Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Mecklenburg County

Precision strike, tragically.

Remarkable Occurrence, Death by Lightning – A free colored man by the name of Foster, was killed by stroke of lightning in the vicinity of this Town on Thursday evening. He was laying in bed, with his wife on one arm and a child on the other, and while he was instantly killed, neither the woman or child was at all injured. Jeffersonian.

The North-Carolina Star (Raleigh), 13 July 1842.

An act to emancipate Jerry.

An Act to emancipate Jerry, a slave.

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That Jerry, a slave, the property of H.B Williams and S.A. Davis, of Mecklenburg county, be, and he is hereby, with the consent and at the request of his said owner, emancipated and set free; and, by the name of Jerry Bethel, shall hereafter possess and exercise all the rights and privileges which are enjoyed by other free persons of color in this State: Provided nevertheless, that before said slave shall be emancipated, the said Williams and Davis, or either of them, shall give bond and good security, to the Governor and his successors in office, in the county court of Mecklenburg county, in the sum of one thousand dollars, that the said Jerry shall honestly and correctly demean himself as long as he shall remain in the State, and shall not become a county charge; which bond may be sued upon in the name of the governor for the time being, to the use of the said county, and of any person injured by the misconduct of said slave hereby emancipated. [Ratified the 8th day of January, 1855.]

Chapter 108, Public and Private Laws of North Carolina Passed by the General Assembly 1854-55, State Library of North Carolina.

In the 1860 census of Western Division, Mecklenburg County: Jerry Bethel, 45, barber, “manumitted,” wife Mary Bethel, 40, and Robison Reid, 8.  Bethel reported $2300 of real property and $1250 of personal property.

A bill concerning free papers.

N.C. Legislature. Senate.

Monday, Jan. 5. Mr. Myers, of Mecklenburg, by leave, introduced a bill to prevent the Clerks of the County Courts from fixing the county seal on the papers of free negroes.  [Vote 27-18 in favor.]

North Carolina Whig, Charlotte, 13 January 1857.

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.

Runaway bound boys, no, 2.

Ten Cents Reward.

Ranaway from the subscriber on the 17th ultimo, mulatto apprentice boy, bound to me by the County Court of Haywood, named STEPHEN GIPSON, about 18 years old.  Said boy has a down look when spoken to.  I hereby forewarn all persons from trading with or harboring said boy under the penalty of law.  I will give the above reward for said boy if delivered to me in Waynesville, Haywood county, N.C.  S. FITZGERALD.  July 5, 1844.

Highland Messenger, Asheville, 4 Oct 1844.

In the 1850 census of Tennessee Valley, Macon County: John Gipson, 46, white farmer; wife Mourning, 38, Indian; children Lavina, 16, Carton, 12, Solomon, 10, and Elias, 8, all Indian; and Stephen Gipson, 25, mulatto.  John was born in Buncombe County; the others in Haywood.  NB: Other adult male Gipsons listed nearby are described as “mulatto,” as is John Gipson in the 1880 census of Dutch Bottom, Cocke County, Tennessee.


On the 21st November last, from James Wallace, an indented apprentice by the name WILLIAM SYDNEY McLEAN.  And from R.L. De Armond, in July, 1844, an indented apprentice, (a mulatto) by the name of JACK HARRIS.  – The subscribers, their owners, will give a reward of five cents each for the apprehension of said boys; and they forbid any person employing or harboring them, at the peril of the law.  R.L. DE ARMOND.  Feb. 28, 1845.

Mecklenburg Jeffersonian, Charlotte, 7 March 1845.

We think they are very good.


The Charlotte Whig publishes several new town ordinances for the town of Charlotte, which we think are very good. 1st. Every free negro of twelve years and upwards, is required to present him or herself for registration, stating age, occupation, &c., &c., upon heavy penalty for failing to do so.  Those who comply, will obtain a certificate, under the protection of which they will be allowed to dwell in safety, upon their good behavior.  They are to pay one dollar for the certificate.  2d. No slave, under any pretence whatever, allowed to hire his or her own time; nor shall any slave go at large at his or her own discretion, by permission of the owner, working for his or herself where and when they please. 

Carolina Watchman, Salisbury, 24 June 1861.