Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Month: June, 2013

Our oldest, best known and most highly respected.

Mr. Buckner Simmons, after an illness of ten years, died Tuesday morning. Mrs. Mary Simmons, better known to our old citizens as “Aunt Polly,” came to Cleveland 51 years ago with her two sons, and daughter from North Carolina. They settled in their present at 31 Newton street, and have lived there continuously since. Mr. Simmons was well-known and highly respected. His mother, aged 95 years, and sister, Mrs. Eliza Bryant, have the sincerest sympathy of the community. Funeral Thursday at 2 p.m., from the residence, Rev. J.M. Gilmore officiating.

Cleveland Gazette, Cleveland OH, 20 February 1904.

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Mrs. Eliza Bryant, aged 80 years, died May 13. Funeral from the house May 15, conducted by Rev. Ira A. Collins, assisted by Rev. W.T. Maxwell. Interment in Woodland Cemetery. Boyd & Dean, undertakers.

Cleveland Gazette, Cleveland OH, 25 May 1907.

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Mrs. Mary Simmons better known as “Aunt Polly” Simmons of 2188 E. 31st (Newton) St., mother of Mr. Buckner Simmons, deceased, one of our oldest, best known and most highly respected residents, died Monday night of old age and a complication of ailments. Mrs. Simmons was a North Carolinian by birth but came to Cleveland about 1860. Funeral Thursday afternoon from the residence, Dr. Chas. Bundy officiating, assisted by Rev. G.V. Clark. She was one of the church’s oldest members. E.F. Boyd, funeral director. Interment in Woodland cemetery.

Cleveland Gazette, Cleveland OH, 9 September 1911.

Please free Clara, two years old.

To the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina

The petition of Thomas Johnson of Washington County humbly sheweth that he is the owner of a mulatto slave named Clara (Clary), about the age of two years, whom he is desirous to emancipate. Your petitioner therefore prays your Honorable Body to pass a bill to liberate said slave and that she may be called by the name of Clara Johnson and your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray.  /s/ Thomas Johnson

General Assembly Session Records, November-December 1813, Box 3, North Carolina State Archives.

A slave is not a competent witness against a free negro?

Cox v. Dove, a Free Negro, 1 NC 72 (1796) .

1. A slave can not be a witness against a free negro.

2. In trespass quare clausum fregit, the defendant under the general issue may give in evidence a license.

Trespass quare clausum fregit and non culpabilis pleaded.

To prove the entry a negro slave was called and offered to be sworn.

But the Court (WILLIAMS, J., saying he never heard such a thing asked: HAYWOOD, J., tacente,) refused to admit the witness, although the defendant was stated to be a negro. 2, 1777, 2, 42, 307.

The case of State v. George, ante, p. 40, was cited: but much argument was not offered by the plaintiff’s counsel; there being other witnesses, attending to prove the fact intended to have been proved by the slave. He having been offered only to come at the opinion of the judges.

Slade, for the defendant, offered to read in evidence, a letter from the plaintiff to the defendant, authorizing him to tend turpentine trees on the premises.

Martin, for the plaintiff, objected to this: on the ground that if the defendant meant to avail himself of the plaintiff’s license, he ought not to have denied the entry, which he had done by pleading non culpabilis; at all events he ought to have pleaded justification. He cited Co. Litt., 282.

The Court, HAYWOOD, J., and STONE, J., nevertheless permitted the letter to be read: on the authority of a case cited out of Buller’s Nisi Prius, 90. Hatton & Neale, per Jones, C. J., 1683.

The plaintiff proved a trespass committed by cutting timber, and had a verdict.

NOTE.–Upon the first point see State v. George, ante, and 1 Rev. Stat., ch. 31, sec. 81. The law was later clearly settled that a slave is a competent witness against a free negro.

[Sidenote: Though I have a law degree, I’m not completely confident about my interpretation of this bizarrely fashioned decision. Thus, I present it in its entirety.  — LYH]

He owned a shipyard.

Walk west to the Rodman House, located at 520 West Main. This dwelling, constructed in 1848, was once the home of two justices of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Before the house was constructed, a shipyard at the site was opened and operated by Hull Anderson, a free black who later emigrated to Liberia.  Because much of Washington was burned during the Civil War, the Rodman House is one of the few surviving antebellum structures in the town’s historic district.

From Daniel W. Barefoot, Touring the Backroads of North Carolina’s Upper Coast (1995).

See also, http://www.wdnweb.com/2013/02/21/pamlico-rivers-past-hull-anderson-black-shipbuilder-in-1800s-washington/

Free colored Craven County slaveowners.

One John Carruthers Stanley, negro, was born in Craven County, N. C, in 1772. His father was a white man and his mother was an African woman purchased from a northern slave trader in the West Indies, where the woman with other negroes had been carried direct from Africa. Captain Stewart was at the time sailing one of John Wright Stanley’s vessels, running between New Bern and the West Indies. In his boyhood the young negro John was apprenticed to a barber, at that time in New Bern, named John Carruthers; J. C. Stanley was generally known as “Barber Jack” toward the end of his life. He married a woman with more negro blood than he possessed, hence she was darker in color than her husband, though he was not light. In the year 1808 his mistress, Mrs. Lydea Stewart, the captain being then dead, had him emancipated by the North Carolina legislature. Then he advanced rapidly in property until he was the owner of sixty-four slaves, and at the same time there were forty-two negroes of both sexes bound to him by law for service. At that time he owned two large plantations a few miles distant from New Bern, one on Trent River called Lion Pasture, one on or near Bachelor’s Creek called Hope; on these his negroes were employed. He resided in New Bern and owned houses there. But finally after so much success, he engaged in speculations and went down hill even faster than he had gone up. In the meantime he had reared sons and daughters and had educated them. Some of these children owned slaves up to the civil war, and they held them rigidly to account. Stanley died some years previous to the war. This family had necesarily to move in a circle of their own; yet now and then the women would be invited to dinner by a few of the best citizens. One of the Stanley boys, John Stewart, taught free school in a small way and occasionally clerked in a store. He held slaves, as did his sisters, who never married, up to the emancipation proclamation.

