Benjamin Buntin, Former Slave, Sumner County, Tennessee
By Kathleen Hill
USF Africana Heritage Project
Gallatin News, Sumner County, Tennessee
Saturday July 22, 1905
FAITHFUL OLD DARKEY.
"Ben Buntin, colored, after living 82 years on the farm where he first saw the light of day, died last Sunday on the Buntin farm near Mitchellville. He served three generations of the Buntin family as slave and servant. When the war broke out his old master, as he always called his former owner, had so much confidence in him and his integrity that he gave him a bunch of forty horses, with instructions to dodge the armies. This old Ben did successfully for more than three years and did not bring them home until "old Master" told him he thought things were safe."
Benjamin Buntin was born into Slavery in Sumner County, Tennessee, about 1823. The Buntin plantation was in the northwest corner of Sumner County near the towns of Mitchellville and Portland, and near the Robertson County line. At the time of the Civil War, the Buntin plantation was owned by Thomas Buntin, a native of North Carolina. Thomas Buntin was the “old Master” referred to by Ben Buntin.
THREE GENERATIONS OF BUNTIN SLAVE OWNERS IN SUMNER COUNTY, TN
1st generation – John Buntin was on the 1790 Census of Pitt County, North Carolina. He was shown as owning no slaves. John brought his family, including adult sons, to northern middle Tennessee by 1800. Some of his sons settled in what became Robertson County and some in Sumner County. John Buntin’s Will was probated in Sumner County in 1803. His heirs were his wife Elizabeth, sons Joseph and William, daughter Sarah, and grandson John Kerr. His Will mentions one Slave by name, “my Negro wench LUCIE”, who he left to his wife.
2nd generation – William Buntin was born in NC in 1770 and died in Sumner County, TN in 1831. He married Mary Cowan (1776-1845) in Rowan County, NC in 1793. They are buried in the Dry Fork Cumberland Presbyterian Church cemetery.
3rd generation – Thomas Buntin (“old master”) was born in NC in 1799. He came to Tennessee as a toddler with his parents and grandparents. He married Elizabeth “Betsey” Turner in 1819 in Sumner County. The 1820 Census shows Thomas owning 2 Slaves. By the 1850 Slave Schedule, Thomas was the owner of 36 Slaves*. Thomas was the only Buntin listed in Sumner County as owning Slaves in 1850 In 1850, Thomas was appointed Justice of the Peace. An 1858 Bill of Sale, recorded in Sumner County, shows that Thomas bought a Slave named Margaret from William C. Roney.*** In 1860 Thomas was also listed as owning 36 Slaves and he was the only Buntin Slave owner. The 1860 Census shows Thomas owned real estate valued at $35,455.00. The value of his personal property (which included the value of his slaves and those 40 horses) was $30,385.00. The 1850 and 1860 Census show Thomas and Betsey with the following children: James William born about 1829, Adelia (who married Dr. Henry Thompson) born about 1833, Mary born about 1837, John Thomas born about 1842 (married Sally Perdue) and Jane born about 1841. There may have been more children. Thomas died January 1865 and Elizabeth died December 1881.
BENJAMIN BUNTIN AND HIS FAMILY
Ben’s parents were probably also owned by either Thomas Buntin or his father William Buntin. The names of Ben’s parents are unknown to this author. Ben was a Slave for Thomas Buntin and then, as a free man, remained a servant to the widow and children of Thomas Buntin.
Ben’s wife was named Catherine. She was born between 1820 to 1832 in Sumner County, TN. Although no marriage record is found for them, they are together after emancipation on the 1870 and 1880 Census. Catherine was dead before the 1900 Census. The Death Certificates of their two daughters give different maiden/slave names for Catherine. The Death Certificate of daughter Katie gives her mother’s maiden/slave name as HULSEY. The Death Certificate of daughter Delia gives her mother’s maiden/slave name as WILKS.
I am inclined to believe that Catherine was owned by one of the Wilks family members. The Hulsey family did not appear in Sumner County until the 1850 Census. The Hulsey family is not found on the 1850 or 1860 Slave Schedules. On the other hand, 4 Wilks households were on the 1820 Census of Sumner County, shown as owing a total of 17 Slaves. By the 1850 Slave Schedule, there were households for John Wilks with 21 Slaves, and Richard Wilks with 2 male slaves. On the 1860 Slave Schedule there were 4 Wilks households owning a total of 33 Slaves.
