The estate of Hiram Forbes (1861).

We have read Hiram Forbes’ 1861 will here, in which he made arrangements for the distribution of enslaved people Mary Ann, Tony, Gatsy, Mace, Silvey, Tobey, Jim, Hannah and Minna.

Forbes died shortly after, and his estate file reveals more about the people he held in bondage.

On 15 September 1861, Dempsey Webb acknowledged receipt of fifty cents from Forbes’ executor, James Barnes, in payment for work Webb’s enslaved man Abram performed.

This undated receipt details hire arrangements for seven enslaved people for the year ending 1 July 1863. Forbes’ widow Milly Harrell Forbes paid the estate $50 to hire woman Mariam [Mary Ann], man Tony, girls Macy and Silvy, and man Jim. Britton Forbes hired woman Gatsey for $53, and Rufus Forbes leased boy Toby’s services for $61. (Where were Hannah and Minna?)

The bulk of Hiram Forbes’ personal property went to auction on 5 February 1862. That day, between sales of 50 bushels of cotton seed and four stacks of fodder, John T. Barnes bought a boy named Hector.

On 3 January 1863, of nine enslaved people, Milly Forbes hired all but Toby, who went to John Carter. Macy and Silvey are not named, but likely were two of the young children attached to Mariam and Gatsey, who also were likely the mothers of babies born during the previous year.

The five dollars paid to Polly Walston in 1863 for “Services rendered on attendance to negro woman” may have been for the birth of one of these babies.

Emancipation interrupted the final distribution of Hiram Forbes’ enslaved people.


I traced forward Hiram Forbes’ enslaved people in the post about his will, but here is one update.

An August 1867 marriage record reveals that Abram Webb was the father of Toby Forbes, who, with his mother Macy, was enslaved by Hiram Forbes. However, on 20 August 1866, Abram Webb and Marion Forbes registered their 34-year cohabitation with an Edgecombe County justice of the peace.

in the 1870 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: Abram Webb, 65; wife Miriam, 54; Hector, 18, and Hannah, 12. This appears to be Mariam, Hector that was sold to John T. Barnes, and Hannah mentioned in the will.

In the 1880 census of Auters Creek township, Edgecombe County: Abraham Webb, 75; wife Mary, 65; daughter Hannah, 25; and granddaughter Patsy Procythe, 25.

Estate File of Hiram Atkinson (1861), Wilson County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979,


  1. I read every post as Lisa does the, I’m sure, often painstaking but very honorable work of finding and calling every name possible that she can find in her research of African American lives that have been hidden for years…but matters a whole lot to folk like me.

    As I “visit” with the ancestors thru the reading of hundreds of their real life stories that are unearthed by Lisa, I weep on the inside as I whisper “WOW!” at their steadfast lives …..then the hardest part comes as I send the posts to my electronic folder called BLACK WIDE AWAKE …..or may even delete some because I can’t keep everyone….which I really want to do….I know they are archived thru BLACK WIDE AWAKE but I want their lives with me ….it’s like I am abandoning their lives when I close the post….so I weep.

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