Uncle Burton’s Memories
Read in his own words the story of an enslaved man in Fluvanna:
“I belonged to John Wills, who at this time I believed to be about 50 years old…”
Burton Payne, born in Fluvanna County in 1817, left behind a brief narrative of his life as an enslaved person at Chatham Plantation. In it, he described the family who enslaved him and his treatment there, and the emancipation of his father, Thomas Matthews, by the Wills family.
Burton Payne described himself as the “body servant” to John Wills, who practiced medicine, and he traveled with Wills to visit the sick, riding on a mule named Jim. In time, he was given to John Wills’s son, Albert Gallatin “A.G.” Wills, and was enslaved by him until Emancipation.