She was always cold a free woman.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

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.