1840s

Rufus Edmundson plantation.

The Rufus Edmundson House lies just two blocks off Stantonsburg’s main street, but at the very edge of town. Behind it stretch miles of fields and woodland.

“This antebellum house was built circa 1846 for Rufus Edmundson. … The house is similar to the William Barnes and Ward-Applewhite-Thompson Houses (both in Stantonsburg Township) and the Elias Barnes house (Saratoga township). It stands two stories high and the main block is capped with a shallow hipped roof. Unusual heavy dentils ornament the frieze and the three-bay facade was once sheltered by a double-gallery porch supported by square columns. Although the door leading to the second floor porch has been altered, the original trabeated entrance to the first floor is still intact. A single-story, hipped-roof porch with Doric columns replaced the earlier double-gallery porch in the early twentieth century. On the interior the house is divided by a wide central hall with two rooms to either side. Some original woodwork remains intact including a handsomely curved newel post.”  — Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981).

——

In the 1860 census of Saratoga township [which included Stantonsburg], Wilson County, Rufus Edmundson’s reported wealth comprised $15,000 in real property and $30,600 in personal property. The 1860 slave schedule parses Edmundson’s wealth — the $30,600  mostly took the form of 34 enslaved men, women and children, aged 1 through 38, who inhabited six dwellings on Edmundson’s farm and toiled for him.

The 1870 census was the first post-Emancipation enumeration. Next door to Rufus Edmundson were Margaret and Bailum Hall and their son John, 4 months. (Balaam Hall, son of James Woodard and Liza Hall, had married Margaret Edmundson, daughter of Proncey Edmundson, on 19 July 1870 in Wilson County.) Next to the Halls was a household comprised of members of several families, including Bertha Edmundson, 20, and Winnie, 12, and Gray Edmundson, 14, who were all listed as farmer’s apprentices. Though close proximity and shared surname, as well as indenture as apprenticed labor, do not guarantee that these young people had been enslaved by Rufus Edmundson, these facts are strong evidence.

Crossing the Divide: A Quick Case Study in Tracing an African-American Family

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Jonah L. Ricks, Wilson, 1953.

Jonah Lewis Ricks was born near Bailey, Nash County, in 1885. His mother, Nancy Jones Ricks, was born about 1865 in western Wilson County to Jacob and Milly Powell Jones, both born into free families of color. (Jacob was a grandson of Bethana Jones.) Jonah’s father was Joseph Ricks.

Several of Joseph Ricks’ descendants, including Jonah, migrated to Wilson and Elm City and beyond beginning in the 1930s. Joseph’s death certificate, filed in Nash County in 1949, asserts that he was born about 1876 in Nash County to Square [sic] and Nicey Ricks. However, the censuses of 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 consistently list 1860 as his birth year.

What follows is a summary of research I conducted to pierce the veil of slavery and shed light on Joseph Ricks’ family just before and after Emancipation.

Initially, I was unable to find either Joseph Ricks or his parents in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. However, I had found a Kinchen R. Ricks (1858-1915) whose Nash County death certificate listed his parents as Squire Ricks and Nicie Braswell, so I looked for him instead. In the 1880 census of Jackson township, Nash County, 22 year-old Kenchin Ricks appears as a servant in the household of Marmaduke Ricks. Next door is this household: Sqare Perry, wife Nicy, and their children, including 18 year-old Joseph. I went back ten years to 1870 to find, in Chesterfield township, Nash County: Esqire Perry, 52, wife Nicey, 47, and children Primus, 22, Willie, 18, Mary J., 16, Rebecca, 13, Kinchen, 11, Joseph, 9, Robert, 8, and Matilda, 6. Also sharing the household were Judy Finch, 19, and her 7 month-old Nancy, and Sham Freeman, 63, Silva, 58, Mary, 25, and Rosa Freeman, 18. Thus I determined that Joseph Ricks was known as Joseph Perry as a child.  His parents were known as Squire and Nicey Perry and, I later learned, all of his siblings except brother Kinchen retained the surname Perry.

