Edgecombe County NC

In memory of Aaron Lancaster.

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On 4 November 1978, the family of Aaron Lancaster placed a memorial advertisement in the Wilson Daily Times marking the one-year anniversary of his death.

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In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson Tarboro Road, farmer Dempsy Lancaster, 45; wife Sallie, 34; and children Frank, 12, Dempsy, 10, Mark, 8, Viola, 4, and Aaron, 3; plus boarder Shote Hinton, 40.

In the 1930 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farmer Dempsey Lancaster, 55; wife Sallie, 47; and children Dempsey, 20, Mark, 19, Viola, 14, Aaron, 13, Robert, 10, Margaret, 5, and John, 4; and granddaughter Mary L., 1.

In the 1940 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: farmer Dempsey Lancaster, 65; wife Sallie, 53; and children Aaron, 23, Margaret, 17, Johnny, 15, Mark, 28; son’s wife Roberta, 24, and daughter Mary Lee, 12; and wife’s sister Fannie, 72.

In 1940, Aaron Lancaster registered for the World War II draft in Nash County. Per his registration card, he was born 31 August 1916 in Edgecombe County; lived on R.F.D. #2, Elm City, Nash County; his contact was father Dempsey Lancaster; and he worked for Irvin Crumpler.

On 30 August 1941, Aaron Lancaster, 24, of Elm City, born in Edgecombe County to Dempsey Lancaster and Sallie Williams, married Lilly Mae Neal, 26, of Elm City, born in Nash County to John Neal and Maggie Taylor, in Emporia, Greensville County, Virginia.

Aaron Lancaster died 4 November 1977 in Wilson, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 31 August 1916 to Dempsey Lancaster and Sallie Williams; was married to Lillie Mae Farmer; lived in Stantonsburg, Wilson County; and was a farmer. He was buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Studio shots, no. 154: Cromwell and Charity Farmer Bullock.

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Cromwell and Charity Farmer Bullock.

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In 1866, Cromwell Bullock and Charity Farmer registered their 17-year marriage with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Crummell Bullock, 49; wife Charity, 45, farm laborer; and children Nathaniel, 14, Crummell, 12, Caroline, 9, Milly, 6, Peter, 4, and Harry, 2.

In the 1880 census of Auters Creek township, Edgecombe County: Crumell Bullock, 62, farmer; wife Charity, 49; and children Crumell Jr., 22, Carolina, 19, Milly, 17, Peter, 13, Harry, 11, Jessie, 9, Dempsy, 7, and Leer, 5.

Per her grave marker, Charity Bullock was born 12 January 1833 and died 26 December 1893. She was buried in Bullock family cemetery in Edgecombe County.

In the 1900 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Cromwell Bullock, 70; wife Fanner, 57; and stepchildren Priscilla, 19, and Benny, 17.

On 3 June 1903, Crummel Bullock, 70, of Edgecombe County, married Polly Wootten, 55, of Saratoga township, daughter of Reuben [illegible] and Gatsey Moore, in Saratoga township, Wilson County.

Cromwell Bullock made out his will in Edgecombe County on 29 October 1907. Per its terms: (1) to wife Pollie, the cleared land of the Pollie Edwards tract and permission to use all the wood and lightwood off that tract; ten barrels of corn; a cart and gear; a set of farming tools; a horse and buggy; 1000 pounds of fodder; 200 pounds of wheat; a sow and pigs; three still chairs; kitchen furniture; tubs, buckets, wash and dinner pots; (2) to children Cromwell Bullock, Millie Scarborough, John Bullock, Nathan Bullock, and Lea Moore, $50 each; to granddaughter Charity Edwards, $25; to children Peter Bullock, Jesse Bullock, Dempsey Bullock and Caroline James, all his real estate, and son Harry Bullock to have the house in which Henry and Lea Moore were living; (3) all moneys for minor heirs to be deposited in Wilson Savings Bank until child reaches age twenty.

In the 1910 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: on Fountain Road, Cromwell Bullock, 84, and wife Poly, 54. Cromwell reported that he had been married three times.

On 9 February 1910, Harry C. Bullock, 43, of Edgecombe County, son of Cromwell and Charity Bullock, married Ida Vines, 24, of Edgecombe County, daughter of Jesse and Matilda Carney, at the Edgecombe County Courthouse.

On 6 October 1919, in Pitt County, Cromwell Bullock prepared a codicil to his will to note that his children had already been deeded the tracts of land set forth in the earlier document.

