He was a good farmer, industrious and thrifty.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

Dissey Snelling filed claim #13204 on behalf of her deceased husband, William Snelling.  She did not know her age.  She had lived in Houses Creek township, about 5 miles from Raleigh, since 1861.  William had died intestate in August 1873.  There had been no administration of his estate or division of his property.  “All that he left remains in my hands.”

Dissey and William had seven living children: Curtis (35), Marsy Ann (24), Wm. Acquilla (22), Araminta (18), Nancy (16), Lizzie (14) and Silvetia Snelling (7).

William had been born in Wake County, and his farm contained 171 acres, 50 in cultivation.  “He was a free colored man, he was never a slave.”  He was about 66 years old when he died.  Dissey, too, had never been a slave.

Union troops took two horses, seven head of cattle, ten goats, 15 sheep, eight hogs, two wagons and two saddles. The troops were camped on Beaver Dam less than a mile from the Snellings’ house.

Curtis Snelling testified that he resided in his mother’s house, that he was William’s son, and that he had been born free.  “I was taken away from here at Raleigh under guard and taken to Wilmington, where I was put to work loading vessels.  I never received any pay for that work.”

Willis R. McDade testified that he lived about 6 miles north of Raleigh.  He asserted that William Snelling’s farm was well-stocked.  “He was a good farmer, industrious and thrifty.  He carried a two-horse farm.”

In the 1850 census of Western Division, Wake County, William Snelling, age 38, is listed with wife Dissy (25), son Curtis (4) and Dissy’s relatives Mary F. (7), John (33), Martha (31), Rhoda (2) and Martha Evans (5).  In 1860, the family is listed in North West District: William Snellings (50), wife Desdimonia (30) and children Curtis (15), Martha (12), Roxana (10), William (2) and Arometta (1).  William reported owning $500 personal property and $500 real property.