I found some interesting information at the Oxford Library. I didn’t see the original book but they did have it on microfilm. This part seemed to relate to the same John, a slave boy that was owned by Chief Toby Tubby.
It left no doubt in my mind that he was won in a card game.
We left Spring Lake after a relaxing weekend of playing cards, enjoying the healthy, refreshing waters, and imbibing in strong spirits in our camaraderie. On the return trip a strange and curious event occurred that I was fortunate to bear witness to.
Feeling our way south toward Wyatte, the young slave boy that Chief Toby Tubby had won announced his presence by congratulating the Chief on his skill in cards and thanking him for saving him from the ruffian that had previously owned him.
He finished this brief oratory with the declaration that he was sure the Chief had won at least $463 plus himself. This was the exact amount that Chief Toby Tubby had been fortunate enough to win as he had shared this information with me.
I, at that time, asked the child his name. “John, Mistah Doctor suh” This young boy could not have been more than eight and I questioned how he knew how much money the Chief had won. Obviously he had no formal schooling or orientation in mathematics as a slave boy. He replied that he did not know but that “numbers jist work in my heads all, suh” At this time I tested his skills by suggesting simple numbers to add, 10 + 12, 24+18 etcetera which he gave the answer to as quick as I could ask. I tried harder numbers that I had to add myself. The sum of 345 +716 and other such numbers that he gave the answer to almost as soon as I asked. Soon the whole wagon was shouting out numbers for the boy to add and subtract. No matter the number, the boy always gave a quick and decisive answer immediately even though I was busy trying to add most of the sums on a piece of parchment I had found in my bag.
The child seemed to be a prodigy of mathematics and I remember looking at the stunned Chiefs face which then turned to me and smiled. He said “I have great use for this young boy.” This turned out to be a very true admonition involving the welfare of my friend, Chief Toby Tubby.