Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Lenoir County

Always free?


WILEY LOWEREY, sworn and examined, duly testified:

Q. Where do you live?  A. In Kinston, Lenoir County, North Carolina.

Q. What is your business at home?  A. Well, sir, I run drays on the street, and I have been drayer there for two or three years. I keep store besides.

Q. In the town of Kinston?  A. Yes, sir.

Q. Have you held any public office in the county?  A. I have been county commissioner.

Q. How long?  A. About eight years.

Q. Are you county commissioner now?  A: No, sir.

Q. Were you formerly a slave?  A. No, sir.

Q. You were a freeman before the war?  A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you own property?  A. Yes, sir.

Q. How much, and what does it consist of?  A. Town property principally.

Q. Real estate?  A. Yes, sir.

Q. Have you made it since the war?  A. Yes, sir; most of it.

Q. Do you own a house and lot?  A. Yes, sir; I own a right smart of houses. My renters pay me between four and five hundred dollars a year.


Q. How far is Lenoir County from Warren?  A. I think 180 miles.

Q. How long was it after you left there before you moved to the one where you are now?  A. I was raised there.

Q. You always lived there before you came to Lenoir?  A. Yes, sir.

Q. And you were always free?  A. Yes, sir.

Q. Always free? A. Yes, sir.

Q. What is your age now?  A. I am forty-seven years old.

Q. Were you always free?  A. Yes, sir.

Q. You were born free?  A. Yes, sir.

Q. Were your parents ever slaves?  A. No, they never was. My old grandfather was a hundred and five when he died, and was always free.

Q. Neither you or any of your ancestors were ever slaves in this country?  A. No, sir.

Q. What were your opportunities for education before the war?  A. I do not know, sir. Before the war, I did not know much; but the free colored people had a school going on in Raleigh.

Q. You said you were a county commissioner; where did you find such an education such as you found necessary in that position?  A. I just picked it up. I never went to school a day in my life.

Q. You found time to study and pick up a little arithmetic?  A. Yes, sir; I can read and write.

Wiley Lowery testified before a Senate Select Committee investigating the migration of hundreds of “colored people” from the South to Indiana in the late 1870s.

Senate Report 693, 2nd Session, 46th Congress: Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States, Washington DC, beginning Tuesday, 9 March 1880.

Willie Lowery married Winnie Tann in Warren County on 16 January 1860. Matthew Guy was bondsman, John W. White was witness, and N.A. Purefoy, Minister of the Gospel, performed the service. 

Matthew Guy married Surbina Lowery on 10 December 1850 in Warren County. In the 1860 census of Warrenton, Warren County: #84, M. Guy and family; #85, P. Lowery, 65, mulatto, washerwoman; #86, N.A. Purefoy, white, clergyman, and family; #98, W. Lowery, 24, black, stonemason, born in Warren County, W. Lowery, 22, mulatto, seamstress, born in Northampton County; and M. Mitchell, 25, black, washerwoman, born in Halifax County.

Index to Marriage Bonds Filed in the North Carolina State Archives, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Raleigh; federal census schedules.


… And the bills to enable Daniel Skeene to emancipate his wife and daughter, and to emancipate Lewis Williams, and James G. Hostler, were each read a third time and passed.

The North-Carolinian (Fayetteville), 23 December 1848.

In the 1850 census of Lenoir County: Daniel Skein, 50, Lottie Skein, 49, and Holton Skein, 8, all mulatto, with Harriet Pate, 23, white, and Luther Hughes, 10. Next door, a household headed by Bethia Skein, 34, white. (This Daniel Skeene appears in the 1860 and 1870 censuses of Lexington, Stark County, Ohio.)

Bad company.

