Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Category: Southern Claims

A grazing cow and vegetables.

Asbury Reid filed claim #4303 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was born free and raised in Gates County and was a 43 year-old farmer.  A cavalry unit took a cow grazing in the field and vegetables from his garden.  An infantry unit took bacon, poultry and hogs.  Alonzo Green, 28, and W.O. Green, 32, a farmer-mechanic, testified on his behalf.

Thirty-two year-old Asberry Reed is listed in the 1860 census of Gatesville district, Gates County, with C. Reed, 22, William Reed, 3,  John Reed, 2, and George Reed, 6 months; Conelius Price, 11, Charles Price, 11; and William Reed, 12. 

Boon’s horse.

William Boon filed claim #1708 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 40 years old and born free and reared in Gates County.  He had lived about 5 miles from Gatesville for 22 years.

On 21 July 1863, a large force of cavalry, the 11th Pennsylvania, passed in the road to Suffolk. They took Boon’s seven or eight year-old sorrel-colored horse, which was worth about $200.

James A. Green was a 37 year-old, free-born brickmason and farmer who lived about 4 miles from Boon.

Zachariah Boon, age 68, was William’s father.  William had lived with him at the time the horse was taken.

Alonzo Green, age 28, was the postmaster at Gatesville. He had known William Boon all his life and had lived about 6 miles from him during the war.

One horse was taken from a graveyard while we were burying a man.

William Jacobs filed claim #301.  He was 75 or 76 years old and had lived near Rockingham in Richmond County for about 27 years.  He was a farmer.  He was born free in Brunswick County, and his grandfather was free.

“About twelve months before the close of the war a United States soldier came to my place nearly starve he had made his escape from a stockade over in South Carolina about 18 miles from my place.  I have forgotten his name he said he was from Tennessee.  I kept him at my place some 8 or 10 days until he [illegible] up some.  I then sent him to Fayetteville NC in a wagon carried him through Fayetteville in the night.  I sent some relatives of mine in the neighborhood of Fayetteville by the name of Edmon and William Chavers.  They put him over the Cape Fear River near Fayetteville he was making his way to the union lines, the Chavers gave him a map.”

“My farm is about 5 miles from Rockingham.  I own 110 acres about 15 acres cultivated about 40 acres woodland and the rest wasteland.”

William McPherson, William Jacobs’ son-in-law, testified that he was 36 or 37 years old and had lived near Rockingham since 1862.

Anderson Jacobs, age 22, was William Jacobs’ grandson.  “I was present when the horses was taken I saw them taken by united states soldiers one was taken from my father’s place about 1/4 mile from my grandfather’s … then the other was taken from a grave yard while we were burring a man about 3/4 miles from my grandfather’s place.

He was a good farmer, industrious and thrifty.

Dissey Snelling filed claim #13204 on behalf of her deceased husband, William Snelling.  She did not know her age.  She had lived in Houses Creek township, about 5 miles from Raleigh, since 1861.  William had died intestate in August 1873.  There had been no administration of his estate or division of his property.  “All that he left remains in my hands.”

Dissey and William had seven living children: Curtis (35), Marsy Ann (24), Wm. Acquilla (22), Araminta (18), Nancy (16), Lizzie (14) and Silvetia Snelling (7).

William had been born in Wake County, and his farm contained 171 acres, 50 in cultivation.  “He was a free colored man, he was never a slave.”  He was about 66 years old when he died.  Dissey, too, had never been a slave.

Union troops took two horses, seven head of cattle, ten goats, 15 sheep, eight hogs, two wagons and two saddles. The troops were camped on Beaver Dam less than a mile from the Snellings’ house.

Curtis Snelling testified that he resided in his mother’s house, that he was William’s son, and that he had been born free.  “I was taken away from here at Raleigh under guard and taken to Wilmington, where I was put to work loading vessels.  I never received any pay for that work.”

Willis R. McDade testified that he lived about 6 miles north of Raleigh.  He asserted that William Snelling’s farm was well-stocked.  “He was a good farmer, industrious and thrifty.  He carried a two-horse farm.”

In the 1850 census of Western Division, Wake County, William Snelling, age 38, is listed with wife Dissy (25), son Curtis (4) and Dissy’s relatives Mary F. (7), John (33), Martha (31), Rhoda (2) and Martha Evans (5).  In 1860, the family is listed in North West District: William Snellings (50), wife Desdimonia (30) and children Curtis (15), Martha (12), Roxana (10), William (2) and Arometta (1).  William reported owning $500 personal property and $500 real property.

Threatened me with punishment if I done so again.

