The fellow ought to hire for $100.

To Jacob S. Barnes, Esq.

Wilson Post Office, Edgecombe County, N. Carolina

State of Alabama, City of Montgomery

My dear Sir,

After my best respects to you & your good lady, Susannah & Caroline, and all my friends, my enemies I need not care for, I wrote to say to you what I wished to say before I left but could not see you. We arrived this day Sunday at 2 o’clock after travelling all night last night in the Stage. I want you to hire out for me at the first day of January next the negro man that you hired last year belonging after I am done with him to the widow of James A. Barnes and Theophilus Bass. Please say to Theophilus & the widow I think though I have not settled the Estate yet the hire of the negro the year 1851 will be sufficient to pay with what is in my hands all the debts of the deceased though the debts are more than I expected. Inclosed you will find some advertisements. Please set them at Tosnot, Stantonsburg & elsewhere. I think the fellow ought to hire for $100 the years 1850. Take a good note & two good securities. We are all tolerable well. We are agoing to rest until tomorrow evening. I shall get (home) Wednesday next if nothing happens.

Accept my best wishes for your health & happiness.  /s/ Wyatt Moye


Wyatt Moye was both a founding father of Wilson County and a committed slave trader. With partner Richard Adams, Moye regularly traveled from eastern North Carolina to Mississippi and Louisiana to sell enslaved African-Americans. Moye was executor of James A. Barnes’ estate and — away on business — he sent instructions to Barnes’ brother Jacob S. Barnes hire out an enslaved man again for one hundred dollars to pay down the estate’s debt. In a sobering reminder of the reality of chattel slavery, Moye cautioned Barnes to get a good note, i.e. a promise to pay the cost of hire, and two good securities, i.e. properties promised to Barnes’ estate in the event of non-payment.

Who was the “negro man” repeatedly hired out? Barnes’ will, drafted in 1848, is explicit:

“Item 4th. It is my will and desire the negro fellow Charles is to be hired out as long as my wife lives and the money arising from said hire to be applied enough of it to pay my debt if it is required for that purpose, and if not one half of his hire to pay to Theophilus Bass and the other half to my wife Sarah Barnes.”

Barnes had owned 24 enslaved people, a group that likely included Charles’ parents or siblings, if not his wife and children. Barnes split the group 11 ways — including a directive to sell one woman immediately. Though Charles was to join three others bequeathed to Barnes’ widow, his repeated hire separated him for years from the comfort and company of those who knew him best.

Letter found in The Past Speaks from Old Letters, “a copy of the working papers found in the files of Hugh B. Johnston, Jr., acquired in the course of his lifelong avocation as a professional genealogist and local historian,” republished by Wilson County Genealogical Society, March 2003.

Send me my money.

In 1858, Robert Fuller was subpoenaed as a witness in an unspecified court case brought by E.H. Flowers, apparently involving an enslaved person. Here is the note he sent back to the court:

Mrs Clearke you will pleas send me my money Due me a bout being a Witness in the Niggar suit by E.H. Flowers this the 28th of March 1859    Robbart Fullar

  • E.H. Flowers — in the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County, E.H. Flowers is listed as 23 year-old farmer. He reported owning $3364 in personal property, which would have consisted primarily of enslaved people.
  • Robbart Fullar — in the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County, Robert H. Fuller is listed as a 24 year-old carpenter.

Court Cases Involving Slaves-1859, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.


Henry Stott was overseer of “the new road” running from “the old conty line road to the Tarborough road near Alsey Boykins.” Stott had summoned men to fulfill two days of road building and maintenance duty on May 21 and 22, 1857. However, Wiley Deans and Jack, an enslaved man belonging to Deans, failed to show either day, and Stott complained to justice of the peace Josee Peele. Peele issued a warrant ordering Deans to appear before him or another justice of the peace to pay a four-dollar fine (a dollar a day for each man for two days’ work) if convicted.

A note on the back of the warrant indicates that justice of the peace L.S. Boykin found against Stott, and “The plantiff craves an appeal to the next county court to be held in the town of Wilson on the forth Monday of October next.”

Road Records-1857, 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.


Today marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans to Tidewater Virginia.

I give honor to the unknown millions of enslaved men and women who built this country and, via Black Wide Awake, seek to name those who lived and died in the corner of this country that I know best.

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This illustration accompanies USA Today‘s graphic essay explaining the growth of slavery in the United States. You can find it here.

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],

Arch is committed to Edgecombe County jail.

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Tarborough Southerner, 11 July 1857.

In July 1857, the Tarboro jailer advertised in a local newspaper that an enslaved teenager named Arch had been committed to jail. Arch, who had a scar on his wrist from being struck by a grubbing hoe, told Benjamin Williams that William J. Moore of Wilson County was his owner.

Toney Eatmon’s sons.

Is it not clear whether Toney Eatmon ever lived in Wilson County, but his two known children did. The record is scarce, but:

In the 1850 census of Nash County, North Carolina, Tony Eatmon, 55, farmer, in the household of white farmer Theophilus Eatmon, 70. Tony was described as mulatto, and the belief that he was Theophilus Eatmon’s son is supported by DNA matching.

On 4 February 1868, Jack Williamson, son of Toney Eatmon and Hester Williamson, married Ann Boykin, daughter of John Harper and Alder Reid, at Jack Williamson’s in Wilson. [Per census records, Jack Williamson was born about 1835.]

Willis Barnes died 15 September 1914 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 73 years old; married; a farmer; and born in Nash County to Toney Eatmon and Annie Eatmon. Jesse Barnes was informant.

In short: Toney Eatmon was born free about 1795 (or perhaps a few years later), most likely in southeastern Nash County to Theophilus Eatmon and an unknown free woman of color. DNA testing suggests strongly that he was closely related to Nelson Eatmon, another free man of color. Whether he married is unknown, but he fathered at least two sons, Jack Williamson, born about 1835 to Hester Williamson, an enslaved woman, and Willis Barnes, born about 1841, to Annie Eatmon (or, perhaps, Barnes), an enslaved woman. Williamson and Barnes lived their adult lives in Wilson County. Toney Eatmon likely died between 1850 and 1860.