Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Estate of Solomon Williams.


Vicey Artis, a free woman of color, and Solomon Williams, a slave, had eleven children together — Zilpha Artis Wilson, Adam Toussaint Artis, Jane Artis Artis, Loumiza Artis Artis, Charity Artis, Lewis Artis, Jonah Williams, Jethro Artis, Jesse Artis, Richard Artis and Delilah Williams Exum — before they were able to marry legally.  On 31 August 1866, they registered their 35-year cohabitation in Wayne County.  Vicey died soon after, but Solomon lived until 1883.  The document above, listing his and Vicey’s six surviving children and heirs of their deceased children, is found among his estate papers, now held at the North Carolina State Archives.

In the 1850 census of Bull Head district, Greene County, Vicy Artess is listed with children Zilpha, Louis, Jonah, Jethro, and Richard Artess.  Next door, her and Solomon’s children Adam, Charity and Jane appear in the household of Silas Bryant, to whom they apparently were apprenticed.

Surnames: Lenoir County, 1850.



High-achieving descendants.

Commodore M. Reid.  “Rev. Commodore M. Reid now (1920), stationed at St. James M.E. Church, Winston-Salem, N.C., is a native of the Old North State, having been born in Cabarrus Co. August 9. 1889.  His father, James S. Reid, was also a minister of the Gospel, and his mother, before her marriage, was Margaret Boger.  His grandparents on the paternal side were Jerry and Mamie Reid and on the maternal side Jesse and Martha Boger. Rev. Reid’s father was free-born, but his mother was a slave before Emancipation.”

John Henry Clement.  “Rev. John Henry Clement, who for more than twenty years has been active in the religious and educations life of the State, resides at High Point.  He is a native of Davie Co., having been born at the old town of Mocksville, on March 5, 1869.  His father, Anderson Clement, was a laborer and a farmer and the boy was brought up to do all sorts of farm work.  His mother, who before her marriage, was Miss Martha Lanier, was a daughter of Bob Smith, who was free born.”

Robert James Frederick.  “Dr. Frederick was born at Warsaw, Duplin Co., April 24, 1886.  His father, John J. Frederick, was a carpenter, and was the son of Malcolm and Pennie Merritt.  The latter was a slave, but Malcolm Merritt was free born.”

Henry Pearson Kennedy.  “Dr. Henry Pearson Kennedy, a successful druggist and pharmacist of New Bern, has not found it necessary to go away from his native town in order to succeed.  … Still on the sunny side of thirty he has already made for himself an enviable place in the business and social life of New Bern, where he was born January 7, 1884.  His father, Henry P. Kennedy, was a contractor; he was the son of Lorenzo D. and Charlotte Kennedy. The former was free-born, but the latter was a slave.

George L. White.  “Like so many of the successful men of both races, Dr. Geo. L. White now (1920) stationed at Greenville, was born and reared on the farm.  He was born at Jacksonville , N.C., July 15, 1870.  His father, Edward White, was a farmer.  Edward White was the son of John and Mariah (Mantford) White, who lived to a ripe old age. Though free born, they became involved by insolvency and were sold for their debts.”

Charles Gaston Davis.  “Prof. Davis was born at the little hamlet of Cottonville, in Stanley [sic] Co., Sept. 15, 1880.  His father, Frank Davis, was born near the same place in 1834 and was the son of Jackson Davis, who lived to be seventy-eight, and his wife, Nancy Davis, who died at eighty.  Prof. Davis’ mother, before her marriage, Miss Judie Easley, who was born about 1830 and who was free-born.  She was the daughter of Harry and Celia Easley, both of whom lived to a ripe old age.”

James Monroe Henderson.  “He is a native of the old town of Concord, where he was born on Aug. 15, 1861, soon after the outbreak of the war which was to bring freedom and opportunity to him and to his people. His father, Henry A. Henderson, was a mechanic, and his mother’s maiden name was Miss Eliza Bell. John Bell was a free born, though his wife was a slave.”

Excerpted from History of the American Negro and his Institutions, Volume 4, Arthur Bunyan Caldwell, ed.

The Confederates tried to get me again, but I dodged them.

Hugh Cale filed claim #12668 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 33 years old, resided in Elizabeth City, and engaged in trading. From 1861 to December 1862, he lived in Edenton.  He then moved to Plymouth until 1864.  He then “went in the United States service on board Steamer Massaint [Massasoit] a transport remained on her for five months. I then shipped on Steamer Pilot Boy still in the service of the United States and remained on her until after the close of the war.”

