Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Wake County

Wounded with a cannonball at the Battle of Monmouth.

North Carolina, Wake County  }  Schedule:  Court of pleas and quarter Sessions on this 25th day of august 1820 Personaly appeared in open Court it being a court of Record for the county aforesaid Drury Pettiford aged 69 years resident in Said County & State being first duly sworn according to law on his oath declare that he served in the Revolutionary war as follows, that he served 2 years in the 2nd Regiment in the company commanded by Cap’t Lewis Burwell and that he has here unto rec’d a pension certificate No. 5443 upon his original declaration made before Judge Potter on the 27th day of May 1818.  And I do solemly swear that I was a resident citizen of the U.States on the 18th day of March 1818, and that I have not since that time by gift Sale or any manner disposed of my Property or any part thereof with intent thereby so to diminish it. As to bring myself with in the provisions of an act of congress entitled an act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land & naval service of the united States in the Revolutionary war passed on the 18th day of March 1818 and that I have not nor has any person intrust for me any property or Security contracts or debts due to me nor have I any income other than what is contained in the Schedule hereunto annexed and by me Subscribed.

Real Estate – none; Personal Estate – one blind sorrel mare; one Sow and 2 shoats; 4 chairs; 2 Dishes and 1 Basin; 1 Sett knives & forks; One pott.

Names & ages of the family now resident with him are himself aged 69, Dicy his wife aged 66, Jesse aged 18 years Nicholas aged 16 years Janey 12 years Drury aged 9 years Sally aged 7 years Franky aged 6 years & Thomas aged 9 years.  That all the assistance he has is from the labour of his two eldest sons Jesse & Nicholas that himself and wife are not able to do much & his eldest daughter only assists her and have to rent land and being verry old and infirm he is himself unable to pursue his Occupation having also been wounded with a cannon ball at the battle of Monmouth in his right knee which verry much injured the bones & sinews of his leg & knee, & much burned by the blowing up of a magazine in middlebrook.  Sworn to and subscribed in open court   Drury X Pettiford

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

Drury Pettiford married Tycey Bass on 12 November 1781 in Granville County.  Right Bass served as bondsman, and Bennet Searcy witnessed.  In the 1830 census of Wake County, Drury Pettiford headed a household of six free people of color.

He has taken the shop books.

CAUTION. — Supposed to have absconded from this place, on last Sunday, a colored man named CHARLES MARTIN, who says that he is free.  The fellow is by trade a Blacksmith, and has been doing work, in that line, for me and on my premises.  He has taken with him the shop books, but I believe has heretofore collected the whole of the sums that was due him.  He may, however, endeavour to trade them off.  I understand he has trumped up a large account against me, which he may possibly attempt to transfer.  This is therefore to forewarn all persons from taking any [illegible] comment thereof and have considered demands against the said fellow.  William Scott, June 2.

The Raleigh Minerva, 2 June 1815.

He had no free papers in his possession.

NOTICE. TAKEN UP AND COMMITTED TO JAIL IN PITTSBORO’, Chatham county, N.C., a Negro Boy, about 23 years old, who says his name is RUFUS ROCHELL, and that he is free boy, and was a bound boy to Robert Jones, of Wake County; but he had no free papers in his possession, and was taken up under suspicion of being a runaway.  Said boy is about 5 feet 8 inches high, heavy set, and very black.  If said boy should be a free boy, and has any friends, they would do well to come forward and let it be known; and if a slave, the owner will come forward and take him away according to law, otherwise said boy will be dealt with as the law directs.  R.B. PASCHAL, Sh’ff.  April 29, 1850.

Weekly Standard, Raleigh, 4 May 1850.

The 1850 census of Saint Matthews, Wake County, shows: (1) white farmer Hillary Thompson, 43, wife Nancy, 43, and children Mary A., 13, and Robert, 6, plus Rufus Rochell, 19, black; and (2) Mary Ivy, 67, Temperance Ivy, 42, Rufus Ivy, 26, Reuben Mitchell, 10, William Terry, 21, all white; and Rufus Rochelle, 16, mulatto.

