Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Category: Migration

George & Minnie Manuel.

 manuels

George S. Manuel and wife, Mary Jane “Minnie” Bear Manuel, Greene County, Tennessee.

Jesse Manuel, born around 1775, and his wife, Beaty Revels, left Sampson County, North Carolina, about 1830 and settled in Greene County, Tennessee. Their children included Ephraim, James, Mahala, Elkana, Levi, Sylvania and Travis. Several of his sons, including Travis Manuel, appear as heads of household in Greene County in 1840, and by 1850, Ephraim and James, had migrated further to Brown County, Indiana. By 1860, they had pushed even further north to southern Michigan, though their siblings remained in the Greene County area.

In the 1850 census of Greene County TN, 35 year-old NC-born Travis Manuel, 61 year-old Mary Manuel, and George (13) and Margaret Manuel (11). 

[Sidenote: Many thanks to Edie Lee Harris for use of this photograph and information about her family.]

 

 

Made good.

“Colter’s entire life has consisted of challenges accepted and made good on. He was born on January 8, 1910, in Noblesville, Indiana, a small farming town about forty miles east of Indianapolis. On both side of the family his ancestors were free blacks who had settled in Indiana several years before the Civil War. Colter possesses a ledger tracing his mother’s family back to Britton Bassett, the son of a black man and a white woman in North Carolina, who was granted his freedom in 1797 when he was twenty-one and given a horse, bridle and saddle, and one hundred dollars. In the 1830s Bassett moved his wife and children to Indiana, traveling by night and hiding by day in order to elude slave hunters.”

— from the introduction to Cyrus Colter‘s The Rivers of Eros (1991).

[Sidenote: Britton Bassett, as the son of a white woman, was born free, not set free. Perhaps 1797 marked the end of his involuntary apprenticeship. He had a son Britton, who also had a son Britton and another named Daniel. Britton and Daniel married daughters of Montreville and Anna J. Henderson Simmons, who were born free in North Carolina and migrated to Indiana by way of Ontario, Canada.]

To the evil example of all persons.

State of North Carolina, Chowan County   }

Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, August Term 1856

The jurors for the State in this oath present that Richard Wynns a free man of colour not a citizen of this State did on the first day of July 1856 migrate into the State to the Evil Example of all persons in the like case & contrary to the form of the Statute in such case made & provided    Hines, Solicitor

Chowan County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

He was business first, last and all the time.

State Fair Entries.

The following are some of the entries in the First Department:

THOROUGHBREDS.

Moses Simmons, Cleveland, Gelding “Frank Greyson.”

Plain Dealer, Cleveland OH, 11 September 1863.

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WAS BORN A SLAVE

And Freed by His Master Half a Century Ago.

MOSES SIMMONS’ CAREER.

CAME TO CLEVELAND PENNILESS AND AMASSED A FORTUNE.

SHREWDNESS AND THRIFT

POSSESSED BY HIM, THOUGH HIS EDUCATION WAS LIMITED.

Earned His First Money by Cleaning Horses at Ten Cents a Head – A Member of Several Fraternal Organizations.

For forty-eight years the face of Moses Simmons, who died Saturday, was a familiar one in this city. “Mose,” as he was familiarly known, was a unique character. And well known in the public places of the city, partly on account of his portly figure and partly because of his genial disposition. He had the ability to make money. He was business first, last, and all the time.

Born a slave and held in slavery until twenty-nine years of age, when in a sudden burst of generosity his master freed him, Simmons was compelled to LOOK OUT FOR HIMSELF. So well did he learn the lesson of self-dependency that his fortune at the time of death is estimated at anywhere from $20,000 to $70,000. He was extremely reticent about his business affairs and made a confidant of no one. It is known that he owned valuable real residence property on Laurel street near Scovill avenue and also an interest in several fast horses. He was a lover of horseflesh and always owned one or more high steppers.

“Mose” Simmons was seventy-eight years of age when he died. He was born in Mount Olive, N.C., on the plantation of a man named Richards. His master sustained a reverse of fortune and “Mose” with the rest of the slaves on the place was sold to a trader. He had been a great favorite of his master, and the latter, as soon as he could secure enough money to purchase his former slave again, did so. Mr. Richards brought “Mose” to Philadelphia when the latter was twenty-nine years of age. In that city the spirit of abolition was becoming more and more pronounced and Mr. Richards freed him. Fearing that his master might repent of the generous deed, Moses determined to take advantage of his liberty and secretly left the Quaker City. He came direct to this city. On his arrival he found himself without means and very hungry. For days he wandered about the city and in search of food. He often told his friends of later days of standing near the kitchen of the late “Joe” Richards’ restaurant AND BEGGING FOOD.

