clue to the beginning of Henry Todd's life, starts with his ending
in life. Located in the Upper Mill Cemetery in Darien, McIntosh Co.,
Georgia, stands the vault you see pictured to the left.
August 10th 1813.
Moved to Darien, Ga
and adjoining Counties
Mary Ann Cardone
September 10th, 1841
May 1, 1886
Unfortunately, this stone only
gives us the facts of his life and his death, scant clues remain to give
us insight into who Henry Todd really was. According to a few
newspaper articles written during his lifetime, Henry Todd was the
wealthiest Negro in Georgia, amassing a fortune of over $125,000 by the
time of his death. Most of this fortune was in the form of real
estate and business investments not only in McIntosh County, but Glynn and
Wayne County as well. But was Henry Todd really a "Negro" as
the papers state?
On Wednesday 27 September
1882, the Atlanta Constitution out of Atlanta, Georgia ran an
article titled: "Henry Todd, The Wealthiest Colored Man in Georgia,
and How He Became So." The articles begins by explaining that he
lives in Darien, and that when a youth, his master died and left him his
freedom for his "faithful attention during the slave-holder's last
sickness." The article, however, does not explain, who this
"slave-holder" was, yet states that the family was very fond of Henry
and kept him on as an overseer for the plantation. Soon, with the
help of a mysterious "white friend", Henry began buying land.
This article also states that he was of such good character that his
"uprightness guarded him from the bitter prejudice which in those days
both races felt for the average free n**ger."
The article further states
that Henry and his family, consisting of his wife and 5 children,
spend summers at their mountain home in north Georgia. No children
have been found, or even noted in census records, or even Henry's
will. These children were either orphans, and/or died young.
The 1870 McIntosh County, Georgia census lists Henry Todd with his
wife, both Mulatto, but living with them is a Hannah Todd aged 45,
black; a child Emeline Todd aged 14, and another woman Alexander
Todd aged 45. Hannah was born in Florida, and
Alexander and Emeline in Georgia. Could these be
relations of Henry? They were all listed as black, and their
occupations in Henry's household were Housekeeper, Domestic
Servant, and Day Laborer, respectively. It is possible that the
enumerator made a mistake and Alexander should be listed as a male.
According to the tombstone,
Henry Todd was only 7 years old when he arrived in this area, and it
is not known if he arrived as a free man, or a man in bondage. The
U.S. Census would suggest that he was not freed until, at the latest,
1860, when he shows up in the Wayne Co., Georgia Census, as a slave owner
himself. Henry Todd was the owner of the lands known as
Sansavilla, and in 1860 was listed as a Mulatto aged 47, from Florida with
$1200 in real estate, $3500 in personal property, and 6 slaves.
Living in his household was his wife, Mary Ann Cardone aged 33,
also from Florida, she was possibly listed as white. Then there was
one Edmond Howard aged 20, a laborer with $234 worth of personal
estate, born in Georgia, and possibly listed as white. Lastly,
W.S. Spear, aged 37, overseer with $250 personal estate, born in North
Carolina, and possibly listed as white.
My assumption of them being
listed as white, is merely speculation. Henry Todd is the
only one clearly listed as Mulatto, the rest have check marks in
this column suggesting that they were white. By reading the tally at
the bottom of the page that Henry Todd is listed on, only 1 colored
male was enumerated. There were 16 white males, and 22 white
females. If you count all the women on this page, including Mary
Ann Todd, there are 22 as tallied.
1860 Georgia, a possible half
black male, married to a white woman? I question this due to laws
preventing such marriages, and the social stigma that would have been
placed on such a woman to marry a man like Henry Todd. It
seems impossible that Henry Todd was mulatto in the sense that he
was half African. The Federal Government used the term "Mulatto"
very widely to describe, not only half black half white persons, but also
persons who were full Native American, or any race with a darker than
Caucasian coloring. Maybe, Henry Todd was of Mediterranean,
or Spanish decent, causing his darker skin, and maybe, just maybe,
Henry Todd was not a slave, but possibly an indentured servant.
Someone who may have been orphaned at a young age, and taken in for X
amount of years to learn a trade.
Jumping ahead just a bit, the
photo to the right was found in the cottage that one, Edmond Howard,
once resided in at the Sansavilla lands. This photo was provided by
the third great-granddaughter of Edmond Howard, local author and
historian, Patricia Barefoot. Of all the family photos, this
man has not been identified as one of her kinfolk. And for her
family to have possession of a photo of a non-family member, this person
had to be pretty important in their lives. Could this be Henry
Todd? Closer inspection of this "photo" shows that this is in
fact a sketch, and not a photograph, hinting that someone had the money,
and was important enough in someone's life, to warrant such a "portrait".
A closer inspection would reveal that this man could in fact be considered
"Mulatto", the dark hair, the almost "olive-like" skin shading. And,
if a sketch, may have been done around the 1840s or 50s, which would have
made Henry about 27-37 years old, as this man appears to be.
In his book "Early Days on
the Georgia Tidewater, The Story of McIntosh County & Sapelo",
historian Buddy Sullivan quoted Lillian F. Sinclair and her
memories of the 1880s as describing Henry Todd's appearance as "a
ginger cake color with very white hair, which he wore quite long...he was
a member of the white Presbyterian Church..." Mr. Sullivan
further states that in Brown's Guide to Georgia, that Russ Rymer
noted that "Darienites of earlier days always disagreed whether Todd
was a black man or a white. Local historian Bessie Lewis
notes that he was descended from a native of Minorca in the Mediterranean
and was a white man with a Hispanic complexion. Many Minorcans
migrated to Fernandina where they became prosperous shrimp fishermen and a
number of these and their families migrated to Darien..." The photo
above, if this is Henry Todd, would coincide with such theories.
Upon his death, listed as
heirs, were Mary Cardone Todd, the children of Savalli and
Juanita Hernandez, Frank Cardone, William Garvin, and
a half brother, Francis Williams. The bulk of the estate was
left to his widow, but numerous bequests were left to the local churches
of McIntosh County, for whites and blacks, and money to start a school for
colored children, which still bears the name of the Todd-Grant
School, named after the two benefactors.
To further confuse things, the
1880 McIntosh County, Georgia Census lists a 66 year old Mulatto Henry
Todd with a wife, M.A. aged 55; Illa Howard, a white
girl aged 12; a black girl merely named Bella aged 17; a black male
Wm. Livingston aged 12; and a white male Henry Huntington
aged 37. From deeds and other records, we know that Henry
Huntington was a business partner. But who was this Illa
Howard? Was she a child or other relation of Edmond Howard,
she is a mystery to Patricia Barefoot. There is no listing of
how she was related, or what she was doing in the Henry Todd home.
Do you have photos of Henry
Todd, do you know more information about him? Please contact me
by email and help solve the mystery of Henry Todd, and his
connection with Edmond Howard.