1860s

Simpson took his stock.

In 1867, blacksmith Harry Simpson asked two white neighbors to write a letter on his behalf to the Goldsboro field office of the Freedmen’s Bureau. The letter is fascinating in many ways: (1) the glimpse at the independence afforded a skilled enslaved man; (2) his willingness to confront his former master’s father over a matter of equity; (3) the willingness of his neighbors vouch for his integrity and to assist him against a well-known white man.

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Wilson County N.C.

To the Freedmen’s Bureau in Goldsboro N.C.

Harry Simpson (colerd) the bearer formerly a slave of J.T. Simpson’s, was a black-smith & worked through the county from shop to shop. Said Harry lived off to himself & for some reason his owner put a portion of his stock in the care of Harry who provided for them & used them as his own & in the early part of the late war said J.T. Simpson died, having no family his property then was his fathers who let it remain with said Harry untill about the first of February 1867. Then Benjamin Simpson the father of the said J.T. Simpson took possession of it, and his pourk. We have known Harry for several years & have no just reason to doubt his character. We state the above to you by his request which are facts.

April 18th 1867  S.D. Boykin, S.J. Winborn

——

For Capt. Hannibal D. Norton’s response to Simpson, which seems to miss the mark somewhat, see here.

  • Harry Simpson — Simpson does not appear in post-Civil War records of Wilson or Nash Counties.
  • J.T. Simpson — John T. Simpson (1831-1863), enlisted in Company A, 55th N.C. Infantry in 1862, died in a camp on the Blackwater River, Virginia, on 27 May 1863.
  • Benjamin Simpson — Benjamin Simpson (1804-1875), resident of Oldfields township, farmer and blacksmith.
  • S.D. Boykin — Stephen Davis Boykin (1833-1910), resident of Oldfields township, farmer, justice of the peace.
  • S.J. Winborn — Samuel Jackson Winborn (1840-1901), resident of Oldfields township, farmer and wagoner.

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

Tony Robbins’ side: “Please send me a paper so as I can get them.”

In August 1867, John J. Pender complained to the Freedmen’s Bureau that Toney Robbins was harassing him about Pender’s apprenticeship of three children who Robbins claimed were his grandchildren. Pender asserted that Robbins had no children, much less grandchildren. The Bureau apparently sided with Pender, as the children were with him in 1870 when the census taker passed through.

Here is one of Robbins’ letters pleading for the Bureau to intercede on his behalf.

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Joyners Depot Wilison Co NC   August 5th 1867

Freedmen Bureau

I ha [written] 2 or 3 letter to Maj Crompto a Bout 3 of my grand Children nor [illegible] Eny Anser then wrote to General Every at Raleigh he said go to the Freedmen Bureau at Rockey Mount in Edgecone County the children is in Wilison County he told me to write to you it was out of his Power as it was in Wilison County

Thy or not Bound By law, So Plese Send me a Paper So as I can get them thy ar living With John J. Pender of Wilison Co

I wait an Anser [illegible] with Respets Tony Robins

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (assistant subassistant commissioner), Roll 17, Letters received, Jul-Sep 1867, http://www.familysearch.org 

There was about 1200 colored people.

The Freedmen’s Bureau also lent aid to impoverished white people. M.A. Gay’s letter to Major Compton began with a breezy description of the African-American Fourth of July celebration in Joyners Depot [Elm City] and ended in a plea for food assistance.

Joyners Depot Wilson Co NC

Mag Comton  Kinde Sir

I again seat my self to drop you a few lines which I hope will soon reach your hand. we had a nice time on the fourth I note there was a bout 12 hundred Col people assembled at this place and formed a prosession and marched up and down the streets with music in front they had a butifull dinner. I was much pleased with what you sent to me. I again am oblige to beg you I am nearly out of meat but I have some corn I have been sick nearly all the time and have not been able to help my self to any thing you will pleas send it to Mr Joseph Conte as before I would be glad if you could arrang it so as to send me my rashons every month Mr Conte will make it all right how and his wife are particular friends of mine yours with respets, you will pleas write to me     M.A. Gay

——

  • M.A. Gay — probably, in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Mary Gay, 34, seamstress, and son Edwin, 3.
  • Joseph Conte — in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Joseph Conte, 52, “g & gd march retl” [grocery and dry goods merchant retail]; wife Mary, 28; and Joseph Totten, 29, clerk in store. The Contes were born in Italy; Totten, in Maine.

