Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Randolph County

Poet and minister’s father.

“Islay Walden, black poet and Congregational minister, was born in Randolph County, the son of a slave named Ruth belonging to James Gardner. At Gardner’s death in 1843 Ruth and her two children were sold to Dolphin Gardner. Islay was at that time a babe in arms while his sister, Sarah, was two. How many times he was sold after that is unknown. His father was William D. Walden, a free black who was highly respected in his community. …”

— From

She shall have a comfortable maintenance.

I, Nathan Lamb of the County of Randolph & State of North Carolina being of sound mind & memory but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence do make & declare these my last Will & Testament in manner and form following. That is to say first that my executor shall provide for my body a decent burial suitable to the wishes of my relations & friends & pay all funeral expenses together with my just debts howsoever & to whomsoever owing out of the money that may first come into his hands as part or parcel of my estate.

Item, I give & devise to my beloved wife Mary Lamb all the tract of land & plantation whereon I now live including my mansion house & all outhouses & other improvements whatsoever to her the said Mary Lamb to have & to hold for & during her natural life or widowhood in lieu of her dower & thirds of my real estate.

Item, I give and devise to my grandson Nathan Wall all this tract of land whereon I now live except the life estate of my wife derived in a former item on this my will & except the maintenance of my old Servant mentioned in another item to have & to hold to him & his heirs in fee simple forever.

Item, I give & devise to my daughter Mary Morgan, wife of William Morgan, all that tract of land whereon Elizabeth Stanton now lives known by the name of the Morgan Place to have & to hold to her & her heirs in fee Simple forever.

Item, I give & bequeath to my Said beloved wife Mary Lamb all the household & kitchen furniture all the horses & cattle & hogs & all the farming tools & all my other property on this plantation, all the crops of every discription that may be on the plantation whereon I now live & all the provisions on hand at my death for & during her natural life or widowhood except what may be necessary to pay all funeral expenses together with my just debts to be Selected & Sold by my executor for that purpose provided there Should not be money Sufficient on hand.

Item, My will & desire is that all the Crop Stock & provisions on hand at the death of my wife all the improvements of husbandry & all other personal property belonging to the estate Should be Sold & the money arriving from such Sale Should be equally divided among my children, except Mary Morgan, Share & Share alike to them & their personal representatives forever.

Item, My will is also that Luce, a free woman of Colour formerly in my Service Shall have a comfortable maintenance from my home plantation during her natural life or whenever She may chose to live thereon.

And lastly, I do hereby constitute & appoint my Son in Law William Chamness my lawful executor to all intents & purposes to execute the my last will & testament according to the true intent and meaning thereof, hereby revoking & declaring utterly void all other wills & testaments by me hereuntofore made. In witness whereof the Said Nathan Lamb do hereunto set my hand & seal this 4th day of May AD 1839.  Nathan X Lamb. Witnesses Daniel Swain, Anna Swain.     

Probated February term, 1845.  Randolph County Courthouse.

They became insulted, raised their tents, and left.

“Rev. J. W. Wellons, of Elon College, N. C., relates an interesting experience he had in attempting to preach to a group of free negroes in Randolph county many years before the Civil War. The free negroes referred to were known as Waldens. They owned considerable land and were withal respectable farmers. The Quakers had allowed them to sit in the congregation with the white folks, and also to come to the white “mourner’s bench.” On the particular occasion in question, Reverend Mr. Wellons assigned them a certain space in which to sit, and invited them to a separate “mourner’s bench,” whereupon they became insulted, raised their tents, and left the camp meeting. As a rule, the free negroes did not attend church, possibly for the reason that in nearly all the churches they had to sit with the slaves.”

Taylor, Rosser Howard, The Free Negro in North Carolina (1920).

The disclosure was unworthy of attention.


Between one and two o’clock in the morning of Saturday last, Rev. Mr. Lawrence was surprised in his dormitory by the glare of a light.  Rushing to the door, he beheld the roof of the brick jail recently built, in flames.  Having rung his tavern bell for a few moments, he made haste to the courthouse, and rang the court bell to give all our citizens alarm.  In a few minutes many were at the scene of the conflagration, and, among the first, Col. Drake, jailor.  With nothing to protect his person but his sleeping vestments, he, not without great risk, made his way up to the cell of James, a run-away slave advertised in last week’s paper.  When he had opened one day, the smoke and falling flames being beyond endurance, he was compelled to retreat, and was not even able to do so without slight injury.  A ladder was procured, and Mr. Cooper, chief engineer of the Plank Road, who had come to our village on the preceding evening, ascended it with a sledge, and made a strong but unsuccessful effort to break in the window grates of the prisoner’s cell. The last ray of hope for the rescue of James departed with those efforts.  During the continuance of efforts for his release, his account of the origin of the fire was, that some one came into the jail with a candle and ignited the building. – When Mr. Cooper informed him that he must perish in the flames, being then asked how the fire originated, he was distinctly understood by several to acknowledge himself the incendiary.  He then most fervently implored mercy, wrapping his blanket closely around his body, and laid himself down, after which no more was heard save the piercing shrieks at the falling in of the roof.  His body was of course entirely consumed.

Al the doors were safely locked by the jailer [sic].  That the negro was the builder of his own pyre there is not a doubt, and it is little less certain how he procured the means.  On Thursday last William Mataw, a free mulatto, was committed to jail for the cost of some misdemeanor, and confined in the cell with James for own night.  Mataw had matches in his pocket, and informed the jailer the next day, after he had been set at liberty, that his pockets had been searched; but the latter, considering him drunk, thought the disclosure unworthy of attention. – The fire appeared to have been started in the partition between the prisoner and the entry, and it was perfectly clear to every one present that it was kindled in the cell.

Notwithstanding the jail was immediately surrounded by a high plank paling, Mrs. Hoover’s stables standing a few paces north and Mr. Worth’s store but a little farther south, the fire was communicated to noting beyond its wall, the wind blowing from the west and carrying the flames in a direction where no buildings were.  It is singular that the negro was not heard to make the slightest noise till the citizens had assembled.  His object doubtless was to escape.  In consequence of fears entertained by the Sheriff that he might break out, as did two prisoners some weeks ago, he had been chained, but had picked or broken the lock when burnt.  Such are the facts, so far as we have been able to collect them, connected with this sad loss of life and destruction of public property.  We are now without a jail, the old one having been torn down and the new one being in ashes.  The brick wall is still standing, but entirely ruined, having cracks from top to foundation in various places.  Ashboro’ Herald.

Carolina Watchman, Salisbury, 20 Feb 1851.