Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Bladen County

Negroes and mulattoes who infest and annoy.

Mr. Speaker & Gentlemen of the House of Assembly.

I send herewith for the consideration, a representation of Mr. Archibald McKissak, a Magistrate of the County of Bladen, relative to the number of free Negroes and Mulattoes, who infest that County and annoy its inhabitants.

New Bern. December 18th. 1773.   Jo. Martin


A List of the Rogues

A List of the Mob Raitously Asembled together In Bladen Countey October 13th 1773

1. Captain James Ivey  2. Joseph Ivey  3. Ephraim Sweat  4. William Chavours Clark Commonly Called Boson Chevers  5. Richd Groom  6. Bengman Dees  7. Willm. Sweat  8. George Sweat  9. Bengamin Sweat  10. Willm. Groom Senr.  11. Willm. Groom Junr.  12. Gidion Grant  13. Thos. Groom  14. James Pace  15. Isaac Vaun  16. [torn] Stapbleton  17. Edward Lockelear  18. Tidy Lockelear

Harbourers of the Rogues As follows Major Lockelear, Recher Groom, Ester Cairsey

The Above List of Rogues is all Free Negors and Mullatus living upon the Kings Land

Governors Message Informing the House of a Number of free Negroes &c., Annoying the Inhabints of Bladen 1773.

General Assembly Sessions Records, December 1773, Box 6, North Carolina State Archives.

He passed for a free man for fifteen months.


From the Subscriber on the 10th day of September, a bright mulatto fellow by the name of Ralph. He is about 35 years old – a number of his fore teeth are missing – several before, so as to disqualify him from chawing any thing hard. He has a very down look. He had on when he left me cotton clothes, except his coat, which was cotton cambrick, of a brown colour, made in the present fashion. The coat had a pocket on the inside of the left lappell. – He is about five feet, eight or ten inches high – thick built. I expect he will attempt to pass for a free man, and perhaps aim for Richmond, in Virginia, where he was raised.  He left his former master, whose name was Jeffery, (lived in South Carolina,) and passed for a free man about fifteen months in the counties of Duplin, Bladen, and Jones, where he was at length taken up and committed to Wilmington Jail, where his master got him. Any person who will confine said Negro in any Jail in this state so I get him again, shall receive a reward of ten dollars, and if delivered to me in Wadesborough, 25 dollars. JOHN JENNINGS. Wadesborough, Sept. 25, 1809.

Star, Raleigh, 19 October 1809.

Register of (NC-Born) Negroes and Mulattos: Bartholomew County, Indiana, no. 4.

Dolly Curzy, age 26, born Robeson County NC; mulatto woman, 5’8”, light complexion, tolerably straight dingy black hair; slightly freckled; small black mole on right upper lip; wife of Edward Curzy and has three children; William Atkinson; 5 Nov 1853.

Edward Curzy, age 43, born Bladen County NC; a light mulatto, hair black and nearly straight, 5’6 ½”, left leg crooked having once been broken in knee joint; William Atkinson; registered 5 Nov 1853.

Eliza Curzy, age 3, born Bartholomew County IN, mulatto girl, very light complexion, quite bright and intelligent looking; Wm. Atkinson; registered 5 Nov 1853.

John Curzy, age 4 ½, born Jennings County IN; light mulatto, very bright and intelligent looking; no marks; Wm. Atkinson; registered 5 Nov 1853.

Dianah Galbraith, age 50, born Perquimans County NC; black negro woman, 5’5”, small white scar on left foot; very peaceable, inoffensive and respectable; wife of Edmund Galbreaith; James Hobbs; registered 1 Sept 1853.

Edmund Galbraith, age 70, born South Carolina; negro man, 5’8”m scar about two inches long on left breast caused by burn; very peaceable, inoffensive and respectable; James Hobbs; registered 1 Sept 1853.

In the 1850 census of Columbus, Bartholomew County, Indiana: Edmund Galbreath, 75, laborer, born SC, and wife Diana, 48, born NC.

George Henry White.


GEORGE HENRY WHITE (December 18, 1852 – December 28, 1918) was an attorney, the Republican U.S. Congressman from North Carolina between 1897 and 1901, and a banker. He is considered the last African-American Congressman of the Jim Crow era, one of twenty to be elected in the late nineteenth century from the South.

White was born in Rosindale, Bladen County, North Carolina, where his natural mother may have been a slave.  His father Wiley Franklin White was a free person of color of Scots-Irish and African ancestry, who was a laborer in a turpentine camp. George had an older brother, John, and their father may have purchased their freedom.  In 1857 Wiley White married Mary Anna Spaulding, a granddaughter of Benjamin Spaulding. Born into slavery as the son of a white plantation owner, Spaulding had been freed as a young man and worked to acquire more than 2300 acres of pine woods, which he apportioned to his own large family.

