1860s

Ruffin’s negroes, part 1.

Lemon Ruffin executed his will shortly before leaving for war as a Confederate soldier. He did not return. He died as a prisoner of war in Illinois in 1864, age 32. (His brothers Etheldred, George W. and Thomas Ruffin also died in the war.) As set forth in more detail below, Ruffin received the bulk of his enslaved property as an inheritance from his exceedingly wealthy father Henry J.G. Ruffin, who died in 1854. An inventory of the elder Ruffin’s estate listed 138 enslaved people held on plantations in Franklin, Greene, Wayne and Edgecombe Counties.

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I Lemon Ruffin of the county of Wilson, State of North Carolina, being of sound mind and memory, but considering the uncertainly of my existence, do make and declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say:

First: That my executors shall pay my debts out of the money that may first come into their hands on part or parcel of my estate.

Item: I give and bequeath to my sister S.B. Ruffin my tract of land situated in Wilson Co NC adjoining the lands of Warner Woodard & others on Tosnot — to have and to hold to her and her heirs in fee simple  forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my sister M.H. Fugitt the proceeds of the sale of the Negro slaves Amos, Sallie and Henderson. Amos to be sold in Alabama. My will and desire is that Sallie and Henderson be brought to N.C. and sold in Wilson County.

Item: I give and bequeath to my sister, Nina W. Ruffin, the Negro slaves Crockett and Harriet to her and her personal representatives forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my brother, Dr. W. Haywood Ruffin of Misourah the Negro Slaves Isse(?)  the first and her three children and grandchildren, viz; Eliza, Esther, Elizabeth and Haywood.

Item: I give and bequeath to my brother, Thomas Ruffin, the Negro slaves Patience and her children named Isaac, Lettuce & Jerre and the youngest child to him and his personal representative forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my brother, Etheldred Ruffin, Beck and all her children named Ned, Elving(?), Arabella and Thom to him and his personal  representatives forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my nephew, Samuel Ruffin, Jr. of Mississippi, the Negro slaves Isse(?) the 2nd commonly called Son[illegible] to him and his personal representative forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my niece Mary L. Ruffin the negro slave Creasy to her and her personal representative forever.

I do whereof I the said Lemon Ruffin do hereunto set my hand and seal this 24th day of June 1862.

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In the 1860 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Lemon Ruffin is listed as a 28 year-old farmer living alone, with $5000 in real property and $21,600 in personal property.

These are the relatives listed in his will:

  • sister S.B. Ruffin — Sarah Blount Ruffin.
  • sister M.H. Fugitt — Mary Haywood Ruffin Williams Fugett.
  • sister Nina W. Ruffin — Penina Watson Ruffin Ruffin of Franklin County.
  • brother Dr. W. Haywood Ruffin — William Haywood Ruffin, who migrated to Lexington, Missouri (and later Choctaw County, Alabama.)
  • brother Thomas Ruffin
  • brother Etheldred Ruffin — Etheldred F. Ruffin, Greene County.
  • nephew Samuel Ruffin Jr. — son of W. Haywood Ruffin, but migrated to Pushmataha, Choctaw County, Alabama, to join his uncle Samuel R. Ruffin. Samuel R. Ruffin was the largest slaveholder in that county at Emancipation, and a list of his slaves reveals a number of first names common among Henry’s slaves. See below.
  • niece Mary L. Ruffin

Henry John Gray Ruffin, father of the above and husband of Mary Tartt Ruffin, died in 1854 in Franklin County, North Carolina. He had accumulated immense wealth and prudently executed a precise will, which entered probate in Franklin County. Among the provisions to son Lemon Ruffin were one-half interest in a plantation on Toisnot Swamp in Edgecombe [now Wilson] County (son George W. Ruffin received the other half) and “twenty negro slaves of average value.” (In addition, Mary Tartt Ruffin was to receive  “my old negro man servant Bryant now living at my Tossnot plantation.”) The inventory of Ruffin’s property listed 51 people enslaved on his Franklin County plantation, 50 enslaved on a plantation in Greene and Wayne Counties, and 37 in Edgecombe. (Other enslaved people were distributed among his children prior to his death.)

