An elopement from Robeson County.

Wilmington Morning Star, 2 September 1902.

In 1902, Charlotte Sanderson, a white married Cumberland County mother, ran away with C.A.P. Overby, an African-American man (with a reddish-brown, or “ginger cake,” complexion). With several of Sanderson’s children in tow, the couple made it as far as Kenly, where Overby apparently realized the enormity — and impossibility — of their actions and abandoned the family. Sanderson rode the train one town further, into Wilson County, where she disembarked and found work for herself and children. After writing to a friend to ship her goods to Lucama, Sanderson was arrested and returned to Fayetteville to face charges of … what?

The Daily Times noted that Sanderson was “fairly good looking, but illiterate.” The Lenoir, N.C., Weekly News described Sanderson as “very ignorant and debased,” as any white woman who engaged in an intimate relationship with a Black man would be, per the social restrictions of the time. Her husband, on the other hand, was “industrious” and “respectable.” The Sandersons did not divorce, however, or at least not immediately, as they are found together in the 1910 census.

I have not been able to determine the fate of Overby.


In the 1900 census of Lumberton township, Robeson County, North Carolina: Alexander Sanderson, 36; wife Charlotte, 30; and children William C., 11, Nannie Lee, 9, Alice C., 7, Maggie, 5, and Alexander, 2.

In the 1910 census of Lumberton township, Robeson County: farmer Sandy Sanderson, 46; wife Charlotte, 40; and children Alice C., 17, Maggie B., 15, Sandy, 12, Clarence, 9, and William C., 21.

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