A sharecropping contract.

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This is a copy of the contract between Virgil Bridges W.L. Quarles      State of North Carolina Wilson County

Articles of agreement concluded between Virgil Bridges of the one part and W L Quarles of the other part both of the state and county above written. The said Virgil Bridges for the consideration hereinafter mentioned doth hereby covenent and agree to wit

That he the said Virgil have bound him self and three of his children viz. Siah Rachel and Bunny to serve the said W L Quarles the present year (1867) commencing the 1st day of Jany and ending the 31st day of December (inclusive) the said Virgil are to board him self and children to furnish seed to plant of any and every description such as are usually planted in this section of country. The said are to do all manner of work usually done on farms such as fencing putting the fences in good repair raising manures ditching cleaning out ditches clearing of lands &c &c. In consideration of the said Virgil faithfully discharging us duty (and having his children to do same as set forth in this agreement the said Quarles do agree to give unto the said Virgil two thirds of the crop that he may make and save. The said Quarles also agrees to furnish the said Virgil with two plow nags for which the said Virgil do agree to give him for the use of same (that is the two horses, twelve (12) barrels of corn and 2500 lbs of fodder for each horse or mule he the said Virgil shall pay trict attention to the wellfare of the animals that may be placed under his charge the animals are to be used on

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the farm only without first obtaining permission from the said Quarles to do otherwise. The said Quarles also agrees to furnish such agricultural implements as may be necessary to carry on the farm for which the said Virgil Bridges are to pay the said Quarles the sum of Ten (10) dollars he the said Virgil further binds him self and the above named children to be governed by the orders and instructions that may be given by the said Quarles the said Virgil also hires unto the said Quarles two other of his children viz Easter & Turner for Easter the said Quarles is to pay at the rate of four (4) dollars per month until the 1st day of Jany next half of which going to the hireling and half to the said Virgil and for Turner five (5) bunches of cotton yarn board and clothes until Jan next.

Now should it appear that from any neglect that either party fails to do his duty as setforth in this agreement he or they shall forfeit the sum of Ten dollars in every instance for such neglect. Given under our hands and seals this the 15th day of May 1867

Witness Z. Johnson           Virgil (X) Bridges   W.L. Quarles

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Wilson NC Septr 5th 1867

Lieut Allison Sir

[Illegible] I herewith transmit you a copy of contract between myself and Virgil Bridges [illegible]. I hope the instructions you gave to impart to him will have a very desirable effect he has gone to work though the crop is badly damaged from his neglect I am yet willing to over look it in a great measure provided he will stick up to his contract for the balance of the year accept my thanks for what you have done in the matter and oblige Yrs very respectfully W.L. Quarles

——

In the 1870 census of Lower Town Creek, Edgecombe County: farmer Virgil Bridgers, 66; wife Frances, 51; and children Josiah, 22, Turner, 15, Easter, 21, Bunny, 13, Harriet, 11, and Manda, 6.

On 18 July 1872, Simon Pope, 21, of Edgecombe County, married Ester Bridgers, 22, of Edgecombe County, in Wilson County.

On 12 March 1876, Turner Bridgers, 23, of Edgecombe County, married Nelly Horn, 23, of Edgecombe, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek, Edgecombe County: laborer Virgil Bridgers, 74 laborer; wife Francis, 74; daughters Hannah, 23 and Amanda, 17; and grandchildren Laura, 4, Esther, 3, and Richmond, 12.

On 7 January 1886, Hilliard Barron, 43, married Rachel Bridgers, 35, at Wilson County Courthouse.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Hilliard Barron, 56; wife Rachel 49; and son Hilliard, 19.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Turner Bridgers, 52; wife Nellie, 50; sons General, 17, and Isaac, 14; mother-in-law Lany Horne, 97; and boarder Nelson Williams, 40.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Hilliard Barron, 67, and wife Racheal, 60.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: odd jobs farm laborer Turner B. Bridgers, 55; wife Nellie, 60; and son Isaac, 17.

Rachel Barron died 31 March 1917 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was married; was about 60 years old; was born in Wilson County to Virgin Bridger and an unknown mother; and worked as a tenant farmer.

