Always free?

 TESTIMONY OF WILEY LOWEREY.

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.

By SENATOR BLAIR:

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.