Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Category: Southern Claims

He was in for the right thing.

Charles Wynn filed claim #9340 with the Southern Claims Commission. On 1 July 1872, he testified: “I am fifty-five years of age, reside in Wayne County, North Carolina …. I resided during the war in Wayne County, North Carolina, on my own land. It contained about 230 acres, 100 of which was under cultivation.” Tony Roberts, age 40, colored, testified that he lived about a quarter of a mile from Wynn during the war and saw him often. Roberts said Wynn “believed the Union army would succeed, that he thought its cause wasa right, and he was in for the right thing. He said that secession would ruin the country, and he thought its cause was right, and he was in for the right thing.” William H. Thompson, age 28, colored, swore that he had known Wynn for 24 years and saw him every four months or so during the war. He said Wynn “hoped that the Union army would be successful, put down the rebellion and do away with slavery” and revealed that the Confederate government occasionally pressed Wynn’s wagons and drivers into service to haul its goods. (Confederate archives revealed two vouchers for hauling arms from Fayetteville to Raleigh, dated in 1862, and signed by others on behalf of Wynn.)

In December 1898, a special attorney rejected the claims of Wynn’s estate: “We do not care to review the testimony in the case. If the testimony were offered in behalf of a white man under the same circumstances, it would scarcely be sufficient to prove loyalty. But in view of the fact that the claimant was a colored man, his loyalty must be largely presumed from his natural sympathies with those of his own color and those who were fighting, as the colored man believed, in his behalf.”

Better late ….


The Items were Contained in the Measure Reported to the Senate Yesterday.


By Parker R. Anderson.

Washington, March 20. – The following North Carolina items were carried in the civil war claims bill which was reported to the senate: …Hardy A. Brewington, administrator of the estate of Raiford Brewington, deceased, late of Sampson County, $530 …

Greensboro Daily News, 21 March 1914.

He was ignorant of his right.

59th CONGRESS, 1st Session}  SENATE. {DOCUMENT No. 471.

[Court of Claims. Congressional, No. 11397. Hardy A. Brewington, administrator of the estate of Raiford Brewington, deceased, v. The United States.]


Senate Bill 4292, reading as follows, was introduced on February 10, 1904, and was referred to this court on April 28, 1904, by resolution of the Senate for findings of fact under the terms of section 14 of the act approved March 3, 1887, and commonly known as the Tucker Act.


  1. Claimant’s decedent, Raiford Brewington, was a free colored man, residing during the late civil war in Sampson County, N.C., and throughout said war he remained loyal to the United States Government.
  2. During said war the United States military forces, under proper authority, took from claimant’s decedent, in Sampson County, N.C., for the use of the Army, quartermaster stores and commissary supplies of the kinds described in the petition, which at the time and place of taking were reasonably worth the sum of five hundred and thirty dollars ($530.) No payment appears to have been made for said property of any part thereof.
  3. It appears from the evidence that claimants decedent was a colored man, who was ignorant of his right to present a claim to the Claims Commission established by the act approved March 3, 1871, during the two years allowed by law for filing of claims before said Commission. There was no other opportunity for presentation of this claim save by petition to Congress. These facts are reported as bearing upon the question  of whether there has been delay or laches in the presentation of said claim.    By the Court.

Filed May 14, 1906.

A true copy: Test this 32st day of May, 1906 [seal.]      John Randolph, Assistant Clerk Court of Claims

United States Congressional Serial Set, Issue 4916, p. 41.

They took a mule.

John Chavers filed claim #17736 with the Southern Claims Commission.  Chavers, age 72, a farmer, lived in Richmond County near Rockingham.  He was born in Brunswick County. The Union took a mule, corn, bacon and tobacco from him in 1865.

Harrett Jacobs, age about 30, corroborated the theft of Chavers’ property.

Allowed: $145.00.

A guide for scouting parties of Union troops.

Willis M. Lewis filed claim #11536 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was a farmer and resided on Trent Road in Craven County about three miles from New Bern.  “I frequently acted as a guide for scouting parties of United States troops, often aided and cared for sick and wounded soldiers.” Troops took his mare, hogs and corn and cut down pine trees for lumber to build barracks.  The 12th N.Y. Cavalry were encamped about ¾ mile from his place, and the 8th Connecticut were within 1 ½ miles. “I am a colored man, was free born, this property was my own.  The land from which the timber was cut I inherited from my father, the other property I purchased with moneys of my own.”

Calvin Bryan, age 34, testified to Lewis’ loyalty, confirming that Lewis had cared for sick Union soldiers and had guided scouting parties. He averred that Lewis “often said that he would go north if [the Confederacy] succeeded, he would not stay.” He witnessed Lewis’ property being hauled off to Camp Palmer.

In the 1860 census of Richardsons, Craven County: Willis Lewis, 74, farmer, with Sidney, 30, Willis, 22, Frederick, 8, Edward, 5, and Robinson Lewis, 4; plus James A. Morgan, 14; Frances Williams, 24; and Charles Sampson, 5.

