Bill of sale for Syphax, Jim, Mose, and Cherry.

Deed book 1, pages 612, Wilson County Register of Deeds, Wilson, North Carolina.

Whereas at the Spring Term A.D. 1860 of the court of Equity for Wilson County NC a decree was made in the suit of Sabra Parker & others to the Court confirming the sale of Slaves Syphax Jim & Mose & ordering James W. Davis as trustee of the plaintiff another slave in the stead & whereas the said James W. Davis by & with the consent of the plaintiff has contracted with Alexander Eatman for the purchase of a slave by the name of Cherry as a substitute which bargain & purchase has been approved & confirmed by the said court of Equity Now therefore the said Alexander Eatman for & in consideration of the sum of twelve hundred Dollars in hand paid the receipt of which by the said Eatman is this day acknowledges has bargained sold & conveyed & by these presents doth bargain sell & convey unto the said James W. Davis trustee as aforesaid slave Cherry to have & to hold according to the decree of the court of Equity aforesaid & the said Alexander Eatman does hereby warrant the title to said Negroe & that she is sound  June 19th 1860  Alexander Eatman {seal}

P.W. Barnes

The Execution of the foregoing Bill of Sale is proven before me by P.W. Barnes the subscribing witness thereto August 14th 1860    T.E. Davis Clerk of Wilson Court

Record for Registration August 14th 1860  A.J. Brown Regr


Some context for this transaction is provided in this post and post, but it is difficult to fully understand what is happening here. Edgecombe County planter Weeks Parker died in January 1844, leaving a widow, Sabra Hearn Parker, and three children, Margaret H. Parker Battle, Simmons B. Parker, and Henrietta Parker Battle. (Another son, Dr. John H. Parker, who had migrated to Florida, died while his father’s estate was in probate. Syphax, Jim, and Moses were among the 30 enslaved people Weeks Parker bequeathed to Margaret Battle, wife of Amos Johnston Battle. The Parker heirs fought amongst themselves and with the estate’s administrators over the handling of the estate, and Emancipation eventually intervened to prevent a final distribution of all of Weeks Parker’s immense wealth. In the meantime, there were partial distributions here and there, as well as sales of unsatisfactory slaves and purchases of replacements. That appears to be what happened in this situation, though it’s not clear who Cherry replaced. 

What I am fairly certain of, however, is that Cherry was my great-great-grandmother.

In 1986, I wrote legendary local Hugh B. Johnston Jr. for help tracing my enslaved ancestors, Willis Barnes and Cherry Battle, who registered their six-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866. Johnston wrote back promptly, opining that Cherry had been “a slave belonging to the noted Reverend Amos Johnston Battle of Wilson, whose wife owned a small farm north of Wilson not far from the [Joshua] Barnes plantation.” [More about this letter later.]

Willis and Cherry Battle went on to have at least nine children, whose marriage licenses and death certificates list their mother’s maiden name as Cherry Battle, but just as often name her as Cherry Eatmon

In 1860, Alexander Eatmon, a Nash County farmer, sold 18 year-old Cherry to Margaret H. Battle. The young woman went to live at Walnut Hill, Battle’s farm just north of Wilson. Shortly after, Cherry married Willis, who is believed to have been enslaved on Joshua Barnes‘ neighboring plantation. Their eldest child, Rachel Barnes Taylor, was my great-grandmother.


  1. Congratulations, with or without help, finding an enslaved ancestor in the docs is no easy task, even when their names are known! My Manzilla and Porter documents have still proven untraceable, and they are both known to have been manumitted, showing in the census after being freed.

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