More tales of slave-owning Negroes.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

… Mr. George W. Brooks, of Atlanta, recalls [free negroes who owned slaves] when he was a youth in the county of Person, which lay immediately on the Virginia line. There was there quite a colony of free negroes, many of them named Epps, and supposed to be descendants of the slaves set free by Mr. Epps, the brother-in-law of Thomas Jefferson. In Person County there was a free negro named Billy Mitchell, an honest man of genial disposition, who being without means, often hired himself to work for Mr. Brooks’ father on his tobacco farm.  Mr. Brooks remembers hearing Mitchell telling his father of his trip to Mecklenburg, about thirty miles away, when and where he went courting, and told of the lands and slaves which were owned by his girl’s father. He told with much humor of an incident which occurred while he was there. He went out one morning with the girl’s brother to the pig pen to look at the fattening swine. He said that one of the slave boys came and got upon the pen with them; that soon he heard the girl calling her mother to “look at Jim perched up on the hog pen with the white folks.” Billy said that he looked at them all and he could not see but Jim was about as white as any of them. Billy went back and married the girl, took up his abode with them, became interested in the estate and became a slave owner himself.

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