Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Chavers

He is guilty of assault; she, of murder.

On Tuesday, therefore, the criminal docket was taken up, when Lewis Chavers, a free man of color, was put upon his trial for an assault and battery on Mr. Drury Kemp, a white man. Chavers was found guilty of the assault, which was of an aggravated nature, and fined one hundred dollars, and ordered to be sold for the payment of the fine. …

On Thursday, Harriet Durham, (a free woman of color,) charged with the murder of Grace, a negro woman, the property of Mr. John Pennington, of this county, was put upon her trial, and pleaded not guilty. The evidence in this case was entirely circumstantial. It seemed, from the proofs, that the prisoner and the deceased slept together in the same log-cabin; that on the night the murder was committed several of the witnesses were in the cabin with the prisoner and the deceased, and that they observed the signs of ill will between them; that the witnesses left the cabin about midnight; that next morning, about sun-up, one of the witnesses discovered the deceased lying in the jam of the chimney outside the cabin, with her skull broken; that the prisoner was interrogated by the witness before the body was found, as to where the deceased was, and that the prisoner said she did not know, but that somebody had called upon the deceased that night in a low voice, and asked her to come out of the cabin and go to a certain place; that another witness, after the body was found, told the prisoner she might as well confess herself the murderer, for she would have it to do; that the prisoner was afterwards asked why she had killed Grace, and that she answered because Grace had threatened to kill her; that the prisoner admitted she had struck the deceased two blows with a very heavy iron pestle, which caused her death. It was further in evidence that there was no way of getting into the cabin but through the door, which was fastened inside every night with a strong pin; that the iron pestle, which had been rusty and out of use before, was found that morning bearing the marks of having been scoured in the ashes; that blood was sprinkled upon the bed-clothing, on the floor, and upon the walls and loft of the cabin; that there was blood upon the door-sill, and evidence upon the ground outside the door of some one’s having been dragged upon it; that part of the bed-clothing had been washed, and that the blood had dried upon them in circles; that they were scortched in some places, and a portion of an old rug, the property of the deceased, cut out and hid or destroyed. This was the substance of the evidence on the part of the State. The prisoner offered no evidence. The case was opened by Hugh McQueen, Esq., for the prisoner; he was replied to by the Attorney General, and as the prisoner offered no testimony, was entitled to the concluding argument. This argument was more upon the facts than his opening speech, and was consequently extended to greater length; and we believe the opinion of all who heard it was that it eminently sustained his reputation for ability and ingenuity. The verdict of the Jury was, Guilty.

The North-Carolina Star (Raleigh), 12 April 1843.


Free colored Craven County slaveowners, no. 2.

Mr. Thomas Blackwell, who lived in Vance County, N. C, owned a favorite negro named Tom, who was a fine blacksmith. He was allowed to hire his own time and was finally permitted to buy his freedom at a price far below his worth; he was a very valuable man. This was about 1820. Tom prospered and bought two or three slaves. William Chavers was a well-educated negro who bought a good deal of land in Vance County, from 1750 to 1780, and he owned a good many slaves; his descendants also for several generations were slaveholders. John Sampson, of Wilmington, was a slaveholder in 1855.

From Calvin D. Wilson, “Negroes Who Owned Slaves,” Popular Science Monthly, vol. LXXXI, (1912).

Burnett shares his estate.

In the name of God, Amen, I David Burnett of the County of Cumberland & State of North Carolina being of Sound mind and memory and considering the uncertainty of this frail and transitory life do therefore make or ordain publish and declare this to be my last Will and testament, That it to say, first that after all my lawful debts are paid and discharged, the residue of my estate real & personal I give bequeath and dispose of as follows to wit: to my beloved wife Jane Burnett the land and appurtenances, whereon I now live located in 71st Township in the County of Cumberland & State of North Carolina during her natural life, and after her death to be equally divided among my daughters, Mary Catherine, Elisabeth Ann, Sarah Elisa, Laura Columbia, Amanda Carolina & Sudy Jane, To my wife Jane & my daughter Sarah Elisa, I give and bequeath my horse, To my daughter I give bequeath (Mary Cathrine) all my stock of Cattle, To my wife & Sarah Elisa I give and bequeath all my hogs, to my son John Henry Five dollars in money & my wearing apperall, if I should have any left; I give bequeath & devise all the rest & residue & remainder of my personal effects to my wife and daughters Like wise I make contribute and appoint my friend Daniel C. Munroe of 71st Township in the County of Cumberland & State of North Carolina to be my executor of this my last will & testament hereby revoking all former wills made by me, In witness whereof I have known to subscribed my name and affixed my seal the second day of December AD 1872  David X Burnett

Witness Wm. John X Chavers, D. McDugald

Proved 19 January 1884. Will Book E, Page 331, Register of Deeds Office, Cumberland County, Fayetteville.


