Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Edward Richardson.

Edward Richardson was born about 1830, part of families long established in New Bern and Craven County. He was the son of Simon Richardson and Sarah Rue (Rew), free people of color, who were married in Craven County in February 1830. His father’s family, the Richardsons, had been free people in Craven County for many years; several of them, including Simon Richardson, were engaged in the calker’s trade, which was essential in building and maintaining wooden boats and ships. On his mother’s side, Edward was the grandson of bricklayer and plasterer Isaac Rue (ca. 1787-1880). Isaac Rue had been emancipated by the will of the noted New Bern artisan Donum Montford, who was also an emancipated brickmason and plasterer. Edward Richardson probably learned his trade from his grandfather, along with his younger brother, Isaac Richardson, who was also a bricklayer.

“In 1860 and 1870, the bricklayer Edward Richardson owned real estate and personal property, and he and his wife Maria and their family were living next door to his grandfather Rue. At Rue’s death, the local New Bernian of January 17, 1880, reported that the elderly Isaac Rue had ‘acquired a considerable amount of property in real estate which is left to his grandson, E. A. Richardson, a faithful and obliging Clerk in our Post Office.’

“Although Richardson worked for most of his life as a bricklayer and plasterer, no specific projects have been attributed to him. Both before and after the Civil War, New Bernians constructed many brick buildings, as well as brick chimneys and foundations, and doubtless many of these showed Richardson’s handiwork.

“From the 1860s onward, Richardson was engaged in local political and civic life. In 1865 he was a delegate to the Freedmen’s Convention in Raleigh. Locally, he served on the local board of education, as justice of the peace, and as a founder and officer of a fire company and other civic organizations. By 1880 he was employed as clerk in the local post office, and in 1884-1885 held the important office of postmaster, an appointment made by Republican Congressman James O’Hara, whom Richardson had supported. At his death on February 26, 1896, the New Bern Weekly Journal reported, “E.A. Richardson, a prominent colored man died yesterday. The funeral will take place from St. Peter’s church this afternoon at two o’clock. He was well known to many of our city owing to his public position as postmaster and ‘bore a good name as far as we ever heard.'”

Author: Catherine W. Bishir. Contributor: John B. Green.  Published 2009.

As published in North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary,  (All rights retained.) This web site is a growing reference work that contains brief biographical accounts, building lists, and bibliographical information about architects, builders, and other artisans who planned and built North Carolina’s architecture.  

The 1850 census of New Berne, Craven County, shows Simon Richardson, 40, calker; wife Sarah, 38; and children Edward, 19, and Miles, 18, both plasterers; Eliza, 15; Isaac, 12; and Ann, 3; all described as black.  In the 1860 census of New Bern, Edward Richardson, 30, brickmason, heads his own household, which includes wife Mariah, 41, and children Samuel, 4, and Benie, 3.  They are listed next door to the household of Isaac T. Rue, 70, brickmason, his wife Phillis, 63, and probable grandson James Rue, 14.

Her complexion is an act of the Almighty, not her crime.

Pasquotank County   } To the Worshipfull the Justices of the Inferior Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of the County of Pasquotank County now in Court sitting.  The humble Petition of Ruth Jillet a free born, coloured Woman, Humbly sheweth unto Your Worships, that she was born of a Free woman named Ann Jillet, The daughter of the Wife of one [blank space] Jillet of Powel’s Point, supposed by a Black Man; That your Petitioner’s mother moved from Currituck to a Neighborhood on Little River, and was delivered of your Petitioner at the House of one Timothy Mead, where she remained until the Death of her Mother and the said Timothy, at whose [illegible] she was sold to one Blackstock who she verily believes was not ignorant of her Condition and Rights to Liberty, and sold her to a distant Merchant called Barny Coffoo of Newbern.  At which place, she had eight, Several Masters, each getting rid of her, as soon as thgey could, on hearing of her Story, and her Resolution to regain her Liberty.  That in the lifetime of her last Master John Bishop, she made her escape, and came to her native County, to which Place the said Bishop followed her and sold her to one Zachariah Jordon, (and he, as she has been informed gave no Purchase Money for her, and that the said Bishop enjoin’d the said Zachariah to inquire into her Rights and if true, to let her enjoy them, and if otherwise to send him payment, which was like the common Honest behaviour of his Life) who she believes, noways ignorant of the Premisses, still detains her in Slavery and Duress.  Your Petitioner humbly begs to inform Your Worships, That she has been so happy to find reputable and honest Evidence alive, although at the Distance of forty Years, of her Birth and of her Civil and Social Rights.

