Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Halifax County

Miles Howard.

Miles Howard was born enslaved and, when he was about 11 years old, was brought to Halifax and sold to Thomas Burgess, a prominent attorney in the Halifax area. Burgess evidently took a liking to the young Miles and made sure that he learned a trade as a barber. Around 1818, Howard took a wife by consent of both his and her masters. Howard was emancipated very shortly afterwards. Burgess sold him property in Halifax in 1825 and more property later. In 1832, Burgess wrote to Senator Mangum regarding a free man of color who was a barber and a musician. The free man had purchased children from a former master. He had not been able to free them due to a law prohibiting this. He wished to move his family to a state where they could be freed and not held as his slaves. Evidently, nothing came from this request, as Howard later died in Halifax.

Burgess, in his will, gave “his worthy and excellent friend Miles Howard the Barber two lots in Halifax, now occupied by said Miles.” In 1838, in an act of emancipation the four children and slaves of Miles Howard were set free, and the family was baptized by a Catholic priest in Halifax. Between 1842 and 1846, Matilda died, and Howard married Caroline Valentine. The two had children who were also baptized Catholic. Howard handled various land transactions and was a sound businessman in Halifax. He died in 1857 without leaving a will. A lawsuit ensued, with the children of his first marriage seeking a share of his property and the children of his second marriage fighting them. The case went to North Carolina Superior Court, which ruled in favor of the children of the second marriage, because the first marriage was a slave marriage and not legal in the eyes of the law.

Adapted from

Free-Issue Death Certificates: MISCELLANEOUS, no. 11.

Jane Ceaser. Died 27 October 1921, Mount Airy, Surry County. Black. Widow of Phillip Ceaser. Age about 90. Born in NC to [first name unknown] Starling and unknown mother. Buried Ararat cemetery. Informant, Jess Rowley, Mount Airy.

Sarah Stubblefield. Died 16 May 1915, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County. Colored. Married. Born 1860 in NC to Phillip Caesar and Jane Stewart. Buried Brushy Fork cemetery. Informant, George Stubblefield.

In the 1860 census of Mount Airy, Surry County: Philip Ceaser, 23, wife Jane, 20, and daughter Sarah, 6 months.

John Dimery. Died 7 January 1916, Elizabeth, Bladen County. “Molato.” Married. Cooper. Age about 70. Born Bladen County to Allen Dimery and unknown mother, both of Bladen County. Buried at “John Martins bur place,” Bladen County. Informant, Rev. Williamson, Elizabethtown.

In the 1860 census of Bladen County: Allen Dimery, 54, cooper, wife Sarah, 50, and children Martha, 18, John, 17, Early J., 14, A.M., 7, A.V., 7, W.D., 6, and S.J., 5.

Hawkins Carter. Died 6 Mar 1920, Judkins, Warren County. Colored. Married. Farmer. Born 1846 in Warren County to Hawkins Carter and Betsy Carter. Informant, Archer Carter, Littleton.

H.W. Carter. Died 21 August 1927, Durham, Durham County. Resided 512 Douglass. Farmer. Colored. Married to Nannie Carter. Age 85. Born in NC to Plummer Carter and Amey Hawkins. Buried Warrenton NC. Informant, Miss P.H. Carter, Durham.

Wesley Carter. Died 11 December 1917, Aurelian Springs, Brinkleyville, Halifax County. Colored. Married. Farmer. “Had been blind 47 years.” Born Warren County to Hawkins Carter of unknown and Betsie Shaw of Halifax. Buried “Popular Grove.” Informant, Eligah Carter, Aurelian Springs.

In the 1850 census of Warren, Warren County: Hawkins Carter, 45, wife Elizabeth, 40, Wesley, 10, Lavenia, 8, Hawkins, 6, Plummer, 4, Eaton, 2, and Lemuel, 1; plus Plummer Carter, 50.

Bessie Jane Jeffries. Died 11 February 1936, Burlington, Pleasant Grove, Alamance County. Black. Widow of Bedford Jeffries. About 80 years old. Born Orange County to William Haithcock and unknown mother. Buried Martin Chapel. Informant, Alvis McAdams.

In the 1860 census of Alamance County: Caty Jeffries, 50, Barb Jeffries, 48, Jacob Jeffries, 35, Bedford Jeffries, 18, and Thos. Jeffries. 15.

Halifax County Marriages: D & E.