Squire Perry was born circa 1815, according to census records. His wife Nicey was born circa 1824. As neither appears in censuses earlier than 1870, I assumed that both were born slaves. I consulted Timothy Rackley’s volumes on Nash County estate divisions and slave cohabitations and discovered records of the division of the estate of Clabourn Finch, which was conducted 18 December 1849.  Finch’s property, which included slaves Jacob, Benjamin, Squire, Sam, Henry, Gilbert, Adam, Primus, and Nicy and her child, was divided among his heirs.  Squire, valued at $550, went to Finch’s daughter Betsy and her husband Jacob Strickland.  Nicy and child, valued at $700, went to Finch’s daughter Nicy and her husband Marmaduke Ricks. Thus, the family was divided during the last decade and a half of slavery.

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Page from the estate of Clabourn Finch, Nash County, 1849. The enslaved people distributed to his heirs at November Term of court differ slightly from those listed in this inventory.

The 1850 slave census of Nash County shows Jacob Strickland as the owner of four slaves and Marmaduke Ricks as the owner of ten. The 1860 slave census of Sullivants township, Nash County, lists him as the owner of 18 slaves.

Among post-Emancipation Nash County cohabitation records, I discovered that, on 19 August 1866, Esquire Strickland and Nicey Ricks registered their 22-year marriage with a Nash County Justice of the Peace.  At the time they reunited, each was using the surname of his or her most recent former owner. By the 1870 census, however, as noted above, Squire had settled upon Perry.

It is probably not coincidence that another of Clabourn Finch’s daughters, Ann C., was married to a Perry. Clabourn Finch’s slaves were divided among his children at his death and may have been further sold or traded within the family. At present, Squire’s reason for choosing Perry rather than Ricks or Strickland is not clear, nor is the basis for Joseph Ricks’ report on his brother Kinchen’s death certificate that their mother’s maiden was Braswell. Similarly, the reason that two of their sons, Kinchen and Joseph, reverted to Ricks is unclear.

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Original photograph and funeral program in my possession. Federal population schedules; North Carolina Certificates of Death filed in Nash and Wilson Counties; Timothy W. Rackley, Nash County North Carolina Division of Estate Slaves & Cohabitation Record 1862-1866; Rackley, Nash County North Carolina Division of Estate Slaves 1829-1861; North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Tartt’s negroes, pt. 2.

Thirty-five years after his death, Jonathan Tartt‘s sons and grandsons, which included a bewildering number of Jonathans, Jameses and Elnathans, joined the stream of whites flooding into lands wrested from the Choctaw under the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Several settled in and around Sumter County in far southwestern Alabama.

James B. Tartt, son of Jonathan’s son Elnathan Tartt, was an early arrival. A notice he placed in the 26 September 1828 edition of the Raleigh Register signaled his intent to file a claim for a lost hundred dollar note that Thomas E. Tartt had mailed to him at Stantonsburg the year before. By time he posted the ad, however, James had joined Thomas in Lagrange, Alabama. Within a few years, as the Choctaw were pushed out, he shifted across the state to Sumter County.

In October 1832, this ad appeared in North Carolina Free Press:

NC free press 10 2 1832

North Carolina Free Press, 2 October 1832.

Had Adam actually made it more than 700 miles back to Edgecombe County from Sumter? Or had he missed the boat, so to speak, by running away to avoid joining the coffle headed deep South? I do not know if Adam was ever returned to James B. Tartt.

James Tartt did not relinquish all his Edgecombe County possessions immediately, and here is an 1837 advertisement for the sale of 1400 acres he owned at the fork of Toisnot and White Oak Swamps in what is now Wilson County.

Tarboro' Press 10 28 1837

Tarboro Press, 28 October 1837.