In the 1920 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: Crumwell Bullock, 105, and wife Pollie, 88.

Cromwell Bullock died 26 January 1920 in Township No. 9, Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1815; was married to Polly Bullock; and was born in Plymouth, N.C. Peter Bullock was informant.

Polly Bullock died 2 February 1920 in Township No. 9, Edgecombe County. Per her death certificate, she was about 80 years old; was married to Crumwell Bullock; was a farmer’s wife; and was born in Edgecombe County to Howell and Gatsey Moore. Dempsey Bullock was informant.

Peter Bullock died 30 April 1938 in Township No. 9, Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1874 in Wilson County to Cromwell Bullock and Charity Farmer, both born in Wilson County [the Bullocks lived in the area where Wilson, Edgecombe and Pitt Counties meet near the town of Fountain, and their various birth places and residences are attributed to all three counties]; was married to Fannie Bullock; was a farmer; and was buried in Bullock cemetery.

Harry Bullock died 4 November 1942 in Township No., 9, Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 April 1873 in Wilson County to Cromrall Bullock and Charity Farmer, both born in Edgecombe County; was single; and was buried in Bullock cemetery.

Dempsey Bullock died 18 November 1946 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 April 1873 in Pitt County to Cromwell Bullock and Chariety [last name unknown], both born in Pitt County; was married to Marina McNair Bullock; was a farmer; and was buried in Bullock cemetery near Fountain, N.C. Informant was Carlas Bullock, Stantonsburg.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user algorham1.

William J. Armstrong house.

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

“Captain William James Armstrong, the original owner of this house, was born in 1810, and was the son of Gray Armstrong. Armstrong was appointed constable of Edgecombe County in 1828, and by 1834 he had punched a mercantile business near Upper Town Creek Church. Armstrong’s military rank was acquired through his service in the Edgecombe County militia. He was prominent in both the religious and political activities if Edgecombe County, serving as justice of the peace as early as 1845 and as clerk of the Falls of the Tar Primitive Baptist Church (in Rocky Mount) between 1854 and 1856. Armstrong married Elizabeth Braswell in 1832 and after her death he was married to Catherine Williams. By the time of his death in 1856 Armstrong was the principal in a mercantile firm, consisting of Willie Gray Barnes and Baker B. Armstrong, which operated a store at Joyner’s Depot. … The house probably dates circa 1830, about the time of Armstrongs first marriage and consists of a one-story Greek Revival cottage with a hipped roof and two interior chimneys. The board-and-batten siding, possibly dating from the mid-nineteenth century is an unusual survival in Wilson County. Although the fenestration and floor plan have been altered and one chimney removed, the original trabeated door remains intact, as do some of the mantels. The carport was added by the present owner. A charming early twentieth-century latticed well house is located to the east of the house.”

——

For more on the more than two dozen men and women William J. Armstrong enslaved, see here.

Was Edith Jordan under the control of her negroes?

Edith Jordan, widow of Joshua Jordan, lived north of present-day Wilson in what was then Edgecombe County. Her 1835 estate file contains a remarkable set of depositions attesting to Jordan’s state of mind at the time she wrote her will. Specifically, had enslaved people influenced her decisions?

The file does not reflect the determination in Bartley Deans Executor of Edith Jordan vs. Joshua Jordan et al. Nor does an examination of Jordan’s will reveal any obvious cause for alarm. To grandson Josiah Jordan, she left Rachel and her two children Milley and Offey, plus Daniel; to grandson David Jordan, Sarah, Joseph and Morning; to grandson Jesse Jordan, Isaac and Mary; and to great-granddaughter Sarah Deans, Mary Ann and Julia.

  • The deposition of Harris Horn

Persuant to the annexed commission at the House of John Horn in Sumter County Ala. We caused Harris Horn to come before us on the 7th of October 1835, to give evidence agreable to said Commision after being Sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God Deposeth and Saith as followeth

Interogatories

Q. 1st Do you know the parties in this case

Ans. I know Bartlet Deans & Joshua Jorden

2nd Did you Ever know the Said Edith Jorden in her Life time and if you did Where Did She Lived and what was her Situation and property and how many negroes She posses’d.

Ans. I knew Edith Jorden She lived in Edgecombe County She had negroes but I don’t know how many

3rd Whether She was a person of able or firm mind to protect hersef or property or Whether She was not entirely at the Disposal of or under the controle of Some person for Ten or twelve years before her Death

Ans. I think She hardly was able to protect herself or property and could be controlled by her neighbors

4th Was it not your opinion that the Said Edith Jorden should have had a Guardian Several years before She Died.

