Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

James Edward Reed.

ImageMr. J. E. Reed was born of free parents in North Carolina, and knew nothing of slavery. He came to New Bedford, Mass., in 1878, where he attended school for two years; at the end of that time, in 1880, he secured employment as errand boy in Mr. G. F. Parlow’s photograph galleries of that city. Mr. Parlow found that the young man possessed very excellent qualities of mind, and as an evidence of his appreciation, asked him if he would like to learn photography. I need not add that Mr. Reed was only too glad to accept the offer. After mastering the profession he worked as an assistant to Mr. Parlow until 1888, when he formed a partnership with Mr. P. C. Headly, a young white man. The two young men bought out the gallery where Mr. Reed had learned his profession. This firm of Headly & Reed continued in business until 1895, when Mr. Reed bought out the interest of Mr. Headly. These young men were regarded as by far the best work-men in their line the city afforded. Their patrons were numbered among the very best people in New Bedford. To me, the most interesting phase of Mr. Reed’s work was his partnership with Mr. Headly, for I have always felt that one of the very best things that could be done, in solving what is called in this country the “Race question,” would be to bring white and colored men together in a business way, where they will have an opportunity to study each other as only those whose financial interests are blended can. I have no doubt but many comments, and doubtless unpleasant ones too, were made about the co-partnership of a white and colored man. But the fact that they succeeded, and won the respect and confidence of the best people in New Bedford, makes me hope we may hear of more such firms, in other parts of the country, for I am sure that it will prove helpful to both races to be brought more together in a business way. I can speak for Mr. Reed’s ability as an artist, having had work done in his gallery. I am also pleased to note that Mr. Reed is a very useful and energetic church and Sunday-school worker.

From G.F. Richings, Evidence of Progress Among Colored People (1902).

In the 1870 census of Parkville, Perquimans County: John Reed, 33, wife Mary Adeline, 31, and sons William Henry, 8, and James Edward, 6. In the 1880 census of New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts:on Sherman Street, John Reed, 45, carpenter, born Virginia; wife Mary A., 42, born NC; and sons James E., 16, and John, 7, both born in NC.

[Sidenote: The wording of the status of John Reed’s parents is ambiguous, and they are not found in the 1860 census. — LYH]

Unfavorable reports.


Mr. Courts, from the Committee on Propositions and Grievances, reported unfavorably in the bill to emancipate Jno. Good. On motion of Mr. Jones, of Orange, the bill was indefinitely postponed. Also, unfavorably, to the bill to authorize a free colored man of Wayne, to emancipate his wife and children. … Mr. Stanly said this was a case of great hardship, and he had heard the remarks of the gentleman from Wayne, not without being moved by the representation. … The bill was postponed – 56 to 53.

Mr. Courts also reported unfavorably to the bill authorizing Danl. Skein to emancipate his wife. On motion, it was indefinitely postponed.

Carolina Watchman, Salisbury, 18 January 1849.

[Sidenote: “A free colored man of Wayne County” was Hillary Croom. — LYH]

Twelve acres lying east of the cross fence.

State of N. Carolina, Wayne County, March 31st 1884.

Know all men by these presents that I Itey Simmons being of sound mind and frail in body, knowing the uncertainty of life, and the certainty of Death and desiring to arrange my worldly affairs while I live – do make this my last will and testament  —

Item I. I commit my soul to God and my body to the Grave. I desire to be decently and plainly buried, and the expenses of my burial to be paid first out of any money I may have or the first that may be raised out of the proceeds of my property.

Item II. I give to my Grand-daughter Sarah Simmons, my cow and yearling.

Item III. I give in fee simple to my daughter in law Sally Winn widow of my deceased son David Simmons: Twelve acres of land, lying East of the cross fence between my house and hers, and next around and including the house where she is living, to be surveyed and marked only by competent Surveyor, under supervision of my Ex’r or Admin.