Daniel, James and Betsey Wilkins, 22 Dec 1848. Thomas Daniel, bondsman.

In the 1850 census of Halifax County: James Daniel, 37, farmer, and wife Betsey, 20.

Daniel, Richard and Matilda Evans, 18 Apr 1832. James Perry, bondsman.

Dempsey, Dempsey and Peggy Hawkins, 14 May 1831. Uriah W. Skinner, bondsman.

In the 1830 census of Halifax County, Dempsey Dempsey is head of a household of five free persons of color.

Dempsey, Hilliard & Arilla Dempsey, 25 Dec 1861.

In the 1860 census of Western District, Halifax County: Anderson Capps, 35, carpenter; wife Margarett, 35, spinner; Elizabeth Dempsey, 40, washerwoman; Arilla Dempsey, 16, seamstress; Dump Dempsey, 5; and James Rand, 5.

Dempsey, Melvin and Patsey Amos, 16 Mar 1830. Hansel Hathcock, bondsman.

In the 1830 census, Hansel Hathcock is a head of a household of free people of color.  In the 1860 census of Eastern Division, Halifax County: W.J. Squiggins, 32, fisherman; wife M.J., 24; Melvin Dempsey, 45, fisherman, born Halifax; Berthey Day, 30, cook, born Northampton; and George Day, 12, born Halifax.

Dempsey, Tamberlane and Tabitha Richardson, 4 Jul 1831. J.R.J. Daniel, bondsman.

In the 1860 census of Eastern Division, Halifax County: Tamblin Dempsey, 50, day laborer, wife Tabitha, 49, and children John, 14, Tharrigood, 10, and Anna J., 7.

Dempsey, Thorogood and Lucy Carter, 15 Feb 1832. Hezkiah Hathcock, bondsman.

Dempsey, William and Mariah Pugh, 8 Mar 1848. Laertes M. King, bondsman.

Dempsey, William and Mary Larence, 7 Jan 1857. B.W. Bass, bondsman.

In the 1860 census of Eastern Division, Halifax County: William Dempsey, 26, day laborer, wife Mary, 27, and children John, 4, Susan, 3, and George, 4 months.

Dempsy, John and Martha Bird, 10 Mar 1821. James Dempsy, bondsman.

Dempsy, [blank] and Mary Loclier, 2 Nov 1818. Richard Bird, bondsman.

Durham, Jacob and Harriette Mills, 4 Dec 1829. Isham Mills, bondsman.

Ethergain, James and Betsey Wilkins, 21 Feb 1825. Thomas Brewer, bondsman.

Evans, Doctor Lucas and Emily Linch, 31 Dec 1851. William Smith, bondsman.

In the 1860 census of Western District, Halifax County: Doctor Evans, 27, farmer, wife Emily 23, and children William, 4, and Sallie, 7 months.

Evans, James and Mary Evans, 19 Feb 1855. Jesse Boon, bondsman.

Evans, James and Epsey Richardson, 9 Oct 1856.

In the 1860 census of Western District, Halifax County: James Evans, 64, farmer, Lucy Evans, 64, spinner; Mary Evans, 30, spinner; James Evans, 25, farm laborer; and Lucy, 5, John, 3, and Elizebeth Evans, 1.

Evans, Mechan and Elizabeth Toney, 16 May 1831. Jno. Pepper, bondsman.

Evans, Moses and Roda Brown, 31 Jan 1859. Lem. Carter, bondsman.

In the 1860 census of Western District, Halifax County: Rodah Evans, 19, farmer, and Moses Evans, 23, farm laborer.

Evans, Richard and Betsy Chavers, 13 Jan 1858. Lazarus Pope, bondsman.

They ran off and was married in an old field.

State of North Carolina, Halifax County    }  On this 20th day of May, 1846, personally appeared before me Lemuel P. Johnston an acting Justice of the Peace in and for the County aforesaid, Mrs. Winaford Holley, a resident of said County and State, aged eighty eight years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth, certify that She was an eye witness to the marriage of Drury Walden to his wife Elizabeth, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Harriss; that they ran away and was married some time in the year (1780) Seventeen hundred and eighty (she well remembers) in an old field a little from the Road, in the County of Northampton North Carolina, by Herbert Harris, who was, at that time, an acting Magistrate in Said County of Northampton; and that the said Drury and wife (after their intermarriage) took supper that evening, at her Winaford Holley’s Mother’s House. That she well recollects, that at the time of the aforesaid Marriage (To Wit) in the year (1780) her husband Jesse Holley, was then a soldier in the army.

