Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: slaves

Not so fast — those slaves are mine.

William K. Lane v. Jane Bennett et al., 56 NC 371 (1858).

This case was removed from the Wayne County Court of Equity.  By valid will, Furnifold Jernigan made several provisions for the disposal of his slaves.  To his wife Jane Jernigan (who later married Thomas Bennett), he left 13 slaves, including Bill Winn, John Winn, Simpson and Anne. To his daughter Mary Anne Kelly, he left eight slaves, including Olive. He provided for the liberation of “negroes, Dave, Tom, Morris, Lila and Mary” and their transport to a free state, and he directed that ten named slaves be sold. John A. Green and William K. Lane were named executors.

Before the legacies were paid out, Adam Winn filed suit to recover John Winn, Bill Winn, Simpson, Anne, Olive and Dave, claiming that (1) he had mortgaged the slaves to Jernigan to secure payment of money Jernigan loaned him, and (2) he had a judgment attesting that he had repaid the money, and the slaves had been reconveyed to him.

The executors filed a “bill” with the court seeking guidance on the will’s provisions.  Jane Bennett and Mary Anne Kelly claimed the full value of the slaves bequeathed to them or, in the alternative, the amount paid by Winn to redeem them.  The court found that each was entitled to the amount of the redemption. (And, incidentally, Dave, having been redeemed by Winn, “loses, of course, his freedom intended for him…”)

[Sidenote: As noted elsewhere, John Winn and Bill Winn were Adam Winn’s sons, as well as his slaves. He mortgaged his children repeatedly. Jernigan, of course, was a notorious negro-stealer. — LYH]

Says he bought them from a free colored person.


Discovery. – The Jailer in this place, Col. John M. Logan, informed us yesterday, that he had found in possession of a negro slave from Anson county, four keys, two of which were found to belong to the United States’ Mail, and to open it as easily as the key employed for that purpose in the post office at this place.

The said negro was apprehended and confined to prison here about four months ago; and owing to his dexterity at concealment, the keys had never been found in his possession before. He says he bought them, together with two or three locks, from a free coloured person living with John Rushall on Round creek, in Anson county. This statement relative to the manner in which he obtained the keys, is thought not to be entitled to credit, as one of the other keys was a large one, with which he had probably opened some person’s storehouse, and purloined the mail keys, and three $5 bills on the Cheraw bank which were found in his possession at the time of his apprehension.

Miners’ and Farmers’ Journal, Charlotte, 21 April 1831.

Sentenced to the gallows for stealing a slave.

At the late session of the Superior Court of Currituck County, N.C. a free negro man named Moses FULLER was sentenced to the gallows for seducing and stealing in conjunction with several other persons, a certain negro woman slave, contrary to a statute of the state of North Carolina, making the offense death without benefit of clergy.  He is to be executed on the 29th ins.

Baltimore Patriot & Commercial Gazette, 20 November 1822.

They are very well known.

$200 Reward. Ranaway from the subscriber, on the 22nd inst., FOUR NEGRO BOYS, named as follows: CHARLES WINN, aged about 24; WILLIAM, aged about 17 years; JOHN, aged 14 years; JIM, aged about 12 years.

The above boys are very well known as the children of Adam Winn. I think they intend trying to get to some free state. The above reward will be given for their delivery, or for their confinement in any jail in the State.   THOMAS BENNETT. Mt. Olive, Wayne co., July 25, 1854.

Fayetteville Observer, 3 August 1854.

[Sidenote: Adam Winn was a free man. Several of his sons were slaves. — LYH]

No. 1 negro woman takes up with free negro man.

$100 Reward

Ranaway from Mr. N. Carpenter, on the Charlotte Rail Road, near Brown Marsh, in November last, my negro Girl BELL.  The said girl is a No. 1 negro, about 5 feet 6 or 8 inches high, very well put up, and with a smooth black skin.

She is supposed to have taken up with a free negro man in the Brown Marsh neighborhood. I will give the above reward for her delivery to me in Fayetteville, or $50 for her confinement in any jail so that I can get her.   James P. Robertson. Jan. 23.

Fayetteville Observer, 26 January 1863.

She lived among free colored people and white people of the lower order.