Whereupon your Poor and Distressed Petitioner humbly prays (Altho’ her Complection, which is an Act of the Almighty Not her Crime) Your Worships will, of your Mercy, take her Case under your Guidance and Consideration, and to render her such Redress as to Your Worships in your great Wisdom and Justice you shall seem Meet.    And Your Poor Petitioner as in Duty bound and ever Pray &c, Ruth Jillet by Will Cumming her Att’y

Ruth Jillet vs Zachariah Jordon}   Petition

Records of Slaves and Free Persons of Color, Pasquotank County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Unlawfully did migrate.

State vs William Mayhoe, Sophy Mayhoe, Theophilus Cyprus, Armen Cyprus, Mary Cyprus and Anthony Seward.  Indictment Missdemeanor.  Witnesses Stephen H. Turner, Austin Newman, H.R. Moss

State of North Carolina, Warren County    } Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions August Term 1858.  The jurors for the State upon their oaths present that William Mayhoe, Sophy Mayhoe, Theophilus Cyprus, Armen Cyprus, Mary Cyprus and Anthony Seward, all free negroes late of the county of Warren, on the first day of June AD 1856, at and in the county aforesaid, unlawfully did migrate into the State of North Carolina and that the said William Mayhoe, Sophy Mayhoe, Theophilus Cyprus, Armen Cyprus, Mary Cyprus and Anthony Seward, from that day up to the day of the finding of this inquisition have continued to remain in the county and State aforesaid Contrary to the form of the Statute in such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the State.

Miscellaneous Records, Warren County Records, North Carolina State Archives. 

In the 1850 census of Nutbush, Warren County, Sophia Mayho, 30, is listed in the household of Edward Harris, 38, blacksmith; wife Mary, 35; and children Francis, 9, James, 7, Mary, 5, and John, 2; plus Jesse Gains, 65, blacksmith.

In the 1850 census of Nutbush, Granville County: Theodore Cypress, 36, ditcher, headed a household that included Arma Cypress, 40, and Ann, 19, Robert, 16, William, 15, and Mary Kearsey, 12.

Dangerous characters.

We the grand jury present Sarah, Hannah, Betty, being free negroes, as dangerous characters.

/s/ Challe Eagerton, Jas Forbs, W.W. Shaw, Lot Williams, David Jenkins, Jas. Scott, Mitchel Barber, Samuel Evens, Hinton Barber, James Brown, John Jarman, Danis Aman, Wm Webb.


We as grand Juriors present a Certain percis of Free Negres that has not been Dealt with according to law having obtaind their Freedom by John Pair which Negroes are named [illegible] Sarah Boon July 9th 1816 /s/ Charles Agerton, Samuel Evins, Dennis Aman, James Brown, John, Jarman, David Jenkins, Mitchell Barber, Wm Webb, James H. Barber, Lott Williams, John Marshel, James Fioller, Wm Shaw.

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

[Side Note: “Dangerous characters”? Why?]

The blessing of liberty.

To the Worshipfull the Justices of Onslow County Court.  The petition of Kilby Jones & William Ferrand, Executors of Edward Starkey, esquire, respectfully, Sheweth, That the Said Edward was owner of the following Slaves, Viz: Affe, Susanna & daughter Franky, Old Woman Pleasant, Nancy, Rachael, her son Solomon & David a Molattoe, whose faithfull and meritorious services he was desirous should be rewarded with the blessing of liberty, and the said Edward by his last will directed your petitioners his Executors to obtain the emancipation of said negroes, and by his said will made such provisions for their Support, as will enable the said negroes with their accustomed industry & Honesty to maintain themselves in a respectable though humble station in life.  Your petitioners pray that they may be permitted by the licence of this worshipfull Court to carry into effect the benevolent wish of their testator, and to emancipate the said negroes.  And as in duty bound they shall ever pray.  October 6th 1809   /s/ Kilby Jones, Wm. Ferrand

On the petition of the executors of Edward Starkey Jun’r Dec’d Ordered that they have leave to make free the following slaves to wit Aff. (see petition)  The said petitioners entering into bonds with securities to be approved of agreeably to law.

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

They have hunted with dog and gun and have never done any injury.

