Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Month: November, 2012

Free-Issue Death Certificates: MISCELLANEOUS, no. 3.

Eliza Aldridge.  Died 29 Jan 1824, Brogden, Wayne County. Colored. Widow of Robert Aldridge.  Born 29 February 1829, Duplin County, to unknown father and Nancy (no last name.) Informant, Joseph Aldridge.

Mathew Aldridge.  Died 6 May 1920, Goldsboro. Colored. Married to Fannie Aldridge. Age 64 years, 2 months, 28 days. Merchant. Born Goldsboro NC to Robert Aldridge and Liazza Borkins, both of Wayne County. Informant, Levi Kennedy.

In the 1860 census of Newton Grove, Sampson County: Robert Aldridge, farmer, with wife Mary E., and children George W., John, Amelia, Matthew L., David S., and a one month-old infant.

Francis Carter.  Died 26 September 1937, Brogden, Wayne County. Colored. Widow of Marshall Carter. Born Sampson County to Jesse Jacobs and Abbie Strickland, both of Sampson County. Informant, Granger S. Carter.

Marshall Carter.  Died 11 July 1912, Dudley, Brogden, Wayne County. Colored. Married to Frances Carter. Born 7 July 1860 in Duplin County to William Carter and Mary (no last name.) Farmer. Informant, Milfred Carter.

John Jacobs.  Died 16 June 1922, Dudley, Brogden, Wayne County.  Age about 67. Miller (corn mill.) Born Sampson County to Jesse Jacobs and Abbie (no last name), both of Sampson County. Informant, Willie Carter.


State v. Harris Melton & Ann Byrd, 44 NC 49 (1852).

An indictment for fornication in Stanly Superior Court.  The defendants pleaded not guilty and offered evidence of their marriage.  “The controversy was concerning the color of the male defendant – the female being admitted to be white.”  The law: “It shall not be lawful for any free negro or person of color to marry a white person; and any marriage hereafter solemnized or contracted between any free negro or free person of color and a white person, shall be null and void.”

It was admitted that Harris Melton was of Indian descent, and he argued that the Act above did not apply to persons descended from Indian ancestors.  The Supreme Court, however, noted that it did not have to reach this issue because the jury had only found that Melton was of Indian blood, without determining to what degree.  The law “could not have intended that the most remote taint of Indian blood” would void a marriage.  As the jury had indicated that it did not know the degree of Melton’s Indian-ness, the verdict for defendants must be affirmed.

Caswell County Will Books: G.

At  April term, 1815, Zachariah Ballard, age 2 years July next, a boy of colour, bound to Simon Denny.

At January term, 1817, Thomas Phillips, boy of colour, age 2, and Rachel Phillips, girl of colour, age 5 years the 9th of September last, bound to William Kennon.  Also, William Howell, boy of colour, age 12 years last September, bound to Thomas Kennon, and Peter Huston, boy of colour, age 2 years, bound to William Douglas.

At July term, 1819, “Emancipation of a negro man named Billy, 5 feet, 9 inches high, age 21 years, to be free from me and my heirs. /s/ William Edenfield, 6 July 1815.”  Proved at Lynchburg, Virginia, in July 1815. Certificate recorded in Caswell County.

How Napoleon recouped.

In the 1850 census of the North Side of Neuse, Wayne County: Aaron Seaberry, 32, farmhand, wife Louisa [Eliza], Napoleon, Frances and Celia Seaberry.

On 18 Jan 1860, in Wayne County, Bryan Minshew sold Eliza Seaberry a certain parcel of land for $109.37, beginning at a stake “in the run of a small branch in the new road and runs with the run of the same to a small whortleberry” then to the stake, measuring 3 1/2 acres.  The parcel was conveyed in the presence of James M. Gardner and Martin Sauls, but the deed, found at Book 27, page 255, was not registered until 1862.

On 13 Feb 1867, Aaron Seaberry filed a mortgage deed conveying to Napoleon Hagins [his stepson, see above] a “tract of land lately conveyed by Bryant Minshew to Louisa Seabery, wife of Aaron, all interest therein, also one grey mare, four head of cattle, nine head of hogs, all household and kitchen furniture … and 12 barrels of corn, about one thousand two hundred pounds of fodder & about nine hundred pounds of pork, one wagon & cart,and all the farming implements of every description of the said Aaron Seaberry” for $500.  “The condition of this deed is such that whereas, the said Aaron Seaberry is justly endebted to the said Napoleon Hagins in the sum of one hundred & seventy dollars with interest from the first of February 1866, money paid by the said Hagins to William J. Exum for the said Seaberry and at his request and also the sum of two hundred dollars, loaned by the said Hagins to the said Seaberry, the precise date whereof is not remembered, but which the said Seaberry thinks was about eighteen months prior to the date hereof, and whereas the said Seaberry is justly indebted to the said William J. Exum as agent for J.M. Caho in the sum of thirty six dollars & twenty some cents, with interest from 1st January 1861 due by open account & also in the sum of sixty one dollars and thirty eight cents, due by note, the date of whereof is not now remembered by the said Seaberry, but supposed to have been given about two years ago…”  The deed carried a condition that Hagans sell the conveyed property to pay off Seaberry’s debts, with the balance to be paid to Seaberry.

