When the Confederates sent him off, he sold me the horse.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

Jacob Cherry, age 52, a farmer, filed claim #20118 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He resided at Beaufort County.  “I was a slave before the War. I belonged to Wm. Cherry.” During the war, he lived on the lands of Mr. Benjamin Brown and cultivated a farm there.  “… I had a brother in the union army by name Alfred Gorham he resides in Brunswick Co N.C., he joined the union army in 1862.” “I felt if [the Union] cause succeeded that I should be free and that it would be to my benefit.” “I was a slave at the beginning of the war.  I became free after the War. … I hired my time from my owner, and paid my hire, and saved money bought my horse.”  Cherry bought the horse in January 1865, and Union soldiers took it the next month.  He was plowing a field that he had rented from Benjaim Brown when Captain Graham’s cavalry company came to Greenville from New Bern on a raid, taking all the horses they could find.  Cherry told Captain Graham that the horse belonged to him, and the captain said, “That might be but so many colored people were claiming their owners horses that he could not tell whether they belonged to them or their owners.”  Cherry described the horse as a young bay mare with foal, “fat and in good condition, quick, a good buggy horse and a good plough horse.”  “I bought her from a free colored man who worked at the farm of Widow Parker. This colored man was impressed by the confederates to work on the breastworks and died there. His wife belonged to Mrs. Parker and when he was sent off he sold me the horse for which I paid $300.00.” The free man’s name was Wiley Taylor.

John Bartlett Sr., age 54, who resided in Washington, North Carolina, and worked as a cooper, confirmed that Cherry had bought the horse from a free man of color whose wife lived at Martha Parker’s and who was taken by Confederates to work at fortifications at Bald Head. Bartlett was working at the Confederate commissary in Greenville when he saw Cherry ride by with a federal cavalryman.  Cherry rode bareback with a plow line for a bridle.  “Jacob Cherry … was a hard working man and of excellent character. He started a very good crop but after the taking of his horse, he lost it.” Bartlett was free-born and lived within a mile of Cherry.

John Bartlett Jr., age 24, day laborer, also testified about Graham’s confiscation of horses in and around Greenville.

Claim approved: $150.00.