Ans. I think She would have done better if She had of had a guardian

5th Did you ever know the Said Edith Jorden to Do any business in ten years prior to her Death Without Some person telling her What to Do or how to conduct the Same

Ans. What ever Trading She had Done of my knowledge was Don by Some Other person

6th Did not you think the Said Edith Jorden was under the controle of her negroes

Ans. I think She was.

Q. 7th State all you know about the contested will

Ans. I Did not know She had made a will               /s/ Harris Horn

  • The deposition of John Grice

Persuant to the annexed commission at the House of John Horn in Sumter County Ala. We cause John Grice to come before us on the 7th of October 1835 to give evidence agreable to said commission after being Sworn on the holy Evangelist of  Almity God Deposeth and Saith as followeth

Interogatories

Q. 1st by Pltff.

Were you ever cal’d on to witness a will of Edith Jorden if So State by Whome and all the circumstances attending it

Ans. I was and I think it was by the said Edith Jorden

2nd Whoo was present and Whoo was the Other Subscribing Witness

Ans. Myself Bartlet Deans and William Haynes the other witness

3rd Whoo Wrote the Will

Ans. Bartlet Deans

4th Was the Will red over in the presents of the Old Lady your Self and Haynes before assignd

Ans. It was

5th Did you and the other Witness assign in the presents of the Old Lady

Ans. We did

6th Did She assign in your presents

Ans. She Did

7th Whoo Did She Desire to keep the Will till her death and What reason Did She assign for it

Ans. Bartlet Deans asked her what he should do with the Will and She told him to carriet home and take care of it and She Said She Wanted us to keep it a Secret for She had a will before and She could See no peace until it was Destroyed and that She thought She ought to have a right to Do as She pleased with her property

8th how Long have you been acquainted with her and how fare did you live from her

Ans. I have known the Old Lady for fifteen or Sixteen Years and Lived Within about half mile of her nine or ten years

9th Did the Old Lady appear to be in her Sound Mind and Disposible memory at the time She assigned the Will

Ans. I think She was as much So as ever I Saw her

10th Did She have reason Enough to know what She was about and to express her wishes in giving her property away or not

Ans. She appeared at that time to have it I thought

11th Did you ever witness any other will for the Old Lady Except the one you witnessed with William Haynes

Ans. I Did not

12th if you recollect State how She Directed the Legacies Given in the will that you witnessed and whome to

Ans. I think She gave Josiah Jorden one negroe man by the name of Daniel one negro woman named Rachel and Two negro children and to David Jorden & Jesse Jorden She gave one of them three negroes and the other Two and to Bartlet Deans Jun’r child she gave Two Negroes

Interogatories

Q. 1st by Deft.

If you do not know at the time of the Subscribing of this Will by the Said Decd. That it was entirely by persuasion that it was made and that in reality that it was not her will but the wish of those that She could be controled by

Ans. I Do not.

2nd you can State beyond contradiction in your mind this Will is or was the Will of Some of her negroes

Ans. I Do not know that it was the will of her negroes

3rd Do you not believe that at the time of makeing this Will and long before that She was not competent to make a will

Ans. I think She was capable of makeing a will and ought to give her property to Whome She please

4th Did you not think She ought to have had a guardian years before her Death

Ans. I Did not

  • The deposition of Isaac F. Wood

State of Indiana, Randolph County  }  Suit pending before the honorable Court in Tarborough, Edgecombe County North Carolina, on the fourth Monday of November AD 1835 – Wharein Bartley Deans Executor of Edith Jordan dec’d is plaintiff and Joshua Jordan & others defendants

