We, all here, were a proscribed people.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
John Herring Jr. filed claim #11519 with the Southern Claims Commission. He was a 67 year-old farmer living in Dudley, Wayne County. During the Civil War, he lived in Grantham township on rented land on a two-horse farm (about 45 acres.) “The claimant being a colored man it is needless to question him as to loyalty.”
“Sherman’s whole army was encamped within about a mile and a half ‘and stayed there longer than I wanted them to!'”
“I was always a free man was born free, all my days a farmer.”
Augustus Blunt, age 38, testifying to Herring’s loyalty, said that he lived in Brogden township and ran a sawmill. He was Herring’s son-in-law. He overheard one Union officer remark, “You are making a purty good raise boys.” Daughter-in-law Kizzie Herring, age 36, living in Grantham, also testified, as well as son Doctor Herring, 24.
John Bryant Capps, age 44, was a boarding house keeper in Goldsboro. He testified that he had known Herring for 20 years and lived about 7 miles from him. “Shortly after the outbreak of the war I was carried off by the rebels to serve as a cook. When I made an effort to get home to my family I was prevented and they gave me 50 lashes.” I never knew a man of my color who did not wish to see the south get whipped by way of satisfaction for the the many whippings inflicted upon us.”
Wm. H. Thompson, age 27, lived in Goldsboro and had known Herring since childhood. During the war he lived about 5-8 miles from Herring. “I have yet to learn of the first colored man who was not in full sympathy with the Union cause. We, all here, were a proscribed people, and during the war had to keep our mouths shut or they would have been effectively shut for us forever.”
John Herring, age 50, mulatto, his wife Charity and their children (including 2 month-old Doctor) appear in the 1850 census of Wayne County living south of the Neuse River.
Augustus Brunt [sic] is listed twice in the 1850 census of Wayne County, both times south of the Neuse. He appears as a 12 year-old (probably an apprentice) in the household of William Benton, and as a 13 year-old with his mother, Polly Brunt. The censustaker noted that Augustus was born in Wayne County and Polly in Johnston.
John Capps, age 22, mulatto, is listed in the 1850 census of Wayne County on the south side of the Neuse River.