She further certifies that upon her oath, that the said Drury Walden’s family, and his wife, the aforesaid Elizabeth’s family, were at (the time of their intermarriage,) living within an half Mile of her Mother’s house; and that she very well remembers, that the aforesaid Drury Walden, did serve one, and she believes two tours in the Army of the Revolution, after he intermarried with the aforesaid Elizabeth Harriss, for all of the above named families, were living at the same places, that they were, at the time of the aforesaid marriage, when the said Drury Walden returned home, from the service; and that she saw him, when he arrived at home from the said service.   Winafred X Holley

Sworn to and subscribed on the say and year above written before me  L.P. Johnston

He lives with a free colored woman.

Fifty Dollars Reward. For negro SHADRACK, who ran away from me in August last, 1823; he is twenty-six years old, five feet six or seven inches high, dark complexion, and has a sulky appearance. He was raised by Mathew C. Whitaker, Esq. deceased, of Halifax county; his parents belong to Henry Mason, Esq. and his wife belongs to the heirs of Benjamin Harriss, deceased, and at this time lives with a free colored woman, one mile and a half from Halifax town, on the main road leading from thence to Enfield. I will give the above reward for him delivered to me in Warren county, three miles south of Warrenton, on the stage-road, or confined in Halifax jail so that I get him. All persons are forewarned from hiring or harboring said boy. Rob. Ransom. Greenwood, Aug. 16, 1824.

Free Press, Halifax, 17 September 1824.

License to carry a shotgun.

Ordered by the Court that the following Free Persons of Colour be granted license to carry a shotgun for twelve months next ensuing viz:  Jordan Locklayer, Fed Wilkins, Willie Jones, Jesse Richardson, William Jones, Gideon Richardson, John Smith, Reasa Richardson, Frederick Haithcock, Lem’l Morgan, Aaron Locklayer, Simon Purner, Nicholas Richardson, Richard Conn, Julius Flood, David Reynolds, Robert Mitchum, Ellick Jones, Hardy Richardson, Herrod Scott, Norman Scott

Docket, August Term 1848, Court Records, Halifax County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Free-Issue Death Certificates: PETTIFORD.

Fathia Thomas Pettiford. Died 10 November 1930, Oxford, Granville County. Resided Hillsboro Street. Colored. Widowed. Age 82. Born Franklin County to Thomas Pettiford and Fathia Anderson. Buried Harrisburg. Informant, H.P. Pettiford.

Sallie Howell. Died 23 August 1934, Oxford, Fishing Creek, Granville County. Colored. Widow of James R. Howell. Age 81. Born Franklinton to Thomas Pettiford and Fathie Pettiford. Buried Antiock. Informant, Mrs. Bettie Cannady.

Beddie Parish. Died 8 January 1923, Oxford, Granville County. Colored. Widowed. Age 62. Born Franklin County to Tomas Pettiford and Fathy Pattiford, both of Franklin County.  Buried Harrisburg. Informant, Alex Parish.

In the 1860 census of Cedar Creek, Granville County: Thomas Pettiford, 40, day laborer, wife Fatha, 35, and children Nick, 24, Minerva, 22, Bettie, 14, Fatha, 12, Delila, 10, Lewis, 8, Sally, 6, and Bittie, 4, plus Elijah Valentine, 90.

Sallie Brandon. Died 9 May 1926, Kittrell, Vance County. Colored. Married. Age 75. Born to Wm. Pettiford of Granville County and unknown mother. Buried in family graveyard. Informant, Isiah Brandon.

In the 1860 census of Oxford, Granville County: Will. Pettiford, 50, farmer; wife Avy; and children Lewis, 18, Bettie, 14, Edny, 13, Sally, 11, Will., 8, James, 5, Lewis, 4, and unnamed, 2.

Coleman Pettiford. Died 24 May 1933, Raleigh, Wake County. Resided 228 East Lenoir Street. Colored. Married to Pheoby Pettiford. Farmer. Born 1837 in Franklin County to Herman Pettiford of Franklin County and Lizzie Evans of Granville County. Buried Mount Hope cemetery. Informant, St. Agnes Hospital.