Ranaway. From the Subscriber, some weeks since, a mulatto Girl Slave named HANNAH, alias Tillah. She is thought to be lurking in the neighborhood of Laurel Hill at present. She has on a former occasion made her way to Robeson County, and lived there among the free coloured people a considerable time, and she has also lived among, and has been employed and entertained by some of the lower order of white people in that County during the last Winter and Spring. I forewarn all persons from harboring, employing, or entertaining said Girl, under the penalty of the law. I will give Five Dollars for her apprehension and delivery to me, if taken in this County, and an additional compensation if caught out of the County, and delivered to me.  JNO. R. BUIE. Near Laurel Hill, Richmond C’ty, N.C., April 16th, 1838.

Carolina Observer, Fayetteville, 25 April 1838.

Something wrong was going on.

State v. Edmund Martin, 34 NC 157 (1851).

Edmund Martin, a free man of color, was indicted in Forsyth County Superior Court for stealing a slave named Giles, the property of George W. Smith.  The State’s first witness was Edward Booker.  Booker testified that in late October or November 1850, he was on his way south with his son Henry and a man called Null carrying a load of tobacco belonging to a man named Hamlett in Stokes County.  They stopped at a campground near Martin’s property.  There one of Null’s horses became violently ill, and Martin helped secure and administer aid.  While they treated the horse, Booker gave Martin two or three drinks.  Martin told Booker that he “liked his looks,” asked if wagoning was a slow business, and told him that he could put him into a business that could make money much faster, if he could be trusted.  Martin could make Booker “rich as Hairston.” Booker asked if Martin was referring to horses, and Martin replied that he was not, but his stock was worth $600 to $1200 a piece, “and, by being smart, [Booker] could make five or six hundred dollars in a few weeks.” Booker admitted that he would like to make more money in an honest business.  Martin did not explicitly disclose his plans, but Booker inferred them and agreed to call on Martin when he returned in five or six weeks.

On the first Saturday of December, Booker returned and agreed to enter into business with Martin.  Martin told him he had several slaves concealed at some distance – “he could not keep them near him for fear of being suspected: that there were a great many fox hunters around him, and he had frequently been tracked by their dogs, and been compelled to stand in water up to his waist for an hour at a time in cold weather.” The slaves believed that Martin was going to send them to a free state.  While Booker and Martin were talking, a man named Rains came in to speak privately with Martin, and Booker learned that Rains, too, was going to transport slaves for Martin.  Booker agreed to return around Christmas when Martin would have a slave ready.  Booker was to take the slave, sell him, and divide the profits with Martin.  Booker returned the Thursday after Christmas, but Martin told him he could get things ready before Saturday.  Their plans were thwarted by the arrival of another white man, who persisted in staying all night despite Martin’s efforts to get him to leave.  On Sunday Booker returned to Martin’s house. Martin gave “Jeff.,” a slave, a dram and told him to fetch the slave.  Some time after midnight, Booker heard someone enter the kitchen-end of the house, and Martin brought the slave Giles to him and told him they needed to leave as soon as possible.  Martin told Booker to get his horse and go by himself to Thompson’s lane about a mile away.  There were too many wagoners camping nearby and his neighbor Swicegood’s dogs were “very bad.” Martin would take Giles via short-cut and meet him at the lane.  Booker took Giles to Salem to “Mr. Lash,” but, as the Forsyth jail was not completed, took him on to the jail in Germantown.  Booker, who claimed he  had been pretending to work with Martin in order to catch him in his crime, immediately sent word to Giles’ owner Smith.  Booker met with Smith, and the two hatched a plan.  Booker returned to Martin with $400 counterfeit money and a fictitious note for $300.  He paid off Martin, who was quite pleased, and made arrangements to take another slave, this one a blacksmith.  Booker then went to magistrate McDonald to tip him off to his and Smith’s plan.  When he returned to Martin’s, Martin chained his horse to the smokehouse, confronted him with the counterfeit money, accused him of betrayal and threatened to kill him that night.  Martin said that he belonged to a Murrel clan, and his brothers would kill Booker if he did not.  Another white man there opined that Booker had treated Martin badly.  Booker, alarmed, left without his horse and went to a neighbor’s house.  The next day he sent for magistrate McDonald and had Martin arrested.

Wallis McDonald, the magistrate, testified that Booker had come to his house, about four or five miles from Martin’s, and with some minor variations told him essentially what he had testified to on the stand.

Richmond Swicegood testified that he lived about 300 yards from Martin, that he saw Booker at Martin’s house frequently, that he thought “something wrong was going on” and decided to watch the house.  The night was very wet and rainy, but he “slipped up near” the house and heard Martin trying to get rid of Wood, the white man that Booker testified would not leave. Martin went into the kitchen house, and Swicegood stood near a crack and heard Martin tell his son Henry, “I never told your mother ‘till yesterday what Booker was staying here for.”  Martin then said that “by being smart” he could make five or six hundred dollars in six or seven weeks; “it was a dangerous business, but he did not know any better they could do.”  Satisfied that Martin was up to no good, he decided to consult a neighbor.

