Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Wounded with a cannonball at the Battle of Monmouth.

North Carolina, Wake County  }  Schedule:  Court of pleas and quarter Sessions on this 25th day of august 1820 Personaly appeared in open Court it being a court of Record for the county aforesaid Drury Pettiford aged 69 years resident in Said County & State being first duly sworn according to law on his oath declare that he served in the Revolutionary war as follows, that he served 2 years in the 2nd Regiment in the company commanded by Cap’t Lewis Burwell and that he has here unto rec’d a pension certificate No. 5443 upon his original declaration made before Judge Potter on the 27th day of May 1818.  And I do solemly swear that I was a resident citizen of the U.States on the 18th day of March 1818, and that I have not since that time by gift Sale or any manner disposed of my Property or any part thereof with intent thereby so to diminish it. As to bring myself with in the provisions of an act of congress entitled an act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land & naval service of the united States in the Revolutionary war passed on the 18th day of March 1818 and that I have not nor has any person intrust for me any property or Security contracts or debts due to me nor have I any income other than what is contained in the Schedule hereunto annexed and by me Subscribed.

Real Estate – none; Personal Estate – one blind sorrel mare; one Sow and 2 shoats; 4 chairs; 2 Dishes and 1 Basin; 1 Sett knives & forks; One pott.

Names & ages of the family now resident with him are himself aged 69, Dicy his wife aged 66, Jesse aged 18 years Nicholas aged 16 years Janey 12 years Drury aged 9 years Sally aged 7 years Franky aged 6 years & Thomas aged 9 years.  That all the assistance he has is from the labour of his two eldest sons Jesse & Nicholas that himself and wife are not able to do much & his eldest daughter only assists her and have to rent land and being verry old and infirm he is himself unable to pursue his Occupation having also been wounded with a cannon ball at the battle of Monmouth in his right knee which verry much injured the bones & sinews of his leg & knee, & much burned by the blowing up of a magazine in middlebrook.  Sworn to and subscribed in open court   Drury X Pettiford

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

Drury Pettiford married Tycey Bass on 12 November 1781 in Granville County.  Right Bass served as bondsman, and Bennet Searcy witnessed.  In the 1830 census of Wake County, Drury Pettiford headed a household of six free people of color.

Surnames: Caswell County, 1850.

The following surnames are found among free people of color in Caswell County:


To testify in a charge of adultery.

To the worshipful the County Court of Warren. The Grand Jury request that John Hughes & Allen Wright free persons of color may be sworn & sent before them to testify in regard to a charge of Adultery.  E[illegible] Williams Form.

This summons is undated, but may have been meant for the Allen Wright, 30, who appears as a head of household in the 1850 census of Warrenton, Warren County, with wife Nancy, 30, and children William, 11, and Martha A., 9.  Several free colored Hughes families are listed nearby, but none include a John.

Miscellaneous Records, Warren County, North Carolina State Archives.  US Federal Population Schedules.

He plans to leave the state with a free negro.

$20 REWARD. – RAN AWAY from the subscriber on the 6th instant, a negro man by the name of CAGE. Said negro is about twenty-seven years old, about five feet ten inches high, quick spoken and rather black – weighs some hundred and seventy pounds. It is my opinion that he intends to leave this State, with a free negro by the name of Nicholas Williams. The above reward will be given to any person, who will confine said negro in any jail or deliver him to me at my house about three miles above Toisnot Depot, Edgecombe County, N.C. – Josiah Jordan.

Tarboro Press, 13 March 1847.

They became insulted, raised their tents, and left.

“Rev. J. W. Wellons, of Elon College, N. C., relates an interesting experience he had in attempting to preach to a group of free negroes in Randolph county many years before the Civil War. The free negroes referred to were known as Waldens. They owned considerable land and were withal respectable farmers. The Quakers had allowed them to sit in the congregation with the white folks, and also to come to the white “mourner’s bench.” On the particular occasion in question, Reverend Mr. Wellons assigned them a certain space in which to sit, and invited them to a separate “mourner’s bench,” whereupon they became insulted, raised their tents, and left the camp meeting. As a rule, the free negroes did not attend church, possibly for the reason that in nearly all the churches they had to sit with the slaves.”

Taylor, Rosser Howard, The Free Negro in North Carolina (1920).

Donum Montford.

Donum Montford (Mumford) (1771-1838), New Bern brickmason, plasterer, and brickmaker, was prominent among the city’s early 19th century builders and became one of the wealthiest of the city’s free people of color. Memoirist Stephen Miller recalled that he was ‘copper-colored, and carried on the bricklaying and plastering business with slaves, a number of whom he owned. Whenever a job was to be done expeditiously, he was apt to be employed, as he could always throw upon it a force sufficient for its rapid execution.’

“Born a slave, Montford was owned by the prominent Richard Cogdell family until 1804. During his more than 30 years as a slave, he mastered the related trades of bricklaying, plastering, and brickmaking. He gained his freedom in 1804, when the widow Lydia Cogdell and her daughter Lydia Cogdell Badger sold him to the wealthy free man of color John C. Stanly, who emancipated him the next day, doubtless carrying out a strategy planned by all parties. As a free man, Montford promptly established his shop and began acquiring property. Although he was illiterate, signing documents with his mark, he was successful in his business. In 1806 his former owner, Lydia Cogdell, gave him a young slave, Abram Moody Russell, to train as an apprentice, then to emancipate upon his maturity; Abram Moody Russell Allen, as he was later known, was identified by Montford as his nephew and also became his heir and executor. In 1807 Montford took the first of many free apprentices to his trade. In 1809 he married Hannah Bowers. By 1811 he was purchasing real estate, and he eventually owned several town lots and houses, plus a farm. By 1820, according to the United States Census, Montford was head of a large household of free people of color, and had twenty-two slaves in his employ; whether he owned all of these is not certain. In 1827 Montford petitioned to emancipate his only child, Nelson, a plasterer who had worked with Montford until he attained his majority.

