Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Montford

Free colored Craven County slaveowners.

One John Carruthers Stanley, negro, was born in Craven County, N. C, in 1772. His father was a white man and his mother was an African woman purchased from a northern slave trader in the West Indies, where the woman with other negroes had been carried direct from Africa. Captain Stewart was at the time sailing one of John Wright Stanley’s vessels, running between New Bern and the West Indies. In his boyhood the young negro John was apprenticed to a barber, at that time in New Bern, named John Carruthers; J. C. Stanley was generally known as “Barber Jack” toward the end of his life. He married a woman with more negro blood than he possessed, hence she was darker in color than her husband, though he was not light. In the year 1808 his mistress, Mrs. Lydea Stewart, the captain being then dead, had him emancipated by the North Carolina legislature. Then he advanced rapidly in property until he was the owner of sixty-four slaves, and at the same time there were forty-two negroes of both sexes bound to him by law for service. At that time he owned two large plantations a few miles distant from New Bern, one on Trent River called Lion Pasture, one on or near Bachelor’s Creek called Hope; on these his negroes were employed. He resided in New Bern and owned houses there. But finally after so much success, he engaged in speculations and went down hill even faster than he had gone up. In the meantime he had reared sons and daughters and had educated them. Some of these children owned slaves up to the civil war, and they held them rigidly to account. Stanley died some years previous to the war. This family had necesarily to move in a circle of their own; yet now and then the women would be invited to dinner by a few of the best citizens. One of the Stanley boys, John Stewart, taught free school in a small way and occasionally clerked in a store. He held slaves, as did his sisters, who never married, up to the emancipation proclamation.

There was a colored brick mason in New Bern named Doncan Montford, who owned slaves; he was a dark mulatto. One of his slaves, Isaac Rue, was also a mason; he sold him to a lawyer, George S. Altmore. Isaac’s wife was a free woman, a pure-blooded negress. They had children, who under North Carolina laws were free. One of their grandsons, Edward Richardson, was at one time postmaster of New Bern, appointed to the office by a Republican president.

From Calvin D. Wilson, “Negroes Who Owned Slaves,” Popular Science Monthly, vol. LXXXI (1912).

Donum Montford.

Donum Montford (Mumford) (1771-1838), New Bern brickmason, plasterer, and brickmaker, was prominent among the city’s early 19th century builders and became one of the wealthiest of the city’s free people of color. Memoirist Stephen Miller recalled that he was ‘copper-colored, and carried on the bricklaying and plastering business with slaves, a number of whom he owned. Whenever a job was to be done expeditiously, he was apt to be employed, as he could always throw upon it a force sufficient for its rapid execution.’

“Born a slave, Montford was owned by the prominent Richard Cogdell family until 1804. During his more than 30 years as a slave, he mastered the related trades of bricklaying, plastering, and brickmaking. He gained his freedom in 1804, when the widow Lydia Cogdell and her daughter Lydia Cogdell Badger sold him to the wealthy free man of color John C. Stanly, who emancipated him the next day, doubtless carrying out a strategy planned by all parties. As a free man, Montford promptly established his shop and began acquiring property. Although he was illiterate, signing documents with his mark, he was successful in his business. In 1806 his former owner, Lydia Cogdell, gave him a young slave, Abram Moody Russell, to train as an apprentice, then to emancipate upon his maturity; Abram Moody Russell Allen, as he was later known, was identified by Montford as his nephew and also became his heir and executor. In 1807 Montford took the first of many free apprentices to his trade. In 1809 he married Hannah Bowers. By 1811 he was purchasing real estate, and he eventually owned several town lots and houses, plus a farm. By 1820, according to the United States Census, Montford was head of a large household of free people of color, and had twenty-two slaves in his employ; whether he owned all of these is not certain. In 1827 Montford petitioned to emancipate his only child, Nelson, a plasterer who had worked with Montford until he attained his majority.

“Both Hannah and Donum Montford were members of Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, and their burial services were recorded in the parish register noting them each as a ‘colored communicant.’ Montford’s stature in the community was indicated by his appointment to a committee, along with the leading white brickmasons in town, Bennett Flanner and Joshua Mitchell, to inspect repairs to Christ Church in 1832. He was regularly employed to work on public buildings. Along with taking free apprentices to his trade, he also trained slave artisans, such as Ulysses, ‘a plasterer by trade, who served his time with Donum Mumford, in the town of New Bern afterwards worked at his business upwards of four years, in Hyde County,’ and who could ‘read and write tolerably well.’ Ulysses had run away from William S. Sparrow, who advertised for his return in 1818.

