Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Category: Southern Claims

At the risk of my life if it had been known.

Raleigh Seaberry filed claim #10453 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 54 years old and free-born.

He lived in “Carvers Creek Township Cumberland County NC 3 miles from Little River Academy “ and had lived there 13 years. “Before that time I lived about 5 miles from the place I now live at keeping Smith fery on Cape Fear River my occupation was farming and keeping the fery.” He was born in Wayne County 6 miles from Goldsboro.  During the war, he lived at “Averysboro Harnett County NC Coopering and Farming. I continue to farm and cooper for 2 years after that I farmed and kept the fery. I changed my residence 3 times during the war I first move from Averysboro to Dr. Turners about 9 miles from Smiths Ferry I remained at Dr Turners one year from there to Wm Dows about 19 miles from Smiths Ferry.  I remain 2 years at Dows from Dows back to Averysboro remained there 1 year and from there to Smith Ferry where I remained to the close of the war. I move from place to place as I could rent Land to the best advantage not having any of my own.”

He was “on the Side of the Union from the beginning to the end.”  “I put some 5 or 6 union Soldiers cross the Ferry at Diferent times at nights at the risk of my life if it had been know. I also fed them they told me that they were Deserters from Confederate Prisons. … They were al white and related [to] me.” “I was at altimes rejoice at the Victorys of the union armys and especially so at the final surrender of the confederate forces.”  I was under “very strict orders not to put any union soldiers cross the River while at the Ferry. If should or so I was told that I would be shot.”

“I was order out in the spring of 1863 to meet at Lilington Harnett County NC as I suppose to work on Brest works. I went to Goldsboro and got my free papers and went to Lillington. I was over the age require and I was let off.”

Sherman’s soldiers took his corn, bacon, hogs, a horse, chickens, turkeys, blankets and tobacco.

Evens Chance, aged about 80, resident of Harnett County, testified that he had known Seaberry about 40 years. “I have no doubt of the Claimants Loyalty to the United States, as I never knew or heard of a col’d man during the war that was not in favour of the  United States Government.” “I never heard of a col’d man that was regarded by col’d people any thing but a union loving man.”

William McDougald, near 60 years old, resident of Carvers Creek township, Cumberland County, testified that he lived and worked with Seaberry about 18 months to two years during the war. McDougald worked as a farmer and turpentine distiller.

James M. Seaberry, age 29, lived with his father Raleigh Seaberry. He was present when soldiers took his father’s property.

Smithy J. McNeill, age 24, resided in Little River three or four miles from Little River Academy.  She was married about 7 years prior to her affidavit. Raleigh Seaberry was her father.

In the 1850 census, Eastern Division, Cumberland County, Raleigh Sedberry, 26, mulatto, farmer, wife Emeline, 22, and  children James M., 1, and Sarah E., 1 month.

More theft near Fayetteville.

Willie Millinder filed claim #10955 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He lived and farmed about 17 miles north of Fayetteville.  He was 59 and was born free in Lenoir County.  Soldiers camped about a mile from his home took his property.  He complained to three men wearing swords, but they did nothing.

One witness to Millinder’s loyalty, John Easom, testified that he himself had been a Confederate soldier but had deserted in 1864 and converted his sympathies to the union cause.

They commenced to taking everything.

Abel Payne, age 77, filed claim #21703 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He lived in Fayetteville and worked as a builder.  He rented and operated a grist mill for three months just before and at the start of the war and did not know whether he ground any corn for Confederates.  He was arrested by an officer at the Confederate arsenal one time, but released because of his age.

“I was born a slave.  I bought myself and family and was emancipated by the Legislature of North Carolina in 1837 I think it was.”

On 11 March 1865, a group of union soldiers came to his house, took his horse from the stable on his lot, “then commenced to taking” everything else within an hour.  “Took all my good cloths and my watch, after all my property and while my house was full of soldiers an officer rode by I went to him told him that the soldiers had taken everything that I had, he put a Guard at my house, the Guard cleared the premises.”

