Slavery

The last wills and testaments of Joel Newsom Sr. and Jr.

In the name of God amen I Joel Newsom Senr of the State of No. Carolina & County of Wayne being in a low State of Health but of Perfect mind & memory do make & ordain this my last will & Testament in manner & form as follow towit —

Item — I lend unto my wif Pennellopy Newsom one half my plantation whereon I now live with half the west room of my Dwelling house & Kitchin — also one feather berd & furniture half dozin siting chears two Puter dishes two Basons haf Dozen Plates the Iron ware that belongs to the Ketchen a sufficent quantity of Corn & fodder as will serve her & her family one year & a sufficient quantity of Provision as will last her & family the same term & two Cows & Calves two Sows & Pigs also the sum of fifty dollars to purches her a Horse — also Two negroes (to wit) Tom & Nel — also as much cotton flax & wool as Shall be sufficient to serve her & family for one year also four Ews also two Plow hoes two weading hoes one ax & one grubbing hoe — the above named Property I lend unto my wife during her natural life or widowhood & after her death or widow hood it it my will & desire that the whole be Sold & be disposed of as I Shall hereafter direct

Item I give & bequeath unto my son Joel Newsom all the tract of Land on the south Side of the March Branch & negro Sam to him & his heirs for ever

… I have hereunto set my hand & seal this 26th Sept 1818 attest — Joel X Newsom     Benjn. Simms, Stephen Woodard

——

In the name of God, Amen, I Joel Newsom of the county of wayne and State of No Carolina being in a low state of health, but in sound mind and memory, do make and ordain this to be my last will and Testament, as follows – (viz)

Item, 1st, I Give and bequeath unto my son Larry Newsom, all my lands lying on the south side of black Creek (i.e.) the lands whereon I formaly, the lands whereon Sally Daniel now lives, and also the lands I purchased of Willis Garner and also a tract of piney land adjoining the tract I bought of Willis Garner, I also give and bequeath unto my Son Larry Newsom, four negroes (viz) Harry, Allen, Ben, and Tom, to him and his heirs forever ….

Item 2nd I lend unto my daughter, Zilpha Daniel and my son in law Jap. Daniel, my lands I bought of Elisha Daniel, lying between black Creek and Cotentna creek, with the exception of the fruit that may grow in the orchard on said lands, untill my Grand son Larry Daniel, son of Jas. & Zilpha Dan’l arrives to the age of twenty one years, I also lend unto my daughter Zilpha Daniel one negro girl named Hanner during her lifetime ….

Item 3rd I Give and bequeath unto my son James Newsom my tract of land whereon I now live lying on the north side of black creek also three negroe boys (viz) Tony, Will and Sam ….

Item 5th I give and bequeath unto my sister Patience Pearce a negro Girl by the name of Dill, to her and her heirs forever

Signed Sealed and acknowledged in the presence of us – John Rowe, Burket Barnes       Joel Newsom Augt. 14th 1837

——

The Newsoms lived in the Black Creek area of Wayne County, which became part of the new Wilson County in 1855.

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County, North Carolina, Ben Newsome headed a household that included wife Edna, 31, and children Amos, 10, Gray, 7, Penelope, 6, and Mary, 2. It is likely that Newsome was the Ben referred to Joel Newsom Jr.’s will 33 years earlier. (Note that one of his daughters shared a first name with Joel Newsom Jr.’s mother Penelope.) As required by law, Benjamin Newsome and Edna Newsome registered their 16-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866. (Edna was likely considerably older than 31 in 1870.) Harry Newsom, who may have been the Harry listed in Newsome Jr.’s will, registered his ten-year cohabitation with Rachel Woodard in 1866.

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 8.44.40 PM.png

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

Shadrach and Keziah Simms Dickinson house.

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

“This Georgian cottage is said to have been the dwelling of Keziah and Shadrack Dickenson. Dickenson was the daughter of Robert Simms, a major landowner in Black Creek Township. The land upon which this house was built is said to have come from the Simms family. This late eighteenth-century cottage is a rare survival in Wilson County. It was probably constructed much as it stands today. It is a small rectangular building with a gable roof. The gable ends suggest the presence of exterior end chimneys, now removed. The door is board and batten. Although some alterations have been made on the interior, the present appearance suggests that it was once a hall-and-parlor plan dwelling. The interior is sheathed with flush boards and some original woodwork remains intact. The interior and exterior details of this house suggest that it may be of the oldest, as well as one of the best-preserved houses in the county.”

——

As shown in the last column on this partial image, Shadrach Dickinson reported to the enumerator recording the 1790 census of Wayne County, North Carolina, that he owned 14 enslaved people. (Black Creek township was part of Wayne County prior to 1855.)

