Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Axey Jane Manuel Simmons.

ImageAXEY (or FLAXEY) JANE MANUEL SIMMONS (1823-1885) was probably born in Sampson County.  She married George Washington Simmons circa 1840. Their children were: Riley B. Simmons, Susannah Simmons, Simon Simmons, George Robert Simmons, Zachariah T. Simmons, Sylvania Simmons Sutton, Bryant Simmons, Hillary B. Simmons and General W. Simmons. She is buried in the First Congregational Church cemetery in Dudley, Wayne County.

Photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, March 2013.

[N.B.: She is called Axey (or some alternate spelling thereof) in every census record and on sons Riley and Zachariah’s death certificates, but Flaxy (or something similiar) on her headstone and the death certs of three other sons. — LYH]

He had Negro blood in him.


White Soldier of General Cornwallis’s Army Drank Some of His Colored Sweetheart’s Blood Before Marriage in Order to be Able to Marry Her Legally.

By JOSEPH SEWELL in Raleigh (N.C.) Observer.

Joseph Butler (white), a member of Cornwallis’s army, was severely wounded in the battle of Guilford, March 15, 1781.

In Cornwallis’s retreated toward Eastern North Carolina Butler became a straggler and was lost from the English army. He was succored by a free mulatto woman, who hid him in her home until the surrender of the English army the following October.

During Butler’s confinement he was faithfully nursed by the daughter of his benefactress, who was nearly white, and there grew between them a mutual affection. It was Butler’s ardent desire to marry the young woman, and he was greatly distressed upon realizing that, under the laws of North Carolina, to wed the woman was impossible – she had Negro blood in her, and Butler was a full-blooded white man.

Hid in the Home of his Sweetheart

Butler remained at the home of his sweetheart in an unfrequented part of the country, and cultivated the small farm where he lived – isolated and ignored, an alien enemy, a fugitive hiding under a Negro’s roof. He finally conceived and immediately acted upon a plan to thwart the law, which forbade him marrying the woman he loved.

In those times the “letting of blood” was regarded almost as a panacea in the treatment of all bodily ailments. The mulatto girl was, for some physical disorder, bled by a surgeon.

Her sympathizing lover was at hand during the operation, and to the astonishment of the surgeon, deliberately drank an appreciable portion of the patient’s blood.

He immediately departed and upon his return exhibited a duly authenticated license to wed his mulatto sweetheart. He had gone to the proper official, made affidavit that he had Negro blood in him, and had procured a license to marry a half-blooded Negro woman.

Son of Couple Still Living

Rev. John J. Young, 78, Baptist minister, now living, is the son of this colored girl and the English soldier. His grandfather, Thomas Blacknall, had this interesting history:

Thomas Blacknall was born in Granville County, North Carolina, considerably over a century ago, as the chattel of John Blacknall, a typical slave owner of the South. Tom Blacknall was not only a remarkable Negro, he was a remarkable man.

Under apprenticeship provided by his master, Tom became a blacksmith and bell maker of more than local renown. He was permitted to keep his earnings and “buy his time.”

It is history in the Blacknall family that he was absent from home at intervals of a year without intermission, and that, with his master’s  permission, Tom went as far away as Baltimore, peddling his bells and plying his trade.

Tom Blacknall, the slave, was permitted to save his earnings and buy his freedom. The price paid for his freedom was $900. He afterwards purchased the freedom of his wife and his three sons, taking title to all of his ransomed family in himself.

He afterwards purchased three additional slaves. Had Blacknall’s wife given birth to other children, which does not seem to have occurred, such children would have been chattels of their father. Blacknall’s first wife died in de facto serfdom to her husband and he afterwards married a free Negro.

Wives Owned Their Husbands

He died in 1863 and by the terms of his will his three sons passed to the ownership of their respective wives who were free Negro women. Evidently he believed in reciprocity in the marital relation. His first wife had been his de facto slave and he made his sons, who were also his slaves, the slaves of their wives.

Another astounding thing about Tom Blacknall is that he was a Negro deacon in a white Presbyterian church.

This, and the fact that he frequently led the white congregations in prayer, are established to my entire satisfaction.

I have frequently conversed with very old white people of the highest veracity and of pronounced mentality, who, as restive children, heard but did ot attentively listen to, the prolix implorations of black Tom Blacknall, fervently poured forth in the midst of white congregations in a white Presbyterian church.