By the 1840s, however, he and his children were well established in Sumter County. In the personal letter below, “old man” James B. Tartt’s son Elnathan wrote home to relatives — the envelope is addressed to “Edwin or Washington Barnes,” Stantonsburgh, Edgecombe County NC. He chatted a little about his sisters, but was primarily occupied with another runaway, Calvin, who had absconded on the way from North Carolina to Alabama:

Sumitvill Ala February 3rd 1848

Dear Cousins

I arrived home about three weeks ago and found my folks verry well, we had a verry pleasant trip. No axident hapened at all, the girls was verry much pleased with their trip, I left Elizabeth in Mobile to go to school. I was in Mobile three days. Mr. Stewarts & Pratts famileys wer all verry well.

I have noght bought any place for the old man yet and I doant recon I shall this spring, as it is verry late, and the people have calculated to make a nother crop and will not sell at any thing reasonable, I shall rent a place for him to make a corn crop, he says if he can get him a small place to work his preasant force on he is willing to give the Ballance of his money to his children, the old man don think of any thing but marring thats all his talk, says he is determine to have him a wife. Margret is at my house, going to scool. I receivd a letter from Arch the other day informing me that Calvin had run away. He left the night after they passed Raleigh. I have not heard from them since they left Pittsborough No Carolina but I am looking for them every day. I want you to manage to get Calvin in, some how, make out that you have bought him, or that you are otherwise to sell him and make a shamm sale of him to some one. I think we had better sell him if we can get a fair price, as it will cost a great deal to get him hir even if we could get holt of him. The old man is willing to sell him but I want him to come out hir if it will not cost to much if you can manager to get holt of him put him in jail and let me know it. Or if you know of any person coming out that will bring him I will pay them well. If any person is coming out by the rail road, he would not be but verry little troble — try and see what you can get for him and let me know what the prospects to get holt of him or sell him. Write to me and let me have your opinion what way I had best proceed about him, one relation are all well nothing moor but Rema[ining] yours  /s/ Elnathan Tartt

Give my respects to your family write to me and let me know all the nuse since I lelft, I settle all my buisness befor I left

——

“Arch” was Elnathan’s brother Archelaus B. Tartt.  Margaret and Elizabeth were their sisters. (Elizabeth returned to Wilson, married John Thomas Barnes, and is buried in Maplewood cemetery. Her sisters Penninah Tartt Eason and Margaret B. Tartt also went back to North Carolina.) The family appears in 1850 census of Sumter County in two side-by-side households. At #227: farmer James Tartt, 58, with children Edwin, 20, Elizabeth, 18, Margaret, 14, Paninah, 29, and Arch B., 23, all born in North Carolina. At #228, clerk Elnathan Tartt, 24, wife Mary, 27, and Alabama-born son John, 6, plus 8 year-old Louisa Randolph.

Apparently, one of the many schemes Elnathan mused about worked, and Calvin was returned to the fold. Seven months after Elnathan’s letter, James B. Tartt recorded a deed of gift in Sumter County in which he — in keeping with Elnathan’s hopes — transferred his wealth to his children. On 11 September 1848, “in consideration of the natural love and affection I have for my children” Elnathan Tartt, Enos Tartt, Martha Tartt Adams, Penninah Tartt, Archelaus Tartt, Edwin Tartt, Elizabeth Tartt, Margaret Tartt and Jonathan Tartt, James B. Tartt named his brother Thomas M. Tartt trustee and made the following transfers and distributions: (1) notes, drafts, checks, etc., totaling about $11000, (2) “the following negro slaves one negro named Gray about 26 years old and dark yellow complexion, a negro slave Calvin black and about 27 years old, Warren of dark yellow complexion and about 24 years of age, Sarah a negro woman about 50 years old, a negro girl Mary about 18 years old of yellow complexion, Lizzy black and about 11 years old, Peter, a child, black and about 2 years old and Rose the child of Mary about 1 year old,” (3) mules and wagons, and (4) moneys to secure for himself “a comfortable home and liberal living” and educations and comfortable livings until marriage for his daughters (with Penninah’s portion reduced because she had already been given a nine year-old enslaved girl, Julia). The document also contained provisions for the distribution of any property that remained at James’ death.

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The Tartts enumerated in Alabama’s 1855 state census. James B. Tartt, having given them away, is listed with no slaves. His older sons Enos and Elnathan owned a total of 33 men and women, and his brother Thomas M. Tartt held another 17 in trust.

