Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: migration

Thomas Day.


Thomas Day, a cabinetmaker by trade, is the most celebrated of North Carolina’s antebellum craftsmen. He was born 1801 in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, to a family of free, landowning African-Americans. His father, John Day, was a skilled cabinetmaker who plied other trades as well, but always relied on woodworking to bring in money. Thomas and his brother John Day were well-educated. John’s education, during which he boarded with prominent whites and attending schools with them, is documented in his later correspondence, and it is assumed that Thomas did the same. Both of the Day sons initially followed in their father’s footsteps, learning the skills of a cabinetmaker. John eventually left the trade to study theology and later moved to Liberia, becoming one of its founders by signing its Declaration of Independence.

John Day moved to Warren County by 1820 and it is believed that Thomas was with him. The Days had established themselves in the furniture business in Milton by 1823. Thomas Day became a prominent and well-respected citizen of the community. In response to an act that prohibited free blacks from immigrating into the state, Milton’s white leaders petitioned the General Assembly in 1830 to allow Day’s bride, Aquilla Wilson, a free black from Virginia, to join him. They reared two sons and a daughter. In his almost forty years in Milton, Thomas Day built an extraordinary business, employing freedmen and slaves alike to craft stock lines of furniture and to fill custom orders for furniture and interior woodworking. By 1850, Day had the largest cabinetry shop in North Carolina. He is believed to have died in about 1861, after having suffered financial losses due to the national panic of 1857.

Adapted from

In the 1850 census of Milton, Caswell County: Thomas Day, 49, cabinetmaker, born Virginia, property valued at $8000; wife Aquila, 44; son Devereux J., 17, cabinetmaker, born Milton; Mourning S. Day, 84, born VA; and Joshua Wood, 32, cabinetnaker; all mulatto except the last, who was white.

The roots of Arkansas’ largest free colored community.

DAVID HALL (1782?-1859?), described as a “colored” and “exceedingly stout man,” settled along the White River bottoms some seven miles below the mouth of the Little North Fork in 1819, the year that Congress created Arkansas Territory. The North Carolina-born Hall and his light-skinned wife Sarah, a Tennessean, built a cabin, raised corn, horses and cows, made whiskey in one of the first stills to be seen on the upper White River, and, not least of all, tended to their growing family. An 1840 surveyor’s map shows the Hall farm, which was located twenty miles west of today’s city of Mountain Home, with forty acres under cultivation, a larger operation that any other in his township. Hall paid county and state taxes for thirty years, and these records document his relative prosperity. … [His] sons Willoghby, Joe, and James, and his daughters Margaret Hall Turner and Eliza Hall Caulder established families that expanded the free black population in Marion County. These pioneer families lived in semi-isolation and in harmony with whites, a situation that attracted other free mulattoes who settled in the vicinity, forming antebellum Arkansas’s largest free black community.

Hall and his son-in-law Peter Caulder, despite state laws to the contrary, kept hounds and firearms essential to their frontier life. … Travelign about by any conveyance was legal in the territory and after statehood, but risky for free blacks since they were under the jurisdiction of any white man who cared to exercise that authority. Despite the risk, the Halls and their neighbor John Turner occasionally traveled outside the county by horse and by boat to attend tot heir business affairs.

Land ownership was one of the few legally recognized rights of Negros in slave states such as Arkansas. During the winter of 1849, David Hall and John Hall (possibly a brother) traveled one hundrted miles to the United States government land office at Batesville to pay cash for and later receive patents on their White River valley acreage. …

The settlement lasted until the Arkansas General Assembly passed a law in February 859 entitled, “An Act to Remove the Free Negroes and Mulattos from the State.” Penalties included seizure and sale into slavery, emancipation having already been made illegal in Arkansas. The enormity of the threat was enough to overcome the tenaciousness of folks in the free Negro community. More than one hundred of them abandoned good farms and departed Marion County and the state of Arkansas, a gut-wrenching turn of events, without doubt.

