Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Beaufort County

Bears, free negroes and wild cats.


Goldsboro Messenger, 4 February 1886.

[Sidenote: South Creek flows into the Pamlico River several miles before the river empties Pamlico Sound. Located northeast of New Bern, it is not hard to imagine that this area of Beaufort County was isolated and difficult to reach in the 19th century. — LYH]

One harbored slaves, the other drove away with them.

A negro named Noah C. Hanson charged with harboring two runaway slaves last summer, the property of the Hon. Walter Colcock, was tried in the criminal Court at Washington on Saturday and found guilty. He was fined 1000 dollars and to stand committed until the same was paid.

The Old North State (Elizabeth City), 15 March 1851.


Warner Harris, free colored, for driving away Chaplin’s carriage containing the two slaves belonging to Messrs. Stephens and Toombs, was ordered to pay a fine of $150 in each case.

The Old North State (Elizabeth City), 15 March 1851.

He was found dead in a ditch.

DISTRESSING. – A free colored man named Hugh Cherry, a carter, left this place with a horse and buggy on Wednesday last, for Williamston, for the purpose of brining a person home; but finding that the person had not arrived there, determined to return home that evening. The evening was stormy and an immense quantity of rain fell. Next morning he was found about twelve miles from this place dead in a ditch, and the horse upon him. The horse was blind and it is supposed, the man being unable to guide him in the excessive darkness, that the horse plunged into the deep ditch, which gave the buggy a sudden jerk, throwing the man forward and breaking his neck in the fall, plunging him into the ditch. The horse in his scuffle to get out got upon the man, and their [sic] remained until he was found next morning. Strange to say the horse and buggy were not injured. – Washington Dispatch.

North Carolina Argus (Wadesboro), 8 September 1859.

Runaway bound boy, no. 17.

$5 Reward.

Runaway from the subscriber, on the 15th August, a free negro known here by the name of Bill Walker, an indented apprentice to the blacksmith’s trade. He is about 20 years old, and stutters badly. I will pay the above reward for him delivered to me.  D.H. DILL.  Oct. 2, 1850

North State Whig (Washington), 2 October 1850.

A combination has taken place.

There is great cause to suppose (says one of our correspondents) that a combination has taken place between a free mulatto man by the name of Cullen Hudnell, who lately lived on South Dividing Creek, Beaufort county, and some of his white neighbours. He left the neighborhood about the 1st of November last, and a few days afterwards one of his white neighbors went off, and soon returned with a large young sorrel stud Horse, with two white hind feet and a large blaze in his face. This horse being kept secret and disclaimed by the people who have had him in possession, together with the above circumstances, has raised this suspicion.

Weekly Raleigh Register, 31 December 1804

Overturned on a technicality.

State v. Bill Ely (1857).

Bill Ely was indicted in Beaufort County Superior Court on a charge of unlawful immigration. The indictment described him as a “free man of color.” The Court noted that Ely had come into North Carolina from Virginia in 1842. During the next two or three years, he went back to Virginia two or three times and stayed a few weeks each time, but had resided continually in Beaufort County for ten years.  Ely was found guilty and fined five hundred dollars. Because Ely was a “free negroe unable to pay the fine,” the court directed the sheriff to hire Ely out to any person willing to pay it. Ely appealed.

In a brief per curiam decision, the Supreme Court noted that Section 54 of Chapter 107 of the Revised Code made it illegal for a “free negro” (not a “free person of color”) to immigrate. Citing State v. Chavers, the Court ordered judgment arrested.

File #7301, Box 284, North Carolina Supreme Court Case Files, North Carolina State Archives.

Competition? Drive it out.

The Mechanics of Washington, N.C., have formed an association, and published resolutions declaring that hereafter they will not give employment to any negro mechanic, or learn any negro boy a trade. They condemn the practice of masters letting slaves hire their own time. They refer to the influx of free negroes from Virginia, driven out by the laws of that State; and they express a determination to petition the Legislature of North Carolina to pass a similar act, or tax free negroes to raise a fund to send them to Africa. – North Carolinian.

Carolina Watchman, 15 August 1850.


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.

Tax them and send them to Liberia.


JUNE 29th, 1850.

We, the undersigned citizens of the county of Beaufort, and of the State of North Carolina, do respectfully represent to the General Assembly of the State, that the White Mechanics of our State are laboring under a serious injury, inflicted upon them by the competition they experience from negro mechanics, which is not only an injury to them, but to every portion of the community, because it places a check against the advancement of Architecture, and forbids genius and talent from entering its employment on account of the degradation it may experience, by being brought down side by side with negro labor, or the small pittance it may receive for its industry from such a competition.  We therefore beg the General Assembly to take into consideration the propriety of laying a tax upon all colored Mechanics in the State, so as to guard more effectually against its increase.

There is another grievance to which we would call your attention, the free negro population which has increased to an alarming extent.

The law lately enacted by the Legislature of the State of Virginia, for the purpose of colonizing them in Africa, has made this grievance insupportable, because it drives large numbers of her free negroes into our borders, which is not only a burden on the white population of our State, but an injury to the slave interest itself.

Therefore we pray the General Assembly to pass an act, laying a tax upon free negroes which shall be applied for the purpose of colonizing them in Liberia, and if necessary, an additional sum from the State Treasury.

And your petitioners will ever pray, &c.

/s/ Arthur Morgan, John B. Ross and 40 others.