Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Edenton

Concerning the distressing inconvenience of the emancipation of slaves by Quakers.

Edenton District, October Term 1793   )

The Grand Jurors for the aforesaid District present as a Grievance, the Distressing Inconveniences, the good people of the district lay under from the Inefficiency of the Laws intended to restrict the Emancipation of Slaves. That the people called Quakers in other respect good Citizens, have by their Conduct, made that Species of property not only of small Value, but have Rendered it dangerous to the personal Safety of the proprietores of Negroes, and those who live in the Vicinity of them, by infranchising their own Slaves and Sowing discontent and disobedience in the minds of their Neighbours Slaves. That it is now become Necessary for the preservation of good Order and the Security of the Citizens of this district that Measures should be Taken to put a stop to this Evil.

It is not for the Grand Jury to point out remedial Laws, but to declare a necessity for them; They therefore require their representatives in the next General Assembly; to lay this their presentment before the Legislature — in whose Wisdom they Confide — and whose protection as Citizens they demand trsuting that Measures will be taken so to modify the religious Enthusiasm which pervades their Quaker Neighbours: that the Citizens of this District may Enjoy a full participation of a Constitution which they have assisted to raise. Viz a protection of their Personal Liberties and properties.

1. Woolsey Hathaway Foreman 2. William Saterfield 3. Thomas E. Hare 4. J.H. Ward 5. Thomas Simons 6. Enoch Dauge 7. Thomas Davis 8. John Bevin 9. Saml. W. Johnston 10. Enoch Dailey 11. Jos. Banks 12. Willis Roberts 13. Joseph Tarkington 14. Spencer Thach 15. James Temple 16. John Campbell 17. John Jones

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

To prevent him being sold into slavery.

Chap. 486.

AN ACT to remunerate James Bennett for expenses incurred and services rendered in procuring the release of Anthony Adams, a colored citizen of this State, from imprisonment in the jail of Edenton, North Carolina, to prevent him being sold into slavery.

Passed April 15, 1857, three-fifths being present.

The People of the State of New-York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

SECTION 1. The treasurer shall pay on the warrant of the comptroller, out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, to James Bennett, the sum of two hundred and sixty-eight dollars, being four dollars per diem for eighteen days service, and for moneys expended in procuring the release of Anthony Adams, a free colored citizen of the town of Deerpark, county of Orange, state of New-York, from the jail of Edenton, state of North Carolina, where he was confined.

Sec.2. This act shall take effect immediately.

Laws of the State of New-York Passed at the Eightieth Session of the Legislature, Vol. II (1857).

“John Doctor,” minutely described.

Twenty-Five Dollars Reward.

Runaway from the Subscriber on the night of 24th ult. a Negro Man by the name of BEN, commonly called BEN THORN; he is about 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, between 30 and 40 years old, perhaps might weigh between 145 and 160 pounds; is of a bright complexion, neither black nor mulatto; is well made, stands a little wide, and springs back in his knees; has a round head, middling long neck; long face, flat jaws, high nose, inclined to be Roman, and somewhat sharp; his eyes is rather large, white and glaring when thrown open, his mouth projects out, and is tolerable large, with a very good set of teeth; speaks broad and quick, and endeavors to speak proper language; his arms is rather long, and short fingers, he has thick, short hair, and inclined to be square across his forehead; fine grained skin, &c. He is a little ruptured, or what is called bursting, in consequence of which he commonly wears a truss. He had when he went away, a furred or knapped hat, considerably worn; a blue broad cloth coat, worn out at the elbows and cuffs; a homespun jacket, blue grounded, with small white streaks, the stripes went round; a pair of white homespun pantaloons; a pair of mixed do.; a black velvet cravat, and what is called a white comforter, with some colouring at the ends, and perhaps some other old cloathing. He can read and write, so as he can be understood, is very intelligent, being acquainted with a number of the States, sea-port towns, and other noted places. It is presumed that he has an instrument of writing, and will endeavor to pass as a free man; having made the attempt and was apprehended with a free pass in the town of Edenton, on the 16th of Feb. 1816, where he went by the name of John Doctor, and was imprisoned for about three months, and taken out of jail by me. His intentions were at that time, and I make no doubt are now, to get on board some vessel and escape to some of the Northern States, where slavery is not tolerated. It is presumed he will alter his name, and change his features (if possible.) All masters and owners of vessels are hereby forwarned from taking the said Negro on board. The above reward will be given to any person who will apprehend said Negro, and confine him in any jail, and give me information so that I get him again.  ALEXANDER SORSBY, Nash county, N.C.  March 16.

