Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

His father was emancipated in Virginia.

Committed to the Jail of Rockingham county, (N.C.) on the 25th ult. A Negro Fellow, who says his name is JOHN ARMSTRONG, and that he is a free Man – says his father was emancipated by a family of the name of Ladd, near Richmond – says he lived with Mr. Ratford, who formerly kept the Eagle Tavern in that place, and that he also lived several years with Mr. Smoke, who now keeps the Eagle Tavern, in the capacity of Ostler.

JOHN is about 30 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, is very much pitted with the small-pox, and when apprehended, said he was on his way to Tennessee, where his wife resides. The owner is requested to prove his property, pay charges and take him away.   JOHN LILLIARD, Jailer. 7th June, 1809.

Star, Raleigh, 20 July 1809.

Stealing free negroes of color.

Stop the Villains. Escaped from the Jail in Tarborough on the night of the seventh instant, William B. Crawford, a notorious counterfeiter, between sixty and seventy years of age, about six feet high, his head white; also, John M. Windham, about thirty years of age, five feet seven or eight inches high, with an uncommon long face and chin, his fore teeth very long and prominent; this villain was imprisoned at the last term of the Superior Court of Edgecombe to eighteen months imprisonment, for stealing free negroes of colour; also Elias Owens, about fifty years of age, who was in Jail for debt, and the principal instrument in breaking the Jail. I will give one hundred dollars reward for their apprehension and delivery in this place, or a proper portion for either of them.  BENJAMIN HART, Jailer.

Star, Raleigh, 23 July 1819.

Master craftsman.

1. Image2. Image3. Image

1. Thomas Day’s cutouts and molding liven up a front porch. 1860, Garland-Buford House, North Carolina. Photo by Tim Buchman, 2013.

2. Day did architectural work inside clients’ home, adding his flourish to facades, staircases and archways. Newel, 1855, Glass-Dameron House, North Carolina. Photo by Tim Buchman, 2013.

3. Day’s uniquely “Exuberant Style” in full bloom. Whatnot, 1853-1860. Collection of Margaret Walker Brunson Hill, courtesy of the Renwick Gallery.


He died instantly.

Henry Hays, a free man of color, was shot in Fayetteville, a few days since, by John Russel, a white man. Hays died instantly, and Russel was imprisoned. – ib.

Tarboro’ Press, 16 November 1839.

John Jones.

ImageJohn Jones was an outspoken civil rights activist and a committed leader in the fight to repeal Illinois’ Black Codes. He was born in Greene County, North Carolina to a free mulatto mother and a German-American father. Trained as a tailor, Jones migrated to Memphis, Tennessee, then moved to Chicago in 1845 with his wife Mary Richardson Jones.  He established a successful tailor shop at 119 Dearborn Street. Not long after his arrival in Chicago, Jones befriended local abolitionists Charles V. Dyer, a physician, and Lemanuel Covell Paine Freer, a noted lawyer. Freer taught Jones to read and write. Jones saw the value of the skills for business and also put them to masterful use in abolition work, including the publication of a 16-page pamphlet entitled “The Black Laws of Illinois and Why They Should Be Repealed.” Jones also worked tirelessly in the struggle against the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which denied runaway slaves the right to trial by jury and imposed high fines on anyone who aided slaves or interfered in their capture. Though he arrived in the city with just $3.50 in his pocket and had no formal education, by 1860 Jones was one of the nation’s wealthiest African Americans. In 1871, Jones was elected the first black Cook County Commissioner.


John Jones’ 1844 certificate of freedom, issued by the State of Illinois, described him as 25 years old; 5 feet ten inches tall, and mulatto; “has a scarr over the Left Eye Brown a Scratch across the cheek bone a scarr on the left Shin bone Taylor to trade.”

Photo: Chicago History Museum. Text adapted from “Early Chicago: Slavery in Illinois,”,4,3,4; see also, and more particularly, Sylvestre C. Watkins, Sr., “Some of Early Illinois’ Free Negroes” in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, vol. 56, no. 3, Emancipation Centennial Issue (1963); 

In the 1860 census of Ward 2, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois: John Jones, 43, tailor, born NC; wife Mary, 40, born Tennessee; daughter Susan, 16, born Illinois; and Rachel Pettit, 20, born Illinois. Jones reported real property valued at $17000 and personal property at $700.

He went off as a free man.

$300 REWARD. – Escaped from the fortifications in Wilmington, North Carolina, in May or June last, my man GEORGE WASHINGTON. Yellow complexion; he has a small scar on his left cheek, kinky head of hair, twenty-two or three years old, about five feet six inches high, pleasing appearance and speech.

George Washington was raised in Franklin county, North Carolina, by David Ingram, near Laurel post office. I understand that he went off from Wilmington with some Southern soldiers to Richmond as a free man. I will pay the above reward of three hundred dollars for his apprehension, and delivered to Lieutenant Colonel John L. Harris, Twenty-fourth regiment North Carolina Troops, Petersburg, or to Robert Lumpkin, Richmond, or to me at Roxboro, Person county, North Carolina.  JAMES HOLLOWAY.

Richmond Examiner, Richmond VA, 3 December 1864.

Awful calamity.

