Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Orange County

Runaway bound boy, no. 6.

Twenty-Five Cents Reward.

RAN away from the subscriber on the 12th instant, a negro boy by the name of LEROY BRANDOM, who was bound to me by the court of this county, to serve until he became twenty-one years of age.  Said boy is about eighteen years old, dark complexion, bushy head of hair, large white eyes, and wears a truss.  I forewarn all persons from harbouring said boy under the penalty of the law.  I will give twenty-five cents reward for the delivery of said boy to me in this place, but will not pay any charges or expences.  Said boy had sundry clothing, not any recollected.         John Young. Aug. 20.

Hillsborough Recorder, 29 Aug 1821.

He was in no battle, being a colored man.

Virginia, Powhatan County, to wit;

On this 15th day of June 1820, personally appeared in open court in the county court of Powhatan, in the state aforesaid, being a court of record, Reuben Bird, aged about fifty six years, according to the best estimate that can be made, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the provision made by the acts of Congress of the 18th March 1818 and the 1st May 1820, that he, the said Reuben Bird enlisted for and during the war of the American Revolution in April or May in the year 1780 in Hillsborough in North Carolina in the Company commanded by Captain James Gunn in the Regiment of Dragoons commanded by Col’o White of Virginia; that he continued to serve in the said Corps until the peace came, when he was discharged from service in Culpepper county, in the state of Virginia: that he was in no battle, he being a colored man, and kept as a Bowman, although he was very near the ground where several were fought; and that he has no other evidence now in his power of his said services except the certificates of Benjamin Sublett and Larkin Self herewith exhibited:

And in pursuance of the act of the 1st of may 1820, the said Reuben Bird solemnly made oath that he was a resident citizen of the United States on the 18th of March One thousand eight hundred and eighteen, and that he has not since that time, by gift, sale, or in any manner disposed of his property, or any part thereof, with intent thereby to diminish it as to bring himself within the provision of an act of Congress, entitled “An act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land and naval service of the United States in the Revolutionary War,” passed on the 18th day of March One thousand eight hundred and eighteen, and that he has not, nor has any person in trust for him, any property or securities, contracts, or debts due to him; nor has he any income, other than what is contained in the Schedule hereto annexed, and by him subscribed to wit: Real and personal property, none; he is by trade a Bricklayer, and is not very able to pursue his trade in consequence of a Rupture, which obliges him to wear a Truss of Steel; his family consists of his wife, who is about 37 years old, and one child, a female about seven years old; his wife is healthy, and by her industry somewhat contributes to support the family.  Reuben X Bird.

From the file of Reuben Bird, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives and Records Administration.

In the attached affidavit, Benjamin Sublett swore that he was a sergeant in Captain William Mayo’s company at the time of General Gates’ defeat at Camden, South Carolina, and “in the same company a mulatto boy appeared to be about the age of 16 or 17 years by the name of Reuben Bird,” who enlisted at “Hilsbury” in about May 1780.

Jail break, no. 4.

50 Dollars Reward. Broke the jail of Orange county, on the night of 30th November, 1821, two prisoners, Archibald Brown and Meredith Chavers. – Said Brown was charged with murder, and was sent to said jail from Chatham county.  He resided on Rocky River, in Chatham county, where his family now lives.  He is about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, fair complexion, has pimples upon his face and nose, and is addicted to intoxication.  Chavers is a free mulatto, about 6 feet high, and formerly lived on the waters of Back Creek, in Orange county.  The above reward will be paid to any person who will arrest the said Brown in this state, so that I get him again; and a reward of five dollars for the arrest and delivery of the said Chavers to me.  JAMES CLANCY, Jailor.  December 1st, 1821.

Western Carolinian, 25 Dec 1821.

God’s will for the colored race.

Nancy Brewer filed claim #11545 with the Southern Claims Commission.  She was about 50 years old,  lived in Chapel Hill, Orange County, and kept house for her husband during the war.  Her husband was arrested during the war “to work on embankments at Fort Macon, I think, but Mr. J.W. Carr interfered and informed them that he was my property, I having bought him a few years before the war.”  Her husband belonged to the Union League of America and was appointed a magistrate after the War.

The Brewers rented land to work on shares from Mr. Weaver and others about one mile from town.  Nancy Brewer owned a house and lot in Chapel Hill. “I gave about four hundred dollars for it before the Surrender.  I paid for it in gold & silver some old Bank money and some Confederate money.”  Federal soldiers took a pile of lumber — about a thousand board feet — with which her husband had intended to build a stable.  They also took a horse (a sorrel named Henry) and some bacon. “I asked them please not to take my horse, that it was all our dependence to make a crop.” (Confederate soldiers took some leather from her husband’s shoe shop.)

Nancy Brewer testified: “At the beginning of the war I felt troubled about it. I know my husband did not do anything to favor bringing it on, nor after it was brought on. Of course, he wanted the North to whip the South that was the way he talked and I agreed with him. I believed it was God’s will for it to become as it is now. If it was God’s will for the colored race to be free let it be so. And if not I was willing to submit to his will. I knew we were all in his hands. I believe God brought it out as it is, and I know he will do right.”