Today the land patented by David Hall lies beneath Bull Shoals Lake. With the exception of weathered and nameless wooden markers placed atop a stone wall alongside the Promised Land Cemetery by the Corps of Engineers before the valley was flooded, no physical trace remains of the free black community that thrived along the banks of the White River near the Missouri border. Hall disappeared from the tax and census records in 1859 when he would have been seventy-six years old. … [by] Billy D. Higgins

Adapted from Nancy A. Williams and Jeannie M. Whayne, eds., Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives (2000).

In the 1850 census of Marion County, Arkansas: David Hall, 67, born NC, wife Sarah, 55, born Tennessee, and Mary, 18, Joseph, 12, and Henry Hall, 20, all born in Arkansas. Sons James and Jospeh are listed with theri families nearby.



The subscribers, (free persons of colour) being desirous of removing, offer their Houses and Lots for sale. They are situated on the edge of the East square of Salisbury, on the Bringle Ferry road, and contains one acre each, with buildings for small families. A bargain can now be had for cash. HARRIET STEELE, JEMIMA STEELE. Salisbury, July 16, 1849.



We have on hand and for sale at this Office, the following BLANKS, to wit: … For binding free negroes. … Any forms of Blanks which we may not have on hand will be printed to order without delay, if a copy be forwarded.  WATCHMAN OFFICE. May 1849.

Carolina Watchman, Salisbury, 19 July 1849.

Register of (NC-Born) Negroes and Mulattos: Bartholomew County, Indiana, no. 5.

Catharine Hill, age 32, born Perquimans County NC; mulatto woman; 5’3”; small scar over each eye; resided Johnson County IN; witness Joshua A. Horn; registered 20 Mar 1854.

Abraham Augustus Hill, age 2, born Bartholomew County IN; negro boy; “a plump little darkie, and, if nothing happens to prevent will make a big one some day”; resided Johnson County IN; witness Joshua A. Horn; registered 20 Mar 1854.

Andrew Jackson Hill, age 8, born Bartholomew County IN; negro boy; appears sprightly; small scars over left eye and on left cheek; resided Johnson County IN; witness Joshua A. Horn; registered 20 Mar 1854.

Susan Henrietta Hill, age 4, born Bartholomew County IN; negro girl; “a rightly sprightly little girl”; resided Johnson County IN; witness Joshua A. Horn; registered 20 Mar 1854.

Alexander Leevy, age 6, born Robeson County NC; mulatto boy; bright, active and intelligent; no marks; father’s name Louis Leevy; Edward A. Herod; registered 21 Sep 1853.

In the 1860 census of Columbus, Bartholomew County, Indiana: John Blanks, 60, farmer, Milly Blanks, 75, and Eli Blanks, 21, plus Alexander Levy, 14, all born in NC except Milly, who was born in Maryland.

Priscilla Mitchell, age 45, born Halifax County NC; negro woman; hair slightly gray; widow, no children; witness William H.H. Terrell; registered 10 Nov 1853.

Jemima Newby, age 15; born Jackson County IN; negro girl; 5’5”; witness Joshua V. Horn; registered 20 Mar 1854.

Penina Newby; age 50-60; born Perquimans County NC;  5’3”; witness Joshua V. Horn; registered 20 Mar 1854.

John Newby, age 21; born Jackson County IN; negro’ 5’5”; small scar on right forehead and on knuckle of right little finger; witness Joshua V. Horn; registered 20 Mar 1854.

They emigrated for safety.

A company of sixty free negroes from North Carolina, arrived at Baltimore on Wednesday, who are emigrating to Ohio for safety.

The National Republican, Washington DC, 2 February 1861.


FREE NEGROES ON THE WING. – On Wednesday last, sixty-three free negroes from Edgecourt [sic] county, North Carolina, crossed the Ohio river at Bellaire on their way to Zanesville. An old negro acted as leader of the party, holding the tickets, disbursing funds, etc.

Daily Dispatch, Richmond VA, 7 Feb 1861.



Sixty-three free negroes from North Carolina arrived at Zanesville on Thursday. They were from Edgecomb county, and had been ordered to leave by the whites of that section.

Fremont Journal, Fremont OH, 8 February 1861.



First patrolman of his race.

Wiley G. Overton.