White studied at Howard University. He graduated in 1877 and was hired as a principal at a school in New Bern. He studied law in the city as an apprentice under former Superior Court Judge William J. Clarke and was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1879.

In 1880 White ran as a Republican candidate from New Bern and was elected to a single term in the North Carolina House of Representatives. He returned to politics in 1884, winning election to the North Carolina Senate from Craven County. In 1886, he was elected solicitor and prosecuting attorney for the second judicial district of North Carolina, a post he held for eight years. Though he considered running for Congress, he deferred to his brother-in-law Henry Plummer Cheatham, who was elected to the US House in 1890.

White was a delegate to the 1896 and 1900 Republican National Conventions. In 1896 he was elected to the U.S. Congress representing the predominantly black Second District from his residence in Tarboro, defeating white Democratic incumbent Frederick A. Woodard of Wilson. In 1898 White was re-elected in a three-way race. In a period of increasing disfranchisement of blacks in the South, he was the last of five African Americans in Congress during the Jim Crow era.

On January 20, 1900, White introduced the first bill in Congress to make lynching a federal crime to be prosecuted by federal courts; it died in committee. A month later, as the House was debating issues of territorial expansion, White defended his bill by giving examples of crimes in the South. Arguing that conditions in the region had to “provoke questions about …national and international policy,” he said, “Should not a nation be just to all her citizens, protect them alike in all their rights, on every foot of her soil, in a word, show herself capable of governing all within her domain before she undertakes to exercise sovereign authority over those of a foreign land—with foreign notions and habits not at all in harmony with our American system of government? Or, to be more explicit, should not charity first begin at home?”

White delivered his final speech in the House on January 29, 1901: “This is perhaps the Negroes’ temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say, Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people; faithful, industrious, loyal, rising people – full of potential force.”

After White left office, no other black American would serve in Congress until Oscar De Priest was elected in 1928. No African-American was elected to Congress from North Carolina until 1992.

Adapted from Wikipedia. Photo courtesy of

In the 1860 census of Columbus County: Willey F. White, 39, farmer, born Pitt County; wife M.A., 20, and children John W., 14, and W.F., 7, plus W.T. Freeman, 7.

[Sidenotes: (1) George H. White’s secretary during his Washington years was William S. Hagans, son of Napoleon Hagans and nephew of my great-great-grandmother Louvicey Artis Aldridge.  (2) My junior high school in Wilson NC was named after Frederick A. Woodard. — LYH]

Thomas Sheridan.

Thomas Sheridan (ca. 1787-1864) was an emancipated mulatto carpenter active in Bladen County during the antebellum period, whose only documented building is the Brown Marsh Presbyterian Church (1828) in that county.

“Thomas Sheridan’s family background illustrates the complexities of race and status in his era. Probably born in Bladen County, he may have been the son of Nancy Sheridan (a woman of color who was emancipated after his birth) and Joseph R. Gautier, a wealthy Bladen County planter and merchant of French Huguenot background. Gautier, who was frequently listed among the leading men of the Cape Fear region, was a political figure in Elizabethtown, a state senator (1791), and an early supporter of the University of North Carolina noted for having left his library of some 100 volumes (mostly in French) to the university’s library. Gautier was the owner of several slaves, including Thomas Sheridan and his brother Louis Sheridan, and probably Nancy Sheridan. Circumstantial evidence also indicates that Joseph Gautier and Nancy Sheridan had a long-term domestic relationship: many white men who had such relationships with their enslaved women often freed their enslaved family members and provided for them (although emancipation became increasingly difficult in the early and mid-19th century).

“In 1799, Joseph Gautier of Elizabethtown petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly to emancipate “two mulatto boys belonging to him.” Gautier explained that, “as their childhood would render fruitless a recourse to the county court, he prays the aid at the Legislature to establish by a law the freedom of said boys.” (Laws governing emancipation by county courts required demonstration of meritorious service, which a child could not have earned; thus Gautier appealed to the legislature. No matter what the status of the father, a child born to an enslaved mother was born a slave.) Gautier’s petition succeeded, and the legislature enacted a law that “the said mulatto boys be emancipated and set free from slavery, and henceforward be called and known by the names of Thomas Sheridan and Louis Sheridan.” In 1799, Thomas was about twelve years of age and Louis was about six. In the 1800 census of Bladen County, J. R. Gautier was listed as head of household with one white male, three “other” free persons–probably Nancy, Thomas, and Louis–and seven slaves. His will of 1800 left his plantation “at the marsh,” his household and plantation utensils, and five slaves to Nancy Sheridan, “my emancipated black woman” (suggesting that he himself had freed her, though no record has been found). He left three slaves to “her child” Louis Sheridan, a small amount of property to his (presumably white) nephew, Joseph Gautier, Jr., and £500 to Thomas Sheridan, no relationship specified. The terms of the will make it uncertain as to whether Thomas as well as Louis Sheridan was the son of Nancy Sheridan: Thomas might have been the son of Gautier with another woman, or even of Nancy and another father. In any case, Gautier freed and provided for young Thomas. Gautier died in 1807.