 Federal population schedule; Deeds, Register of Deeds Office, Wayne County.

All I have to make a living.

Nicholas Brown filed claim #17581 with the Southern Claims Commission. Brown was 34 years old and worked as a wagon maker in Fayetteville. He was “at Fayetteville NC up to March 1865. When Genl. Sherman’s army came I left here with a part of the army went to Wilmington NC.  From there I went to Washington City in a Government Steamer remained there about 2 months and returned home about the middle of June 1865.  My place of residence was about 2 miles from Town. I bought the land before I was of age and took the deed in my mother’s name in order to secure her a home.”  The place was about 12 ½ acres, and he farmed as much as he could. He was conscripted in 1864 and put to work making wagons at the Confederate states arsenal.  Before that, he “was at work with the man [John W. Welsh] that I served my apprenticeship with.  He made wagons for the confederate government which I worked on being in his employment.”

All his property was taken on 11 March 1865 at 10 or 11 in the morning.  Soldiers came to his house at several intervals to take the horse, some fodder and shucks. Witnesses included his mother; his brothers “Laurance”, Washington and Benjamin; and his father, now deceased.

Lawrence Brown, bootmaker, was Nicholas Brown’s brother.  When the soldiers came, “my Father and I was in Fayetteville with my brothers horse and cart hauling corn from the River, corn that my Brother had bought in Bladen County and brought up on the steam boat.  The officer said, “Old man I must have this horse and cart. We have some things to haul.” My father said, “If you take this horse you will take all I have to make a living.” The officer said he could not help that and took it all.  Lawrence then went to his brother’s place about two miles north of Fayetteville and saw the yard full of soldiers taking his property.

George W. Brown, another brother, age 26 and a laborer, testified that he also witnessed the depredation, as did their mother and sisters Mariah, Mary Eliza and Wm. Ann.

Edinboro Scurlock, 45, of Fayetteville, also a wagonmaker, testified that he worked in a shop with Nicholas.  “He always talked in favour of the United States Government said the Southern people brought on the war because they were afraid that their slaves would be freed at some day.”

John W. Welsh, 54, blacksmith, testified that he had known Brown since 1858.  “He has been in my employment nearly all the time since 1858 he finished his apprenticeship with me he worked in my wood shop at wagon making.” “I had no conversation with him about the war he was but a boy at work in my shop.”

The Commissioner of Claims noted that Brown’s father was a slave and his mother free, “so he was free born.”

Surnames: Buncombe County, 1850.


Free-Issue Death Certificates: DOVE.

Ned Dove.  Died 13 December 1918, Jacksonville, Onslow County. Colored. Married to Maria Dove.  Born 1846, Onslow County to Durant Dove and Annie Dove. Farmer. Buried Dove graveyard.  Informant, William Dove.

Jane Dove. Died 24 April 1926, Woodington, Lenoir County. Colored. Widow of James Dove. Born 1836 in Onslow County to Durant Dove and Jane Dove, both of Onslow. Informant, James Dove.

Willie Dove. Died 10 March 1927, Woodington, Lenoir County. Colored. Married to Mary Dove. Farmer for Blackledge Harper. Born Onslow County to Durant Dove and Annie White, both of Onslow. Informant, Blackledge Harper.

Henry Dove. Died 2 October 1915, Kinston, Lenoir County. Colored. Married. Born 1850, Onslow County to Durant Dove and Annie White of Onslow County. Informant, John H. Dove.

In the 1850 census of Upper Richlands, Onslow County, Durant Dove, 40, mulatto, wife Anny and children Margarett Ann, Eliza Jane, Wm., Julia, Nancy, Durant, Edward, Mandy, Joshua, and Henry.

Amos Dove.  Died 31 August 1924, Richlands, Onslow County. Negro. Widower of Mercy Dove. Age 78. Father, Sanders Basden. Mother, Nurcy Edwards. Buried Green Branch cemetery.  Informant, Oscar Dove.

John H. Dove.  Died 14 December 1925, Kinston, Lenoir County. Colored. Widowed. Born 1854, Lenoir County to Jim Dove of Lenoir County and unknown mother. Informant, Jim Dove.

To the evil example of all others.

