1860s

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.

Were they illegally bound?

Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 5.10.16 PM.png

Bureau R.F.&A.L. Goldsboro May 18 /67

Edwards Marcellus J., Wilson N.C.

Sir

Complaint has been made at this office that the boy Freeman and the girls Amanda & Bethany now living with you were illegally bound to you You will please forward a statement of the case to this office on or before the 23rd inst and show cause if any exist why the indentures should not be cancelled.

I am Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servt

A. Compton, Major 40th U.S.I., Sub Asst Com

——

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Marcellus Edwards, 42; his children Emma, 16, Sallie, 14, Mary, 13, William, 10, Julia, 9, Marcellus, 6, Joseph, 2, and James, 1; Virginia Edwards, 25; plus Freeman, 18, Amand, 16, and Bethena Edwards, 12, all farmer’s apprentices.

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.

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.

Were the Fisher children regularly bound?

Screen Shot 2019-09-20 at 10.13.17 PM.png

Mr. Burnell, No. 11, Wilson, N.C.             Goldsboro N.C. March 8 1866

Sir,

You are requested to inform this office if you have in your employ two (col) boys, named Beverly & Henry Fisher, aged 12 & 14 years, formerly of Dinwiddie Va. Please state if these children are regularly bound to you, or if there exist any reason, why they should not be returned to the custody of their parents, who have made application to this Office for this return.     Very respectfully, Hannibal D. Norton

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.

The estate of Daniel Williamson.

Daniel Williamson did not live long in freedom, but he made the most of the time he had.

In 1866, Daniel Williamson and Amy Deans registered their 20-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace. Within months, Daniel Williamson was dead. He died without a will, and his brother Alexander “Ellic” Williamson was appointed administrator of his estate.

Alex Williamson conducted a sale of Daniel’s property on 24 December 1867. Items could be purchased on six months’ credit. The buyers were drawn from neighbors and kin in Daniel Williamson’s Springhill township community. Many, like him, were newly freed. It’s not clear whether Daniel owned land at his death, but he certainly had a houseful of furniture and utensils and enough animals to indicate a dedicated farm life.

record-image_undefined-15.jpg

  • London Rentfrow
  • Albert Adams — Albert Adams and Spicey Williams[on] registered their eight-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Albert Adams, 50; wife Spicy, 37; and children Arch, 14, Arnold, 13, Frank, 7, Caroline, 5, and James, 2.
  • Thomas Shaw — Thomas Shaw and Catherine Williams[on] registered their 16-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County:
  • Ellic Williamson — Alex Williamson, son of Samuel Bass and Silvy Williams[on], married Gracy Shaw, daughter of Thomas Narron and Katty Williamson, on 9 December 1869 at Thomas Shaw‘s. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Ellis Williamson, 33; wife Gracy, ; and children Ellic, 4, and Eugenia, 1.
  • James H. Hinnant — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: white farmer James Hinnant, 44, and family.
  • David Row
  • Mingo Hinnant — Mingo Hinnant and Angeline Kent registered their four-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Hinnant, 80, and wife Angeline, 70.
  • Isaac Barnes
  • Larry Lamm — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: white farmer Larry Lamm, 46, and family.
  • Edmond Williamson — Edmond Williamson and Hannah Winbourn registered their 13-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.
  • Nathan Barnes — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Cherry Hinnant, 49; Henry Hinnant, 12; Nathan Barnes, 29; wife Harriet, 23, and Bitha, 14, Welsly, 12, Cenia, 10, Sallie, 8, Charles, 6, and Nathan, 3, months.
  • Amos Hinnant — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Amos Hinnant, 30; wife Linday, 25; and sons Haywood, 9, and Burruss, 3. [For Malinda Hinnant’s courageous fight to secure a widow’s pension for her husband’s Union Army service, see here.]
  • Handy Atkinson — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Handy Atkinson, 50; and children Nathan, 21, Spencer, 17, Simon, 15, Charity, 13, Sarah, 10, and John, 8.
  • Right Atkinson — Wright Atkinson and Bina Boykin registered their six-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Wright Atkinson, 40, farm laborer; wife Binah, 27; and children Celestia, 3, and Flora, 1; plus Patrick Williamson, 10.
  • John Adams
  • Moses Bynum
  • Elbert Kent — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Elbert Kent, 25; wife Rebecca, 23; and daughter Mary, 1.
  • George Creach — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer George Creech, 40; wife Margaret, 35; and children Lucy, 7, John, 5, and Sarah, 1.
  • Jacob Hinnant
  • Willie Watson
  • John Barnes

record-image_undefined-16.jpg

  • Willis Revell
  • Joseph Hinnant — Joseph Hinnant and Roda Godwin registered their six-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Joseph Hineard [Hinnant], 30; wife Rodah, 27; and children Vandier [Van Dorne], 8, Zadoc, 6, Roxy, 4, and James, 1.
  • Simon Williamson — there were several Simon Williamsons in the area, but this was likely Daniel’s son Simon, who died two years after his father.
  • Sylva Deans — Sylvia Deans may have been a half-sister of Daniel Williamson’s son Gray Deans.

