Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Category: Miscegenation

Coal-black negroes, no. 2.

State v. William P. Watters, 25 NC 455 (1843).

This case, arising in Ashe County, was an indictment against William P. Watters for libel: “Notice. A man called Isaac Tinsley on the first day of this month in a suit wherein the State was plaintiff and myself and wife were defendants, swear a wilful lie and I can prove it. October 15th, 1841.”  In other words, Watters was charged with falsely calling Tinsley a liar. Watters pleaded not guilty and asserted the truth of his statement as a defense.

The case was rooted in Watters and Zilpha Thompson’s earlier indictment for fornication and adultery. Watters and Thompson proved that they had been married, but the State alleged that Watters was a man of color, and his marriage to a white woman was therefore void. Watters contended that he was descended from Portuguese, not Negro or Indian, ancestors. Isaac Tinsley testified for the state that he knew Watters’ mother and grandmother, and “they were coal black negroes.” Other witnesses testified that Watters’ mother was “a bright mulatto, with coarse straight hair — that her name was Elizabeth Cullom, and that she lived with a man by the name of John P. Watters, who was a white man, but of dark complexion for a white man,” who was the reputed father of William Watters. They also testified that Elizabeth Cullom’s mother, Mary Wooten, “was not as black as some negroes they had seen, and had thin lips.” Another witness stated that Wooten “was black, with thin lips and sharp features.” Watters then proposed to prove that Wooten had stated that Cullom’s father was white. This evidence was rejected by the court.  And found Watters guilty of libel.

Upon appeal to the Supreme Court, the justices confirmed that the evidence had been properly excluded as hearsay.  Further, as “the declaration of the grandmother assigns the paternity of her child to no man in particular, but only to some white man, [it] would be the loosest proof of pedigree that ever established one.”  “And, besides, it is well known that persons, of the description of this woman, have a strong bias in their minds to induce the declaration from them, and if possible, the impression on others, that their illegitimate child is the issue of a white man: if not to gratify a personal vanity in themselves, for the reason, that it removes their offspring one degree from the humbled caste in which is placed by the law,whereby he is excluded from the elective franchise, and from competency as a witness between white persons, and prohibited from intermarrying with them.”  Judgment affirmed.

In the 1850 census of Ashe County: Wm. P. Waters, 52, mulatto, wife Zilphia, 31, and children Mary, 9, Marth, 8, John, 7, Mark, 6, Louisa, 5, Granville, 3, and Henry, 1.  The race designation for Zilphia and the children was blank, which indicates the default “white.”

Criminal conversation with a negro man.

Elizabeth Walters v. Clement H. Jordan, 34 NC 170 (1851).

Elizabeth Walters petitioned for a year’s allowance out of the estate of her late husband, Hardy Walters, who died intestate. Hardy “seduced” Elizabeth and “lived in adultery” with her before marrying her.  Both were white.  After the marriage, Elizabeth “had criminal conversation with a negro man” and got pregnant. Hardy ordered her to leave his home.  She did, but, with his permission, moved into another house on his property. There she gave birth to a mulatto child.  Hardy died soon after.

“Whatever cause this woman may have given her husband for taking steps to have the marriage dissolved, and thereby protect his estate from her claims. it is sufficient for this case, that he did not such thing, but did leave her as his widow and under no bar to her claims, as such, on his property.”

He sold Betsy, well knowing she was free.

State of North Carolina  }    Superior Court of Law

Wayne County             }    Spring Term 1837

The Jurors for the State upon their oath present, that Farnifold Jernigan, late of the County of Wayne, and State of North Carolina, on the first day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty six, at and in the County aforesaid, one free negro, by the name of Betsy Dinkins, unlawfully did sell to one Robert Daniel, said Jernigan knowing the said Betsy Dinkins to be free, contrary to the form of the Statute, in such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the State.

And the Jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do further present, that Farnifold Jernigan, late of the County of Wayne, and State aforesaid, on the first day of March, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty six, at and in the county aforesaid, unlawfully, did sell one Betsy Dinkins, a person of mixed blood, to one Robert Daniel, the said Betsy Dinkins, then and there being free, and the said Farnifold Jernigan, well knowing that the said Betsy Dinkins was free, contrary to the form of the Statute, in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the State.

