Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Edgecombe County

She is entitled to all of it.

Doe on the demise of Mary Ann Jones v. William Norfleet, 52 NC 473 (1860).

This ejectment action was tried in Edgecombe County Superior Court.

The plaintiff, “a colored woman,” claims title to a parcel of land under the 1860 will of Henry S. Lloyd, which contains the following clause: “I give and devise to Mary Ann Jones, a free colored woman, of the said town of Tarborough, and to her heirs and assigns forever, the lot of ground and the house thereon erected in the said town, on which she now lives.”

William Norfleet, Lloyd’s executor, having been directed to sell all of Lloyd’s real estate in Tarboro, except that specifically devised, took possession of lot 118, insisting that lot only 107 passed to Jones.

The two lots, totaling about an acre, adjoin each other and are enclosed by one fence, except nine or ten feet of lot 118 at the upper end, which has a steep descent. There has never been a dividing line between the lots, which are situated “in the suburbs” of Tarboro.

In 1856, before the lots were enclosed, Lloyd built an ice house on lot 118, at a cost of some 800 dollars, for storing ice for a tavern in which he had one-half ownership. The lots were surrounded by a board fence in 1857, and the same year Lloyd built Jones a house on lot 107.  She moved in immediately and resided there at the time of the suit. In the spring of 1859, Jones enclosed a small portion of the ground for a garden. There is a smokehouse on lot 107, built when the house was built, and, on lot 118, a small privy. In 1858, Lloyd built a rough cabin with a small garden for an aged slave. Jones had the use of the rest of both lots for the purpose of cultivation.

Tarboro’s town plan shows lots fifty yards square, and according to such measurement, part of Jones’ garden and the privy are situated on 118. Lloyd bought both lots from the same person at the same time. He lived near them and frequently saw them, but it is unknown whether he knew where the line between them would run.

The Superior Court judge ruled that Jones was entitled to both lots, and Norfleet appealed.

“A testator, owning a parcel of land embracing two town lots, on which he had settled a woman, having built her a dwelling on one lot and an outhouse on the other, and permitted her to inclose a garden, partly on each lot, and to use the whole parcel inclosed within one fence, devised to her ‘the lot of ground and house thereon erected in the said town where she now lives.’ The facts are distinctly and clearly stated, and after duly considering them, in connection with the language of the will, we are of opinion that the entire parcel of ground, embracing lots 107 and 118, passed under the devise, except such portions as had been appropriated by the devisor to the ice-house and to the cabin and garden of the old slave.” Judgment affirmed.

To a poplar standing in the Cornfield Branch.

State of North Carolina, Edgecombe County   } Agreeably to an order of Edgecombe County Court February Term 1834 to us directed as commissioners appointed to [illegible] the Estate of Miles Read dec’d & to lay off and allot unto Nancy Read the Widow of said Dec’d. Such part of the Crop Stock and provisions as we may conceive necessary and adaquate for the support of her self and family for one year &c

Report – All have this day met on the premises and after viewing said Estate have alloted to the Said Widow (viz) forty Barrels of Corn, twelve hundred pounds of bacon, three thousand pounds of blade fodder – all of the wheat on hand Eight bushels of peas – Seventy five pounds of picked cotton, two hundred handfuls of flax – five gallons of brandy – all the Wool on hand – One cow – hur Choice one bed and its necessary furniture, and one wheel and pair of cards.

Given under our hands and Seals this 17th day of March 1834.  /s/ Peter Hines, John Ritter, Elijah Harrell, James Barron, Turner Bynum JP


State of North Carolina, Edgecombe County   } Agreeably to an order of Edgecombe County Court February Term 1834 Directed to the Sheriff of Said County commanding of him to Summons a Jury of good and lawfull men of his County to lay off and allot unto Nancy Read Widow of Miles Read dec’d her legal dower in the lands that her late husband died seized and possessed of in Said County of Edgecombe. All the undersigned having been summoned by the Sheriff of Said County have this day met on the premises and after being sworn agreeably law, We proceeded to lay off and allot unto the said Widow as follows (viz) Beginning at a litewood Stake in Col Hines line thence N. 11o E. 65 poles to a poplar standing in the cornfield branch; then down the various courses of said branch to the Mile Swamp then up said Swamp to the mouth of the boggy branch; then up said branch to a poplar and litewood stake in said branch then S. 1o W. 110 poles to a pine, thence round the lines of the land of the Harrel tract to the beginning containing One hundred & ninety eight acres, &c – Including the dwelling house out houses orchards, &c where the Said dec’d most generally dwelt next before his death

Given under our hands & Seals this 17th day March 1834.  /s/ John Fulton, E.R. Holland, David X Webb, Anson X Dunn, Joab Moore, John Carter, Rowland Wiggins, Thomas Stark, Jacob X Dunn, James Pender, Thos. D. Gatton, Elisha X Felton


State of North Carolina, Edgecombe County   } Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, August term 1834

To the worshipful the Justices of the Court aforesaid: The petition of Arthur Read, William Read, David Read, Zachariah Bass and his wife Elizabeth, and John Ritter guardian ad litem for Elisha Read, Mima Read, Mary Ann Read and Miles Read, humbly complaining, respectfully sheweth:

That on the [blank] day of February last past Miles Read, late of the County aforesaid, departed this life intestate, seized and possessed of sundry real and personal estate, leaving Arthur Read, William Read, David Read, Zachariah Bass and his wife Elizabeth, who are of full age, and Elisha Read, Mima Read, Mary Ann Read and Miles Read, who are infants, his sole distributes and heirs at law. Your petitioners who are of full age, and John Ritter who for this purpose has been duly appointed guardian ad litem for the said minors, further represent that they are desirous of having partition made of the said real estate as in by law in such cases made and provided, but are remidiless in this behalf without the interposition of your worshipful Court.

