Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Category: Skilled Trades

The new firm.

NOTICE.

The Subscriber having associated himself in business with his son Matthew, the business will hereafter be conducted under the name and style of M.N. Leary & Son.

The undersigned, thankful for the liberal patronage hitherto extended to him, respectfully solicits a continuation of the same in behalf of the new Firm.

All those indebted to the undersigned, either by debt or account, are earnestly requested to settle the same as early as possible.  M.N. LEARY, Fayetteville, June 2, 1852.

Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, 22 July 1852.

Negro candidates, their pedigrees and general character.

NEGRO CANDIDATES.

We requested our friends, a few days ago, to send us, from all parts of the State, the names of negro candidates in the State for the several offices, their pedigrees and general character. These statements begin to come in. A friend in Fayetteville sends us the following:

“NEGRO CANDIDATES IN CUMBERLAND: For House of Representatives, Isham Swett, free mulatto of old issue; Barber by trade; went with 1st Regt. N.C. Vols. (Confederate) in the capacity of a servant.

John Leary – free mulatto, old issue; Saddler by trade. His father, also free mulatto, formerly owned slaves and sold them. One of his brothers was in the raid with John Brown and was killed at Harper’s Ferry.”

If our friends will comply with our request as above, we shall have an interesting chapter of the practical working and character of Radicalism.

Semi-Weekly Raleigh Sentinel, 18 April 1868.

 

I received no bounty.

 

Wm Conner

 

In the 1850 census of Greene County, Lemmon Lyntch, 32 year-old white farmer, and William Conner, 18 year-old mulatto. William was likely an apprentice.

In the 1860 census of Hookerton, Greene County, William Conner, 28, and Argent Conner, 50, both mulatto. 

2 Cav. U.S.C.T. William Conner. Co. A, 2 Reg’t. U.S.C.T. Cav. appears on Company Descriptive Book of the organization named above. Description: age, 33 years; height, 5 feet 8 inches; complexion, tawny; eyes, dark; hair, black; where born, Green County, NC. Enlistment: when, 22 Dec 1863; where, Newberne; by whom: Capt. Hourd; term, 3 years. Remarks: Promoted to Company Farrior 1 Nov 1864.

——

Image of letter to Freedmen’s Bureau supplied by Conner’s descendant, Trisha Blount Hewitt, whom I thank for bringing Conner to my attention. [Sidenote: According to Hewitt, Conner initially served as a “laundress” in Co. A, 3rd N.C. Infantry, Confederate Army.]

She has actually performed some surprising cures.

To the worshipfull Court of Perquimans

we the Subscribers pray your worships that Negro Phillises freedom may be Established for Merritorious Services by the Court

She first being Purchased by her Husband Doctor Tom & actually paid for also being verry Serviceable in the neighbourhood both as a Midwife and Doctress & has acktually Performed Some Surpriseing Cures, & we your Petitioners as in Dutty Bound Shall Ever pray Feb’ry 1797

/s/ Fra’s Newby, Jas. Summer, Robert Whedbee, Joab Kinyon, John Miller, William Barclift, Joseph Perisher, Seth Whidbee, Sam’l Whidbee, Geo. Sutton, Tho’s Whedbee, Wm. Whidbee.

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

He releases the brute creation from many complaints.

To the worshipfull Court of the County of Perq’s Now Siting Greeting &c.

Whereas I have a Certain Negro Man named Francis which Nergroe I purchased about five years past Since which Time he hath demeaned himself as a faithfull Servant and hath from his Infancy been of an orderly life his knowledge & skil in Releasing the Brute Creation from Many Complaints which they are Insident to and his readiness to Serve the Citisens of his Neighbourhood ll taken in Veiw I consider Maritorious and Therefore Implore your attention to this particular case – beleiving that you will consider him worthy of that right which the Laws of out State allow in certain cases (which is Liberation. – firmly beleiving that If he should meet with your Sanction in this case that he would be of material Servise in the Neighbourhod. I am desirous that you in your good wisdom may emancipate him the said Francis & that his name may be caled Francis N. Bundy and as in duty Bound Your Petitioner wil pray &c. May 13th 1806 /s/ Benjamin Bundy

We the Subscribers being wel acquainted with the within named Frank do believe that it would be Great Justice for him to be emancipated as he is a Servisable Negroe in the Neighbourhood who answers the description within mentioned.  /s/ Pha’s Nixon, Josiah Robinson, Thomas Church, Samuel Weekes Jr., Enoch Newby, Charles Overman, John Overman, Josiah Muncey

The above Petition is Granted by the Court.  /s/ Ch’s W. Blount

Slave Records, Perquimans County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

For fear of cholera, a drain is contracted.

In March 1873, the Messick pond was ordered surveyed and drained in the general cleaning up made in fear of the appearance of cholera. The contract for building a sewer or drain, with twelve-inch hard clay pipe, was awarded to Jennings Larter for twenty-nine cents a cubic yard.  

From History of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana, B.F. Bowen & Co.

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]

The poor fellow is an orderly and honest seaman.

To the Worshipfull the Justices of Perq’s County Court Now Siting

The Petition of the Subscribers in Behalf of a Certain Negro Man Named James formerly the Property of Thomas Newby of the County Aforesaid Humbly Sheweth That some time in the Year 1776 the said Thomas Newby Manumited the said Negro Man James, that since that the Greater Part of his time he has been Employed as a Seaman, and has made Several Voyages from this State & Virginia in the time of the Last War, and that he has Twice, or more been made Prisoner by the British, That he Embraced the Earliest Opportunity in Making his Escape to Return to this Country being the place of his Nativity, where he has a Wife & Children, That once during the War between America & Great Britain he Entered himself onboard of one of the American armed Vessels, That during the Time of his Servitude with his said Master, he behaved himself as a faithfull Servant, and Rendered his Master great Services as a Seaman, and that since his freedom we have reasons to Believe he has Continued to behave Orderly and Honest. We are therefore willing to hope that on your Worships Maturely considering and Weighing every particular, you will be of opinion that the Poor fellow is Intitled to some small share of Merrit, If that should be your worships Opinion. We earnestly Solicit (in the poor fellow behalf) that you Will permit an Entry to be made on the Minutes of your Court allowing the Fellow to have done Something Meritorious, and for that Reason you will give a Sanction to his freedom, that he may with Safety Visit his Wife and Children, when It will be in his Power to Render further Services to this State, as an able Seaman, & Your Petitioners Shall ever pray &c   /s/ Thos. Newby [and nine others]

[Granted.]

Slave Records, Perquimans County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

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/

An apprentice to the house carpenter’s trade.

“Samuel Lemly (ca. 1790-1848) was a master carpenter, contractor, and planter in Rowan County, North Carolina who was responsible for several building projects in the western piedmont including a major bridge over the South Yadkin River (1825) and the first eight buildings at Davidson College (1836-1838). His career as a master builder in North Carolina covered the period from the 1810s through the 1830s, after which he moved to Mississippi, where he died and was buried in Jackson.

“Records suggest that Lemly was at his most active as a carpenter and builder in the 1820s. In August 1819 he took William Kent, a free Negro, as apprentice to the house carpenter’s trade, and during the 1820s he apprenticed six other youths: Alfred Huie (August 1822); Anderson Cowan (July 1823); Samuel Kent, a free Negro (February 1824); David Fraley (May 1824); Jeremiah Brown (November 1825); and Joseph Hampton (November 1827). …”

As published in North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary,  http://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu  (All rights retained.) This web site is a growing reference work that contains brief biographical accounts, building lists, and bibliographical information about architects, builders, and other artisans who planned and built North Carolina’s architecture.