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Stinking Stones and Rocks of GoldPhosphate, Fertilizer, and Industrialization in Postbellum South Carolina$
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Shepherd W. McKinley

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813049243

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813049243.001.0001

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Land Miners and Hand Mining, 1867–1884

Land Miners and Hand Mining, 1867–1884

(p.66) 3 Land Miners and Hand Mining, 1867–1884
Stinking Stones and Rocks of Gold

Shepherd W. Mckinley

University Press of Florida

This chapter focuses on the phosphate land mining process, the freedmen miners, and the entrepreneurs. After emancipation, the newly freed felt that land mining, hard work in an inhospitable environment, was too similar to rice work in the same fields under the same masters. In a region uniquely stamped by the rice culture and especially its task labor system, black miners coerced white elites into negotiating rather than dictating; managers such as Williams Middleton struggled to retain miners. Laborers did not regarded mining as a profession but rather part-time work, and, like other post-emancipation occupations, a subordinate concern to enjoying their freedom and seeking land and autonomy. The 1870 census revealed much about the miners in terms of race, housing, and marital status, as well as freedpeople’s economic strategies and group housing at the mines. Unfortunately, enumerators vastly undercounted phosphate miners because they failed to translate the freedpeople’s agricultural goals, multiple occupations, and domestic arrangements into meaningful statistical categories. The 1880 census revealed a shift in living arrangements to single family housing.

Keywords:   Rice, Task system, Group housing, Williams Middleton, 1870Census, 1880 Census

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