Shuffer Tonies was free issues and part Indian.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

MEMORIES OF UNCLE JACKSON, John H. Jackson, 309 S. Sixth St., Wilmington, N.C.

My mother was the laund’ess for the white folks. In those days ladies wore clo’es, an’ plenty of ’em. My daddy was one of the part Indian folks. My mammy was brought here from Washin’ton City, an’ when her owner went back home he sold her to my folks. You know, round Washin’ton an’ up that way they was Ginny (Guinea) niggers, an’ that’s what my mammy was. We had a lot of these malatto negroes round here, they was called ‘Shuffer Tonies’, they was free issues and part Indian. The leader of ’em was James Sampson. We child’en was told to play in our own yard and not have nothin’ to do with free issue chil’en or the common chil’en ‘cross the street, white or colored, because they was’nt fitten to ‘sociate with us. You see our owners was rich folks. Our big house is the one where the ladies of Sokosis (Sorosis) has their Club House, an’ our yard spread all round there, an’ our house servants, an’ some of the bes’ artisans in Wilmin’ton lived in our yard.

I mus’ tell you’ bout Gov’ner Dudley’s election, an’ the free issue niggers. They say Mr. Dudley told ’em if they’d vote for him he’d do more for ’em than any man ever had. So they voted for him an’ he was elected. Then he ups an’ calls a const’utional convention in Raleigh an’ had all the voting taken away from ’em. An’ that the big thing he done for em.

From Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves (1841).

In the 1860 census of Wilmington, New Hanover County: carpenter Jas. Sampson heads a household that includes his wife Francinia, 49; James, 30, shoemaker; Joseph, 28, carpenter; Eliza, 19; Jannie, 15; and Susan Sampson, 8; carpenters Ben Freeman, 19, and Wm. Campbell, 18; and “sv’t in house” Melinda Green, 72, Dave Miller, 30, Lucy Miller, 27, Virgil McRae, 60, and Maria McRae, 55, all mulatto. Sampson reported owning $26,000 real estate and $10,000 personal estate.