And the Jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do further present, that Farnifold Jernigan, late of the County of Wayne, and State aforesaid, on the first day of March, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty six, at and in the county aforesaid, unlawfully, did sell one Betsy Dinkins, a person of mixed blood, (daughter of one Sally Dinkins a white woman) to one Robert Daniel of said county, the said Farnifold Jernigan, knowing the said Betsy Dinkins to be free, contrary to the form of the Statute, in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the State.

And the Jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do further present, that Farnifold Jernigan, late of Wayne County and State aforesaid, on the first day of March, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty six, at and in the county and state aforesaid, unlawfully, did sell one Betsy Dinkins, then and there a person of mixed blood, to one Robert Daniel, for the price of fifty dollars, the said Betsy Dinkins, then and there being free, and the said Farnifold Jernigan, knowing that the said Betsy to be free, contrary to the form of the Statute, in such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the State.     /s/ Edw. Banly Solicitor

In 1834, Furnifold Jernigan and David Cole were charged in Wayne County Superior Court with taking Kilby O’Quinn from Wayne to Bladen County for “their own use.” In 1837, Jernigan was indicted for selling Betsy Dinkins. In that three-year period, Jernigan and at least four co-defendants appeared on the Wayne County docket ten times on charges of selling free negroes, but never vent to trial. Despite Jernigan’s notoriety (he had fourteen other unrelated court appearances in the same period,) the state’s solicitor in the Dinkins case was compelled to complain to the judge that “the defendant by the influence of several men of standing … has …  so many of the Court yard, in his favor, that it would be amere mockery to enter upon this trial in Wayne.” The case was ordered removed to Greene County, but never appeared on the docket there. In 1850, Jernigan, still living in Wayne, owned $5000 in farmland and 43 slaves. Minutes of the Superior Court of Wayne County, Spring Term, 1834, and Minutes of the Superior Court of Wayne County, Spring Term, 1837, Records of Wayne County, NCSA; State Docket, Superior Court of Wayne County, vol. 1, 1834-1843, Records of Wayne County, NCSA;Petition from Edward Banly to Superior Court, April 6, 1837,Box 4, Records Concerning Slaves and Free Persons of Color, Records of Wayne County, NCSA.

We are pleased with him.

Wayne County Nov 16th 1852

To the Members Comprising both houses of the legislature for the State of North Carolina 1852

We the Undersigned Say to you as our representatives that we have a Coloured person living in Goldsboro whose name is Hilary Croom Ailias Coor who was born of a woman of reputable parentage though his father was reputed to have been a Slave of Colour We know the raising of Sd Croom and his Standing now he is Now of fair Standing he is one of the best blacksmiths we have he was born and raised in our County.  When he grew to be a Man he intermarried with a girl of colour the property of one Graddy Herring.  Soon after their Covenant as man and wife sd Herring Removed to the State of Alabama this Character Croom also moved with sd Herring after remaining there some years the legislature of the State of Alabama past a law that all Colourd person which were free Should leave that State within a certain period of time during this time this Citizen Croom purchased his wife and children of Sd Herring and J.B. Herring one of the Subscribers have seen his bill of Sale which can be produced at any time.  In consequence of which the said Croom returned back to his Native State and his wife and family with proper papers from Sd Herring showing he had purchased his Wife and Children.  When he returned to our State our Legislature had pasd a law to the purpost that all Coloured person which had left this State if They returned Should leave this State or forfeit a large sum. Now we are well acquainted with this man Croom he lived by our town Goldsboro in Wayne County we are pleased with him as a blacksmith we pray that he Sustains a fair industrious character he has [blank] children whose names are Ann Charles Temperance

We the undersignd knowing that under our present laws there are many coloured persons among us of more more bass character Must and does remain with us petition to you as our representative, that you pass and act which will be attended by our friend W.H. Washington that said Hilary Croom be Sufferd to remaine  with us that his above named Children before at their arriving to the age of twenty one years and Enjoy all the rights of Citizenship of their Colour to which we the Undersigned have assigned our names the above date.  Hillory X Croom, Benajah Herring, W.C. Bryan, Wm. Smith, L. Cogdell, Wm. Thompson.

The 1850 census of the South Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County, shows Hillery Croom, 41, blacksmith, with children Annie, 14, Charles, 13, Tempy, 10, and John, 9.  All were described as mulatto.  The 1850 slave schedule shows that Hillery owned two slaves, a 55 year-old woman and a 32 year-old man.

