To many of the people in Livingston County, it must have appeared that the Lewises were well-to-do people. They had family connections with people in high positions and were themselves becoming influential on a local level. Lilburne, having lived in the county for only two years, was already an officer in the militia. He had served on several juries, once as foreman, and as a special court-appointed arbitrator. He was a county road supervisor and in January, when Randolph was nominated to be justice of the peace for the “Bio” Creek Neighborhood, Lilburne was named as alternate choice for the position.1 Owning extensive tracts of land, a comparatively large number of slaves, new homes, and, as Lucy said, “everything to make us comfortable,” the Lewises had all the appearances of wealth.
Unfortunately for the Lewises, their actual financial condition was not secure. Lilburne was being sued simultaneously by Lynch Brooks and Dr. Campbell for a total of more than eight hundred dollars, and the expense of school, board, and dancing lessons for his two oldest daughters cost him over one hundred dollars a year. These obligations could be paid off in time, provided Lilburne had enough income from his farm and slaves, or that he could sell some of his land or negroes. Two miles up the river from Rocky Hill lay the 500-acre tract of land that Lilburne owned. He had paid over $1,650 for this piece of property, which was worthless to him unless he could sell it. He needed the money, but for some reason he did not try, or was not able, to find a buyer for this tract.
As for Lilburne's slaves, the tax records for 1810 show that Lilburne owned a total of fourteen negroes, and the census figures for the same year indicate that only seven of these slaves were living at Rocky Hill. Evidently half of Lilburne's slaves were rented out to other people. It is known that Ursula was rented to John Daniel, the ferryman at the mouth of the Cumberland, and that Patsy was rented to James McCawley in Smithland.2 The location of the other five slaves who did not live at Rocky Hill in 1810 is not known, but if all seven were rented out they would
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Publication information: Book title: Jefferson's Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy. Contributors: Boynton Merrill Jr. - Author. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press. Place of publication: Lincoln, NE. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 215.
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