Peter Harmon, 52, was a gardener.  He was employed by Payne as a drayman.  He drove Payne’s horse, a small sorrel about 7 or 8 years old, the night before the soldiers came and put it in the stable.  He went to Payne’s house hoping he could get some provisions and found that the soldiers had taken all.

Martha Payne, 77, was Abel Payne’s wife. She witnessed the soldiers take his property.  They asked for the keys to trunks “which was given to them or rather the trunks was opened for them.” They broke into the stable and rode off on the horse.

Mary Payne, 32, was Abel Payne’s daughter.

John Stewart, 40, brickmason, and Alexander Murphy, 45, carpenter, testified to Payne’s loyalty. Murphy worked for during the war. Murphy testified that Capt. James M. Williams threatened to send Payne to work at the breastworks “because he did not please him in some work he was doing for him. I never knew him to contribute anything in any way to aid the Confederate govt. or its officers or soldiers except to make hay presses for Capt. Williams which I suppose was for the Confederate or state government.”

In the 1860 census of Fayetteville, Cumberland County: Abel Payne, 64, carpenter, wife Martha, 65, seamstress, and daughters Jane, 31, Mary, 21, and Martha, 19.

All I have to make a living.

Nicholas Brown filed claim #17581 with the Southern Claims Commission. Brown was 34 years old and worked as a wagon maker in Fayetteville. He was “at Fayetteville NC up to March 1865. When Genl. Sherman’s army came I left here with a part of the army went to Wilmington NC.  From there I went to Washington City in a Government Steamer remained there about 2 months and returned home about the middle of June 1865.  My place of residence was about 2 miles from Town. I bought the land before I was of age and took the deed in my mother’s name in order to secure her a home.”  The place was about 12 ½ acres, and he farmed as much as he could. He was conscripted in 1864 and put to work making wagons at the Confederate states arsenal.  Before that, he “was at work with the man [John W. Welsh] that I served my apprenticeship with.  He made wagons for the confederate government which I worked on being in his employment.”

All his property was taken on 11 March 1865 at 10 or 11 in the morning.  Soldiers came to his house at several intervals to take the horse, some fodder and shucks. Witnesses included his mother; his brothers “Laurance”, Washington and Benjamin; and his father, now deceased.

Lawrence Brown, bootmaker, was Nicholas Brown’s brother.  When the soldiers came, “my Father and I was in Fayetteville with my brothers horse and cart hauling corn from the River, corn that my Brother had bought in Bladen County and brought up on the steam boat.  The officer said, “Old man I must have this horse and cart. We have some things to haul.” My father said, “If you take this horse you will take all I have to make a living.” The officer said he could not help that and took it all.  Lawrence then went to his brother’s place about two miles north of Fayetteville and saw the yard full of soldiers taking his property.

George W. Brown, another brother, age 26 and a laborer, testified that he also witnessed the depredation, as did their mother and sisters Mariah, Mary Eliza and Wm. Ann.

Edinboro Scurlock, 45, of Fayetteville, also a wagonmaker, testified that he worked in a shop with Nicholas.  “He always talked in favour of the United States Government said the Southern people brought on the war because they were afraid that their slaves would be freed at some day.”

John W. Welsh, 54, blacksmith, testified that he had known Brown since 1858.  “He has been in my employment nearly all the time since 1858 he finished his apprenticeship with me he worked in my wood shop at wagon making.” “I had no conversation with him about the war he was but a boy at work in my shop.”

The Commissioner of Claims noted that Brown’s father was a slave and his mother free, “so he was free born.”

As free as colored men were allowed to be in this.

Lewis Bowen filed claim #8093 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He rented a place in Flea Hill township, Cumberland County.  He complained to a quartermaster that soldiers had taken everything he had.  The quartermaster replied, “Never mind old man you will get pay for it some time. We are oblige to forage on your country. We have no supplies.”  Soldiers from — he was told — an Ohio regiment, took his bacon, lard, corn, flour, rice, wheat, potatoes, peas, fodder and hay; ducks, turkeys and chickens.  They killed and carried off his ox, goats and hogs, and killed his cows and yearlings and left them in the field. Soldiers were part of Sherman’s army and were camped not over 100 yards from his house.

