Slavery

Robert M. Cox house.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

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“Dr. Robert Cox was born in 1825 and he married Zillah Horne, an heir to the Horne land where this house was built. In 1844 Cox purchased his wife’s share of the Horne land, amounting to 385 acres. This house was probably built in the 1840s. After the death of Zillah, Cox married her sister, Elizabeth Horne. According to the 1860 census he was identified as a farmer with real property worth $8,000. … The Cox House consists of a two-room dwelling with an engaged porch and rear shed. The sturdy porch posts are chamfered and a shed room with access from the outside was built under one side of the porch. There are two exterior end chimneys; one centrally located on the west elevation which served the parlor and one on the east elevation on the rear shed. On the interior the house is divided into two main rooms with a shed room running the width of the house at the rear.”

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In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County, North Carolina [in an area which became part of Black Creek township, Wilson County, in 1855]: farmer Robert Cox, 25; wife Zillie, 23; and daughter Julia, 10 months. Per the 1850 slave schedule of the same district, Cox enslaved a 37 year-old woman, four girls ranging in age from 4 to 14, a 42 year-old man, and two boys, aged 7 and 14.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Robert M. Cox, 35; wife Elizabeth, 21; Barney B. Cox, 21, clerk; John H. Minshew, 28, clerk; and J.S. Holt, 28, merchant. Cox reported $8000 in real property and $36000 in personal property. His personal property, per the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, included five enslaved girls and women ranging from 9 to 30 years old and ten enslaved boys and men ranging from 9 months to 35 years old. Cox provided three dwellings to house them.

The 1870 census of Wilson County lists 20 African-Americans with the surname Cox living in four households in Black Creek, Stantonsburg and Cross Roads townships. Though Robert Cox was the sole Cox slaveholder listed in Wilson County in 1860, several of his Cox kin in neighboring Wayne County owned slaves.

 

Elisha Bass farm.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“According to local tradition this house was built for Elisha Bass, Jr., on land deeded to Edward Bass in 1745. The Elisha Bass house is set in a grove of trees and is oriented away from the road. It now forms the rear section of a turn-of-the-century farmhouse built circa 1890 by Shelby Bass. The oldest section probably dates between 1830 and 1940. The three-bay gable-roof house has exterior end chimneys with tumbled weatherings. The kitchen, which was originally part of the early section of the house, still stands on the property.”

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In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County, North Carolina [in an area which became part of Black Creek township, Wilson County, in 1855]: farmer Elisha Bass, 35; wife Sarah, 30; and son Hardy, 1. Per the 1850 slave schedule of the same district, Elisha Bass enslaved a 40 and a 16 year-old man.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Elisha Bass, 47; son Nathan, 9; and farm laborer Redmon Lodge, 17. Bass listed $3500 in real property and $4317 in personal property. His personal property, per the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, included a 20 year-old woman, a three year-old girl, and four boys and men, aged three months to 30 years.

Elisha Bass was just one of several white Basses who enslaved people in Wilson County. The 1870 census of Black Creek township lists 134 African-Americans with the surname Bass living in households across eastern Wilson County in Black Creek, Stantonsburg, Gardners, Wilson, Joyners and Cross Roads townships.

Arthur Bass farm.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“This house is said to have been the property of Arthur Bass. According to the Wayne County census of 1850 Arthur Bass was born in 1816. Little is known of Bass’ life. … The Bass House appears to date from the 1830s and it consists of a two-story dwelling with an attached shed porch and three-bay façade. Under the porch the façade is sheathed in flush boards instead of the unusual weatherboards, the main house is linked with the kitchen by an open breezeway on the eastern elevation and this breezeway shelters an unusual enclosed exterior stair. On the first floor of the main house there are two main rooms, while the second floor appears to have been one large room.”

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In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County, North Carolina [in an area which became part of Black Creek township, Wilson County, in 1855]: farmer Arthur Bass, 34; wife Martha, 19; and daughter Zilla, 8 months. Per the 1850 slave schedule of the same district, Arthur Bass enslaved a 25 year-old woman, a three year-old boy and a two year-old girl.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Arthur Bass, 46; wife Pattie, 28; and children Zillah, 11, Louisa, 8, Perry, 6, and William, 2 months. He listed $4000 in real property and $7000 in personal property. His personal property, per the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, included five enslaved girls and women ranging from 8 months to 32 years old and two enslaved boys. aged 12 and five.