“Both Hannah and Donum Montford were members of Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, and their burial services were recorded in the parish register noting them each as a ‘colored communicant.’ Montford’s stature in the community was indicated by his appointment to a committee, along with the leading white brickmasons in town, Bennett Flanner and Joshua Mitchell, to inspect repairs to Christ Church in 1832. He was regularly employed to work on public buildings. Along with taking free apprentices to his trade, he also trained slave artisans, such as Ulysses, ‘a plasterer by trade, who served his time with Donum Mumford, in the town of New Bern afterwards worked at his business upwards of four years, in Hyde County,’ and who could ‘read and write tolerably well.’ Ulysses had run away from William S. Sparrow, who advertised for his return in 1818.

“Despite his long and active career, few of Montford’s projects have been identified. For the Craven County Jail (1821-1825), a handsome and formal civic building, detailed construction records show his versatility. Montford supplied 100,000 of the roughly 400,000 bricks, at $5 per thousand, and he and his workers accomplished the lathing and plastering, including laborers (probably slaves) Charles, Edmond, and Romey at 5 shillings a day, and skilled workers Tony and Lawson at $1 a day. He typically charged 12 shillings and sixpence per day for his own work and a few other skilled men in his shop. Montford also supplied many of the bricks for the John R. Donnell House (1816-1818), which was among the finest of the city’s Federal style, brick townhouses, where Wallace Moore was the chief brickmason and Asa King was the lead carpenter. Montford also did some work beyond New Bern, including an unnamed project for Tyrrell County planter Ebenezer Pettigrew, who paid him in 1819 for delivering bricks and lime, building the foundation for a smokehouse, and mending plaster.

“At his death in 1838 Montford had a considerable estate in land, slaves, and personal possessions. Illustrating accounts of the prosperity and gentility of New Bern’s leading people of color, he left to his wife, Hannah, such household furnishings as a secretary, a sofa, a mahogany candle stand, a dining table, and a breakfast table; numerous serving pieces, including two dozen plates of Liverpool ware, silver teaspoons and tablespoons, decanters and wine glasses, and two oyster dishes; and two pictures, one of Napoleon, and one of Christ on the Cross. Among the many items sold from his estate were a musket and a shotgun, window sash, brick moulds, shad nets, and farm implements. His estate also included slaves Bob, Dick, Jim Carney, Dinah, Alexander, and plasterer-bricklayer Isaac Rue (Rew). Montford stated in his will that Isaac was to be freed after Hannah’s death; Isaac Rue continued to practice his trade for many years as a free man and a property owner.”

Author: Catherine W. Bishir.  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.  

Camden County Free Colored Heads of Household, 1790.

Lydia Spilman; Timothy Spilman; David Hall; Will, a free negro; Aaron Spilman; Charles Oggs.

Free-Issue Death Certificates: TABORN, TAYBOURNE, TABRON, ETC.

Weathie Jones. Died 31 March 1923, Bailey, Nash County. Negro. Widow of Wilie Jones. Age 91. Born Nash County to Edmond Taborn and Weathie Taborn, both of Nash County. Buried Stokes Chapel. Informant, Willey Powell.

In the 1850 census of Nash County, Edmond Tayborne, 27, wife Polly, 24, and children Wealthy, 7, Henderson, 5, Mary, 3, and Carolina, 1.

Mordecie Mills. Died 23 June 1914, Nash County. Negro. Widow. Age 63. Daughter of Jackson Tayborne and Mary Tayborne, both of Nash County. Informant, Asy Mills, Spring Hope.

Dorsey Taborn. Died 3 July 1918, Jackson, Nash County. Negro. Widower of Martha Taborn. Age 76 years, 2 months, 26 days. Farmer. Born Nash County to Allen Taborn and Mary Mitchell, both of Nash County. Buried “Negro cemetery.” Informant, Neal Taborn, Spring Hope.

In the 1850 census of Nash County, Jackson Tayborne, 25, laborer, wife Mary 26, and children Margie A., 9, Emily A., 7, Dossey, 4, and Mordecie, 2.

William Howard. Died 10 April 1928, Mannings, Nash County. Colored. Widower. Age 78 years, 6 months, 1 day. Farm laborer. Born Nash County, to W. Riley Howard and Absila Taborn. Buried family cemetery. Informant, Tilman Richardson.

In the 1850 census of Nash County, in the poorhouse, Absilla Howard, 20, and son William R., 7 months, and Wriley Howard, 26.

Dennis Taybron. Died 27 May 1932, Wilson, Wilson County. Resided 300 Vick Street. Colored. Widower of Harriett Taybron. Farmer. Born about 1857, Nash County, to Allen Taybron and Tibitha Taybron, both of Nash County. Buried Nash County. Informant, Sandora Reid, Wilson.

In the 1850 census of Nash County, Allen Taybourne Jr., 30, wife Bertha, 22, and children Rixy, 3, and Dennis, 1.