I’ll give you hell before I’ll have done with you.

Chanie “the abused” states as follows —

  1. That Mrs. Sally Barnes “wife of the accused” beat her with her hand —
  2. That not satisfied with this the said Mrs. Barnes beat her with a shingle. — that she “Chanie” caught hold of the shingle. when Mr. Barnes appeared and said–“Turn that shingle loose. you g—d. d— old b—h. or I’ll knock you in head with this walking stick– whereupon she “Chanie” let go of the shingle and suffered Mrs. Barnes to continue beating her.
  3. That while Mr. Barnes and family were at breakfast she started for the town of Wilson, Wilson Co. to report the case to Capt. Bullock of the Local Police for said Co.
  4. That she was turned back by some person unknown to her who claimed to be a Yankee
  5. That soon after return home Mr. Barnes appeared and said– Oh yes you have come back G–d A—y G–d d— old b—h You went off to report me G–d A—y d— you– I’ll report you after I get my dinner G–d A—y d— you– I’ll report your back
  6. That after his dinner he appeared and said Now go out in the road G–d, d— you and strip your coat and shirt right off– I’ll give you h–ll before I have done with you
  7. That he beat her terribly after which he told her to go on now and spin your task of cotton or I’ll give you as much more in the morning
  8. That she worked around until sunday “This being upon Tuesday Aug 1″ watching for an opportunity to escape, when she left for Goldsboro.

Mary Ann daughter of Chanie — states as follows

  1. That she “Mary Ann” told her mistress “Mrs. Wm Barnes that she would not stay there and work if she “Mrs. Barnes” kept her clothes locked up–whereupon Mrs. Barnes attempted to whip her. that she guarded her blows when Mrs Barnes called Mr– Barnes– who with his grown son James, came in and between the three gave her a hundred or more blows–
  2. That they tied her hands and told her to get down– That she resisted when Mr. Barnes says, that won’t do. Bring her out doors Let’s tie her between two trees
  3. That they tied her feet to one tree and her hands to another, then cut her hair off.
  4. That they allowed the dogs “three in number” to tear her clothes off and bite her. that James took off such clothing as the dogs left
  5. That Mr Barnes gave her two hundred lashes with a Paddle “A strap made purposely for whipping negroes” And said no d—d n*gger should be free under him &c. &c.


On 21 February 1866, Dexter H. Clapp testified before a Joint Committee on Reconstruction inquiring “into the condition of the States which formed the Confederate States of America [to] report whether they, or any of them, are entitled to be represented in either house of Congress.”  Clapp was a lieutenant colonel of the 38th United States Colored Troops, on duty with the Freedmen’s Bureau and stationed in Pitt County, where he was in charge of a twenty-county district that included Wilson. Among the atrocities he cited was William Barnes’ vicious whipping of Chaney and her daughter.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 8.38.58 PM


In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: William Barnes, 66, wife Sallie, 39, and children William, 19, Sarah L., 16, James, 13, and Mary, 10. The 1860 slave schedule reported that Barnes owned 26 slaves.

“Charges against William Barnes of Wilson Co.,” [Aug. 1865?], Miscellaneous Records, ser. 2637, Goldsboro NC Subassistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives; Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 [database on-line], Ancestry.com; “Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction,” The Reports of the Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session Thirty-Ninth Congress, vol. 2. (1866).


  1. Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I have cited your article as a source on the individual pages for each of these individuals on Family Search. I came across Chaney and Mary Ann’s story while researching my own family, and found your article when I tried to find further information on these families. I wanted to let you know that I had used your work, but that I also cited it in detail, not only to give you credit, but as Family Search is an open site, I would not be surprised if these sources were removed by another person at some point (I’ve had this happen before with unflattering information).

    I have added this article as a source to the following pages:
    William Barnes, familysearch ID 9VGP-PCF: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/9VGP-PCF
    Sarah Barnes, familysearch ID 9NHG-2J1: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/9NHG-2J1
    James Barnes, familysearch ID 9NHG-2JT: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/9NHG-2JT
    Chaney Barnes, familysearch ID 9KMV-TS6: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/9KMV-TS6
    Mary Ann Barnes, familysearch ID LBB4-F1B: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LBB4-F1B

    I have also added copies of the sources you cited that are located in in Family Search’s catalog to the individuals’ pages when I have found them. I felt this information was important and should be shared, and wanted to make sure that you were aware that I had attributed the research to you in case it would ever disappear. If you have any information you could or want contribute to their pages or families, please feel free to do so at your discretion without concern of offense or removal on my part (despite the “single global tree” concept of the site, I’ve had repeated issues with users offended by anyone else editing ancestor pages, despite sourcing my info).

    Your work is incredibly well researched, unbiased, and provides a picture of the lives of the people you write of, and the world they lived in. The documents speak for themselves… this moved me to tears. It can be hard to think of names on old records as actual people who lived entire lives in between these censuses or records. I truly appreciate the amount of work you have done on this case and this site altogether. It’s a wonderful example for other researchers, as well.

    1. Wow. I am humbled. Thank you so much. Black Wide Awake is a calling and a ministry. I want not only to call the names of African Americans who lived in slavery and under Jim Crow, but to illuminate their lives. Thank you for spreading the light.

Leave a Reply