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IGHR (Samford) — Day 5 — Inheritance, Maps, and The Biography of Job

The Biography of Job

In the Virginia class today, Barbara Vines Little took us through a cou­ple of exam­ples where small nuances in the law of inher­i­tance could help us sort through pos­si­ble rela­tion­ships in land records.

She also walked us through a vast array of map resources for Virginia. I will write a sep­a­rate arti­cle about those.

After the class, I headed to the Samford Library Special Collections to see what else I could find out about Job, the African-American preacher.

I looked in the first box of mate­ri­als about the his­tory of the Canaan Baptist Church by Simon J. Smith. It was not in this box, though the acces­sion records said that it would be. Thankfully, Elizabeth Wells, the Special Collections Librarian, was able to locate the “Biography of Job” men­tioned in the acces­sion book.

The biog­ra­phy was a sin­gle card, which reads:


Job, an African brought as a slave to Charleston So. Carolina in 1806, pur­chased by Mr. S. Davis, and owned by him as long as he lived. Job pro­fessed reli­gion in 1812 — soon learned to read, and taught a Sabbath school for two sum­mers in Abbeville Dist., S. C. under the car of James Thompson, Esq., was licensed to preach in 1818 — same [sic] to Alabama in 1822– resided in Jefferson and Tuscaloosa County with his mas­ter, until 1833, when Mr. Davis removed to Pickens County. There, Job died, on the 17th day of Nov. 1835. His wife fol­lowed in less than a year and a half. The last words she ever uttered were “O tell me no more, of this world’s vain sore, etc.” As soon as she fin­ished sign­ing the verse, she cloased her eyes on the world. Few bet­ter preach­ers were found in Alabama in those days, than Job. He was gen­er­ally loved and respected by all who knew him. He lived the Christian and died the Saint.

This brief pro­file of Job was a note for Mr. Smith’s book Canaan: Garden Spot by the Cuttacochee, 1818–1968, of which I shall write more later. While I cer­tainly wish I had a lot more infor­ma­tion about Job than I do, I have a start­ing point. I find it fas­ci­nat­ing to see that an African-American slave could have oppor­tu­ni­ties to speak in pub­lic and build a min­istry. While he was a slave to the end of his days, that slav­ery appears to have been some­what tem­pered by the “love and respect” he received from the slave-holders and their defend­ers in white reli­gious soci­ety and cul­ture. This is a reminder that slav­ery was more com­plex (though not less rep­re­hen­si­ble) than we might imagine.

Simon J. Smith, com­piler. Simon J. Smith Papers. Special Collections, Samford University Library, Birmingham, AL: SCB 711.

Simon J. Smith and Fanna K. Bee. Canaan: Garden Spot by the Cuttacochee, 1818–1968. (Bessemer, Alabama: Canaan Baptist Church, 1971).

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