Nancy Stroud lived in Chapel Hill, Orange County.  She did not know her age, but “I reckon I am away yonder in fifty.”  She worked as a washerwoman and had been living with Nancy Brewer for two weeks when the “Yankee Soldiers” came to Chapel Hill around the time “corn was coming up.”  She saw two “pure Yankees” that she believed were from the Ninth Ohio bridle Brewer’s horse and lead him away.  She also saw them take three “big large hams”.  She was afraid of the soldiers because they said “if Johnson did not surrender in a few days they would show me the devil and I did not want to see him.” She was no judge of horses, but estimated that Brewer’s was worth about $100.  The soldiers also took the planking from Brewer’s fence. “I think the property was taken for the use of the Army, but to come to the truth of it, I just believe the Devil made them do it.”  She never heard Brewer or her husband talk about the war as “It would not do for colored people to talk here. ‘A still tongue made a wise head.’”

Thomas M. Kirkland, a merchant, testified that he knew Brewer’s husband, Green Brewer, who had been dead about two years next August.  “I was not intimate with colored people during the war as to be acquainted with his sentiments…,” but believed him to be loyal. “I am in no wise related to claimant he being a colored man and I a white man.”

The Commissioners remarked: “The claimant is a colored woman & a widow, her husband having died since the war.  He was formerly a slave, but she had bought him & he belonged to her! – or rather was free during the war.  He was a rather superior colored man.  After the war Gov. Holden appointed him Magistrate. The property belonged to her, & it was taken by our soldiers about the 1st April ’65 & taken to camp, the lumber for barracks.”

Allowed: $130.00

Jail break.


SOLOMON, the property of John Lockhart, deceased – He is about five feet eight inches high, black, no marks on his person recollected, aged 35 years.

WILLIS, the property of Capt. J.W. Latta, about six feet high, slender built, black, aged about 27 years.

ALEX HARRIS, a free boy, about five feet five inches high, mulatto, has been living about Raleigh.

Solomon was convicted for the murder of John Lockhart, and was detained for a new trial.  I will give for his apprehension two hundred dollars, and fifty dollars each for the two others, or their confinement in any jail so that I can get them.  H.B. GUTHRIE, Sheriff.  Hillsborough, N.C., May 22, 1863.

Weekly Standard, Raleigh, 27 May 1863.


$500 REWARD.  ESCAPED FROM THE JAIL OF GRANVILLE County, in Oxford, on the night of the 27th instant, BALDY KERSEY, a free negro, very bright color, and hair nearly straight, stout made, and about five feet eight inches high, about 45 years old, impudent appearance and quick speech.

Also, JOEL, a slave of T.B. VENABLE. Joel is a dark mulatto, about 5 feet 10 or 11 inches high, and rather spare built, though strong and likely, he is about 35 years of age.

Kersey was sentenced at September term of Granville Superior Court to six months imprisonment, and there are still pending against him five indictments for larceny.

Joel was committed for house breaking and an attempt to commit rape.

I will give the above reward for the apprehension and confinement of both, so that I get them again, or $200 for either.  The belief is that they are making towards the Eastern part of the State.  I wil give $500 for the apprehension and delivery, with evidence sufficient to convict those or anyone of those who assisted from the outside and broke the jail so as to release said prisoners.  W.A. PHILPOTT, Sheriff.  October 6, 1864.

Weekly Standard, Raleigh, 26 October 1864.

Despite our natural inclinations….

William Mayho, by his next friend, v. Edward Sears, 25 NC 224 (1842).

On 23 July 1805, John Moring of Surry County, Virginia, executed a deed of manumission for his slaves. Hannah, Patrick, Cherry, Jordan and Charlotte were to be freed immediately.  Isabel, Carter, Polly, Burwell, Maria and Willis were to be set free over the next 19 years, according to a set schedule. Thereafter, Moring moved to Orange County, North Carolina, bringing Polly with him. Prior to 1 April 1814 (her scheduled date of manumission), Polly gave birth to a daughter, who gave birth to plaintiff William Mayho in about 1830.  After 1 April 1814, Polly, her daughter and grandson lived by themselves and acted in every respect as free persons.  They were regarded as free people of color by their neighbors and recognized as such by Moring, until 1838, when he sold Mayho to Edward Sears.

The question before the North Carolina Supreme Court was whether Mayho’s mother was free at birth, or became so prior to his birth.  “There is a natural inclination in the bosom of every judge to favor the side of freedom, and a strong sympathy with the plaintiff, and the other persons situated as he is, who have been allowed to think themselves free and act for so long a time as if they were; and, if we were permitted to decide this controversy according to our feelings, we should with promptness and pleasure pronounce or judgment for the plaintiff.  But the court is to be governed by a different rule, the impartial and unyielding rule of the law; and, after, giving to the case an anxious and deliberate consideration, we find ourselves obliged to hold, that in the law the condition of the plaintiff is that of slavery.”  In other words, applying the laws of Virginia, Polly was still a slave when her daughter was born, making the daughter a slave, and Mayho a slave in turn.