Robert H. Simmons, a 55 year-old merchant, lived about a half-mile from Bowen. “[T]he claimant being a col’d man he could not talk or take much interest in public matter though he was always a free man, or as free as col’d men were allowed to be in this.”

William Webb, 31, kept a bar and livery stables and had known Bowen more than 15 years.  “He and the claimant were born free bond and helpt out the confederate service as labour on fortifications principally by being employed boating on the Cape Fear river.”

Joseph McKay, 53, farmer, saw soldiers take goods off Lewis Bowen’s farm in March 1865.

Woodward Winn, 26, farmer, saw some things taken.  Witnesses included Bowen, “Perry, Berry, Joe, Wiliford.” He helped carry some of the bacon to the camp.

The 1850 census of the Eastern Division of Cumberland County shows: William Bowen, 57, with Lewis Bowen, 16, both laborers.

I had to leave to keep from being carried off.

Isaac Griffin filed claim #20625 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 50 years old and lived near Rosedale in Pasquotank County.  He was a farmer, and during the war he lived on 16 acres, of which ten were cultivated. He was free-born.

He “had to leave several times to keep from being carried off by the rebels.”  In April 1863, soldiers from the 11th Pennsylvania cavalry, camped about five mills away at South Mills, Camden County, took his six-year-old horse, who was large, sound and gentle.

Penny Bogue, 48, testified that she lived a quarter-mile from Griffin. Two Union soldiers came to her house, and one was riding Griffin’s horse.  Sophia Edge, 26, also testified on his behalf. Caleb Griffin, 37, a justice of the peace for Pasquotank County, testified that he lived 100 yards from Isaac Griffin and was his brother.

A marriage, two houses and money.

Alexander Flanner filed claim #8852 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was from New Hanover County.  An official noted that Flanner was a colored man formerly the slave of Joseph H. Flanner of Wilmington.  Before leaving for Europe in March 1865, Joseph Flanner secured a marriage for Alexander to a free woman of color and gave him money and two houses.  Alexander Flanner worked as a drayman until the federal occupation of Wilmington.

They broke his cart to pieces.

Ely Williamson filed claim #9429 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was a 41 year-old Hertford County farmer.  He owned 12 acres of land near Winton NC that he bought with his own money, and rented more.  He was born free.

Union soldiers went by Williamson’s house and told his wife they wanted a horse.  He saw them hauling with his horse and cart and expected both to be returned, but the soldiers kept his horse and broke his cart to pieces. 

Confederate cousins.

Solomon Oxendine filed claim #21329 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 40 years old and lived in Robeson County.  He owned 154 acres, 30 of which were cultivated.

“I had several cousins in the Confederate army they went in from South Carolina.”

Neill Revels, 44, cousin Hugh Oxendine, 42, and daughter Margaret Oxendine, 19, testified for him.

I did not furnish them with anything.

Hugh Oxendine filed claim #21330 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 42 years old and lived in the Scuffleton area of Roberson County, where he owned 82 acres.  Perhaps 25-30 acres were under cultivation.

“I had one or two cousins that was employed as cooks in the confederate army, I did not furnish them with anything.”

Seven soldiers took a mare from his farm in March 1865.

Neill Revels, age 44, testified on Oxendine’s behalf.  He had known him 25 years and lived about 6 or 7 miles away.

John W. Oxendine, age 18, Hugh’s son, also testified, as did his wife, Eliza Oxendine, age 30.  She stated that the soldiers asked her where the houses where. “I told them the man of the house had rode off they asked me where to I told them that I did not know they then went in the house took a coat a watch and some tobacco. They then went off to my brother in law about 1/2 or 3/4 miles off.”