In the 1920 Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, Turner Bridgers, 72, farmer; Nellie, 74; grandchildren Willie, 16, Georgeanna, 12, and Nathan, 7; and adopted daughter Hattie Stokes, 13.

Turner Bridges died 16 October 1921 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1850 in Saratoga; was a farmer; and was married to Nellie Bridgers.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (assistant subassistant commissioner) > Roll 17, Letters received, Jul-Sep 1867, http://www.familysearch.org 

The three orphan children are in my possession.

In August 1867, white farmer John J. Pender posted a letter to the Goldsboro field office of the Freedmen’s Bureau, disputing Toney Robbins’ claim to three orphaned children, Della, Sylvia and Jacob Pender, whom Pender likely had claimed as property just a few years before:

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Joyners Depot NC August 10th 1867

Lieut J F Allison

Sir

Your note was received last evening ordering me to furnish you with all the facts concerning three grand children belonging to Tony Robbins cold [colored]. I must say the report is entirely false. Tony Robbins has no grand children and he had none of his own nor he never has had any children. I can if necessary furnish you with all the evidence you may desire. I have three orphan children in my possession named Dellar, Sylva & Jacob apprenticed and bound to me on the 2nd January 1866 by Capt Glavis post Commander at Goldsboro, and also my Lawyer instructed me to have said children bound to me by Wilson Court and I did so. So have had them bound to me at Goldsboro by Capt Glavis and by Wilson County. Said Tony Robbins has given me considerable trouble abot said children and I am getting tired. Said Tony Robins has made application to every Commander in reach concerning Said Children and further more the Children is not related to Said (Robins) in no shape nor manner. He has run me to a great deal of expense. Said Tony Rbbins and Mr (Totten) at Joyners Dept have been troubling me badly during this year Concerning said Children

I am glad to Say the Children are in fine health and get a plenty to eat and are sheltered under my own roof and well clothed &c &c.

Very Respectfully yours truly

J.J. Pender

To Lieut. J.F. Allison

Post Commander

Goldsboro NC

——

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Joseph Pender, 63, and wife Lucretia, 49; daughter Lucretia, 5; and farmer’s apprentices Jacob, 8, and Selvia Pender, 5, both black.

In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Toney Robbins, 51, farm laborer, and wife Jinny, 48. [Sidenote: Joseph J. Pender’s mother was Elizabeth Robbins Pender. Was Toney Robbins linked to her family?]

On 18 April 1878, Haywood Braswell, 23, married Sylva Pender, 19, in Township No. 14, Edgecombe County, in the presence of Toney Robbins, Charles Daws and Tom Petway.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Haward Braswell, 25; wife Silvy, 22; and daughter Lucy, 3.

Sylvia Pender Braswell died 12 April 1952 at her home at 510 South Spring Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 January 1842 [sic] in North Carolina to unknown parents and was a widow. Connie Bynum was informant.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (assistant subassistant commissioner) > Roll 17, Letters received, Jul-Sep 1867, http://www.familysearch.org 

 

State v. William Stephens and Fereby Barnes.

At Fall Term 1868 of Wilson County Superior Court, Frank Barnes, white, and Henry Barnes, colored, were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury to testify in State vs. William Stephens and Fereby Barnes, who had been charged with fornication and adultery.

  • Henry Barnes
  • William Stephens
  • Fereby Barnes — perhaps Farbee Barnes who married Hardy Ellis on 11 August 1870 in Wilson County.

Adultery Records-1868, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

State v. Calvin Barnes.

In December 1866, Eliza Barnes was hauled before two justices of the peace to answer some sharp questions. In response, she admitted that she had delivered a baby boy in about July; that she was not married to his father, who was Calvin Barnes; and that she was poor.

The justices issued a warrant for Calvin Barnes:

Calvin Barnes appeared with John Q. Thigpen, a white farmer, to post a two hundred dollar bond for Barnes’ appearance at January term.

——

Possibly, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: George, 24, Dempsey, 23, Calvin, 22, Esther, 44, Alice, 18, Anna, 19, Robert, 20, and Jane Barnes, 19, all farm laborers.

Also possibly, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Frank Barnes, 55; wife Nicy, 51, and children Edwin, 12, Catharine, 7, and Watson Barnes, 12; with Weltha, 13, and Richard Artis, 21, and Eliza Barnes, 26, and her son Benjamin, 5. [Benjamin possibly the child sworn to in the proceeding above.]

