By the latter part of the 18th century, more than 100 runaway African slaves had found refuge with some Chickasaw families. Gradually the number increased until records indicate that before Removal, the African slave population numbered 1,156. They arrived at a time when several Chickasaw families were moving out of traditional Chickasaw villages to establish farmsteads and plantations. Most African slaves worked on the larger Chickasaw plantations and were not subject to the brutality experienced by those who worked for many white slave owners. The Chickasaw slaves were free to attend church at the missions, and they often served as translators by virtue of their knowledge of English and Chickasaw. About 200 Chickasaw families owned African slaves who cultivated Chickasaw plantations, tended free range herds of cattle and assisted in household work.