Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Lincoln County

During a deranged spell.


In the Southeastern part of Lincoln county, on the 2d ultimo, a free mulatto named Thos. Taylor, committed suicide by shooting himself in the throat with a pistol. It took place at the house of Mr. Wm. Hunt. T. was a distiller by trade, and had the fever and ague some three or four weeks, for the cure of which he used spirits, without regard to the time of the fever, This, it is thought, deranged him, and during one of those deranged spells, he committed the act in Mr. Hunt’s yard, and in presence of one of Mr. Hunt’s sons. — Charlotte Democrat.

Iredell Express, Statesville, 3 February 1860.

Oldest North Carolinian ever.

Cross Woodis: Candidate for Oldest North Carolinian

By Dr. H.G. Jones, for the Associated Press

Chapel Hill (AP) — … Who was the oldest person ever to live in North Carolina? We may never know, but know candidate for the distinction was Cross Woodis, who complained before his death about 1880 that liquor had shortened his life.

He had done pretty well, though, for according to his biographer, Woodis was 130 years old when he died. If we base his age on the census of 1860 when he was listed as 100, he would have been only 120 at the time of his death. But what difference would 10 years make at that age?

We would perhaps know nothing of Cross Woodis except for a tiny sketch published in 1905 by Alfred Nixon ….

A mulatto born free but bound to a white man named Curtis until he was 21, Cross Woodis, according to census records, was born in Mecklenburg County long before the Revolution. He spent many years in Cabarrus County but lived in Lincoln County in his advanced years. He had a cabin on the farm of William King near Catawba Springs.

As a young man Woodis married a free black woman who, when the southern states began restricting the rights of free Negroes, insisted that the couple move to the free state of Ohio.

Woodis told his wife to go ahead with her relatives ad that he would follow. He never did, except for a visit. After years of separation from his first wife, he married another free black woman in North Carolina.

Apparently Cross Woodis was primarily a farmer, but he worked at various jobs – fisherman, hunter, horse racer, well digger, water witch. With a forked peach tree spout, he was almost unerring in locating water for his clients.

Woodis was remembered as shriveled and stooped but retaining a remarkable degree of his senses, particularly his memory and wit. He claimed to have killed a British soldier while guarding a cache of guns during the Revolution, a claim that Nixon accepted as true. …

Cross Woodis died at the home of a daughter in Mecklenburg County about 1880 and was buried at a Presbyterian church for blacks at Caldwell, a few miles from Cowan’s Ford.

The Robesonian, Lumberton, 11 February 1982.

In the 1850 census of Lincoln County: Cross Woodruss, 70, Delphy, 35, Henderson, 10, and Jane Woodruss, 8.  In the 1860 Lincoln County: Cross Woodis, 100, farm laborer (active), born Mecklenburg County.  In 1870 Catawba Springs, Lincoln County: Jordan Shuford, 25, wife Dovey, 26, and Cross Wordice, 110, “at home.”  In 1880, Catawba Springs, Lincoln County: farm worker George Johnston, 27, Lucy, 22, Lizzie Boyd, 55, mother, Sarah Johnston, 50, mother-in-law, and Cross Woodis, 128, grandfather.

Hiram Rhodes Revels.


Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first person of color to serve in the United States Congress.

Revels was born free in 1827 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1838 he moved to Lincolnton, North Carolina to apprentice in his brother Elias B. Revels’ barber shop. After attending seminary in Indiana and Ohio, Revels was ordained as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1845 and served as a preacher and religious teacher throughout the Midwest.

Revels served as a chaplain in the United States Army during the Civil War and helped recruit and organize black Union regiments in Maryland and Missouri. He took part at the battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi. In 1865, Revels left the AME Church and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1866, he was given a permanent pastorship in Natchez, Mississippi, where he settled with his wife and five daughters, became an elder in the Mississippi District, continued his ministerial work, and founded schools for black children.

In 1869, Revels was elected to represent Adams County in the Mississippi State Senate. In 1870 he was elected to finish the term of one of the state’s two United States Senators, vacant since Mississippi seceded from the Union.

When Revels arrived in Washington, Southern Democrats opposed seating him in the Senate, basing their arguments on the Dred Scott decision, which ruled that people of African ancestry were not and could not be citizens. Because no black man was a citizen before the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, they argued, Revels could not satisfy the requirement for nine years’ prior citizenship.