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

Indicted for the murder of slave Thomas.

In May 1860, on the testimony of H.F. Barnes and Warren Ellis, a grand jury indicted Hartwell Williford and James G. Williford for the murder of an enslaved man, Thomas, who belonged to Hartwell Williford. I have found no additional information about this crime.

Hartwell Williford and James Williford lived in the area of modern-day Elm City and were the father-in-law and husband of Nancy Mears Williford, written of here.

On 22 February 1957, the Rocky Mount Telegram ran a genealogy column by “An Old Reporter” [Hugh B. Johnston] that featured Hartwell Williford. Largely a compendium of Williford’s real estate transactions and estate purchases, it somehow missed his indictment for murder. However, there was this:

“Family tradition states that Hartwell Williford possessed a ready temper and a powerful physique in his youth. On one occasion he engaged in a rough-and-tumble fight with another man in the neighborhood, seized him by the ears, and slung him around with such force that these appendages were torn from the head of the unfortunate owner. On another occasion he became so infuriated with a slave fellow that kept stealing from the neighbors or running away and causing his master trouble and expense in bringing him back home, that he undertook this immediate, unique, and terrifying punishment. He knocked both heads from a barrel, drove short nails in the sides from every direction, tied the slave securely in it with his head out one end and his feet out the other, and rolled him a short distance down the road in front of the house. The nail pricks received through his clothes were probably inconsequential to the slave as compared with the moral effects, but at any rate he was for the rest of life a reliable and industrious person.”

Murder of Slave-1860, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

State v. Daniel Sharp and Nancy Williford.

At April Term 1868 of Wilson County’s Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a grand jury charged Daniel Sharp and Nancy Williford, both of Wilson County, “being lewd and vicious persons not united together in the bonds of marriage” before and after 1 April 1868 “unlawfully lewdly and lasciviously associate bed and cohabit together … to the evil example of all others.”  Willie G. Dixon, Patience Barnes, Abel Taylor, Henry Taylor, Drew Barnes, John B. Batts and Henry Dixon were subpoenaed as witnesses, and the jury foreman returned a true bill to the clerk of court.

Daniel Sharp was African American; Nancy Williford, white. The charge against them was fornication and adultery. As best I can determine, of the six witnesses called to testify before the grand jury, Abel Taylor, Patience Barnes, and, probably, Drew Barnes were black. No records of their testimony are included in the file in which the document above was found. Records show that Sharp and Williford had at least two children together, John B., born in 1867, and Mary E., born in 1868.

——

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer James G. Williford, 46; [second] wife Nancy, 26; and children Mary A., 18, John T., 16, Nancy T., 14, Caroline, 11, Arabella, 5, Elijah A., 4, and James C., 1. [James Williford’s step-mother was Elizabeth Taylor Sharpe Williford. Did Elizabeth bring Daniel into the Williford household?]

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Nancy Williford, 34, and children John B., 3, and Mary E., 2. All were described as white. [I initially assumed that this Nancy was James G. Williford’s daughter. However, her age as listed in the 1870 and 1880 censuses is more consistent with that of Williford’s wife Nancy Mears Williford. Williford died in 1861. His and Nancy’s son Elijah Elbert is listed in the 1870 census as Bertie Williford, 14 year-old apprentice to Hickman Barnes, and daughter “Arvilla” is listed in the household of her half-brother William Williford. Did Nancy lose custody of her children as a result of her relationship with Daniel Sharp?]

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Benjamin Tillery, 27; wife Cherry; and daughter Jane, 3; Lucy Taylor, 23, and son Columbus, 8 months; and Daniel Sharp, 26, farm laborer.

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jason Barnes, 26; wife Patience Barnes, 24; Lucy Barnes, 20, farm laborer; Exie Barnes, 1 month; and William Battle, 20, farm laborer.

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Virginia-born farm laborer Abel Farmer, 57; wife Viney, 45, farm laborer; and children William, 9, Elvey, 5, David, 7, and Georgiana, 17, farm laborer.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Nancy Williford, 42, and children John, 13, farm laborer, and Mary E., 12. Here, Nancy’s children were described as mulatto.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Daniel Sharp, 40, farmer.