The first post-Emancipation federal census, counted in 1870, lists 13 North Carolina-born African-Americans named Tartt in Sumter County. Their names and approximate birth years: Hilyard (1795), David (1805), Jessy (1805), Belfer (1810), Burwell (1810), Bettie (1815), Cherry (1816), Howell (1820), Hager (1825), Chaney (1835), Hugh (1810), Zarah (1820) … and Cal (1830).

Many, many thanks to a James B. Tartt descendant for sharing a copy of Elnathan Tartt’s letter. Privately held documents like this are an invaluable resource for African-American researchers.

Cemeteries, no. 2: the William Hall family.

Eliza Hall was a free woman of color born about 1820, probably in what was then the heel of southwest Edgecombe County. How she met James Bullock Woodard, a prosperous white farmer and slaveowner, is unknown, but by Eliza’s early 20s they had begun a relationship that would last at least a decade. A sympathetic relative of Woodard’s recorded the births of James and Eliza’s children William Henry (1844), Patrick (1845), Margaret Ann (1847), Louisa (1849), and Balaam Hall (1851) in his family’s Bible.

In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County: Eliza Hall, 26, “free,” with children Wm., 6, Patrick, 4, Martha, 3, and “girl,” 1. Judging by their proximity to the listing of Orpha Applewhite, the family lived close to Stantonsburg.

In the 1860 census of Wilson County, Eliza Hall and her children are enumerated in the household of Joseph Peacock, who had been her neighbor in 1850: Jos. B. Peacock, 25, Sarah C. Peacock, 18, Sarah Peacock, 68, with William, 15, Patrick, 14, Margaret, 13, Lou, 12, Balum, 11, and Eliza Hall, 45.

Patrick Hall married Mary Ann Farmer in 1867 in Wilson County. They had at least six children: Alice (1869), Cora (1870), Dora (1874),  Frank (1873), Maggie (1875), and Frederick Hall (1878).

Balaam Hall married Mary Edmundson in Wilson County in 1871, Chelsey Hodge in Wayne County in 1876, and Mary Ann Herring in Wayne County in 1895.

William H. Hall lived and farmed near Stantonsburg, Wilson County, most of his life. He was married three times — to Lucy Barnes, Annie E. Smith and Mamie Artis — and had at least nine children with them and at least one other woman, Sarah Jane Artis. In 1890, William Hall sold to trustees the quarter-acre of land upon which Stantonsburg’s Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was founded. More than a hundred years later, the Hall family remain at the core of Bethel’s membership. William H. Hall spent his last years living in his son Robert Hall’s household and died 23 June 1925.

The William H. Hall family plot lies in the Bethel A.M.E. Zion church cemetery on the west side of Peacock Bridge Road between Stantonsburg and the Greene County line.

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“Beloved father, farewell.”

Nathan Blackwell’s desire and will.

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this the 24th of January 1845 }   this my desire and will that I give to Josiah and Nathan Axum Andrew & all my property to be Equally divided and I want Asberry Blackwell to take Andrew and see to his labor for my children to the best advantage also take my children and take care of them and satisfy himself for his troble out of my property this my Last will and testament whereunto I now set my han and Seal to        Nathan (X) Blackwell {seal}

Test  James F. Mercer, Thomas Mercer

——

Nathan Blackwell received a marriage license to marry Jincey Powell on 15 December 1838 in Nash County, North Carolina. Elijah Powell and Henry Bount were bondsmen, and B.H. Blount, a witness.

In the 1840 census of Nash County, North Carolina, Nathan Blackwell headed a household comprised of one free colored male, aged 10-23; one free colored female, aged 10-23; and two free colored males under 10. In the 1850 census of Nash County, Asberry Blackwell [likely Nathan’s brother] lived alone.

Nathan’s children are not found in the 1850 census. In 1860, Josiah Blackwell, 21, was listed as a steam mill laborer in the household of engineer John Valentine. On 27 March 1861, Josiah married Becky Mitchell at Wiley Lamm’s steam mill. In 1860, Nathan E. Blackwell, 20, is listed as a wagoner living in the household of farmer Robinson Baker in Wilson County. For more about Nathan Blackwell the younger, see here.