I was born free but a colored man.

George Clark filed claim #2708 with the Southern Claims Commission.  Born in Guilford County, he was 61 years old and had lived six miles east of Lexington in Davidson County for 40 years.  He was a blacksmith. During the war, he piloted part of Stoneman’s command from his house in Davidson County to Salem in Forsyth County and fed union soldiers who had escaped from Salisbury prison.  “I had to leave my home and stay in the woods after I went to Salem with Gen’l Stonemans troops to show them the way.  I also had to move all my tools out of the shop because I was a Union man.”  Confederate soldiers took some of his tools and two of his horses. He believed that his brother Josiah Clark, who lived in Ohio, joined the Union army.  “I was born free but a colored man.”

Philip Ball testified to Clark’s loyalty and asserted that he and Clark “belonged to the Heroes of America.”

W.F. Henderson testified that “on the 10th day of April 1865 General Stonemans Army passed my house where I then lived six miles East of Lexington going towards the N.C. R. Road for the purpose of Destroying the Bridge across Abbots Creek (so They said) and they had with them the two Horses, the property of George Clark.  One sorrel  mare and one Gray mare.” “The claimant is a colored man which I have known for 30 years and is a unmistakable a Loyal Man and allywas has been and a poor man with a large family to support.”

Allowed: $200.00.

In the 1860 census of Northern Division, Davidson County: George Clark, 47, blacksmith; wife Elizabeth, 37; and children Marian, 20, Benjamin, 18, Jane, 12, Barbara, 8, Samuel, 6, Eli, 4, Lucinda, 2, and Obediah, 3.

The Confederates tried to get me again, but I dodged them.

Hugh Cale filed claim #12668 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 33 years old, resided in Elizabeth City, and engaged in trading. From 1861 to December 1862, he lived in Edenton.  He then moved to Plymouth until 1864.  He then “went in the United States service on board Steamer Massaint [Massasoit] a transport remained on her for five months. I then shipped on Steamer Pilot Boy still in the service of the United States and remained on her until after the close of the war.”

“I was taken in the Spring of 1861 & carried to Beatom Iland [Beacon Island] near Ocracoat-bar [Ocracoke] N.C. and was made to work on the fortifications for the Confederate Government against my will for I was a man of color. Was kept there two weeks and was then carried to Hatrass [Hatteras] to work on fortifications & was then kept there three months & three days.  We were then sent home, & remained home until the fall of Hatrass. I was then taken and put on board of the Schuner Cinaline and remained on her till the Capture of Roanoke Iland. I then went home the Confederate troops tried to get me again. I doged them.”  He “did all I could to get other collered people to leave home and to go the places held by the United States Authorities.”  “In 1862 I was arrested up the Chowan River as a spie for the United States. I was kept about five weeks under arrest and was not released until the Union troops took Winton.”  “The Confederate troops wanted me to go to Norfolk Va and get goods for them. I told them I couldnot do that. They said if I did not do it that I should not stay at Home. I faild to do it then Confederate soldiers came to my House & beat me so I was laid up for some time.” “After I became free I worked at the Masons trade. I made money after I went in [illegible] lines at Plymouth and paid for the property with it. Except the boat which I owned before the war. I never had a master.” Union soldiers took lumber, goods and a sail boat from him.

Cale worked as merchant from 1862 to 1864.  While absent, his clerk, Sam Skinner, conducted business for him.  After they captured Plymouth, United States authorities took such merchandise from Cale as butter, flour, tobacco, bacon, apples.

John Block estimated that Cale’s 26-foot boat, in good shape with sails and fixtures, was worth two hundred dollars.

Allowed: $602.50.

Report of the Secretary of War, Vol. I, 1865, “No. 20. List of vessels in service of Quartermaster’s department supplying General Sherman’s army” lists both the Massasoit and Pilot Boy.

Hugh Cale died July 22, 1910, in Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County.  He was about 75 years old.  His death certificate lists his occupation as merchant.

Like all his race, a true union man.

James C. Skinner, Administrator, filed claim #477 on behalf of the estate of Isaac Towlson.  Skinner, age 62, lived in Hertford, Perquimans County.  Elizabeth Towlson, age 62, widow, testified that she lived near Woodville, Perquimans County.  Her husband died in December 1867 and left four children, all born free before the war.  She stated that in July 1864, United States cavalry soldiers took a horse and saddle from her husband.  “My husband was like all his race a true union man.”

Allowed: $140.00.

God’s will for the colored race.

Nancy Brewer filed claim #11545 with the Southern Claims Commission.  She was about 50 years old,  lived in Chapel Hill, Orange County, and kept house for her husband during the war.  Her husband was arrested during the war “to work on embankments at Fort Macon, I think, but Mr. J.W. Carr interfered and informed them that he was my property, I having bought him a few years before the war.”  Her husband belonged to the Union League of America and was appointed a magistrate after the War.

