I have been fascinated by the slaveowning history of Isaac Lowenhaupt, a Jewish merchant residing in Vicksburg, Mississippi in the 1850s and early 1860s. Isaac, as it happens, is the great-great grandfather of the husband of my first cousin once removed. Such narratives are powerful reminders of how profoundly all of us are intertwined with histories of the slavery system and its legacies. In what follows, I share my preliminary notes on these enslaved individuals; I would be deeply grateful if descendants or other readers could help cast light on these individuals’ identities and what befell them during and after enslavement.
In both the 1860 US Census Slave Schedule and the Regular Population Schedule Issac Lowenhaupt of Vicksburg, Mississippi is identified with the the first initial “J,” often used for an “I” during the 19th century. Isaac owns four enslaved persons, all “mulatto,” and all of them recorded as fugitive from the state of Mississippi (during the previous year) on the day of enumeration, 21 June, 1860, ten months before the outbreak of the Civil War
40 year old female,
10 year old female
6 year old male
1 year old male
Presumably, the 40 year old woman was the mother of the three children listed.
I do not yet know the identities of these individuals, or when and how they escaped bondage, at some point between July 1859 and June 1860. I have not yet found any fugitive slave advertisements from the period posted by the Lowenhaupts, or relevant listings of captured slaves, which appeared from time to time in many local newspapers, including The Vicksburg Whig and the Vicksburg Tri-Weekly Sentinel. There are no African Americans in the 1870 census (the first “Freedmen’s Census”) who retained the name Lowenhaupt. So at the moment there is no indication what became of these four people after their escapes.
Who was Isaac Lowenhaupt?
Issac Lowenhaupt [recorded as “Isack Lowenhaupt”], born 1809 in Saxe-Coburg, Bavaria, arrived from Hamburg in New York on 2 August 1837, in the company of his wife “Hannah Bettmann” (identified by her maiden name) and their two year old son Jacob, on the ship Cuxhaven. Issac’s occupation was listed as “butcher.”
The family lived for a time in Williamsport, on the Susquehanna river, in north-central Pennsylvania, which had a Jewish community from the 1830s onwards. There, Hannah bore a son, Benjamin Lowenhaupt on 9 March 1839. The family next resided in New Orleans and like other Jewish mercantile families made their way north up the Mississippi. On 29 Mar 1845, Hannah died in Natchez, Mississippi, at age 30, and is buried in Natchez City Cemetery. Her headstone, erected by her sons Jacob and Benjamin, has Hebrew and English lettering.
Seven years later, on 13 July 1852, Isaac remarried in Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Caroline Strauss, who had been born in Bavaria. The $200 marriage bond was co-vouchsafed by the German-born merchant Isaac Sartorious of Vicksburg. (Bonds were used to record a marriage before the adoption of marriage licenses.) Several women named Caroline Strauss emigrated from Germany to the US in the 1840s and 1850s; the most likely candidate would seem to be a 23 year old Caroline Strauss, who arrived in New York City on 16 July 1851, a year before the marriage to Isaac. (Perhaps the marriage had been arranged before she left Bavaria).
During the early 1850s, Isaac and one or both of this sons had set up a mercantile business in Vicksburg. In 1858, Isaac and his second wife Caroline lost two young sons, Leopold and Sam, possibly to Yellow Fever, both buried in the local Jewish cemetery.
In 1860, Issac’s personal estate was valued at $12,000. The business Isaac Lowenhaupt and Son in 1860 was located at Levee and Clay street, just along the east bank of the Mississippi river. The Lowenhaupts resided on the west side of Levee street.
The Lowenhaupt household in 1860 consisted of Issac and his wife Caroline (prevously Strauss), their one year old daughter Fannie, and two sons by Isaac’s previous marriage, Jacob and Benjamin, as well as a female servant E Rhonsimer (sp?) and a clerk Herman Herold, also from Bavaria. (As noted, the separate 1860 slave schedule listed 4 slaves, all fugitive.)
No Lowenhaupts are listed as slaveowners in the 1850 slave schedule, so Isaac’s acquisition of slaves likely happened after 1850. The 1854 and 1856 tax records for Vicksburg, Warren County, have no records for the Lowenhaupts, so they may not have moved there yet. In 1858, the Warren County tax records indicate that Isaac owned one slave; the 1859 records and 1861 records both indicate 2 slaves. There is no extant 1860 tax record. (This might suggest that two of the escaped persons were returned to captivity., or that Isaac had purchased new slaves.)
In any event, it seems likely that the adult enslaved adult woman served a domestic servant, perhaps a cook and maid for the Lowenhaupt household. Speculatively, Isaac may have purchased this bondswoman in 1852 as a wedding present for his new bride. By 1860, it should be noted, Mississippi had 437,000 enslaved people held in bondage, the largest slave population of any state in the Union. The largest slave market in the state was in Natchez, where Isaac Lowenhaupt had resided in the 1840s. The Franklin and Armfield “Forks in the Road” slavevmarket near downtown Natchez and neighboring slave markers sold hundreds of people each year during this period. Frequent impermanent slave markets were held in Vicksburg. It is possible that Isaac purchased the enslaved adult woman and one or more of her children either in Natchez or Vicksburg.
It is also possible that Isaac acquired the slaves through his wife Caroline Strauss, who was born in Bavaria around 1826, and who may have been related to other individuals with the surname Strauss residing in Natchez and Vicksburg. She might have already owned slaves, or been named in a will that led to a bequest of slaves. However, I do not see any probate records that suggest Caroline was an heir during this period. As noted above, it seems more likely Caroline was a fairly recent arrival from Bavaria at the time of her marriage to Isaac in 1852.
