Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Bertie County

A memorial of sundry citizens on behalf of Britton Jones.

To the Honorable the General Assembly of North Carolina now in Session –

The undersigned memorialist respectfully represent to your honourable body that Britton Jones, a free man of colour was born and raised; and continued to reside until he was about thirty years old in Bertie County and that up to the time he left the same he sustained a good character. Your memorialists further shew that in Janry of 1829 his wife, who is a slave was carried together with his children to the State of Alabama, by her owner; and then continued until 1832 when she was brought back to the State of North Carolina – They further shew that the said Britton, in consequence, as your memorialists believe, of the removal of his wife and children; also went to the State of Alabama, and then continued until he was subjected to the provisions of an Act of Assembly prohibiting the emigration of free persons of colour. Under these circumstances your memorialists consider that it is a case of peculiar hardship and respectfully pray your honourable body to pass an act exempting said Britton Jones from the provisions of the act aforesaid – and your memorialists will ever pray &c.  /s/ Dav: Outlaw, George A. Askew, Elijah Rayner, D.W. Stone, J.S. Taylor, David Ryan, M.C. Ryan, Geo. B. Outlaw, Jos. B.G. Roulhac, J.P. Roulhac, Turner Carter, Stephen Bazmore, Thos. Spiller, S.J. Webb, Mo. Ramsey, W. Blanchard, E.A. Rhodes, John Raymond, John D. Thurston, G. W[illegible], James G. MLoon, Th. Ruffin, A.W. Mebane, Lewis Bond, Jas. P. Jones, Wm. W. Cherry, Wm. B. Forsyth.


The Committee on Propositions and Greviances to which was referred the Petition of Britton Jones praying that he might be exempted from the penalty incurred by him under the act of 1826 prohibiting emigration into this state of free persons of colour having considered the subject


That it appears evidence before them that the said Britton Jones a free man of colour was born and raised in County of Bertie that he resided in the said county untill he arrived to the age of thirty supporting a character for industry and honesty. That in the year 1829 he was married to a negro woman slave and by her had several children – That in the year 1829 the owner of the wife moved to the state of Alabama carrying her and children with him – that said Jones from feelings of attachment to his said wife & children followed them to Alabama.  That they remained in said state up to the year 1832 when the owner of his wife returning back to Bertie with his wife and children.  Jones returned also. .That by reason of his having resided out of the state for a longer period than one year he has lost his residence in the County of Bertie and has incurred the penalties of the act of 1826 prohibiting the emigration of free persons of colour into this state. Your Committee therefore from the peculiar hardships of this case believing it to be one which demands legislative interference respectfully report the following Bill and recommend its passage. /s/  Jos. M. Townsend, Chair.

General Assembly Session Records, 1832-1833, Box 5, North Carolina State Archives.

In the 1850 census of Windsor, Bertie County: Britton Jones, 45, drayman, with Mary Boon, 30, and Emily Boon, 6.

Chieftains and headmen of the Tuscarora, on behalf of their nation.


An Act for confirming a lease made by the Tuscarora Indians to Robert Jones, jun., William Williams and Thomas Pugh, Esquires.

I. Whereas, a number of the Tuscarora Indians, being desirous of moving themselves from their lands on Roanoke river, in Bertie county, in this province, and settling and incorporating themselves with the nations of Indians on the River Susquehannah; and whereas, the said Tuscarora Indians, in order to defray the expence of removing themselves and their effects from this province to the settlements on the river Susquehannah, did, on the twelfth day of July, in the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty-six [sic], for the consideration of fifteen hundred pounds, proclamation money, before that time paid and advanced to them, the said Tuscarora Indians, by the said Robert Jones, William Williams and Thomas Pugh, by an indenture under the hands and seals of James Allen, John Wiggins, Billy George, Snip Nose George, Billy Cain, Charles Cornelius, Thomas Blount, John Rogers, George Blount, Wineoak Charles, Billy Basket, Billy Owen, Lewis Tuffdick, Isaac Miller, Harry, Samuel Bridgers, Thomas Seneca, Thomas Howit, Billy Sockey, Billy Cornelius, John Seneca, Thomas Basket, John Cain, Billy Dennis, William Taylor, Owens, John Walker, Billy Mitchell, Billy Netop, Billy Blount, Tom Jack, John Lightwood, Billy Roberts, James Mitchell, Captain Joe and William Pugh, chieftains and headmen of the said nation of Tuscarora Indians, for and on behalf of themselves and the rest of the Indians of the said Tuscarora nation, on the one part, and the said Robert Jones, William Williams and Thomas Pugh, of the other part, did demise, grant and to farm let, a certain dividend of land, situate and lying on Roanoke river, in the county aforesaid, containing about eight thousand acres, be the same more or less, and bounded as follows, to-wit: Beginning at the mouth of Deep creek, otherwise called Falling run, thence running up the said creek to the Indian head line; hence by the said line south fifty seven degrees east one thousand two hundred and eighty poles; thence a course parallell with the general current of the said creek to Roanoke river aforesaid, and up the river to the beginning; together with all trees, timber trees, woods, underwoods, ways, waters and appurtenances whatsoever, to the said dividend, tract or parcel of land belonging or in any wise appertaining; to have and to hold the said dividend, tract or parcel of land, with all and singular the appurtenances unto the said Robert Jones, William Williams and Thomas Pugh, their executors, administrators or assigns, without impeachment of waste, to be by the said Robert Jones, William Williams and Thomas Pugh, respectively, their executors, administrators and assigns, held and enjoyed in severalty; that is to say, one third part of the said dividend, tract or parcel of land, into three equal parts to be divided, unto the said Robert Jones, his executors, administrators and assigns; one other third part thereof, the same into three equal parts to be divided, unto the said William Williams, his executors, administrators and assigns; the remaining third part thereof, the same into three equal parts to be divided, unto the said Thomas Pugh, his executors, administrators and assigns; from the said twelfth day of July, in the year aforesaid, for and during the term of one hundred and fifty years from thence next ensuing, and fully to be compleated and ended, the said Robert Jones, William Williams and Thomas Pugh, their executors, administrators and assigns, yielding and paying therefor yearly, and every year during the said term, to the said Tuscarora Indians and their assigns one pepper corn, if demanded, at or upon feast of St. Michael the archangel.