“I was taken in the Spring of 1861 & carried to Beatom Iland [Beacon Island] near Ocracoat-bar [Ocracoke] N.C. and was made to work on the fortifications for the Confederate Government against my will for I was a man of color. Was kept there two weeks and was then carried to Hatrass [Hatteras] to work on fortifications & was then kept there three months & three days.  We were then sent home, & remained home until the fall of Hatrass. I was then taken and put on board of the Schuner Cinaline and remained on her till the Capture of Roanoke Iland. I then went home the Confederate troops tried to get me again. I doged them.”  He “did all I could to get other collered people to leave home and to go the places held by the United States Authorities.”  “In 1862 I was arrested up the Chowan River as a spie for the United States. I was kept about five weeks under arrest and was not released until the Union troops took Winton.”  “The Confederate troops wanted me to go to Norfolk Va and get goods for them. I told them I couldnot do that. They said if I did not do it that I should not stay at Home. I faild to do it then Confederate soldiers came to my House & beat me so I was laid up for some time.” “After I became free I worked at the Masons trade. I made money after I went in [illegible] lines at Plymouth and paid for the property with it. Except the boat which I owned before the war. I never had a master.” Union soldiers took lumber, goods and a sail boat from him.

Cale worked as merchant from 1862 to 1864.  While absent, his clerk, Sam Skinner, conducted business for him.  After they captured Plymouth, United States authorities took such merchandise from Cale as butter, flour, tobacco, bacon, apples.

John Block estimated that Cale’s 26-foot boat, in good shape with sails and fixtures, was worth two hundred dollars.

Allowed: $602.50.

Report of the Secretary of War, Vol. I, 1865, “No. 20. List of vessels in service of Quartermaster’s department supplying General Sherman’s army” lists both the Massasoit and Pilot Boy.

Hugh Cale died July 22, 1910, in Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County.  He was about 75 years old.  His death certificate lists his occupation as merchant.

Death for kidnappers.

Crimes punishable with death in North Carolina for a single offence.

16. Taking a free negro or person of mixed blood out of the State with the intention to sell or dispose of him, &c.

Highland Messenger, Asheville, 13 March 1846.

To liberate and set free.

At a General Assembly, begun and held at Tarborough on the eighteenth Day of November, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-seven, and in the Twelfth Year of the Independence of the said State, being the first session of the Assembly. Richard Caswell, Esq., Governor.


An Act to Emancipate Certain Persons therein mentioned.

Whereas Agerton Willis, late of Bladen county, was in his lifetime possessed of a certain slave called Joseph, and in consideration of the services of him the said Joseph, and the particular obligations he conceived himself under to the said Joseph for his fidelity and attention, did by his last will and testament devise to the said Joseph his freedom and emancipation, and did also give unto the said Joseph a considerable property, both real and personal: And whereas the executor and next of kin to the said Joseph did in pursuance of the said will take counsel thereon, and were well advised that the same could not by any means take effect, but would be of prejudice to the said slave and subject him still as property of the said Agerton Willis; whereupon the said executor and next of kin, together with the heirs of the said Agerton Willis, deceased, did cause a fair and equal distribution of the said estate, as well to do equity and justice in the said case to the said Joseph, as in pursuance of their natural love and affection to the said Agerton, and did resolve on the freedom of the said Joseph and to give an equal proportion of the said estate: Wherefore,

I. Be it Enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby Enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the passing of this Act, the said Joseph shall and is hereby declared to be emancipated and set free; and from henceforward he be called and Known by the name of Joseph Willis, by which name he may take, hold, occupy, possess and enjoy to him and his heirs forever, all and singular the property both real and personal so given him by the said distribution of the said executor, heirs and next of kin, and by the said name of Joseph Willis shall henceforward be entitled to all the rights and privileges of a free person of mixed blood: Provided nevertheless, That this act shall not extend to enable the said Joseph by himself or attorney, or any other person in trust for him, in any manner to commence or prosecute any suit or suits for any other property but such as may be given him by this act or such as he may have acquired by his own industry, but this act may in all such cases be plead in bar, and the property therein given be considered as a full and ample consideration for the final accommodation and settlement of all doubts concerning the freedom and property either real, personal or mixed belonging or in any manner appertaining to the said Joseph.

