Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

A very respectable woman and a worthy one.

Elsie Drake filed claim #15804 with the Southern Claims Commission.  She was 79 years old and lived near Fayetteville.  “I lived on my own land.  I have 3 acres all cultivated.  Nursing was my occupation.”

“I had one grandson in the Confederate Army as a drummer.  His name is Warren Drake.  He is living in Montgomery Al. I did not furnish him with anything while in the Rebel servace.  He was carried off against my wish.  He ran away from the Army and came home.  He was a boy of about 14 years old.”

“My feeling was with the union.  My language was for the union.”

“I am a widow.  My husband has been dead about 15 years. I have 3 children living Thos. Drake … Robt. Drake … Warren Drake.  Neither of them was in the confederate servace.  They were slaves.”

“I was free at the beginning of the war.  My husband was a free man.  He bought me about 20 years ago. …  I bought some of my property  and raised some.  Got the money to pay for it by cooking and nursing.  John H. Cook was my former owner.  I am not and have not been in his employ since my husband bought me.”

Though Elsie Drake appears in neither the 1850 nor 1860 census of Cumberland County, in 1870 she is listed as “Elsey Drake,” age 77, in the household of her son Thomas in Cross Creek township.

Union soldiers took bacon, hogs, corn, flour, coffee, cooking utensils, soap, turkeys, geese, water buckets, bed quilts, tubs, blankets, a shawl and some sugar from her. Witnesses to the theft were Jenette Smith, Mollie Stephens and Ellen Simmons.

Special Commissioner John J. Minor noted: “Her husband … was always free and his wife lived with [him] since I first knew them up to his death.  She was a slave belonged to John H. Cook.  I presume her husband hired her time up to the time he bought her — She is a very respectable woman and a very worthy one … Her witnesses are all very respectable col’d people.”

Though she appears in neither the 1850 nor 1860 censuses, in 1870, 70 year-old “Elsey” Drake is listed in her son Thomas’ household in Cross Creek township, Cumberland County.

She was always cold a free woman.

State of North Carolina Wayne County June 15 1853 Winney Huff after being Duly Sworn Deposith and says as follows (viz) that she has seen Fareby Simmons Mother a Colord Woman living in the County of Birtie and State aforsaid and it was stated to her in the neighborhood that she was a free person and said hir Daughter Fariby Simmons was indentured to one Sertain William Burnham and Said Burnham Emigrated from the County of Birtie to the County of Wayne and said fariby Simons lived with Burnham as an apprentice and fariby Simmons in the time of her apprenticeship had a child Bornd Named Hannah which was Bound to Betsey Burnham a Daughter of Said William Burnham and that Fariby Simons was always cold a free woman and has pased for a free woman Ever since my Recollection which would be Seventy or Seventy five years furthe the Deponant sayeth Not June the 1st 1853 then was the above Written certificate of Winney Huff sworn to Before me George Flowers J.P.  Winney X Huff

This is one of three sworn statements by whites attesting to Fereby Simmons’ freedom.  Their purpose is not clear.  It seems likely that Fereby and Hannah Simmons were the matriarchs of the sprawling free colored Simmons clan — with branches by mid-19th century from southeast North Carolina to Canada — but relationships between the various lines remain undetermined.

Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Wayne County Miscellaneous Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Surnames: Bladen County, 1860.

These surnames are found among free people of color listed in the 1860 federal population census of Bladen County:


We believe her to be a worthy woman.

To the General Assembly of North Carolina

The undersigned, Respectfully Petition, the Legislature, to pass an act, in favour of Sucky Borden (a woman of color) vesting in her, all the rights and privileges, of a free woman.  Your petitioners have long known said Suckey, and believe her to be a worthy woman, who will duly appreciate all her privileges — and your Petitioners will Ever pray &c

Wm. H. Washington, Richard Washington, N. Washington, Jno. Wright, Raiford Hooks, M.A. Borden, John Everitt, John C. Slocumb, Wton Thompson, W.C. Bryan, Woodard Howell, Wm, Hollowell, Josiah Howell, C. Hooks, Wm. Robinson, Jere. A. Green, Jno. N. Andrews, O. Coor, Thomas B. Cox, Joseph E. Kennedy, John W. Davis, Chelby Langston, Hinton J. Best, A.H. Langston

Records of Slaves of Free Persons of Color, Wayen County Miscellaneous Records, North Carolina State Archives.

[Sidenote: The petition was granted: Susan Bordan, age 70, black, is listed in the 1860 federal population census of Goldsboro, Wayne County.  She worked as a baker and reported owning $500 real property and $100 personal property, placing her among the wealthiest free people of color in the county.  She shared her household with 60 year-old mulatto “sewer,” Angia Capps, and 7 year-old mulatto Catharine Carroll.  Borden’s petitioners were a collection of Wayne County’s most solid citizens — planters, a hotel proprietor, the local newspaper editor, two clerks of court, the sheriff and a Methodist clergyman.  Nearly all were slaveowners. — LYH]

One who sells his services does not cease to be free.

