Who was Carey C. Hill?

As is often the case for African-Americans who lived and died prior to the early 20th century, there’s relatively little information readily available about Carey C. Hill.

The Tarborough Southerner, 20 October 1881.

I have not found him in the 1870 census, but on 4 April 1874, Cary Hill, 24, married Anna Pascal, 20, in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.

In the 1880 census of Tarboro, Edgecombe County: Cary Hill, 32, laborer, and wife Anna, 28.

The following year, Carey C. Hill was murdered.

On 28 November 1881, James H. Harris of Wilson applied in Edgecombe County for letters of administration for Hill’s estate. (Though he worked in Wilson and was well-known and well-respected there, Hill’s permanent residence apparently was in Tarboro.) Hill’s small estate was estimated at $100. Harris listed Hill’s heirs as wife Anna Hill and, curiously, Nannie Harris, Sarah Clark, Lucy Jones, Mary Lawrence, Susan Lawrence, James H. Lawrence, and Isaac Lawrence. (Nannie Harris was James Harris’ wife, and the Lawrences were children of Haywood and Eveline Lawrence of Caledonia township, Halifax County, North Carolina. Who were they to Hill and why were they — neither his spouse, nor children, nor parents — his heirs?)

Wilson residents G. Washington Suggs and Ned Barnes served as Harris’ sureties. (Or maybe William J. Harriss, as that’s whose signature appears on the bond below.)

A week earlier Murray & Woodard, a Wilson law firm, had written to W.A. Duggan, Clerk of Edgecombe County Superior Court, to vouch for James Harris, “quite a respectable colored man” who was “nearly related” to Anna Hill. Anna Hill was described as “mentally incapable of acting as administratrix,” but whether from grief or cognitive challenge we cannot say. The firm mentioned that Harris’ sureties were “not willing to trouble themselves to go to Edgecombe” with him, but vouched for their ability to give bond. Murray & Woodard acknowledged that Hill’s estate was small, but noted “there is talk of bringing suit against the parties who killed Carey,” but Ben May and John Gardner were out of state and not likely to return, and such talk was premature. In a short note pencilled in at the end of the letter, the firm added: “We will be responsible for the costs attending taking out administration. Give Harris the bill to hand to us.”

I have found nothing further about Carey Hill or his estate or the fate of his murderers.


  • James H. Harris — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Spring Street, house carpenter James Harriss, 35; wife Nannie, 35; children Susie, 13, Nannie, 11, Willie, 10, Mattie, 4, Jimmie, 2, and an unnamed infant girl, 2 months; and sister Susan Lawrence, 19, cook. (Was Susan James Harriss’ sister, or Nannie Harris’?)
  • G. Washington Suggs
  • Ned Barnes

Cary Hill Estate Records, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

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