The Afro-American, Baltimore MD, 26 April 1930.

Mortality Schedule: Perquimans County, 1850.

Joseph Overton, age 3 months, mulatto, died October of unknown causes.

Christian Baines, age 40, black, died June of bilious fever.

Rosanna Winslow, age 90, black, widow, died June of old age.

Cintha Randol, age 23, black, died August of pleurisy.

Richard Dempsey, age 60, black, died June of consumption.

All died in 1849.  1850 US mortality schedule.

Free-Issue Death Certificates: MISCELLANEOUS, no. 10.

James Francis. Died 21 September 1941, Dysartville, McDowell County. Colored. Widower. Farmer. Born 15 November 1856, McDowell County, to Austin Francis and Mary Owens.

Biddie Jackson. Died 17 October 1955, Gassy Creek, Mitchell County. Negro. Widowed. Resided Spruce Pine, Mitchell County. Born 9 February 1850 to Austin Francis and Mary Owens. Buried family cemetery. Informant, Mrs. Claude Ray, Spruce Pine.

In the 1860 census of McDowell County: Austin Francis, 49, miner, wife Mary, 48, and children Rachel, 16, William, 12, Jane, 10, Elizabeth, 7, and James, 5.

Mattie Owens Johnson. Died 18 June 1930, Bracketts, McDowell County. Colored. Widow of Henry Johnson. Born about 1854, McDowell County, to Bill Owens and Lucinda Mathews. Informant, George Owens.

Joseph Owens. Died 20 November 1923, Brackett, Vein Mountain, McDowell County. Resided Vein Mountain. Colored. Widower of Martha Payne. Born 14 Jan 1839, Vein Mountain, McDowell County, to William M. Owens and [blank] Mathis. Buried Bracket Town Colored Cemetery. Informant, S.R. Soxan.

In the 1860 census of McDowell County: William Owens, 45, miner, wife Loucinda, 46, and children Joseph, 19, Edward, 17, Jane, 15, James, 13, William, 11, Thomas, 8, Martha, 6, and Rachel Owens, 1, plus Isaac Herdy, 10, Washington Wilson, 10, William Daniel, 14, and Sarah Johnson, 50.

He does all he can to keep me in slavery.

The Petition of negro man Dick Dingley to the worshipfull County Court of Chowan humbley sheweth that a certain Ichabod Jordan of the county aforesaid Redeem’d the said Petitioner of Mr. James Legett on Ronake for the Consideration of ninty five pounds & then the Said Petitioner made a bargain with Said Ichabod Jordan before witness that if the Said Petitioner was to be a full Liberty as will more fully appear the said Petitioner has paid Said Jordan his full Demand and Since that the Said Jordan has Let him have his Liberty for three years as agreed but so it is that of Late the Said Jordan has renewed his Clame & has most Cruely Beaten your Petitioner and does all he Can to keep him the Said Petitioner in Slavery this therefore is Humbley to pray your worships that as your Petitioner is without redress only through your worships that you will be please to Confirm the above bargain & Redress your Said Petitioner & as in duty Bound Shall Ever Pray.       Dick Dingle  March 8th 1798

Miscellaneous Slave Records, Chowan County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Green, country-looking man and woman without papers.

SENT BEFORE THE GRAND JURY. – Oswald Wright, the person charged with bringing Eveline Mills, a free negro of North Carolina, into the state contrary to law, was, yesterday brought the Mayor, and after an examination into the case was required to find security for his appearance before the Hustings’ Court Grand Jury, to answer any indictment that might be found against him for the offence. The amount of security ($150) was not given by him, and he was committed to jail. The punishment should he tried and convicted is a fine of not more than $500, and imprisonment not exceeding six months. The jury may vote the accrued guilty, fine him one cent, and put him in jail one hour. Eveline Mills, the woman who was held as an adjunct of weight in the offence, produced her certificate of freedom and discharged from custody.

The Daily Dispatch, Richmond VA, 27 August 1857.


SENT BACK. – Oswald Wright, who stands accused of bringing Evelyn Mills, a free negro, into this state from North Carolina, contrary to the law, was before the Mayor yesterday, but the case was not gone into, on account of the absence of witnesses. The defendant was sent back to jail. – Wright, a green country looking individual, says he came from Rockingham county, and was on his way back when arrested. The woman, Evelyn Mills was likewise sent back to answer for coming into the State without free papers. It is not known with certainty whether she is free as she asserts.