No cards, dice or fornication.

State of North Carolina    This indenture Witnesseth that Edward Upton & Jane his wife of the County of Caswell hath put her son William Long a Mulato and by these presents doth Voluntary and of their own Accord and free will put him an apprentice to Samuel Brackin of the same County his Heirs and Assigns forever, to learn his Trade or Mistery and after the Manner of an Apprentice to Juse him from the day of the date Hereof untill he arives to the age of Twenty one years. During all which time the said apprentice his said Master faithfully shall Serve his Secrets keep his lawfull command & every whim obey, he Shall do no Damage to his said Master, nor See it be done by Others without letting or giving notice thereof to his said Master. He Shall not waste the said Masters goods, nor lend them Unlawfully to any, he shall not Commit Fornication nor contract Matrimony during the said time, at Cards, dice or any other unlawfull games he shall not play whereby his master may be Damaged with his own goods nor the goods of Others during the said time without licence from his said Master He shall not absent himself day nor night might from his said Masters Service without his leave nor haunt Ale houses, taverns or play houses but in all things behave himself as a faithfull apprentice ought to during the said time.  And the said Master shall use the Utmost  of his Endeavours to teach or cause to be taught or Instructed the said Apprentice in the Trade of Mistery he now Followeth, and Procure or Provide for him Suficient Meat Drink Appearl and Washing fitting for an apprentice during the said time – And for the due Performance of all and every the said Covenants and agreements Either of the said Parties bind themselves unto the Other by these Presents, In Witness whereof They have interchangably Put their hands & seals this Second day of August Ano Dom 1783 and in the Eighth year of American Independence.   Edwd X Upton  Jane X Upton

N.B. The above mentioned child was Born August 1st 1781.

Witness Thomas Brookes Thomas Rice

Memorandum that I the within named Saml. Brackin is to Give the within bound William Long one years Schooling and at the Expiration of his time Two Suits of Cloaths one ax one Mattock, Witness & date as within           Saml. Brackin

Test – Thomas Brookes  Thos. Rice

August Term, 1783, Minutes of Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Caswell County, North Carolina State Archives.

In an entire manner contrary to the law.

State of North Carolina    }     Court of Pleas &

Wayne County                    }      Quarter Sessions       May Term 1833

The jurors for the State on their oaths present that on the eight of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty three a certain woman named Darcis Darden late of the County aforesaid with force and arms at and in the County of Wayne aforesaid did take into the house wherein the said Darcis lived and lain one free Fellow of colour named Ellic James a Sawyer by trade  they the said Ellic and Darcis not being legally married together and then the Said Ellis and Darcis had one or more children without Seperation in an entire manner Contrary to the Act of the General Assembly in Such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the State

And the jurors aforesaid and do further present that the Said Ellic and Darcis aforesaid on the time aforesaid (to wit) on the eight of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty three and on [illegible] days and times both before and since at and in the County of Wayne aforesaid with force and arms did bed and cohabit together as man and wife they the said Ellic and Darcis not being lawfully married together Contrary to the Act if the General Assembly in Such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the State

W Farmer County Attorney

Children born to free mulatress.

These are names of slaves born to free mulatress ages of the children of Eliza Hall

William Henry Hall was born Feb the 11th 1844

Patrick Hall was born October the 6th 1845

Margaret Ann Hall was born Feb the 12th 1847

Louiser Hall was born April the 9th 1849

Balam Hall was born Feb 7th 1851

These entries (the first sentence in a different hand) were inscribed in the Bible of Lewis Ellis (1794-1854) of Wilson County.  Ellis’ good friend, James Bullock Woodard (1793-1863), was the father of Eliza Hall’s five children.  (Who were, of course, as free as their mother.)  The 1850 census of Edgecombe County lists Eliza Hall, age 26, with her children Wm. (6), Patrick (4), Martha [sic] (3), and “girl” (1).  In 1860, they are in Saratoga district, Wilson County.  The Bible remains in the Ellis family.  

Adultery and fornication.

State v. Joel Fore and Susan Chestnut, __ NC __ (1841)

Joel Fore of Lenoir County, a free man of color, and Susan Chesnut, a white woman, lived together and had one or more children, and the inartful pleading of their indictment would not defeat a finding that marriages between such persons were null and void under the Act of 1838, and subsequent cohabitation between them was adultery and fornication.

