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

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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