Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Month: January, 2013

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.

These persons, though free, were sold and enslaved.

November Sup. Court, Edenton District 1778 }  State of No. Carolina

On motion that a Writ of Certiorari should Issue to the Justices of Pasquotank County, to remove all the Orders and Proceedings of the Court of the said County relating to the Sale and enslaving of the following Persons, either of them, vizs. Hannah, David, Charles, Toby, Pritchard, Nero, Prissilla, Rose, Judith, Jane, Albertson, Samuel, Hagai, Ann and Sarah, on a Suggestion that the said Persons, ‘tho free subjects of the state, were Sold and enslaved by Order of said Court, in express Violation of the Constitution of this State, and contrary to Natural Justice, and that there are Manifest Errors and Irregularities in the said Proceedings.

Ordered that a Certiorari Issue accordingly, unless Sufficient  Cause to the Contrary be shewn within the three first days of the next insuing Term.    /s/ Will Righton for Cha. Bondfield C.S.C.

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

Beat her terribly and carried off her children.

BROAD CREEK, on Neuse River, April 9.  On Saturday night, April the 4th, broke into the house of the subscriber at the head of Green’s Creek, where I had some small property under the care of Ann Driggus, a free negro woman, two men in disguise, who with masks on their faces, and clubs in their hands, beat and wounded her terribly and carried away four of her children, three girls and a boy, the biggest of said girls got off in the dark and made her escape, one of the girl’s name is Becca, and the other Charita, the boy is named Shadrack; she says the men were William Munday and Charles Towzer, a sailor lately from Newbern, these men were on board of a boat belonging to Kelly Cason, and was with him in the boat about the middle of the day.  Fifty dollars reward will be given to any person who will stop the children and apprehend the robbers so that they may be brought to justice.  JOHN CARUTHERS.

North Carolina Gazette, New Bern, 10 April 1778.

Surnames: Union County, 1850.

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


He once sold a free negro named Wingfield.

State v. John C. Hardin, 19 NC 407 (1837).

John C. Hardin (and John Haney, whose case went to the Supreme Court separately) was indicted for negro-stealing in Rutherford county. Hardin’s trial was removed to Burke County, where he was convicted on both counts in the indictment.   At trial, the State proved that a slave, the property of Nancy Davis, was stolen, or seduced, or went, from Davis’ Rutherford County plantation, on the fourth Saturday of July, 1836.

A witness named Robins testified that on the day after the slave disappeared, he saw Haney at a meeting house in the neighborhood. Haney told him that a negro had come to him the preceding night a little before day and requested that Haney go that evening and tell Hardin to meet him at a place called Webb’s old field that night, about an hour after dark. In the course of the conversation, Haney remarked, “Hardin has missed the one he has been trying to secure; but good luck will come after bad. Tell him, this boy has come to me.” Robins and Hardin went to the place and at the time appointed. Haney whistled and “a large negro-man” When asked where he had come from, Haney said, “He came from the widow Davis.” Haney then remarked, “You, Robins, must take him off. It will be a safe trip, as the widow has not energy to press like some people. In the mean time Hardin will keep him till you get ready to start.” As Haney left, he remarked to Hardin, “You know our agreement,” to which Hardin replied, “yes, it will do.” Hardin, Robins, and the slave then went to a point about a half-mile distant from Hardin’s house.  Hardin thought there might be somebody at his house and directed Robin and the slave to stay in the woods until he checked and returned. Hardin did not return that night, but came with food the next morning. Hardin, Robins and the slave agreed that Robins would take the negro to South Carolina and sell him; that Robins would leave that day and to prepare; and that the enslaved man would meet him the next day at a point designated on the road. All proceeded accordingly, and Robins and another associate, Williams, carried the slave to South Carolina and sold him for nine hundred dollars. Williams was paid part, Haney was paid one hundred and forty-five dollars, and Hardin was paid two hundred and fifty-five dollars. (Hardin insisted upon having the largest share because of “his having tried so long to get a negro, in which he met with bad luck.”) Robins testified that his habits had been moral and upright until he met Hanes and Hardin, who influenced him to join a club that had members spread over the country.  This was his first adventure in selling slaves. However, when further pressed, Robins admitted that he had once sold a free negro named Wingfield for one thousand dollars, of which he gave two hundred dollars to Wingfield himself (for agreeing to be sold); two hundred dollars to a man in South Carolina for helping him to sell Wingfield; one hundred dollars to Haney; ninety dollars to Hardin; and the rest for himself. Robins also stated Haney told him and Hardin, “You know our plan is to steal the negro again and sell him over, so you must make up something to pay for doing that,” and each gave Haney twenty-five more dollars. 

Hardin was found guilty and sentenced to death.  He appealed, arguing  that (1) the jury relied upon the uncorroborated testimony of a co-conspirator, and (2) he had only conveyed away, not stolen, the slave.  The state supreme court rejected the former argument, but agreed with the latter, i.e. that Hardin was a “mere accessory” to the actual theft of the slave.  Venire de novo awarded.