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Dean (Aberdeen)


Dean, John Bellís most prized slave, often reported vivid and sometimes unbelievable encounters with Kate.  He often spoke of being followed by a black dog with two heads, being turned into a mule, and having his head split open by a large rabbit.

He carried a large scar on his head after the incident with the rabbit, often remarking that it was the work of "that old witch."  It is believed that his scar was really the result of a severe beating he received at the hands of a local planter who ďrentedĒ him from John Bell to do some farm work.  Bell was reportedly outraged by the planterís cruelty and pursued legal action. [1]

An honest and dependable field slave, Dean was noted for his precision with the axe.  And despite his relatively small frame, he could take one side of a tree against any two men on the other side and cut a deeper kerf.  His axe reportedly even split a dogís head open, causing it to appear with two heads from that point forward.  It was also his axe he was looking for when Kate reportedly turned him into a mule, vowing to "ride him to hell for breakfast."

Dean, who also mastered the Bells' wagon from North Carolina to Tennessee, was one of only two slaves who made the trip.  The other was Chloe, his mother, who was 42 years of age at the time.  Chloe had worked for Lucy Bellís father, John Williams, in North Carolina before being given to the Bells upon his death. [2]

It is believed that Dean and his wife are buried in two of several unmarked slave graves in the old Bell cemetery near Adams, Tennessee.  They have many descendants living in the area today.

[1]  Case was assigned to arbitration on May 6, 1820; arbitrators refused to act, May 18, 1820.  The planter, John H. Arnold, pledged a penal sum of $500 to John Bell.

[2]  Edgecombe County, North Carolina, Will Book; March 14, 1792.


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