The McFadden Family Slaves: The story of Hollie McFadden and her family

Carol Berning, Froe Chip, March/April, 2021

Stones River Near McFadden Ford by Carol Berning

McFadden Farm was the site of the battle’s final action, where over 1800 Confederates were killed or wounded. As drawn as I am to their story, I am more compelled to learn about the enslaved people who labored on her farm and the farms of her adult children. I want to know who they were and what happened to them as they continued to strive for freedom after the war.

Hollie Posey was born to Zachariah Posey and Nancy Squires Posey April 30, 1801, in Edgefield. SC. At the age of 14, on January 18, 1815, she married Samuel McFadden, also from South Carolina. They married in Tennessee. She gave birth to at least thirteen children:

• William Ralph McFadden
• Caroline McFadden who married John N. Clark
• Nancy McFadden who married Isaac McCollough
• Eliza L McFadden who married James M. Collier
• James Squires McFadden
• Mary Jane McFadden who married Benjamin Moore
• Susan H. McFadden who married Jasper Marshall
• Sarah J. McFadden who married Joseph N. Warren
• Holly A. McFadden who married French Rayburn
• Samuel McFadden
• Henry C. McFadden
• Catherine Louisa McFadden
• John W. McFadden

Cannon at Fortress Rosecrans by Carol Berning

Hollie’s husband Samuel died April 29, 1848, and is buried in McFadden Cemetery, located on McFadden Farm, part of the Stones River National Battlefield.

In the 1850 US Federal Census, widow Hollie is living in Rutherford County, TN, with eight children, Elizabeth, 21; Susan, 20; Sarah, 19; Holly, 16; Samuel, 13; John, 12; Henry, 9; and Catherine, 6.

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedules report that Hollie owned six enslaved people. Although listed with no names, they include a black male, 26; mulatto female, 25; black male, 14; black male, 4; mulatto male, 3; and a mulatto male, 1.

Also, in the same 1850 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedule, her son William R. Is listed as owning a mulatto male, 28, a black female, 26, and a mulatto male, 7.

Maple Tree on McFadden Farm by Carol Berning

Benjamin Moore, wife of Mary Jane McFadden owned a black female, 25; a black male, 6; two black males, age 5; a black male, 3; and a black female, age 1.

In 1850 the entire number of enslaved people held by the McFadden family—Hollie and her children—was fifteen.

In the 1860 census, some two years before the Battle of Stones River which would decimate their farm, Hollie lived in District 9 of Rutherford County. Her real estate value was $3.000 and personal estate value, $8.000. Living with her were five children.

The U.S., Selected Federal Census, Non-Population Schedules give us this information about Hollie: She owned 40 acres of improved land; 15 acres of unimproved land. Cash value of the farm is listed as $15,000. The worth of farm implements and machinery was $45.00. She owned three horses, one mule; two milk cows; two working oxen; eight other cattle, and 25 swine. The value of the livestock was $600.00. She owned 500 bushels of Indian corn and five bales of ginned cotton.

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedule reports that James Squires McFadden owned a black female, age 35; a black male, 24; a black male, 20; a black female, 10; a black male, 7; and a black male, 2.

William R. McFadden also owned slaves: a black male, 46; a black female, 43; a mulatto female, 35; a mulatto female, 15; a mulatto female, 13; and a mulatto female, 10.

John Clark, husband of Caroline McFadden, was the owner of a black male, 60; a black female, 45; a black male, 11; and a black male, age 4.

James Collier, husband of Eliza McFadden, owned 11 slaves: a black male, 35; a black female, 30; a black female, 20; a mulatto male, 16; a mulatto female, 12; a mulatto male, 10; a black female, 7; two black males, age 5; a black male, age 1; and a black female, age 1.

So what happened to those nameless, faceless enslaved people held by the McFadden family? We’ll never know for certain. However, we do know that slaves were often given the surname of the family who owned them, so my next step was to search the 1870 census for McFadden, Clark, Collier, and Moore names in Rutherford County.

I found them as farm laborers, cooks, servants, porters, and house keepers. Many families include children born during the years after the Battle of Stones River. Some are found in District 9 where they probably labored on the McFadden farm before the war. Some are found in nearby districts or wards in the city of Murfreesboro.

McFadden individuals who appear in the 1870 census, and who were of the age to have been counted in the 1860 census, include the following people:
• Minerva, 20, servant. District 7
• Peter, 30, servant., Murfreesboro, Ward 1
• William, 40, porter, Murfreesboro, Ward 3
• Mariah, 38, keeping house
• Maren, 16, servant, District 9
• George, 18, farm laborer, District 9
• Laura, 35, farm hand, District 7
• Brown, 15, at home, District 7
• Martha, 50, at home, District 9
• Brown, 20 farm laborer, District 9
• Albe, 17, farm laborer, District 9
• Adeline, 13, farm laborer, District 9
• Ike, 28, farm laborer, District 9
• Bell, 27, farm laborer, District 9
• David 61, farm laborer, District 2
• Mary, 44, keeping house, District 2
• Julia, 80, at home, District 2
• Mollie, 15, at home, District 2
• Napoleon, 12, at home, District 2

Do I know for certain the individuals named above were owned by Hollie McFadden and her children? No. Scores of black families bearing the names of Clark, Moore, and Collier also appear in the 1870 census. I’ll never know if they, too, lived their early lives as property of the McFadden and allied families.

As I walk the acres of the Stones River National Battlefield and record images in paint on canvas, I feel the sprits of the people who were here before. The people who were here before were not only the thousands of soldiers who fought and died here. They were also the slaves held by the landowners in the area. They were Minervas and Ikes and Lauras and Marthas. Adeline may have been that young three year old in the McFadden household; David may have been a strong 51 year old. Albe may have carried water from the spring near McFadden Ford. Peter may have helped stack the rocks for that spring. Mariah may have gathered Indian corn and picked cotton. Brown may have walked behind a team of oxen turning the field for planting. I want to give them names and honor their toil.

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