Dickinson died in 1818 at the age of about 68. His will entered probate in Wayne County:

In the Name of God Amen — I Shadrack Dickinson of the County of Wayne & State of No Carolina do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament Revoking all others being in Sound mind & memory. It is my wish and desire that all my children To wit Martha Simms Elizabeth Stanton Polly Thomas Sally Jernigan Patience Turner James Dickinson Penelope Barnes Wm Dickinson & Susannah Edmundson  shall have an equal part of all my whole estate that is consisting Lands negroes and money &tc with the Exception of my Daughter Polley Thoma’s part of the negroes which I have now in possession it is my wish and desire after the Valuation of sd negroes that her part be made up to her in money or good notes of hands and the said negroes Eqully Divided between the above name Eight Heirs with the exception of my negro man Jacob & his wife Jenny shall be valued at one Hundred dollars and my negro man Harry shall be valued at three Hundred dollars, and without any compulshon shall have their choice of said Eight Heirs for their Master or Mistress, and the said Four Hundred dollars to be paid in good Notes as the other part of said Estate, it is my wish & desire that all the negroes & perishable property which already has been given to said nine Heirs be valued at the time when said property was [illegible] and also three Hundred Acres of Land deeded to my son James also three Hundred Acres of Land deeded to my daughter Patience valued at this time, it is also my wish and desire after all my Just debts are paid that all the residue of my Estate be Equally divided between the above named nine Heirs by Joel Newsom Junr & Arthur Bardin which I ordain and appoint also my Executors to this my last will and Testament. Oct. 28th 1818. Shadrack Dickinson  Signed Seald & acknowledged in the presents of William Dickinson, Henry T. Stanton

1790 United States Federal Census; North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Jacob and Sarah Barnes Daniel house.

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

“The Jacob Daniel House is similar in construction to the Dr. Robert Cox House (also in Black Creek Township). The house was built for Jacob Daniel before 1850. Daniel was born in 1805 and died in 1880. He married Sarah Barnes, and according to the 1860 census he was a farmer of some substance, owning $6,000 worth of real property. Like the Cox House, the Daniel House has an engaged porch and rear shed. In the early twentieth century a kitchen wing was added to the rear. On the interior the house is divided into two rooms at the front with another room in the rear shed.”

——

In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County: farmer Jacob Daniel, 45; wife Sarah, 50; and children Elizabeth, 21, Josiah, 20, Mary, 18, Zilpha, 15, Lucindia, 12, Sarah, 10, and Laney, 8. [Black Creek was in northern Wayne County prior to the establishment of Wilson County.]

In the 1850 slave schedule of the North Side of the Neuse, Wayne County, Jacob Daniel is reported with eight slaves, four girls and women aged 4 to 35, and four boys and men, aged 1 to 50.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Jacob Daniel, 55; wife Sallie, 60; Willie Batts, 20; Teresa Batts, 21; and James Flora, 16. reported $6000 in real estate and $600 in personal property, including enslaved people.

In the 1860 slave schedule of Black Creek township, Wilson County, Jacob Daniel is reported with four enslaved men and boys, aged 9 to 60.

The 1870 census of Wilson County lists many dozens of African-Americans with the surname Daniel living throughout the eastern half of Wilson County.

Williamson v. Williamson, 57 N.C. 272 (1858).

This case was filed in Wilson County Court of Equity by Garry Williamson and Jesse Fulgham, executors of the will of Thomas Williamson, concerning the distribution of certain enslaved people for whom Williamson claimed ownership. The principle question posed to the North Carolina Supreme Court was whether enslaved children, born before Williamson died, passed with their mothers to the designated legatees. “The general rule is clearly settled that the bequest simply of a female slave and her increase passes the mother only, and not the increase which she may have had before the will was executed, or between that time and the death of the testator.” An exception would be where the testator’s intent to include the children can be inferred from a reference to the enslaved woman having previously been in the possession of the legatee. Otherwise, the children become part of the “residue,” i.e. property to be liquidated and the proceeds equally divided among legatees.

The chart below summarizes the fates of 26 of the enslaved people — all women and children — that Thomas Williamson owned. It is a stark encapsulation of the devastating impact of slavery on African-American families. And where were their men? An examination of Williamson’s will, drafted in August 1852, reveals further separation. Turner, Patrick and Dennis were bequeathed to his wife Keziah Williamson, and Jack was passed to son Garry Williamson.

 

A Woodard plantation.

Headed east from Wilson toward Saratoga and Greenville, this house stood just beyond city limits near the fork of Highways 91/264 Alternate and 58. It was set back perhaps 75 yards from the road on the left. I took these photos circa 1990; the house was demolished perhaps a decade later. I was informed by a knowledgeable source that the dwelling was built circa 1832 by William Woodard, but it does not match the description of Woodard’s house in Ohno’s Architectural Heritage book or in the Woodard Family Rural Historic District nomination form. Though its ownership is unclear, there is no doubt that this home dates several decades before the Civil War and anchored a plantation worked by enslaved people.

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 9.27.37 PM

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson; aerial image courtesy of Google Maps.

Robert M. and Zillah Horne Cox house.

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

img_2001

“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.”

——

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.”

——

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 house.

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.”

——

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.

——

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.