Arthur Bass was just one of several white Basses who enslaved people in Wilson County. The 1870 census of Wilson County lists 134 African-Americans with the surname Bass living in households across eastern Wilson County in Black Creek, Stantonsburg, Gardners, Wilson, Joyners and Cross Roads townships.

Alexander G. Brooks plantation.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“Dr. Alexander G[oodrich]. Brooks was a leading citizen of Black Creek Township. He was born in 1826 [in Caswell County, North Carolina] and he married Patience Simms before 1856. His wife was the daughter of Garry Simms, and the couple built this house on land once owned by the Simms family. Brooks was a physician and a planter. He was one of the commissioners appointed to lay out the county seat when the county was formed in 1855, and he served for many years as a justice of the peace. … The house was probably built in the late 1840s. It is situated in a grove of mature trees and faces south. It stands two stories high and is T-shaped. The front section of the house consists of a two-story block with double gallery porches on either side. Exterior end chimneys are located on the front section on the east and west elevations, and one chimney is on the rear two-story section. A one-story early twentieth century wing was attached to the read of of the two-story section. An open breezeway leads from the kitchen wing to a well located under the breezeway roof. A mid-nineteenth century one-story porch sheltered the entrance bay until it was destroyed by a hurricane in the 1950s. The front section of the house consists of a central hall with one room to either side of the hall.”

The National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Black Creek Rural Historic District, drafted in 1982, contains a lengthy discussion of A.G. Brooks’ house and farm, with some minor difference in detail from the passage above.

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In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County, A.G. Brooks, 32, farmer, listed $12500 in real property and $31240 in personal property. His personal property, per the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, included 14 enslaved girls and women ranging from 4 to 55 years old and 15 enslaved boys and men ranging from 1 to 47 years old.

The 1870 census of Black Creek township lists about 20 African-Americans with the surname Brooks living in four households.

The ages of the Negroes’ children.

BLACK GENEALOGY IN WILSON COUNTY

by Hugh Buckner Johnston

Because of the scarcity of surviving records of our black citizens prior to the Wilson County Census of 1870, the first Federal Census that gave the name and age of every individual living within our borders in that year, the discovery of any vital statistics of the Antebellum period represents purest genealogical gold.

The writer learned only a few weeks ago that his 3rd great uncle William Woodard (1795-1847) had inscribed on the rear flyleaves of Volume I of John Bunyan’s WORKS (New-Haven, 1831) “The ages of the Negroes Children,” with their names, to the number of sixty-one.

These families still living in 1865 adopted without known exception the surname Woodard and left descendants who have continued to be numbered among the most respectable black citizens. It should also be remembered that a book in the Wilson County Register of Deeds Office contains the record made in 1865 [sic; 1866] of the earlier marriages of all former slaves who desired that kind of legal protection for their children. (The marriages of both whites and blacks since 1865 have been recorded impartially down to current date in the regular Marriage Registers.)

The names and ages of the blacks belonging to William and Elizabeth Simms Woodard were as follows:

Morris Bornd March 1824

Blunt Bornd August 31st 1825

Ben Bornd April 1826

Peg Bornd May 18th 1826

Win Bornd September 1827

Arch Bornd December 1827

Bishe Bornd February 1828

Willis Bornd October 1829

Alfred Bornd March 1830

Silvire Bornd June 1830

Poity Bornd 26th February 1831

Aga Bornd 10th January 1832

_______ Bornd March 10th 1832

Sarah Bornd 22nd May 1832

Tom Bornd 15th June 1832

Charta Bornd 27th June 1832

Hanner Born 12th May 1833

Jonathan Bornd 31st July 1833

Jim was Bornd 1st August 1833

Liberty Bornd 23rd April 1834

_______ Bornd 8th May 1834

_______ Bornd 23rd May 1834

_______ Bornd Feb. 1st 1835

[N]ed Bornd 27th Sept. 1835

Zilpha Bornd 11th May 1836.

