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Historians present initial findings about enslaved workers who built NC State Capitol

State Capitol in the 1830s.
Courtesy of State Archives
State Capitol in the 1830s.

The State Archives held a virtual event on Wednesday to discuss the lives of enslaved workers who built the North Carolina Capitol.

The program included a panel discussion from historians about their research on enslaved builders and the launch of a new website called “From Naming to Knowing.” The goal of the research was to build a publicly accessible website explaining the findings of 137 enslaved workers. The team of historians used several sources including community maps of Raleigh from the 1830s as well as treasurer and comptroller records.

Terra Schramm, a researcher and site manager at the NC State Capitol, said one person they discovered is a slave named Junius Brickle.

“His enslaver was a woman named Martha Brickle, and she wrote many little notes that were held in the receipts collection in the Treasurer's and Comptroller's papers,” she said.

Junius was one of the few enslaved workers who was allowed to sign a time book to give his wages to the slave owner.

The team also discovered a log report showing a slave named Giles but his enslaver Sarah Dashiell Stone kept a diary that confirmed his birthday.

“Giles is a name that we recognize from the 1834 report,” said Kara Deadmon, another researcher who’s also the Museum Curator at the NC State Capitol. “She lists his birthday as the ninth of October 1815, which means that Giles was about 18 or 19 years old when he started working in the state quarry.”

Stone died in 1838. The research team found an old newspaper that showed at the bottom Stone wanted her slaves to be sold as a family, although it is unclear if they were.

The new “From Naming to Knowing” website will continuously be updated as they find more information about enslaved workers.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.