Reconstruction

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

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  • 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

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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 

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

 

Called out and shot at.

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Daily Charlotte Observer, 11 December 1878.

Raiford Yelverton married Eliza Locust in Wayne County on 17 January 1869.

In the 1870 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farm laborer Raford Yelverton, 26; wife Elizar, 24; and daughter Mary,

In the 1880 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Raford Yelverton, 30; wife Anne M., 26; and daughter Mary J., 14.

Rayford Yelverton died 9 December 1917 in Nahunta township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 84 years old; married; a farmer; and was born in Wayne County to Adam Outland and an unknown mother. William Locus of Stantonsburg was informant.

Mary Susan Artis died 7 November 1958 in Oldfield township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 85 years old; born in 1873 to Raiford Yelverton and Barbara Locust; and was a widow. Her informant was Mary E. Applewhite of Lucama.

Register.

These African-American men were among the Wilson Countians nominated as delegates to the North Carolina constitutional convention just after the Civil War. None were selected.

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  • Henry Jones, age 30, farmer, black.
  • Lawrence Moye, age 25, preacher, black.
  • Gordon Grimes, age 35, farmer, black.
  • Mac. Jones, age 24, farmer, black.
  • Edw. Barnes, farmer, black.
  • Jeremiah Bullet, colored.

I have not found certain record of any of these men in any other Wilson County records.

From “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.

This is the cause of the exodus.

THOMAS BYNUM.

I lived in Wilson County, North Carolina. I have a wife and eight children. It cost me one hundred and twenty-three dollars to get here. I never heard any thing about politics until I got to Indianapolis; then I was asked by a Democrat if some Republican did not go South and make fine promises to me, and did they not bring me here to vote? I told him, no, that I brought myself; I came on my own money; and that I came because I could not get any pay for my work, nor could I educate my children there; and now that I have seen the difference between the North and South I would not go back to North Carolina for anything, and I never expect to go back in life nor after death, except the buzzards carry me back. Mr. Turnbull, of Toisenot, N.C., a white Democrat, told me that I was coming out here to perish, but so far from perishing I am faring better than I ever fared before in my life. I wish to say that cases like the following is what brought about the exodus: A colored man rented a farm, for which he was to pay three bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each; he raised on that farm eleven bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each, and 25 barrels of corn, which left to the tenant eight bales of cotton, and 25 barrels of corn, pease, &c. The tenant bought nothing but a very small amount of very coarse food and clothing, using all the economy during the crop season to make no large account, thinking thereby to have something coming to him at settling day; but when settling day came the landlord had so enlarged his account as to cover everything — the eight bales of cotton, the 25 barrels of corn, pease, and all, and then said that the tenant lacked a little of paying out, although cotton sold at ten cents per pound. This and numerous other things is the cause of the exodus.

——

Probably, in the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Thomas Bynum, 32; wife Bethana, 28; and children James, 11, Oliver, 8, Mary, 6, Lavinia, 4, and “no name,” 2; and Lucy Pitt, 53. “Ages of this family are in doubt.”

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: merchant P.J. Turnbull, 29, and family.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Howard County, Indiana: at 1622 Guffin Street, street laborer Albert Whitley, 36; Polly, 32; children Cicero, 13, Mamie, 12, Albert, 9, Leonard, 6, and Wilber, 3; and grandfather Thomas Bynum, 65. All the adults were born in North Carolina.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

Calvin Bone supports his claim.

More on the contract dispute with Jourdin Artis that Calvin Bone brought to the attention of the Freedmen’s Bureau:

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Black creek N.C., July 3 1867.

Mr. O Compton, I Received your note yesterday in closed you will find the am of my Acct against Jourdin Artis, allso an Acct he should of had to of settled with his hands. Jourdin has never bin to me for asettlement nor nor finished the contract he is oing me right smart Am. now. I thought all last fall he would come & complete the egagement you want the Am of labour done there has bin only 6423 bushels of marl thrown out & agreeable to contract he should of thrown out 26000 bushels. I would go down at once & see you but my crop is allmost ruined with grass I have narry dutiful Sevent or that will do to risk. if you request my going to your office let me hear from you again I shall be at this post office again in five or six days.  Verry Respectfully yrs., Calvin Bone.

Bone attached pages and pages documenting supplies advanced to Artis for laborers Artis employed — tobacco, flour, sugar, whiskey, herrings, mullet, shoes, clothing.

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Including documents that named the workers. Though Bone lived in Black Creek, Wilson County, Artis appears — per the 1870 census — to have hired his hands from nearby Wayne County communities.

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The contract itself:

 

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Witnesseth that the said Jourdin Artis agrees with the Said Calvin Bone that he will clear off dig & threw out twenty six thousand bushels of pure marl on the farm of the said Calvin Bones in the mill Swamp on or before the first of Dcr next

and the said Calvin Bone in consideration of the fourgoing agreement promises and agrees, to and with the Said Jourdin Artis pay one cent a bushel in Specie or its value in Something wee can agree on, and the said Calvin Bone do further to furnish the said Jourdin Artis with one hundred & eighty lbs of bacon or its adequate in herrings & ten bushels of meal during the time he is labouring & digging the above named marl, & the said Jourdin Artis is to give the said Calvin Bone his trade whilst he is performing the above named labour this the twenty third day of July one thousand eight hundred Sixty Six in witnesseth whereoff wee set our hands and seals 

This is a true coppy of the contract with me and Jourdin Artis there was only one ritten Ys truly Calvin Bone

 

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records 1862-1870, http://www.familysearch.org.

 

 

 

I need his labor on my farm.

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Wilson, N.C. , August 26th 1867

Supt. Freedmens Bureau, Goldsboro N.C.   }

Dear Sir by refference to your records you will find a contract entered into between Dennis Swift free laborer, and myself on the 13th day of May ult. This contract was witnessed by Mr. J.J. Lutts and sent to your predecessor for approval by the concent of the said laborer. And I have thought it my duty [to] report his case to you as he has not complied with his contract one week since he entered into it. He has been absent from his post without my consent on many occasions and is absent from his post now and has been for several days. I appeal to you for the remedy and ask is there no remedy for such cases. I have complied with all the requirements of our contract and only ask that he do the same. I need his labor on my farm and would be glad to have your instruction in the matter as to what course I had best pursue. Please write by return mail.  Yours &c, J.H. Winstead

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Probably, the Dennis Swift, 24, parents unknown, who married Ella Thompson, 23, daughter of Gilbert Wilder of Wilson County and Elizabeth Shallington of Greene County, on 23 July 1877 in Greene County, North Carolina.

In the 1880 census of Bull Head district, Wilson County: farmer Dennis Swift, 28, a native of Maryland; wife Ella, 22; and son Peter, 6.

North Carolina, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, http://FamilySearch.org.