Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Category: Biography

The roots of Arkansas’ largest free colored community.

DAVID HALL (1782?-1859?), described as a “colored” and “exceedingly stout man,” settled along the White River bottoms some seven miles below the mouth of the Little North Fork in 1819, the year that Congress created Arkansas Territory. The North Carolina-born Hall and his light-skinned wife Sarah, a Tennessean, built a cabin, raised corn, horses and cows, made whiskey in one of the first stills to be seen on the upper White River, and, not least of all, tended to their growing family. An 1840 surveyor’s map shows the Hall farm, which was located twenty miles west of today’s city of Mountain Home, with forty acres under cultivation, a larger operation that any other in his township. Hall paid county and state taxes for thirty years, and these records document his relative prosperity. … [His] sons Willoghby, Joe, and James, and his daughters Margaret Hall Turner and Eliza Hall Caulder established families that expanded the free black population in Marion County. These pioneer families lived in semi-isolation and in harmony with whites, a situation that attracted other free mulattoes who settled in the vicinity, forming antebellum Arkansas’s largest free black community.

Hall and his son-in-law Peter Caulder, despite state laws to the contrary, kept hounds and firearms essential to their frontier life. … Travelign about by any conveyance was legal in the territory and after statehood, but risky for free blacks since they were under the jurisdiction of any white man who cared to exercise that authority. Despite the risk, the Halls and their neighbor John Turner occasionally traveled outside the county by horse and by boat to attend tot heir business affairs.

Land ownership was one of the few legally recognized rights of Negros in slave states such as Arkansas. During the winter of 1849, David Hall and John Hall (possibly a brother) traveled one hundrted miles to the United States government land office at Batesville to pay cash for and later receive patents on their White River valley acreage. …

The settlement lasted until the Arkansas General Assembly passed a law in February 859 entitled, “An Act to Remove the Free Negroes and Mulattos from the State.” Penalties included seizure and sale into slavery, emancipation having already been made illegal in Arkansas. The enormity of the threat was enough to overcome the tenaciousness of folks in the free Negro community. More than one hundred of them abandoned good farms and departed Marion County and the state of Arkansas, a gut-wrenching turn of events, without doubt.

Today the land patented by David Hall lies beneath Bull Shoals Lake. With the exception of weathered and nameless wooden markers placed atop a stone wall alongside the Promised Land Cemetery by the Corps of Engineers before the valley was flooded, no physical trace remains of the free black community that thrived along the banks of the White River near the Missouri border. Hall disappeared from the tax and census records in 1859 when he would have been seventy-six years old. … [by] Billy D. Higgins

Adapted from Nancy A. Williams and Jeannie M. Whayne, eds., Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives (2000).

In the 1850 census of Marion County, Arkansas: David Hall, 67, born NC, wife Sarah, 55, born Tennessee, and Mary, 18, Joseph, 12, and Henry Hall, 20, all born in Arkansas. Sons James and Jospeh are listed with theri families nearby.

Hugh Cale.

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Born free in Perquimans County in 1835, Hugh Cale worked at Fort Hatteras and on Roanoke Island during the Civil War. In 1867, he moved to Elizabeth City where he worked as a merchant and held a host of offices including county commissioner. He was one of thirteen African Americans to serve in the state legislature in 1876, the first of his four terms. In 1882, Cale, an active A.M.E. Zion layman, was appointed a trustee of Zion Wesley Institute in Salisbury, which in 1885 became Livingstone College. He was among the initial group of nine trustees of the North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race (now North Carolina A. & T. State University) in Greensboro and served in that position from 1891 to 1899. He was a delegate to the Republican national convention of 1896.

In 1891, during his last legislative term, Cale introduced House Bill 383 to establish “Elizabeth City Colored Normal School” for the education of black teachers. Now known as Elizabeth City State University, the institution has honored Cale with a scholarship in his name. He died in 1910. Image

Adapted from http://www.ncmarkers.com. Photo of Cale courtesy of Museum of the Albemarle.

He has proven it.