Mary Williford, 18, daughter of Nancy Williford, and Lorenzo Barnes, 22, son of William and Sarah Barnes, obtained (but did not return) a marriage license in Wilson County on 15 April 1891.

On 20 February 1895, John Williford, 28, married Mary Ella Barnes, 21, in Toisnot township. G.A. Gaston, J.C. Ellis and Buck Dew witnessed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: widower John Williford, 34, farmer; daughter Mary B., 4; and boarder Sammie Barnes. 19.

On 29 October 1893, Daniel Sharp, 52, of Toisnot, married Cynda Parker, 19, of Toisnot, in the presence of John Williford, Mose Parker and Jason Barnes.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Daniel Sharp, 58, farmer; wife Lucinda, 25; and children Joseph, 6, George W., 4, and James H., 2.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Renza Barnes, 26; wife Mary, 32; and Nanny, 11, and Minnie, 8; and niece Bertha Williford, 4.

On 19 December 1900, John Williford, 34, son of Dan Sharp, married Lena Locust, 19, daughter of Elbert and Rose Locust, in Elm City in the presence of J.C. Ellis, Lucian Norfleet, Willie Locus, and George Braswell.

On 22 January 1908, John Gaston, 25, son of George and P[riscilla]. Gaston, married Nannie Barnes, 19, daughter of Rezo and Mary Barnes, at First Presbyterian Church in Elm City. Rev. C.E. Tucker performed the ceremony in the presence of James G. Mitchell, G.C. Cowell, and Oliver N. Freeman.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: John Williford, 43; wife Lena, 28; and children Bertha, 14, Beatrice, 7, John L., 6, Edward, 4, Arnold, 2, and Odell, 2 months.

James Hardy Williford died 11 November 1914 in Toisnot township. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 October 1914 to John Williford and Lena Lucas.

Willis Albert Williford died 1 November 1915 in Elm City. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 September 1915 in Elm City to John Williford and Lena Lucas.

On 17 June 1917, Bertha Williford, 22, of Toisnot, daughter of John and Lena Williford, married Paul Kelly, 21, of Toisnot, son of John and Charlotte Kelly. Missionary Baptist minister E.S. Lucas performed the ceremony at his home.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: well digger John Williford, 53; wife Lena, 38; and children John, 15, Edwin, 13, Arnel, 12, Frank, 8, and Inez, 17 months.

Mary Williford died 30 June 1920 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 18 March 1920 in Elm City to John Williford and Lena Lucas.

In the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township: John Gaston, 48, brickmason; wife Nannie, 41; daughters Pricilla, 21, and Minnie, 18; plus mother-in-law Mary Barnes, 62.

Mary [Williford] Barnes died 6 April 1949 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 May 1868 in Wilson County to unknown parents and was a widow. Nannie Gaston was informant.

Adultery Records-1868, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

The last will and testament of Jacob Taylor.

On 9 July 1860, Jacob Taylor of Wilson County penned a will that included these provisions:

  • To son William T. Taylor, two parcels totaling 224 acres on the public road from Hadley’s Mill to the Town of Wilson, near the “poor house land” and Great Branch, plus “two negro boys Raiford and Pomp
  • To daughter Louiza Martin, wife of John H. Martin, 200 acres and “two negro boys Alfred and Deberry
  • To Taylor and Martin, to divide or sell and divide the proceeds, “two negroes Charlotte and Frank

The approximate location of Jacob Taylor’s farm between Hadley’s Mill and the County Poor House land.

——

Perhaps, Deberry was, in the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Berry Taylor, 28; wife Caroline, 26; and children Hardy, 8, Robart, 5, Loucenda, 3, and John, 5 months; plus farm laborer Berry Strickland, 18.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Pompy Taylor, 30, was listed as a farm laborer in the household of Benj’m Farmer, 48.

Likely, in the 1880 census of Stony Creek township, Wayne County: railroad worker Pompey Taylor, 40; wife Lindy, 34; and children Jack, 16, Zackary, 8, Lotty, 6, Penny, 3, and Annie, 6 months. Pompey reported that his father was born in Africa.

In the 1900 census of Stony Creek township, Wayne County: farmer Pompey Taylor, 59; wife Linda, 50; and children Annie, 19, and Jacob, 13.

in the 1910 census of Stony Creek township, Wayne County: farmer Pomp Taylor, 69, and wife Lindy, 60.

 

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