North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], ancestry.com.

But sell Gatsey: the last will and testament of James A. Barnes.

The will by which James A. Barnes determined the fates of 24 enslaved people, including Howell Darden and Easter Bass:

In the name of God Amen I James A Barnes of the State of North Carolina, and County of Edgecombe being in a low State of health but of sound disposing mind and memory blessed be God for the same, being desirous of disposing of my worldly Estate do make & constitute this my last will and Testament revoking all other wills by me heretofore made

Item 1st. I lend unto my beloved wife Sarah Barnes during the time of her natural life the following tract of land Beginning on Big Contentnea Creek at the mouth of a ditch wherein it Enters into said Creek at the flax hold, thence running Eastwardly with the ditch to the line of the land of John Barnes dec’d thence north said deceased line nearly North to a fence thence north said fence to my crop fence, thence west said cross fence to the next cross fence, thence west that fence to the gum swamp where formerly stood a bridge, thence down the various of said swamp to the creek and down the various courses of the creek to the Beginning containing one hundred acres more of less with the express and direct priviledge of getting of timber off any of my land to keep up her farm Excepting out of the land bound to her the small piece of land whereon Eliza Bass now lives which includes three acres more or less, her houses and improvements also excepting one half acre of land at or near a posimon tree standing on the North Side of the lane running Eastwardly from wherein I live at the place wherein Theophilus Bass lives I also lend unto my beloved wife all of my Kitchen furniture & dairy utensils one Mahoggany side Board, one little do., all my chairs, all my earthen ware and glass ware of every description, all of my knives and forks, all of my spoons flat Irons and my and irons all of my wooden ware of every description one half of my brandy Still all of my Cider barrels, also the following negroes during the term of her natural life, negro man Tom, Mary, Esther & Charles except the time of Charles, which I may in an after clause in this will direct him to be bound out. Also I lend unto her my wheat fan[?] boiler & gun

Item 2nd. Item. I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Sarah, the following negro Slaves Amos, Bob, Silvia, Ransom & Rose, two beds, bedsteds & furniture her choice, one chest her choice one sorrel mare & her colt Bob, one Bay Mare mule, two cows and calves her choice, one white heifer from four to five years old, fifteen dollars in money, three sows & piggs her choice, all of my plows [illegible] & plow gear, lines plow bits Stems Keys [illegible] Irons & all of my axes grubbin hoes, weeding hoes, chisels, saws, drawing knives, all the poultry & geese, six stacks of fodder her choice, twelve bushels of seed [illegible] all of the flax on hand, all the wheels and cards, the loom and all the gear, fifty pounds of pick cotton all the [illegible] all the oats twenty five bushels of wheat one barrel of brandy her choice one candle mould one lantern, one wash basin one large cupboard two candlesticks all the sifters and trays fifty barrels of good Corn & twenty five fat hoggs her choice my apple mills & cider presses to her and her heirs forever.

Item 3rd. I give and bequeath unto my nephew Theophilus Bass the priviledge of using one half acre of Land whereon he now lives also the whole of the Jacob S. Barnes tract of land containing one hundred and fifty acres of land more or less excepting and reserving to my wife apart of this land loaned to her in this Will during the Term of her life. Also I give unto him the said Theophilus Bass his heirs and assigns forever one certain part of the Lott of land I drew in the division of the real estate of John Barnes and adjoining Willis Simms near the gum pond or Swamp Jacob S. Barnes to co[illegible] all the land north of a dam near the Broken leg for the purpose of straitening our his fence to come along the Cross fence that Comes through to the pond to Sarah Barnes line of the land loaned to her in this will. Also one half of my brandy still also the negroes to my wife which is loaned to her trust, Negroe Mary, Esther, & Charles which gift to him is to Command at the death of my wife, one bay horse called Lany, one cow & carlin[?] which is called his, my blacksmiths tools, one horses cart & wheels and all the other property to him & his heirs which is loaned to my wife in this ill which gift to him is to command. It is however my will and desire that Theophilus Bass is to pay one hundred dollars in money before he receives any thing under this will

Item 4th. It is my will and desire the negro fellow Charles is to be hired out as long as my wife lives and the money arising from said hire to be applied enough of it to pay my debt if it is required for that purpose, and if not one half of his hire to pay to Theophilus Bass and the other half to my wife Sarah Barnes.