Deposition of Isaac F. Wood of Greenford Township, County of Randolph above said, sworn and examined on this the 12th day of October in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and thirty five, between the hours of Ten oclock in the morning and four in the afternoon and taken at the office of and before James C. Bowen a Justice of the peace of Greenfork Township, in the County of Randolph and State of Indiana, pursuant to the inclosed notice to be read as evidence in the above cause on the part and the half of the defendants, Joshua Jordan & others as follows to wit:  Isaac F. Wood of the Township of Greenfork, in the County of Randolph and State of Indiana of Lawful age being duly sworn to testify the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and being diligently examined, doth depose and say, that he has been acquainted with the said Edith Jordan for about fifteen years before he left Carolina, which was in date AD 1832, and that he wrote a deed of Gift, which the said Edith Jordan executed to her granddaughter Orpha Jordan which included all or nearly all the negroes she possessed at that time. He further states he does not recollect the date, but it was a year or two before the death of the said Orpah Jordan. He further states that he was the subscribing witness to said deed and believes that the said Mrs. Edith Jordan requested him the said Wood to take said Deed and have it recorded and he the said neglected to do it, because he thought the said Edith acted under the influence of her negroes. He further states the said Edith said the reason for giving nearly all her blacks to the one grand child was because the negroes wished it so and she did not want to part them. He further states he has written several other instruments wharin she conveyed her property, but does not recollect the dates or particulars relative therto. He further states that he does not believe the said Edith Jordan was capable of conveying her property, and that he thinks her negroes influenced her as they wished. He further states that he thinks she should have had a guardian many years before he left Carolina; And further this deponent sayeth not       /s/ Isaac F. Wood

Edith Jordan Will (1833), Edith Jordan Estate File (1835), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Moses Farmer Sr.

Moses Farmer Sr. of Edgecombe County [near Toisnot Swamp, later Wilson County] made out his will in 1844. Among its very specific provisions were these:

  • Other then a few items mentioned, all his perishable estate was to be sold “except my negroes,” and the tract of land on which his brother Samuel Farmer lived was to be sold privately if it would bring $250. Otherwise it was to be sold at auction.

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  • If the sale of the perishables and the Samuel Farmer tract did not raise enough cash to settle Moses Farmer’s debts, Farmer directed his executor to sell “enough of my negroes either at public or private sale to the best advantage such as he thinks most suitable”

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  • Farmer’s wife or eldest son Larry D. Farmer were to hire”Negro woman called big Chainny” from the estate “as long as she is hired out at a reasonable price for each year.”

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  • As Samuel Farmer was “verry much indebted” to Moses Farmer, and possibly unable to pay his debts, Moses let his executor decide whether to sell Samuel’s “negroes at private sale if they can agree on the price if not to have them sold at public sale.” Either way, the executor was to buy Samuel’s “negro woman Mariny” for Moses’ estate and hire her out to Samuel for $10 per year as long as he remained in-state. At Samuel’s death, Mariny was “to be disposed of as” Moses’ property. If Samuel tried to move Mariny out of state, however, she was to be sold. [Who was Mariny to Samuel? Why did not Moses take some measures to keep her with Samuel even as he gave permission for the people enslaved with her to be sold off?]

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Moses Farmer Sr. died in 1848. His estate file does not appear to contain an inventory of his enslaved people. However, it does contain the petition filed by Farmer’s heirs at the November 1848 session of court seeking to sell “a certain slave named Rina or Marina” in order to divide her value among them. The petition was granted. On 1 January 1949, Joshua Barnes purchased Marina for $325.

Will of Moses Farmer (1844), North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; Moses Farmer (1844), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

 

Totten defrauds veteran freedmen.

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In September 1867, Major William A. Cutler passed a report up the chain to his superior in the Freedmen’s Bureau.”… J.E. Totten at Joyners N.C. [Elm City] has been defrauding Freedmen by obtaining from them their “Discharges” from the U.S. Army by false representations …”

Bureau R.F.&A.L., Office Asst.Sub.Asst.Com., Rocky Mount, N.C., Sept. 6th, 1867.

Maj. C.E. Compton, Sub. Asst. Com., Goldsboro, N.C.

Major:

Howell Vine (colored) gave me the enclosed receipt, & I feel it my duty to send it to you, as he is anxious to obtain his discharge papers again.

From his statement it seems that he was deceived at the time he gave them into the hands of J.E. Totten and thought that Totten was sent by the Bureau to look after the interest of the freed people.

You will learn by the note written by Cd. Frank H. Bennett (register) that this not the only case of the kind.

I sent a note to the county clerk of Wilson county to find whether Totten had obtained the county seal to the certificate on the back of the claim.

I enclose the letter which I received in reply to the note.

I have the honor to be, Very Respectfully Your Obdt. svt, Wm. A. Cutler, Maj. & A.S.A.C.

——

Though his encounter with J.E. Totten apparently took place in Wilson County, and the Bureau made inquiries with the Wilson County clerk, it is not clear whether Howell Vines ever actually lived in the county. Joseph Totten, 29, is listed as a store clerk in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County, living in the household of Joseph Conte, 52, “g & gd march retl” [grocery and dry goods merchant retail].