Norfolk & Portsmouth Herald, 6 April 1818.

Impelled by the powerful feelings of a husband and father.

State of North Carolina, Chowan County   } Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, June Term 1811

To the Worshipfull the Justices of the said Court, The Petition of Thomas Barnwell a free person of colour in the Town of Edenton humbly sheweth, That your Petitioner hath intermarried with one Asa a negro woman slave late the property of Henderson Standin Esquire & hath for a long time cohabited & still doth cohabit & live with her as his wife; that your petitioner hath by his said Wife two children, to wit, Thomas & Nancy; that Mr. Standin hath lately conveyed this woman & her children to your Petitioner; that the said Asa hath always behaved as a peaceable, orderly, submissive & diligent slave & by her meritorious conduct during her servitude hath well-entitled herself to the favor of this Worshipful court — that your Petitioner, impelled by the powerful feelings of a husband & father, & anxious to reward the faithful services of the said Asa, is desirous of manumitting her & the two abovenamed infant children — He therefore prays your Worship that in consideration of the previous, you would pass an order Directing the manumission of the said slaves, upon his complying with the terms prescribed by the Acts of Assembly in such cases made and provided — And your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray &c.  Ja. Iredell for Pet’r.


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

I am informed he went off with a free man of color.

Twenty-five Dollars Reward. I will give the above reward of twenty-five dollars, for apprehending and securing in jail, or otherwise, negro Isaac, so that I get him again, and will pay all necessary expences if delivered to me at my place of residence, in the county of Edgecombe, about two miles east of the stage road leading from Tarborough to Enfield, and about eight miles from the latter. Isaac is a bright mulatto; sprightly, possessing much impudence, has a bushy head, and well proportioned in his form; his size I am not prepared to say, not having seen him for near twelve months – his age I imagine about twenty. This negro, I understand, absconded from Dr. Landon Clanton, of the town of Halifax, to whom he was hired for the present year. It is highly probably, that this boy has obtained a fraudulent pass, and will endeavour to pass for a freeman; a circumstance which goes to support such a conclusion is, I am informed he went off with a free man of color, named Napoleon Cabarrus, who resides in or about Edenton, N.C. and that they have been seen together beyond Pollock’s ferry, on Roanoke. Masters of vessels and all others are hereby cautioned against harboring or carrying off said negro Isaac at their peril.  ELI B. WHITAKER, Trustee, &c. Edgecombe Co. N.C., Aug., 28, 1826.

Free Press, Halifax and Tarboro, 29 August 1826.

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.

Dave Dickinson.

Dave Dickinson or Dickerson (ca. 1790-after 1850) was a black plasterer and bricklayer active in the Albemarle region in the early 19th century who spent much of his life as an enslaved artisan but was manumitted late in his life. He worked for a planter clientele wealthy enough to build houses with plastered walls. Because of the records kept by these clients and their use of Dickinson’s full name (rather than just a first name as was the case for many enslaved artisans), an unusual amount of his work is documented. There are numerous references to artisans named Dave and Davy, Dickinson and Dickerson, probably referring to the same man but possibly to two different men.

“The first references to Dave Dickinson appear in the memorandum books kept by planter James C. Johnston when he was building his Hayes Plantation House near Edenton. Johnston recorded many payments to workmen, usually by name and only rarely by task, and did not generally distinguish between enslaved and free workmen. Among Johnston’s payments to artisans are those to Dave Dickinson in 1816 and 1817, some as small sums, others as ‘wages’ of $30 and more. Johnston did not identify Dickinson’s trade, but he may have been involved in plastering. During the spring and summer of 1817, Dickinson was at work along with Benjamin French, a plasterer who had come from New York to execute the refined plasterwork at Hayes.

