Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

He should have been hung.

A pardoned villain. A fellow named Carroll, a free negro, has been arrested and imprisoned for horse-stealing in Wake county, N.C. This is the third offence. According to law he should have been hung for the second offence, but escaped, in consequence of some technical discrepancy in the proceedings. – He runs a slim chance of escape in the present instance; and surely if the penalty is strictly agreeable to the turpitude of his crime, he deserves it, especially for the third offence; but for ourselves we never could perceive the reason, the justice or righteousness of the law in such cases. Horse-stealing we regard as a high misdemeanor, but one which can only deserve incarceration in a penitentiary. – What! Deprive a human being of life for a stealing a horse? Horrible.

The Newbernian and North Carolina Advocate, 26 August 1843.

He is guilty of assault; she, of murder.

On Tuesday, therefore, the criminal docket was taken up, when Lewis Chavers, a free man of color, was put upon his trial for an assault and battery on Mr. Drury Kemp, a white man. Chavers was found guilty of the assault, which was of an aggravated nature, and fined one hundred dollars, and ordered to be sold for the payment of the fine. …

On Thursday, Harriet Durham, (a free woman of color,) charged with the murder of Grace, a negro woman, the property of Mr. John Pennington, of this county, was put upon her trial, and pleaded not guilty. The evidence in this case was entirely circumstantial. It seemed, from the proofs, that the prisoner and the deceased slept together in the same log-cabin; that on the night the murder was committed several of the witnesses were in the cabin with the prisoner and the deceased, and that they observed the signs of ill will between them; that the witnesses left the cabin about midnight; that next morning, about sun-up, one of the witnesses discovered the deceased lying in the jam of the chimney outside the cabin, with her skull broken; that the prisoner was interrogated by the witness before the body was found, as to where the deceased was, and that the prisoner said she did not know, but that somebody had called upon the deceased that night in a low voice, and asked her to come out of the cabin and go to a certain place; that another witness, after the body was found, told the prisoner she might as well confess herself the murderer, for she would have it to do; that the prisoner was afterwards asked why she had killed Grace, and that she answered because Grace had threatened to kill her; that the prisoner admitted she had struck the deceased two blows with a very heavy iron pestle, which caused her death. It was further in evidence that there was no way of getting into the cabin but through the door, which was fastened inside every night with a strong pin; that the iron pestle, which had been rusty and out of use before, was found that morning bearing the marks of having been scoured in the ashes; that blood was sprinkled upon the bed-clothing, on the floor, and upon the walls and loft of the cabin; that there was blood upon the door-sill, and evidence upon the ground outside the door of some one’s having been dragged upon it; that part of the bed-clothing had been washed, and that the blood had dried upon them in circles; that they were scortched in some places, and a portion of an old rug, the property of the deceased, cut out and hid or destroyed. This was the substance of the evidence on the part of the State. The prisoner offered no evidence. The case was opened by Hugh McQueen, Esq., for the prisoner; he was replied to by the Attorney General, and as the prisoner offered no testimony, was entitled to the concluding argument. This argument was more upon the facts than his opening speech, and was consequently extended to greater length; and we believe the opinion of all who heard it was that it eminently sustained his reputation for ability and ingenuity. The verdict of the Jury was, Guilty.

The North-Carolina Star (Raleigh), 12 April 1843.

 

The proof was point-blank.

Grandison, a free boy of color, was out upon trial charged with larceny for entering in the night-time and robbing a store of Mr. S.J. Rickert, of this place, of money and merchandise a few months ago. The proof was point-blank, and Grandison was sentenced to receive thirty-nine lashes on his bare-back at this time, be imprisoned ‘till May term, and then receive thirty-nine lashes and be discharged.

Iredell Express (Statesville), 15 April 1859.

In the 1860 census of Iredell County, South of the River, 20 year-old Grandison, no last name, is listed in the household of white farmer James A. Kennedy, working as a servant. He is also noted as a convict.

Not a drop.

SKETCH OF THE SIMMONS FAMILY

William Simmons, the father of most all of the Simmons of Sampson County, was born in the eastern part of Sampson County, near Faison, N.C. In early life he married one Penny Winn, of Wayne County, N.C. William Simmons is now dead, but he has often often told the writer that he was of purse white and Indian descent, and judging from his features and general characteristics, we are quite sure that hsi statements were true, he having long black hair, and prominent cheekbones, and his color corresponding very strikingly near with the real Indian. His wife is living, and resides near Clinton, N.C. James Simmons, one of the sons of William and Penny Simmons, is a very prominent farmer, and has accumulated  quite a lot of real estate; also his hother brothers have shown a good share of industry, which has resulted in a similar accumulation. Percy Simmons married the daughter of Hardy A. Brewington.