Highway Robbery. – On Saturday morning last, Mr. Richard H. Blount, merchant of Kinston, Lenoir county, started from home for Newbern, with 4,860 in his possession in Bank bills, with the intention of procuring Northern funds.  About 1 o’clock of the day, when passing through a lonely place called Dover Swamp, 15 or 16 miles from Newbern, four men, three whites and a mulatto, rushed out of a thicket by the roadside, seized Mr. Blount, hauled him from the buggy in which he was riding, beat him until he was senseless, and then robbed him of all his money.  Mr. B. remained in an insensible condition for an hour or two, when a negro travelling the road discovered him.  He was taken back to Kinston, and so soon as the fact of the robbery became known, a large number of the citizens of that place started out in various directions in pursuit of the villains. – Wilmington Chronicle of 13th inst.

Carolina Watchman, 21 Sep 1848.

Surnames: Lenoir County, 1850.



Free-Issue Death Certificates: DOVE.

Ned Dove.  Died 13 December 1918, Jacksonville, Onslow County. Colored. Married to Maria Dove.  Born 1846, Onslow County to Durant Dove and Annie Dove. Farmer. Buried Dove graveyard.  Informant, William Dove.

Jane Dove. Died 24 April 1926, Woodington, Lenoir County. Colored. Widow of James Dove. Born 1836 in Onslow County to Durant Dove and Jane Dove, both of Onslow. Informant, James Dove.

Willie Dove. Died 10 March 1927, Woodington, Lenoir County. Colored. Married to Mary Dove. Farmer for Blackledge Harper. Born Onslow County to Durant Dove and Annie White, both of Onslow. Informant, Blackledge Harper.

Henry Dove. Died 2 October 1915, Kinston, Lenoir County. Colored. Married. Born 1850, Onslow County to Durant Dove and Annie White of Onslow County. Informant, John H. Dove.

In the 1850 census of Upper Richlands, Onslow County, Durant Dove, 40, mulatto, wife Anny and children Margarett Ann, Eliza Jane, Wm., Julia, Nancy, Durant, Edward, Mandy, Joshua, and Henry.

Amos Dove.  Died 31 August 1924, Richlands, Onslow County. Negro. Widower of Mercy Dove. Age 78. Father, Sanders Basden. Mother, Nurcy Edwards. Buried Green Branch cemetery.  Informant, Oscar Dove.

John H. Dove.  Died 14 December 1925, Kinston, Lenoir County. Colored. Widowed. Born 1854, Lenoir County to Jim Dove of Lenoir County and unknown mother. Informant, Jim Dove.

Carrying Nat Turner in their little carts.

To the Honbl the General Assemby of N. Carolina

Your memorialists respectfully shew unto your Honorable Body: That the County of Lenoir has been for many years regularly visited on all public occasions, by free negroes & slaves hiring their time, from the adjoining Counties, & particularly from the Town of Newbern.  The ostensible object of these persons has been to retail cakes, tobacco & spiritous liquors.  The good citizens of the County have always believed that the [illegible] and within the last five years have been firmly convinced, that the visits of such characters, have not only produced serious loss & inconvenience by the temptations which are thus held out to their slaves, to steal lambs, pigs & poultry to barter with them, but is calculated to do a far more serious and incalculable injury by the facilities offered for the [illegible] among their slaves.  Enjoying the privilege of travelling in their little carts from one County town to another, these black pedlars have it within their power to distribute, without suspicion, in any nook & corner of the Country, the pamphlets of [illegible] as well as communicate verbally the murderous plans of a Nat Turner. The acquaintances your memorialists have with these characters, completely satisfies them that they are fit instruments for such purposes.

An application has heretofore been made to your Honourable Body for relief on the subject & a remedial act had been passed which your memorialists to believe was intended to meet this case, but which unfortunately was so farmed as to prove entirely nugatory.

That act authorized the slaves & free negroes of Newbern to trade on Lenoir County, under a license taken out in Craven.  As the tax imposed by the late law does not amount to a prohibition, its chief consequence is to enlarge the revenue of Craven  without affording any relief to to Lenoir.  In tender consideration of the previous, Your memorialists to earnestly request of your Honourable Body, that you will further legislate on this matter, and authorise the County of Lenoir to exclude all coloured retailers of cakes, spirits &c. from its limits, but such as may be licensed by the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, or impose a prohibitory tax & if [illegible] of these modes of restraint shall seem fit, that you will adopt some measure which will annihilate the grievance.  /s/ Matthew H. Carr, John B. Kennady [and others]

Adultery and fornication.