“Despite his long and active career, few of Montford’s projects have been identified. For the Craven County Jail (1821-1825), a handsome and formal civic building, detailed construction records show his versatility. Montford supplied 100,000 of the roughly 400,000 bricks, at $5 per thousand, and he and his workers accomplished the lathing and plastering, including laborers (probably slaves) Charles, Edmond, and Romey at 5 shillings a day, and skilled workers Tony and Lawson at $1 a day. He typically charged 12 shillings and sixpence per day for his own work and a few other skilled men in his shop. Montford also supplied many of the bricks for the John R. Donnell House (1816-1818), which was among the finest of the city’s Federal style, brick townhouses, where Wallace Moore was the chief brickmason and Asa King was the lead carpenter. Montford also did some work beyond New Bern, including an unnamed project for Tyrrell County planter Ebenezer Pettigrew, who paid him in 1819 for delivering bricks and lime, building the foundation for a smokehouse, and mending plaster.

“At his death in 1838 Montford had a considerable estate in land, slaves, and personal possessions. Illustrating accounts of the prosperity and gentility of New Bern’s leading people of color, he left to his wife, Hannah, such household furnishings as a secretary, a sofa, a mahogany candle stand, a dining table, and a breakfast table; numerous serving pieces, including two dozen plates of Liverpool ware, silver teaspoons and tablespoons, decanters and wine glasses, and two oyster dishes; and two pictures, one of Napoleon, and one of Christ on the Cross. Among the many items sold from his estate were a musket and a shotgun, window sash, brick moulds, shad nets, and farm implements. His estate also included slaves Bob, Dick, Jim Carney, Dinah, Alexander, and plasterer-bricklayer Isaac Rue (Rew). Montford stated in his will that Isaac was to be freed after Hannah’s death; Isaac Rue continued to practice his trade for many years as a free man and a property owner.”

Author: Catherine W. Bishir.  Published 2009.

As published in North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary,  (All rights retained.) This web site is a growing reference work that contains brief biographical accounts, building lists, and bibliographical information about architects, builders, and other artisans who planned and built North Carolina’s architecture.  

Edward Richardson.

Edward Richardson was born about 1830, part of families long established in New Bern and Craven County. He was the son of Simon Richardson and Sarah Rue (Rew), free people of color, who were married in Craven County in February 1830. His father’s family, the Richardsons, had been free people in Craven County for many years; several of them, including Simon Richardson, were engaged in the calker’s trade, which was essential in building and maintaining wooden boats and ships. On his mother’s side, Edward was the grandson of bricklayer and plasterer Isaac Rue (ca. 1787-1880). Isaac Rue had been emancipated by the will of the noted New Bern artisan Donum Montford, who was also an emancipated brickmason and plasterer. Edward Richardson probably learned his trade from his grandfather, along with his younger brother, Isaac Richardson, who was also a bricklayer.

“In 1860 and 1870, the bricklayer Edward Richardson owned real estate and personal property, and he and his wife Maria and their family were living next door to his grandfather Rue. At Rue’s death, the local New Bernian of January 17, 1880, reported that the elderly Isaac Rue had ‘acquired a considerable amount of property in real estate which is left to his grandson, E. A. Richardson, a faithful and obliging Clerk in our Post Office.’

“Although Richardson worked for most of his life as a bricklayer and plasterer, no specific projects have been attributed to him. Both before and after the Civil War, New Bernians constructed many brick buildings, as well as brick chimneys and foundations, and doubtless many of these showed Richardson’s handiwork.

“From the 1860s onward, Richardson was engaged in local political and civic life. In 1865 he was a delegate to the Freedmen’s Convention in Raleigh. Locally, he served on the local board of education, as justice of the peace, and as a founder and officer of a fire company and other civic organizations. By 1880 he was employed as clerk in the local post office, and in 1884-1885 held the important office of postmaster, an appointment made by Republican Congressman James O’Hara, whom Richardson had supported. At his death on February 26, 1896, the New Bern Weekly Journal reported, “E.A. Richardson, a prominent colored man died yesterday. The funeral will take place from St. Peter’s church this afternoon at two o’clock. He was well known to many of our city owing to his public position as postmaster and ‘bore a good name as far as we ever heard.'”

Author: Catherine W. Bishir. Contributor: John B. Green.  Published 2009.

As published in North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary,  (All rights retained.) This web site is a growing reference work that contains brief biographical accounts, building lists, and bibliographical information about architects, builders, and other artisans who planned and built North Carolina’s architecture.  

The 1850 census of New Berne, Craven County, shows Simon Richardson, 40, calker; wife Sarah, 38; and children Edward, 19, and Miles, 18, both plasterers; Eliza, 15; Isaac, 12; and Ann, 3; all described as black.  In the 1860 census of New Bern, Edward Richardson, 30, brickmason, heads his own household, which includes wife Mariah, 41, and children Samuel, 4, and Benie, 3.  They are listed next door to the household of Isaac T. Rue, 70, brickmason, his wife Phillis, 63, and probable grandson James Rue, 14.