A good deal of human interest.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

There is a good deal of human interest to be found in many of the experiences of these colored slaveholders and in their relations with those whom they held in bondage. Rose Petepher, of the neighborhood of New Bern, N.C., was a free colored woman who was married to a slave named Richard Gasken, who had taken the name of his master. He ran away and was in the woods for years, when his wife finally bought him to take possession. When she could find him this change of owners brought him in at once. They lived together for many years afterward, raising many children whom they hired out just as slaves were hired out. Thus they all prospered. Near the town mentioned above, on their own land, some of the grandchildren are now living and doing well.

Judge William Gasken, who owned the man of whom we have just told, was thrice married, one of his wives being a daughter of Colonel McClure of New Bern. After his death, one of the slaves, Jacob, became the property of Mrs. Gasken. This Jacob’s wife was a free woman, and they had a son Jacob, then a young man and free of course, as the child of a free woman. Aided by his mother’s efforts, he managed to purchase his father at a very reasonable price as negroes were then held. All went smoothly for awhile, when young Jacob did not act as his father thought he should and his parent reproved him with fatherly love. Young Jacob was so disgruntled that he went off to a negro speculator named John Gildersleeve, who was from Long Island and was then in New Bern. This trader bought the father at a high price and at once sent him off south. Young Jacob afterward boasted that “the old man had gone off to the corn fields about New Orleans where they might learn him some manners.”

From Calvin D. Wilson, “Negroes Who Owned Slaves,” Popular Science Monthly, vol. LXXXI (1912).

In the 1850 census of Craven County: Richard Pettiford, 80, wife Rose, 69, children Dinah, 27, and Bryan, 25, and Elizabeth Pettiford, 100. (!!!) (Note that Richard adopted his wife’s surname. Wright Pettiford, 38, living alone nearby may have been another son.)

Perhaps: in the 1850 census of Craven County: Jacob Gaskins, 64, farmer, Penelope Gaskins, 88, Sarah Wiggans, 25, and her children Martha, 5, Elizabeth, 3, and Sabeah, 1 month.