Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Virginia

Sold for the crime of immigration.

On Monday last, we witnessed the novel spectacle of selling a free negro, Howell Thomas, who was condemned at our last Court, to be sold for ten years, for the “crime” of emigrating to this State from “old Figinny,” was put up to the highest bidder, according to law, and was knocked down at the moderate price of fifty-two dollars – “dog cheap!” – Oxford Exam.

North Carolina Free Press (Halifax), 19 June 1832.

Overturned on a technicality.

State v. Bill Ely (1857).

Bill Ely was indicted in Beaufort County Superior Court on a charge of unlawful immigration. The indictment described him as a “free man of color.” The Court noted that Ely had come into North Carolina from Virginia in 1842. During the next two or three years, he went back to Virginia two or three times and stayed a few weeks each time, but had resided continually in Beaufort County for ten years.  Ely was found guilty and fined five hundred dollars. Because Ely was a “free negroe unable to pay the fine,” the court directed the sheriff to hire Ely out to any person willing to pay it. Ely appealed.

In a brief per curiam decision, the Supreme Court noted that Section 54 of Chapter 107 of the Revised Code made it illegal for a “free negro” (not a “free person of color”) to immigrate. Citing State v. Chavers, the Court ordered judgment arrested.

File #7301, Box 284, North Carolina Supreme Court Case Files, North Carolina State Archives.

The fellow went towards Wadesborough.

Ten Dollars Reward.

Ranaway from Darlington Court-House, South Carolina, on Saturday 3rd, December 1814, a man of Colour who calls himself ROBERT BYRD, a black man, aged 20 or 25 years old, who has with him a pass from William Tunstall, Clerk, Pittsylvania County, Virginia – Said Negroe stole, and carried away a chestnut sorrel MARE, about 14 1-2 hands high, with a large star in her forehead and snip on her nose, a natural trotter, rather low in order. I will give the above reward for any person who will apprehend, and confine said fellow in any Joal [sic] so that he may brought to Justice, or deliver him to me, and all reasonable expences to any one who will deliver the said Mare to me – The fellow went towards Wadesborough, N. Carolina. JEREMIAH BROWN. December 6, 1814.

Star, Raleigh, 13 January 1815

Only his aunt remains alive.

Charlotte County Virginia. This day Mary Belcher came before me Hillery Moseley a Justice for said County at the request of Lucy Chavers who has been married to Robert Cole both black persons and the said Lucy had a Sister by the name of Betty Chavers who had a Son which was crissind in my house by the name of John Jackson Chavers, and made Oath that the said two women were Sisters and She don’t believe there is any of the aforesaid Family a Live at this time except the said Lucy Cole, Given from under my hand this 27th day of April 1808  /s/ Hillery Moseley


Mecklenburg County, Virginia. This day Haywood Rudd came before me a Justice for said county and made oath that he was acquainted with a black boy by the name of John Jackson Chaves that the said boy was bound and apprentice to William Steward a blacksmith and that when he the said Steward went from the County to Wake County N Carolina the aforesaid John Jackson Chaves went with him and that he knows of no relations of said John Jackson Chaves except Lucy Cole rais’d said J. Jackson Chaves from his infancy until he was bound apprentice to the said William Steward. Given under my hand this 9th day May 1808.  /s/ James Hester


Mecklenburg County, Virginia. This day came Mathew Carter before me a Justice for the said County, and made oath that Lucy Cole Lived several years on his plantation in this County & that she rais’d a boy there by the name of John Jackson Chaves, Who was then said to be her sisters son that the said John Jackson Chaves was afterwards bound apprentice to William Steward blacksmith who carry’d him the sd. John Jackson Chaves with him when he moved from this county and that he knows of no relations in these parts to said Chaves or any where else except Lucy Cole, given under my hand this 9th day of May 1808  /s/ James Hester

Miscellaneous Records & Apprentice Bonds and Records, Wake County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

He says he comes from Hanover County.


Taken up and committed to the Jail of Lenoir county, on the 24th day of August, 1828, a negro name who calls himself LEME DEEN, and says he is a free man, and that he came from Hanover county, in Virginia. He is very black complected, is about 5 feet seven or eight inches high, his left eye squinted. The owner is requested to come forward and prove his property, pay charges and take him away, or he will be dealt with as the law directs. JEREMIAH HAWKINS, Jailor. Kinston, Sept, 27, 1828.