record-image_undefined-17.jpg

  • Richard Durrom
  • Wm. Godwin
  • Henry Cockrel — in the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County, white farmer Henry Cockrell, 29, and family.
  • Thomas Durrom
  • Ransom Godwin — in the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County, white farmer Ransom Godwin, 34, and family.
  • Jordan Godwin
  • Robert Raper — in the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County, white farmer Robt. D. Raper, 41, and family.
  • Isaac Pearce
  • Stephen A. Watson
  • Gilford Hales
  • Loney Hinnant

record-image_undefined-18.jpg

As was common, Alex Williamson spent considerable energy trying to collect on the notes issued by buyers at Daniel Williamson’s estate sale.

record-image_undefined-19.jpg

In the meantime, Simon Williamson, believed to be Daniel’s son, died in early 1869. Alex Williamson, on behalf of Daniel’s estate, paid out $9.00 to Albert Adams for the “nursing and Barrien” [burying] of Simon. [Is the Simon Deens, 19, listed in the 1870 mortality schedule as having died in February 1870 the same boy? Despite the discrepancy in the year, it would seem so, as the schedule lists Simon as a member of the household of Albert Adams.]

Daniel Williamson’s wife Amy apparently died even before he did, and he left two young sons, Gray Deans and Turner Williamson. Probate dragged on for decades, and in 1886, they sued the estate to receive assets they believed due them. The document below reports on the collectibility of several debts and the whereabouts of an ox and reveals family relationships.

White farmer Simon Barnes was called on behalf of the plaintiffs to swear that Jacob Hinnant’s note was worthless when taken at the sale; that Edmond Williamson’s note was good because he owned land that could be used as collateral; that Nathan Barnes and Thomas Shaw’s notes were good because Edmond Williamson had signed them as surety; that Handy Atkinson and Wright Atkinson’s notes were worthless; and that Moses Bynum’s note was good because Willis Taylor was surety.

Handy Atkinson testified that the ox sold [to London Renfrow] at the sale and left with Alex Williamson was at Atkinson’s house for a time, but it ran “at large” and died in March after getting stuck in mire.

Alex Williamson testified that he sold an ox for $35.40 on 24 December 1867, but the purchaser could not give a good note and left the ox with him the day of the sale. He did not recall if he offered the ox at public sale again, but he tried unsuccessfully to sell it privately. It died.

record-image_undefined-21.jpg

Edmond Williamson testified that the reason he did not pay the note against him was that he considered it paid by taking care of Daniel’s son Turner Williamson, who was a small boy and did not “earn his [own] support” for a few years.

Gray Deans testified that the ox was a good one that his father paid $40 for; that he and Turner had been carried to Edmond’s house after their father’s death; and that Turner was about 11 years old at the time and could work for his support.

Alex Williamson testified that Handy Atkinson had kept Daniel’s sons before Daniel died and was paid $20.50 for it.

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

 

The mother does not wish him to have them.

A man named Abram sought the Freedman’s Bureau’s help in removing his children from John Bailey Batts’ indenture, and Batts wanted to set the record straight. With hubris typical of the times, Batts claimed to have raised the children (by virtue of having held them in slavery from their birth). Abram had once been married to an unnamed woman, but he had left her for Penny. Several children later, Abram left Penny, but was now claiming custody of their children. According to Batts, neither he nor Penny wanted the father to have them.

record-image_undefined-16.jpg

Joyners N.C. Jany 12th 1866

Agent of Freedmen Goldsborough N.C.

Sir, I write to inform you of the condition of colored children born with and so far raised by me the man Abram that claims them had wife and she is still living but he left her and took up with Penny at my home she has several children by him but he has left her (Penny) but now claims her children the mother does not wish him to have them and those you bound to me I wish to retain. Penny can give her statement and I wish to hear from you please write to me and send by the woman Penny or by mail to Joyners Depot N.C. Your favorable consideration will much oblige

Yours verry truly, John B. Batts

——

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer John B. Batts, 32; wife Margaret, 23; children Mary A.F., 4, and Nancy H., 1; Eveline Morris, 21; and farm laborer Elba Lassiter, 16. [Lassiter was a free person of color who probably had been apprenticed to Batts.] Batts reported $1600 in real property and $7740 in personal property [which would mostly have been in the form of enslaved people.]

