Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Indian

Taint?

State v. Harris Melton & Ann Byrd, 44 NC 49 (1852).

An indictment for fornication in Stanly Superior Court.  The defendants pleaded not guilty and offered evidence of their marriage.  “The controversy was concerning the color of the male defendant – the female being admitted to be white.”  The law: “It shall not be lawful for any free negro or person of color to marry a white person; and any marriage hereafter solemnized or contracted between any free negro or free person of color and a white person, shall be null and void.”

It was admitted that Harris Melton was of Indian descent, and he argued that the Act above did not apply to persons descended from Indian ancestors.  The Supreme Court, however, noted that it did not have to reach this issue because the jury had only found that Melton was of Indian blood, without determining to what degree.  The law “could not have intended that the most remote taint of Indian blood” would void a marriage.  As the jury had indicated that it did not know the degree of Melton’s Indian-ness, the verdict for defendants must be affirmed.

My mother was an Indian woman came from Guadaloupe.

Lewis W. Levy Sr.‘s claim (#16083) with the Southern Claims Commission was submitted to Congress on 4 December 1876.  Levy lived in Cumberland County, 3 miles southeast of Fayetteville; was a free-born colored man; and owned 109 acres, of which 40 were under cultivation.  He worked as a saddle and harness maker.  During the war, he was forced to work in his trade at Fayetteville arsenal, where he was “insulted, abused and molested by the rebels.” He fed 6 Union soldiers on their way to federal lines after escaping from Florence SC, and his son Lewis Levy Jr. and Alexander Jackson, another colored man, piloted them over the Cape Fear River.

The Commissioners noted: “He was unusually well off in property for a colored man, much above the average of colored people.  He was nearly white, so much so that the confederates arrested him and tried to force him into their Army, but the surgeon discharged him on the ground of physical inability.”

“A large force of Genl. Sherman’s Army camped near him for 2 or 3 days in March 1865; & we have no doubt from the nature of the case that they stripped him of all he had. … We allow $723.00.”

“I was free born.  My mother was an Indian woman came from Guadeloupe France to this country in 1794.”

Alexander Jackson, age 60, testified that he was a colored man and that he resided in Rockfish township, Cumberland County and worked as a saddle and harness maker.  He was not related to Lewis Levy, but had known him 30 years and lived about 2 1/2 miles from him.  They sometimes worked in the same shop.

Edinboro Scurlock, age 48, testified that he was colored, lived in Cumberland County near Fayetteville and was a wagon maker.  He was not related to Lewis Levy, but knew him all his life and lived about 1/2 mile from him.

Lewis’ son Robert W. Levy was a 21 year-old farmer who lived in Rockfish township.  His testimony mentioned his mother, brothers Lewis Jr. and Matthew N. Levy, sister Ann Eliza Levy, and Wright Lambert.  Matthew N. Levy, age 23, and Lewis W. Levy Jr., 24, also testified. They lived in Fayetteville and worked as coopers.

George D. Simmons, age 39, lived in Fayetteville and worked as a barber and grocer. He had known Levy for 22 years and lived about 5 miles from him.

In the 1850 census of Fayetteville, Cumberland County: Lewis Levy, 30, saddle and harnessmaker; wife Sarah C., 25; children Robt., 6, Eliza, 8, Lewis, 4, and Matthew, 6 months; plus Abel  G. Stuart, 20, apprentice saddlemaker; Paul Jones, 23, painter; and Wm. Dunstan, 34, painter.  All were described as mulatto.