When distribution was made in September 1854, Lemon Ruffin received Beck, age 23, and her children Wyatt, 3, and Ned, 1; Patience, 32, and her children Isaac, 5, Lettuce, 3, and Jerry, 1; Maria, 45, and her children Eliza, 7, Hester, 5, and Elizabeth, 1; Isaac, 44; Reuben, 43; Crockett, 21; Isaac, 9; Arthur, 9; Sally, 19; Charlotte, 50; Harriet, 12; and Henry, 13. Per the inventories of Ruffin’s plantations, most had been enslaved on the Greene/Wayne County farm previously.

In the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson township, Wilson County, Lemon Taylor is listed with 21 slaves living in three dwellings. He enslaved eight males aged 6, 11, 15, 20, 25, 25, 51 and 52, and 13 females aged 1, 5, 7, 7, 9, 9, 11, 18, 18, 20, 25, 40 and 50. (Above him on the list was his brother G.W. Ruffin and his 22 slaves, aged 3 to 43.)

Two years later, Lemon Ruffin’s will showed that he retained ownership of 14 of the 20 enslaved people he had inherited from his father. Beck’s son Wyatt was likely dead, but she had had three more children, Elvin, Arabella and Tom, in the interim. Maria was dead or sold away; her children Eliza, Hester/Esther and Elizabeth were listed with their grandmother Isse (who seems to have been the “old” Isaac of the inventory, though Isaac is generally a masculine name). Reuben, Charlotte, Arthur and Henry do not appear in Lemon Ruffin’s will, but Crockett, young Isaac, Sallie and Harriet do. Lemon had also purchased or otherwise come into possession of Amos, Henderson and Creasy. (There are an Amos and Creasy listed in the “residue” of Henry Ruffin’s slaves after distribution. Perhaps Lemon had purchased them from the estate.) Per Lemon Ruffin’s will, Amos, Henderson and Sallie were in Alabama (on lease? on loan?) Sallie and Henderson were to be brought back to Wilson for sale, but Amos was to be put on the block In Alabama. None of it came to pass, as Ruffin’s estate did not enter probate until 1866, when his formerly enslaved property was beyond reach.

A North Carolina-born Amos Ruffin, age 35, appears in the 1870 census of Township 13, Choctaw County, Alabama, with his wife and children. Was this the Amos who was targeted for sale in Lemon Ruffin’s will?

In 1866, Patience Ruffin and Michel Ward appeared before a Wilson County justice of the peace to register their 16-year cohabitation. In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmworker Patience Ward, 50, and daughter Lettuce, 20, with Mitchell Ward listed next door.

None of other men, women and children Lemon Ruffin possessed at his death are clearly identifiable in post-Emancipation records.

Sidenotes:

  • Children up to about age 7 were usually grouped with their mothers for purposes of sale or distribution. It is almost certain that the children listed with Patience and Maria in Henry Ruffin’s distribution were merely their youngest and that their older children were separated from them.
  • Though enslaved people sometimes married men or women with whom they shared an owner, more often they married outside the farm or plantation on which they lived. Patience Ruffin and Mitchell Ward are an example.
  • Wealthy planters often owned multiple plantations and moved enslaved people among them at will. Henry Ruffin divided his Edgecombe (Wilson) County plantation into halves. However, the people who had lived on that plantation during his lifetime did not necessarily remain in place after his death. In fact, it appears that the 20 people with whom Lemon Ruffin stocked his half of Toisnot plantation came primarily from his father’s Greene/Wayne plantation. The former Toisnot slaves were shifted to plantations elsewhere. This kind of movement resulted in the further splintering of families as parents owned by neighboring enslavers were left behind.
  • White eastern North Carolina slaveowners were among the earliest settlers of Alabama in the early 1800s, taking North Carolina-born enslaved people with them. Slaveowners who did not leave North Carolina often sold their “excess” enslaved property to meet the ravenous labor needs of Alabama’s booming cotton economy.
  • Herbert G. Gutman argued in his exhaustively researched The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom 1750-1825 that enslaved African-Americans strove to maintain and transmit ties of kinship by repeating first names among generations of a family. Though we do not know the relationships among all the Ruffin slaves, this pattern can be observed among them. More on this later.