On 12 December 1884, David Burnett’s executor, Daniel C. Monroe, filed a petition to sell lands for assets.  Neill R. Blue, Alexander McKethan, John A. Monroe, Jane Burnett (widow), Mary Manuel, Catharine Burnett, Elizabeth Ann Chavers, Sarah Eliza Oxendine, Laura Columbia Williams, Amanda Carolina Burnett and Lundy Jane Burnett, minors, and John Burnett were named as defendants. Monroe noted that Burnett’s debts were about $250; that his personal estate had no value and was insufficient to set off a one-year widow’s allowance; that Burnett’s real property consisted of two tracts received from his father Jesse Burnett, totaling 150 acres, and located on Middle Creek between Buies Creek and Little Rockfish and between Little Rockfish and Middle Creek in 71st township; that Burnett’s widow Jane remained in his dwelling house on said tracts; that there were various claims on parts of the tracts; and that all the defendants lived in Cumberland County. Other documents listed Burnett’s widow as “Jennette” Burnett and identified his daughter’s husbands as Jacob Manuel, William Chavers and Alexander Oxendine. Executors released and quitclaimed the 25 acres above to the widow and heirs.  It contained a house and a graveyard.

From the file of David Burnett, Cumberland County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, Original, North Carolina State Archives.

In the 1860 census of Western Division, Cumberland County: David Burnett, 42, farmer, wife Jane, and children Mary, 12, Elizabeth, 10, Sarah, 9, John, 4, and Laura, 4 months. Next door: Jesse  Burnett, 70, and wife Elizabeth Burnett,72.

She thinks this a great hardship.

To the worshipful Justices of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of Brunswick County

The Petition of Temperance Chavers humbly sheweth that she has raised two Boys Billy and Elick from their birth to the present time with much difficulty trouble & expence and that just as they are Beginning to remunerate her by plowing & other services She is threatened with their being bound out which She thinks a Great hardship but if the law of the State required She humbly beseeches that they may be bound to Geni: Smith in whose justice to raise them properly and have them taught useful Trades She can Confide – Your worships granting this will be an alleviation to her Distress & She as in duty bound will ever pray &ca:  Temperance X Chavers    Jan: 27th: 1810

Witness Ben. B. Smith

Apprentice Bonds and Records, Brunswick County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Don’t credit her.


Whereas my wife, ELIZABETH CHAVERS, has deserted my bed and board without any just cause, I hereby forewarn all persons from crediting her on my account, as I am determined to discharge no debt of her contracting.   ISAAC CHAVERS, Granville, Jan. 30, 1811.

Raleigh Minerva, 7 February 1811.

Free-Issue Death Certificates: GRINTON and HARRIS.

Mary Ellen Grinton. Died 27 June 1920, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County. Colored. Single. Housekeeper for John Stevedson. Born 1 August 1844, Wilkesboro, to Allen Grinton and Nancy Rooling. Informant, Andy Grinton.

Robert L. Grinton. Died 9 January 1929, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County. Black. Married to Ellen Grinton. Farmer. Born 10 December 1848 to Allen Grinton and unknown mother. Buried at “Damaskas.” Informant, R.L. Grinton.

In the 1860 census of Lower Division, Wilkes County: Allen Grinton, 45, day laborer; wife Nancy, 35; and children Mary, 15, Thomas, 13, Robert, 9, and Phoebe, 3, all mulatto.

Lewis W. Harris.  Died 5 September 1931, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County. Black. Married to Nancy Looper Harris. Farmer. Born 30 November 1852, Wilkesboro, to Jordan Harris and Rachel Grinton, both of Wilkes County. Informant, Joseph Harris.