William A. Maynor, who was born in Sampson County, is a descendant of Stephen Maynor, who was a soldier of the Revolutionary War, as the records in Washington, D. C., now show. He was also a descendant on mother’s side of the late Nicholas Emanuel. He has satisfactorily proven before the courts of North Carolina and Cumberland County that his wife was at least two-thirds Indian. He has a certificate properly signed by the officials of Cumberland County, certifying these facts.

The Maynors are said to be descendants of Manteo, the friendly Indian chief of historical times. (See McMillan’s History of the Indians of Robeson County.)

From George E. Butler, “The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina. Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools,” (1916).

Lemuel W. Boone.

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LEMUEL WASHINGTON BOONE (1827-1878) was a leader of African American Baptists in North Carolina during the Reconstruction era. In 1866, he organized on Roanoke Island the East Roanoke Association, the first black Baptist association in the state. The following year, he moderated the organizational meeting of the General Association of the Colored Baptists of North Carolina, the first statewide black Baptist association and the direct forerunner of the present-day General Baptist Convention of North Carolina. Praised by Carter Woodson as a “preacher of power,” Boone is said to have “possessed a gift of oratory and mental ability seldom excelled by men of the best opportunities.”

Boone, born free in Northampton County, worked as a brickmason and teacher preceding the Civil War. After moving to Hertford County, he organized twenty churches with over 3,000 members in the area. The inaugural meeting of the statewide Baptist organization took place in 1867 in Goldsboro and was timed to coincide with the white annual Baptist State Convention from whose members they received counsel and support.

Boone sought a reconciliation between white and black Baptists and opposed a rule requiring that white churches dismiss former slaves who ran away to join the Union army and served as one of seven original trustees of Shaw University. At his death in 1878, the minutes of his association recorded that “it is safe to say that from his ordination till his death, no person in eastern North Carolina exerted a wider and more lasting influence among his people than Elder Boone.” In 1913, a monument was erected at his grave.

Adapted from http://www.ncmarkers.com.

George Henry White.

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GEORGE HENRY WHITE (December 18, 1852 – December 28, 1918) was an attorney, the Republican U.S. Congressman from North Carolina between 1897 and 1901, and a banker. He is considered the last African-American Congressman of the Jim Crow era, one of twenty to be elected in the late nineteenth century from the South.

White was born in Rosindale, Bladen County, North Carolina, where his natural mother may have been a slave.  His father Wiley Franklin White was a free person of color of Scots-Irish and African ancestry, who was a laborer in a turpentine camp. George had an older brother, John, and their father may have purchased their freedom.  In 1857 Wiley White married Mary Anna Spaulding, a granddaughter of Benjamin Spaulding. Born into slavery as the son of a white plantation owner, Spaulding had been freed as a young man and worked to acquire more than 2300 acres of pine woods, which he apportioned to his own large family.

White studied at Howard University. He graduated in 1877 and was hired as a principal at a school in New Bern. He studied law in the city as an apprentice under former Superior Court Judge William J. Clarke and was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1879.

In 1880 White ran as a Republican candidate from New Bern and was elected to a single term in the North Carolina House of Representatives. He returned to politics in 1884, winning election to the North Carolina Senate from Craven County. In 1886, he was elected solicitor and prosecuting attorney for the second judicial district of North Carolina, a post he held for eight years. Though he considered running for Congress, he deferred to his brother-in-law Henry Plummer Cheatham, who was elected to the US House in 1890.

White was a delegate to the 1896 and 1900 Republican National Conventions. In 1896 he was elected to the U.S. Congress representing the predominantly black Second District from his residence in Tarboro, defeating white Democratic incumbent Frederick A. Woodard of Wilson. In 1898 White was re-elected in a three-way race. In a period of increasing disfranchisement of blacks in the South, he was the last of five African Americans in Congress during the Jim Crow era.