He secured work at last in a stable on Academy street cleaning horses at ten cents per head. This was his beginning. By untiring industry and careful frugality he succeeded in making himself comfortable. He was naturally shrewd and possessed with an intelligence which made up in great part for his lack of a school education. He delighted to discuss politics and became a representative of his race in local affairs. He was appointed inspector of catch basins under Mayor Gardner’s administration.

As a horse trader Simmons was known all over the city and his bargains were always reported to work to his own advantage. He engaged in the saloon business on Michigan street for a time but abandoned it, as he found it contrary to his inclinations. For many years he was proprietor of the barber shop under the Striebinger House and also of one on Ontario street. Fortune smiled on him and he became a money lender for the colored people of the city. He also was known as a professional bondsman. At the time of his death he lived alone at No. 423 Erie street, where he had a small barber shop and also conducted a coal business. Although twice married, he was destitute of near relatives. For the last eleven years of his life he referred to live alone, becoming almost a recluse, raking interest only in his business affairs. His only deviation from this rule was to attend to the meetings of several lodges of which he was a member. He belonged to the colored Odd Fellows, Masons, and Knights of Pythias. In the colored Masonic fraternity he had taken thirty-two degrees. He belonged to the rank of the colored Knights of Pythias.

His last sickness was a few weeks’ duration, but it was only a week ago that he was unable to leave his bed. He shared his bachelor home with a young man, Fred Dixon by name, whose father had been Simmons’ intimate associate. It was in Dixon’s arms that he died. Mrs. Eliza Bryant, of no. 23 Newton street, and Miss Effie Simmons, of No. 16 Waller street, are his only known relatives. The funeral will be conducted from the undertaking rooms of Black & Wright Wednesday afternoon under the auspices of the fraternal organizations with which he was intimately connected.

Cleveland Leader, 29 January 1900.

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HACKED WITH A KNIFE.

MOSES SIMMONS’ HORSE ALMOST CUT TO PIECES.

The Owner Was Dying When His Barn Was Entered and the Animal Wounded.

A cowardly brute Saturday night, evidently in a spirit of revenge, went to the barn of the late Moses Simmons, of No. 458 Erie street, and cut and hacked a brood mare in a horrible manner.

Saturday night Moses Simmons died at his home. It was later than usual before any member of the family entered the stable to care for the horses. When Fred Dixon, a young man who lived with Simmons, opened the stable door yesterday morning, he heard one of the horses moaning. He hurried to the stall of the favorite horse, a large gray brood mare. She was lying in a pool of blood and was bleeding from many wounds.

Some time during the night some one entered the barn and with a large knife cut and slashed the horse Her hide and flesh were laid open nearly to the ribs on one side, and there were deep cuts all over her body.

Patrolman Kiel was called and was asked to shoot the animal, as she was suffering intense agony. The mare had been a pet and favorite of Simmons for some year.

No reason for this dastardly deed is known. The police will try to locate the brute who committed the crime.

Cleveland Leader, 29 January 1900.

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Legal Notice.

STATE OF OHIO, CUYAHOGA COUNTY, ss.  } In the Probate Court

Charles Bundy, as Administrator of the estate of Moses Simmons, deceased. } Plaintiff.

vs.

The Society for Savings, Maria Thompson and the Unknown heirs of Henry Simmons, of David Simmons and of Ferrebe Greenfield, respectively, deceased.  } Defendants.