Andrew Harris. Died 18 March 1932, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County. Black. Married to Lura Harris. Farmer. Born 28 April 1854 in Wilkesboro to Jordan Harris and Rachel Grinton, both of Wilkes County. Informant, J.C. Harris, Wilkesboro.

Jourdan Harris. Died 22 October 1916, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County, of “falling in the fire & being severely burned on the body.”  Colored. Widower. Farmer. Born 1 January 1822, Wilkes County, to Jahue Harris and Claircy Chafer, both of Wilkes County. Buried in Harris burying ground. Informant, John Peton.

In the 1860 census of Lower Division, Wilkes County: Jordan Harris, 38; wife Rachel, 36; and children Lewis, 9, Andrew, 8, and John, 2.

Mary Ann Anderson. Died 13 December 1913, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County. Black. Widow. Born October 1843 in Wlkes County to John Evans of Guilford County and Lila Harris of Wilkes County. Buried Harris cemetery. Informant, J.P. Anderson.

Fannie Roxie Ann Ferguson. Died 22 June 1932, North Wilkesboro, Wilkes County. Black. Widow. Born 17 August 1838, Wilkesboro, to Jhue Harris and Clarisia Shaver. Buried Pleasant Hill. Informant, Charlie C. Harris.

Nathan Harris.  Died 8 May 1914, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County. Colored. Married. Farmer – “very industris.” Born 6 May 1860 in Wilkes County to Wesley Harris and Mary Chavers, both of Wilkes County. Buried family cemetery.

In the 1860 census of Upper Division, Wilkes County: Wesley Harris, 37, farmer; wife Mary, 33; and children Joshua, 9, Lucindy, 7, Claricy, 4, John, 2, and James, 2 months, plus Nathan Bailey, 20.

Jail break, no. 4.

50 Dollars Reward. Broke the jail of Orange county, on the night of 30th November, 1821, two prisoners, Archibald Brown and Meredith Chavers. – Said Brown was charged with murder, and was sent to said jail from Chatham county.  He resided on Rocky River, in Chatham county, where his family now lives.  He is about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, fair complexion, has pimples upon his face and nose, and is addicted to intoxication.  Chavers is a free mulatto, about 6 feet high, and formerly lived on the waters of Back Creek, in Orange county.  The above reward will be paid to any person who will arrest the said Brown in this state, so that I get him again; and a reward of five dollars for the arrest and delivery of the said Chavers to me.  JAMES CLANCY, Jailor.  December 1st, 1821.

Western Carolinian, 25 Dec 1821.

They took a mule.

John Chavers filed claim #17736 with the Southern Claims Commission.  Chavers, age 72, a farmer, lived in Richmond County near Rockingham.  He was born in Brunswick County. The Union took a mule, corn, bacon and tobacco from him in 1865.

Harrett Jacobs, age about 30, corroborated the theft of Chavers’ property.

Allowed: $145.00.

A case of kidnapping.

A CASE OF KIDNAPPING. – A few weeks ago there came to Smithville, in Brunswick county, from Moore county, three white men, whose names are Alex. McLeod, Joseph Crawley, and _____ Crawley, bringing with them a free, bright mulatto woman, named Katy Chavers, and her three children, the oldest not being over five years of age.  The woman was brought there, as she said, for the pretended purpose of keeping house for the man.  Shortly after their arrival, the men managed to get the woman drunk, and whilst she was in that state, they took the three children and put off with them for Charleston, on board one of the Steamers.  At Charleston they were arrested, having remained there until the Steamer hence of the next day carried on the intelligence of their villainy.  They got clear from the arrest, however (in what way we never understood.) when Joseph Crawley took the children and went on by the way of the Rail Road to Augusta.  Arriving there, he was confronted with a hand-bill of particulars which had been dispatched South by a gentleman of Smithville immediately upon the men’s leaving there with the children.  He was placed in jail at Augusta, and now awaits the requisition of the Governor of this State, which will be made doubtless as soon as the Grand Jury of Brunswick shall return a bill of indictment.  There will be no Court in Brunswick until the first Monday in June. The woman was sent from Smithville to Augusta, to rejoin her children, who had been kindly taken care of there. Wil. Chronicle

Carolina Watchman, 14 May 1847. NC Newspaper Digitization Project, North Carolina State Archives Historic Newspaper Archive.

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.