“A plasterer named Dave Dickerson — probably the same man — was mentioned by Chowan County planter Clement Blount in 1837. Blount and his cousin Ebenezer Pettigrew of Tyrrell County were both in need of plasterers. Blount wrote to Pettigrew on June 6, 1837, that he had obtained ‘the promise of Dave Dickerson to go on the 15th July if nothing turns up to prevent him. I think he is industrious and will do the work well.’ In the meantime, Blount was looking out for another plasterer. ‘The fellow Jack Moody [?] I was telling you of I did not know who had the control of him, I have since been informed the Brandy bottle controls him.’ Two months later, Blount had had no success. While waiting to see if Dickerson had finished ‘Mr. [James?] Johnston’s work,’ Blount visited Johnston’s house ‘to see if he was done, and he has not done one stroke of work there yet and has gone to Washington County to Plaster a House for Mr. Harrison at Lees Mills, which is treating you and myself very ill.’ (Blount decided to employ another plasterer, Benjamin Balfour.) In a time when skilled artisans were scarce, even such wealthy and influential men as Blount and Pettigrew were often at the mercy of workmen such as Dickinson, who served a far-flung planter clientele according to his own schedule.

“Dave Dickinson was evidently enslaved for most of his life, but operated almost as a free man. An intriguing entry in the United States census of 1840 listed in Edenton one David Dickinson who, according to the check marks on the census form, was head of a household that included no free people, white or of color, but four slaves — the total number of people cited for the household. Three members of the household were occupied in manufacturing or a trade. It is possible though unusual that the census taker might list a slave household in this way, perhaps thus identifying the household of a well known person living essentially as a free man. (There are also a few other heads of households listed in Edenton in the same census in which no free persons are included, and the total number of household members is the same as the number of enslaved people. Whether these listings were errors or actually represented households of enslaved persons is unknown.)

“In 1846, Joseph D. Bond of Chowan County petitioned for the emancipation of ‘a negro slave known by the name of Davy Dickinson,’ who was then aged 50 and had maintained a good character and given meritorious service. The court granted the petition in 1847. The United States Census of 1850 listed in Edenton a free black bricklayer named Davy Dickerson, aged 60, owner of $200 worth of real property, and with no family members listed as free people. (He may have been living alone or may have had a family who were still enslaved). How long he lived as a free man or who his family members were is not yet known.”

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.  

He is a free man & not a slave.

State of North Carolina, Chowan County  } February 17th, 1844. Personally appeared before me, Thomas V. Hathaway, Clerk of the Court of Pleas & Q Sessions, in and for said County, John Buchannon, a yellow man aged about thirty seven years; about five feet, six inches in height; & proved before me, by Duncan McDonald, of Edenton, that he was free born; that he was bound to said McDonald, until he arrived to the age of twenty one years, which time he served out; wherefore I do hereby certify that the said John Buchannon hath made it, satisfactorily appear, that he is a freeman & not a slave; (Over) & in testimony of his being a free man & no slave, as proved, on oath, by said Duncan McDonald of Edenton, North Carolina.  I have hereto set my hand, & seal of office, at Edenton, the day & year aforesaid.

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

Look out for him.

A Villain – Look out for him. – A fellow of quite an ordinary appearance, arrived here on Saturday night last in the stage and registered his name at the Edenton Hotel, “J.C. Martin, South Mills” – He was recognized, however, on Sunday, by the Captain of a Canal Boat from Norfolk, as being the individual who broke jail in Richmond not long since, where he was confined for kidnapping and selling a free negro, and whose real name is James Cox.  On Monday morning, after some delay, it was determined by the citizens to arrest him; but he had, no doubt, by this time been apprized of the fact, and he left town immediately, by jumping a few fences in the rear lot of the tavern.  As soon as it became known that he had disappeared, a posse of men proceeded in search of him, and once got sight of him, but by keen dodging (at which no doubt he is in full practice,) he succeeded in evading them.

The rascal, having left his trunk at the tavern, had the audacity to send for it, (by remitting the money to pay his tavern bill,) on Tuesday night by the stage.  It was not sent, but broken open, and found to contain a bowie knife, a dirk, a pistol well charged, some cotton cloth torn in slips and tied together, two or three small ropes, a few articles of clothing, several letters from his wife in Norfolk, and a brief statement of his villainous acts since his escape from the Richmond jail, written and signed by himself.  – Edenton Sentinel.

Tarboro Press, 5 Oct 1844.