Item IV. I order all other property which I may possess of whatever nature Real and Personal, not otherwise provided for in this Will to be sold and converted into money, as promptly as the best interest of my Estate will allow or require: and then: my burial expences above refered to, and any just and legal debts I owe, being paid, I order –

Item V. That the sum of one hundred Dollars shall be appropriated out of the proceeds of my Estate, and given my Great Grand Child Julia Jordan. My executor is requested to see that this money is safely invested, and the interest or profit from the same used for her benefit. The principal to be reserved until her majority; unless absolutely required for her necessities or her best interest before hand –

Item VI. The balance of money now remaining after above I bequest I order to be divided into three equal parts – and to be given one part to my Grand Daughter Maria Thompson one part to my Grand daughters Sarah Simmons and Gustus Greenfield equally and the other part to my son Moses Simmons, if he living, is [sic] he is dead, and leaves no legal heirs of his body, Then this part bequeathed to Moses Simmons shall be divided one half to Maria Thompson and balance between Sarah Simmons and Gustus Greenfield, my Grand-daughters above mentioned.

Item VII. I assign David W. Kelly my Executor to this my last will and Testament as witness to all of which I hereunto set my hand and seal. This day and date as above written, Itey X Simmons {seal]

Signed and sealed In presence of J.F. Oliver, S.J. Kelly

Wayne County Will Book 1, Page 255, Wills, North Carolina State Archives.

Tarheels for freedom.

October, 10th 1856.

To the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina.

The Memorial of James Newlin of the County of Alamance respectfully represents:

That his slave Sam, commonly called Sam Morphis, desires to be emancipated buy the General Assembly with the privilege of remaining in North Carolina. Your memorialist hereby begs leave to recommend the care of the said Sam to the favorable consideration of your Body. He believes that Sam can present to your Body decisive testimonials of a behaviour upon his part uniformly respectful to whites. Sam has been for several years engaged as a hack-driver and waiter at the University, and, your memorialist is informed and believes, has made himself acceptable to all who have employed him, or in any way had dealings with him. Your memorialist will cheerfully enter into any bond which may be required to secure the State in case of his emancipation; and again asks a favorable consideration for this prayer for freedom.

And will ever pray &c               /s/ James Newlin

Appended to Newlin’s petition is a second petition signed by 238 students and faculty members of the University of North Carolina.

General Assembly Session Records, November 1858-February 1859, Box 11, North Carolina State Archives.

Wayne County Apprentices, 1839-40.

Wilie Carroll was bound to William McKinne in 1839.

Bill Capps, 7, was bound to Harris Barfield in 1839.

Jinnet Burnett, 7, was bound to Calvin Coor in 1839.

In the 1850 census of North Side of Neuse, Wayne County: Jennett Burnett, 18, in the household of Bright Sasser, 54, farmer.

Wilie Burnett, 2, was bound to Asher Pipkin in 1839.

Mary A. Hagans was bound to W. Thompson in 1839.

Ann Goins was bound to Jonathan Pike in 1839.

Angeline Seaberry was bound to William Thomson in 1839.

Rufus Artis was bound to William Hooks in 1840.

Rufus Artis and Ben Artis were bound to Martin Sauls in 1840.

In the 1850 census North Side of Neuse, Wayne County: Rufus Artice, 17, farmhand, and Persey Artice, 17, in the household of Martin Sauls, 40, farmer.

Trecy Davis, 9, was bound to Kenan Grantham in 1840.

In the 1850 census of South Side of Neuse, Wayne County: Tresia Davis, 21, and children George, 2, and Susan, 6 months, in the household of Kenan Grantham, 50, farmer. In the 1860 census of Neuse River, Johnston County: Tresia Davis, 28, serving, and her children Susan, 12, Olin, 7, Sarah, 5, Alsey, 2, and Laura, 9 months, in the household of Lewis P. Lindsey, 35, farmer.

Lawrence Hagans, 19, was bound to Jesse Bogue in 1840.

In the 1860 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: Lawrence Hagans, 39, ditcher, wife Charity, 35, and children Melvina, 12, Wm. A., 13, Leonas, 9, Everett, 6, and Alsey, 2.

Penny Winn, 3, was bound to Burnet Peacock in 1840.

Augustus Brunt, 7, was bound to Asher Pipkin in 1840.

In the 1850 census of South Side of Neuse, Wayne County: Augustus Brunt, 12, in the household of William Benson, 29, farmer. Also, in the same district: Polly Brunt, 35, born Johnston County, and son Augustus, 12, born Wayne.

Rhody Roe, 12, was bound to Godfrey Stansill in 1840.

Apprentice Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives; federal censuses.