The First Full Fledged Patrolman of His Race Appointed on Brooklyn’s Police Force.

Wiley Granda Overton is a successful undertaker, whom Commissioner Hayden has appointed as patrolman and assigned to the First Precinct, in the most popular and business part of Brooklyn, under Capt. Campbell. Mr. Overton is originally from North Carolina. He was born in Elizabeth City, Oct. 20, 1859, of free parentage. He spent his early days attending school, until his graduation from the normal school. While yet quite a young man he passed a good examination before the county commissioners and obtained a position as a teacher in the public schools. With his parents he came North fourteen years ago and settled in Brooklyn. Through his energy and push he was not long in obtaining a good situation [illegible] wholesale firm in New York City [illegible] Taylor & Co. Entering as a porter he rose to the important position of stock clerk, which he held for seven years. While in this position he spend all of his leisure moments in private study and improved his education. After leaving his New York situation he engaged with a well known undertaker, Moses Genung, and after sufficient training he started out in business for himself at 75 Lawrence street. His business has grown rapidly, and he will turn it over to his cousin, R.D. Overton.

Immediately after his business venture, it came to his mind that he would like to become one of the guardians of the city and he entered the civil service examinations …. He attained 76 ½ percentage, standing 58 on a list of 164 eligibles. It was thought that Mr. Overton’s color would be a barrier to his appointment …. Commissioner Hayden, however, … said: “He passed a good examination, and, as the law makes no distinction in regard to color, I do not see why there should be any question as to my duty in the matter.”

Mr. Overton is nearly six feet high, of fine athletic build and of dark complexion. He has been assigned to Post 5 of the First Precinct, bounded by Pierpont, Joralemon, and Clinton streets and Columbia Heights. … Mr. Overton is a devoted member of Bridge Street A.M.E Church and has been been a member of the Trustee Board for several years. He has a charming wife and two beautiful daughters to cheer him at his fireside.

In the 1860 census of Pasquotank County: Jeffry Overton, 62, farmer, Juley, 31, Jeffry, 29, Haywood, 18, Ruben, 10, Margaret, 9, Mary, 6, John, 4, George, 2, and Wiley, 8 months.

The New York Age, 21 March 1891.

The Cousins brothers, dark of skin.

First Residents of Boone and Vicinity. — … There was another house which stood in the orchard near the present Blackburn hotel. It was a small clapboard house, with only one room. Ben Munday and family occupied it first and afterwards Ellington Cousins and family, dark of skin, lived there till Cousins built a house up the Blackburn branch in rear of the Judge Greer house. It is still known as the Cousins place …

John and Ellington Cousin. – The brothers came from near East Bend, Forsythe County, soon after Boone was formed, bringing white women with them. Ellington’s wife was Margaret Myers and John’s was named Lottie. Ransom Hayes sold Ellington an acre of land up the Blackburn branch, where he built a house and lived in 1857, having moved from the house in the orchard below the road near the present Blackburn hotel. He had two daughters. Sarah married Joseph Gibson and moved to Mountain City, Tenn., where he carried on a tannery for Murphy Brothers, but he afterwards returned to the state and lived at or near Lenoir, finally going West, where he remains. Ellington died at Boone and his widow and daughter, nicknamed “Tommy,” went with Gibson and wife to Mountain City, where she also married. John lived near Hodges Gap and at other places, dying at the Ed. Shipley place near Valle Crucis. He had several children.

From John Preston Arthur, A History of Watauga County, North Carolina, with Sketches of Prominent Families (1915).

In the 1850 census of Watauga, Watauga County: Johnson Cusins, 44, farmer, wife Charlotta, 41, and children Hezekiah, 18, Mary, 14, Clarkson, 11, William H., 9, Rebecca, 8, Annanias, 5, Martha, 4, W.W. and Evaline, both 3 months.  All described as mulatto, except Charlotta, white.  In the 1860 census of Boone, Watauga County: John Cuzzens, 52, farmer, wife Charlotte, 50, and children Henry, 19, Rebecca, 17, Ann, 15, Martha, 13, Wiley, 10, and Eveline, 10, all mulatto.

