Freedmen's Contract between C.K. Singleton and 32 Freedmen,  22 January 1867


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This contract contains a list of 32 freedmen that agreed to work on a plantation belonging to C.K. Singleton in Richland District.  The contract states that the freedmen agreed to “hire their time” from January 22, 1867 to January 1, 1868.  Job Richardson, the first freedman listed in the contract, is assigned as foreman of the group.  The remaining freedmen are designated as either a “full hand,” “3/4 hand,” or “1/2 hand.”  These designations refer to the amount of work and corresponding compensation for each freedman.  The contract lists each freedman’s first and last name.  The distinction of a last name is a significant sign of their freedom since earlier inventories and other documents that listed slaves usually only provided a first name.  Three of the freedmen listed here have Stroy as their last name, including the only “1/2 hand” on the list, Jonas Stroy.  They were probably related to Jacob Stroyer, who moved to Massachusetts after the Civil War and wrote a book, Sketches of My Life in the South, which was about his life growing up as a slave in South Carolina.  The Singleton family and the families of the freedmen listed in this contract have connections with Kensington Mansion, a site open to the public and school groups today. 


Freedmen’s Contract between C.K. Singleton and 32 Freedmen.  22 January 1867, Singleton Family Papers, Manuscripts Division, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.



Freedmen’s Contract for 1867

                                                State of S. Carolina

                                                                                                Richland District

Articles of agreement between C.K. Singleton & Freedmen whose names are herewith attached.

1st Said freedmen agree to hire their time as laborers on the plantations of said C.K. Singleton from the 22d day of Jan. 1867 to first Jan 1868; to conduct themselves civilly, faithfully, honestly & diligently, to perform all labor on said plantations, or such as may be connected therewith, that may be required by said C.K. Singleton or his agent.

2 d Said freedmen agree to perform the daily tasks hereto usually allotted on said plantations, such as 125 to 150 rails, cutting hay one and half to two acres, ditching and banking 150 to 200 feet, hoeing cotton three quarters to one acre, corn one to one & a half acres. In all cases where tasks cannot be assigned they agree to labor diligently ten hours per day.

3 d All lost time from sickness shall be charged at the rate of 50 cents per day.  For absence from the plantations on working days, the laborer shall be charged two dollars per day for a first offence.  If the offence is repeated the laborer shall be dismissed from the plantation & forfeit his share of the crop, but the employer shall pay the party so dismissed at the rate of four dollars a month for full hand/ for the time he has been in his employment, deducting therefrom advances made. 

4th Said freedmen agree to take good care of all plantation tools committed to their care, & to pay for the same if injured or destroyed.  Also to be kind and gentle to all work animals under their charge, & to pay for any injury they may sustain while in their hands, thru carelessness or neglect.  They agree to keep their hands, houses & lots in neat condition.

5th Said freedmen agree to furnish from their number a man to carry the barnyard keys, whose duty it shall be to feed the work animals.  Said freedmen agree also to furnish from their number a foreman.  The barnyard man & the foreman both to be selected by the employer.

6th Said freedmen agree to be directed in their work by the

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foreman, who shall report daily all absence, neglect, refusal to work or disorderly conduct to the employer or his agent.

7th Said freedmen agree that in case any of their number shall do the daily task badly, he shall work the same task the day following, & be charged 50 cents for every day so lost.

8th All fines and forfeitures shall [illegible] to the benefit of the employer and employe’s in proportion to their relative shares. 

9th In case the employer should deem it necessary for the good of the crop to procure extra hands during the months of May and June to keep the grass down, the laborers agree to pay their share of the expense.  They also agree to pay their share if it should be necessary to employ extra labor at the time of gathering the crops.

10th In case of depredations being committed when the crop is ripening, the laborers agree to furnish from their number, one or more as the employer may deem necessary, whose duty it shall be to guard the crop at night, & who shall be exempt from all other work at that time. 

11th Said employer agrees to treat the laborers with justice and kindness, to furnish quarters on his plantation, to allot to each full hand four acres of land to be planted in grain & vegetables and the privilege of getting fire wood from some portion of the plantations, to be indicated by the employer.  The destruction or burning any fencing or timber without the consent of the employer, shall be charged at their full valuation against the [illegible].