“Louis Sheridan (ca. 1793-1844), probably Thomas’s brother or half-brother, gained a good education and became an important merchant and large property owner in Elizabethtown with business connections throughout the state and even the nation. He owned as many as sixteen slaves. He also acquired many town lots in Elizabethtown, including those he sold as sites for the courthouse and for the Presbyterian and Methodist churches. Probably because of his father’s position and connections, Sheridan was aided by former governor John Owen and other leading men of the region and traveled widely for business to Philadelphia, New York, and elsewhere. Although he had initially opposed colonization, after the state placed tighter restrictions on free people of color in the 1830s, Louis Sheridan joined the Liberian colonization movement. He sold his slaves and moved with his family to Liberia in 1837, where he found a situation far less rosy than he anticipated and wrote (often negative) reports back to the United States. He remained there nevertheless and died there in 1844.

“Thomas Sheridan pursued the carpentry trade and remained in Bladen County. Although he doubtless built other structures, he is remembered chiefly as builder of Brown Marsh Presbyterian Church. The plainly finished, weatherboarded building is one of the few intact examples still standing of the state’s once numerous simple frame churches. A board in the church ceiling retains the chalked signature, “Thos. Sheridan,” and the date, probably 1828, possibly 1818. Within several years, in 1834, the Presbyterians in the county seat of Elizabethtown built a more substantial church on land deeded to the congregation by Louis Sheridan. Possibly the congregation employed Thomas Sheridan to build it, but this is not documented.

“According to the United States census of 1850, unlike his brother Thomas Sheridan did not become wealthy. He was listed as a mulatto carpenter, aged 62, with $30 worth of real estate. He headed a household that included his wife Agnes and their adult daughter, Martha. They lived in a rural neighborhood among primarily white farmers, plus a few other free artisans of color. In 1851 Sheridan remarried, to Lucy Oxendine of Robeson County, of a large Native American family. In 1860, Thomas Sheridan was listed as a farmer with a farm worth $200 and personal property worth $170, with his wife Lucy, aged 55. In his will of 1863 (probated in 1864), Sheridan left his farm, livestock, and household goods to his wife, then to his daughter Martha. He specified that his gun (for which in most areas a man of color had to obtain a special license) and his carpentry tools should be sold to pay for his funeral; and he left the lumber in his shop “to make my coffin.”

Author: Catherine W. Bishir. Published 2009.

As published in North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary,  (All rights retained.) This web site is a growing reference work that contains brief biographical accounts, building lists, and bibliographical information about architects, builders, and other artisans who planned and built North Carolina’s architecture.  

To liberate and set free.

At a General Assembly, begun and held at Tarborough on the eighteenth Day of November, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-seven, and in the Twelfth Year of the Independence of the said State, being the first session of the Assembly. Richard Caswell, Esq., Governor.


An Act to Emancipate Certain Persons therein mentioned.

Whereas Agerton Willis, late of Bladen county, was in his lifetime possessed of a certain slave called Joseph, and in consideration of the services of him the said Joseph, and the particular obligations he conceived himself under to the said Joseph for his fidelity and attention, did by his last will and testament devise to the said Joseph his freedom and emancipation, and did also give unto the said Joseph a considerable property, both real and personal: And whereas the executor and next of kin to the said Joseph did in pursuance of the said will take counsel thereon, and were well advised that the same could not by any means take effect, but would be of prejudice to the said slave and subject him still as property of the said Agerton Willis; whereupon the said executor and next of kin, together with the heirs of the said Agerton Willis, deceased, did cause a fair and equal distribution of the said estate, as well to do equity and justice in the said case to the said Joseph, as in pursuance of their natural love and affection to the said Agerton, and did resolve on the freedom of the said Joseph and to give an equal proportion of the said estate: Wherefore,

I. Be it Enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby Enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the passing of this Act, the said Joseph shall and is hereby declared to be emancipated and set free; and from henceforward he be called and Known by the name of Joseph Willis, by which name he may take, hold, occupy, possess and enjoy to him and his heirs forever, all and singular the property both real and personal so given him by the said distribution of the said executor, heirs and next of kin, and by the said name of Joseph Willis shall henceforward be entitled to all the rights and privileges of a free person of mixed blood: Provided nevertheless, That this act shall not extend to enable the said Joseph by himself or attorney, or any other person in trust for him, in any manner to commence or prosecute any suit or suits for any other property but such as may be given him by this act or such as he may have acquired by his own industry, but this act may in all such cases be plead in bar, and the property therein given be considered as a full and ample consideration for the final accommodation and settlement of all doubts concerning the freedom and property either real, personal or mixed belonging or in any manner appertaining to the said Joseph.

