It is her wish and desire that her children should leave the state.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
State of North Carolina, Onslow County }
Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, March Term 1860
To the Worshipful, the Justices of Said Court: The petition of Omar White, humbly complaining, showeth unto your Worships that she is a free woman of color: that her Mother, Elizabeth White was born a free person of color in the County of Pitt of the State of aforesaid and removed to this the county and state aforesaid when your petitioner was born, raised and has always resided. Your petitioner further showeth to your Worships that she is now about sixty years, is at present residing where she has resided with her family, which is numerous, for the last twelve years on the premises of of Basil M. Barry, Esquire, and with his permission: that she is the mother of thirteen children and has [blank] grandchildren, all of whom, under the age of twenty-one years, respectively. Your petitioner further showeth that, after her said children shall have attained the age of twenty one aforesaid and shall have fulfilled all the requirements of the law in such cases made and provided for Apprentices, it is her wish and desire that they shall remove from the state aforesaid and settle in a free state. Your petitioner further showeth unto your worships that the facts set forth in this her petition are in the knowledge of many persons now living and such knowledge is the only evidence of her freedom: that she is growing old and her witnesses are also much advanced in years: that by the time he said children shall have reached the age of twenty one aforesaid, when they shall be free to emigrate from the state aforesaid, it may not be in their power to show the facts herein set forth.
To the end therefore that such testimony may be perpetuated and become a part of the record of this Worshipful Court, your petitioner humbly prays your Worships for permission for a rule to take such depositions as may be necessary to sustain the allegations set forth in this her petition. And your petitioner humbly begs your Worships for further and such other relief as your Worships may deem necessary and proper.
And your petitioner as in duty bound shall ever humbly pray etc. L.W. Humphrey, Attorney for Pet.
Elizabeth “Betsey” Whitehurst’s children were apprenticed extensively in Onslow County — Omy [Naomi, also called Oma, and the petitioner here] in 1806, 1811, 1818, 1819; Joshua in 1806, twice in 1811, 1816, 1818 ; Elijah in 1811; Esther in 1813 and 1830; Ann, Bill and Edward in 1817 and 1827; and Morris in 1827. Their last name appeared as White, Whiters and Whitehurst. See Apprentice Records, Wayne County, North Carolina State Archives. She is probably the “Betsey Free” listed in the 1820 census of South Richlands district, Onslow County, with a household comprising four people of color. In the 1830 census of Onslow County, she is Betsey Whitehurst with a household of seven. In the 1850 census, she is listed in her son Edward White’s household in Cypress Creek, Jones County.
Omy White’s children also cycled through Onslow County Court as apprentices — Betsy Jane in 1827, 1835, 1839; Nancy in 1827; Sarah in 1834; Lindey in 1834; Elijah in 1835; Linda and Jack in 1844; Edward “Ned,” Esther and Robert “Bob” in 1844 and 1849; Naomi in 1844; and Alfred in 1849. In the 1850 census of Half Moon district, Onslow County, Omy “Ward” and four children are listed in one household (headed by B.M. Barry, a lawyer) and son Jack is in another.