Images of estate documents available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Hiram Forbes.

I, Hiram Forbes of the County of Wilson and the State of North Carolina, being of sound mind and memory, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existance, do make & declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say:

Item. I give and devise to my beloved wife the tract of Land on which I now live during the term of her natural life or widowhood and after her death or marriage to my son Romulus and also lend to my wife Two negro slaves, one woman named Mary Ann and man Jim. The above named negroes to remain on the land and work for the support of my wife and two younger children Romulus and Elizabeth, and if in case my wife should marry, my will is that the negroes above shall be equally divided between my three children – Randolph, Elizabeth and Romulus.

Item. I give for the support of my wife & her family, fifteen hundred pounds of Pork and thirty barrels of corn, eight stacks of fodder first choice, Three sacks flour and I also give to my wife and two children, Elizabeth and Hannah, three sows and six shoats. I also desire that my wife should take care of a negro child Hannah until it arrives to the age of ten years.

Item. I give and devise to my children Randolph, Elizabeth and Romulus, three negroes Tony Mace and Hannah to be equally divided between them, and if any one of the other should die without issue, the negroes to be equally divided between the other two and if one of the two should die without issue the one thats living should be his.

Item. I give and bequeath to my daughter Sally, wife of Thomas Baker, 1 negro girl named Silvey to have and to hold to her and her lawful children forever.

Item. I give and devise to my son Rufus Webb and my daughter Cinthia Webb, children of Tempa Webb, one negro woman named Gatsy, to be equally divided between them.

Item. I give and devise to my six children, Vesta Ann, Walter, Barney, Lipsicomb, Tempa and Amanda, one tract of land known as the Felton Land, beginning at the Mill and running to the road so as to include all the tract of land above named and adjoining the land formerly belonging to Tempa Webb to have and to hold to them and their heirs forever. Also two negroes named Tobey and Minna to them and their heirs forever. It is my will and desire that the last named negroes, Tobey and Minna shall remain on the land that I give to my six children … and work to support the said children, until they arrive to the age of twentyone years, and I also give to the said children, one black horse male, one cow & yearling. The cow is red and white color. One pair of cart wheels, wooden axle, one plow, ten barrels corn, two blade stacks fodder, three hundred pound pork.

Item. My will and desire is that the Mill shall be kept up by my four sons … for the benefit of all my children. My will and desire is that if I have enough owe me after selling my property to pay my debts that my negroes hereafter named, to be hired out until they hire for enough to pay — Tony, Mace, Gatsy.

And lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my trusty friend James Barnes my lawful executor of all intent and purposes to execute this my last will and testament according to the true intent and meaning of the same and every part and clause-thereby revoking and declaring all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made. In witness whereof I, the said Hyrum Forbes, do hereunto set my hand and seal the 18th day of December, 1861.    /s/ Hyrum Forbes

WITNESS: Wm. Ellis, John Carter Jr.

——

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Hiram Forbes, 55; wife Milly, 45; and children Martha, 21, Rufus, 18, Randal, 17, Bettie, 8, and Romulus, 4. Forbes reported owing $8800 in personal property, which would have consisted largely of enslaved people. Next door was [the mother of the other set of his children] Temperance Webb, 55, and her children Susan, 20, and Sintha, 15.

In 1866, Tony Forbes and Cherry Barnes appeared before a Wilson County justice of the peace to register their seven-year cohabitation. James Forbes and Sarah Barnes registered their ten-year cohabitation.

On 2 August 1867, Toby Forbes, son of Abraham Webb and Masin [Mace] Forbes, married Patience Mercer, daughter of Cila Mercer, at Henry Winston’s in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Toby Forbes, 25, farm laborer.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Tony Forbes, 25; wife Cherry, 23; and children Willie, 6, George, 5, Harriet, 2, and Bud, 2 months, plus Alfred Bynum, 25. Sharing the same household: James Forbes, 38, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 25; and children Garrot, 12, Joseph, 4, Bynum, 3, and William, 1.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: James Forbes, 48; wife Sarah, 37; and children Garrett, 20, Joseph, 15, Bynum, 14, Murtheny, 10, Rose, 9, Movy, 8, Florence, 4, and Reddic, 6 months.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Toney Forbs, 39; wife Cherry, 30; and children Wiley, 17, George, 16, Harrett, 12, Buddie, 10, Elizebeth, 8, Elishea F., 4, and Mary L., 3 months.