Item 5th. I give and bequeath to Martha Tomberlin wife of Daniel [David?] Tomberlin Dinah to her & her nears and assigns for ever but is to pay Patience Darden 54 dollars in two years from this date

Item 6. I give and bequeath to Tresy Darden daughter of McKinly Darden boy Jack to her, her heirs and assigns forever but this Legatee is bound to pay Patience Darden Ten dollars in two years

Item 7th. It is my will and desire that my negro man Tom choose his Master and to be valued by two disinterested men at the death of my wife

Item 8 – I give and bequeath unto McKinley Darden his heirs and assigns forever negro man Howell about twenty two or three years of age but he is hereby to pay back to my Executor fifty dollars before he is to have him

Item 9th Item – I give and bequeath unto my Sister Beedy Woodard of the State of Georgia boy Irvin which boy she has in her possession which I have given her a bill of sale for to her and her heirs and assigns forever.

Item 10th. I give and bequeath unto Eliza Bass widow of James Bass one negro fellow Jordan, all the household and Kitchen furniture in her possession, wheels, cards, cart & gear to her & her heirs and assigns forever.

Item 11th. I give and bequeath the following negro slaves (to wit) Rindy, Abraham, Rody, Alexander & Bob to the three children of Theophilus Bass dec’d. George Washington Bass, Thomas Warren Bass & Jessee Jackson Bass, with this express condition that the above bound five negroes shall be bound to pay notes out of hand for fifty or sixty dollars I gave to Jacob G. Barnes Administrator of James Bass dec. to them, their heirs and assigns forever.

Item 12th. It is my will and desire that the widow of James Bass, Eliza Bass have use and occupy all the Lands I own on the East side of Big Contentnea & south side of my land, not heretofore mentioned to my wife and Theophilus Bass, during the time she may live single or life to her death and at such time as she may marry or die, it is my will and desire that the three lotts of land I drew of the John Barnes dec’d tract the one I drew and two I purchased of Julius Bass & Beedy Woodard to belong to Thomas Warren Bass and the balance loaned to her in this Item to belong to George Washington Bass & Jesse Jackson Bass, Share and Share alike to them their heirs and assigns forever.

Item 13th. It is my will and desire that the tract of land of mine in Wane County near where I live containing seventy two acres or thereabouts to belong to Eliza Bass and Theophilus Share and Share alike and so to remain until one or the other of them dies & then the tract is to be sold in Six months and the money arising from said sale to be equally divided between them or their heirs and assigns

Item 14th. It is my will and desire that my sister Julian Bass to have two hundred dollars in money

Item 15th. It is my will and desire that my sister child, Margarett Evans of the State of Georgia have three hundred & fifty Dollars to her & her heirs and assigns forever.

Item 16th. It is my will and desire & I so direct my negro girl Gatsy all the balance of my estate of every description not given away in this will be sold on a credit of six months & the money arising therefrom to pay all my debts and legacies

Item 17th. It is my will and desire that my Friend Wyatt Moye Executor to this my last will and Testament this 14th October 1848. Signed, Sealed and declared in presence of Woodard Cook, Edwin Barnes.   James A. Barnes {seal}

North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], Ancestry.com.

Among the items, 25 negroes.

In the name of God amen

I William Batts sen’r of the County of Edgecombe and State of North Carolina being of sound and perfect mind and memory, blessed be God, do this twenty-seventh day of June in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and forty nine make and publish my last Will and Testament revoking all others that I may have made heretofore in manner and form as follows Viz —

Item 1st. I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Patsey Batts two feather beds and furniture, and two bedsteads, fifty dollars in money and one years support of corn pork &c for herself and family and three cows & calves to her and her heirs forever.

