Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Joseph C. Price.



Joseph C. Price was born in Elizabeth City, the child of a free mother and a slave father. When his natural father was sold away, his mother, Emily Pailin, married David Price. In 1863 the Prices moved to New Bern where Joseph was enrolled in St. Andrew’s School, opened by James Walter Hood, later the bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church. Young Price, though late in beginning his formal education, made exceptional progress. After St. Andrew’s, he attended Cyprian Episcopal School and Lowell Normal School. After completing his own education, he taught in Wilson, becoming the principal at a school there in 1871. In 1873, Price enrolled at Shaw University to study law, but shortly thereafter transferred to Lincoln University (Oxford, Pennsylvania) to prepare for the ministry in the A.M.E. Zion Church. He was valedictorian of his class at Lincoln in 1879 and stayed on at the school to complete the seminary course.

In 1881 Price distinguished himself as an orator, speaking on prohibition and later on education and race issues. On a speaking tour in Europe, Price raised nearly $10,000 to establish a college for blacks in North Carolina. With the additional support of Salisbury residents, he became president of Zion Wesley College in 1882. The name was changed to Livingstone College in 1885. Price gained national attention during his tenure at the college. He was offered a variety of prestigious positions, but chose to remain at Livingstone. In 1890 Price was elected president of the Afro-American League and the National Equal Rights Association.

Price’s promising life ended abruptly October 25, 1893, after he contracted Bright’s disease, a disease affecting the kidneys. He was buried in a mausoleum on the campus of Livingstone College. He was survived by his wife, the former Jennie Smallwood, and their five children, one of whom was yet unborn at the time of her father’s death.

Adapted from

UPDATE, 8 August 2014: Joseph Price’s archives were recently unearthed at a yard sale in Cornelius, North Carolina.

They are very well known.

$200 Reward. Ranaway from the subscriber, on the 22nd inst., FOUR NEGRO BOYS, named as follows: CHARLES WINN, aged about 24; WILLIAM, aged about 17 years; JOHN, aged 14 years; JIM, aged about 12 years.

The above boys are very well known as the children of Adam Winn. I think they intend trying to get to some free state. The above reward will be given for their delivery, or for their confinement in any jail in the State.   THOMAS BENNETT. Mt. Olive, Wayne co., July 25, 1854.

Fayetteville Observer, 3 August 1854.

[Sidenote: Adam Winn was a free man. Several of his sons were slaves. — LYH]

They had to leave home more than 100 times.

THE EFFECTS OF SLAVERY ON THE FREE COLORED PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH. – Mary Morgan, of No. 59 King-Street, New-York, widow of James Morgan, who died in the spring of 1834, with the small pox, says that she and her husband owned a farm of 250 acres of land in Pasquotank County, about five or six miles from Elizabeth City, North Carolina; that they had hogs, cattle, and horses, and were well to live; that they were both born free, as were both their parents; that as many as six or seven years ago [before they had been provoked to it by northern abolition] a number of the lower class of the whites went about the country to disturb the free colored people; that they frequently came to their dwelling, broke their table, and cups, and saucers, and beat James Morgan a number of times, sometimes with a club, at other times with a cowhide, and at one time so severely that his life was despaired of.

Some of the better class of whites called at the house, and said they thought he was so badly hurt he could not live. For a fortnight after, he was not able to cut a stick of wood. Seven places on his head were shaved to put on plasters, and his back and legs were also much bruised. So frequently were they attacked, that they had to leave their dwelling more than one hundred times, often in showers of rain. At one time, Mary was put on horseback, behind one of the ruffians, who rode off violently for about a mile, took her off, and placed her in a mud puddle up to her waist, in a dark night, and there left her to get as she could. These things happened so frequently that the Friends, commonly called Quakers, (who were really friends to them,) advised them to sell their property and come to the North. Those who caused them to suffer, gave no other reason for their conduct than that they were free negroes, and ought to go to the North, and that there was no law for free negroes in Carolina. Joseph Elliott, Thomas Elliott, and Aaron Elliott, of the society of Friends, were their near neighbors, and were often very kind to them, and did their best to prevent the abuse. Miles White, a merchant of Elizabeth city, knows this statement to be true; other free colored people of that neighborhood suffered pretty much in the same way. They came to New-York, where her husband was taken sick and died; Mary and the children were taken to the Almshouse, where they staid about seven weeks, and were then turned out, penniless, and had it not been for the charity of some humane persons, they might have perished from want.

The farm in Carolina was sold for the small sum of $350, which was soon eaten up by the expense of coming to New-York, and the maintenance of the family while here.

Mary Morgan has to support, by day’s work, five small children. The friends of the oppressed, who have any sympathy to spare, will do well to render her some assistance – at least, by furnishing her with work.  No. 59 King street is her residence.

The First Annual Report of the New York Committee of Vigilance (1837).

No. 1 negro woman takes up with free negro man.

$100 Reward

Ranaway from Mr. N. Carpenter, on the Charlotte Rail Road, near Brown Marsh, in November last, my negro Girl BELL.  The said girl is a No. 1 negro, about 5 feet 6 or 8 inches high, very well put up, and with a smooth black skin.

She is supposed to have taken up with a free negro man in the Brown Marsh neighborhood. I will give the above reward for her delivery to me in Fayetteville, or $50 for her confinement in any jail so that I can get her.   James P. Robertson. Jan. 23.

Fayetteville Observer, 26 January 1863.

He built a house in this gap.

Footnote 41. Ambrose Gap is a few miles southwest [of Cut Laurel gap], and is so called because a free negro of that name built a house across the State line in this gap, and when he died his grave was dug half in Tennessee and half in North Carolina, according to local tradition. 

From John Preston Arthur, Western North Carolina: A History, 1730-1913 (1914).

To prevent him being sold into slavery.

Chap. 486.

AN ACT to remunerate James Bennett for expenses incurred and services rendered in procuring the release of Anthony Adams, a colored citizen of this State, from imprisonment in the jail of Edenton, North Carolina, to prevent him being sold into slavery.

Passed April 15, 1857, three-fifths being present.

The People of the State of New-York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

SECTION 1. The treasurer shall pay on the warrant of the comptroller, out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, to James Bennett, the sum of two hundred and sixty-eight dollars, being four dollars per diem for eighteen days service, and for moneys expended in procuring the release of Anthony Adams, a free colored citizen of the town of Deerpark, county of Orange, state of New-York, from the jail of Edenton, state of North Carolina, where he was confined.

Sec.2. This act shall take effect immediately.

Laws of the State of New-York Passed at the Eightieth Session of the Legislature, Vol. II (1857).