Daniel Manuel filed claim #5535 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 54 years old and had lived 10 miles west of Fayetteville for the previous 5 years.  Sometime during the war, he moved about 30 miles from Bladen County, where he was free-born, to a place about 6 miles west of Fayetteville.  Before the war, he lived in Sampson County.  He was a farmer and cooper, but only farmed during the war.  

He worked for 4 months at the Confederate arsenal in Fayetteville “very much against my wish.”  He was “on the union side all the time but could not say anything being a col’d man not entitled to a vote or allowed to talk.”

He named Hardy West, Arch’d Buie and John Buie, all white men, as witnesses to his loyalty, but all refused to testify.  “So,” he said, “I have to call on my own col. for that proof.”

“While I was at work at the arsenal I was arrested and taken before the com’d officer and examined on the charge of talking in favour of the union cause with some of my own col. I confessed that I had expressed myself in that way the officer threatened me with punishment if I done so again.  He turned me loose and I went back to work” in the blacksmith shop.  His nephew George Manuel was also forced to work at the arsenal.

Marshal White, aged about 47, lived about 5 miles west of Fayetteville and worked as a cooper.  For the last two years he had lived on the the same plantation as Daniel.

Peter Owen, aged about 40, had lived 8 miles west of Fayetteville for 4 years.  Before that, he lived at 3 different places.  During the war, he lived with William Owen and farmed.  He had known Daniel since he was a small boy and lived on the same plantation as Daniel about 2 years before the war.

Richard Lovitt, 51, had lived in Beaver Creek, about 6 miles west of Fayetteville for over 19 years.  He farmed and distilled turpentine.  He had known Daniel since 1861.  

Slightly tinged.

Ann Revels, formerly Ann Chesnutt, filed claim #20191 with the Southern Claims Commission.  She was 55 years old and lived near Fayetteville, where she cultivated 15 acres of land.

“I had one son that left Fayetteville about 1852.  He went to Texas.  I had not heard from him for 2 years before the war commenced. … I then had a letter from him in Kentucky he said he had been in the confederate army but he did not say whether by compulsion or how.  I did not contribute anything for his support or military equipments.”

“I was not married during the war but I married in 1867. … I have 6 children: George Washington aged 42 years today if living.  Andrew Jackson aged 40 years he was 2 1/2 years in the United States Army during the war he went in the Army from Ohio.  Sophia aged 37 years.  Mary Ann aged 30 years.  Dallas aged 25 years.  Amanda Chesnutt aged 17 years.  George Washington I have not heard from for about 3 years.  The balance of my children are living in and within 10 miles of Fayetteville.”

“I owned the property before I married my husband.  I was born free.  I made what I had by my hard work.”

Witnesses were: David A. Bryant, 50, Fayetteville farmer; Albert Hammons, 58, Fayetteville carpenter; William H. Haithcock, 46, Fayetteville carpenter (who testified that Ann “prayed the United States government might whip out the south and liberate the slaves.”  Ann’s husband, Jonathan Revels, a 51 year-old farmer, testified that he and Ann were married in 1867 and stated that he was employed by Ann “pretty much all the time especially farming season from 1861 till the Army came.”

William S. Taylor, 25, painter, and Mary B. Taylor, 53 and a second cousin to Ann, who lived about 300 yards away.

“The claimant was a single woman during the war and owned the property in her own right.  She has since married Revels who is a white man. She was slightly tinged with negro blood.”

Ann Chesnutt Revels was the grandmother of writer Charles W. Chesnutt.

The 1870 censustaker of Cross Creek township, Cumberland County, considered Jonathan Revels to be colored and listed him, wife Ann and stepdaughter Amanda Chesnutt as mulatto. 

[Bizarre Side Note No. 1 — Amanda Chesnutt married Robert Holliday and had a son, Robert Sumner Holliday, in 1873.  Robert graduated Shaw University, then medical school at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.  He set up practice in Statesville NC, where he met and in 1918 married Mary Charlton of West Virginia, a Hampton Institute graduate who served as Iredell County’s supervisor of colored schools.  Mary Charlton Holliday became an abiding mentor to my grandmother, Margaret B. Colvert Allen (1908-2010), and encouraged her to attend her alma mater.  My grandmother met my grandfather at Hampton Institute (now University) and all five of their children, plus three grandchildren, matriculated there.]

You will get paid for it.

William S. Taylor filed claim #19425 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He lived in Fayetteville, where he worked as a house painter.  During the war, a major, two lieutenants and chaplain came to his house, took what they wanted and said, “Oh! Sam you will get paid for it.”