In the 1850 census of Fort Creek, Granville County: Hillmon Pettyford, 50, wife Lizzy, 40, and children Jane, 21, William, 16, Sally, 14, Coleman, 12, Louisa, 8, John, 6, Gilly, 4, and Elizabeth, 2.

Silas Pettiford. Died 23 December 1935, Franklinton, Franklin County. Colored. Widower. Age 95. Born Granville County to Reuben Pettiford and Rebecca Pettiford. Buried Long graveyard. Informant, Irie Tensley.

Rubin Pettiford. Died 28 July 1916, Plymouth, Washington County. Negro. Brickmason. Born February 1837, Wayne County, to Rheubin Pettiford and Julia Artist, both of Wayne County. Informant, Roberta Pettiford, Plymouth.

In the 1850 census of Warren County: Reuben Pettiford, 50, stonemason, wife Judy A., 37, and children Eliza Artis, 21, Alfred Artis, 15, Jack Artis, 13, Rhody Artis, 12, Ruben Artis Jr., 10, Julian Artis, 9, Mary Artis, 7, Elizabeth J. Pettiford, 5, and Virginia Pettiford, 3, plus Middy Artis, 60, and Isah Artis, 4 months. But see also, in the 1850 census of Louisburg, Franklin County: Ruben Petifoot, 50, stone cutter, wife Julia, 37, children Eliza, 21, Mary, 8, Betsy, 6, Virginia, 4, Moses, 2, and Isaac Petifoot, 7 months, plus Middy Artirst, 80. And see: in the 1850 census of Nash County, Judah Pettiford, 36, Milly Artis, 90, Eliza Artis, 20, Mary Pettiford, 7, Elizabeth Pettiford, 5, Virginia Pettiford, 3, Josephine Pettiford, 1, and Dick Pettiford, 4 months.  In the 1860 census of Western District, Halifax County: Rubin Pettiford, 60, and Julia, 50, Rubin, 22, Julia, 19, Mary, 17, Betsy, 15, Virginia, 13, James, 10, and Isaiah, 11, all Pettifords.


Free-Issue Death Certificates: BOWSER, no. 2.

Gid Bowser. Died 12 Aug 1925, Roanoke Rapids, Halifax County. Colored. Widower of Everlyn Robinson. Born 1 February 1857 in Halifax County to Tom Bowser and Rocksana Manly. Buried Halifax County. Informant, Willis Bowser.

Elizabeth Burn. Died 15 December 1917, Roanoke Rapids, Halifax County. Colored. Widow. Born 13 September 1860 in Halifax County to Tom Bowser and Roxana Manly. Buried Halifax County. Informant, W. Frank Bowser.

In the 1860 census of Western District, Halifax County: Thomas Bowser, 47, wife Roxanna, 27, and children Gideon, 3, and Penny E., 2.

James Christopher Toney. Died 19 September 1923, Roanoke Rapids, Halifax County. Resided Rosemary Street. Colored. Married to Hattie T. Toney. Farmer. Born 15 January 1857 in Halifax County to Hilliard Toney and Jane Bowser. Buried Toney cemetery. Informant, Vivian Toney.

In the 1860 census of Western District, Halifax County: Hilliard Toney, 45, wife Jane, 28, and Kinchen, 8, Orsborn, 5, and James, 2. 

Isiah Bowser. Died 22 January 1916, Roanoke Rapids, Halifax County. Colored. Married. Farm help. About 58 years old. Born Halifax County to Eaton Bowser and Sallie Bowser. Informant, John Carter.

In the 1860 census of Western District, Halifax County: Eaton Bowser, 34, farmer, wife Lucinda, 27, and children Rebecca, 9, Sallie, 8, George, 5, William, 3, and unknown, 3 months.

James Bowser. Died 1 November 1925, Poplar Branch, Currituck County. Born 9 August 1849, Currituck County to Jonas Bowser and Matilia Case.

In the 1860 census of Powells Point, Currituck County: Jonas Bowser, 37, laborer, wife Mahala, 33, and son James, 10.

An Act to Emancipate Certain Negroes.


An Act to Emancipate Certain Negroes Therein Mentioned.