Per muster records, Howell Vine (or Vines) enlisted in Company B, 14th Regiment, U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 21 March 1864 in Washington, North Carolina. He was described as 32 years of age; five feet nine inches tall; with black complexion, black eyes and wooly hair. He reported being born in Edgecombe County.

In the 1870 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: farmer Howell Vines, 36; wife Priscilla, 35; and children James and Jenny, 14, Lucy, 12, Sarah, 2, and  Charlie, 1.

In the 1880 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: farmer Howell Vines, 52; wife Cillar, 42; and children James and Jennie, 24, Lucy, 21, Sarah, 13, and Charlie, 10.

Lucilla Vines applied for a widow’s pension on 20 July 1891.

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; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Coffield Ellis.

On 28 January 1854, Coffield Ellis of Edgecombe County penned a will that included these provisions:

  • to wife Penninah Ellis, enslaved people Minny, Lewis, Robbin, Jacob, Young Minny, Turner, Jane, Laurence, Bright, Chaney, Greene, Mary, Jonas, Charlott, Frances, Robert, Ellen, Annah, Calvin, Cherry, Faroby, Littleton, Bryant and George. After Penninah’s death, Robert and Charlotte were to go to son William Ellis.
  • if “at any time during her life [wife Penninah] became tired of keeping any of the said negroes she may call three disinterested men together and point out to them said such of said negroes as she wishes to get clear of,” to be divided between their daughters Sally, wife of William Barnes, and Louisa, wife of James Barnes.
  • to son William Ellis, the right to take any of Coffield Ellis’ slaves to use, when water level is low, to complete a canal in Toisnot Swamp
  • “if my faithful servant Old Miney shall survive my wife,” she shall be able to choose a master from his three children
  • to daughter Sally, wife of William Barnes, an enslaved woman named Gilly
  • to daughter Louisa, wife of James Barnes, an enslaved woman named Caroline

Coffield Ellis Will, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

The will and estates of William and Unity Ellis.

Per Powell and Powell, Wilson County Founding Families (2009), published by Wilson County Genealogical Society, William Ellis was born about 1740 in what was then Chowan County, North Carolina. He married Unity Dixon and settled in an area of Edgecombe County that is now Wilson County. His and Unity Ellis’ children were Willie, William, Coffield, Dixon, John, Gray, Jonathan and Spicy Ellis.

William Ellis made out his will on Christmas Eve 1812 in Edgecombe County:

  • to wife Unity Ellis, a life interest in the plantation on which lived lying at the fork of Mill or Panthers Branch and Toisnot Swamp, to revert to son Willie Ellis at her death. Also, Unity received life interests in enslaved people Arthur, Jonas, Isham, Belford, Lisle, Pat, Mimah, Treasy and Hester.
  • to son Coffield Ellis, a grist mill and land lying on the south side of Mill Branch, as well as slaves Sam and Harry, who were available to Unity Ellis during her lifetime or until Coffield turned 21
  • to son Dixon Ellis, the plantation on which William formerly lived on White Oak Swamp and a second parcel of land, as well as slave Giddeon
  • to son John Ellis, the plantation on which John lived on the main road from Tarboro to Stanton’s Bridge [roughly modern N.C. Highways 111 and 222], containing 149 acres, as well as a second one-hundred-acre tract and an enslaved man named Jack
  • to son Gray Ellis, if he had heirs, a plantation near Tarboro containing 125 acres (to go to son Jonathan Ellis if Gray had no lawful children) and an enslaved man named Bob
  • to son Jonathan Ellis, a plantation on the south side of the main road from Tarboro to Greenville, containing 100 acres, and an enslaved man named Guilford
  • to daughter Spicey Ellis, a plantation on the south side of Toisnot Swamp on the main road from Stanton’s Bridge to Tarboro, containing 100 acres, and slaves Hannah, Byhuel, Chaney and Beedy
  • to son William, an enslaved man named Jim; and
  • to son Willie, slaves Anthony and Mol, who were available to Unity Ellis during her lifetime or until Willie turned 21

Unity Ellis died in 1817, before the settlement of William Ellis’ estate. Her share of William’s enslaved estate was divided thus: to son John, Arthur ($525) and Pat ($5); to son Dixon, Jonas ($712); to son Coffield, Belfour ($712); for son Willie, Isham ($636); for son Jonathan, Mima, Sary and Clary ($888); and to son William, Trease ($600) and Hester ($350). Lisle, presumably, died between 1812 and 1818, and Sarah and Clara were born to Mima during the same period.