Maria Thompson, who resides at Goldsboro in Wayne county, North Carolina, and the unknown heirs of Henry Simmons, of David Simmons, of George Simmons, and of Ferrebe Greenfield, respectively, deceased, heirs at law of Moses Simmons, deceased, will take notice that Charles Bundy, as administrator of the estate of Moses Simmons, deceased, on the ninth day of March, A.D., 1900, filed his petition in the Probate Court within and for the County of Cuyahoga, and State of Ohio, alleging that the personal estate of said decedent is insufficient to pay his debts and the charges of administering his estate; that he died seized in fee simple of the following described real estate, situate in the City of Cleveland, County of Cuyahoga, and State of Ohio, to-wit: — known as being all of the sub-lots Nos. 104 and 105 in James M. Hoyt’s sub-division of ten-acre lot No. 37 in said city, and together makes a frontage of 30 feet upon the westerly line of Sterling avenue, and extends in rear to Laurel street 148 and 3/12 feet in depth. That the said defendant, the Society of Savings, holds a mortgage lien on said real estate by virtue of a certain mortgage executed to it as mortgagee by the said decedent during his life time, dated November 4, 1894, and recorded in Vol. 959, page 509, of Cuyahoga County records, that the amount recurred by said mortgage is Five Hundred Dollars, as indicated in exhibit “A,” attached to said petition. That the last half of the taxes for 1899 are unpaid and are alien on said real estate. That it would be for the best interests of the estate of the said Moses Simmons to sell said real estate at private sale for the reason that the character and location of said property leads plaintiff to believe that he could sell the same for greater sum at private sale than at public auction.

The prayer of said petition is that the plaintiff may be authorized to see said real estate to pay debts at a private sale, according to the statute in such case made and provided.

The persons first above mentioned will further take notice that they have been made parties defendant to said petition, and that they are required to answer the same on or before the 12th day of May, A.D. 1900.    CHAS. BUNDY, Administrator as aforesaid.

March 9, 1900.     ALEX. H. MARTIN, Attorney.

[Sidenote:  The biography set forth in Moses Simmons’ obituary is peculiar in many particulars. First, his age is given as 78, though his death certificate lists it as 66. (An age within 0-5 years of those reported in census records.) Most startling, however, is the elaborate account of his alleged enslavement until age 29. Richards is an uncommon name in the Mount Olive area, and none appear in the 1840, 1850 or 1860 censuses of Wayne or Duplin County. That Moses was related to the large Simmons free family of color of Wayne County does not guarantee that he, too, was free, but all evidence indicates that in fact he was. He is listed in the 1850 census as an 18 year-old living in the household of Adam Winn in North Division, Duplin County. He was the son of Itey (or Ida) Simmons, who was free at least as early as 1854, when her son David conveyed to her a life estate in the land on which she was living. (Itey named David and Moses Simmons in her 1884 will – noting that she did not know if Moses were living – as well as the Maria Thompson named in Moses’ estate notice.) His kin Polly, Eliza and Buckner Simmons arrived in Cleveland in the early 1850s. Did he come with them? Why the myth of servitude? (And, speaking of myths, what happened to the fortune he was believed to have accumulated?)

P.S. Moses Simmons appears in dozens and dozens of Cleveland newspaper articles between 1863 and his death in 1900, with topics spanning his real estate and business dealings, his political maneuverings, his horses and his legal wrangling. Highlights: in 1877, an announcement for his bailbonding business; the same year, a notice that he was seeking divorce from wife Rettie, who had abandoned him; in 1884, an announcement for the opening of his tonsorial parlor; and in 1892, a report about a fire at his livery stable. – LYH]

A memorial of sundry citizens on behalf of Britton Jones.

To the Honorable the General Assembly of North Carolina now in Session –

The undersigned memorialist respectfully represent to your honourable body that Britton Jones, a free man of colour was born and raised; and continued to reside until he was about thirty years old in Bertie County and that up to the time he left the same he sustained a good character. Your memorialists further shew that in Janry of 1829 his wife, who is a slave was carried together with his children to the State of Alabama, by her owner; and then continued until 1832 when she was brought back to the State of North Carolina – They further shew that the said Britton, in consequence, as your memorialists believe, of the removal of his wife and children; also went to the State of Alabama, and then continued until he was subjected to the provisions of an Act of Assembly prohibiting the emigration of free persons of colour. Under these circumstances your memorialists consider that it is a case of peculiar hardship and respectfully pray your honourable body to pass an act exempting said Britton Jones from the provisions of the act aforesaid – and your memorialists will ever pray &c.  /s/ Dav: Outlaw, George A. Askew, Elijah Rayner, D.W. Stone, J.S. Taylor, David Ryan, M.C. Ryan, Geo. B. Outlaw, Jos. B.G. Roulhac, J.P. Roulhac, Turner Carter, Stephen Bazmore, Thos. Spiller, S.J. Webb, Mo. Ramsey, W. Blanchard, E.A. Rhodes, John Raymond, John D. Thurston, G. W[illegible], James G. MLoon, Th. Ruffin, A.W. Mebane, Lewis Bond, Jas. P. Jones, Wm. W. Cherry, Wm. B. Forsyth.