Batts is not listed in the 1870 census, though he likely remained in Wilson or Nash Counties. I have not been able to identify Abram or Penny.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

The estate of Jesse S. Barnes.

The children and grandchildren of Jesse and Edith Jordan Barnes were among Wilson County’s wealthiest planters. Elias Barnes’ estate records are especially rich sources of information about enslaved people, but it is not unique.

Barnes’ son Jesse Sharpe Barnes was, perhaps, family’s golden child. Born in 1838, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and established a prosperous law practice in Wilson. Jesse S. Barnes enlisted in a South Carolina militia company in 1860 and in the spring of 1861 recruited his friends and neighbors into the Wilson Light Infantry. In a few months, he mustered into Company F, 4th North Carolina State Troops as a captain. In April 1862, while enlisted, Barnes drafted his will, leaving all his property to his mother Mahala Sharpe Barnes. A little over a month later, he was killed at the Battle of Seven Pines, Virginia.

This portrait of Jesse S. Barnes is in the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In “an inventory of the property of Jesse S. Barnes deceased which came into my hands as Executor this __ day of ___ A.D. 1863,” William Barnes Jr. itemized the eight enslaved people Jesse Barnes had possessed: “negro man Cooper Caroline negro woman Clarky negro woman, Wash negro boy Celia negro child John 1 year old Charles 8 months old Celia.” He also noted receipt of fifty-six dollars from John Oats for “the hire of a negro.”

tryeryrte

At the time of his death, Jesse Barnes still owned three of the enslaved people he had inherited from his father — Cooper, Clarky and Celia. Hardy was gone, and he had added an adult woman named Caroline and two small children, Charles and Celia. All returned to the community at Mahala Barnes’ plantation on what is now Stancil Town Road, a couple of miles east of Stantonsburg.

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

We are now friendly with each other.

record-image_undefined-10.jpg

Joyners Depot NC Dec 26th 1865

Geo. O. Elavis [Glavis], Agt. Freeman Bureau, Goldsboro N.C.

Sir Louis Bearer of a repot ordering me to appear before you in Goldsboro on the 27th of the present inst. for trial has repoted to me. And find me in Verry feble health also short of funs inlily too unwell to come down by the time that you have ordered me to do.

I am one of the Home polease of Wilson Co and have been ever since the surrender of the Army. And had Louis under arest when he left me and carried off my doble Barrel Gunn. Louis now has come & diliverd to me the Gunn and has been given all of his clothing. And myself & Louis are now friendly with each other and Louis tels me that he is coming back soon to work on my land &c.

Louis will sattisfy you inreguards to the former order

Please write me at Joyners Depot & let me know if I can be let off from coming down to see you

I am Verry Respecfully yours &c, J.H. Armstrong

P.S. I will be prepared in afew days if compell to come down

——

  • Louis — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Lewis Armstrong, 23; wife Vicey, 17; Chester Garrett, 16; and Mary E. Parker, 4.
  • J.H. Armstrong — in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: farmer Jas. H. Armstrong, 57; wife Emily, 56; and children Amos, 19, Carolina, 17, William, 15, and David W., 13; plus servant Martha Watson, 16.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 16, Unregistered Letters Received Aug 1865-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

I have no men to send for them.

Though Wilson is a few miles closer to Rocky Mount, Wilson County was under the jurisdiction of the Goldsboro field office of the Freedmen’s Bureau. The people of northeastern Wilson County — the area around Elm City — were closely tied to southeastern Nash and southwestern Edgecombe Counties, and many families moved frequently across county lines for work and family.

In this letter, William Cox, the assistant superintendent at the Rocky Mount field office referred a matter to Goldsboro. In a nutshell: father and son Spencer and Churchwell Bullock signed a labor contract with James J. Taylor of Joyners Depot (now Elm City) in Wilson County. However, the Bullocks had left Taylor’s employ to work for E. Ferrell in “this county” (either Edgecombe or Nash County, Rocky Mount straddles the county line and Joyners Depot was close to both). Cox had no staff to spare to go out and round up the Bullocks and, in any case, because Taylor’s farm was in Wilson County and the contract therefore was approved by the Goldsboro F.O., the problem was not his.

Freedmen’s Bureau, Rocky Mount April 25th, 1866.

Captain Geo. O Glavis, U.S.A., Asst. Supt. Bureau of R.F. and A.L., Goldsboro, N.C.

Captain:

I have the honor to request that two freedmen, Spencer Bullock, and Church Bullock, his son, who have entered into a written contract with Mr. Jas. J. Taylor of Wilson County, and who have left him, The contract is approved by You, The freedmen are now living in this County, on the plantation of E. Ferrell Near Joiners Depot in this County, I have no men to send for them, and as the contract was drawn up in Your County, and as Mr. Taylor lives in Wilson County, I have referred the case to you,

I am, Captain,

Very respectfully, William F. Cox, 2d Lieut. and Asst. Supt.