And whereas it hath been made appear to the satisfaction of this General Assembly that Richard Dobbs Spaight, of Craven county, Esquire, hath consented and is desirous to liberate and set free a certain mulatto girl now his property, called or known by the name of Mary Long:

II. Be it therefore Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the passing this act the before mentioned mulatto girl called Mary Long, now the property of Richard Dobbs Spaight, Esquire, shall be and continue liberated and set free, and shall thenceforward be entitled to all the rights and privileges of a free person of mixed blood in this State, and by the said name of Mary Long shall and may receive and hold, possess and enjoy any real and personal estate or property which she may hereafter acquire or become possessed of, in the same manner as any other free person of mixed blood might or could acquire, and possess the same to all intents and purposes as if she had been born free.

Whereas it hath been represented to this General Assembly by the memorial of John Allen, a free man of mixed blood, that he hath purchased a mulatto woman named Betty and her child named Mary, which woman he has long lived with and considered as his wife, and praying that the General Assembly would be pleased to emancipate and set free the said mulatto woman and her child:

III. Be it therefore Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said mulatto woman named Betty and her child Mary, shall be and they and each of them are hereby emancipated and made free, and they and each of them may hereafter take and use the sirname of Allen, and are hereby declared to be able and capable in law to possess and enjoy every right, privilege and immunity in as full and ample manner as they could or might have done if they had been born free.

Properly instructed, he has become a constant communicant.

In that year [1760] besides the immediate duty of my own Parish I visited the Parishes of St Martins, Bladen & St John’s, Onslow; and in these 2 counties I baptized 55 Children whereof 9 were negroes & I baptized 2 adults, 1 white & 1 black by immersion.  In my own Parish, I baptized 9 white and 4 mulatto Children, 1 Adult Mulatto woman belonging to Coll’n Dry, & 4 Adult Negro women, belonging to the Hon’ble Mr. Hasell.  In the year 1761, I baptized in my own Parish in Bladen & in St James’ Wilmington 35 Children & 1 adult negro man.  In this Current year 1762 I have already baptized 33 children & 2 Adults; 1 a free negro man, who after proper instructions, is since become a constant communicant; the other a Captain of a vessel who died here, & on his death bed acquainted me, that he had never been baptized & prayed he might then receive that Sacrament.

Extract, letter from John McDowell to Daniel Burton, June 15, 1762, Brunswick NC.  Colonial and State Records of North Carolina.

To the evil example of all others.

State of North Carolina, County of Wayne}  Superior Court of Same, Spring Term 1834. The Jurors for the State upon their oath present that Furnifold Jernigan late of the County of Wayne and David Cole late of the Same County on the first day in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty three with force and arms at and in the County aforesaid one certain free Boy of mixed blood by the name of Kilby OQuinn and the son of one Patty OQuinn a free woman then and there being found did steal take and carry away they the said Furnifold Jernigan and David Cole well knowing the said Kilby OQuinn to be free contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided to the evil example of all others in like case offending [torn] and dignity of the State.

And the Jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid as further present that Furnifold Jernigan late of the County of Wayne aforesaid and David Cole late of the Same County, aforesaid (to wit) on the day and year aforesaid with force and arms at and in the County aforesaid the other free Boy of mixed blood Kilby OQuinn the son of one Patty OQuinn a free woman by violence did convey the said Kilby OQuinn from the county of Wayne to the county of Bladen [creased] and [illegible] if the said Kilby OQuinn and appropriate the same to their own use they the said Furnifold Jernigan and David Cole well knowing the said Kilby OQuinn to be free contrary to the form of the statute in such cases made and provided to the evil example of all others in like case offending to the evil example of all others in like case offending and against the peace and dignity of the State.  S. Miller Sol.

State v. Furnifold Jernigan & David Cole, Selling Free Negroes, A True Bill.

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

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.  

Her mother took her away.

THREE DOLLARS REWARD.  Ranaway from the subscriber on Friday night the 14th inst., an indented bright mulatto girl about 15 years old, slender made, with straight black hair, by the name of MARY ANN BOWEN.  It is supposed that she is in the neighborhood of Goodwin Bowen, a free man of color in Bladen county, on the Wilmington road, about 6 miles below the Westbrook Post Office, as her mother, Polly Bowen, who took her away, declared when she was hiring a horse and Carryall for that purpose, that she was going to Goodwin Bowen’s, in Bladen county.  The above reward and all reasonable charges will be paid for returning said girl to me, or putting her into any Jail in this State and giving information through the Post Office, so that I can get her again.  All persons are cautioned against employing, harboring, or entertaining said girl in any way, as I shall prosecute them rigorously according to law.     JOSEPH AREY     March 22, 1845

Fayetteville The North Carolinian, 3 May 1845.