In the 1900 census of Ellis township, Pulaski County, Arkansas: farmer Wiley Forbes, 37; wife Penny, 27; daughter Lula, 6; siblings Johnnie, 18, Mary B., 16, Martha J., 15, and Tinsey, 12; and father Toney Forbes, 70. All were born in North Carolina, except Lula, who was born in Arkansas.

In the 1910 census of Union township, Pulaski County, Arkansas: farm manager Jacob C. Gay, 28; wife Mary, 25; children William, 3, and Mattie S.A., 8 months; and father-in-law Tony Forbes, 80.

Images of estate documents available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

Another history of London Woodard and his church.

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Rocky Mount Telegram, 29 January 1960.

The take-away:

  • London’s Primitive Baptist is possibly the oldest African-American church in Wilson County.
  • London Woodard was born in 1808. In 1827, James Bullock Woodard purchased him for $500 from the estate of Julan Woodard.
  • In 1828, London Woodard was baptized at Toisnot Primitive Baptist.
  • In 1866, he sought permission to preach among his people.
  • In 1870, he was “dismissed” from Toisnot so that he could pastor the church he founded. He died lass than a month later.
  • London Church appears to have become disorganized after Woodard’s death, but in 1895, Toisnot P.B. dismissed several “colored brethren and sisters” who wanted to reestablish worship at London’s. The same year Union (now Upper Town Creek) P.B. released Haywood Pender, George Braswell, Dublin Barnes, and couple Charles and Rebeckah Barnes for the same purpose.
  • London Woodard married Pennie Lassiter, born free about 1810 and possessed of considerable property, including 29 acres purchased from James B. Woodard in 1859. [Penelope Lassiter was his second wife. His first, Venus, was enslaved.]
  • London and Pennie Woodard’s children were Priscilla (1846), Theresa (1848), Hardy (1850), Haywood (1852), William (1854), and Penina (1858). “Another child was probably named Elba, born in 1844; she was working for the John Batts family in 1860.” [London and Venus Woodard had nine children; Elba was not among either set.]
  • Many “old-time colored Christians” remained members of the churches they attended during slavery. Their children and grandchildren, however, gradually formed separate congregations.

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  • Haywood Pender — in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Haywood Pender, 50, farmer; wife Feraby, 45; children Mollie, 39, and Ann, 8; and grandchildren Gold, 5, Nancy, 3, and Willie, 16. Haywood Pender died 15 July 1942 in Elm City, Toisnot township. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 October 1852 in Wilson County to Abram Sharp and Sookie Pender; was a farmer; was a widower; and was buried in Piney Grove cemetery, Elm City.
  • Dublin Barnes — in the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Doublin Barnes, 25; wife Eliza, 21; daughter Sattena, 2; and Jane Thomas, 12, farmhand.
  • Charles and Rebecca Barnes — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmhand Charley Barnes, 50; wife Rebecca, 57; and children John, 26, William, 23, Annie, 17, Tom, 18, and Corah, 12.
  • George Braswell

Slave schedule.

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Prior to 1850, enslaved people were enumerated only as numbers in columns designated for sex and age. In 1850 and 1860, the federal government expanded the census to include “slave schedules.” Though enslaved people still were not recorded by name, they were enumerated individually by age, sex and color and grouped by slaveowner (or representative). Additional columns tallied “fugitives from the state,” “number manumitted,” “deaf, dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic,” and “no. of slave houses.”