P.S. I suppose the reason why Mr. Taylor did not go to you is that freedmen are in this county. W.F. Cox

——

In the 1870 census of Tarboro township, Wilson County: farm laborer Spencer Bullock, 56; wife Mathilda, 53; and children Georgewell [Churchwell], 17, Emeline, 9, Leda, 8, and Louisia, 3.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

Their father claimed them.

Don’t let anyone tell you that slavery destroyed the black family. African-Americans struggled against terrible odds to unite sundered families, often standing up to authority in the process.

In June 1866, George W. Blount wrote a letter to the Freedmen’s Bureau on behalf of Josiah D. Jenkins of Edgecombe County. Just months after being forced to free them, Jenkins had indentured eight siblings whose mother had died. Within six months, the children’s family had come for them, and the five oldest had left for more agreeable situations. Sallie, 14, Sookie, 12, and Isabella, 10, were in Wilson County with their elder sister and her husband Willie Bullock. Arden, 16, was working for what appears to be a commercial partnership in Tarboro, and Bethania, 14, was with her and Arden’s father Jonas Jenkins (paternity that Blount pooh-poohed.) Jonas Jenkins had sought custody of his children before their indenture, but his claims had been trumped by a “suitable” white man who “ought” to have them because he had “raised them from infancy” [i.e., held them in slavery since birth] and their mother “died in his own house.”

record-image_undefined-18.jpg

Wilson No.Ca. June 29 1866

Col. Brady   Col.

Mr. Jo. D. Jenkins of Edgecombe County has been here expecting to see you; but as he did not find you here he requested me to write to you and state his case, asking you to furnish him the remedy if any he is entitled to, and such he believes he has. In Dec 1865, Capt Richards Asst Sup F.B. for the dist of Tarboro, Apprenticed to him Eight (8) Orphan Colored children. The indentures he has, five, and the only ones large enough to render any service have been enticed away from him, leaving him with three who are hardly able to care for the own wants every thing furnished. Three of them are in the custody of Willie Bullock F.M. [freedman] whose wife is the older sister of the three. The others – Arden is in the employment of Messrs. Haskell & Knap near Tarboro. Bethania is in the custody of Jonas Jenkins F.M., who claims to be the father of both of her & Arden. The three first mentioned are in Wilson County the others in Edgecombe.

Mr. Jenkins desires me to say to you that if he cannot be secured in the possession of them he desires the indentures cancelled; for according to law he would be liable for Doctors bills – and to take care of them in case of an accident rendering them unable to take care of themselves.

This man Jonas set up claim to Arden and Bethania before they were apprenticed. The matter was referred to Col Whittlesey who decided that as they were bastard children he Jonas could not intervene preventing apprenticeship to a suitable person.

Mr. J is a suitable man to have charge of them and ought to have their services now. He raised them from infancy, and after the mother died in his own house

I am Col,                       Very Respectfully &c, G.W. Blount

An early reply desired.

A note from the file listing the Jenkins children to which Josiah D. Jenkins laid claim.

——

Entry for Josiah D. Jenkins in the 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County. By 1860, Jenkins claimed ownership of 36 people, evenly divided between men and women. 

  • G.W. Blount — A year later, George W. Blount was embroiled in his own battle for control over formerly enslaved children. He lost.
  • Jo. D. Jenkins — Joseph [Josiah] D. Jenkins appears in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County, as a 59 year-old farmer who reported $25,000 in real property and $15,000 in personal property — remarkable wealth so soon after the Civil War. John Jenkins, 10, domestic servant, is the only black child living in his household and presumably of the one of the children at issue here.
  • Bethania Jenkins — on 7 April 1874, Turner Bullock, 23, married Bethany Jenkins, 21, in Edgecombe County.
  • Willie Bullock
  • Arden Jenkins
  • Sallie Jenkins
  • Sookie Jenkins
  • Isabella Jenkins — Isabella Jenkins, 22, married Franklin Stancil, 30, on 16 April 1878 at Jackson Jenkins’ in Edgecombe County. Isabelle Stancill died 19 November 1927 in Township No. 2, Edgecombe County,. Per her death certificate, she was about 80 years old; was born in Edgecombe County; was the widow of Frank Stancill; and was buried in Jenkins cemetery. Elliott Stancill was informant,
  • Jonas Jenkins — in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County, Jonas Jenkins, 45, farm laborer. No children are listed in the household he shared with white farmer John E. Baker.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org