Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Month: January, 2016

Nathan Blackwell’s will and desire.

this the 24th of January 1845 }   this my desire and will that I give to Josiah and Nathan Axum Andrew & all my property to be Equally divided and I want Asberry Blackwell to take Andrew and see to his labor for my children to the best advantage also take my children and take care of them and satisfy himself for his troble out of my property this my Last will and testament whereunto I now set my han and Seal to        Nathan (X) Blackwell {seal}

Test  James F. Mercer, Thomas Mercer

Nathan Blackwell received a marriage license to marry Jincey Powell on 15 December 1838 in Nash County, North Carolina. Elijah Powell and Henry Bount were bondsmen, and B.H. Blount, a witness.

In the 1840 census of Nash County, North Carolina, Nathan Blackwell headed a household comprised of one free colored male, aged 10-23; one free colored female, aged 10-23; and two free colored males under 10. In the 1850 census of Nash County, Asberry Blackwell [likely Nathan’s brother] lived alone.

Nathan’s children are not found in the 1850 census. In 1860, Josiah Blackwell, 21, was listed as a steam mill laborer in the household of engineer John Valentine. On 27 March 1861, Josiah married Becky Mitchell at Wiley Lamm’s steam mill. In 1860, Nathan E. Blackwell, 20, is listed as a wagoner living in the household of farmer Robinson Baker in Wilson County.

North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line],

Life on Underwood Settlement.

“John Underwood, a “free Negro” living on a farm he owned in pre-Civil War Vigo County, took part in the dangerous work of helping fugitive slaves flee the United States to Canada as part of the “Underground Railroad.”

“On one occasion, slave catchers discovered what Underwood was doing and “were threatening to do [him] bodily harm,” according to John W. Lyda’s book, “The Negro in the History of Indiana.” But Underwood, a member of the local Masonic lodge “saved himself by giving the Masonic Recognition sign. As those who were threatening him were themselves members of that lodge, they desisted from injuring him,” Lyda wrote.

“This story is one of few that remain from what was once a thriving black settlement in Linton Township in southern Vigo County. Settled by [North Carolina-born] John Underwood in about 1841, it was one of dozens of free, black settlements in Indiana that existed many years before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It became known as the Underwood Settlement. …”

See Arthur Foulkes, “Life on Underwood Settlement,” Terre Haute Tribune Star, 13 February 2011.

[Hat tip to Edie Lee Harris.]