Item 2nd. I lend unto my wife Patsey Batts during her widowhood the following property to wit the tract of land and its appurtenances whereon I now live lying on the North side of the Big swamp containing about four hundred and seventy five acres more or less. Also the following negroes Isaac, Eley and her youngest child Thomas, boy Amos also boy Meedy until my grandson William Henry Edwards arrived to the age of twenty one years, then I give and bequeath the said boy Meedy to him the said William H. Edwards to him and his heirs forever. Also I lend to my wife two head of horses, three sows & pigs and twenty shoats her choice.

Item the 3rd I give and bequeath unto my son John Batts one negroe man named Ben also seven hundred dollars in money to him and his heirs forever.

Item 4th. I give unto my son Guilbert Batts one feather bed, bedstead and furniture, one negro boy by the name of young Isaac, also that part of the tract of land that I purchased of David Bunn lying on the North side of Maple creek — Four hundred dollars in money and one brandy still (the one that is at Wright W. Joyner) to him and his heirs forever.

Item 5th. I give unto my son John Batts in trust for the benefit of my daughter Sally Flowers and her children which she now has or may hereinafter have the following property to wit: One tract of land whereon Gray Flowers now lives lying on the north side of Whites swamp, adjoining the lands of John Farmer, and others containing two hundred and fifty acres more or less. Three feather beds and furniture which said  Gray Flowers & Sally has in their possession at this time also the household and kitchen furniture and all the stock of hogs & cattle which the said Gray & Sally Flowers has in possession also one negroe boy named Orren and five hundred dollars in money. Now my will and desire is that after my death should my son John Batts think it advisable to hire out said negro Orren he is to do or manage in any way that he may think his labour will be most advantage to Sally & her children. It is my desire that Sally and her children shall remain on lands so long as she may wish to do so. The money and the labour of the negroe and the other property reserved at all times to be applied to the support and comfort of Sally and her children in the way that my son John shall think best. After the death of my daughter Sally it is my will and desire that all the property that is then remaining which is given to my son John Batts, for the benefit of Sally and her children shall then be equally divided between her living children. My desire is that should my son John Batts die before my daughter Sally or refuse to act that theCounty Court of Edgecombe shall appoint some discreet and suitable person to take the property and manager it in the way that will be best for the support of Sally and her children.

Item 6th. I give unto my friend Redding S. Petway in trust for the benefit of my daughter Emily Joyner and her children which she now has or may hereafter have the following property to wit all that part of the tract of land that I purchased of David Bunn lying on the south side of the Maple Creek whereon Wright W. Joyner now lives, negroe woman Venice and her five youngest children and all her increase hereafter. The house hold and kitchen furniture and all the stock of every kind that belongs to me that is now in the possession of Wright W. Joyner & Emily his wife and two hundred dollars in money. It is my desire that Emily and her children shall remain on lands so long as Emily shall desire, And that the said Redding S. Petway shall so manage the negroes and other property in that way that will be most advantageous to the support of Emily & her children. After the death of Emily it is my will and desire that the property that is then remaining shall be equally divided between her living children. It is my further desire that if the said Redding shall die or become incapable of managing of affairs or refuse to act before the death of Emily that the County Court of Edgecombe shall appoint some discreet person to take said property and manage it in the best way for the support of Emily and her Children.

Item 7. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth Farmer one negroe girl named Harriet and her increase hereafter and one negroe boy by the name of Peter to her and her heirs forever.

Item the 8th. I give and bequeath unto my friend David Williams in trust for the benefit of Elizabeth Farmer and her children one thousand dollars in money the said David is to keep the money out at interest and from time to time as necessity may require to apply the interest to the support and comfort of Elizabeth and her children which she now has or may hereafter have, never to apply any of the principal as long as can lie down without, and what is remaining of the thousand dollars at the death of Elizabeth to be equally divided among her living children. If the said David shall die before Elizabeth or refuse to act it is my will and desire that the County court will appoint some discreet person to take the money and act as directed.