12th The employer agrees to divide the crop with the laborers on the following terms, namely, one third of the corn, potatoes and peas, after they are housed, and one third of the net proceeds of the ginned cotton.

13th The employer agrees to furnish each laborer one peck of grist or meal per week, gratis, from the day said laborers contract, to the first day of Jan: 1868.  And three Lbs: of bacon per week at market value, freight included.  Said advance of bacon to be deducted from each laborers’ share of the crop at the

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end of the year.

14th The employer agrees to furnish work animals, & to feed them.  Also wagons, carts, & plantation tools, such as cannot be made by the laborers themselves.

15th The employer agrees that the laborers shall keep stock & poultry, provided they are not allowed to injure the crops, and are kept on such part of the plantation as he shall direct.  The owner of each animal which is found out of the bounds indicated by the employer, shall be fined two dollars for each offence.

16 The employer or his agent shall keep a book in which shall be entered all advances made by him, and fines and forfeitures for lost time or other causes, which book shall be received as evidence in the same manner as Merchants books are not received in Courts of Justice, & shall have a right to deduct from the share of each laborer al his fines and forfeitures & also advances made.  All fines and forfeitures herein made will be subject to the decision of the authorities having Jurisdiction of the same.

17th No laborer shall sell any agricultural product to any person without the written consent of the employer, until after the division of the crops.

18th The laborers shall commence work at sunrise and be allowed from one and a half to two and a half hours each day for their meals according to the season of the year.

19th All violations of the terms of this contract, or of the rules and regulations of the employer as herein agreed to by the laborers shall be punished by dismissal from the plantation, and forfeiture of his share of the crop, but the employer shall pay parties so dismissed at the rate of 4 dollars per month for full hands, deducting therefrom advances made, as specified in paragraph 3 d of this contract. 

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                                                                                    Jan 22 d


Job Richardson                                                              Capacity

Job Richardson                                                              Foreman

Edwin Rich                                                                   Full hand

Bristol Scott                                                                 “             “

Billy Brick                                                                     “            “

Footy Stroy                                                                   “            “

Handy Hall                                                                    “            “

And. Johnson                                                                “            “

Ben Richardson                                                             “            “

[illegible] Major                                                            “            “

Sampson Green                                                            “            “

January Morris                                                              “            “

Renty Drayton                                                               “            “

[illegible] Anderson                                                       “            “

Jimmie Richardson                                                       “            “

Henry Large                                                                 “            “

[illegible] Riley                                                             “            “

Ellis Story                                                                     “            “

Moses Bates                                                                 “            “

Lander Jones                                                                “            “

Tom Price                                                                     “            “

Prioleau Small                                                               “            “

[illegible] Nedds                                                            “            “

Thomas Brown                                                                ¾  hand

Dick Richardson                                                              Full   “

Jem Stephenson                                                             ¾      “

[illegible] Morris                                                              Full   “

Hector Moore                                                                “            “

Jack Frost                                                                     “            “

Ezekiel Ellis                                                                   “            “

Sam Morris                                                                    “            “

Samuel Polk                                                                   “            “

Jonas Stroy                                                                      ½ hand

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard USHC-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the causes and the course of the Civil War and Reconstruction in America.
Indicator USHC 4-4 Summarize the effects of Reconstruction on the southern states and the roles of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments in that era.
Indicator USHC 4-5 Summarize the progress made by African Americans during Reconstruction and the subsequent reversals brought by Reconstruction’s end, including the creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau, gains in educational and political opportunity, and the rise of anti–African American factions and legislation.

Indicator 4-6.3 Explain how specific events and issues led to the Civil War, including the sectionalism fueled by issues of slavery in the territories, state’s rights, the election of 1860, and secession.


Note: Although this document was originally posted as part of a lesson specifically designed to teach the above standard(s), other Social Studies Standards may apply.

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Lessons Using This Document:

Kensington Mansion: Plantation, Sharecroppers, Tenants

Civil Rights Through Photographs


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