Cherry Bornd 8th March 1837

Rachel Bornd 8th January 1838

Eady Bornd 3rd March 1838

Anna Bornd 31st July 1839

Manda Bornd 7th December 1839

Rila Bornd 2nd April 1840

Gray Bornd May 1840

Harry Bornd 30th May 1841

John Bornd Jan. 1842

Marry Bornd 4th July 1843

Jesse Bornd 30th December 1843

Susan Bornd 30th Nov. 1843

Lewis Bornd January 20h 1845

Mariar Bornd April 30th 1845

Rebecca Born January 16th 1846

Hilliard Bornd June 1846

Sally Born October 27, 1846

Tresy Born 2nd March 1847

London born August 15th 1847

Mintey born December 29th 1847

Lizzy born Jan. 19th 1848

Rose born Jan. 1848

Ned born Nov. 1948

Venice Born Ap 30, 1849

Dennis February 1850

Simon borned March 1850

Richard borned June 1850

Charles Borned August 1851

Adline born Dec. 20th 1851

Louisa Born Sept. 29 1853

John Born May 1853

Nathan Born Sept. 8, 1855

Winney Born March 1856

Edwin Nov. 6, 1856

Jonas Jany 1858

Hat tip to Wilson County librarian Will Robinson, who reprinted Johnston’s undated article on the Wilson County Public Library Local History and Genealogy Blog. 

Feloniously and burglariously.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County   } Superior Court of Law, Fall Term A.D. 1862

The Jurors for the State upon their oath present that Jacon a negro slave late of Wilson County the property of James Pender of the County of Wilson and Law a negro Slave late of said County of Wilson the property of Joshua Barnes of said County of Wilson on the first day of October A.D. 1862 about the hour of eleven o’clock in the night of the same day with force and arms at and in the County of Wilson aforesaid the dwelling house of one Levi M. Hays there situated feloniously and burglariously did break and enter with intent the goods and chattels of the said Levi M. Hays in said dwelling house there and then being found, then and there feloniously and burglariously to steal take and carry away against the peace and dignity of the State.  /s/A. Thompson Sol

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State vs. Jacon (a slave) & Law (a slave)

Burglary

Witness Woodard (a slave), Levi M. Hays, W.W. Batts, John B. Batts, Josiah Farmer

Sworn & sent J.W. Davis Clk

Nott a true bill  Jos. H. Armstrong forman

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All that to say that two enslaved men, Jacon and Law, were charged with breaking and entering Levi M. Hays at eleven at night, but no true bill was returned.

Court Cases Involving Slaves, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Harboring.

The solicitor of the 1860 fall term of Wilson County Superior Court presented to the grand jury a charge against Delitia Eatmon for harboring a slave, Violet, who was owned by Berkley Cone.

In the 1860 census of Sullivants district, Nash County, Berkley Cone was a 45 year-old farmer whose household included a 10 year-old mulatto boy named Richard Locus, who was probably an involuntary apprentice. The 1860 slave schedule of Nash County lists Cone as the owner of a single enslaved person — a 15 year-old mulatto girl. Who was reported as a fugitive from the state. It’s reasonable to assume that Violet was the runaway.

Delitia (or, more likely, Selitia) Eatmon was born about 1810 in what was then Nash County. She and her children are listed in her parents’ household in the 1850 census of Nash, but by 1860 she headed her own household in Oldfields township, Wilson County. She, too, owned enslaved people as reported in the 1860 Wilson County slave schedule. Five, who appear to have been an elderly woman, her daughter, and that daughter’s three children.

Who was Violet to Selitia Eatmon? Why would Eatmon have kept and concealed Violet from Berkley Cone? Were Eatmon’s slaves Violet’s family? Had she been with Eatmon the entire six months between the census enumeration and the grand jury panel? Longer? Had she run because she missed her family? To avoid Cone’s close attention to her teenaged body? To thwart sale?

Berkley Cone and J. Calvin Narron appeared before the grand jury to offer testimony. Whatever they swore to, it was not enough. “Not a true bill,” said the jury. No indictment.

Harboring a Slave, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Bill of sale for one negro boy named Wesley, 1858.