Star, Raleigh, 5 February 1829.

Sprightly and writes well.

Was committed to Jail of Robeson county, N.C. on the 20th ult. a Negro man who calls himself Joseph Leggan, and says he is free, about five feet seven inches high, dark complexion and bow legged, has a very sprightly look and writes well – He says he was born in Powhatan county, Virginia, and that John Panly, of Buckingham county, raised him, and that his father was a servant of the said Panky, named Ben; that he followed boating in James river for many years, and for eight or ten years he has followed ditching, which has been his occupation since in this county. He is from thirty-four to thirty-five years of age, and is ruptured; he is well-cloathed amd appears to have a variety, a description of which is unnecessary.    ALEX ROWLAND, Sh’ff.  Lumberton, May 4th, 1814.

Star, Raleigh, 13 May 1814.

Susan Mozingo Ward Lewis.

ImageSUSAN MOZINGO WARD LEWIS (1809-1860), great-great-granddaughter of Edward Mozingo, an African indentured servant in 17th-century Richmond County, Virginia. Susan was born in Wayne County to Sarah “Sally” Mozingo and died in Georgia.

Photo courtesy of Melicent Remy.

[Sidenote: Edward Mozingo, “a negro man,” successfully sued for his freedom in 1672.  DNA testing of his patrilineal descendants has confirmed his African origin, but by the late 18th century, many if not most of his descendants were considered white. For a fascinating exploration of the Mozingo family, see Joe Mozingo, Fiddler on Pantico Run: An African Warrior, His White Descendants, a Search for Family. — LYH]

His father was emancipated in Virginia.

Committed to the Jail of Rockingham county, (N.C.) on the 25th ult. A Negro Fellow, who says his name is JOHN ARMSTRONG, and that he is a free Man – says his father was emancipated by a family of the name of Ladd, near Richmond – says he lived with Mr. Ratford, who formerly kept the Eagle Tavern in that place, and that he also lived several years with Mr. Smoke, who now keeps the Eagle Tavern, in the capacity of Ostler.

JOHN is about 30 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, is very much pitted with the small-pox, and when apprehended, said he was on his way to Tennessee, where his wife resides. The owner is requested to prove his property, pay charges and take him away.   JOHN LILLIARD, Jailer. 7th June, 1809.

Star, Raleigh, 20 July 1809.


AIDING A SLAVE TO ESCAPE. – William Mayes, a free negro from North Carolina, was tried by the Hustings Court, yesterday, on the charge of advising Henry, slave to E.H. Stokes & Co., to escape from his owners, on the 26th of July last, and accompany him to North Carolina. Henry, the slave, testified that the prisoner had invited him to return to Carolina and promised to pay his passage to that State. Judge Crump appeared for the prisoner, and defended him with marked ability; Mr. Daniel prosecuting on behalf of the Commonwealth. At the conclusion of the argument, the prisoner was acquitted, three of the Justices believing him guilty and two of them deciding he was not.

The Daily Dispatch, Richmond VA, 12 August 1857.

More tales of slave-owning Negroes.

… Mr. George W. Brooks, of Atlanta, recalls [free negroes who owned slaves] when he was a youth in the county of Person, which lay immediately on the Virginia line. There was there quite a colony of free negroes, many of them named Epps, and supposed to be descendants of the slaves set free by Mr. Epps, the brother-in-law of Thomas Jefferson. In Person County there was a free negro named Billy Mitchell, an honest man of genial disposition, who being without means, often hired himself to work for Mr. Brooks’ father on his tobacco farm.  Mr. Brooks remembers hearing Mitchell telling his father of his trip to Mecklenburg, about thirty miles away, when and where he went courting, and told of the lands and slaves which were owned by his girl’s father. He told with much humor of an incident which occurred while he was there. He went out one morning with the girl’s brother to the pig pen to look at the fattening swine. He said that one of the slave boys came and got upon the pen with them; that soon he heard the girl calling her mother to “look at Jim perched up on the hog pen with the white folks.” Billy said that he looked at them all and he could not see but Jim was about as white as any of them. Billy went back and married the girl, took up his abode with them, became interested in the estate and became a slave owner himself.

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