Excerpt from Acts of the North Carolina General Assembly, 1766. Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,

They found him in a contuse situation.


HORRID MURDER. – An atrocious murder was committed near New-Market, Bertie county, on Saturday the 26th ult. on the person of Mr. James Hayes – It appears that Hayes went in the morning in the field in which his servants were at work, and did not return as usual. – His family could not learn the cause of his unusual absence, & on Thursday they suspected he must have been put to death. The neighbourhood was alarmed and a general search was made for him. They had been gone but a few minutes before they found him scarcely covered, and in a very contuse situation – The servants were immediately apprehended and examined – One of them, a woman, said that Anthony Wiggins, a mulatto, had murdered him and in conjunction with two others had deposited him away, and declared if she ever told they would take her life. Wiggins is a free man, but in consequence of some incident had given his indentured to Hayes for life, and it is supposed it was a preconcerted plan in order to recover his freedom – The whole of them are in Windsor jail, and undubitably will receive death as an atonement for their enormous crime.   New-Market, June 1, 1810.

Star, Raleigh, 7 June 1810.

He has a mulatto indenture.

One Hundred Dollars Reward.  Ranaway from the subscriber in April, 1800, a negro man named ZIBE, about 25 years of age, 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high, well made, handsome features, and dark complexion – I do suppose he is in or about Norfolk, as his mother and some of his other connexions live in that place. I have lately understood he has a mulattoe indenture and certificate, and goes by the name of the mulattoe, which is James Turtle, which if he has the indentures was executed in Bertie county North Carolina, to Mr. Jesse Brown, of county and state aforesaid, and the certificate was granted to said Turtle, by said Jesse Brown. The above reward will be given to any person apprehending said negro and confining him to that I get him again, or delivering him to me in Hertford county North Carolina, and all reasonable expences paid.  Eli Moor.

N.B. He is a tolerable shoemaker.

Norfolk Herald, 1 July 1802.

He is to stand trial to be sold as a slave.

Febry the 10th 1802

Wm. Littlejohn Esqr., Sir

I am Informed by Mr. Domenick That Eli Wilkins a person of Coulour In the Town of Edenton hath been Taken Up Under Some of the Acts of Assembly & bound for his appearance to Chowan County Court at March Term 1802 where he is to Stand his Tryal for to be Sold as a Slave if my affidavit that I herewith forward to you is Not Sufficient to Extricate the sd. Boy & for you to Give Up the Recognizance of the sd. Domenick & Let the sd. Boy Stand Discharged I will forward any Other proof that May be Deemed Necessary to that Efect as I am duly able So to do & More Also bound by the Laws of Nature & humanity.