The Brewers rented land to work on shares from Mr. Weaver and others about one mile from town.  Nancy Brewer owned a house and lot in Chapel Hill. “I gave about four hundred dollars for it before the Surrender.  I paid for it in gold & silver some old Bank money and some Confederate money.”  Federal soldiers took a pile of lumber — about a thousand board feet — with which her husband had intended to build a stable.  They also took a horse (a sorrel named Henry) and some bacon. “I asked them please not to take my horse, that it was all our dependence to make a crop.” (Confederate soldiers took some leather from her husband’s shoe shop.)

Nancy Brewer testified: “At the beginning of the war I felt troubled about it. I know my husband did not do anything to favor bringing it on, nor after it was brought on. Of course, he wanted the North to whip the South that was the way he talked and I agreed with him. I believed it was God’s will for it to become as it is now. If it was God’s will for the colored race to be free let it be so. And if not I was willing to submit to his will. I knew we were all in his hands. I believe God brought it out as it is, and I know he will do right.”

Nancy Stroud lived in Chapel Hill, Orange County.  She did not know her age, but “I reckon I am away yonder in fifty.”  She worked as a washerwoman and had been living with Nancy Brewer for two weeks when the “Yankee Soldiers” came to Chapel Hill around the time “corn was coming up.”  She saw two “pure Yankees” that she believed were from the Ninth Ohio bridle Brewer’s horse and lead him away.  She also saw them take three “big large hams”.  She was afraid of the soldiers because they said “if Johnson did not surrender in a few days they would show me the devil and I did not want to see him.” She was no judge of horses, but estimated that Brewer’s was worth about $100.  The soldiers also took the planking from Brewer’s fence. “I think the property was taken for the use of the Army, but to come to the truth of it, I just believe the Devil made them do it.”  She never heard Brewer or her husband talk about the war as “It would not do for colored people to talk here. ‘A still tongue made a wise head.’”

Thomas M. Kirkland, a merchant, testified that he knew Brewer’s husband, Green Brewer, who had been dead about two years next August.  “I was not intimate with colored people during the war as to be acquainted with his sentiments…,” but believed him to be loyal. “I am in no wise related to claimant he being a colored man and I a white man.”

The Commissioners remarked: “The claimant is a colored woman & a widow, her husband having died since the war.  He was formerly a slave, but she had bought him & he belonged to her! – or rather was free during the war.  He was a rather superior colored man.  After the war Gov. Holden appointed him Magistrate. The property belonged to her, & it was taken by our soldiers about the 1st April ’65 & taken to camp, the lumber for barracks.”

Allowed: $130.00

When the Confederates sent him off, he sold me the horse.

Jacob Cherry, age 52, a farmer, filed claim #20118 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He resided at Beaufort County.  “I was a slave before the War. I belonged to Wm. Cherry.” During the war, he lived on the lands of Mr. Benjamin Brown and cultivated a farm there.  “… I had a brother in the union army by name Alfred Gorham he resides in Brunswick Co N.C., he joined the union army in 1862.” “I felt if [the Union] cause succeeded that I should be free and that it would be to my benefit.” “I was a slave at the beginning of the war.  I became free after the War. … I hired my time from my owner, and paid my hire, and saved money bought my horse.”  Cherry bought the horse in January 1865, and Union soldiers took it the next month.  He was plowing a field that he had rented from Benjaim Brown when Captain Graham’s cavalry company came to Greenville from New Bern on a raid, taking all the horses they could find.  Cherry told Captain Graham that the horse belonged to him, and the captain said, “That might be but so many colored people were claiming their owners horses that he could not tell whether they belonged to them or their owners.”  Cherry described the horse as a young bay mare with foal, “fat and in good condition, quick, a good buggy horse and a good plough horse.”  “I bought her from a free colored man who worked at the farm of Widow Parker. This colored man was impressed by the confederates to work on the breastworks and died there. His wife belonged to Mrs. Parker and when he was sent off he sold me the horse for which I paid $300.00.” The free man’s name was Wiley Taylor.

John Bartlett Sr., age 54, who resided in Washington, North Carolina, and worked as a cooper, confirmed that Cherry had bought the horse from a free man of color whose wife lived at Martha Parker’s and who was taken by Confederates to work at fortifications at Bald Head. Bartlett was working at the Confederate commissary in Greenville when he saw Cherry ride by with a federal cavalryman.  Cherry rode bareback with a plow line for a bridle.  “Jacob Cherry … was a hard working man and of excellent character. He started a very good crop but after the taking of his horse, he lost it.” Bartlett was free-born and lived within a mile of Cherry.

John Bartlett Jr., age 24, day laborer, also testified about Graham’s confiscation of horses in and around Greenville.

Claim approved: $150.00.