Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Revels

Runaway bound boy, no. 20.

Five Cents Reward.

ABSCONDED from the Subscriber, on the 19th ult.. a bound boy named Absalom Revels. – He is a very bright mulatto, about 14 years of age. All persons are cautioned against harboring him. The above reward, and no thanks, will be given for his delivery to me. DAVID SHAW. Fayetteville, August 4.

Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 11 August 1836.

He put a period to his existence.

John Revels, a coloured barber, formerly of the City, put a period to his existence in Salisbury, last week, by taking laudanum. Raleigh Register.

Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 3 December 1833.


The Subscriber is a free colored man, and some persons a few days past stole his Pocket Book, containing his papers of freedom, signed by John Taylor, Clerk of the court of Orange county – should any colored person attempt to pass under the said papers, the public are hereby cautioned and warned to have them immediately arrested as impostors. MACKLIN REVELS. March, 22.

Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 3 April 1823.

The worm turns, no. 1.

Murder in Henderson.

Mr. J.T. Henry, of Henderson county, while chastising a free negro named Abe Revels, on the 22d ult., was stabbed twice, and died the next day. The negro has been lodged in Jail in Hendersonville, to await his trial.

Asheville News, 6 August 1857.

George & Minnie Manuel.


George S. Manuel and wife, Mary Jane “Minnie” Bear Manuel, Greene County, Tennessee.

Jesse Manuel, born around 1775, and his wife, Beaty Revels, left Sampson County, North Carolina, about 1830 and settled in Greene County, Tennessee. Their children included Ephraim, James, Mahala, Elkana, Levi, Sylvania and Travis. Several of his sons, including Travis Manuel, appear as heads of household in Greene County in 1840, and by 1850, Ephraim and James, had migrated further to Brown County, Indiana. By 1860, they had pushed even further north to southern Michigan, though their siblings remained in the Greene County area.

In the 1850 census of Greene County TN, 35 year-old NC-born Travis Manuel, 61 year-old Mary Manuel, and George (13) and Margaret Manuel (11). 

[Sidenote: Many thanks to Edie Lee Harris for use of this photograph and information about her family.]



He gave the last and final vote.


I am indebted to my uncle Alex Smith for the following short history of Hillsboro, written by Lawyer Joe Turner over twenty years ago, thinking it may interest some of the readers of the leader, I send same for print if you see fit. – F.W. Nelson.

Hillsboro was one of the five towns entitled to a representative (see Wheelers history if it be five or seven). Governor Graham and Chief justice Nash were Borough representatives. Traditions says it was a tie between Gov. Graham and his competitor when Hazekiah Revels an old issue free negro was sent for and gave the last and final vote for Graham, dropping this speech with his vote, “Ki Revels always votes for a gentlemen.” Before the next election the constitution was amended and the free negroes with old Ki Revels were disenfranched. …

Mebane Leader, 13 July 1911.

Hiram Rhodes Revels.


Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first person of color to serve in the United States Congress.

Revels was born free in 1827 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1838 he moved to Lincolnton, North Carolina to apprentice in his brother Elias B. Revels’ barber shop. After attending seminary in Indiana and Ohio, Revels was ordained as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1845 and served as a preacher and religious teacher throughout the Midwest.

Revels served as a chaplain in the United States Army during the Civil War and helped recruit and organize black Union regiments in Maryland and Missouri. He took part at the battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi. In 1865, Revels left the AME Church and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1866, he was given a permanent pastorship in Natchez, Mississippi, where he settled with his wife and five daughters, became an elder in the Mississippi District, continued his ministerial work, and founded schools for black children.

In 1869, Revels was elected to represent Adams County in the Mississippi State Senate. In 1870 he was elected to finish the term of one of the state’s two United States Senators, vacant since Mississippi seceded from the Union.

When Revels arrived in Washington, Southern Democrats opposed seating him in the Senate, basing their arguments on the Dred Scott decision, which ruled that people of African ancestry were not and could not be citizens. Because no black man was a citizen before the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, they argued, Revels could not satisfy the requirement for nine years’ prior citizenship.

Revels’ supporters of Revels made a number of arguments, including: (1)  that Revels was of mixed black and white ancestry (an “octoroon”) and the Dred Scott decision applied only to blacks who were of purely African ancestry; (2) that Revels had been  considered a citizen (and indeed had voted in Ohio) before Dred Scott; and (3) that the Civil War and the Reconstruction Amendments had voided Dred Scott. On February 25, 1870, Revels, on a strict party-line vote of 48 to 8, became the first black man to be seated in the United States Senate.

Revels resigned two months before his term expired to accept appointment as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University). In 1873, Revels took a leave of absence from Alcorn to serve as Mississippi’s secretary of state ad interim.  He died on January 16, 1901.

Adapted from Wikipedia. 

