Tilda & Joe & their children, Alfred (Spears), Joe, Mary, Vina, & Jane


August 27, 1858; People enslaved by John P. Smith at his death. Since John did not have a will, they went up for auction at the Buncombe County Courthouse.

Alfrod, age 19, is sold to G.T. Spears for $1,275.00.

Joseph (Jr.), age 16, is sold to J. Zachary for $1,181.00.

Mary, age 11, is sold to A.W. Cumming for $822.00.

Viney, age 9, is sold to A.W. Cumming for $795.00.

Joseph (Sr.), unknown age, is sold to M. Erwin for $501.00.


c1810s: Tilda is born.

February 9, 1850: Tilda is married to Joe, the wagoner. She has several children, including – Alfred, Joe, Mary, Jane, and Vina. The entire family is enslaved by James M. Smith and she and her family likely live and work at what is now the Smith-McDowell House.

October 9, 1850: Tilda is still enslaved by James M. Smith. Smith enslaves 14 females between the ages of one and 44. Tilda is likely either 38 or 44 based on the 1850 census and the age of her oldest child.

January 7, 1854: Tilda passed away some time after October 1851. Her children are given to James M. Smith’s son, John, upon James’ death in 1856.


Asheville News, August 26, 1858

August 17, 1858: Joe is likely the “Joseph” that was sold to M. Erwin for $501.00 at the Buncombe County Court House after John Smith died without a will. His children – Alfred, Joe, Mary, and Vina – were sold as well and separated from their father. Alfrod, age 19, is sold to G.T. Spears.

1860: G.T. Spears enslaves 20 people including a 21-year-old male that may be Alfred.

1870: A man named Alfred Spears is married and living in Asheville.