Tartts’ negroes, pt. 1.

Jonathan Tartt of Edgecombe County wrote out his will on February 3, 1789; it was probated May 5 of the same year. Along with personal property and many thousands of acres of lands along Toisnot and White Oak Swamps (in what would become Wilson County), Tartt left:

  • To wife Catherine, two Negro boys, Frank and Anthony; a Negro man Lin for 10 years and “afterwards Lin shall be a free man and shall have his cornfield, orchard, and house now known by the name of his as his property;” and, with son James Tartt and daughter Martha Eason, stock, furniture, money and two Negroes Brister and Sharp
  • To son Elnathan Tartt, one Negro man Simon and one girl Tamer outright; two Negro men Gideon and Jo for six years; and Negroes Jack, Venus, John, and Sal for 10 years, then to be divided equally between Elnathan Tartt, son James Tartt, and grandchildren Enos and Sarah Tartt
  • To son James Tartt, Negro boys Abram and Briant, plus the share in Jack, Venus, John and Sal above
  • To daughter Elizabeth Walton,  one Negro woman Pen “and her increase”
  • To daughter Martha Eason, one Negro woman Cloe and her child Charity
  • To grandson Enos Tartt, one Negro man Gideon, plus the share in Jack, Venus, John and Sal above
  • To granddaughter Sarah Tartt (orphan of Jonathan Junior), one Negro Joe, plus the share in Jack, Venus, John and Sal above

——

Jonathan Tartt’s son Elnathan Tartt, also of Edgecombe County, made out his will on Christmas Eve 1795. He left land and a dwelling house along White Oak Swamp, and:

  • To wife Obedience, a Negro woman named Cloe; a Negro man named Ellis; also, until son James Tart comes of age, negro women Fillis, Tamer and Sal
  • “It is my Will and desire that my negroes still continue at their respective Plantations for the purpose of keeping up their farms and raising stock as heretofore and continue their stocks of any kind”
  • To son James Tartt, a negro man named Simon
  • To son Thomas Tart, a negro man named Davey
  • To daughter Pennina Tart, a negro man named Sam
  • To daughter Polly, a negro boy named Bryant
  • “Whereas my father Jonathan Tart in his last will and testament left four Negros viz Jack, Venus, John and Sarah, to be divided equally between myself, James Tart, Enos and Sally Tart for a term of years Viz Ten years. My will and desire is that my part of said negroes continue at the plantation where they now live and if said negroes are sold then my Executors may purchase them at such prices as they think proper, and if Jack or Venus should fall to my part, or be purchased by my Executors, my will is that they may have choice to live with which of my two sons they please after my son Thomas comes of Age”; also that negro Tom have his choice of which son to live with
  • To four children Penninah, Polly, James and Thomas Tart four negroes and their increase (if any) Vizs Baccus, Fillis, Tamer and Sal as soon as they arrive at age or marry to be divided equally among them
  • “if my Executors purchase a negroe Boy Tom and a negroe girl Sarah that they be equally divided between the four children as they may become of age or marry”

——

Jonathan Tartt’s widow Catherine Jarrell Tartt Peelle made out her will on 17 June 1812. It was recorded in Edgecombe County in November 1814 and included these provisions:

  • To my grandson Enos Tartt “Negro man named Antony
  • “… my two Negro men nam’d Brister and Frank be at liberty to chuse whom they may be willing to live with and that they may be valued by three good men whom the court of Edgcombe shall appoint for that purpose and those men whom they chuse to live with to pay up the full valuation. If they see cause otherwise, the said Negroes shall be hired out annually as long as they live, to such persons as they may be willing to live with.”
  • “my two Negro men Dempsey and Sam shall be valued by three good men whom the court of Edgcombe shall appoint and that my Grandson Enos Tartt shall take the said Negroes at the valuation and the money arising from the sd. Negroes to be equally divided between my granddaughter Catherine Spates and grandson Elnath Eason”
  • “my old Negro woman named Pen be a liberty to chuse whom she is willing to live with and if it is thought that she is not able to support herself by her labor that she shall be suporte out of my Estate”
  • “give to the said old Negro [Pen] my weaving Lume & guard also the Wheale and cards she has genurely us’d in my serviss”
  • “… unto my nephew John Garrell one Negro woman named Ginney
  • “my stock of every kind whatsoever be sold at six months credit and my farming tools also my blacksmith tools and the money except the legece left to my sister Pearce and the support for Negro Pen to be taken out and the ballance to and with the money that my Negro Frank & Brister shall sell or hire for …”

——

Some observations:

  • According to this (I have not seen the original), the 1769 Dobbs County tax list discloses the names of Jonathan Tartt’s slaves — Rorah, Sam, Jack, Lin, Little Sam, Jin, Pen, and Venus. Twenty years later, in Edgecombe, he retained possession of Jack, Lin, Pen and Venus. (Or, at least, enslaved people with those same names.) Jonathan Tartt was born in perhaps Surry or Isle of Wight County, Virginia, and migrated to Northampton and Bertie Counties, North Carolina before pushing further south into Dobbs County. His land there was on either side of the Neuse River in what is now Wayne County. Thus, men and women that he enslaved in Edgecombe (later Wilson) had traveled with him as he settled across the east-central Coastal Plain.
  • Elnathan Tartt disposed of two enslaved people inherited from his father, Simon and Tamer.
  • Several of the enslaved people disposed of in Catherine Peelle’s will seem to have been inherited from her husband Jonathan Tartt, including Anthony, Frank, Brister and Pen.

5 comments

  1. This is extremely interesting, to say the least. I noticed that at some point, Tart, was spelled with a single t. Is Johnathan, the person that is responsible for all of the Tart’s being in that region? I noticed, there were many Tart’s, both Black and White down there. (Tart, is not a common name in Illinois.) My grandfather’s last name was Arthur Tart, however, I am trying to figure out who were his relatives. His father’s name was John. Is he the same John, that was the father to James and Henry? I have searched, the records for Harnett, Johnston, Wayne, Greene, Sampson, Edgecombe and Lenoir counties. I searched the directory for Wilson and he is in there but I cannot connect him to any of the Tarts in Wilson. Arthur, was born in 1893, in June or July. I am sure he was related to some of the Tarts, down there. Additionally, On Henry’s marriage license, it lists his father’s name as John and his mother’s name as Chilphia.

    I would like to thank you, once again, for all of the information you are putting out and for your excellent research.

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    1. Henry and James Gray Tart were the sons of John and OLIVIA Tart of Greene County. (Henry’s marriage license misspells her name as “Oliphia.”) I think it’s safe to say that Jonathan Tartt was the original Tartt settler in eastern NC. The name is very uncommon in Wilson County now though, and I have never met an African-American Tart(t). (I think I went to high school with a few who were white.)

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      1. Thank you for your quick response and I deeply appreciate your correction of Olivia’s name. Where would I go, to check the birth records for 1893? My grandfather’s birth record may be found there, but I am not for sure. Do they have an African American genealogical organization in Wilson? I have read about a lot of interesting and intelligent people, that lived in Wilson 100 years ago and I have been amazed at their strong characters during that time. Truly, some amazing people.
        Thank you so much,

        Linda Tart

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      2. NC did not require birth certificates until 1914, so there are none for 1893. (Limited exception: a person could file for a “delayed” birth certificate if born prior to 1914. Relatively few people did, but they’re found at the Register of Deeds office. I’m not sure if they’re indexed at Ancestry.) There’s no Af-Am genealogical org in Wilson, but there is a nice, small history museum, the Roundhouse.

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