In the 1850 census of Northern Division, Davidson County: in jail, Francis Briant, 20, laborer, Alva Sapp, 22, laborer, and Ellington Cozzens, 41, shoemaker. Cozzens was mulatto; the others, white.  In the 1860 census of Boone, Watauga County: Ellington Cuzzens, 53, boot & shoemaker, wife Margarett, 44, and daughters Sarah, 8, and Martha J., 5; all mulatto except Margarett, was described as white.

William Goyens.

William Goyens (or Goings), early Nacogdoches settler and businessman, was born in Moore County, North Carolina, in 1794, the son of free mulatto William Goings and a white woman. He came to Texas in 1820 and lived at Nacogdoches for the rest of his life. Although he could not write much beyond his signature, he was a good businessman. He was a blacksmith and wagonmaker and engaged in hauling freight from Natchitoches, Louisiana. On a trip to Louisiana in 1826, he was seized by William English, who sought to sell him into slavery. In return for his liberty, Goyens was induced to deliver to English his slave woman and to sign a note agreeing to peonage for himself, though reserving the right to trade on his own behalf. After his return to Nacogdoches, he successfully filed suit for annulment of these obligations.

During the Mexican Texas era, Goyens often served as conciliator in the settlement of lawsuits under the Mexican laws. He was appointed as agent to deal with the Cherokees, and on numerous occasions he negotiated treaties with the Comanches and other Indians. He also operated an inn near the site of what is now the courthouse in Nacogdoches. In 1832, he married Mary Pate Sibley, who was white. Sibley had one son, Henry Sibley, from a former marriage, but Goyens and Mary had no children together.

During the Texas Revolution, Goyens was interpreter for Gen. Sam Houston and his party in negotiations for a treaty with the Cherokee. After the revolution he purchased what was afterwards known as Goyens’ Hill, four miles west of Nacogdoches. He built a large two-story mansion with a sawmill and gristmill west of his home on Moral Creek, where he and his wife lived until their deaths. During his later life Goyens amassed considerable wealth in real estate, despite constant efforts by his white neighbors to take it away. He always employed the best lawyers in Nacogdoches, including Thomas J. Rusk and Charles S. Taylor, to defend him and was generally successful in his litigation. He died on June 20, 1856, soon after the death of his wife; they were both buried in a cemetery near the junction of Aylitos Creek with the Moral. At his grave a marker was erected by the Texas Centennial Commission in 1936. Many traditions grew up in Nacogdoches about this unusual man, and sometimes it is hard to tell just what is true and what is tradition.

Adapted from Texas State Historical Association,

He has a badly executed free pass.

$25 Dollars Reward. Ran Away from the subscriber, living in Wayne county, 12 miles north of Waynesborough, on the 8th of January last, a mulatto man by the name of EPHRAIM, who has since altered it to JOHN ARTIS. He is between 25 and 30 years of age, nearly 6 feet high, and his foreteeth are somewhat defective. He has a free pass, badly executed, and it is suspected that he will endeavor to go to Indiana with some negroes in Guilford county, who are about starting for that State. The above reward will be given for the apprehension and delivery of said fellow to me, or securing him in any jail in that State, so that I get him again.  PETER L. PEACOCK. July 27, 1827.

The State and North Carolina State Gazette, 16 August 1827.

The sailor quit his vessel and stayed.

State of North Carolina, Chowan County     }  Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, August Term 1856

The Jurors for the State on this oath present that Anthony Adams a free man of colour not being a citizen of the State did on the 1st day of July 1856 migrate into this State contrary to the form of the statute in such case made & provided.

The Jurors aforesaid on their oath aforesaid do further present that Anthony Adams a free man of colour not being a citizen of this State & coming into the State as a sailor did on the 1st day of June 1856 attempt to & did migrate into this State by quitting the vessel in which he came into the State & not leaving the State in the same contrary to the form of the Statute in such case made & provided.   Hines Solicitor

[On reverse] State vs Anthony Adams } Misdm’r  A True Bill

Miscellaneous Slave Records, Chowan County Records, North Carolina State Archives.