Horse-stealing, redux.

STOLEN from the subscriber at Wake Court House, on Wednesday evening last, a bright bay HORSE, 4 feet 11 inches high, with remarkable small feet, canters and trots well, and is very spirited, several saddle spots on his back.  The above horse was stolen by a free mulatto man, of the name of THOMAS BOWSER, a blacksmith by trade, who formerly worked in Fayetteville, very ingenious at his business, a bushy head, and very dark complexion, can read and write well: It is suspected he is gone to Hillsborough.

Any person apprehending the thief, and recovering the horse, by leaving him with the subscriber, at Col. J. Lane’s at Wake Court-House, shall receive the above reward.  PETER BIRD.

Fayetteville Gazette, 11 Dec 1792.

I was stolen from my parents.

State of Virginia, Southampton County  } SS.

On this 7 day of March 1834 personally appeared in open court before the Justices of the county court of Southampton now acting Drewry Tann (a Free man of Colour) a Resident of said county aged about seventy five years who being first duly sworn according to Law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June the 7th 1832.

That he enlisted under Capt. Hadley in the County of Wake in the State of North Carolina (and states the manner he came in the service as follows) that being born free in the county of Wake he was stolen from his parents when a small boy by persons unknown to him, who were carrying him of to sell him into to [sic] Slavery, and had gotten with him and other stolen property, as far as the mountains on their way, that his parents made complaint to a Mr. Tanner Alford who was then a magistrate in the county of Wake State of N. Carolina to get me back from those who had stolen me, and he did pursue the Rogues & overtook them at the mountains and took me from them & my parents agreed that I should serve him (Tanner Alford) until I was twenty one years old, when he had served Alford several years (Six years) it came Alfords time to go in the army (or he told me so) and told me if I would go in the army he would set me free on which conditions I readily listed under Capt. Hadley for eighteen months as he was told and marched to Charleston and thence to Jameses Isleand where he served out his term of enlistment that he had a discharge and was about returning home when a Capt. Benjamin Coleman (who told me he lived in Bladen County N. Carolina) took his discharge from him and tried to compel him to remain in the service & be his waitingman – his name is to be found in the Records of the State of North Carolina as he is informed by Mr. Deverieux of the City of Raleigh N. Carolina & the term of his enlistments as well as the fact of his enlisting under Capt. Hadley as state above – he cannot state at what period of the war he entered the service. General Green was the commander in chief, Col Lightly & Capt Lightly. Adjutant Ivy that he served in the N. Carolina Regiment, that he has no other documentary evidence than that refered to in the Archives in the State of N. Carolina at the City of Raileigh and knows of no person living who can testify to his service. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present & declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.  Drewry X Tann

The said Drewry Tann states that he was born in the county of Wake N. Carolina in what year he does not know, that he has no Record of his age, that he was living in Wake County N. Carolina when he was Enlisted and that he has lived since the Revolution in the countys of Northampton N. Carolina and Southampton Virginia. That he lives in the county of Southampton at this time.  That he listed volluntarily in the army under Capt. Hadley. He since as before stated on Jameses isleand near Charleston S. Carolina when there were some English prisoners & he was sometimes stationed as a guard on them, Gen Green was the commanding officer Col and Capt Lightley & Adjutant Ivy are all the names he can at this time remember he does not know what regiments he served with – he did secure a discharge from the service & Capt. Coleman took it from him & what has become of it he cannot say. He is known to Mr. Edwin G. Hart Mr. W. Owens John Hart Col. Clements Rochelle James Maggett Davis Bryant and many others.    Drewry X Tann

Sworn to and subscribed in open court this 17 day of May 1834

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

John Ellis, Revolutionary War soldier.