Awful Calamity. – That devoted town, Wilmington, has been again visited with a most calamitous fire, which has destroyed a large amount of property and reduced some from situations of comfort, to poverty and distress. The worthy editor of the Cape Fear Recorder is amongst the principal sufferers, and we cannot here withhold the expression of our most cordial sympathy for his loss. A friend informs us that all the sufferers are most deserving citizens, and with one or two exceptions, unable to sustain the burden of their misfortune. … [August 2 was excessively hot, and thunderstorms developed that night. At about 11:00 o’clock, lightning struck first “the northern end of Mr. Langdon’s large wooden building on Market and Second street” and again near the partition separating the building from the office of the Recorder. Flames spread “until the whole block of wooden houses, from Second street to Mrs. Wright’s alley, was consumed.” The fire was contained by firemen blowing up and a small two-story house on the east side of the alley.]

The sufferers in this dreadful fire which did not last much longer than two hours, were, Samuel Langdon, Esq., Mr. Chambers, Mr. John Brown, E.P. Hall, Esq., Mrs. Scatt, Wm. C. Lord, Esq., Ancrum Berry, Esq., Mrs. Wright, Gabriel Holmes, Esq., Mr. Tibbitts, Archibald M. Hooper, and Henry Sampson, a coloured man.

…  Ral. Reg.

Free Press, Tarboro, 20 August 1830.

Entreaty from Liberia.

A gentleman has just shown us a letter which he received a few days ago from Joseph Outlaw, a coloured man, in Liberia, who emigrated from this neighbourhood four or five years ago. From the begging tone of the epistle, we are inclined to think that comforts are not superabundant in the colony. Clothing, provision, farming utensils – in short, any thing or every thing is solicited, and solicited with an earnestness that shows they are really necessary. The writer lives at Millsburg, a settlement at the distance of twenty miles from Monrovia, the principal town of the colony, and cultivates his portion of land (ten acres) for the maintenance of himself, a wife, and seven children. Under such circumstances, it is not surprising that the poor fellow’s letter should be almost wholly devoted to entreaty, and to the names of those from whom he hopes for assistance. As it contains no information beyond what may be gleaned from above, we notice it merely from a desire to promote poor Outlaw’s comforts, by acquainting his benevolent friends with his unenviable condition. – Newbern Spect.

Tarboro’ Press, 24 January 1835.

His skull was shockingly fractured.

Attempt to Murder. – On Monday evening last, the citizens of the very heart of our town were alarmed by loud cries of Murder! On repairing to the spot, it was found that a coloured man named Ephraim Hammond, had been struck on the head with a brick, by which his skull was shockingly fractured. Suspicion having attached to two white men, named Frederick Jones and Allen Rowell, they were taken up, and after examination, fully committed for trial. There is little or no hope of Hammond’s surviving the injury.  Fayetteville Observer.

Tarboro’ Press, 2 February 1838.

William R. Pettiford.


Rev. William Reuben Pettiford, D.D.

This popular and influential pastor well deserves mention for hard, persevering, laborious, and faithful work for God and his fellow man.

Rev. W.R. Pettiford was born in Granville County, North Carolina, January 20, 1847.His parents, William and Matilda Pettiford, were free, and, according to the law of the land, their son was free. … His parents sold their little farm and moved to Person County, where he had the advantage of private instruction, and obtained a very fair knowledge of the English branches. Being the oldest child, he had to bear a part of the burden of the family; the hard, toilsome work he was compelled to do was a school of preparation for his life work.

Being converted in 1868, and baptized at Salisbury, N.C., by Rev. Ezekiel Horton, was the beginning of the life which has made him an earnest disciple and minister of Christ. … In 1869 he married Miss Mary J. Farley. Business becoming dull he moved to Selma, Alabama, and worked there both as a laborer and teacher. In March, 1870, after being married eight months, his wife died. Deciding to pursue a further course of training he entered the state normal school at Marion, Alabama. He remained there seven years, paying his expenses by teaching during vacations. … He was connected with the church at Marion, where he made a favorable impression upon the brethren by attending and conducting prayer-meetings and revivals. The church licensed him to preach in March, 1879. Mr. Pettiford had in the mean time, 1873, married a Mrs. Jennie Powell, of Marion, who died September, 1874, leaving him for the second time a widower. As principal of the school at Uniontown he was assisted by Mrs. Florence Billingslea and Rev. John Dozier. Mr. Pettiford met with much success. Wishing to take a more extended course of study, he resigned his position as principal, 1877, and entered Selma University. The following year the trustees appointed him a teacher at a salary of twenty dollars per month and permission to pursue the theological studies …. [He married Della Boyd on November 23, 1880; was ordained at St. Philip Baptist Church in Selma; moved to Union Springs; then, in 1883, accepted a call at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.]

At this time the church had a membership of one hundred and fifty, were worshiping in a store in the low part of town, and five hundred dollars in debt. [A year later, the debt was retired and a new edifice costing more than $7000 built.]

He is president of the ministerial union of Birmingham, a trustee of Selma University, president of the Baptist State Convention, and president of Alabama Penny Savings Bank. Besides owning a valuable home in the city, he is interested in other property. …

The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon Rev. Pettiford by Selma University.

Adapted from A.W. Pegues, Our Baptist Ministers and Schools (1892).