Joseph [sic] Fore married Susan Chestnut on 13 January 1840 in Craven County. (See marriage records of that county.)  The 1840 census of Lenoir County shows Joel Fore as the head of household that included one white female aged 30-40, one colored male aged 24-36, and 5 slaves.  By 1860, the family had moved to Moore County, where Joel, “Susa” and their children Tootle, Elizabeth, Nancy, Anna J., Hardey, Henry and Sarah, aged 1-20, are described as white.  In 1870, Joel and Susan Fore and their children are listed in Greenwood township, Moore County.  Joel and children Augustus and Henry are classified as mulatto.  Susan and the remaining children as white.

Jacob Ing’s children.

In the name of God I Jacob Ing of the County of Nash and State of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory do this 8th day of April A.D. Eighteen Hundred and Sixty Seven, make this my last Will and Testament as follows (viz)

I will and direct that my Executor hereinafter named Sell my real and perishable Estate either private or publick at his discretion, and the proceed therefrom together with all species of Property of every discription be disposed of as follows (to wit)

I give and bequeath to Mary Reynolds, wife of Benjamin Reynolds, Elizabeth Boon wife of Jesse Boon, Selah White, wife of James White, Sally Reynolds, wife of William H. Reynolds, William C. Jones, Matthew Jones, also old Chaney Freed woman (formally my house servant) also Lucinda Artist (dead) to her Children if any surviving (all colored) to be Equally divided in Nine parts, and distributed as above directed.  In case any of the above named persons dies before the execution of this will, leaving Children, in that event their child or children will take the parents intended shear to them and their heirs for ever. (carried forward)

I do hereby nominate and appoint my friend Jesse H. Drake the sale executor of this my last will and Testament ratifying this and no other to be my last.  In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written.

Jacob Ing

April 30th 1869.  I Jacob Ing of the County of Edgecombe and State of North Carolina do make this my Codicial to my last will and Testament, bearing date the 8th day of April 1867.  I will and direct that said will be so amended that altered that the said old woman Chaney therein provided for I loan her the lot and improvements whereon I now live (in Battleboro) during her natural life and at her death the same be sold and proceeds Equally divided amongst the surviving Legatees there mentioned.  In Testimony whereof I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal the day and date above written.

Jacob Ing

Easter Jones, also known as Hester, was the mother of Jacob Ing’s children.  The family appear together in the 1850 census of Nash County: Jacob Ing (64, white, farmer) and Easter Jones (55), John Jones (20) (and his wife Dolly, 21), Matthew Jones (18) and Lucy Jones (16), all mulatto.  

Lucinda “Lucy” Jones married Adam T. Artist on 10 October 1855 in Nash County.  Their children Noah, Mary Jane and Augustus Kerney Artis inherited her share of her father’s estate.

Wills, Nash County Records, North Carolina State Archives; Estates Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives; Marriage Records, Register of Deeds, Wayne County Courthouse, Goldsboro NC; 1850 federal census schedule.

An earlier post shows Ing’s application for a marriage license for his daughter Elizabeth and Jesse Boon.

Valid or void?

State v. Alfred Hooper & Elizabeth Suttles, 27 NC 201 (1844).

Alfred Hooper, a free man of color, and Elizabeth Suttles, a white woman, were tried in May, 1842, in Rutherford County on an indictment for adultery.  Their defense?  That they were married.  A jury found that the couple had lived together as man and wife for ten years prior to the indictment and referred to the court the question of whether that marriage was valid or void.  (If valid, they were innocent of adultery.  If not, guilty.)  The court held that, as the marriage took place prior to Act of 1838, chapter 24, which barred marriages between colored and white people.  Hooper and Suttles’ marriage was valid.  On appeal, the State Supreme Court pointed out the 1830 statute that also made it unlawful for a free negro to marry a white person.  Because Hooper and Suttles’ marriage took place while the 1830 statute was in force and, accordingly, was invalid.  And they were adjudged adulterers.

Judgment notwithstanding, the 1850 federal census of Montfords Cove, Rutherford County, lists Alfred Hooper (age 54), wife Elizabeth (36) and their children Toliver (18), Henry (17), Charity (14), Eliza (12), Mahala (10), Martha (8), Amanda (6) and Mary (4).