G.M. Smith testified that he lived in Davidson County, about seven or eight miles from Martin; that his slave Giles left without permission on 22 November 1850; that he found him in the Germantown jail on 8 January 1851; that he sold Giles immediately; and that on his way home from Germantown he saw Booker, who saw him and Giles.

At the close of evidence, the court’s instructions to the jury included a warning that Martin “was to be tried as if he were a white man” and that “they were to divest themselves of prejudice on account of his color.”  Having, perhaps, done so, the jury found Martin guilty, and he appealed to the state Supreme Court.  Citing State v. Hardin, the court ordered a new trial on the grounds that, as there was no evidence Martin had actually the slave from his owner, he could not have committed a capital felony under the statute.

Examination of the Negroes charged with insurrection.

Memorandum of the examination of the Negroes charged with insurrection — 1831

At the Methodist meeting house in Onslow County in the neighbourhood of the Rich lands Col Daniel M Dulany, Returned to Jesse Sandlin, Wm H Thompson, John B Thompson, Thomas Battle, James Thompson, Lewis T Oliver, James Glenn, and William Humphrey Esq’rs the following negros, whose names will be hereafter mentioned charged with conspiracy or insurrection, Sept 20th 1831

Jacob charged with conspiracy by the testimony of Aron (who pleads not Guilty)

Aron Sworn – so he says that Jacob was talking of the negroes rising on  the whites about 3 weeks ago on Friday night, that if they rose he had a pretty Good sword, that he would be amongst them, that Ben Rhodes had a gun and sword and Dudley’s Ben had a gun, and since that time at Mr. Hawkins he Jacob wished that the Camp Meeting was nearer than it was, so that he might aid in destroying the whites, that he Jacob, Ben Rhodes & Ben Dudley and Charles were to be the head leaders, and that they wishes to get as many to assist them as they could.

Upon the evidence let Jacob be committed

Tony charged with conspiracy and insurrections –

Aron witness swears that he heard Tony say that he expected that at a Camp Meeting to be held at this place the negroes would rise upon the whites, and that he intended to go to Newbern, when he could get guns swords and other armes, as he had none here

Upon the evidence let Tony be committed

Nathan, the Property of Edw’d Williams, who pleads not Guilty, as an insurgent

Aron Sworn – At Mr Hawkins on Sunday he saw Nathan, who spoke of being at a camp meeting, and expected that at that time the negroes would rise, but did not say anything about his joining them Upon the evidence let him be committed

Jim the property of Edw’d Koonce charged with conspiracy & insurrection

Nathan House Swears that in a conversation between him and Jim, who sayd to Nathan that the Negroes might take the whites who replied and said how was that possible when the negroes had no guns or weapons.

Upon the evidence let him have 39 lashes

Abram charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Simon charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Jerry Murray charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

David Tragel charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Bill Trasel charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Anthony Rowe charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Mariah charged and acquitted.

Ward Humphrey charged as above, pleads not guilty, let him be acquitted.

Joshua Whitehurst charged as before pleads not guilty, let him be dismissed.

John Phillips Charged as before pleads not guilty, let him be acquitted.

Slaves Records, Onslow County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Carrying, conveying and concealing in order that he might escape.

State v. Alfred Woodly, 47 NC 276 (1855).

This was an indictment of Alfred Woodly and Richard Wynns, free persons of color, for carrying, conveying and concealing a slave in order that he might escape.  Woodly and Wynns were accused of carrying Anthony, a slave and the property of Tristram L. Skinner, executor of Joshua Skinner, deceased, out of the state on 13 January 1855.  The appeal in the case alleged a number of insufficiencies in the indictment, and the Supreme Court ordered a new trial in Bertie Superior Court.

Chapter 111. An Act Concerning Slaves and Free People of Color.

Section 81.  If any free negro or mulatto shall entertain any slave in his or her house, during the sabbath, or in the night, between sunset and sunrise, he or she shall, for entertaining such slave, be subject to a fine of two dollars for the first offence, and four dollars for every subsequent offence, to be recovered on conviction before any one justice of the peace, and applied to the use of the poor of the county, in which the offence shall be committed, saving to the party the right of appealing.

Revised Statutes of North Carolina, 1837.