Revels’ supporters of Revels made a number of arguments, including: (1)  that Revels was of mixed black and white ancestry (an “octoroon”) and the Dred Scott decision applied only to blacks who were of purely African ancestry; (2) that Revels had been  considered a citizen (and indeed had voted in Ohio) before Dred Scott; and (3) that the Civil War and the Reconstruction Amendments had voided Dred Scott. On February 25, 1870, Revels, on a strict party-line vote of 48 to 8, became the first black man to be seated in the United States Senate.

Revels resigned two months before his term expired to accept appointment as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University). In 1873, Revels took a leave of absence from Alcorn to serve as Mississippi’s secretary of state ad interim.  He died on January 16, 1901.

Adapted from Wikipedia. 

In the 1850 census of Cambridge City, Wayne County, Indiana: Robert Freeman, 34, laborer, born Virginia; Jane Freeman, 30, born Virginia; Malinda Freeman, 14, born Ohio; Hannah, 13, William H., 10, Robert, 4, and Margaret Freeman, 3, all born in Indiana; Charles Guinea, 18, born Virginia; and Hiram Revels, 25, and wife Phebe Revels, 17, both born in NC.

In the 1860 census of Ward 11, Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland: Hiram Revels, 35, Prest’n clergyman O.S., born North Carolina; wife Phoebe, 25, born Ohio; Elizabeth, 5, and Emma Revels, 3 months, born in Maryland; and Mary Brooks, 16, born in Maryland.

Runaway bound boy, no. 3.

FIVE CENTS REWARD. – Ranaway from the subscriber, on or about the 10th October, 1850, a mulatto boy named Wm. Bird, who was bound to Henry S. Hicks and by him transferred to Dr. Cameron, and the last named to me.  Said boy has been engaged in the carriage painting business – is intelligent, and well spoken – he is a bright mulatto, about 20 years of age, and about five feet ten inches high.  The above reward will be paid for his apprehension and delivery to me; and all persons are cautioned against harboring him.  ABNER M’COY.  January 4.

Lincoln Courier, Lincolnton, 1 February 1851.

Surnames: Lincoln County, 1850.


Soft-hearted? Soft-headed.

To the General Assembly of North Carolina

It is desirable that you should adopt a course of policy, and pass a system of laws to induce, if not compel, the free negroes in North Carolina to emigrate to the Abolition and Free Soil states.  It appears to me that Negrophobia, which is now raging and rousing up a large number of people in the non-Slaveholding states cannot be cured more effectually than by giving them some strong black medicine out of their own black Bottle: and therefore, the members of the Legislature ought in my Judgment to enact all the constitutional laws in their power to effect the object I have indicated.  I do not intend to offer reasons and arguments in favor of such Laws.  Every man who has a southern head on his shoulders and a southern heart in his bosom must see the propriety and the necessity of such legislation.

I propose that you pass a law making the ownership of land on which free negroes reside liable to pay all the taxes, contracts, damages, Penalties, fines and costs, and other legal liabilities which colored persons may contract or incur while living thereon. That it, I would make the actual possession of the free negro, a lein, on the land on which he lived, and let that lein continue until his public and private liabilities were paid and satisfied.

There is a numerous class of the worst sort of Abolitionists dwelling in our midst in the southern states who clandestinely trade with slaves and receive stolen good in payment for ardent spirits and other articles, thereby corrupting and destroying the value of servants.  Many of these malefactors are insolvent persons and some of them are agents of men of property, who select such deputies to do their dirty work, hoping that prudent laws cannot reach and punish them.  I propose that the offense just stated shall be punished, not only with fine and imprisonment, but, by one of more whippings on the bare back at the whipping post.  I am aware some persons have an aversion, through a sort of sickly sympathy, to inflict corporal punishment for the commission of any offences, hoping to gain for themselves the character of being very soft hearted, but I think all such might with much more propriety be considered very soft headed.  When offences proceed from the conception of the human heart, let no honest man sympathise with the offender.  But when the frailty of [illegible] nature is to be punished for deeds done without deliberation, then, kind and generous feelings may be justly excercised.  Society can only be carried on and preserved through the influence of example.  Those persons who live by corrupting and hiring negroes to steal for their benefit, deserve and ought to receive the most severe and exemplary punishments.

All our laws on the subject of Slavery, and the officious intermedling with it, which is the sin of the age, require revision, amendment and improvement.

I make another suggestion; I would make the land on which white Tenants live, liable to pay all fines, penalties and costs that they may be liable to pay while living on these landlords land; Then, the honest taxpayers and good citizens of the state & county would not so often be taxed, unjustly, to pay costs after the conviction of insolvent malefactors and old sinners.

Respectfully presented by James Graham.

Petition of James Graham, Lincoln County, dated 29 December 1850.  Petitions, North Carolina General Assembly, North Carolina State Archives.