BETSY J. SIMMONS

The subject of this sketch was formerly Betsy J. Thornton. SHe married Green Simmons in 1843 in Clinton. She is the mother of William Simmons and has numerous grandchildren residing in Sampson County who claim to be free from all negro blodd. Betsy had grey eyes, straight hair, high cheek bones, and in general appearance was half Indian and half white.

WILLIAM SIMMONS

The subject of this sketch lived in South Clinton township, Sampson County, but died a few years ago. His wife, still living, was Penny Winn who lived near Neuse River in Wayne County. William’s mother was Winnie Medline, who married Jim Simmons in Fayetteville, and she made an affidavit in 1902, in order that her son William could vote under the grandfather clause, that her mother was a white woman and her father was an Indian. She further states in her affidavit that there was not a drop of negro blood in her veins or those of her children. Her son, William Simmons, had dark brown eyes, straight hair and high cheek boones and light brown skin. He claimed that his grandfather and grandmother, on his father’s side, were Indians and came from Roanoke River, and never affiliated with the negroes. William Simmons has eighteen grandchildren whose parents have not intermarried with the negro race, and these children are without school advantages except by private subscriptions.

From George E. Butler, “The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina. Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools,” (1916).

 

Bears, free negroes and wild cats.

Image

Goldsboro Messenger, 4 February 1886.

[Sidenote: South Creek flows into the Pamlico River several miles before the river empties Pamlico Sound. Located northeast of New Bern, it is not hard to imagine that this area of Beaufort County was isolated and difficult to reach in the 19th century. -- LYH]

How did they escape with whole bones?

TERRIBLE ACCIDENT.

On Wednesday evening last, the scaffolding of a new brick building, in progress of erection on Front Street near Market, gave way, precipitating the workmen from the 3d story to the earth. – None of them were actually killed, but we learn that Solomon Nash, a colored man, is so badly injured as to be despaired of. The others, Nicholas Logan, George Barr, Joseph Deas, and Benjamin Berry, colored, and Ephram Bettencourt, do., were all more or less injured. How they escaped with whole bones, is, to us, a most miraculous.

Wilmington Journal, 26 June 1846.

[In fact, Nash died of his injuries.]

Runaway bound boy, no. 20.

Five Cents Reward.

ABSCONDED from the Subscriber, on the 19th ult.. a bound boy named Absalom Revels. – He is a very bright mulatto, about 14 years of age. All persons are cautioned against harboring him. The above reward, and no thanks, will be given for his delivery to me. DAVID SHAW. Fayetteville, August 4.

Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 11 August 1836.

Runaway bound boy, no. 19.

FIVE CENTS REWARD.

RANAWAY from the subscriber, on the 1st of July last, a free black boy by the name of FRANK MITCHELL, an indented apprentice to the Blacksmith business. Frank is about 19 or 20 years old; of small size; and of light complexion. I hereby forewarn all persons from harboring or employing said boy under the penalty of law. The above reward, but no expenses will be paid for his delivery to me in Newbern. JAMES ARMSTRONG. NEWBERN, Feb. 24th, 1848.

The Newbernian and North Carolina Advocate, 29 February 1848.

Found in the creek.

Drowned. – The body of a free negro by the name of Starkey Smith was found yesterday in Smith’s Creek, near Bailey’s brick yard. Coroner Jones has summoned a jury and an inquest will be held this afternoon.

Wilmington Daily Herald, 1 May 1860.

Both were drunk.

On Wednesday afternoon, John Lomack, a free man of color about 60 years old, was arraigned on the charge of killing his son, Roland Lomack. The evidence showed that both father and son were drunk – that Roland went to his father’s house and after quarreling for some time and drinking together, got into a fight, and that during the struggle the old man stabbed the son in the left breast, from which wound he died after walking about 50 yards from the house. After the evidence, with the consent of counsel on both sides the Judge directed the Jury to return a verdict of manslaughter, which they did, and Lomack was sentenced to be branded and imprisoned for [blank] months.

The North-Carolinian (Fayetteville), 17 May 1856.

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