There was a colored brick mason in New Bern named Doncan Montford, who owned slaves; he was a dark mulatto. One of his slaves, Isaac Rue, was also a mason; he sold him to a lawyer, George S. Altmore. Isaac’s wife was a free woman, a pure-blooded negress. They had children, who under North Carolina laws were free. One of their grandsons, Edward Richardson, was at one time postmaster of New Bern, appointed to the office by a Republican president.

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

He has known James Harris since childhood.

State of North Carolina, Granville County   }

This day John Dickerson personaly appeard before me David A. Paschall an acting Justice of the peace for the said county and made oath that he has been acquainted with Jas. Harris from his childhood & knows him to be Free that he is a dark mulatoe has a scar upon his head & is about nineteen years of age                 John X Dickerson

Sworn to and subscribed Before me this 18th day of March 1848 D.A. Paschall J.P.

James Henry Harris Personal Collection, North Carolina State Archives.

The plantation where Indian Bet lives.

State of North Carolina, October the 1 Day 1777

In the Name of God amen I Samuel Woodland of the County Tyrrel and State aforesaid being weak in body but of Sound Memory (blessed be god) Do this Day being the first Day of October in the year of one thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Seven make and Publish this my Last will and Testament in manner following: that is to Say first of all I give and bequeath unto my son Stephen Woodland one hundred & one Acres of Land lying on Southfork Creek known by the name of the hill of Dumplin Land and Plantation To him and his heirs for Ever and in Case the Said Stephen Woodland Dyes without an heir lawfully Begotten of his Body then the Said Land to be Equaly Divid between my Two Sons John Woodland and Samuel Woodland and their heirs for Ever

Item I Give and Bequeath unto my Loving Son in Law Thomas Williams the Land and Plantation where on Indian Bet Simpson Now Liveth it being the Land that I bought of John Hooper to him and his heirs for Ever

Whereof I the Said Samuel Woodland have hereunto Set my hand and Seal as my Last will and Testament in the Presenc of Jeremiah Franer, James Phelps             /s/ Samuel Woodland {seal}

Wills, Tyrrell County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

They asked him if he had that gun to shoot Ku-Klux.

Question. I would be glad if you would give us many names as you can recollect of those who have been outraged.

Answer. I have left my best memorandum at the hotel. I will state from memory what I can now recollect. Did I state about Mr. Gillespie being taken out and abused by them and threatened? He is a white man; a gang of disguised men seized him, either the last of March or the first of April, pulled him out of his house, and said that they thought two hundred lashes would make a good conservative of him; that he had been a radical, and had been unpunished for a ling time. There was a colored man we call old issue free negro; that is, he has always been a free negro; he was born free. His name was Jonas Watts; he was whipped by them, and had his gun taken away. They asked if he had that gun to shoot Ku-Klux; he said, No. They took the gun away from him, and said it was a damned good piece they had captured; that is what he says. They told him that it was the way he had been voting that they visited. They visited the house of a colored named T.P. Bradley, committed some insolence about his house and threatened him, but did not whip him.

Testimony of James M. Justice, July 5, 1871, Report of the Joint Select Committee to inquire into the condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, North Carolina (1872).

[Sidenote: Justice testified that he had lived in Rutherfordton since 1865 and was born and raised in neighboring Henderson County. He worked as a mechanic and was elected to the NC legislature in 1868. During that time, he was admitted to the North Carolina Bar and worked as an attorney. — LYH]

She’s old and useless, but a good midwife: rejected.

To the Worshipfull Court of Pleas & Quarter sessions to be Held in Hertford on the Second Monday in Febry 1777. I Thomas Newby of the County of Perquimans and State of North Carolina Humbly prayeth that Your Worships Will take this my petition into Consideration & Grant the Said petition. — (to wit.) The Liberateing of A Certain Negro Woman belonging to me Your Humble petitioner by the name of Hannah, for this my Reasons. In the first place, She being grown ould, And Can be Very little Service to me as to any Hard Work or Drudgery. She being an Excellent Midwife Called on Every Land turn to Both White Women & Black and from account has performed her Duty With as much Scill as any of that profession Moreover She being A peaceable Negro Woman haveing Lived in this place for the Space of forty Years with one Certain Husband & Raised a Number of Children Which are at present Divided amongst the Heirs to whom they fell. And I your Humble petitioner from being Satisfyed and Contented With the Services Which I have rec’d from her the sd. Hannah, Humbly I prayeth that your Worships may take in Consideration & Set the Sd. Negro free by your order & further your Petitioner prayeth not.   /s/ Thomas Newby

[On reverse: Thos. Newby Petition to Liberate Negroe Hannah Rejected]

Slave Records, Perquimans County, North Carolina State Archives.

Free papers.

This is to certify that Urias Morris of col. is a free Man & Resides in Pasquotank county N. Carolina  January 13th 1829    Edm. C. Blount JP

Slave Records, Pasquotank County Records, North Carolina States Archives.

In the 1860 census of Pasquotank County: Uriah Morris, 56, caulker, wife Livey, 50, and children Matilda, 14, and Laura, 13. Uriah reported owning $400 in real property.