Saturday, June 14, 2014


Since reading Valerie Hughes’ blog post, The Importance of Sharing the Slave History from your Family Trees,[1] I’ve been inspired and simultaneously dreading to admit that my ancestor Daniel Joseph was a slave owner in Augusta County, Virginia.

Daniel Joseph lived in Augusta County, Virginia during the 1780’s. As Daniel was Jewish, there’s no doubt he faced prejudice from his community in the very rural Augusta County. I only have this to say—he should have known better.

I’ve learned of Daniel’s slave ownership from the Augusta County, Virginia personal property tax records. The earliest personal property tax laws were established in Virginia in 1782 to raise money for the new Virginia government during the American Revolution. A tax commissioner in each district needed to determine the name of the person charged with the tax, the name of white male tithables over the age of 21, the number of white male tithables between 16 and 21, the number of slaves above and below the age of 16, horses, cattle, carriage wheels and ordinary licenses.

In 1783 he was assessed for 2 tithables, 3 horses, 5 cattle, 1 white person, and 1 black person in Capt. Campbell’s Company District. [2] Daniel was still an Augusta County resident in 1784. His taxes included 1 white tithable above 21, 1 black above 16 named Dean, 1 black under 16 named Ben, 1 horse and 3 cows.[3] I’ve searched the Augusta County and Rockingham County personal property tax lists during Daniel’s lifetime and found no other slave tax.

I’ve contributed my information to to include with their Slave Data Collection and hope Dean and Ben’s families look for them.

Previous posts about Daniel Joseph:

If you would like additional information, the Library of Virginia has published online “Research Notes Number 3, Using Personal Property Tax Records in the Archives at the Library of Virginia”.[4]

[1] Blog ‘Genealogy With Valerie’
[2] Augusta Co. VA Personal Property Tax List for 1783 on microfilm at the Library of Virginia
[3] Augusta Co. VA Personal Property Tax List for 1784 on microfilm at the Library of Virginia


  1. Great post! I am so glad that you shared this with I am sure they really appreciate it.

    Valerie Hughes

  2. I'm glad you liked my post. Thank you.