African Americans

In 2000 it is estimated that there were about 7,300 Guytons living in the USA. Of these, perhaps around a third were of African American origin or of mixed race suggesting a total of about 2,500. The majority of these are likely to be descendants of slaves in the southern states where it was fairly widespread practice after the emancipation of slaves following the end of the Civil War in 1865 for them to adopt the names of their farm or plantation owners. The lives and livelihoods of these slaves and later free African Americans were thus closely entwined with members and locations of various branches of white Guyton families in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The following quotation appears in a history of Georgia published in 1941:-

For more than a century the Guyton family has been a prominent one in Laurens County. In the early 1800’s three brothers, natives of Spartanburg District, South Carolina, John, Charles, and Moses Guyton, located here and purchased large holdings in the Buckeye neighborhood. So extensive were the plantations owned by these Guyton brothers that it was necessary for them to own hundreds of slaves for their cultivation; yet so well cared for were the Guyton negroes that even after the Emancipation Proclamaton many refused to leave their homes and remained faithful retainers to the Guyton family.

Bertha Sheppard Hart, The Official History of Laurens County, Georgia, 1807 – 1941 (John Laurens Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Dublin, Georgia, 1941) p 379

In the 1870 and 1880 censuses there are many instances of black and white Guyton households listed adjacent to or close to each other. This means that, after emancipation, they were still living very much on the same land and in the same small rural communities. The most numerous references to African American Guytons in these censuses are in Pickens County, Alabama; St Francis County, Arkansas; Bartow, Johnson, Laurens and Thomas Counties, Georgia; Attala, Lowndes and Tippah Counties, Mississippi; Anderson, Union and York Counties, South Carolina; and Washington County, Texas.

The oldest recorded African American Guytons were Amershire and Flora Guyton who were listed in the 1870 census for Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, and who were born in about 1798 and 1797 respectively. They are the only two African American Guytons reported as being born in Africa and must have been brought to America and sold as slaves.

Some further avenues of research may be found in the following sources:-

  • Slaves mentioned in wills of American Guytons
  • African American Guytons listed in the 1870 and 1880 censuses
  • Will of Aaron Whitaker Guyton (1808 – 1883) bequeathing part of his estate to “the seven collerd children of Arrty Rainey”. Artty or Artie Rainey was also known as Artie Guyton and for a time lived as the common law wife of Aaron Whitaker Guyton. Her children were recorded as Andrew (or Andy) Rainey, Isaac Guyton, James (or Jim) Guyton, Cassey (or Casey) Guyton, Maggy (or Mag) Guyton, Ann (or Anna) Guyton and Simon Guyton. Several years prior to his death, Aaron Whitaker Guyton also conveyed part of his property to Pinkney Guyton and Elijah Guyton who were of mixed race and were probably his children by an earlier partner.
  • World War 1 Civilian Draft Registrations