Garry Williamson house.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

The house as photographed for Ohno’s book.

“Garry Williamson was born in 1817, the son of Thomas and Kasiah Williamson. Williamson inherited part of the land between Contentnea Creek and Marsh Swamp granted to his grandfather, Joseph Williamson, in 1779 by Governor Richard Caswell. Family tradition has it that an earlier plantation house was incorporated into the present house, which Williamson inherited from his father in 1857 and which he is said to have remodelled in the same year. Williamson married Gillie Flowers in 1840. The couple’s daughter Sallie married prominent local physician, Dr. H.F. Freeman, in 1878. Howard Franklin Freeman was born in Franklin County in 1848 and he was educated at Wake Forest University and the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore. Upon graduation from college, Freeman began his medical in the Rock Ridge area. After his marriage to Sallie Freeman the couple resided wit Garry Williamson and his family at the family homeplace. … The Freeman heirs owned the property until 1976. The house shows little indication of its pre-1857 origins, and the bulk of the fabric of the building appears to date from Garry Williamson’s occupancy. The oldest section of the house consists of a two-and-one-half story gable roofed structure with robust exterior end chimneys. These chimneys are notable because of the use of native stone mixed with brick which was stuccoed and gauged to resemble blocks of dressed stone. The mixed stone and brick chimneys are typical of Old Fields township and seldom found in the easten part of the county, but the gauged stucco work is extremely rare. At the rear of the house stands a one-story ell with porches, which was probably added by Dr. Freeman circa 1880 when he build his office on the northwest corner of the house. In recent years Freeman’s office was moved to the Country Doctor Museum in Bailey. Although little remains of Dr. Freeman’s famous garden, the old turn-of-the-century kitchen stands to one side of the main house. Family tradition asserts that the kitchen was moved to its present location so that Garry Williamson and a daughter could occupy the structure. The interior of the main house exhibits a hall-and-parlor plan with an enclosed stair ascending from the rear of the house. The rear ell appears to have consisted of two rooms.”

It is difficult to reconcile this image from Ohno’s book with that above, but this is said to be the Garry Williamson house in 1903, with members of daughter Sallie Williamson Freeman’s family.


In the 1850 census of Nash County, North Carolina: farmer Garry Williamson, 33; wife Gilly, 26; and children Hinnant, 10, Nancy 7, and Lucinda, 3.

In the 1850 slave schedule of Nash County, North Carolina, Garry Williamson with two enslaved people, a 20 year-old male and a 17 year-old female, both described as mulatto.

In the 1860 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Garry Williamson, 44; wife Gilly, 35; and children Lucinda, 13, Nancy, 11, Sidney, 5, and Sarah A., 2.

In the 1860 slave schedule of Old Fields township, Wilson County, having inherited from his father’s estate, Garry Williamson is listed with eight enslaved people, three men aged 23, 28 and 55, and five girls, aged 8 months, 4, 7, 8, 10 and 11.

I have blogged extensively about the extended Williamson family’s slaveholdings (including Garry Williamson’s father, grandparents and brother) and about the lives of African-American Williamsons.

The hire of Patrick.


The hier of one Negro man Patrick left in the last Will and Testament of Thomas Williamson Dec’d to Dempsey Williamson (his son) hired out by the Admr’s of said Dec’d for the term of one year on the following conditions said negro is to have the following conditions said negro is to have the following clothing 1 suit of woolen 2 suits of cotton 3 pare of shoes 2 pare of woolen socks 1 hat and 1 Blanket and if said negro is cald for before the Expiration of his hier to be returned and pay in perpotion said negro is not to work on Railrods nether in Ditches

The hire of Patrick To Edwin Fulghum $80.00


Thomas Williamson’s executors hired out Patrick during the settlement of Williamson’s estate. This document sets remarkably precise terms for Patrick’s hire, including changes of clothing; several pairs of shoes; restrictions on the type of work he would be put to (see here to understand why); and, in effect, a cancellation clause. Edwin Fulghum was a neighboring white farmer whose wife Mary was a Williamson. The document is undated but was probably executed about 1857.

Estate File of Thomas Williamson, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org. 

He complained of having suffered excessive cold.

The case reached the North Carolina Supreme Court in late December 1860. The core legal question was misleadingly simplistic — was there a breach of contract? After all, two men had died, and two others had suffered serious injury. They were enslaved though, and what was at issue was not their welfare, but the financial injury to their owner as a result of their mistreatment.

In a nutshell, a man named Raiford, acting as the agent of William K. Lane, rented out four enslaved men — Jack, George, Wright and Abram —  to work on a railroad project. (Lane lived in far northeast Wayne County but, presumably, the contract was entered into in Wilson County. It is not clear where the four men ordinarily lived.) When the contractors sought to work the men as far away as Jones County, Raiford agreed on the condition that they be safely housed. The contractors agreed. Instead, in the teeth of a heavy snowstorm, they penned the men in drafty shanties and left them to ride it out.

The testimony is all about the condition of the shelters in which the men were housed, but the suffering of Jack, George, Wright and Abram — and the banal brutality of slavery — emerges unbidden.


William K. Lane v. John C. Washington & J.D. Burdick, December Term 1860.

Where a plaintiff declared upon a special contract to provide slaves, hired to work upon a railroad, with good accommodations, also on the implied contract of bailment to provide them with ordinary accommodations, it was held that the lodging of the slaves, in the dead of winter, in huts built of poles and railroad sills, without door shutters, and without chinking in the cracks, which were large, and which huts were proved to be inferior to others ordinarily used for such purposes on railroads, was a breach of the contract as alleged in both counts, and entitled plaintiff to recover.

“THIS was an action on the CASE, tried before SAUNDERS, J., at Fall Term, 1860, of Wilson Superior Court.

“The plaintiff declared in five counts, as follows:

“1st. For a breach of contract in taking the slaves Jack, George, Wright, and Abram, below Bear Creek.

“2d. For a breach of contract in not taking good care of said slaves, and furnishing them with good accommodations.

“3d. For breach of the implied contract, arising on the bailment, to take ordinary care of the said slaves.

“4th. For the hire of said slaves, Wright, Jack, and George, nine days each, at eighty cents per day, and for the hire of Abram, six days, at eighty cents per day.

“5th. For the hires of said slaves, for the times mentioned in the 4th count, for what they were worth.

“The title of the plaintiff, to the slaves in question, was admitted. The plaintiff introduced one Raiford, who testified, that prior to the heavy snow storm of January, 1857, as the agent of the plaintiff, he hired said slaves to the defendants, who were partners in a contract for making the Atlantic Rail Road, at the rate of eighty cents per day; that they were not to be carried below Bear creek, a point on the line of said railroad; that the above contract was made with the defendant Burdick; that on the next day, Burdick told him that he wished to take the said slaves below Bear Creek, into the edge of Dover swamp, below Kinston; that he (witness) told him that if they were well taken care of, he would as soon they should work there as any where; that Burdick replied that they should be well taken care of, as defendants had good accommodations there for a hundred hands; that he (witness) replied that on those terms they might go; that the slaves were carried off by Burdick, on that or the next day; that they were gone some eight or ten days, when Wright, George and Jack came home frost bitten; that Wright died of phneumonia, about ten days thereafter, and the other two were laid up about two months; that he never saw Abram after the hiring, but learned that he died in Kinston; that this was about the 29th of January, 1857, a short time after the heavy snow storm which occured in that month. The witness further testified that during the week succeeding the return of the slaves, he went down to the place where the slaves had been at work, in the edge of Dover swamp; that he examined the shanties erected by the defendants for the accommodation of the hands; that there was one at the Heritage place, where the overseer stayed, near where the country road crossed the railroad, and on the right hand side of the country road going to New Berne; that this was a square pen, made of pine poles, with large cracks, through which one might thrust his double fists, and scarcely seven feet high; that there was no shutter to the door; that the top was flat and covered with plank, and that it would not shed water; that there was no chimney and no floor, no bed clothing and no cooking utensils, and that the fire was made in the middle of the house. The witness further swore that there was another shanty, above the Heritage place, at Tracey swamp; that this one was some thirty or forty feet long, and from sixteen to eighteen feet wide, built of pine poles; that there were large cracks between the poles not half stopped, and loose planks laid down for flooring; that along the centre of this cabin, and at the distance of a few feet from each other, logs were placed on the ground, and earth placed between them as a place for building fires; that it had no chimney, but instead thereof, there was an aperture, three feet wide, at the top of the roof, for the escape of smoke, but that this shanty had a door to which there was a shutter. Witness further stated that there were other shanties for the accommodation of the hands, just below the Heritage place, at the distance of a mile or a mile and a half; that these latter were made of cross ties or sills of pine timber, eight feet long, and from eight to ten inches square, used in the construction of the railroad track; that these ties were placed on top of one another, to the height of some six feet, on three sides, thus leaving one end or side entirely open, that the covering was also composed of these ties, placed near together, and he saw no other shanties for the accommodation of hands; that those above described were nothing like as good as are ordinarily used on works of the kind, and were nothing like as good as an ordinary horse stable. Witness further stated, that he saw, during this visit, at the Heritage place, one Parrott, an overseer of the defendants on this work; that Parrott told him that if he had been well, the slaves in question would have been better attended to, “that it was a bad chance there any how;” that Parrott also told him that the slaves stayed “just below there,” pointing in the direction of the shanties last described. The witness further stated that he had seen other shanties on the Wilmington & Weldon railroad.

“Dr. C. F. Dewey testified that he was called to see the boys George, Wright and Jack, on the 21st of January, 1857; that they were frost bitten — George badly — Wright not so badly, and Jack slightly; that Wright died in about two weeks, of typhoid pneumonia, and that he complained of having suffered from excessive cold for two weeks. He further stated that the other two would be more liable to be frost bitten after this. Wright had no cold that he could see, at his first visit.

“One Robertson testified that he had been travelling through there some time previous to the snow aforesaid; that he had seen the cross tie shanties, and one, which he supposed to be the Tracey swamp shanty, which was at the Heritage place, on the right hand side of the stage road, leading to New Berne; that none of the chinks were shut; that it had no chimney, and had a flat roof; and that it lacked a great deal of being as good as ordinary, and would be a very poor horse stable; that these shanties were about ten steps from the road, and that he had never been nearer than this to them; that the only other shanties he had ever seen, for such purposes, were on the N. C. Rail Road.

“John C. Slocumb stated the conversation between Raiford and Burdick to have been as follows: Burdick said he would like to take the slaves below Kinston, into the edge of Dover swamp. Raiford asked if they had good accommodations. Burdick replied, yes, for a hundred hands. Raiford replied if the accommodations were good, and the hands would be well taken care of, he would let them go.

“Another witness testified to the same conversation, giving as Raiford’s last reply, that he did not wish the hands so far from home, but would not object to their going down for two or three weeks, provided the accommodations were good.

“William C. Loftin testified that he lived in Dover, about four miles below the Heritage place, and had seen these shanties; that he had never seen any as poor, (sorry) any where else, and that they were not as good as an ordinary stable; that the Tracey swamp shanty, on the west side of the swamp, had a roof with an opening along the top, some three feet wide, that it had large cracks, was made of pine logs, and was twenty five or thirty feet long, and fifteen or eighteen feet wide; that the cross tie shanties were about a mile and half below the one just described; that he had four negroes in the defendants’ employment, who stayed at these shanties, and that two of them were frost bitten, though he had heard that one of them had fallen into a ditch, and remained there some time; that at the time of the snow storm, the hands of defendants were at work on the road, a quarter of a mile below the Heritage place, in the edge of Dover swamp. On cross examination he stated that these shanties did not deserve the name. He further stated, that the only other buildings of a like nature he had ever seen was as he passed along the line of railroads after their completion, and, also, that he did not examine these shanties till after this suit began. He further stated, that the defendants had no other accommodations for hands, at, or near the edge of the swamp. He also stated that the Tracey swamp shanty could not be seen from the stage road, so as to be examined, and that he did not go near enough to it, to see how the logs were laid for building the fire, or how the planks were laid for sleeping.

“None of the witnesses knew whether the slaves in question had remained at the shanties during the snow, nor when they had left the employment of the defendants, nor which of the shanties they occupied, except from the conversation between Raiford and Parrott.

“The defendants’ counsel was proceeding to state the defence, when his Honor announced that he should instruct the jury, that, upon the plaintiff’s own evidence, there was no breach of the contract declared on in the 1st, 2d and 3rd counts, and no want of ordinary care. That on the 4th count, there was a special contract of hiring, and the plaintiff was entitled to recover, at the rate of eighty cents per day, for each slave while in the defendants employment, if the witnesses were to be believed. The case was then put to the jury, when his Honor charged them as above set forth. Plaintiff excepted to this charge. The jury found for the defendants on the 1st, 2d and 3d counts, as also on the 5th, and for the plaintiff on the 4th, ($25). There was a judgment for the plaintiff for $25.00, from which he appealed to this Court.”

Justice J. Battle wrote the opinion reversing the Wilson County Superior Court judge. After highlighting details of the witnesses’ testimony, Battle held: “The result of our examination of the testimony is, that the lodging of the plaintiff’s slaves in any of the shanties, described by the witnesses, was not the taking such care of them as a man of ordinary prudence would take of his own slaves employed in similar business, much less, was it the taking good care of them and furnishing them with good accommodations. For the error committed by his Honor, in his instructions, in relation to the second and third counts, there must be a reversal of the judgment, and the grant of a venire de novo, and this renders it unnecessary for us to notice, particularly, the other points made in the case. The reversal of the judgment in the plaintiff’s favor, on the fourth count, follows, necessarily, from the grant of a new trial to him on the second and third.”

American Advocate (Kinston, N.C.), 22 January 1857.

The estate of Hardy H. Williamson.

Hardy H. Williamson died without a will in 1858, and his brother Raiford Williamson was appointed administrator of his estate. He died  possessed of 15 enslaved people.


Six “boys” (at least some of whom were in their 20’s) were hired out for short terms while the estate was in probate:

These are the enslaved people named in Hardy H. Williamson’s will. Their lives, if possible, will be explored in detail elsewhere with updated links here.  Daniel, Edmond, and Alex are believed to be brothers — the sons of Silvy. (Though not the Silvy listed here.) Angy, Silvy, Henry and Spencer were Liddy’s children by Handy Atkinson, who had a different owner.

The last will and testament of Elias Barnes.

Every once in a while, antebellum Wilson County estate records will offer details about enslaved people that allow you to identify nuclear families and to trace their movements in the tumultuous period after a slaveholder died and a community was broken up. The probate of the undated will of Elias Barnes of Edgecombe County [later the Saratoga area of Wilson County], drafted prior to 1855, is a rich example.

Elias Barnes, son of Jesse and Edith Jordan Barnes, was the brother of prominent farmer, politician and slaveholder Joshua Barnes, often dubbed “Father of Wilson County” for his efforts to establish the county. He married Mahala F. Sharpe, daughter of Benjamin and Anna Farmer Sharpe, in Edgecombe County in 1830.

Barnes’ will included these provisions:

  • to wife Mahala Barnes and children Joshua Barnes, Elias Barnes and Willis Barnes $3584 “worth of my negro slaves” each (unnamed), and
  • to children Benjamin B. Barnes, John S. Barnes, Jesse Barnes, Edith Barnes, and William Barnes $2500 “worth of my negro slaves” each

Elias Barnes was fatally stuck by lightning in June 1856, when most of his children were minors. The inventory of his estate, taken 27 October 1856, included these 55 enslaved people:


List of Slaves: Jack, Celia, Jim Sr., Elva, Ann, Reddick, Spice, Exy, Mary, Green, Scinda, Siller, Gincey, Daniel, Jim Jr., George, Rachel, Zany, Pleasant, Gilbert, Harry, Charles, Cad, Cooper, Spence, Winny, Brister, Eliza, Minters, Willie, Susan, Albert, Chany, Sarah, Abel, Austin, Adeline, Henry, Hardy, Sampson, Morrison, Liberty, Cary, Lewis, Judith, Jolly, Warren, Hilliard, Edward, Bob Sr., Bob Jr., Clark, Winsor, Gray, Bunny.

Here’s a partial list that includes alternate spellings or full names of some of the people listed above, such as Scinda/Cindy, Cad/Cadmus, Minters/Mentus, and Siller/Priscilla.

Mahala Barnes administered her husband’s estate. At the first of the year following his death, she hired out most of his slaves to family members, like her brother-in-law Joshua Barnes, daughter Anna S. Thompson, and son John P. Barnes. Note these family groups hired out together: Redick, Spice and four children; Gray, Bonny and three children, Sillah and child; and Ax and three children. (And possibly, Clark and Abel and Ann and Sampson.)

Again in January 1858, the enslaved people of Elias Barnes’ estate were hired out. This time, Mahala Barnes was ready to assume control of her husband’s farm operations and hired many herself. Note that Reddick and Spice had had another child together; Bonny/Bunny had had another child; and Elva and Eliza now had two children. (Together? Separately?)

In October of 1858, for just over $2500, administrator Mahala Barnes sold Axey and her two children and Rachel and her child to her brother-in-law Joshua Barnes in his capacity as administrator of the estate of his father Jesse Barnes Sr.

The partition of Elias Barnes’ enslaved property, valued at $32,076.00, was made 1 January 1859:

  • to Benjamin B. Barnes — Gilbert, Jim, Anna, Sampson, valued at $2451.00
  • to John P. Barnes — Bob, Cilla, Spicy and child Ida, and Jolly, valued at $2400.00
  • to Jesse Barnes — Hardy, Clarky and child Celia, and Cooper, valued at $2425.00
  • to Edith Barnes — Cinda, Gray, Bunny and child Violet, and Hilliard, valued at $2550.00
  • to William Barnes — Willie, Winnie and Reddick, valued at $2350.00
  • to Mahala Barnes, widow — Harry, Green, Mary, Elva, Eliza, Austin and Jack (“invalid”), $4175.00 (with a credit of $150 for Jack)
  • the balance in common to minor children Joshua, Elias, Willis and Mahala J. Barnes, valued at $16,725.00

For more on the lives (and deaths) of Elias and Mahala Sharpe Barnes and their children, see Katharina Schichtherle’s article in the Autumn 2015 edition of Military Images, an on-line magazine.


Barnes is far and away the most common surname in Wilson County, black or white. And the universe of given names was far smaller in the mid-1800s than it is now. Further, many freedmen did not adopt the surname of their enslaver at Emancipation, especially women and children whose husbands and fathers had had a different owner. These facts complicate the identification in the postbellum period of the men and women who once lived on Elias Barnes’ plantation.


  • “Ann & Sampson”

The pair listed in the 1857 hire list may have been a couple. Harriet Barnes, daughter of Sampson Farmer and Ann Barnes, married Robert Barnes, son of Tony Flowers and Hanah Bass, on 20 July 1867 in Wilson County. (Though if so, where was Harriet in the 1856 inventory?)

  • Austin Barnes

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Austin Barnes, 45; wife Cintha, 33; and children Fonser, 12, and Etna, 7. (The 1870 mortality schedule of Saratoga township lists five deaths in April 1870 in this household, all of pertussis: Mourning, 5, Austin, 4, Loyd, 2, Richard, 3, and Mary, 9 months.)

Austin Barnes, 45, married Ferbe Barnes, 36, on 21 September 1873 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Austin Barnes, 56, farmer; wife Pharby, 44, farmworker; and children Zilla, 6, Thomas, 4, and Pet, 1.

  • Axey Barnes

Axey Barnes and Washington Sims registered their 30-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Washington Simms, 57; wife Exy, 47; and children and likely grandchildren Henry, 32, Catsey [Gatsey], 27, Nathan, 10, Grant, 4, and Harret Simms, 5, Waity Nelson, 18, Joseph, 14, Samuel, 12, Mary, 10, and Della Simms, 8, and Ella Barden, 1; plus William Nelson, 26.

  • Bill Barnes

Possibly, the Bill Barnes who registered his cohabitation with Harriet Ellis on 18 April 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Bill Barnes, 47, farm laborer; wife Harriet, 36; and children Amanda, 15, Bettie, 13, Ellen, 12, Caroline, 9, John, 6, Dinah, 5, Jason, 2, and Lettuce, 7 months.

  • Brister Barnes

Bristor Barnes and Catherine Barnes registered their three-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

  • Cadmus Barnes

Cad Barnes and [Rose] Bearfoot registered their cohabitation on 31 August 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Cadmus Barnes, 23; wife Rose, 27; and children Elly, 3, Fanny, 2, and an infant, 1 month. (The 1870 mortality schedule of Saratoga township lists the death of Baldwin Barnes, 70, in January 1870 in this household.)

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Cadmus Barnes, 45; wife Rose, 28; and children Elvy, 12, Fanny, 9, William Thos., 7, Edwin, 4, and Julia Ann, 2.

  • Charles Barnes and Chaney Barnes

Perhaps, the Charles Barnes and Chaney Barnes who registered their three-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

  • Gray and Bonny Barnes and their children Hilliard, Violet and others.

Gray Barnes and Bunny Barnes registered their 44-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

Hilliard Barnes, 30, married Nancy Baker, 25, on 16 February 1880 in Wilson County. In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Hilliard Barnes, 30; wife Nancy, 28; and Edmund Taborne, 3.

Hilliard Barnes died 6 January 1944 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 100 years old; was born in Wilson County to Gray Barnes and Bernie Barnes; lived at 705 Woodard Line; and was married to Fannie Barnes, age, 70.

  • Green Barnes

Perhaps, Green Barnes who married Sarah Barnes on 17 November 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Greene Barnes, 46; wife Sarah, 26; children Lindy, 12, Mary, 10, Ora, 7, Joseph, 5, Henrietta, 3, and Cinda, 1; and father-in-law James Sharp, 76.

In the 1900 census of Olds township, Greene County: Green Farmer, 65; wife Sarah, 45; and children Joseph, 23, [his wife] Florence, 18; John, 18; Ada, 15; Ivy C., 12; Eddie, 9; Allanora, 7; and Jenette, 5.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Fountain Road, Greene Barnes, 70; wife Sarah, 65; and daughter Mary J., 20. Green reported that he had been married three times.

Lindsey Joyner died 18 March 1924 in Speights Bridge, Greene County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 March 1864 in Pitt County to Green Barnes and Sarah Barnes, both of Wayne County; was married to Charles Joyner; and was buried in Red Hill cemetery [Stantonsburg.] Jesse Joyner was informant.

  • Hardy Barnes

Perhaps, the Hardy Barnes registered his 25-year cohabitation with Mary Barnes with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

Or, in the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Watson Stanton, 65, farm laborer, born in Virginia; wife Rosa, 53; and children Richard, 15, Adeline, 13, Feribee, 8, and Louisa, 21; Cherry Rogers, 80, midwife; and Hardy Barnes, 20, carpenter’s apprentice.

  • Harry Barnes

There were three adult African-American men named Harry Barnes listed in the 1870 census of Wilson County, aged 47, 44 and 26.

  • Lewis Barnes

Perhaps, the Louis Barnes who registered his eight-year cohabitation with Alley Whitley with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Lewis Barnes, 54; wife Harriet, 35; children Gray, 12, Julia, 4, and Louisa, 5 months; and Amanda Barnes, 24, and [her son] Warren Hardy, 2.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, Lewis Barnes, 43, farmer; wife Harriette, 45; children Julia A., 14, and Anarchy, 8; C. Applewhite, 25, servant, and Anna Applewhite, 5.

  • Mintus Barnes

Mintus Barnes, son of Reddic Barnes, married Frances Stanton, daughter of Watt Stanton and Rose Stanton, on 23 December 1873 at Watt Stanton’s.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Mentus Barnes, 23, farm laborer, and wife Frances, 18.

  • Pleasant Barnes

Perhaps, the Pleasant Barnes who registered her cohabitation with Guilford Bynum with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4. [Guilford Ellis and several of his relatives changed their surname from Bynum to Ellis between 1866 and 1870.]

  • Priscilla Barnes

Perhaps, the Precilla Barnes who registered her nine-year cohabitation with Henry Applewhite with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Applewhite, 30; wife Priscilla, 32; and children Cherry, 7, Amanda, 11, and Love, 6; George Lindsey, 21; and Abram Applewhite, 69.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Henry Applewhite, 43; wife Pricilla, 44; and daughter Cherry, 17.

  • Reddick and Spicy Barnes and their children Jolly, Ida, Harry and others

Reddic Barnes and Spicy Barnes registered their ten-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Reddick Barnes; wife Spicy, 54; and children Jolly, 16, Ida, 15, and Harry, 11. [Recall that this family had been divided. Spicy and children Ida and Jolly were passed to John P. Barnes; Reddick to William Barnes; and Harry to Mahala Barnes.]

On 6 February 1876, Jolly Barnes, 21, married Alice Barnes, 18, at E. Felton’s.

  • Zany Barnes

Zany Barnes and Henry Rodgers registered their ten-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Henry Rogers, 34, farm laborer; wife Zana, 33; and son Thomas, 11; Mary F. Barnes, 2; and Feribee Ellis, 40.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Henry Rodgers, 50, laborer; wife Zanie, 35; and children Tiny, 7, Leelie, 5, Callie A., 4, and Sarah, 2.

Will and Estate Records of Elias Barnes, images available at North Carolina Wills and Estates 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Notes due.

About 1857, as Benjamin Simpson took stock of his son’s estate, he prepared a list of notes owed to Jesse Simpson. Several free people of color, all neighbors of the Simpsons, are listed among the debtors.


  • “1 note against Silas Laseter for 7.17 on the mande from intrust from the date given the 1 of Febraury 1855″ — In the 1860 census of Wilson district, Wilson County: farmer Silas Lassiter, 38; wife Orpie, 34; children Sallie, 12, Mary, 11, James, 9, John, 7, Elizabeth, 5, Penina, 4, Hardy, 3, Silas, 1, and George, 2 months; and Delpha Simpson, 14.
  • “1 acount against Jo Jones for 6.00″ — in the 1860 census of Wilson district, Wilson County: Joseph Jones, 40, turpentine; wife Zillah, 34; and children Milly, 17, Jesse, 10, Nathan, 8, and Frances and Lenora, 6.
  • “1 acount against William Jones for 2.50″ — in the 1860 census of Oldfields district, Wilson County, either: William Jones, 35, making turpentine, and wife Mary, 37, domestic, in the household of farmer Jethro Harrison, 31, or, more likely, William Jones, 20, mulatto, farm laborer; Mahaly Jones, 17, domestic; John Locus, 10; Mary Jones, 35, domestic; John, 10, and Josiah Jones, 6; all mulatto; in the household of farmer Elizabeth Simpson, 30.


The list of “book accounts” included:

  • Penne Powel — probably Penelope Taborn Powell, the wife of Calvin Powell, see below.
  • Wilis Jones — in the 1860 census of Oldfields district, Wilson County: Willis Jones, 62, black, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 51, mulatto; and children Henry, 20, Alexander, 17, Noel, 16, Willis, 12, Paton, 10, Burthany, 7, Sarah, 13, and James, 10.
  • Calvin Powel — In the 1860 census of Black Creek district, Wilson County: Calvin Powell, 35, teamster; wife Penelope, 30; and children Jefferson, 12, Cidney, 10,  and Calvin, 6. Next door: Dempsey Powell, 30, turpentine; wife Sallie, 28; and Susan, 9.
  • Dempsy Powel — see above.
  • Asbary Blackwell — in the 1860 census of Kirby’s district, Wilson County: Asberry Blackwell, 45, turpentine laborer, wife Nancy, 30, farm laborer, and children Charity, 14, Drucilla, 9, Albert, 7, Appy, 7, Zilpha, 4, Obedience, 3, and Asberry, 2 months.
  • Alin Powel — in the 1870 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Calvin Powell, 49; William Powell, 4; and Allen Powell, 79, basket maker. [William and Allen Powell were described as white; Calvin, as mulatto.]
  • Stephen Powel — in the 1860 census of Winsteads township, Nash County: 50 year-old Stephen Powell; wife Cyntha, 45; and children Gray, 21, Dollerson, 17, Queenanah, 13, Crocket, 12, Matchum, 10, and Frances, 8.
  • Lige Powel Ju. — Elijah Powell Jr. Probably, in the 1860 census of Wilson district, Wilson County: John Valentine, 32, engineer, with Elijah Powell, 23, and Josiah Blackwell, 21, sawmill laborers.

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

The fellow ought to hire for $100.

To Jacob S. Barnes, Esq.

Wilson Post Office, Edgecombe County, N. Carolina

State of Alabama, City of Montgomery

My dear Sir,

After my best respects to you & your good lady, Susannah & Caroline, and all my friends, my enemies I need not care for, I wrote to say to you what I wished to say before I left but could not see you. We arrived this day Sunday at 2 o’clock after travelling all night last night in the Stage. I want you to hire out for me at the first day of January next the negro man that you hired last year belonging after I am done with him to the widow of James A. Barnes and Theophilus Bass. Please say to Theophilus & the widow I think though I have not settled the Estate yet the hire of the negro the year 1851 will be sufficient to pay with what is in my hands all the debts of the deceased though the debts are more than I expected. Inclosed you will find some advertisements. Please set them at Tosnot, Stantonsburg & elsewhere. I think the fellow ought to hire for $100 the years 1850. Take a good note & two good securities. We are all tolerable well. We are agoing to rest until tomorrow evening. I shall get (home) Wednesday next if nothing happens.

Accept my best wishes for your health & happiness.  /s/ Wyatt Moye


Wyatt Moye was both a founding father of Wilson County and a committed slave trader. With partner Richard Adams, Moye regularly traveled from eastern North Carolina to Mississippi and Louisiana to sell enslaved African-Americans. Moye was executor of James A. Barnes’ estate and — away on business — he sent instructions to Barnes’ brother Jacob S. Barnes hire out an enslaved man again for one hundred dollars to pay down the estate’s debt. In a sobering reminder of the reality of chattel slavery, Moye cautioned Barnes to get a good note, i.e. a promise to pay the cost of hire, and two good securities, i.e. properties promised to Barnes’ estate in the event of non-payment.

Who was the “negro man” repeatedly hired out? Barnes’ will, drafted in 1848, is explicit:

“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.”

Barnes had owned 24 enslaved people, a group that likely included Charles’ parents or siblings, if not his wife and children. Barnes split the group 11 ways — including a directive to sell one woman immediately. Though Charles was to join three others bequeathed to Barnes’ widow, his repeated hire separated him for years from the comfort and company of those who knew him best.

Letter found in The Past Speaks from Old Letters, “a copy of the working papers found in the files of Hugh B. Johnston, Jr., acquired in the course of his lifelong avocation as a professional genealogist and local historian,” republished by Wilson County Genealogical Society, March 2003.

Hagans did not have a license to carry a pistol.

At October term of the Wilson County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a grand jury indicted free man of color David Hagans for carrying a pistol without a license. Stephen Powell was among the witnesses called to testify.


  • David Hagans — in the 1850 census of North Side of the Neuse, Wayne County: Eli Hagins, 47, day laborer, and sons Sherrard, 13, David, 11, Mary, 9, and Ezekiel, 5, all described as mulatto.
  • Stephen Powell — in the 1850 census of Nash County: 47 year-old turpentine laborer Stephen Powell; wife Synthia, 36; and children Gray, 9, Queen Anne, 8, Dolly, 7, Crockett, 3, and Moab, 1. In the 1860 census of Winsteads township, Nash County: 50 year-old Stephen Powell; wife Cyntha, 45; and children Gray, 21, Dollerson, 17, Queenanah, 13, Crocket, 12, Matchum, 10, and Frances, 8. In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: 60 year-old farmer Stephen Powell; wife Cinthia, 53; and children Dolison, 27, and Washington, 20; plus Julia Amerson, 15; Mary Taylor, 21; Louisa Powell, 5; and Charles Powell, 1. In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Stephen Powell, 80; wife Cynthia, 60; sons Dollison, 37, Washington, 26, and [grandson?] Charles T., 10,; plus boarder Wilson Hagans, 65.

Carrying Gun 1856, Criminal Action Papers, Records of Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.

Send me my money.

In 1858, Robert Fuller was subpoenaed as a witness in an unspecified court case brought by E.H. Flowers, apparently involving an enslaved person. Here is the note he sent back to the court:

Mrs Clearke you will pleas send me my money Due me a bout being a Witness in the Niggar suit by E.H. Flowers this the 28th of March 1859    Robbart Fullar

  • E.H. Flowers — in the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County, E.H. Flowers is listed as 23 year-old farmer. He reported owning $3364 in personal property, which would have consisted primarily of enslaved people.
  • Robbart Fullar — in the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County, Robert H. Fuller is listed as a 24 year-old carpenter.

Court Cases Involving Slaves-1859, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.