slavery and the Huff Family

Note: See Huff Slave Schedule for a listing of Huff Family Slave Ownership from 1820 to 1860.

While we regard slavery as reprehensible today, that was not the case in the Southern United States from the period 1750 to 1864. As this is a history of the Huff Family, the subject is worthy of consideration.

The acquisition of wealth in the south was based on the availability of land, relatively inexpensive, and the availability of labor to work the land. The primary cash crops, tobacco and cotton, required considerable labor and the available labor force were slaves. The decision to acquire slaves was an economic choice, and was supported by the religious and moral values of the day in the south.

Under the law slaves were regarded as personal property. Slaves had no personal or parental rights and were prohibited by law from being educated. Intermarriage between Whites and Blacks was strictly prohibited by law. Congenial relations between owners and their slaves were frowned upon, but occurred in some instances.

Slaves were of great value to the owner, forming a considerable portion of a person’s wealth. George Washington, then the wealthiest person with vast land holdings and a large distillery, could free his slaves at his death; almost no other slave owner could do so without endangering the value of his estate to his heirs.

On the other hand, an ageing slave population resulted in considerable increased expenditure on the part of owner. As a slave aged, his productivity decreased and he still had to be clothed, housed and fed. His medical needs also increased. A slave owner had to diversity his operations to include tasks in which an older person could remain productive. Based on the inventory of their estates, both Peter Huff, Jr. and Robert Huff did so.

The farm’s slave population formed a community of shared support and values. The absolute worst thing that could happen to a slave community was the death of the owner. The laws governing the disposition of a slave-owners estate almost always resulted in the destruction of the slave community, the slaves being sold or awarded to the heirs. This happened to both the communities of Peter Huff, Jr. and Robert Huff.

Peter Huff, Jr. (1750-1828) owned two Negros in 1800 and by his death had acquired 33 Negros either by purchase or natural increase. His farming activities showed a diversification of crops and products including both cotton and grain crops, livestock and a distillery in addition to his Pint Peter Store.

At his death, he owned 33 Negros (19 adult males, 6 adult females and 8 children) to be divided between 8 heirs. The women and their young children were awarded together but, with two exceptions, the fathers of those children were awarded to other heirs. See “Peter Huff Slave Distribution.

Of the eight heirs, six remained in Oglethorpe County and all six heirs retained their awarded Negros. In these cases, the Negro fathers retained some contact with their families. Joseph and Elizabeth Terrell, then living in Cass Co., GA, apparently retained their three male Negros. John Huff, then living in Cass Co., GA, sold the six Negros (two adult males, two adult females and two children) before 1830. Note: It is possible that Joseph Terrell purchased these people, but this is unknown.

Robert Huff (1788-1842) owned 5 Negros in 1820. He owned 4 Negros at his home farm and 45 at another location being supervised by his son, John Peter Huff. Like his father, he diversified his farming activities. He carried his diversification further, establishing a loom and a shoe shop. He produced or manufactured both clothing and shoes on his farms, resulting in very few purchases to support his servants. In his later years, he bought a water mill, thus flour and corn meal was produced without the miller’s till.

At his death, his estate listed 41 Negros (14 adult male, 8 females and 19 children). These people were divided between 13 heirs. Only two heirs obtained family units; however, apparently mothers with young children remained together. Note: See “Robert Huff Slaves.

Four of the heirs treated their Negros as a cash windfall, disposing of their Negros by 1850. Five other heirs lost their Negros because of poor business decisions by 1860. In that year, only 4 of the heirs, or in one case the widow of the heir, owned saves in 1860.

Other sons of Peter Huff, Jr.:
Four sons of Peter Huff, Jr. are worthy of notice.

Charles Huff (1800-1850) bought the Dower Lands of Winny Huff and owned 34 Negros at the time of his death. His will left his entire estate to Richard Hoff, his brother. This slave community was not destroyed by the death of the owner.

Richard Huff (1794-1872) in addition to his farming interests was a successful business owner with 93 Negros in 1850. He inherited an additional 47 Negros from his brother, Charles. He determined to reduce his agricultural interests and he hd fallen ill with a neuromuscular disease at some point in the 1850’s.

During the 1850’s, Richard Huff emancipated over 100 slaves (all that wished to go) in two separate actions. He paid for their transport to Savannah and their passage to the Georgia Colony of Liberia in Africa. This occurred with the help of the American Colonization Movement. The second emancipation was of 58 people and they were to contact Dr. Allen Huff and Gaines Huff of Liberia.

Richard Huff owned 35 Negros in 1860, the residual of his servants that did not wish to go to Liberia. Over a number of years, he fathered several daughters and one son with slave women.

In the 1870 Census, seven black families with a total of 33 persons were shown as living on the home farms of Richard Huff, indicating that many of his former slaves remained near him and worked for him after emancipation.

In 1868 and in his will of 1872, he made the following awards:

Dr. Oliver Hoff of California – 1200 Acres, a certain tract in Wilkes County; in the event that Dr. O. Hoff shall die without heirs then to Helen Hoof and Gaines Hoff of Liberia. Deed recorded 7 Mar 1877. Later surveyed as 870 acres, Dr. Oliver Hoff sold this tract by Attorney. He apparently did not return to GA for this sale. Note: Dr. Oliver Hoff was the son of an unknown slave woman.

He left a tract of 1340 acres in trust for the use of his brother, James M. Huff. The tract was to revert to Dr. Oliver Huff at the death of James M. Huff.

Harriett Hoff and Kitty Hoff, of faithful service of my former slaves, and their children (William Darby, Silas Huff, Wooten Huff, James Huff, Susan Huff, Isaac Huff, Elijah Huff (father of Isaac) - 800 acres, known as the Rolly Hooper Tract, Long Creek Waters, adjoins Home Tract. Deed recorded 1 Dec. 1869.

Ellen Hoff, a person of color, former slave of Henry P. Huff, and the children of Ellen Hoff, of faithful service – 100 acres reserved from the Henry P. Huff tract adjoining the Burt line. Deed recorded 30 Nov 1871. Note: Ellen Hoff was the paramour of Henry P. Huff until his death in 1866.

Henry P. Huff (1820-1866) had purchased a farm on the Broad River waters and owned 27 slaves in 1850. He was married to his second wife, whom he shortly divorced. He had no children by either wife.
In 1853 his brother, Richard Huff, gave him the Charles Huff property of 1427 acres. In 1860 he owned 43 Negros.

The Emaciation of the Slaves caused a major shift in his fortunes as he sold his farm to a Wallis Willingham in a deed recorded after his death in 1866. Richard Huff later purchased that property from Mr. Willingham.

At some point, he entered into a relationship with Ellen Huff, his slave. At least four children resulted from this union. The relationship was recognized in the will of Richard Huff who left 100 acres to Ellen Huff, a person of color, and 10 acres to each of her four children.

James M. Huff (1828-1890) owned a small farm and four slaves in 1850. His land holdings had increased and he owned 23 slaves in 1860. Shortly after the war he lost his property.
Never married, he formed a congenial relationship with Mary, his slave and cook, about 1860. This relationship lasted until his death in 1890. Five children resulted from this relations ship and he may have been the father of other mulatto children.

In 1868, Richard Hoff, his brother, places 1340 acres in trust for his use and benfit. He and Mary continued to reside on this land until his death in 1890. His will leaves $ 1, 000 and other personal property to Mary Huff and her children.

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