On January 20, 1900, White introduced the first bill in Congress to make lynching a federal crime to be prosecuted by federal courts; it died in committee. A month later, as the House was debating issues of territorial expansion, White defended his bill by giving examples of crimes in the South. Arguing that conditions in the region had to “provoke questions about …national and international policy,” he said, “Should not a nation be just to all her citizens, protect them alike in all their rights, on every foot of her soil, in a word, show herself capable of governing all within her domain before she undertakes to exercise sovereign authority over those of a foreign land—with foreign notions and habits not at all in harmony with our American system of government? Or, to be more explicit, should not charity first begin at home?”

White delivered his final speech in the House on January 29, 1901: “This is perhaps the Negroes’ temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say, Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people; faithful, industrious, loyal, rising people – full of potential force.”

After White left office, no other black American would serve in Congress until Oscar De Priest was elected in 1928. No African-American was elected to Congress from North Carolina until 1992.

Adapted from Wikipedia. Photo courtesy of http://www.lib.unc.edu.

In the 1860 census of Columbus County: Willey F. White, 39, farmer, born Pitt County; wife M.A., 20, and children John W., 14, and W.F., 7, plus W.T. Freeman, 7.

[Sidenotes: (1) George H. White’s secretary during his Washington years was William S. Hagans, son of Napoleon Hagans and nephew of my great-great-grandmother Louvicey Artis Aldridge.  (2) My junior high school in Wilson NC was named after Frederick A. Woodard. — LYH]

Oldest North Carolinian ever.

Cross Woodis: Candidate for Oldest North Carolinian

By Dr. H.G. Jones, for the Associated Press

Chapel Hill (AP) — … Who was the oldest person ever to live in North Carolina? We may never know, but know candidate for the distinction was Cross Woodis, who complained before his death about 1880 that liquor had shortened his life.

He had done pretty well, though, for according to his biographer, Woodis was 130 years old when he died. If we base his age on the census of 1860 when he was listed as 100, he would have been only 120 at the time of his death. But what difference would 10 years make at that age?

We would perhaps know nothing of Cross Woodis except for a tiny sketch published in 1905 by Alfred Nixon ….

A mulatto born free but bound to a white man named Curtis until he was 21, Cross Woodis, according to census records, was born in Mecklenburg County long before the Revolution. He spent many years in Cabarrus County but lived in Lincoln County in his advanced years. He had a cabin on the farm of William King near Catawba Springs.

As a young man Woodis married a free black woman who, when the southern states began restricting the rights of free Negroes, insisted that the couple move to the free state of Ohio.

Woodis told his wife to go ahead with her relatives ad that he would follow. He never did, except for a visit. After years of separation from his first wife, he married another free black woman in North Carolina.

Apparently Cross Woodis was primarily a farmer, but he worked at various jobs – fisherman, hunter, horse racer, well digger, water witch. With a forked peach tree spout, he was almost unerring in locating water for his clients.

Woodis was remembered as shriveled and stooped but retaining a remarkable degree of his senses, particularly his memory and wit. He claimed to have killed a British soldier while guarding a cache of guns during the Revolution, a claim that Nixon accepted as true. …

Cross Woodis died at the home of a daughter in Mecklenburg County about 1880 and was buried at a Presbyterian church for blacks at Caldwell, a few miles from Cowan’s Ford.

The Robesonian, Lumberton, 11 February 1982.

In the 1850 census of Lincoln County: Cross Woodruss, 70, Delphy, 35, Henderson, 10, and Jane Woodruss, 8.  In the 1860 Lincoln County: Cross Woodis, 100, farm laborer (active), born Mecklenburg County.  In 1870 Catawba Springs, Lincoln County: Jordan Shuford, 25, wife Dovey, 26, and Cross Wordice, 110, “at home.”  In 1880, Catawba Springs, Lincoln County: farm worker George Johnston, 27, Lucy, 22, Lizzie Boyd, 55, mother, Sarah Johnston, 50, mother-in-law, and Cross Woodis, 128, grandfather.

The Cousins brothers, dark of skin.