And whereas it hath been made appear to the satisfaction of this General Assembly that Richard Dobbs Spaight, of Craven county, Esquire, hath consented and is desirous to liberate and set free a certain mulatto girl now his property, called or known by the name of Mary Long:

II. Be it therefore Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the passing this act the before mentioned mulatto girl called Mary Long, now the property of Richard Dobbs Spaight, Esquire, shall be and continue liberated and set free, and shall thenceforward be entitled to all the rights and privileges of a free person of mixed blood in this State, and by the said name of Mary Long shall and may receive and hold, possess and enjoy any real and personal estate or property which she may hereafter acquire or become possessed of, in the same manner as any other free person of mixed blood might or could acquire, and possess the same to all intents and purposes as if she had been born free.

Whereas it hath been represented to this General Assembly by the memorial of John Allen, a free man of mixed blood, that he hath purchased a mulatto woman named Betty and her child named Mary, which woman he has long lived with and considered as his wife, and praying that the General Assembly would be pleased to emancipate and set free the said mulatto woman and her child:

III. Be it therefore Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said mulatto woman named Betty and her child Mary, shall be and they and each of them are hereby emancipated and made free, and they and each of them may hereafter take and use the sirname of Allen, and are hereby declared to be able and capable in law to possess and enjoy every right, privilege and immunity in as full and ample manner as they could or might have done if they had been born free.

Jail break, no. 2.

BROKE JAIL. – The Daily Carolinian of Thursday last says:

Bob Revels, a free negro confined in Jail for burglary, made good his escape on last night. It appears that by means of some blankets and other things which he had in his room, he made a rope sufficient to carry himself through the scuttle on the top of the Jail, and thereby get away.

Bob is an old offender, and is not likely to be caught. He took another free negro confined for some minor offence away with him.

Newbern Daily Progress, 13 June 1859.



Broke jail on the night of the 8th inst., TWO MULATTO BOYS named BOB REVILS and JOHN BREWER.  Revils is a bright Mulatto, a Painter by trade, about six feet high, and is well known about Fayetteville.  Brewer is also a bright Mulatto, with straight and very long black hair, with front teeth decayed and is about five feet seven inches high.

The above reward of $25 will be given for their delivery to me here, or their safe confinement in any jail in the State; or $25 for either.  GEO. L. McKAY, Jailor. June 8, 1859.

Fayetteville Observer, June 20, 1859.


PRISONERS RECAPTURED. – The two negroes who escaped from Jail in this place in the night of the 8th inst. have been arrested and securely lodged in their old quarters. John Brewer was captured after a severe fight on Thursday night last, by a free man named Cato Potts, whose clothes were cut in the reencounter; and Bob Revels was taken the next morning by a posse, who fired at without injuring him. They had been prowling about town since their escape, living by theft. Their arrest, particularly of Revels, who bears a desperately bad character, is a relief from apprehension of robbery and violence.

Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, 20 June 1859.

Surnames: Currituck County, 1850.


Onslow County Apprentices, 1817-1818.

Ann Whitehurst, Bill Whitehurst and Edward Whitehurst were bound to Whitehead Humphrey in 1817.

Elisha Boon and Sarah Boon were bound to Jesse Orrell in 1817.

Abe Barrow was bound to Jesse Humphrey in 1818 to learn the trade of shoemaker.

Nancy Whitus and Elijah Whitus were bound to Whitehead Humphrey in 1818.

Elisha Boon and Sarah Boon, children of Betty Boon, were bound to Turner Ellis in 1818.

Peter Calton Boon and Betsey Boon were bound to James Johnston in 1818.

Mary Hammonds were bound to James Barrow in 1818.

Durant Henderson and Willis Henderson were bound to John Jones in 1818.

Apprentice Records, Onslow County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

E.E. Smith.


This North Carolina Highway Historical Marker, located northeast of Faison in Duplin County, commemorates Ezekiel Ezra Smith, educator, minister of the gospel, and United States minister to Liberia.  Smith’s first wife was William Ann Burnett.  For more on his life, see History of the American Negro and his Institutions, Volume 4, Arthur Bunyan Caldwell, ed.; and Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 5, William S. Powell.

In the 1860 census of North Division, Duplin County: Cassy Smith, 45; her children Charlott, 25, Dorcas, 19, Rebecca, 16, Richard, 14, Mary G., 12, Ezekiel, 8, Theus, 4, and an infant, 2 months; plus Calvin Brock, 10, and Samuel Perlie, 35. 

In the 1860 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, Wm Burnett, 49, barber, and wife Cuzzy, 50. Next door: Dolly Burnett with daughters Polly, 12, Betsy, 5, and William An, 3.  Next door to them: Solomon Finch, 28, barkeeper, wife Eliza [née Burnett], 27, seamstress, and children Georgianna, 10, and Thomas Russell Finch, 2.