I am with Submition, Your Hu’le Serv’t Tamor Wilkins


State of No Carolina, Martin County  } Personally apeard before Me Ebenezer Seadons of The Justices for the County aforesaid Tamor Wilkins & Made Oath In Dew form That on The Seventh of July one Thousand Seventeen hundred & Eighty five She was Delivered of a Male Child which She Called Eli Wilkins a Natural Born & Child of Coulour which Child after Comeing of age to be bound She Bound as an apprintis to one John Edwards of Bertie County who Some Time Afterwards Removed to The then Cumberland Settlement & gave up the Indnturs of sd. boy to his sd. Mother She then put The sd. boy with one John Acrey to Learn The Hatters Trade the Boy as She this Deponat Has Since Understood Runaway from sd. Acre Better then Three years ago & as She has been Informed hath been Living with One Domenick Sinc that Time In the Town of Edenton which sd. boy Hath been brought to Her by this sd. Domenick on the 10th Day of February one Thousand Eighteen Hundred & Two In the County & State aforesaid & She this Deponant Doth Acknowlede & Swore him To be the Same boy In Testimony wherof She this Deponant Hath af[illegible] her hand & Declared the Same. Tamer X Wilkins


Febry the 10th 1802 This May Certify That I have Known the within Mentioned Tamer Wilkins for Several Years & Believe ther is No Doubt of Her being free Born as will more fully appear By the Testimony of Many In the County of Bertie If it is Should be Necessary given – Under My hand and Seal the day & Date above written.   E. Slade {seal}

Miscellaneous Records, Chowan County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Carrying, conveying and concealing in order that he might escape.

State v. Alfred Woodly, 47 NC 276 (1855).

This was an indictment of Alfred Woodly and Richard Wynns, free persons of color, for carrying, conveying and concealing a slave in order that he might escape.  Woodly and Wynns were accused of carrying Anthony, a slave and the property of Tristram L. Skinner, executor of Joshua Skinner, deceased, out of the state on 13 January 1855.  The appeal in the case alleged a number of insufficiencies in the indictment, and the Supreme Court ordered a new trial in Bertie Superior Court.

Surnames: Bertie County, 1850.


Bertie County Free Colored Heads of Household, 1790

James Ashe, Darby Brantly, Darby Bromley, Hall Bartlett, Cezar Chavis, Cezer Chaves, Thorregood Demsey, George Demsey, Joney Goff, Frederick James, Andrew James, Nancy James, William Jones, Frederick Jones, Mary Jeames, Moses Manly, McCate, David Meredith, James Page, Jethro Trumble, Anthony Toney, John Wharburton, Michael Wiggins, Samuel Wiggins, Sarah Willifred.


He knew his great-grandfather, and he was a coal-black negro.

State v. Whitmel Dempsey, 31 NC 384 (1849)

Whitmel Dempsey was indicted as a free man of color for carrying arms without a license.  A state’s witness testified that he had heard an old man named Barnacastle say that he knew Dempsey and his family and that Dempsey’s great-grandfather, who was called Joseph Dempsey alias Darby, was a coal-black negro.  The Bertie County Superior Court received this evidence over Dempsey’s objection.  Dempsey then gave evidence that Joseph Dampsey’s mother was a white woman; that Joseph was a reddish, copper-colored man with curly red hair and blue eyes; that Joseph’s wife was white; that Joseph and his wife had a son named William; that William also married a white woman and had a son named Whitmel; and that that Whitmel married a white woman, who was Whitmel the defendant’s mother.  The court found that, assuming that Joseph Dempsey was half-negro, Whitmel, being his great-grandson and therefore within the fourth generation from black ancestors, was a free person of color.  After a treatise on the scope and definition of the term, the Supreme Court upheld Dempsey’s conviction.

The 1840 census of Bertie County listed six Dempsey heads of household, including a Whitmel.  All were classified as free people of color.  Bertie County records show that a Whitmell Dempsey married Anna Bowen on 17 June 1806.

She was always cold a free woman.

State of North Carolina Wayne County June 15 1853 Winney Huff after being Duly Sworn Deposith and says as follows (viz) that she has seen Fareby Simmons Mother a Colord Woman living in the County of Birtie and State aforsaid and it was stated to her in the neighborhood that she was a free person and said hir Daughter Fariby Simmons was indentured to one Sertain William Burnham and Said Burnham Emigrated from the County of Birtie to the County of Wayne and said fariby Simons lived with Burnham as an apprentice and fariby Simmons in the time of her apprenticeship had a child Bornd Named Hannah which was Bound to Betsey Burnham a Daughter of Said William Burnham and that Fariby Simons was always cold a free woman and has pased for a free woman Ever since my Recollection which would be Seventy or Seventy five years furthe the Deponant sayeth Not June the 1st 1853 then was the above Written certificate of Winney Huff sworn to Before me George Flowers J.P.  Winney X Huff

This is one of three sworn statements by whites attesting to Fereby Simmons’ freedom.  Their purpose is not clear.  It seems likely that Fereby and Hannah Simmons were the matriarchs of the sprawling free colored Simmons clan — with branches by mid-19th century from southeast North Carolina to Canada — but relationships between the various lines remain undetermined.

Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Wayne County Miscellaneous Records, North Carolina State Archives.