Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Boon

James Boon.

James Boon (1808-1850s or later) was a free black carpenter active in North Carolina from the 1820s through the 1850s. As historian John Hope Franklin relates, the rare if not unique survival of the personal papers of this free black artisan provides an important window into the ‘common experiences, the fortunes, both good and ill, which all free Negroes had.’ Boon was evidently born to a free mother and was apprenticed at 18 to Franklin County carpenter William Jones until the age of 21. In 1829, he received a paper that served as a pass, stating ‘James Boon, a boy of colour who was bound to William Jones by this court’ was ‘ordered to be liberated and set free.’

“Boon led a mobile life and carried with him passes and letters of reference from employers and prominent citizens to affirm his free status and good work. He worked first around Louisburg in construction and furniture making. In the mid-1830s, he went to Raleigh, possibly to help build the Duncan Cameron House (1835-1836). He traveled to Littleton in 1839 and to rural Halifax County in 1842. A reference to ‘Boon’ in Skinner family correspondence suggests that he worked on the Greek Revival style plantation house Linden Hall (1841-1844) near Littleton for Charles and Susan Little Skinner; there are also references to ‘Mr. Bragg’ (probably Thomas Bragg, Sr.) and ‘Jones’ (possibly Albert Gamaliel Jones). One of his employers, R. H. Mosby, affirmed in 1842 that Boon was ‘an orderly and well behaved man, and attentive to his business. His work is executed better and with more taste than any persons within my knowledge in this section of country.’ In 1848, James Boon joined his brothers and a friend seeking work in Wilmington. He then went to Raleigh in 1849, where he was employed by the prominent builder Dabney Cosby on various projects. There he hired other workmen to help on ‘Mr. D. Cosby’s work.’ On October 27, 1850, Cosby wrote him a reference stating that ‘Jim Boon’ had been in his employ ‘for some time’ and was ‘a good workman.’

“Boon sometimes worked alone but also hired as many as nine workmen, including whites, slaves, and free blacks. He charged $1.25 a day for his own time and $0.50 cents to $1.00 for his employees. He owned one slave, Lewis, and land in Franklin County, which he occasionally mortgaged. Boon did not learn to read and write, but William Jones, who remained a friend, helped him in business matters. Various receipts note payment for such jobs as ‘Mill House 30 by 36, Ten feet pitch, Two stories, three floors, 12 windows and ten doors, weatherboarding dressed plain strong work,’ or for a more finished project, ‘24 lights glass, 12 x 15, Pilasters rose blocks–inside double architraves.’

“James Boon’s family included a brother, Carter Evans. Boon’s first wife was Sarah, a literate slave who belonged to Maria Stallings. They had a son who went to Raleigh with his father in 1849. (James Boon does not appear in the 1850 census.) In 1854, Boon married Mahaly Buffalo in Raleigh. His last record was in 1857; his death date is unknown.”

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.  


The Superior Court for this county is in session – Judge Ellis presiding.  We are happy to be able to say, that there is no capital case before it.

At Sampson Court, last week, Wm. Boon, alias Wm. Hussey, a free mulatto, was convicted of Burglary with intent to commit a Rape.  Solicitor Strange and Hon. J.C. Dobbin for the State; C.G. Wright, Esq. for the prisoner.

Fayetteville Observer, 4 May 1852.

In the 1850 census of Southern Division, Sampson County: Comfort Boon, 50, with Kadar, 22, Ann, 24, Beckey, 23, Elizabeth, 20, Caty, 19, Evaline, 18, William, 15, and Almira Boon, 10; all described as black.

Dangerous characters.

We the grand jury present Sarah, Hannah, Betty, being free negroes, as dangerous characters.

/s/ Challe Eagerton, Jas Forbs, W.W. Shaw, Lot Williams, David Jenkins, Jas. Scott, Mitchel Barber, Samuel Evens, Hinton Barber, James Brown, John Jarman, Danis Aman, Wm Webb.


We as grand Juriors present a Certain percis of Free Negres that has not been Dealt with according to law having obtaind their Freedom by John Pair which Negroes are named [illegible] Sarah Boon July 9th 1816 /s/ Charles Agerton, Samuel Evins, Dennis Aman, James Brown, John, Jarman, David Jenkins, Mitchell Barber, Wm Webb, James H. Barber, Lott Williams, John Marshel, James Fioller, Wm Shaw.

Slave Records, Onslow County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

[Side Note: “Dangerous characters”? Why?]

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.

Jacob Ing’s children.

In the name of God I Jacob Ing of the County of Nash and State of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory do this 8th day of April A.D. Eighteen Hundred and Sixty Seven, make this my last Will and Testament as follows (viz)

I will and direct that my Executor hereinafter named Sell my real and perishable Estate either private or publick at his discretion, and the proceed therefrom together with all species of Property of every discription be disposed of as follows (to wit)

I give and bequeath to Mary Reynolds, wife of Benjamin Reynolds, Elizabeth Boon wife of Jesse Boon, Selah White, wife of James White, Sally Reynolds, wife of William H. Reynolds, William C. Jones, Matthew Jones, also old Chaney Freed woman (formally my house servant) also Lucinda Artist (dead) to her Children if any surviving (all colored) to be Equally divided in Nine parts, and distributed as above directed.  In case any of the above named persons dies before the execution of this will, leaving Children, in that event their child or children will take the parents intended shear to them and their heirs for ever. (carried forward)

I do hereby nominate and appoint my friend Jesse H. Drake the sale executor of this my last will and Testament ratifying this and no other to be my last.  In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written.

Jacob Ing

April 30th 1869.  I Jacob Ing of the County of Edgecombe and State of North Carolina do make this my Codicial to my last will and Testament, bearing date the 8th day of April 1867.  I will and direct that said will be so amended that altered that the said old woman Chaney therein provided for I loan her the lot and improvements whereon I now live (in Battleboro) during her natural life and at her death the same be sold and proceeds Equally divided amongst the surviving Legatees there mentioned.  In Testimony whereof I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal the day and date above written.

Jacob Ing

Easter Jones, also known as Hester, was the mother of Jacob Ing’s children.  The family appear together in the 1850 census of Nash County: Jacob Ing (64, white, farmer) and Easter Jones (55), John Jones (20) (and his wife Dolly, 21), Matthew Jones (18) and Lucy Jones (16), all mulatto.  

Lucinda “Lucy” Jones married Adam T. Artist on 10 October 1855 in Nash County.  Their children Noah, Mary Jane and Augustus Kerney Artis inherited her share of her father’s estate.

Wills, Nash County Records, North Carolina State Archives; Estates Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives; Marriage Records, Register of Deeds, Wayne County Courthouse, Goldsboro NC; 1850 federal census schedule.

An earlier post shows Ing’s application for a marriage license for his daughter Elizabeth and Jesse Boon.

Application to marry.

Ing’s Mills Dec’r 13th 1844

F.M. Taylor Clerk &c Sir

James Jones a free man of colour will apply to you for licence to Marry Jesse Boon and Elizabeth Jones, both free persons of colour, __ should you have any scruples in regard to granting them ,__ I can inform you that I am acquainted with the parties and wou’d not suppose them any liability on your part as they are of contracting ages &c &c           Yrs sincerely

Jacob Ing

Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Nash County Records, NC State Archives