Mahala (also Mahelia) was an enslaved woman who worked inside the house at Tuckahoe during the Wight and Allen period.
She was born around 1816 and is thought to have come to Tuckahoe sometime in the 1840’s when Mr. Wight purchased her from Dr. William Selden. By the time the Allen family acquired Tuckahoe in 1850, she had married a man named Spy Boyd (who was listed as a field hand) and had four children (Henrietta, Chagny, Armistead, and Robert). By 1861, the family had three more children (Matilda, Thomas, and Margaret) and three grandchildren (Mary Eliza, Sallie, and James). Sadly, Armistead had died in December of 1857 at age 13 from unknown causes.
Mahala and her family lived in the South Cabin which still stands today along Plantation Street, the working corridor of Tuckahoe. In this small dwelling, the family would have had a small room with a single fireplace for heat and cooking and a loft upstairs for sleeping. Mr. Allen’s account of 1858 notes that Spy’s family of ten had five blankets among them.
After the Civil War, it seems that many of the Boyd family stayed in the area and were reported to live in the Dover Township of Goochland County. In the 1870 census, Spy was listed as a farm laborer and Mahala was listed as a house servant, likely at Tuckahoe. They had 2 of their children living with them at the time: Thomas (farm laborer) and Margaret who was also a house servant. Based on census records it seems likely that Mahala died sometime between 1870 and 1880.