Ben and Catherine are shown on the 1870 Census of Sumner County with 4 children. Ben is shown as age 43, a Blacksmith, born in TN, with $200 worth of personal property. Catherine is shown as age 38 and born in TN. Three of the four known children of Ben and Catherine were born Slaves. The children were Caty/Katie born about 1853, Larry born about 1857, John born about 1862, and Adelia Rachael (Delia) born free in 1865. I have not found any more information about sons Larry and John.
The 1880 Census of Sumner County shows Ben as age 50, working on farm, TN TN TN. Catherine is shown as age 60, TN TN TN. Daughters Katie 24 and Rachel D. 19 are living in the household. Ben next appears on the 1891 Tennessee Male Voters Census.
The 1900 Census of District 16, shows Ben as a widower. His age and birth month/year state unknown. His daughter Katie is living with him. She is shown as single, age unknown, birth month June, birth year unknown. Neither has an occupation listed.
Katie Buntin appears on the 1920 Census of Sumner County living in the household of her sister Delia Buntin Gilbert. She is shown as age 60 and a widow. Katie’s Death Certificate states that she died May 18, 1923 in Sumner County. The informant was Katie’s sister Delia. Delia stated the following: Katie was single, date of birth unknown but supposed to be age 65, worked as a house maid, born Robertson County, father Ben Buntin born Robertson County, mother Catherine Helsuy (sic) (s/b Hulsey) born Sumner County. Katie was buried May 20, 1923 in the African American Buntin Cemetery****.
Adelia (Delia) Rachel Buntin married Green Gilbert between 1880 and 1887. Adelia and Green appear on the 1910 Sumner County Census showing Green as a farmer born in TN in 1855. It is stated that they have been married 23 years and that Adelia is the mother of no children. However the 1920 Census shows their household as having a son, age 13, named Hubert Gilbert. Adelia’s sister Katie Buntin is also living with them. The 1930 Census of Sumner County shows Green as age 71 and married at age 21. Rachel is shown as age 65 and married at age 15.
Delia Rachel Buntin Gilbert’s Death Certificate shows that she died March 4, 1851, at 1:00 a. m. in Sumner County. It states that she was widowed, age 94 and born July 15, 1856 (Note – all Census records show her as born 1865). Her occupation was shown as a Domestic. Her parents were listed as Ben Buntin and Katherine Wilks, birthplaces unknown. There is no name of an informant. Delia was buried at the Scattersville New Hope Baptist Church***** cemetery (an African American church and cemetery).
The graves of Benjamin and Catherine Buntin are not documented in current Sumner County records.
OTHER AFRICAN AMERICAN BUNTINS IN SUMNER COUNTY, TN
The 1870 Census of Sumner Co., TN, lists 44 “Colored” Buntins, excluding the family of Benjamin Buntin. (Census spellings include Buntin/Bunton/Bunten) It is not known to this author how any of these Buntins are related to Benjamin Buntin. All of these households are in District 19, near the Buntin plantation. All of the African American Buntins are shown as being born in Tennessee, except for Rachel Buntin born 1799 in North Carolina and a Caty Buntin born 1804 in Virginia.
BUNTON, Joseph 50
Wife Patsey 50
Son Virgant 17
BUNTON, Nelson 21
Wife Amanda 20
Also Lewis 17
BUNTON, Rachael 70, NC
Also Rachael 15 and Susan 13
BUNTON, Thomas 25
Wife Ellor 25
Dau Dorah 3
Household 19 – Benjamin Buntin family
Household 118 was Elizabeth Buntin, widow of Slave owner Thomas Buntin
BUNTIN, Robert 50
Wife Cincy 50
Children: Matilda 22, George 17, David 15, Chancy 16, and Robert 2
BUNTIN, Nelson 22
Also: Caroline 56, Betty 18, Edmon 17
BUNTIN, Charles 40, Farm Laborer
Wife Caroline 47
Children David 11, Daniel 8, Delpha J. 7, Louise 2
Also in household: Caty Buntin 65, born VA; and Tennessee Jones 17.