We the undersigned having understood that Benjamin Morgan and his Son George Morgan who lives in our Neighbourhood have lately had their Guns taken away By Patrols agreeably to an Act of the General Assembly we also certify that we have known the said Benjamin and George Morgan for about Fifteen years during which time they have lived directly in our Neighbourhood and hunted with Dog and Gun and we never have heard neither have we any reason to believe the said Morgans have done any Injury to any person for and by reason of their having been priviledged to hunt.  We therefore pray the Worshipful County Court of Craven now siting to grant the said Benjamin Morgan and his son George Morgan the priviledge to keep their Fire arms and also the Said Court to restore their Guns to them again.  Nov 8th 1841.  /s/ Wm Simmons, John Harris, John Fearrand, Obed Palmer, Burton Carson, James M. Beasley

Records of Slaves and Free Persons of Color, Craven County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

It was always my intention to free the child.

Halifax July 12 1771

Sir, When Mr Bignall went last in to Virginia I desir’d him to speak to you about a mulatto Boy he has of yours.  He tells me you have agreed that I shall have him for £20, on Condition I give the Child his Freedom. The money I have sent by Mr. Miller, & hereby promise and oblige my self to perform that part of the agreement respecting his Freedom.  You may be assured it was always my intention. I will be obliged to you to give Mr. Miller a line to Mr. Bignall authorizing him to deliver the Child to me, & I am, Sir, Your mo. Obed’t hon’t Serv’t, William McClellan

[On reverse} To David Meade Esqr.  Favour of W. Miller

Miscellaneous Slave Records, Edgecombe County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Counterfeiters for good.

STOP THE RUNAWAY. $75 REWARD. – Runaway from the subscriber on the 17th day of September last, a negro fellow by the name of JOLLY. He is about 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high; broad shouldered, speaks a little slow, dish faced, and has a trembling in his hands when holding any thing; rather bow legged.  I think he can read print. I had another fellow who started off Jolly to Ohio with free passes. Jolly’s was a pass belonging to a free negro by the name of Wilson Smith, who had a genuine certificate signed W. Dismukes, clerk county court of Anson county, and certified by Wm. Johnson, Chairman of said County, certified by the then Governor Edward B. Dudley.  Said pass was found on Jolly in Moore county, and the man thought he was a free negro, and let him go on. About the 18th March last, a friend of mine knowing all about my negroes, pursued Jolly, and came up with him within three miles of Greensboro’, in company with three Virginia Wagoners, and took him. On his way back, Jolly made his escape, and no doubt he will try and get another free pass from the same scoundrel that furnished this with the first.

The other negro was committed to Moore county jail, and I have since got him. His free pass was written, and signed C.Q. Cooley, clerk county court of Montgomery, O. Willie, Chairman – a old paper, entirely counterfeit, though it bore the impress of something resembling a County Seal.  No doubt now remains but Simeon D. Pemberton, of Anson County, is the rascal who procured these passes for my negroes. It may be that the counterfeiter, Geasling, of Rockingham County, who was whipped and imprisoned at Wadesborough, wrote one of the passes.  When he was discharged, he visited his particular friend, Simeon D. Pemberton, and laid at his house for more than a week, fixing a plan to get my negroes off into the hands of this counterfeiting gang.

I will give $25 for the confinement of Jolly and $50 for proof to convict the rascal who took him off.  Simeon D. Pemberton is about the Height of Jolly, (not higher,) large white eyes, black beard, and will weigh from 140 to 150 pounds, a whining voice, very dark complected, and a very ingenuous and cunning fellow. I would warn the public to keep an eye upon him.  THOMAS TOMLINSON, Norwood’s P.O., Stanly Co., N.C.

Carolina Watchman, 18 April 1850.

Jail break, no. 5.

Broke Jail. – We learn that Jesse Holley, the yellow fellow convicted at our last Superior Court, of murder and arson, and sentenced to be hung, but in whose case an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court, broke out of the jail of this town last night, and made his escape.  Holley is a most villainous-looking fellow, about 35 years of age, some five feet eight inches high, and rather stout built.  He is rather a light mulatto, with a kind of reddish or sandy hair, as if burned, and a muddy, freckled face.

We believe that a white man, awaiting trial on some charge of felony, made his escape at the same time.  We have not learned any of the particulars. Wilmington Journal.

Fayetteville Observer, 3 June 1852.

Surnames: Davidson County, 1850.