These pages are the first and second in the 1860 slave schedule of Black Creek township, Wilson County. In them,

  • Sallie Simms reported that she owned ten slaves aged 7 months to 72 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • William Thompson reported that he owned 22 slaves aged 7 months to 44 and sheltered them in five houses.
  • Dr. A.G. Brooks reported that he owned 29 slaves aged 1 to 55 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Enos Barnes reported that he owned two teenaged boys and sheltered them in one house.
  • Celia Barnes reported that she owned 28 year-old and 53 year-old men.
  • James Barnes reported that he owned nine slaves aged 3 to 50 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Jesse Watson reported that he owned one ten year-old boy.
  • James Daniel reported that he owned four male slaves aged 9 to 60 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Joseph Farrell reported that he owned nine slaves aged 5 months to 38 and sheltered them in one house.
  • James Nusom reported that he owned 22 slaves aged 1 to 28 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Jesse Sauls reported that he owned seven slaves aged 3 to 26 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Nancy Bass reported that she owned eight slaves aged 5 months to 36 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Belinda Aycock reported that she owned six slaves aged 3 to 38 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Sallie Daniel reported that she owned 14 slaves aged 11 months to 53 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Elisha Bass reported reported that he owned six slaves aged 3 months to 30 and sheltered them in one house.
  • Jeremiah Bass reported that he owned a 17 year-old girl and two babies, aged 2 years and 4 months, who were probably her children.
  • Ephraim Bass reported that he owned a 36 year-old man.

The 135th.

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Wilson County Public Library will present a lecture on the little-known 135th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops on November 15, 2018. The 135th mustered in Goldsboro, North Carolina, in March 1865 near the end of the Civil War. Approximately 200 of the 1200 soldiers in this regiment were from North Carolina. Though none are known to have been born in Wilson County, some of the many Wayne County enlistees likely had family connections across the county line, including Jack Sherrod.

 

The last will and testament of Larry Dew.

On 31 October 1861 (the same day as his brother David Dew), Larry Dew of Wilson County penned a will whose provisions disposed of these 46 enslaved men, women and children:

  • to son John Dew as trustee for daughter Harriet Barbee, wife of Joseph Barbee (and to her outright after Joseph’s death), Milly, Sam and Cherry
  • to son John Dew, Laney and her children Juan, Minerva and Della, valued at $700
  • to son Arthur B. Dew, “boy Raiford,” valued at $600
  • to daughter Pennina Dew, wife of William Hooks, Milbry, Louisa, Jacob, and Venus and her children Letha, Jack and Amos
  • to son Jonathan T. Dew, Caroline, valued at $750
  • to son David Dew, Everitt, valued at $600; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to granddaughter Sally Harriet Hocutt, Henry, now with Daniel Hocutt in South Carolina
  • to daughter Mary Ann Peel, wife of Stephen J. Peel, Charlotte, Newry and Reuben
  • to son William L. Dew, “boy Woodard,” valued at $600; one gray horse Charley; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to son Moses Dew, Arch, valued at $1000; a sorrel horse Selim; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to son Willie Dew, Silvira, valued at $900; one mule Jack; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to son George W. Dew, Julia, valued at $900; a mule Gin; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to daughter Nancy Dew, Eveline, valued at $900; a feather bed and furniture; and $100
  • “the remainder of my negroes, to wit: Litha, Phereby, Amos, Stephen, Toby, Mourning, Isaac, Sylvester, Lucy, Gilbert, Aaron, Linnet, Gray, little Raiford, Winney, Pearcy, Van Buren, little Everitt, Virgil, and Eliza” to be divided equally among his sons and his daughter Nancy

Dew’s estate entered probate in Wilson County in April 1862. These documents from his estate file, submitted to the court in November 1862, chronicle the calculations behind distribution of his human property. Two and a half years later, the work of Dew’s executor was undone by freedom.

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Estate of Larry Dew (1862), Wilson County, North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Ready to take the field.

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Many of the men who enlisted in the Union Army after escaping bondage in Wilson County joined the 14th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops, Heavy Artillery, at Fort Macon, south of Morehead City, North Carolina. Prior to its federal designation, this militia unit was organized as the 1st North Carolina Colored Heavy Artillery.

Men who marched under the flag above included Hendy Barnes and Jeremiah Barden of Company C; Lawyer Maree (alias Lawyer Barnes) of Company F; Sampson Bailey and Thomas Dean of Company H; and Amos Hinnant of Company K.

Many thanks to Jerilyn James Lee for sharing this image.

Nominees.