First Residents of Boone and Vicinity. — … There was another house which stood in the orchard near the present Blackburn hotel. It was a small clapboard house, with only one room. Ben Munday and family occupied it first and afterwards Ellington Cousins and family, dark of skin, lived there till Cousins built a house up the Blackburn branch in rear of the Judge Greer house. It is still known as the Cousins place …

John and Ellington Cousin. – The brothers came from near East Bend, Forsythe County, soon after Boone was formed, bringing white women with them. Ellington’s wife was Margaret Myers and John’s was named Lottie. Ransom Hayes sold Ellington an acre of land up the Blackburn branch, where he built a house and lived in 1857, having moved from the house in the orchard below the road near the present Blackburn hotel. He had two daughters. Sarah married Joseph Gibson and moved to Mountain City, Tenn., where he carried on a tannery for Murphy Brothers, but he afterwards returned to the state and lived at or near Lenoir, finally going West, where he remains. Ellington died at Boone and his widow and daughter, nicknamed “Tommy,” went with Gibson and wife to Mountain City, where she also married. John lived near Hodges Gap and at other places, dying at the Ed. Shipley place near Valle Crucis. He had several children.

From John Preston Arthur, A History of Watauga County, North Carolina, with Sketches of Prominent Families (1915).

In the 1850 census of Watauga, Watauga County: Johnson Cusins, 44, farmer, wife Charlotta, 41, and children Hezekiah, 18, Mary, 14, Clarkson, 11, William H., 9, Rebecca, 8, Annanias, 5, Martha, 4, W.W. and Evaline, both 3 months.  All described as mulatto, except Charlotta, white.  In the 1860 census of Boone, Watauga County: John Cuzzens, 52, farmer, wife Charlotte, 50, and children Henry, 19, Rebecca, 17, Ann, 15, Martha, 13, Wiley, 10, and Eveline, 10, all mulatto.

In the 1850 census of Northern Division, Davidson County: in jail, Francis Briant, 20, laborer, Alva Sapp, 22, laborer, and Ellington Cozzens, 41, shoemaker. Cozzens was mulatto; the others, white.  In the 1860 census of Boone, Watauga County: Ellington Cuzzens, 53, boot & shoemaker, wife Margarett, 44, and daughters Sarah, 8, and Martha J., 5; all mulatto except Margarett, was described as white.

She put her pretty gold head on his shoulder, and …

An Interview with Adora Rienshaw of 431 South Bloodworth Street, Raleigh.

I wuz borned at Beulah, down hyar whar Garner am now, an’ my parents wuz Cameron an’ Sally Perry. When I wuz a month old we moved ter Raleigh.

We wuz called ‘Ole Issues’, case we wuz mixed wid de whites. My pappy wuz borned free, case his mammy wuz a white ‘oman an’ his pappy wuz a coal-black nigger man. Hit happened in Mississippi, do’ I doan know her name ‘cept dat she wuz a Perry.

She wuz de wife of grandfather’s marster an’ dey said dat he wuz mean ter her. Grandfather wuz her coachman an’ he often seed her cry, an’ he’d talk ter her an’ try ter comfort her in her troubles, an’ dat’s de way dat she come ter fall in love wid him.

One day, he said, she axed him ter stop de carriage an’ come back dar an’ talk ter her. When he wuz back dar wid her she starts ter cry an’ she puts her purtty gold haid on his shoulder, an’ she tells him dat he am her only friend, an’ dat her husban’ won’t eben let her have a chile.

Hit goes on lak dis till her husban’ fin’s out dat she am gwine ter have de baby. Dey says dat he beats her awful an’ when pappy wuz borned he jist about went crazy. Anyhow pappy wuz bound out till he wuz twenty-one an’ den he wuz free, case no person wid ary a drap of white blood can be a slave.

When he wuz free he comed ter Raleigh an’ from de fust I can remember he wuz a blacksmith an’ his shop wuz on Wolcot’s Corner. Dar wuz jist three of us chilluns, Charlie, Narcissus, an’ me an’ dat wuz a onusual small family.

Before de war Judge Bantin’s wife teached us niggers on de sly, an’ atter de war wuz over de Yankees started Hayes’s school. I ain’t had so much schoolin’ but I teached de little ones fer seberal years.

