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Documents shed light on slavery here
Slave document2
Tax documents dated 1852 show the slave holdings of a plantation owner in Liberty County. The documents are from the county’s archive of historic records. - photo by Photo by John Deike
As African American slaves once inhabited this area years ago, a hint of irony lingers since they too lived in a county predicated on and named for its liberty.
By unearthing old tax documents of a plantation owner named William Gaulden, Hinesville archivist Sampie Smith shined a light on a shadowy corner of Liberty’s past.
The papers denoted Gaulden’s slave holdings of June 1, 1852, as he owned people whose ages ranged from 12 months to 60 years.  
The slaves had names like Hester, Cyrus, Eugenia, Ol’ Bob and Elsey, but in essence, they could have been nameless as they merely represented a value comparable to that of livestock, Smith said
“In those days, a mature slave could fetch you $5,000. They were groomed for labor, and their identity was further removed when they received western names commonly attributed to Greek and Roman mythology,” he said.
As Riceboro councilman, Modibo Kadalie explained, there are misinterpretations of who slaves used to be though.
“Specific Africans would be targeted, kidnapped, or bought and brought over to America to help set up farming systems, especially in dealing with rice crops. Their in-depth knowledge of hydrology helped shape how farms were irrigated, and that knowledge served more as a state of the art rocket science among plantation owners who wanted to reap the benefits.”
Since the liberation of slaves, the African American leaders of this county are proud of the progress of their people, and hope the future of their race continues to brighten.
NAACP President Liston Singletary III said it’s important to focus on improving the economic situation for the betterment of the African American community in Liberty County.
“We are involved in a lot of development in this county, and I think it’s crucial for African Americans to facilitate some more of the business in the area. We need African American developers to come in so we can sit at the table and join in more on the prosperity of this county,” he said.
Hinesville City Councilman Charles Frasier stressed the importance of race relations and education to perpetuate the progress of people in the area.
“Since the Civil Right movement, the quality of race relations has improved, but I think there can be more unity among the people in this area,” he said. “With enough education, we not only can become a more cohesive community, but African Americans can create even better opportunities for themselves by continuing to meet the demand of the job market.”
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