James Casey v. L.S. Robards, 60 NC 434 (1864)

The issue in a case from Haywood County Superior Court: if a free man sells his services for 99 years, by deed, does he cease to be a free man?

In 1859, James Casey, a free negro, conveyed his services to James R. Love.  On 10 September 1864, Lt. L.S. Robards took Casey into custody as a conscript.  Love’s executors objected, claiming Love’s services.  Under an act of the Confederate Congress dated 17 February 1864, “all male free negroes, and other persons of color, resident in the Confederate states, between the ages of 18 and 50 years, shall be held liable to perform such duties with the army, or in connection with the military defenses of the country in the way of work upon fortifications or in government works for the production or preparation of material of war, or in military hospitals, as the Secretary of War may … prescribe; and … shall receive rations and clothing and compensation in the rate of $11 per month. …”

Casey asserted that his contract with Love degraded him from free man to slave, and therefore he was not liable to conscription.  The NC Supreme Court first pointed out that, if Casey were not free, he had no status to sue, and his case must be dismissed on that basis.  However, one who sells his services does not cease to be free, and free negroes could be compelled to render service.

James Casey, age 27, appears with George Casey, 24, and Leander Casey, 15, all described as mulatto, in the 1860 census of Haywood County in the household of James R. Love, an exceptionally wealthy farmer and slaveowner.  Casey’s death certificate, filed in Haywood County, reveals that he lived in or near Waynesville, was about 84 when he died on 11 March 1918, and was the son of Jim Moore and Harriet Casey.

Where are they now? No. 4.

K.H. was born in the mid-1960s in Wilson NC.  He is descended from:

(1) Vicey Artis Williams [1810-ca1868, Greene/Wayne] via Adam T. Artis [1831-1919, Greene/Wayne] via Noah Artis [1856-1952, Wayne/Wilson County]

(2) Chaney Jones [1795-1873, Nash County] via Lucinda Jones Artis [1834-1859, Nash County]

(3) Christopher Mozingo [1800-ca1855, Sampson County] via Wiley Mozingo [1832-??, Sampson/Cumberland/Wayne County]

(4) Sarah Allen [??-??, Cumberland County] via Agnes Allen [1840-??, Cumberland/Wayne County]

I was free born, I got my property by way of work.

Bryant Simmons filed claim #12254 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 40 years old and lived near Dudley, Wayne County, where we worked as a wagonmaker.  He lived on his own land, consisting of 51 1/4 acres, of which half were under cultivation.  During the war, he worked on his farm and in a blacksmith shop.

“I was employed, or rather pressed into service, for about 2 years by the Rebels, they made me go and work on breastworks and fortifications [in Kinston NC], they guarded me during the night.”  Also, “I worked on the railroad a few days while the Union army was in here.”

“I was free at the beginning of the war, I was free born, I got my property by my work.  I live on my own land.”  In March 1865, the Union army took bacon, lard, corn, pease, meal, fodder and hogs, saying that soldiers needed something to eat after a march. “I think they eat the hog on the premises …” “There were about 500 lbs. of bacon, sound and good, well dried in my dwelling in the loft worth about 20 or 25 cts. per pound, 20 pounds of good lard in my corn crib … four barrels of good sound corn partly husked … 1400 pounds of good sound fodder standing in the field in stacks .. one hog fat in the woods ….” Simmons was literate and signed his deposition.

Jesse Hollowell, a 62 year-old white farmer, testified that he had known Simmons about 25 years and lived within two or three miles of him. He testified that loyal men regarded Simmons as loyal.

James King, age 60, a farmer and carpenter who lived near Dudley, testified that he had known Simmons about 20 years and lived about a mile and a half from him. They often talked about the Union cause, and Simmons said he hoped the United States would put down the rebellion.  King signed his name to his deposition.

Wife Elizabeth Simmons and daughter Cornelia Aldridge corroborated Simmons’ account of his property taken by General Kilpatrick’s command in March 1865. Both testified that the closest camp was near Mount Olive, about five miles away.  Cornelia Aldridge signed her name to her deposition.

Surnames: Brunswick County, 1860.


Adultery and fornication.

State v. Joel Fore and Susan Chestnut, __ NC __ (1841)

Joel Fore of Lenoir County, a free man of color, and Susan Chesnut, a white woman, lived together and had one or more children, and the inartful pleading of their indictment would not defeat a finding that marriages between such persons were null and void under the Act of 1838, and subsequent cohabitation between them was adultery and fornication.

Joseph [sic] Fore married Susan Chestnut on 13 January 1840 in Craven County. (See marriage records of that county.)  The 1840 census of Lenoir County shows Joel Fore as the head of household that included one white female aged 30-40, one colored male aged 24-36, and 5 slaves.  By 1860, the family had moved to Moore County, where Joel, “Susa” and their children Tootle, Elizabeth, Nancy, Anna J., Hardey, Henry and Sarah, aged 1-20, are described as white.  In 1870, Joel and Susan Fore and their children are listed in Greenwood township, Moore County.  Joel and children Augustus and Henry are classified as mulatto.  Susan and the remaining children as white.