They therefore respectfully pray that an order issue to Peter Hines, William Hines, Benj. Sharpe, Elisha Harrell, John Carter and William Jenkins directing them to go upon the premises and allot and set apart share and share alike to said heirs the said real estate and make return of their proceedings to the next term of your worshipful Court, and make such other and further order in the premises as to your worships may appear meet and proper, and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray &c.  /s/ B.R. Hines attorney

From the file of Miles Read, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, Original, North Carolina State Archives.

He carried a white woman there.

Fifty Dollars Reward.

Made his escape from me, on Friday evening the 4th of the present month, near Stantonsburg, a negro man, named ALLEN, (calls himself Allen Woodard) he is about 30 years of age, of a tolerable size, yellow complexion, a pretty good House Carpenter and a very ingenious negro. He formerly belonged to Wm. Dickinson, decd. – and has lately been confined in the Newbern gaol, was removed thence to Snow Hill, had his trial and was whipped – his back is pretty much scared [sic]. It is said he has forged free papers, with which he has passed as a free man. It is probable he will lurking about Newbern as he carried a white woman there, with whom he was intimate, as it was said.

The above reward will be given to any person who will deliver him to me, or lodge him in Tarborough gaol.  DANIEL DICKINSON.  Edgcomb County, 2 miles above Stantonsburg, May 8th, 1822.

Newbern Sentinel, 18 May 1822.

Stealing free negroes of color.

Stop the Villains. Escaped from the Jail in Tarborough on the night of the seventh instant, William B. Crawford, a notorious counterfeiter, between sixty and seventy years of age, about six feet high, his head white; also, John M. Windham, about thirty years of age, five feet seven or eight inches high, with an uncommon long face and chin, his fore teeth very long and prominent; this villain was imprisoned at the last term of the Superior Court of Edgecombe to eighteen months imprisonment, for stealing free negroes of colour; also Elias Owens, about fifty years of age, who was in Jail for debt, and the principal instrument in breaking the Jail. I will give one hundred dollars reward for their apprehension and delivery in this place, or a proper portion for either of them.  BENJAMIN HART, Jailer.

Star, Raleigh, 23 July 1819.

She is of free parents.

North Carolina, Edgcombe County  }  To the Sheriff of Edgcombe County Greeting; You are hereby commanded that, you Summon Thomas Hodges of your said County if to be found in your Bailiwic personally to appear before the Justices of the County Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions to be held for the same on the fourth monday in November next then & there to shew Cause by what Right title or claim he holdeth in Slavery, a young Woman of mixed Blood named Bet (Elizabeth) who by Thomas Hall her Attorney Suggests that she is of free Parents & entitled to freedom — And have then & there this Writ; Witness Edward Hall Clerk of sd. Court, the [blank] Day of [blank] ann Dom’o 1780, in the 5th year of Independency     Edw’d Hall C.C.

Edgecombe County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

They emigrated for safety.

A company of sixty free negroes from North Carolina, arrived at Baltimore on Wednesday, who are emigrating to Ohio for safety.

The National Republican, Washington DC, 2 February 1861.


FREE NEGROES ON THE WING. – On Wednesday last, sixty-three free negroes from Edgecourt [sic] county, North Carolina, crossed the Ohio river at Bellaire on their way to Zanesville. An old negro acted as leader of the party, holding the tickets, disbursing funds, etc.

Daily Dispatch, Richmond VA, 7 Feb 1861.



Sixty-three free negroes from North Carolina arrived at Zanesville on Thursday. They were from Edgecomb county, and had been ordered to leave by the whites of that section.

Fremont Journal, Fremont OH, 8 February 1861.



One of the runaways had a free wife.

TAKEN UP AND COMMITTED TO THE PUBLIC JAIL — of Wilkes County on the 15th inst. three negro men, who say they belong to JOHN SMITH, a refugee, stopping at present at High Point, N.C. viz:

JO, about 30 years of age, weighs 160 lbs., five feet three and a half inches high, teeth good, “black as soot,” says he was raised in Jones County by MERRY JONES; had a free wife name ANNA DONE [DOVE]; is a shoe-maker.

CHARLES, raised in Craven County, owned by MRS. LAVINIA SMITH, of Edgecombe County; knows B.M. SELBY and other citizens of Tarboro’; 40 years of age, weighs 160 lbs., height five feet eight inches; black round face; and professes to be a sort of carpenter.

HENRY, 35 years of age; weighs 150 lbs., five feet eight inches high; yellow black in color; was raised in Virginia by DR. HARRIS, sold to JAS. HARRISON, who sold to JOHN SMITH, the present owner, and says he is a plasterer.

The owner or owners will please come forward, pay charges and take said negroes away, or they will be dealt with as law further directs.  August 24, 1863       ROBT. M. SMITH, Sheriff.

Raleigh Standard, 26 August 1863.

Intelligence received from some free people of colour.

RUNAWAY. From the Subscriber residing in the vicinity of Rolesville, on the 30th day of July last, a negro by the name of BEN, about 30 years of age, nearly 6 feet high, a very slick black, with one crooked knee, perhaps his right, it bears considerably towards his other knee when walking, an uncommon large foot, his fore teeth affected and look dark, so much so, as to be plainly discovered if noticed, it is expected from intelligence received from some free people of colour, since he started, he intends passing as a free man. When last heard from, he was on his way to Edgecomb County, North Carolina. Any person bringing him to me or lodging him in some Jail, so that I get him again, shall receive a reasonable reward with all necessary expenses paid. CLATON LEA. Rolesville, August 7, 1838.

Raleigh Register and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser, 13 August 1838.

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.

Lurking amongst the free negroes.


Raleigh Register and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser, 22 April 1826.