Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: marriage to slave

I won’t have her, but he won’t take her away from me.

The State v. Tackett, 8 NC 210 (1820).

This was an indictment against Tackett for the murder of Daniel, a slave, in Raleigh.  Daniel’s  free colored wife, Lotty, lived in a house on a lot owned by Richardson, a carpenter. Daniel generally was at his wife’s house at night.  Tackett worked as a journeyman for Richardson and lived in Richardson’s house on the same lot.  On the night that Daniel was killed, Richardson was awakened by a gunshot. Soon after, Richardson heard someone enter his room and set something down in the spot he usually kept his gun. Richardson’s gun was loaded with buckshot, and his family had been admonished not to use it.  Richardson turned over and saw someone he thought was Tackett leaving. Shortly after, Richardson heard groans and complaints outside, as if from an injured person.  He saw no more of Tackett that night, and Tackett did not sleep at home.

About a week to ten days before this night, Tackett, while drunk, told Richardson that he and Daniel had fought and said that he would kill Daniel. Because of this threat and of the rumor and his belief that Tackett “kept” Daniel’s wife, Richardson discharged him, but took him back again in a few days when he promised to behave better.  Witnesses testified that at about 9:00 on the night of the shooting, Tackett went to a house in the suburbs where he said several times that he was uneasy and, when asked why, said that he had been downtown and gotten into a fight and was afraid the constables would get him. Soon after, he said he had shot a black man belonging to Mr. Ruffin and believed he spattered him well, because he took good sight at his legs and thighs, and the man “hollowed.” Tackett then said that he had been downtown and was returning home “the back way through the lot” and found Daniel lying on his belly on the ground near a window of Richardson’s house. Tackett said that he would have blown out Daniel’s brains if he had had a pistol.  He asked Daniel who he was and what he was doing there, and Daniel replied by asking who he was and what he was doing there.  Daniel then got up and said Richardson was not at home. The men then went into the yard together, where they remained a short while before Tackett went into the house, got Richardson’s gun, and shot Daniel, who was “dodging around the turning lathe.” Shortly after Daniel was wounded, neighbors, alarmed by his groans, found him and sent for a surgeon who examined his body and found a very large gunshot wound in the front and lower part of the abdomen.

Witnesses stated that Tackett did not appear to be drunk and asked permission to stay all night.  He went to bed and seemed to be asleep when the constables came to arrest him. At that moment, he said it was hard to go out of a good warm bed to jail.

Witnesses also testified that two or three weeks before the homicide, Daniel told someone that Tackett “kept” his wife, showed a large stick that he said he had beaten Tackett with, and said that if Tackett did not let his wife alone, he would kill him. On another night, about a week to ten days before the homicide, Daniel was seen standing at Richardson’s gate, and, when asked who he was, said he was not afraid to tell his name, that he was Daniel, and that the devil had been to pay there. He said Richardson had whipped him and driven him off his lot, but he would be the death of Richardson or Tackett one. Another witness, who also was a carpenter and worked in Richardson’s shop, testified that about ten days before Daniel died, he came up to a workbench where Tackett was working in the street very near Richardson’s house.  Tackett ordered him to leave, and Daniel said he was in the street and would not go. The men then fought, but the witness did not see and could not tell how it began. When the witness took notice of them, Daniel had the stile of a window sash in his hand and struck Tackett several times with it, hurting his eye. Daniel also caught hold of the adze Tackett picked up to strike him with.  They scuffled for it; Daniel butted Tackett and got the adze from him. This witness also stated that very early in the next morning or the morning after that, he found Daniel lying in wait in Richardson’s garden with two stones in his hands. Daniel said he thought the witness was Tackett and had intended to knock his brains out. Further, after dinner on the day of the homicide, he saw Daniel downtown, and Daniel asked him where Tackett was.  Daniel then said that he did not intend for Tackett and Lotty to out-do him and that she had behaved so meanly that he would not have her, but Tackett would not take her away from him, and that, if he did not let her alone, he would kill Tackett or Tackett would kill him.

Tackett then offered to prove that Daniel was a turbulent man and was insolent and impudent to white people, but the Court refused to hear such testimony unless it would prove that Daniel was insolent and impudent to Tackett in particular.

In its charge to the jury, the Court instructed that the case was to be determined by the same rules and principles of law as if the deceased had been a white man and went on to define murder.  The jury found Tackett guilty of murder.  Tackett’s lawyer moved for a new trial on the grounds that proper evidence had been rejected and the Court erred in the charge to the Jury. The motion was denied, and Tackett was sentenced to death.  He appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Court held that, in the trial of one charged with the murder of a slave, it is permissible to give evidence that the deceased was turbulent and that he was insolent and impudent to white persons. Further, “it exists in the very nature of slavery, that the relation between a white and a slave is different from that between free persons; and therefore, many acts will extenuate the homicide of a slave, which would not constitute a legal provocation of done by a white person.”

He has a free wife near Stantonsburg.

$50 Reward. RAN AWAY from the subscriber about 6 years ago, a negro man named JACOB. He is about 35 years of age, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, about the common color, tolerably active, has narrow feet, and a small scar over one of his eyes. It is probably he has altered his name, as he frequently passes from Stantonsburg to Newbern. He has a free wife by the name of Rancy Artis, living near Stantonsburg, & it is likely he attempts to pass for a free man. The above reward will be given to any person who shall deliver said Negro to me, living five miles about Stantonsburg, or confine him in Jail, so that I get him again. All masters of vessels are forwarned carrying him off. JOEL NEWSOM.  Wayne county, Aug. 7

Raleigh Register and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser, 19 November 1824.