BUNTON, Ely 25, Farmer
Wife Betsey 21
Children Mat 3 and Edmon 1
BUNTON, Charley 54, Farmer
Wife Caroline 50
Children Rachael 25, Nelson 21, Hester 18, Jennie 13, Robert 11, and Joseph 10
Also in household: Hannah Bunton 69
Rube BUNTON age 12 in living in the white household of Robert and Dora Adams
More information about the residents of Sumner County, TN can be found by using the Search Engines at the web sites noted below.
* The 1850 Slave Schedule of Sumner Co., TN shows the 36 Slaves of Thomas Buntin as: 2 female Mulattos ages 17 and 14; 1 7year old, sex not shown; 15 Black females ages 57, 40, 34, 24, 20 19, 17, 16, 15, (2) 13, 9, 4, 3, and a newborn; and 18 Black males ages 54, 44, 34, 30, 24, 22, 19, 15, 13, (2) 11, 10, 9, 7, 5, 4, 3, and 1.
** The 1860 Slave Schedule of Sumner Co., TN shows the 36 Slaves owned by Thomas Buntin as: 15 Black females ages (2) 50, (4) 27, 16, (2) 13, 7, (2) 5, 4, 3, and 2: and 21 Black males ages: 60, (2) 35, (2) 30, 29, 27, 25, 22, 20, (2) 19, (3) 18, 9, 6, (3) 5, and 3
*** October 15, 1858 William C. Roney sold Thomas Buntin a slave named Margaret for $750. Margaret is described a Negro woman about 28 years old. She had formerly belonged to William’s mother, Leah Roney. William Roney made warrant that Margaret was “sound and sensible, and a slave for life”.
**** The Buntin African American Cemetery is located in District 16 of Sumner County near the area of Mitchellville. The graves in this cemetery are documented in the book, “Sumner County, Tennessee Cemetery Records”, compiled by Margaret Cumming Snider and Joan Hollis Yorgason, 1981. Daughter Katie is the only member of Ben Buntin’s immediate family recorded as being buried here.
Buntin surnames buried in the Buntin Cemetery
(Tombstones still readable)
1. Charles A. Buntin, son of A and J Buntin, March 20, 1926 – January 1931
2. Caroline Buntin, wife of Charles, May 4, 1807 – August 14, 1917
3. Charles Buntin, father, 1871 – 1916
4. Vernon Buntin 1907 – 1918
5. Chas Bunton 1815 – 1886
6. Elder Bunton, son of Nelson and Mandy, 1879 – 1902
7. Beulah Buntin, daughter of Nelson and Mandy, April 15, 1888 – March 25, 1910
8. Mandy Buntin, wife of Nelson, May 30, 1845 – January 30, 1913
9. Nelson Buntin 1850 – 1916
10. May Buntin, daughter of V and N Buntin, December 11 1908 – July 3, 1911
11. Artee Buntin, TN Corp 804 Pioneer Infantry, born May 17, 1932, no death date
NOTE – Nelson Buntin married Mandy KEY April 18, 1870 in Sumner County.
***** The Sumner County community of Scattersville was settled in 1875 near the town of Mitchellville, in District 16. Six black families were among the first settlers. One of them was Green Gilbert, husband of Delia Rachel Buntin. The African American Scattersville New Hope Baptist church was founded in 1880. Land for the Scattersville African American cemetery was purchased in 1935. The graves in this cemetery are documented in the book, “Sumner County Tennessee Cemetery Records”, compiled by Margaret Cumming Snider and Joan Hollis Yorgason, 1981.
NOTE: Go to http://www.rootsweb.com/~tnsumner/index.html for information about free Sumner County cemetery lookups.
Go to http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~providence/ourpage.html for information about free Sumner County marriage lookups
Kathleen Hill in CA
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This article was prepared for The USF Africana Heritage Project (www.africanaheritage.com) by Kathleen Hill.
2004 "Benjamin Buntin, Former Slave, Sumner County, Tennessee."
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