More information about the African-American Wilson County men nominated as delegates to the North Carolina constitutional convention just after the Civil War. None were selected.

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  • Henry Jones, farmer, black, age 30, born in N.C., 30 years in district, “cannot read or write quite intelligent but colored people seem to lack confidence in him.”
  • Lawrence Moye, preacher, black, age 25, born in N.C., 25 years in district, “represented as an intelligent freedman can read but not write, will do.”
  • Gordon Grimes, farmer, black, age 35, born in N.C., 35 years in district, “represented as intelligent cannot read or write — character good — will do.”
  • Mac. Jones, farmer, black, age 24, born in N.C., 24 years in district, “represented as being vicious and otherwise inferior — Won’t do.” [Harry and Mac Jones were brothers.]
  • Edw. Barnes, farmer, black, age not listed, born in N.C., “represented as quite intelligent cannot read or write considered qualified.”
  • Jeremiah Bullet, farmer, black, age not listed, born in N.C., “cannot be found.”
  • Israel Barden, laborer, colored, 29, born in N.C., 6 years in district, “”is quite intelligent can read & write a little appears to be the most capable colored man in that section the colored people prefer him to any one of their number.”

Registers and reports of registrars recommended for the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1868, North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records, 1862-1870, http://www.familysearch.org.

He swears he has been to work.

Freedman Reddick Barnes signed a labor contract with white farmer Elisha Barnes commencing in January 1866. After several months, when Elisha failed to pay Reddick wages, Reddick complained to the Goldsboro field office of the Freedman’s Bureau. Though Ben Barnes, another freedman, testified against him, Reddick seems to have won his case.

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Case of Reddick Barnes Freedman vs. Elisha Barnes white, Breach of Contract

Reddick Barnes freedman sweares that he has been to Work for Mr Barnes white for some time he general went to work at sun rise in the morning. Ben Barnes freeman testified that he has been to work with Reddick Barnes. And has often found him asleep and was not out in the morning to feed his stock went he went out. And left his quarters most every night and went to Town with out permission Mr Elisha Barnes always treated him well Mr Rett Barnes Testified that Reddick did not work as he should have done got up late in the morning and often caught him asleep on his plough in the field and caught him shelling corn.

Contract fairly broken by Reddick Barnes Freedman, Wilson July 12th 1866

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Reddick Barnes’ receipts.

Roll 17, Miscellaneous Records, Goldsboro Subassistant Commissioner’s Records, North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, National Archives and Records Administration images, www.familysearch.org

He never set up a claim to them until recently.

We read earlier of Violet Blount‘s successful attempt to gain custody of her grandsons, Oscar and Marcus Blount, who were first cousins to Samuel H. Vick. Though that battle played out in the Goldsboro field office of the Freedmen’s Bureau, George W. Blount’s statement was filed in the Rocky Mount office. In it, he gave details about the relationship between the boys’ mother, Margaret Blount, and Samberry Battle.

——

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Statement of G.W. Blount.

Margarett was the name of the mother of the children. Oscar & Marcus, two colored children bound to B.H. Blount their former master by Wilson County Court. The mother of these children is dead and has been for several years. Samberry Battle did have the mother of the children for a wife & by her begot one child who is now of age & whose name is William. After the birth of William the mother became intimate with another man, by name Hillman, by whom she had two children, James & [illegible]. After the birth of the first of these two Samberry left the mother on account of her infidelity and took another woman and never after had anything to do with the mother of these. Marcus has a different father from Oscar, and there is yet another child by a different father. It is notorious among negros & whites that Samberry is not the father of any of the children except William and never set up a claim to them, until recently. He has never mentioned the mother to B.H. Blount in whose custody the children have always been. The grandmother of the children is living under the protection of B.H. Blount who will not see her suffer and said Grandmother protests against the claim of Samberry Battle. The fathers of the two children referred to above if living are not in this country & if so could not claim them as they were both begotten illegitimately. Therefore the binding by the Court without Notice to them is valid. The binding was regular & in accordance to law.

Roll 56, Miscellaneous Records, Rocky Mount Assistant Superintendent’s Records, North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, National Archives and Records Administration images, www.familysearch.org