State v. Joel Fore and Susan Chestnut, __ NC __ (1841)

Joel Fore of Lenoir County, a free man of color, and Susan Chesnut, a white woman, lived together and had one or more children, and the inartful pleading of their indictment would not defeat a finding that marriages between such persons were null and void under the Act of 1838, and subsequent cohabitation between them was adultery and fornication.

Joseph [sic] Fore married Susan Chestnut on 13 January 1840 in Craven County. (See marriage records of that county.)  The 1840 census of Lenoir County shows Joel Fore as the head of household that included one white female aged 30-40, one colored male aged 24-36, and 5 slaves.  By 1860, the family had moved to Moore County, where Joel, “Susa” and their children Tootle, Elizabeth, Nancy, Anna J., Hardey, Henry and Sarah, aged 1-20, are described as white.  In 1870, Joel and Susan Fore and their children are listed in Greenwood township, Moore County.  Joel and children Augustus and Henry are classified as mulatto.  Susan and the remaining children as white.

A damn’d radical.

On 25 Mar 1875, 70 year-old Everett Hays filed a claim with the Southern Claims Commission (#3663).  He had lived in Wayne County’s Pikeville township for 25-30 years and worked as a farm laborer.  Hays was born in Greene County, “close by Pikeville,” and testified:

“I was whipped by Jim Combs and Council Radford and said it was because I was a d–n’d radical.”

The Union “was my pluck always.”

“I was compelled, like a great many of my color, to go in to the service as a cook.”

“Colored folks had always to get passes.”

“During the war, John Sykes and a party looking for deserters came to my house, and questioned me about deserters, and because I could give them no satisfactory information they took me out and whipped me, and carried off from my house a quantity of sausages.”

“It was our good luck that the Rebs would not take in colored men as soldiers.”

“I never heard of a colored man who did not rejoice at the defeat of the Rebs.”

Laurence Reid was deposed in support of Hays’ claim.  He was 58 years old “as near as I can come to it,” lived in Pikeville “near to Everett Hays.”  He had known Hays for 30 years, but was not related to him, and asserted, “We were both shoved off to do slave’s duty tho’ we were both free-born men …”

Others mentioned were Hays’ wife Millie Hays, his sons Burkett and Lafayette Hays, daughter Biddy Hays, and Elbert Artis and Beedie Artis, both of Pikeville.  Lafayette, a farmer, was about 26 years old and lived at Lagrange in Lenoir County.  Burkett was about 30 years old and also lived at Lagrange, where he worked as a blacksmith’s helper.

Hays asserted that Union troops had taken 3 barrels of corn, 400 pounds of bacon, 5 pounds of lard, a half bushel of meal, a pound of tobacco and cooking utensils valued at $122.00.  The Commission allowed $75.00 of his claim.

In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County: Everett Hays, 40, wife Milly, 40, and children Beady, 11, Burkett, 6, and Lafayette Hays, 2.

An act of Congress, approved March 3, 1871, provided that the President nominate three commissioners of claims (otherwise known as the Southern Claims Commission) to receive, examine, and consider the claims of “those citizens who remained loyal adherents to the cause and the Government of the United States during the war, for stores or supplies taken or furnished during the rebellion for the use of the Army of the United States in States proclaimed as in insurrection against the United States.” The commissioners were to satisfy themselves of the loyalty of each claimant; certify the amount, nature, and value of the property taken or furnished; report their judgment on each claim in writing to the House of Representatives at the beginning of each session of Congress, hold their sessions in Washington; and keep a journal of their proceedings and a register of all claims brought before them. The act provided further that of the claims within its provisions only those presented to the commissioners could be prosecuted, and that all others were to be barred.