In the 1850 census of Cambridge City, Wayne County, Indiana: Robert Freeman, 34, laborer, born Virginia; Jane Freeman, 30, born Virginia; Malinda Freeman, 14, born Ohio; Hannah, 13, William H., 10, Robert, 4, and Margaret Freeman, 3, all born in Indiana; Charles Guinea, 18, born Virginia; and Hiram Revels, 25, and wife Phebe Revels, 17, both born in NC.

In the 1860 census of Ward 11, Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland: Hiram Revels, 35, Prest’n clergyman O.S., born North Carolina; wife Phoebe, 25, born Ohio; Elizabeth, 5, and Emma Revels, 3 months, born in Maryland; and Mary Brooks, 16, born in Maryland.

Lewis Sheridan Leary.


Lewis Sheridan Leary (1835–1859), a harnessmaker from Oberlin, Ohio, joined John Brown’s unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, where he was killed.  Leary was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Matthew N. Leary, also a harnessmaker, and Julia Memril Leary.  His paternal grandfather was an Irishman, Jeremiah O’Leary, who fought in the American Revolution under General Nathanael Greene. A paternal great-grandparent, Abram Revels, a free man of color, was also a Revolutionary War veteran. His mother’s grandmother was “French Mary,” a freed West Indian who was a well-regarded cook in Fayetteville.

In the mid-1850s, Leary moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where two of his sisters had settled. One sister, Sarah, had married Henry Evans, whose sister Delilah Evans Copeland, the mother of John A. Copeland Jr., another John Brown follower.  Leary married Oberlin College graduate Mary Patterson, and had a daughter, Louise.  Leary became involved with abolitionists in Oberlin, which had an active community. Later, he met John Brown in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1858, Leary joined in the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, when fugitive slave John Price was forcibly taken from the custody of a U.S. Marshal to prevent his being returned to slavery . He was not among the 37 men (twelve of them free men of color) who were indicted and jailed for their actions.

Accompanied by Copeland, Leary joined John Brown at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  Leary died eight days after the attack on Harper’s Ferry from wounds suffered in the conflict. Copeland was captured, tried and later executed.

Leary’s family remained in Fayetteville during the Civil War.  During Reconstruction, his father and a brother served as city councilmen and county commissioners, and his brother Matthew Leary Jr. was an early trustee of the college that became Fayetteville State University. Leary’s youngest brother, John Sinclair Leary, graduated from Howard University in 1871 and was one of the earliest black attorneys admitted to the bar in North Carolina. He served in the state legislature for two terms as a Republican representative for Cumberland County during Reconstruction, and in 1884 was sent as a delegate to the National Republican Convention. He later founded and served as the first dean of the Shaw University Law School, and in the 1890s moved his family and practice to Charlotte. Today the Charlotte chapter of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers is named the John S. Leary Bar Association in his honor.

 Adapted from Tar Heels at Harper’s Ferry, October 16-18, 1859,”, published by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

Photograph, c. 1850s, courtesy of Oberlin College Archives, Oberlin, Ohio.

In the 1860 census , Fayetteville, Cumberland: Matthew Leary, 48, wife Julia A., 42, Matthew, 17, Lewis S., 15, Julia A., 12, John S., and Mary E., 13.

Confederate cousins.

Solomon Oxendine filed claim #21329 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 40 years old and lived in Robeson County.  He owned 154 acres, 30 of which were cultivated.

“I had several cousins in the Confederate army they went in from South Carolina.”

Neill Revels, 44, cousin Hugh Oxendine, 42, and daughter Margaret Oxendine, 19, testified for him.

They intended to come beat me.

William H. Haithcock, age 56, filed claim #20604 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He lived in Fayetteville and worked as a carpenter.  Haithcock testified that he was born in Johnson [sic] County and moved to Fayetteville about 1850.  He lived in Fayetteville up to 1863; then in the country 4 miles from Fayetteville, where he had a farm; then, in 1864, to another plantation one mile from Fayetteville, where he made another crop.  He was living there when the United States Army came through.  He moved back to Fayetteville after.  He worked his trade as a carpenter until he went into farmer.

When he was living on the east side of the Cape Fear River, the Confederates took corn, fodder, chickens and other property.  He was living on the west side of the river when the Union army came.  His house was robbed once by Confederate deserters.  “I talked about it, they sent me word that they intended to come beat me and take what money I had but they never came.  Some of the white men up the river above me.  I understood that I should not make another crop at the place I was living and that I ought to be in the war.”

Lucien Bryant, age 50, testified to Haithcock’s loyalty.  Bryant was a farmer and lived in Fayetteville.  Others who testified were: William S. Taylor, 58, painter; Jonathan Revels, 52, farmer; and son James Haithcock, 19, a farmer and wood hauler.