The Cameron family of Orange County was one of antebellum North Carolina’s wealthiest families and among its most prolific enslavers.
Duncan Cameron was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, in 1788. As a young man, Duncan studied law and set up a practice in Martinsville, Virginia. Duncan chose to invest the money he made from practicing law in land and the enslavement of others, and he was a moderately wealthy man when he married. In 1803, Duncan Cameron married Rebecca Bennehan, whose father owned the Stagville plantation, located near Durham, North Carolina. Upon his marriage to Rebecca, Duncan’s property was merged with the Benneham’s estate.
In 1807, Duncan’s father-in-law gave him land next to the Stagville plantation, which Duncan called Farintosh, and the Camerons moved to their new home in 1810. Throughout his lifetime, Duncan continued to accumulate land and enslave more people, and he also served as a judge on the Superior Court circuit.
The is is one page of an account book kept by Duncan Cameron. It is a list of money he owed to one company, and he would have done business with several merchants.
You might not be able to tell what all of the numbers mean or to identify all of the different products, but you can get a sense of the amount of money it took to run a plantation. You’ll also see that Cameron purchased items not only for running the plantation but for his family and home. Much of a planter’s business with other men depended on his reputation, and so it was important to him not only to make money but to display his wealth and show his success — just as it is for many people today. Because a plantation was both home and business, a plantation owner had to think not only about agriculture, but also about what clothes he and his family wore and the types of dishes that were used in their home. Running a plantation was more than a business — it was a way of life.
Duncan Cameron Esq
In Account with Kevan & Brothers were merchants in Petersburg, Virginia. They not only sold products and supplies to Duncan Cameron, but they also distributed products produced on his plantation.
Interest to 31st July 1842
|Month||Day||This column is labeled Mo: for "month," and the next column is Ds for "day," so together they make a date. It isn't clear what the date refers to, since it isn't the same as the date in the left-hand column.||Ds||This column is interest owed to the merchant. Duncan Cameron, like most planters, bought items on credit. The last column would seem to be the amount of the purchase.|
|Sept.||29||Leather, Bagging, Sugar &C or &c stands for et cetera, "and other things" or "and so on." Today we usually abbreviate this as etc.. (The ampersand, &, was originally designed as a combination of the letters e and t from the Latin word et, meaning and.) per bill||6||2||$4.94||$162.79|
|October||6||Cash paid R.R. F.O.T. stands for free of tax. goods||9||25||.34||6.82|
|26||Butter & Mackerel is a type of fish.||5||5||.75||29.00|
|30||acceptance your draft 30 [word] favor Denvey, due 24. 30 Nov?||8||1||20.08||500|
|November||1||Bagging & rope per bill||5||—||1.42||57.35|
|2||Cash paid R.R. for Butter & Mackerel||8||29||04||1.20|
|10||Abbreviation for "ditto," which means same as above. Typically one "ditto" is used for each word repeated. "Ditto" is also sometimes abbreviated do. -- di -- di Sundries||8||21||.35||8.23|
|11||Abbreviation for receiving. & Fong is the past tense of fang, an old word that meant to collect or to gather. 3 packages from Philadelphia||8||20||.04||1.20|
|13||Bagging, ropes, Glass & Putty||4||18||1.98||86.00|
|15||Cash Paid Reed & Parsons For 1 Wardrobe, Boxing & c||8||16||3.20||75.00|
|16||di -- di--- R R fot 3 boxes ...||8||15||.14||4.08|
|24||di -- di -- di -- Sundries & for 5 pds Negro blankets||8||7||4.61||112.32|
|26||Apples, Hats, Caps, nails, coppers, tea, & oysters||4||5||2.38||114.18|
|27||Cash paid freight. 2 Boxes from Philadelphia||8||4||.04||1.00|
|29||Expensses on 1 box clothing from N. York Fot C Manly collected by you||8||2||.08||2.00|
|December||7||Bagging, rope, leather & C per bill||3||24||3.15||165.63|
|"||Cash paid for 3 pds blankets||7||24||1.60||40.62|
|8||di -- di -- A A. for oysters, nails, Hats, & C||7||23||.19||5.28|
|10||di -- di -- freight 5 boxes plants & This is probably a bee hive, or one swarm of bees, or perhaps a queen bee. It would have been unlikely for anyone to ship one single bee! from Philadelphia||7||21||.18||4.69|
|13||3 Doz Cards per bill||3||18||.30||14.34|
|15||Cash for plants, bees, Bagging Rope & C||7||16||.53||14.32|
|16||di -- di & fot. from Phila on 1 box||7||15||.04||1.20|
|receiving and fong 7 packages a 1/6||7||15||.07||1.75|
|January||5||E Crowder S Abbreviation for "interest earned." on bonds, collected by you ...... $255.00|
|"||this amt ordered by you to be transfered to Cr J O Bonneham 1260.00||6||25||51.76||1515.00|
|7||Cash paid your draft favor Mrs. Sean W Lyme||6||24||1.70||50.00|
|13||di -- di -- R Rd fot 1 box from Mrs Lyme||6||18||.03||.70|
|18||di -- di -- Mrs Poland for 2 Bonnetts||6||13||.48||15.00|
|"||Nails, Leather, Cutting knives, $ waggon boxes per bill||2||13||.80||66.44|
|20||Cash paid for 1 hard ware from Richmond 50c||6||11||.03||1.00|
|24||Candles, Sugar & A mould-board may refer to molds used to make candles, or to a metal plate attached to the front of a plow and used to turn over soil. per bill||2||7||.64||57.28|
|26||Cash paid R Rd fot nails, leather, hrd ware & 1 Box||6||5||.31||9.66|
|February||3||di -- di -- di -- mould board & C||5||28||.08||3.07|
|8||Plaster, Clover Seed & orchard grass seed||1||21||.57||65.21|
|15||Cash paid fot 1 Box from Baltimore 50c , recg & fong same 50||5||16||.03||1.00|
|Carried forward ...||102. 91||3195.81|
Primary Source Citation:
Cameron Family Papers # 133. Series 2.1.1. Box 88, Folder 2008. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.