Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

A parcell of small children not able to help them selves.

State of North Carolina Wayne County

I Zilley Hagans of the Same county having some Ennemys having Raised a Report that my Childrain is Runing about in the neighborhood for the purpose of giting Something to Eate & that they were likely to Suffer & that they are living in idleness this Report having bean Raised for the purpose of takeing my Children and having them bound out But I the sd Zilley Hagans will Certify to you By the Signature of my neighbours to the Revurse that they are Cleare from the Charge that is Reported against them I umbly Beg of the Court without Some Cause or proof of the Charge not to take my Children from me that is able to work and leave me with a parcell of Small Children not able to help them Selves this July the 25th 1824.

Jonathan Pike

Josiah Musgrave

William Garriss

Samuel Perkins

Mark Pike

Benjamin Boswell

William Musgrave

William Jackson

Nathan Pike

Isaac Cork

James Buntin

Box 3, Apprentice Bonds and Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

[Sidenote: Druzilla “Zilley” Hagans was called into court to show cause why her children should be bound as apprentices. To aid her quest to keep her children, she sought support from eleven white neighbors, who averred that charges against her were untrue. Most free colored families were painfully poor. A small and prosperous few worked as artisans or farmed their own land.  Others eked out tolerable livings as farmhands or tenant farmers. However, opportunities for women’s paid work were few. Free women of color competed with slave and poor white women for the little washing or sewing that took place outside households. These women depended on the contributions of all family members who could work. A mother hwose children were bound could console herself with the expectation that her children would be fed, clothed and sheltered during the terms of their indenture. However, the loss of the labor of older children could imperil a family’s survival. As Hagans’ petition poignantly illustrates, children most useful as apprentices were also those most useful to their parents.  Hagans’ petition was unsuccessful. Her children Vina, 16, Eli, 18, and Sherard Hagans, 9, were bound to Robert Hooks during the court term. The indentures of successive children left Hagans’ family in worse straits.  In 1833, she approached the court with an arrangement with a neighbor that worked to the advantage of each.  — LYH]

No interest in the question.

Harriet Owens v. Jasper Chaplain, 48 NC 323 (1856).

Currituck County Court bound free colored girl Polly Gordon to Frederick Owens, a free man of color, at August Term, 1851. In October 1854, Owens sailed for the West Indies and was not heard from again, leaving Gordon with his wife, Harriet Owens. Jasper Chaplain took Gordon from Harriet Owens’ custody, and Currituck County Court Court rebound her to him without notifying Harriet Owens and without the girl’s presence. Reversing the lower court, North Carolina Supreme Court held that, because Owens was derelict in his duty towards Gordon, Currituck had the authority to rebind her without notice to the wife (who “had no interest in the question”) and without the girl.

Frederick Owens married Harriet Owens (her maiden name) on 13 July 1850 in Tyrrell County.  The couple appear in Frederick’s mother Mary Owens‘ household in the 1850 census of Poplar Branch, Currituck County.  They are not found in the 1860 census.

In the 1860 federal census of Powells Point township, Currituck County, 53 year-old farmer Jasper Chaplin and his wife share a household with six free colored children, Sidney (17) and Lydia Patterson (15), Joseph Case (14), and Polly (13), Aaron (9) and Pater Gordon (5).

Sarah Wesley’s death certificate reveals that Polly Gordon married her fellow apprentice, Joseph Case.  Wesley was born 7 July 1874 in Jarvisburg NC and died 29 May 1925 in Poplar Branch.  Polly and Joseph are listed as her parents, and they appear together in the 1870, 1880 and 1900 federal censuses of Currituck County.