De Southern soldiers burned de depot, which wuz between Cabarrus an’ Davie Streets den, an’ dat wuz ter keep de Yankees from gittin’ de supplies. Wheeler’s Cavalry wuz de meanest troops what wuz.

De Yankees ain’t got much in Raleigh, case de Confederates has done got it all an’ gone. Why fer a long time dar de way we got our salt wuz by boilin’ de dirt from de smoke house floor where de meat has hung an’ dripped.

I’m glad slavery is ober, eben do’ I ain’t neber been no slave. But I tell yo’ it’s bad ter be a ‘Ole Issue.’

In the 1860 census of Raleigh, Wake County: Cameron Perry, 48, blacksmith, wife Sarah, and children Adora, 7, Narcissa, 5, Charley, 3, plus Susan Cuffy, 70, and Henderson Duntson, 21; all mulatto except Susan, whose color designation was left blank.

Seemingly white predominating their features.

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William J. Bledsole, one of the most prominent Indians of Sampson County, was evidently a white man with only a small degree of Indian blood. His wife was Nancy Emanuel, the This couple reside in Dismal Township, Sampson County. The father of William was a Croatan and his mother was Mary Bledsole, a white woman. Nancy, his wife, was Nancy Manuel, a sister of Enoch Manuel, and youngest daughter of Michael Manuel. The Manuels were large land owners in Sampson County prior and since the Revolutionary War. There is no record in their family history or family tradition for over 150 years showing any mixture of negro blood. This couple have seven children: Docia, wife of Enoch Manuel. Jr.; Rutha, wife of Ollin Brewington; Molsy, wife of Matthew Burnette; Isabella, wife of Erias Brewington; Lou Berta, wife of Jonah Manuel; W. L. Bledsole, who married Amandy Warrick; James Henry Bledsole, who married Hannah Warrick. Amandy and Hannah were daughters of William J. Warrick and wife Betsie Manuel Warrick, prominent Croatans of Robeson County. The Bledsole family are good specimens of white and Indian blood.  His oldest son, Luther Bledsole, married Amandy Warrick, a woman of white and Indian blood. Her father was William J. Warrick and her mother, Betsie Emanuel. James Henry Bledsole, his youngest son, married Hannah Warrick, the daughter of the above named William J. Warrick.

The Bledsole families are fine specimens of pure white and Indian, seemingly white predominating their features.

From George E. Butler, “The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina. Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools,” (1916).

In the 1860 census of Westbrooks, Sampson County: Robin Bedsole, 80, Polly Bedsole, 35, Eliza Bedsole, 16, and William Bedsole, 12. William is described as mulatto; the others, white.

In the 1850 census of Northern District, Sampson County: Michael Manuel, 63, cooper; wife Fereby, 49; and children Gideon, 19, Cintilla, 16, Drusilla, 15,Michael, 13, Eden, 11, John, 9, William, 7, Enoch, 4, and Nancy, 1; all described as mulatto.

We ain’t knowed so much ’bout slavery.

An Interview with Anthony Ransome of 321 S. Tarboro St., Raleigh, N.C.

I reckon dat I is eighty years old, an’ I wus borned in Murfreesboro in Hertford County. My mammy wus named Annice an’ my father wus named Calvin Jones. My brothers wus named Thomas, Wesley, Charlie, Henry an’ William.

We wus borned free, my mammy bein’ de daughter of a white ‘oman, an’ my paw’s paw onct saved do life o’ his master’s chile, an’ wus freed.

My paw wus a shoemaker an’ he made a putty good livin’ fer us. Course we ain’t knowed so much ’bout slavery, but Doctor Manning who lived near us owned some slaves an’ he treated ’em bad. We could hyar ’em screamin’ at de top of dere voices onct in a while, an’ when dey got through beatin’ ’em dey wus tied down in de cellar. Dey ain’t had much ter eat nother.

Dar wus a preacher what tol’ us ’bout a member of his congregation durin’ de war. De wife wus sold from de husban’ an’ he married ag’in. Atter de war his fust wife comed back an’ atter his secon’ wife died he married de fust one ober ag’in.

From Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves (1841).