The Daily Dispatch, Richmond VA, 3 September 1857.


HUSTINGS COURT. – This tribunal commences its regular monthly term on to-day next. Below we give a list of cases which will occupy the attention of the magistrates during the session …. The misdemeanor cases … will be found in the following list:

7. Oswald Wright. Bringing a free negro from North Carolina to this city, contrary to the laws of Virginia.

The Daily Dispatch, Richmond VA, 9 November 1857.

Wayne County Apprentices, 1832-33.

John Artis, 11, and Bryley Lane, 7, were bound to John Davis in 1832.

Possibly: in the 1850 census of North Side of Neuse, Wayne County, John Artis, 28, farmer, wife Seatha, 30, and children Sarah, 3, and Zachariah, 2.

John Capps, 6, and Joe Capps, [no age], were bound to James Everett in 1832.

In the 1850 census of South Side of Neuse, Wayne County: John Lane, 28, hireling, and wife Lany, 25, both born in Wayne County.

Henderson Gandy, 5, was bound to William Sauls in 1832.

In the 1860 census of Kinston, Lenoir County: Henderson Ganzey, 30, in the household of Bryan McCullin, livery operator.

Theo King, 5, was bound to Mark Smith in 1833.

In the 1850 census of North Side of Neuse, Wayne County: Theo. King, 22, farmhand, in the household of Major Smith, farmer.

John Green, 7, was bound to Lewis Howell in 1833.

Ben Reed, 2, and Washington Reed, 14, were bound to Nathan Davis, in 1833.

In the 1850 census of North Side of Neuse, Wayne County: Hillard Artice, 37, wife Vina, 24, and children Joshura, 15, Mary, 13, Sarah, 11, Elizabeth, 8, Isaac, 6, John, 5, Daniel, 3, and Hilliard, 8 months, plus Benjamin Read, 20, farmhand. Also, Washington Read, 28, farmhand, with wife Pinnina, 25, and daughter Lewiser, 2 months.

Sherard Hagans, 16, and Needham Hagans, 6, were bound to Exum Pike in 1833.

Calvin Hagans, 10, and William Hagans, 16, were bound to Council Bryan in 1833.

In the 1850 census of North Side of Neuse: Sarah Hagans, 30; Eliza Hagans, 5; James Warren, 35, distiller, born Virginia; and Calvin Hagans, 24.

Stephen Mitchell, 8, and Warren Mitchell, 7, were bound to Bunyon Barnes in 1833.

Mary Reed, 2, was bound to [blank] in 1833.

Larkin Hagans was bound to David Bardin in 1833.

Hannah Locus and Daniel Locus, both 5, were bound to Tobias Musgrove in 1833.

Surnames: McDowell County, 1850.

The following surnames are found among free people of color in McDowell County in 1850:


Free mulatto negro-stealer.

Negro Stealing. – It is stated in the Edenton Gazette, (N.C.) that the noted Willis Edge, a free mulatto, of negro stealing memory, was shot on the 8th ult., in Hertford County, when in the act of arresting him for another offence of the same kind, lately committed.

The Adams Centinel, Gettysburg PA, 7 April 1824.

An act to emancipate Betty.

An Act to emancipate Betty, a slave

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That Betty, a slave, the property of Joshua Carman, of Cumberland county, be, and she is hereby emancipated and set free by the consent and at the request of her master, and by the name of Betty Barbee, shall possess and exercise all the rights and privileges of other free persons of color in this State: Provided, nevertheless, that before this act of emancipation shall take effect, the owner of said slave Betty, or some person for him, shall file in the clerk’s office of the court of pleas and quarter sessions of Cumberland county, a bond with good security, in the sum of five hundred dollars, payable to the Governor of the State and his successors in office, that the said Betty shall demean herself correctly while she remains in the State and not become a county charge, which bond may be put in suit in the name of the Governor for the time being, to the use of the county or person injured by a breach of its condition: Provided, that she do not reside out of the county aforesaid, more than thirty days at any time; also that she give bond in such an amount as will be approved of by the county court, that she will not become a public charge. [Ratified the 14th day of February, 1855]

Chapter 108, Private Laws of North Carolina Passed by the General Assembly 1854-55, State Library of North Carolina.