Item 9th. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Patsey Thorn one negro boy named Charles and one negroe girl named Nelly and after the death of her mother I then give her the two negroes lent her mother viz Elsey and her child Thomas and One thousand dollars in money to her and her heirs forever.

Item 10th. I give and bequeath unto my friend David Williams in trust for the benefit of Polly Farmer and her children the following property to wit negroes Dinah and her three children Jerry, Hilliard and Sinday and all the increase of Dinah hereafter One bed and furniture two cows and one calf seventy five acres of land where William Pittman lives adjoining the lands of John G. Williams & others (for Polly a home) and eight hundred dollars in money. The said Davis to manager the said property in the best way for the support and maintenance of Polly and her children which she now has or may hereafter have. And after the death of Polly, what is then remaining is to be divided between her then living children. It is my will and desire that if the said David shall die before my daughter Polly or refuse to act that the County Court of Edgecombe will appoint some descent person to act &.

Item 11th. I give and bequeath unto my son William W. Batts after the widowhood of his mother the tract of land whereon I now live lying on the north side of the Big Swamp containing five hundred acres more or less (being the whole tract except seventy five acres given Polly) negroes Isaac & Haywood, one bed bed stead and furniture two cows and calves and One thousand dollars in money to him and his heirs forever.

Item 12th. I give and bequeath unto my grandson William Henry Edwards the tract of lands which was sold as Henry Edwards’ dcd[?] which I bought adjoining the lands of Charles Land and others, containing one hundred and forty acres more or less, and after the widowhood of my wife Patsy, negroe boy Meedy and four hundred dollars in money to him and his heirs forever.

Item 13th. I give and bequeath unto mu granddaughter Martha Ann Edwards two small negroes by the names of Hagar and Meedy and a note against Egbert A. Taylor for fifty dollars to her and her heirs forever.

Item 14th, I give and bequeath unto my grandson William Batts son of John Batts after the widowhood of my wife Patsey negroe boy Amos, which I lent to my wife to him and his heirs forever.

Item 15th. All the balance of my property of every kind that I have not lent or given away be sold on a credit of six months and all the money and notes that are left after paying my just debts and the legatees that I have given off in money together with the account of sales be equally divided among all my heirs — signed sealed and published by the said William Batts as his last Will and testament the day and date first Written.   William (X) Batts {seal}

Witness — Willie G. Taylor, Wm. D. Petway, James Wiggins

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William Batts Sr.’s will entered probate in Wilson County in 1856.

North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], Ancestry.com.

He intends to leave this state with a free negro.

$20 REWARD. – RAN AWAY from the subscriber on the 6th instant, a negro man by the name of CAGE. Said negro is about twenty-seven years old, about five feet ten inches high, quick spoken and rather black – weighs some hundred and seventy pounds. It is my opinion that he intends to leave this State, with a free negro by the name of Nicholas Williams. The above reward will be given to any person, who will confine said negro in any jail or deliver him to me at my house about three miles above Toisnot Depot, Edgecombe County, N.C. – Josiah Jordan.

Tarboro Press, 13 March 1847.

Children born to free mulatress.

“These are names of slaves born to free mulatress ages of the children of Eliza Hall

William Henry Hall was born Feb the 11th 1844

Patrick Hall was born October the 6th 1845

Margaret Ann Hall was born Feb the 12th 1847

Louiser Hall was born April the 9th 1849

Balam Hall was born Feb 7th 1851″

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These entries (the first sentence in a different hand) were inscribed in the Bible of Lewis Ellis (1794-1854) of Edgecombe County.  Ellis’ good friend, James Bullock Woodard (1793-1863), was the father of Eliza Hall’s five children.  (Who were, of course, as free as their mother.)  The 1850 census of Edgecombe County lists Eliza Hall, age 26, with her children Wm., 6, Patrick, 4, Martha [sic], 3, and “girl,” 1.  In 1860 (after the formation of Wilson County), the Halls are listed in Saratoga district, Wilson County. The Bible remains with descendants of the Ellis family.