—–

The Committee on Propositions and Greviances to which was referred the Petition of Britton Jones praying that he might be exempted from the penalty incurred by him under the act of 1826 prohibiting emigration into this state of free persons of colour having considered the subject

Report

That it appears evidence before them that the said Britton Jones a free man of colour was born and raised in County of Bertie that he resided in the said county untill he arrived to the age of thirty supporting a character for industry and honesty. That in the year 1829 he was married to a negro woman slave and by her had several children – That in the year 1829 the owner of the wife moved to the state of Alabama carrying her and children with him – that said Jones from feelings of attachment to his said wife & children followed them to Alabama.  That they remained in said state up to the year 1832 when the owner of his wife returning back to Bertie with his wife and children.  Jones returned also. .That by reason of his having resided out of the state for a longer period than one year he has lost his residence in the County of Bertie and has incurred the penalties of the act of 1826 prohibiting the emigration of free persons of colour into this state. Your Committee therefore from the peculiar hardships of this case believing it to be one which demands legislative interference respectfully report the following Bill and recommend its passage. /s/  Jos. M. Townsend, Chair.

General Assembly Session Records, 1832-1833, Box 5, North Carolina State Archives.

In the 1850 census of Windsor, Bertie County: Britton Jones, 45, drayman, with Mary Boon, 30, and Emily Boon, 6.

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.

———

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.

———

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.

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/

Overturned on a technicality.

State v. Bill Ely (1857).

Bill Ely was indicted in Beaufort County Superior Court on a charge of unlawful immigration. The indictment described him as a “free man of color.” The Court noted that Ely had come into North Carolina from Virginia in 1842. During the next two or three years, he went back to Virginia two or three times and stayed a few weeks each time, but had resided continually in Beaufort County for ten years.  Ely was found guilty and fined five hundred dollars. Because Ely was a “free negroe unable to pay the fine,” the court directed the sheriff to hire Ely out to any person willing to pay it. Ely appealed.

In a brief per curiam decision, the Supreme Court noted that Section 54 of Chapter 107 of the Revised Code made it illegal for a “free negro” (not a “free person of color”) to immigrate. Citing State v. Chavers, the Court ordered judgment arrested.

File #7301, Box 284, North Carolina Supreme Court Case Files, North Carolina State Archives.

North from North Carolina, no. 2.

In the 1830 census of Surry County: Arthur Larter listed as head of household with 4 males under 10, 2 males 10-24, 1 male 36-55, two females under 10, 1 female 10-24, and one female 24-36.

In the 1850 census of Pilot, Surry County, Arter Larter (58, farmer), wife Polly (55), with children Sally (16), Jennings (17), Sanders (13) and Parmelia (11), all mulatto.

In Owens County, Indiana, Marriage Records: Jennings Larter married Barsheba Harris, 22 Feb 1855.

In the 1860 census of  Marion, Owen County, Indiana: Jennings Larter (27, day laborer, born NC), wife Beshaba (26, b. IN), and children Leason (4), Permelia J. (2) and Mary Ann (6 mos.) In the

1860 census, Perry, Lawrence County, Indiana: Arthur Larter (67, farmer), wife Mary (63), Elizabeth (43), Sanders, Alford, John, Parmiler (28), plus E. Partridge (15).  All born in NC, save E., who was born in KY.  Next door: William Larter (36, farmer) and wife Susan (18).

Larter brothers, U.S. Colored Troops.

ImageImageJennings Larter and Alfred Larter were sons of Arthur and Mary Larter, who migrated from Surry County NC to Owen and Lawrence Counties, Indiana, in the early 1850s. The Twenty-eighth U. S. Colored Troops were recruited in Indiana. Six companies were organized at Indianapolis in April, 1864, and turned over to the United States as a battalion of the 28th U. S. Colored infantry.

Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers in the 26th through 30th Infantry Units, and the 29th Connecticut Infantry (Colored). National Archives and Records Administration.