State of No Carolina, Wake County }

This day personally appeared before us R. Cannon & R. Smith two of the acting Justices of the Peace for Wake County, John Ellis a man of colour, and made oath that he was a Soldier in the Revolutionary war, in the continental line of No. Carolina, the length of tume the Deponent does not precisely recollect, but which will appear by reference to the musterrolls of the said Army.  This Deponent further deposeth and saith that he never drew any land himself, nor did he ever authorize any person to do it for him.

Sworn to & subscribed before me, this 27th July 1820    John X Ellis

R. Cannon J.P.   R. Smith, J.P.

Additional documents in the file note that Ellis resided in Washington County, Illinois, at the time of his application; that he was born in Virginia in 1754 and moved to North Carolina with his mother as a child;  that he moved to the “Western Country” in about 1799; that he died 21 October 1850; that his heirs were James, William, Polley, Mahaliah and Henry Ellis; and that his son James Ellis was executor of his estate.

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

Determined to seek a home in the North.

A Semi-Centennial Anniversary. A pleasant company, numbering about forty persons, assempled on Monday afternoon, August 15th, at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Copeland, a little southwest of Oberlin, in response to invitations to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary or golden wedding of the host and hostess. Congratulatory remarks were made by Hon. James Monroe, and prayer offered by Dea. W. W. Wright, after which a bountiful supper was served. The presents consisted of about $50.00 in gold coin, two gold-lined silver cups, numerous floral offerings, and other articles.

John C. Copeland and Delilah Evans were married in Hillsboro, North Carolina, August 15th, 1831, and settled in Raleigh, the capital of the State, which had previously been the home of Mr. Copeland, and where he labored for seven years as carpenter on the State House. Mr. Copeland was born a slave, but at the age of seven years was made free by the will of his deceased master, who was also his father. Mrs. Copeland was never a slave. She is a sister of our fellow townsman, Mr. W. B. Evans.

In the year 1843 Mr. Copeland, Allen Jones and John Lane left North Carolina with their families, determined to seek a home in the North. Traveling with teams, they crossed the Ohio river at Cincinnati, and by the advice of Abolitionist friends, started for New Richmond, Indiana. When within five miles of that place they were hailed by a farmer by the name of Tibbets, a friend of the colored man, and invited to stop and rest. It being near the close of the week, they reamined over the Sabbath, and by invitation attended an Abolitionist meeting in New Richmond. Having been informed by the slaveholders of the South that the Abolitionists in the North were accustomed to capturing colored men and selling them into slavery, they were somewhat reluctant about entering the room where the meeting was held, but after much urging entered and took a seat near the door, where they could escape if indications of danger appeared. They listened to the speaking and were much pleased with their new-found friends, and greatly relieve in their minds to learn that the stories told them by the North Carolina slaveholders were untrue. Here they became acquainted with Amos Dresser; a graduate of Oberlin College, class of ’39, who advised them to locate in Oberlin, where the slave-holders would not kidnap their children as they were in a habit of doing along the Ohio river. With written directions from Mr. Dresser at to the route to be travelled, the three men mounted their horses and started for the colored man’s land of promise. As an illustration of the feeling of the people in regard to Oberlin at that day, Mr. Copeland relates that when within twenty miles of the place they stopped at a tannary to inquire the way, and were told with oaths that there was no such place, that it had “sunk.” Mr. C. replied that he “would go on and look into the chasm.”

They arrived at their destination on Sunday and were much surprised as they passed up the street to see two young men, one white and the other colored, walking arm in arm. They were greeted by some citizens, who inquired why they were riding on Sunday. They answered that they were seeking a home for themselves and families. One of their number was taken in charge by the late Dr. Dascomb, the other two by citizens.

They soon decided to make this their home. Messrs. Copeland and Lane returned to New Richmond for the three families, Mr. Jones sending word that he “had found a paradise and was going to stay.”