In February 1858, James H. Barnes registered a bill of sale signed by Alfred Boykin upon Barnes’ purchase of an enslaved man named Wesley. I have not been able to identify Wesley post-Emancipation. Barnes may have been the J.H. Barnes of Joyners and Gardners township in the 1860 slave schedule who reported owning 15 enslaved people, including four boys and men, aged 11, 15, 19 and 30, who may have been Wesley. [Based on his valuation, I am inclined to believe he was one of the younger two.] Alfred Boykin appears in the same schedule in Oldfields township owning five enslaved people.

Received of James H. Barnes Six Hundred and twenty dollars in full for one negro boy named Wesley. The right and title of Said negro I will forever warrant and defend also I warrant the Said negro to be young and Healthy January 12th 1858        /s/ Alfred Boykin, Wm. H. Bardin [witness]

The reverse of the receipt: The execution of the within Bill of Sale is proved before me by the oath & examination of W.H. Bardin the subscribing witness thereto. Let it be registered Jany. 29th 1858  /s/ T.C. Davis

Registered foregoing Bill of sale Feb 16th 1858.   R.J. Taylor Regr.

Bill of Sale, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Rufus Edmundson plantation.

The Rufus Edmundson House lies just two blocks off Stantonsburg’s main street, but at the very edge of town. Behind it stretch miles of fields and woodland.

“This antebellum house was built circa 1846 for Rufus Edmundson. … The house is similar to the William Barnes and Ward-Applewhite-Thompson Houses (both in Stantonsburg Township) and the Elias Barnes house (Saratoga township). It stands two stories high and the main block is capped with a shallow hipped roof. Unusual heavy dentils ornament the frieze and the three-bay facade was once sheltered by a double-gallery porch supported by square columns. Although the door leading to the second floor porch has been altered, the original trabeated entrance to the first floor is still intact. A single-story, hipped-roof porch with Doric columns replaced the earlier double-gallery porch in the early twentieth century. On the interior the house is divided by a wide central hall with two rooms to either side. Some original woodwork remains intact including a handsomely curved newel post.”  — Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981).

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In the 1860 census of Saratoga township [which included Stantonsburg], Wilson County, Rufus Edmundson’s reported wealth comprised $15,000 in real property and $30,600 in personal property. The 1860 slave schedule parses Edmundson’s wealth — the $30,600  mostly took the form of 34 enslaved men, women and children, aged 1 through 38, who inhabited six dwellings on Edmundson’s farm and toiled for him.

The 1870 census was the first post-Emancipation enumeration. Next door to Rufus Edmundson were Margaret and Bailum Hall and their son John, 4 months. (Balaam Hall, son of James Woodard and Liza Hall, had married Margaret Edmundson, daughter of Proncey Edmundson, on 19 July 1870 in Wilson County.) Next to the Halls was a household comprised of members of several families, including Bertha Edmundson, 20, and Winnie, 12, and Gray Edmundson, 14, who were all listed as farmer’s apprentices. Though close proximity and shared surname, as well as indenture as apprenticed labor, do not guarantee that these young people had been enslaved by Rufus Edmundson, these facts are strong evidence.

A levy upon three enslaved persons, the property of George W. Barefoot.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County  }

Know all men by these presents that we A.J. Barefoot & J.D. Rountree are held & firmly bound  unto Elias Barnes in the sum of five hundred Dollars for which payment we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors & administrators jointly & severally Sealed with our seals & dated April 25th 1855. Whereas, the said Elias Barnes has placed in the hands of the said A.J. Barefoot negro slaves Mary, Cherry and Henry the property of Geo. W. Barefoot which were lately levied upon & taken by the said Elias, as Sheriff of Wilson County, by virtue of original attachments in favor of Jas. D. Barnes, and J.D. & M. Rountree to the use of Wm. Barnes Jr. against the said Geo.W. Barefoot, returnable to July Term 1855 of the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions of said County.

Now the condition of the above obligation is such that should the said Barefoot produce the said negro slaves at the next Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions & be held for the County of Wilson at B.H. Bardens store in the Town of Wilson there to abide the decision & judgment of the Court then this obligation to be void otherwise to remain in full force & virtue.   /s/ A.J. Barefoot, J.D. Rountree

Court Cases Involving Slaves, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.