He followed the barber business.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

One of my earliest acquaintances in Goldsboro was a negro.  This was about 1848.  He continued to live in Goldsboro until his death, some fifteen or twenty years ago.  This was Bill Burnett.  He was at one time worth considerable property.  He followed the barber business.  His skin was black, it is true, but I believe that Bill Burnett was as honest and upright in his dealings as any man, white or black.  I never heard in all his long life one word against his character.  He was always polite to the white people.  He was for many years the only barber in the town.  Everyone liked and respected him.  He was an old-time free negro.  He had the right of suffrage before 1835.  I don’t know whether he ever exercised it or not, but after the war, when the right to vote came to him again, he never registered nor voted.  He told me not long before his death that he had no desire to vote; that it would do him no good, and that he believed the enfranchisement of the colored people of the South immediately upon their emancipation was the most unwise thing that could have been done for them.  He had a brother, Micajah Burnett, who was raised here, but some time about 1850 he became implicated some way with some white men in stealing and running off and selling slaves, and he skipped to New York and never came back.

“Some Early Recollections of Wayne County – But More Particularly of Goldsboro: War-Time Reminiscences and Other Selections,” by J. M. Hollowell, published in The Goldsboro Herald, June 1939. 

In the 1850 census of the North Side of Neuse, Wayne County: Cuzzy Green, 40, and William Burnett, 35, barber, who claimed $300 property.