——

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isom Ellis, 67; wife Patience, 62; and son (grandson?) Jacob, 18, farm laborer.

Perhaps, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40, farm laborer; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4.

Will of William Ellis (1812); Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Sukey’s journey, part 1.

Recd. of Jas. B. Woodard a negro girl Sucky in his possession as Execr. of Obedience Brownrigg decd., the legacy of Alfred Brownrigg which said girl was sold by Alfred Brownrigg to Edwin Brownrigg in as good health & Condition as he recd. her under the will of Mrs. Brownrigg, and obligates to hold him the sd. Woodard harmless in Event any difficulty should rise from the delivery of sd. negro.    Feby. 14th 1842  Jno. Wright for Edwin Brownrigg

——

Waynesboro, N.C., 15 Feb. 1842

Edwin Barnes, Esq., Tosnot Depot

Dr Sir, You will please hand Mr. Barnes the above receipt for Sucky. If it does not suit him, write out any thing to give him such as will satisfy him. I am under many obligations to you for the trouble I have put you to in this and other matters of mine. I am much in hopes yr health will speedily return.

Yours Truly, Jno. Wright

——

This note and receipt are transcribed 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 in 2003. What is going on here?

Obedience Thomas Tartt Brownrigg died in 1840, likely on her plantation near White Oak Swamp in what was then Edgecombe County. She had drafted a will in April 1839, and among its many bequests were these:

  • to daughter Maria Burden [Borden] — “Tom Penny Dennis & William & Maria & Jim & Ellick
  • to son Alfred Brownrigg — “one negro girl by the name of Susan”
  • to daughter Obedience Wright — “one boy Henry one boy Lonor one negroe woman named Winny one boy Bryant one boy John also one girl named Angy & Anscy
  • also to daughter Obedience Wright — “one negro woman named Cloy one negro man named Joe and all my Table & Tea Spoons it it my Will and desire that the labor of Joe Shall Support the Old Woman Cloy her life time then Joe to Obedience Wright”

Obedience Brownrigg’s first husband was Elnathan Tartt, who died in 1796. As shown here, he bequeathed his wife an enslaved woman named Cloe [Chloe], who is surely the Cloy named above, and man named Ellic, who is probably Ellick.

Obedience’s second husband was George Brownrigg, who died without a will in 1821. An inventory of his estate included enslaved people Ellick, Chloe, Joe, Jem, Tom, Penny, Drury, Tom, Annie, Matilda, Suckey, Clara, Fereba, Sarah, Clarky, Anthony, Rachel, Mary, Nelson, Emily, Julia and Abram, and several others unnamed in a petition for division of negroes filed by his heirs in 1825. Ellick and Chloe surely are the man and woman Obedience brought to the marriage. I have not found evidence of the distribution of George Brownrigg’s enslaved property, but Joe, Tom, Penny and Susan seem to have passed to his wife Obedience. (Suckey, pronounced “Sooky,” was a common nickname for Susan.)

So, back to the receipt.

George Brownrigg bequeathed Susan “Sukey” to his widow Obedience about 1821. Obedience Brownrigg in turn left Sukey to her son Alfred Brownrigg. Alfred Brownrigg quickly sold Sukey to his brother Edwin Barnes Brownrigg. On 15 February 1842, Edwin’s representative John Wright took possession of Sukey from James B. Woodard, Obedience Brownrigg’s executor. Wright was married to Eliza Obedience Brownrigg Wright, daughter to Obedience Brownrigg and sister to Alfred and Edwin.

The note is less clear. Wright, who lived in Waynesborough (once the Wayne County seat, now long defunct) is asking someone (the unnamed “sir”) to deliver the receipt to Edwin Barnes of Toisnot Depot (now Wilson.) There were several Edwin Barneses in southeast Edgecombe (to become Wilson) County at that time.  And Edwin Brownrigg’s middle name was Barnes. Are Edwin Barnes and Edwin Brownrigg the same man, whose name was misgiven in one or the documents? In other words, should the receipt have been made out instead to the Edwin Barnes mentioned in the note? If this were the case, the note would make immediate sense. As to Sukey, I’ll explore a possible twist to her story in another post.]

Estate Records of Obedience Brownrigg, Estate Records of George Brownrigg, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

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.”

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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.

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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