For thirty-nine years Mr. Copeland has lived in Oberlin and vicinity; has reared a family of eight children — two daughters and three sons still survive, all of whom have recieved a fair education. Laura A. has for eleven years been teaching in Indiana. Mary, who has also been a teacher, now resides with her parents. William is a lawyer in Arkansas, Henry and Frederick are carpenters, the former living in Kansas, and the latter in Oberlin. The eldest son, John, studied for a time in the college, and started for Detroit to engage in teaching but at Cleveland met with John Brown and became one of his associates in the ill-fated attack upon Harper’s Ferry in 1839, who executed along with the great martyr, and his remains turned over to medical students for dissection, the efforts of Hon. James Monroe and others to recover his body for Christian burial proving unavailing. A number of letters written by the young man while awaiting execution, are preserved by his parents as sacred mementoes.

Mr. Copeland is now 73 years of age and his wife 72. The generous response in the way of presents shows the esteem in which they are held by their friends.

Oberlin Weekly News, Aug. 19, 1881

The Robbers carried off two of their Children.


On the 29th Instant, about Mid’Night, four Men came to the House of VALENTINE LOCUST, an aged Free Negro, who resides on Leek Creek, in Wake County, and calling at the Door to gain Admittance, as soon as the Door was opened, Two of them entered with Clubs, and instantaneously knocked down the old Man and his Wife, and beat them to such a Degree as scarcely to leave Life; and whilst they were in that Situation, the Robbers carried off two of their Children, a Boy named Absalom, aged about twelve Years, of a yellowish Complexion, who is just able to read and write; a Girl, named Polly, aged about five Years, of a Complexion more yellow than her Brother.

The Father of the Children is a respectable and industrious old Man, who has hitherto made ample Provisions for himself and Family; and it is hoped, from the peculiar Circumstances of his Case, arising from hisIncapacity to bear Witness, except against his own Colour, added to the distressed Situation he must be place in after the Loss of his two Children, will awaken the Feelings of the Humane, and that they will contribute every Thing in their Power that may tend to the detecting and punishing of such vile Offenders.

It is supposed the Perpetrators of this Offence, will endeavor to convey their Prey to the State of Georgia, in the Character of Slaves, for the Purpose of Traffic.  Wake County, N. Carolina.  Sep. 30, 1801

The Printers in the U. States who are desirous of detecting the Offenders, will give this a Place in their Papers.

Raleigh Register, 6 October 1801

He was a good farmer, industrious and thrifty.

Dissey Snelling filed claim #13204 on behalf of her deceased husband, William Snelling.  She did not know her age.  She had lived in Houses Creek township, about 5 miles from Raleigh, since 1861.  William had died intestate in August 1873.  There had been no administration of his estate or division of his property.  “All that he left remains in my hands.”

Dissey and William had seven living children: Curtis (35), Marsy Ann (24), Wm. Acquilla (22), Araminta (18), Nancy (16), Lizzie (14) and Silvetia Snelling (7).

William had been born in Wake County, and his farm contained 171 acres, 50 in cultivation.  “He was a free colored man, he was never a slave.”  He was about 66 years old when he died.  Dissey, too, had never been a slave.

Union troops took two horses, seven head of cattle, ten goats, 15 sheep, eight hogs, two wagons and two saddles. The troops were camped on Beaver Dam less than a mile from the Snellings’ house.

Curtis Snelling testified that he resided in his mother’s house, that he was William’s son, and that he had been born free.  “I was taken away from here at Raleigh under guard and taken to Wilmington, where I was put to work loading vessels.  I never received any pay for that work.”

Willis R. McDade testified that he lived about 6 miles north of Raleigh.  He asserted that William Snelling’s farm was well-stocked.  “He was a good farmer, industrious and thrifty.  He carried a two-horse farm.”

In the 1850 census of Western Division, Wake County, William Snelling, age 38, is listed with wife Dissy (25), son Curtis (4) and Dissy’s relatives Mary F. (7), John (33), Martha (31), Rhoda (2) and Martha Evans (5).  In 1860, the family is listed in North West District: William Snellings (50), wife Desdimonia (30) and children Curtis (15), Martha (12), Roxana (10), William (2) and Arometta (1).  William reported owning $500 personal property and $500 real property.