Faithful, humble and obedient.

To the Hon.ble the Judge of the Superior Court of Law, for the County of Craven;

The petition of William Hollister respectfully sheweth unto your Honour that he is now the owner of two slaves by the name of Thomas, commonly called Tom Hollister, aged between forty six and fifty years, and another by the name of Mary aged about 28 (wife of Richard Smith a mulatto), that he is desirous of emancipating said slaves for their meritorious services and he shews unto your Honour that the said Thomas has served him faithfully in various capacities for near twenty years, that during that time he had made several voyages to the West Indies & New York where he might have easily obtained his freedom by absconding from his service – that he has been always obedient, humble & respectful in his deportment towards the whites. – that the slave Mary has been the property of your petitioner for fifteen or sixteen years, that she has been much trusted in the management of his household, and as nurse to his children, and has proved herself to be faithful, humble & obedient – She had now been living to herself for five or six years as free, and has maintained a good character for orderly & decent conduct, and industrious habits.

In consideration of the premises your Pet’r. prays your Honour that he may be permitted to emancipate said slaves agreeably to act of Assembly &c.

And your Pet’r. &c.     Jn. H. Bryan for Pet’r.

In the 1830 census of Craven County, Thomas Hollister is listed as a head of a household that included six free people of color and one slave.

Miscellaneous Records, Craven County, North Carolina State Archives.

Piety — cook, seamstress, weaver, baker, brewer, runaway — passed as a free woman for 16 years.

$100 REWARD. RUN AWAY, or was stolen from the subscriber on the night of the eighth instant, a bright mulatto woman (slave) and her child, a girl of about four years old. This woman ran away from the subscriber, executor of John Hunt, dec’d, in the summer of 1808, and passed as a free woman by the name of Patsy Young, until about the first of June last, when she apprehended as a runaway. On the 6th of the same month I obtained possession of her in the town of Halifax; since which time, by an order of Franklin county court, she and her child Eliza have been sold, when the subscriber became the purchaser. She spent the greater part of the time she was run away (say about sixteen years,) in the neighbourhood of and in the town of Halifax; one or two summers at Rock-Landing, where I am informed she cooked for the hands employed on the Canal. She has also spent some of her time in Plymouth, her occupation while there not known. At the above places she has many acquaintances. She is a tall spare woman, thin face and lips, long sharp nose, and fore-teeth somewhat decayed. She is an excellent seamstress, can make ladies and gentlemens dresses, is a good cook and weaver, and I am informed is a good cake-baker and beer-brewer, &c. by which occupations she principally gained her living. Some time during last summer she married a free man of color named Chrael Johnson, who had been living in and about Plymouth, and followed boating on the Roanoke. Since his marriage, he leased a farm of Mr. James Cotton of Scotland-Neck, Halifax county, where he was living together with this woman, at the time she was taken up as a runaway slave in June last. I have but little doubt, that Johnson has contrived to seduce or steal her and child out of my possession, and will attempt to get them out of the State and pass a free persons. Should this be the case, I will give sixty-five dollars for his detection and conviction before the proper tribunal, in any part of this State. I will give for the apprehension of the woman and child, on their delivery to me, or so secured in jail or otherwise that I get them, thirty-five dollars; or, I will give twenty-five dollars for the woman alone, and ten dollars for the child alone. The proper name of the woman is PIETY, but she will no doubt change it as she did before.

I forward all owners of boats, captains and owners of vessels, from taking on board their vessels, or carrying away this woman and her child Eliza, under the penalty of the law. NAT. HUNT. August 15.

Raleigh Register and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser, 20 August 1824.

To be Eaqually divided be tween them.

State of North Carolina, Wayne County

I Roday Reed of said county as this 16th day of Sept 1863 make and declare this to be my last Will & testament in manor & form following (Viz)

I lend to my daughter Patsey Hall all my lands & all my other property of all kind my money & debts all that I may have at death after my just debts & burying Expense are paid provided the the said Patsey Hall takes her Two sisters in with her Say Bytha & Vina to be supported on the land & this property sepperate & apart from their husbands at the death of the last one of my before named daughters say Bytha & Vina & Patsey I give my mare Dobie(?) to Edmond Hall my grandson & I give all the rest of above named property to my grand children Edmund Hall & Eveline Hall to them & their heirs forever to be Eaqually divided be tween them.  I also give it so my will for my husband David to be supported out of the above named property during his life.  Lastly I nominate my beloved son Washington Reed to Execute this my last will & testament to all interests declaring this & no other to be my will, I or witness whereof I have unto set my hand & seal

Signed & acknowledged                                    Roda X Reed

W Thompson

John Read

[Sidenote: Rhoda Reid was a prosperous free woman of color born about 1795, most likely in northeastern Wayne County.  She and her sister Tabitha Reid married enslaved men whom they informally manumitted.  Rhoda, who recorded her first deed in 1821, amassed considerable property in the Nahunta area of Wayne County.  Her daughter Martha “Patsey” Reid, born about 1824, married Dempsey Hall.  Edmond and Eveline Hall were Patsey’s children.  Her daughters Tabitha “Bitha” and Melvina “Vina” were born 1810-1815.  Rhoda’s sons Washington, Zion, John, Isaac and Benjamin Reid were well-to-do farmers as well. — LYH]

Wills, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives.