1860s

State v. Dave.

Asael Farmer’s estate file contains a cluster of documents related to the prosecution of State vs. Dave. The outcome of the case is not clear.

In February 1863, a Wilson County justice of the peace issued a warrant for Dave’s arrest for breaking into Martha Ann Edwards’ home and stealing her clothes.

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… This day complained on oath one Marthaan Edwards of [Wilson County] that a Slave by the Name of Dave Belonging to the estate of Asahel Farmer Dec’d on the Night of 24th December 1862 Broke into Hur dwelling House and Stoled therefrom & carried of one Spotted Blanket two dresses ready made & two dresses not made 3 yards pant cloth & some shoes [illegible] the said Martha An is fully convinced threw every Circumstance connected that the said slave Dave stold the things or was accessory there too These are therefore in the Name of the State commanding you to apprehend the said slave  & him have before me or some other Justice of sd. County to be Delt With as the law directs Given under my hands & seal in said County the 15 February 1863 M.G. Williams J.P.

Summons for the state Martha An Edwards, Dilly Ellis, W.B. Batts, John B. Batts, Hines a slave of Thomas Taylor, for the Boy Langleys man Farmers Belfor & Haywood Stricklands Abram

Asael Farmer’s administratorJohn Farmer filed an apologetic statement with the court explaining his failure to produce Haywood, an enslaved man and critical witness, in court.

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State vs. Dave slave of John Farmer Admr of Asahel Farmer

John Farmer the owner of the defendant maketh oath that Haywood slave Jessee Mercer and Jere Batts, are material witnesses for the defendant, without the benefit of whose testimony he cannot safely come to trial, that the subpoena for the said slave Haywood was served upon one W.W. Batts in whose possession the slave was supposed to be but that said slave had without the knowledge of this affiant passed into the possession of the said Jesse Mercer, that a subpoena has been issued for the said Jere Batts but has not been served on account of his absence from this County that he expects to have said witnesses present at the next term of this Court, that this affidavit is not made for delay but truly for the cause here in set forth           John Farmer 

The clerk of court issued a subpoena for W.W. Batts; William Winstead; Elijah Williams; William Crumpler; Belford and Abram, slaves of the E. Strickland estate; Haywood, slave of William W. Batts; “Mose works at Harris Winstead’s”; and Jerry Batts, son of W.B. Batts to appear in court on the fourth Monday in September, 1863.

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Another subpoena called for the appearance of Martha Edwards, Dilly Ellis, W.B. Batts, John B. Batts, and Horace, a slave of Thomas Taylor to appear the same day.

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——

  • Dave
  • Haywood

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Haywood Batts, 34; wife Rodah, 27; and children Lucy, 17, and Alice, 4.

  • Belford

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Belford Farmer, 46, farm laborer; wife Rebeca, 36; and children Morning, 17, Benj’m, 10, Alice, 13, Moses, 8, Anna, 5, and Ida, 1; and Allen Battle, 21.

On 22 September 1870, Belford Farmer, son of Ben and Ellen Farmer, married Peggy Flowers, daughter of Henry and Annie Flowers, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed laundress Peggy Farmer, 43, and children Mourning, 23, Alice, 21, Annie, 13, Moses, 16, Ida, 10, Belford, 7, and Mary, 5, and grandsons Willie, 3, and Henry, 1.

  • Abram

Perhaps, in the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Abram Strickland, 66, and wife Julia, 50, both farm laborers.

  • Mose
  • Horace

Asael Farmer Estate Records, Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Tell them I want to see them.

Camp Near Orange Court House VA., November the 16, 1863

Mrs. Mary J. Edwards, Wilson P.O., Wilson County, N.C.

Dear Sister,

I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well at this time and hoping you the same.  Bunyan, I want to hear from you. Let me hear from you, and let me know how you are getting along. Bunyan, I want you to let me know how everything is getting along, and write me all the news. I heard that you have been having chills. I want to know whether it was you who shot your thumb, or not.  Tell Mary Gray to write to me every time she can. Tell Sister Betty to write to me, for I want to hear from her. Tell Nanney also to write to me.  Tell Aunt Penny I want to see her. Tell Uncle London I want to  see him very badly. I have nothing to write, only very hard times here.  We are expecting to have to march every minute. I must come to a close by saying I remain your dear brother until death.  Excuse my bad writing.       George Woodard

——

George Washington Woodard, son of James Bullock Woodard and wife Sallie Peele, enlisted in April 1862 as a private in Company A, 55th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. Debilitated by chronic diarrhea, Woodard died 23 March 1864, at a military hospital in Gordonsville, Virginia. On 2 September 1950, in the column “Looking Backward,” the Wilson Daily Times published Hugh B. Johnston’s transcription and notes about letters George W. Woodard sent home from war, including the one above.

“Aunt Penny” and “Uncle London” were, of course, Penny Lassiter Woodard, a free woman of color, and London Woodard, her enslaved husband. Penny Lassiter had reared George W. Woodard after his mother’s death. George’s father J.B Woodard had purchased London Woodard from another Woodard family member and sold him to Penny Lassiter in 1856.

Update: James Woodard’s father, Amos.

A few days ago, the blog of the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center posted an article on James Woodard, whose Wilson County connection I shared here. This article explores the identity of James Woodard’s father Amos, who is recorded in family lore as having been sold away. Identifying two Amos Woodards from Wilson County who enlisted in regiments of the United States Colored Troops, researcher Cheri Todd Molter speculates that Amos’ sudden departure was due to his having run away to join the Army, rather than being sold away.

The records below offer descriptions of both men. Further research is required to determine which, if either, was James Woodard’s father, and if either were related to London Woodard.

Amos Woodard enlisted in Company M, 14 Regiment U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 24 April 1865 in New Bern, North Carolina. He was 18 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, with black eyes, hair and complexion. He deserted on 13 July 1865 at Fort Macon, N.C.

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Amos Woodard enlisted in Company I, 14 Regiment U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 4 April 1865 in New Bern, North Carolina. He was 18 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, with black eyes and hair and yellow complexion. He deserted on 10 June 1865 at Morehead City, N.C., and returned to duty in August.

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Cohabitation register, part 1.

In March 1866, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an act establishing a means for formerly enslaved people to ratify their marriages.  Such persons were to appear before justices of the peace, who would collect certain details of their cohabitation during slavery and record them in the County Clerk’s office. Freedmen faced misdemeanor charges if they failed to record their marriage by September, 1866, a deadline later extended to January 1, 1868.

Wilson County’s original cohabitation register is said to be held in the Register of Deeds office, but I have not found it there. Brooke Bissette, Director of Exhibits at Wilson’s Imagination Station, recently found that East Carolina University’s Joyner Library has a copy of the cohabitation register on microfilm and is creating a print volume to be shelved in the Local History and Genealogy Room at Wilson County Public Library’s main branch.

I present the register in series, with transcription:

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Free people of color, 1860: Wilson district.

Free people of color enumerated in Wilson County’s first federal census, taken in 1860.

Wilson district (outside town limits)

#430. Silas Lassiter, 38, farmer; 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 Delphia Simpson, 14. Silas reported $490 in real estate and $155 in personal property.

#436. Susan Mitchel, 26, washing, and children James, 10, Annie, 7, and George, 2. Susan claimed $257 in real estate and $60 in personal property.

#442. Henry Booth, 15, in the household of white farmer James Tomlinson.

#443. Green Lassiter, 36, farmer; Mary Lassiter, 24; Matthew Lassiter, 37; and Rachel Lassiter, 30, farm laborer. Green reported $750 in real estate.

#450. Louisa Artis, 17, in the household of white farmer William T. Taylor.

#501. Elijah Powell, 23, and Josiah Blackwell, 21, laborers in steam mill, both black, in the household of white engineer John Valentine.

#544. Lucinda Jones, 8, black, in the household of white brickmason Joseph E. Beamon.

#546. John T. Farmer, mulatto, 4, in the household of white farmer John Farmer.

#592. Mahaly Artis, 30, washing, black, and daughter Sarah, 8, mulatto.

#596. Jonas Barnes, 14, mulatto, in the household of white farmer Joseph S. Barnes.

#599. Turpentine laborer Joseph Jones, 40, black; wife Zillah, 34; and children Milly, 17, Jesse, 10, Nathan, 8, and twins Frances and Lenora, 6, all mulatto.

State vs. Felix Godwin.

In January 1867, a Wilson County justice of the peace examined Linda Barnes (colored), who was unmarried, and determined that she had delivered a child whose father was Felix Godwin of Johnston County.

I have not found Linda Barnes in Wilson County records.

However, on 23 January 1867 — 11 days after this warrant issued — Phelix Godwin married Aurelia Smith in Boon Hill township, Johnston County. In the 1880 census of Boon Hill township, Johnston County: farmer Felix Godwin, 52; wife Arena, 28; and children Jane E., 11, and Preston, 8.

Bastardy Bonds-1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Totten defrauds veteran freedmen.

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In September 1867, Major William A. Cutler passed a report up the chain to his superior in the Freedmen’s Bureau.”… J.E. Totten at Joyners N.C. [Elm City] has been defrauding Freedmen by obtaining from them their “Discharges” from the U.S. Army by false representations …”

Bureau R.F.&A.L., Office Asst.Sub.Asst.Com., Rocky Mount, N.C., Sept. 6th, 1867.

Maj. C.E. Compton, Sub. Asst. Com., Goldsboro, N.C.

Major:

Howell Vine (colored) gave me the enclosed receipt, & I feel it my duty to send it to you, as he is anxious to obtain his discharge papers again.

From his statement it seems that he was deceived at the time he gave them into the hands of J.E. Totten and thought that Totten was sent by the Bureau to look after the interest of the freed people.

You will learn by the note written by Cd. Frank H. Bennett (register) that this not the only case of the kind.

I sent a note to the county clerk of Wilson county to find whether Totten had obtained the county seal to the certificate on the back of the claim.

I enclose the letter which I received in reply to the note.

I have the honor to be, Very Respectfully Your Obdt. svt, Wm. A. Cutler, Maj. & A.S.A.C.

——

Though his encounter with J.E. Totten apparently took place in Wilson County, and the Bureau made inquiries with the Wilson County clerk, it is not clear whether Howell Vines ever actually lived in the county. Joseph Totten, 29, is listed as a store clerk in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County, living in the household of Joseph Conte, 52, “g & gd march retl” [grocery and dry goods merchant retail].

Per muster records, Howell Vine (or Vines) enlisted in Company B, 14th Regiment, U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 21 March 1864 in Washington, North Carolina. He was described as 32 years of age; five feet nine inches tall; with black complexion, black eyes and wooly hair. He reported being born in Edgecombe County.

In the 1870 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: farmer Howell Vines, 36; wife Priscilla, 35; and children James and Jenny, 14, Lucy, 12, Sarah, 2, and  Charlie, 1.

In the 1880 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: farmer Howell Vines, 52; wife Cillar, 42; and children James and Jennie, 24, Lucy, 21, Sarah, 13, and Charlie, 10.

Lucilla Vines applied for a widow’s pension on 20 July 1891.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters sent, vols. 1-2, February 1867-February 1868, http://www.familysearch.org; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Hickman Ellis, Sr.

James Barnes was administrator of Hickman Ellis‘ estate. Among his duties in 1861, he secured a doctor’s visit for an unnamed enslaved woman staying at John Owens’ farm:

Barnes hired out Ellis’ slaves to assorted kin and neighbors in 1861. J.R.P. Ellis leased Peter and Chana for $9.00; Jonathan T. Dew, Jack for $10.00; Lorenzo Felton, Margaret and an unnamed child for $3.00; D.S. Richardson, Liza and two children for $1.00 and Tempe and one child for $3.50; John Carter, Netty and one child for $1.75; John I. Sharpe, Rose for 25 cents; and Jackson Lassiter, Hannah for free. The estate paid Barnes $5.00 to care for Harriet and two children.

He also obtained “docttrin” for “negar Jack,” “Aren when was burnt,” Milbry and Netty’s fellow in October 1861.

In 1862, these individuals and several others were hired out again, along with several fields and the “low grounds”:

A court-appointed committee charged with dividing Hickman Ellis’ enslaved property filed its report at Wilson County Court on October Term 1863. Ellis’ daughter Spicey received Jim, Netty, Aaron, Rose, Mary, Hannah, Old Peter and Old Chaney, valued at $11,050. The remaining enslaved people — Jack, Margaret, Elvy, Hewel, Tempy, Peter, Harriet, Gray, Hardy, Chaney and child Isaac, Eliza, John, Milbry and child Betsy, and Nancy — were held in common by Unity Ellis and Hickman Ellis (Jr.)

 

Hickman Ellis Estate (1860), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estates of Jonathan and Elizabeth Ward Ellis.

Jonathan Ellis, son of William and Unity Ellis, died intestate in Wilson County about 1857, and his wife Elizabeth Ward Ellis about 1858. Their heirs were their granddaughters Susan Bynum Bynum, Louisa Bynum Best, Elizabeth Bynum, Sarah Bynum and Virginia Bynum, whose mother Spicy Ellis had married Reuben Bynum.

In the 1859 Fall Term of Wilson County Superior Court, the clerk issued an order directing William Barnes Jr., Washington Barnes and Edwin Barnes to divide Jonathan Ellis’ enslaved people Ruben, Jacob, Ephraim, Tom, Hannah, Hester, Adeline, Bob, Lamm, Blount, Lucy, Gilford, Norfleet, Isaac, Patience, Maria, Violet, Job, Mark, Harriet, Tiller and Alley into one-fourth shares. Son-in-law Joseph J. Bynum was administrator of Ellis’ estate, and his foot-dragging led to a petition for division by his sisters-in-law. (It is not clear to me why Susan Bynum was not entitled to a share.) The commissioners reported allotting to William and Louisa Best enslaved people Blount, Mark, Tom and Harriet and her three children Adeline, Lucy and Manervy, valued at $4100. The remaining men, women and children were held as “common stock” for minors Elizabeth, Sarah and Virginia Bynum.

Meanwhile, also during the 1859 Fall Term of Wilson County Superior Court, the clerk issued an order directing the same men to divide Elizabeth Ellis’ enslaved people Guilford, Amos, Beckey, Jim, Jesse, Ben, “2 Lettuces,” Ellen, Rose, Rachael, Hewell, Isham, Sam, Amanda and Harriet into one-fifth shares.

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The Barneses filed a report on the division as directed. They allotted Jim and Rose, valued at $1900, to Susan and her husband Joseph Bynum; Jesse, Lettice, Lettice and Gilford, valued at $2050, to Louisa and her husband William Best; and the remainder were held in common for minor heirs Betsey, Sally and Virginia.

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Elizabeth Ellis Estate Records, Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

 

 

Why should not the girl be returned to her mother?

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No. 55        Bureau of Ref. Freedman & Abd. Lands, Office Asst. Supt. Goldsboro, N.C. March 27 1867

Mr. Organ, Stantonsburg N.C.

Sir,

Complaint has been made, that you keep Betsey Homes, aged 15 years & daughter of Julia Homes, without the consent of said Julia & after you promised the mother to bring the girl to Petersburg, Va. — You will please report to this office without delay, if Betsey is bound to you by any offices of the Bureau or if any other objection exists, why the girl should not be returned to her mother.

Very Respectfully, Your obd servant,

Hannibal D. Norton, [illegible], Asst. Supt. Bur. of R.F.& A. Lds.

——

“Mr. Organ” was almost surely John Organ, 38, the Virginia-born bookkeeper who appears with wife Anna and children in the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County. Only the youngest child, four-month-old Ellen, had been born in North Carolina, indicating that the Organs were recent transplants to Wilson County — apparently having dragged Betsey Holmes with them. Incredibly, her mother Julia had managed to track her across state lines and demand that the Freedmen’s Bureau intervene to secure her return to her family.

See also the Fisher brothers, likewise kidnapped from Virginia.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters sent, vols. 1-2, February 1867-February 1868, http://www.familysearch.org.