Whereas, it hath been represented to this General Assembly, that Robert Shaw, in his life-time, did receive a valuable consideration for the further services of a certain negro woman named Amelia, and has certified the same and declared her to be free: And by petition of Thomas Lovick, it appears to be his desire that a certain negro woman by the name of Betty, belonging to him, should be set free; also a petition of Monsieur Chaponel, desiring to have set free a mulatto slave belonging to him, by the name of Lucy, of three and half years old: And whereas, it appears by the petition of Ephraim Knight, of Halifax county, that he is desirous to emancipate two young mulatto men, called Richard and Alexander, the property of said Ephraim: And it hath also been represented to this Assembly by John Alderson, of Hyde County, that it is his desire to set free a mulatto boy belonging to him, called Sam: And whereas, it hath been made appear to this Assembly by the petition of Thomas Newman, of Fayetteville, that he hath a mulatto boy belonging to him, which he is desirous to emancipate, and known by the name of Thomas:

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 the said negro women called Amelia and Betty, and the mulatto girl Lucy, and the said mulatto men Richard and Alexander, and the said mulatto boy called Sam, and the negro boy named Thomas Clinch, shall be, and each of them are hereby emancipated and declared free; and the said Richard and Alexander shall take and use the surname of Day, and the mulatto boy Sam shall be known and called by the name of Samuel Johnson; and the said slaves so liberated, and each of them, are hereby declared to be able and capable in law to posses 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.

Acts of the North Carolina General Assembly, 1789, Colonial and State Records of North Carolina.


She mixed his blood with whiskey and drank it.


I was never a slave. Although I was born somewhere about 1855, I was not born in slavery, but my father was. I’m afraid this story will be more about my father and mother than it will be about myself.

My mother was a white woman. Her name was Tempie James. She lived on her father’s big plantation on the Roanoke River at Rich Square, North Carolina. Her father owned acres of land and many slaves. His stables were the best anywhere around; they were filled with horses, and the head coachman was named Squire James. Squire was a good looking, well behaved Negro who had a white father. He was tall and light colored. Tempie James fell in love with this Negro coachman. Nobody knows how long they had been in love before Tempie’s father found it out, but when he did he locked Tempie in her room. For days he and Miss Charlottie, his wife, raved, begged and pleaded, but Tempie just said she loved Squire. ‘Why will you act so?’ Miss Charlottie was crying. ‘Haven’t we done everything for you and given you everything you wanted?’

Tempie shook her head and said: ‘You haven’t given me Squire. He’s all I do want.’

Then it was that in the dark of the night Mr. James sent Squire away; he sent him to another state and sold him.

But Tempie found it out. She took what money she could find and ran away. She went to the owner of Squire and bought him, then she set him free and changed his name to Walden, Squire Walden. But then it was against the law for a white woman to marry a Negro unless they had a strain of Negro blood, so Tempie cut Squire’s finger and drained out some blood. She mixed this with some whiskey and drank it, then she got on the stand and swore she had Negro blood in her, so they were married. She never went back home and her people disowned her.

Tempie James Walden, my mother, was a beautiful woman. She was tall and fair with long light hair. She had fifteen children, seven boys and eight girls, and all of them lived to be old enough to see their great-grandchildren. I am the youngest and only one living now. Most of us came back to North Carolina. Two of my sisters married and came back to Rich Square to live. They lived not far from the James plantation on Roanoke River. Once when we were children my sister and I were visiting in Rich Square. One day we went out to pick huckleberries. A woman came riding down the road on a horse. She was a tall woman in a long grey riding habit. She had grey hair and grey eyes. She stopped and looked at us. ‘My,’ she said, ‘whose pretty little girls are you?’

‘We’re Squire Walden’s children,’ I said.

She looked at me so long and hard that I thought she was going to hit me with her whip, but she didn’t, she hit the horse. He jumped and ran so fast I thought she was going to fall off, but she went around the curve and I never saw her again. I never knew until later that she was Mis’ Charlottie James, my grandmother.

I don’t know anything about slavery times, for I was born free of free parents and raised on my father’s own plantation. I’ve been living in Durham over sixty-five years.

From Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves (1841).

Squire Walden married Tempy James on 28 March 1832 in Halifax County. John Keemer was bondsman, and clerk of court J.H. Harwell witnessed. 

In the 1850 census of Northampton County: Squire Walden, 38, laborer, wife Temperance, 34, and children Samuel, 14, William, 13, Amanda, 12, Martha, 11, James, 9, Hester, 8, Peyton, 5, and Whitman, 1, plus William Walden, 78, farmer. All born in NC, except the elder William, who was born in Virginia. All were described as mulatto.