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Joe Smith, and African American attendant, Jason.

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Identifier: N34961

Title: Joe Smith, and African American attendant, Jason.

Description: The 1860 census indicates that Robert B. Smith, a native Kentuckian, was a farmer in the Lexington township of Lafayette County, Missouri. His estate was valued at $19,000, an amount equivalent in worth to just under $450,000 today. The census records six children for Robert (aged 36) and his wife Sarah (31)—Ruffus (11), Mary Kay (9), Robert Jr. (7), Elizabeth (5), Sally (3), and Joseph A. (2). Another person named Minerva Hale (40) is shown living with them in 1860. Like Robert, she is listed as having come from Kentucky, which could mean that she was an elder, widowed sister of his, though this is purely speculation at this point. Since Ruffus, the first child, was born in Missouri, and Mary Kay, the second child, was born in Virginia, we learn that the family, or at least the mother, moved from Missouri back to Virginia for a while around 1851 and then moved back to Missouri. All of the subsequent Smith children were born in this state. Smith owned six slaves in 1860. As was common at the time there names are not recorded in the slave schedule—only their age, sex, and color. There were two women and four men between the ages of 18 and 50. Two of them were identified as house slaves and three of them marked as “Fugitives from the State.” Given the date and location of Smith’s farm, it is highly likely that the three young, male, “mulatto” fugitives took advantage of the turmoil rocking the Kansas-Missouri border and escaped the bondage of slavery by fleeing to Kansas. Remaining on the Smith farm were a man and woman, both aged 50 years old, and an 18 year-old woman. These are probably the slaves shown in the three photographs taken in 1863. The first photo shows “Frances & Sally.” Here we learn the name of the Smith’s youngest slave, Frances, now about 21 years old, posing with their youngest daughter, about six years old. The second photo shows the eldest male slave, Jason, now aged about 53 years, with the youngest son, Joseph, or Joe as he is called, now about five years old. The final photo shows the Smith’s eldest female slave, Sukey, now also about 53 years old, who is identified on the back of the image as the “head servant at Great Uncle Robert Smiths.” Aunt Sukey, as she was called, had been with Robert Smith since Virginia and had been born, as the back of the photo tells us, in the family of Gov. John Page (1802-1805) of Virginia at his Rosewell plantation in Gloucester County. William Young’s History or Lafayette County, Missouri (1910) and the History of Lafayette County, Mo.: Carefully Written and Compiled… (1881/ 1980 reprint) were both consulted but provided no further information on Robert B. Smith. 1) Based on the Consumer Price Index calculator for 2009 at A CPI calculator at gives an equivalent value in 2009 of $506,000. 2) 1860 Federal Census, 1860 Slave Schedule, donor card (MHM collections), and information written on the back of the photographs. Researched by Nate Jones and Jeff Meyer, March 2010

Rights: UND

Place: United States

Dates: ca. 1863

Type(s): Photograph (Cdv)

Maker/Creator: Excelsior Gallery, St. Louis

Subjects: carte de visite
Excelsior Gallery
black and white
Joe Smith
African Americans
Civil War, 1861-1865


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