State of North Carolina, County of Wayne}  Superior Court of Same, Spring Term 1834. The Jurors for the State upon their oath present that Furnifold Jernigan late of the County of Wayne and David Cole late of the Same County on the first day in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty three with force and arms at and in the County aforesaid one certain free Boy of mixed blood by the name of Kilby OQuinn and the son of one Patty OQuinn a free woman then and there being found did steal take and carry away they the said Furnifold Jernigan and David Cole well knowing the said Kilby OQuinn to be free contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided to the evil example of all others in like case offending [torn] and dignity of the State.

And the Jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid as further present that Furnifold Jernigan late of the County of Wayne aforesaid and David Cole late of the Same County, aforesaid (to wit) on the day and year aforesaid with force and arms at and in the County aforesaid the other free Boy of mixed blood Kilby OQuinn the son of one Patty OQuinn a free woman by violence did convey the said Kilby OQuinn from the county of Wayne to the county of Bladen [creased] and [illegible] if the said Kilby OQuinn and appropriate the same to their own use they the said Furnifold Jernigan and David Cole well knowing the said Kilby OQuinn to be free contrary to the form of the statute in such cases made and provided to the evil example of all others in like case offending to the evil example of all others in like case offending and against the peace and dignity of the State.  S. Miller Sol.

State v. Furnifold Jernigan & David Cole, Selling Free Negroes, A True Bill.

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

Coal-black negroes, no. 2.

State v. William P. Watters, 25 NC 455 (1843).

This case, arising in Ashe County, was an indictment against William P. Watters for libel: “Notice. A man called Isaac Tinsley on the first day of this month in a suit wherein the State was plaintiff and myself and wife were defendants, swear a wilful lie and I can prove it. October 15th, 1841.”  In other words, Watters was charged with falsely calling Tinsley a liar. Watters pleaded not guilty and asserted the truth of his statement as a defense.

The case was rooted in Watters and Zilpha Thompson’s earlier indictment for fornication and adultery. Watters and Thompson proved that they had been married, but the State alleged that Watters was a man of color, and his marriage to a white woman was therefore void. Watters contended that he was descended from Portuguese, not Negro or Indian, ancestors. Isaac Tinsley testified for the state that he knew Watters’ mother and grandmother, and “they were coal black negroes.” Other witnesses testified that Watters’ mother was “a bright mulatto, with coarse straight hair — that her name was Elizabeth Cullom, and that she lived with a man by the name of John P. Watters, who was a white man, but of dark complexion for a white man,” who was the reputed father of William Watters. They also testified that Elizabeth Cullom’s mother, Mary Wooten, “was not as black as some negroes they had seen, and had thin lips.” Another witness stated that Wooten “was black, with thin lips and sharp features.” Watters then proposed to prove that Wooten had stated that Cullom’s father was white. This evidence was rejected by the court.  And found Watters guilty of libel.

Upon appeal to the Supreme Court, the justices confirmed that the evidence had been properly excluded as hearsay.  Further, as “the declaration of the grandmother assigns the paternity of her child to no man in particular, but only to some white man, [it] would be the loosest proof of pedigree that ever established one.”  “And, besides, it is well known that persons, of the description of this woman, have a strong bias in their minds to induce the declaration from them, and if possible, the impression on others, that their illegitimate child is the issue of a white man: if not to gratify a personal vanity in themselves, for the reason, that it removes their offspring one degree from the humbled caste in which is placed by the law,whereby he is excluded from the elective franchise, and from competency as a witness between white persons, and prohibited from intermarrying with them.”  Judgment affirmed.

In the 1850 census of Ashe County: Wm. P. Waters, 52, mulatto, wife Zilphia, 31, and children Mary, 9, Marth, 8, John, 7, Mark, 6, Louisa, 5, Granville, 3, and Henry, 1.  The race designation for Zilphia and the children was blank, which indicates the default “white.”

John Ellis, Revolutionary War soldier.

State of No Carolina, Wake County }

This day personally appeared before us R. Cannon & R. Smith two of the acting Justices of the Peace for Wake County, John Ellis a man of colour, and made oath that he was a Soldier in the Revolutionary war, in the continental line of No. Carolina, the length of tume the Deponent does not precisely recollect, but which will appear by reference to the musterrolls of the said Army.  This Deponent further deposeth and saith that he never drew any land himself, nor did he ever authorize any person to do it for him.

Sworn to & subscribed before me, this 27th July 1820    John X Ellis

R. Cannon J.P.   R. Smith, J.P.

Additional documents in the file note that Ellis resided in Washington County, Illinois, at the time of his application; that he was born in Virginia in 1754 and moved to North Carolina with his mother as a child;  that he moved to the “Western Country” in about 1799; that he died 21 October 1850; that his heirs were James, William, Polley, Mahaliah and Henry Ellis; and that his son James Ellis was executor of his estate.

From the file of John Ellis, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives and Records Administration.