Harry Clark, age 60, a Fayetteville housepainter; George D. Simmons, 38, a merchant; and Taylor’s wife of 30 years, Mary B. Taylor, testified for him.

They intended to come beat me.

William H. Haithcock, age 56, filed claim #20604 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He lived in Fayetteville and worked as a carpenter.  Haithcock testified that he was born in Johnson [sic] County and moved to Fayetteville about 1850.  He lived in Fayetteville up to 1863; then in the country 4 miles from Fayetteville, where he had a farm; then, in 1864, to another plantation one mile from Fayetteville, where he made another crop.  He was living there when the United States Army came through.  He moved back to Fayetteville after.  He worked his trade as a carpenter until he went into farmer.

When he was living on the east side of the Cape Fear River, the Confederates took corn, fodder, chickens and other property.  He was living on the west side of the river when the Union army came.  His house was robbed once by Confederate deserters.  “I talked about it, they sent me word that they intended to come beat me and take what money I had but they never came.  Some of the white men up the river above me.  I understood that I should not make another crop at the place I was living and that I ought to be in the war.”

Lucien Bryant, age 50, testified to Haithcock’s loyalty.  Bryant was a farmer and lived in Fayetteville.  Others who testified were: William S. Taylor, 58, painter; Jonathan Revels, 52, farmer; and son James Haithcock, 19, a farmer and wood hauler.

Looked for and prayed for and expected to see the time come.

Lewis Dunn filed claim #17583 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 56 years old, lived in Fayetteville (“in my own house, my lot is 1/2 acre”) and worked as a drayman.  The Confederate Army conscripted him to work at an arsenal for 12 months.

“I was free.  I bought myself.  Finish paying for myself about 20 years ago.  I was the last col’d man in the state that the legislature emancipated. … My former master was James England.”

Dunn did not see his property taken.  He was hauling provisions for the United States Army and when he returned “cattle drivers came and camped all around my stable and made a slaughter pen of my lot….”

William S. Bryant, 58, testified that he lived in Fayetteville and worked as a blacksmith.  He was not related to Dunn, but had known him about 40 years.  Bryant reported that Dunn said “the war was brought on an account of slavery and he looked for and prayed for and expected to see the time when all his race would be free.”

Carpenter Jere Husk, 40, and butcher Tom Drake, 57, both of Fayetteville, also testified on Dunn’s behalf.

Dunn’s wife Harret Dunn, 30, testified: “My grandmother was present [when Dunn’s property was stolen.]  She is now dead.  Also a col’d man name Prince McNeill.  He is not in this section of the county now.”

A very respectable woman and a worthy one.

Elsie Drake filed claim #15804 with the Southern Claims Commission.  She was 79 years old and lived near Fayetteville.  “I lived on my own land.  I have 3 acres all cultivated.  Nursing was my occupation.”

“I had one grandson in the Confederate Army as a drummer.  His name is Warren Drake.  He is living in Montgomery Al. I did not furnish him with anything while in the Rebel servace.  He was carried off against my wish.  He ran away from the Army and came home.  He was a boy of about 14 years old.”

“My feeling was with the union.  My language was for the union.”

“I am a widow.  My husband has been dead about 15 years. I have 3 children living Thos. Drake … Robt. Drake … Warren Drake.  Neither of them was in the confederate servace.  They were slaves.”

“I was free at the beginning of the war.  My husband was a free man.  He bought me about 20 years ago. …  I bought some of my property  and raised some.  Got the money to pay for it by cooking and nursing.  John H. Cook was my former owner.  I am not and have not been in his employ since my husband bought me.”

Though Elsie Drake appears in neither the 1850 nor 1860 census of Cumberland County, in 1870 she is listed as “Elsey Drake,” age 77, in the household of her son Thomas in Cross Creek township.

Union soldiers took bacon, hogs, corn, flour, coffee, cooking utensils, soap, turkeys, geese, water buckets, bed quilts, tubs, blankets, a shawl and some sugar from her. Witnesses to the theft were Jenette Smith, Mollie Stephens and Ellen Simmons.

Special Commissioner John J. Minor noted: “Her husband … was always free and his wife lived with [him] since I first knew them up to his death.  She was a slave belonged to John H. Cook.  I presume her husband hired her time up to the time he bought her — She is a very respectable woman and a very worthy one … Her witnesses are all very respectable col’d people.”

Though she appears in neither the 1850 nor 1860 censuses, in 1870, 70 year-old “Elsey” Drake is listed in her son Thomas’ household in Cross Creek township, Cumberland County.