The Civil War in Vicksburg
Isaac’s son: Benjamin Lowenhaupt
I am not sure if the Lowenhaupts were present in Vicksburg during General U.S. Grant’s siege of the city, May 18–July 4, 1863. I don’t believe they were impacted by General US Grant’s General Order No. 11, on December 17, 1862 (countermanded by President Lincoln on anuary 4, 1863) which expelled all Jews from military districts under his control.
Benjamin Lowenhaupt served as a private in the Confederate Army, in 1 Company G of Wood’s Regiment in the Confederate Calvary (1st Regiment, Mississippi Calvary, also known as Wirt Adam’s Regiment), enlisting August 30, 1861 in Memphis, Tennessee. His Muster Record, below, indicates he provided his own horse, valued at $250. He fought in the Battle of Shiloh, April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee, which technically was a significant Confederate defeat at the hands of General U.S. Grant’s forces, although Union losses outnumbered the Confederacy’s. Benjamin was shot in the leg in this engagement, and was mustered out of service. On 13 November 1864 he married Rachel Rosenbaum in Posey, Indiana, which was Union territory. He remained in Indiana.
The surrender of Vicksburg to Union forces on July 4, 1863 marked the end of human bondage in the city, as all formerly enslaved people were declared by Union forces forever free under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), which was now enforceable in the city. The Fall of Vicksburg and the Union victory at Gettysburg that same week marked a profound turning point in the War, which would nonetheless last another two brutal years.
At some point during the Civil War, the other members of the Lowenhaupt family made their way north to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Isaac died in 1865. (Given the presence in Cincinnati of several Baden-derived families with the surname Strauss during this period, it seems possible that the Lowenhaupts were seeking refuge with Caroline’s family.) Isaac’s will, dated 1 July 1865, names his wife Caroline executrix of his estate and details the distribution of his property. No mention is made of any former enslaved people, or any persons other than his wife and legitimate children.
After the War, Caroline returned to Mississippi and resided in Vicksburg and Jackson for the rest of her life, until her death in 6 July 1887. She is buried in the Vicksburg Jewish Cemetery (Anshe Chesed), and her headstone has Hebrew and English inscriptions. Issac’s eldest son Jacob Lowenhaupt continued to work as a merchant in the South, eventually settling in Covington, Tennessee, where he died on 28 November 1902. Isaac’s second son, Benjamin Lowenhaupt, settled in Mount Vernon, Indiana, and lived there until his death on 23 Apr 1914. He is buried with his wife Rachel and son Isaac; the headstone is in the Jewish section, row 36, of the Bellefontaine Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Posey County, Indiana, with Hebrew and English inscriptions.
Bound for Freedom?
What route might enslaved family have pursued as they attempted to escape to freedom? Thousands of escapees are known to have ventured north up the Mississippi River, which could be profoundly treacherous, given the complexities of the local water systems and the ubiquitous presence of slave patrols. Freedom-seekers might aim for the free states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, or Ohio upriver, or seek greater security, especially after the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, by reaching Canada.
Link to the John O.W. Hitch and Alice Condon Slaves?
A possible hint to the identity of the Lowenhaupt slaves w is found in the same 1860 slave schedule. Living two doors from the Lowenhaupts was the 21 year old white clerk John Oscar Whittington Hitch, who owned five slaves, all also mulatto and all a lso listed as fugitive from the stateL
60 year old female
50 year old male
30 year old female
16 year old female
21 year old male.
The 21 year old enslaved male, it is interesting to note, is also listed as “manumitted.” I have not yet found his manumission record, and it would be interesting to know if he was freed before or after he escaped from enslavement.
Is it possible that these two adjacent groups of enslaved people, owned by Issac Lowenhaupt and Oscar Hitch, escaped together at some point prior to 1860> Or is it simply coincidence that the adjacent families are both listed as entirely fugitive in the same year.
The young slaveowner John O.W. Hitch himself was not long for this world. At the start of the Civil War he enlisted in the Confederate Army in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on May 15, 1861. He participated in the battles of Seven Pines on May 31, 1862, and Savage Station, June 29, 1862, and was killed in the Battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia, on July 1, 1862. His will was probated in early 1863, but I have not yet located a copy of his will or an inventory of his property, which might name the escaped slaves.
John Hitch had been the minor guardian of Thomas Hacket, a carpenter and planter in Pike County, Mississippi, and may well have acquired the five slaves as part of an estate from his late father, who seems to have died at some point between 1840-1850. In 1850, ten year old John was residing in Warren County, Mississippi, with widowed Mary Hitch, presumably his mother.
John Hitch was quite possibly related to the wealthy planter Jonathan J Whittington, who in 1840 owned twenty-two slaves in Warren County. An 1828 domestic slave trade manifest records John J Whittington transporting the 40 year enslaved woman “Betty” from Pensacola, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana. I do not at this point know the names of any other enslaved people in the Whittington estate.
Also, in the 1860 Slave Schedule, living next door to John Hitch was 36 year old Alice Condon, grocery store owner, born in Ireland, who listed her only slave as a four year old female, recorded both as fugitive from the state during the previous year and also as manumitted. Might this child have been taken along by the neighboring enslaved families during their escape attempt?
I would be grateful for any guidance from descendants or others who might be able to cast some light on the identity of the persons owned by Isaac Lowenhaupt, John Hitch, or Alice Condon.
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