enslaved people

Sky-high taxes.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 January 1930.

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Store keeper Michael Barker, born in Lithuania in 1885, adopted the tone and tenor of native-born Wilsonians in his contribution to the paper regarding a conversation with Rebecca Daniel Pate, who was born enslaved and lived along enough to chat with folks like Barker at the start of the Great Depression.

Rebecca Pate’s parents were Arch and Leah Daniel. In a different article, Pate is said to have identified her former owners as “the Duprees.” Neither Daniel nor Dupree is a surname associated with Wayne County’s Quaker meetings.

George Applewhite and the Lowry Gang.

When searching for information about the men and women enslaved by Council Applewhite, I ran across this transcription, which appears to reflect an article published on 8 July 1875 in the Norfolk Virginian:

THE FOLLOWING HISTORY OF GEORGE APPLEWHITE, THE ROBESON COUNTY OUTLAW RECENTLY CAPTURED IN GOLDSBORO IS GIVEN BY THE MESSENGER.

George Applewhite was born in Wilson County and was the slave of Council Applewhite. His half brother, Addison Applewhite, lives in Goldsboro. His mother now lives near Stantonsburg. George was afterwards given in marriage to Mr. William R. Peacock of Wythe and apprenticed to learn the plastering trade. He is a dark mulatto stoutly built about 34 years old. In 1866 he accompanied Mr. Peacock to Robeson where he worked in turpentine. It was there he married a sister of Henderson Oxendine, one of the Lowery Gang who was afterwards hung at Lumberton. Applewhite’s wife now lives in Robeson County being thrown by marriage in association with the outlaws then warring on the citizens of Robeson County he soon became one of the gang and is said to have been a most desperate character. In 1869 he was arrested on charges of being an accomplice in the killing of Sheriff Reuben King for which he was tried and convicted and sentenced to be hanged in Columbus County.

A Wilson County man rode with Henry Berry Lowry?

[NOTE: What follows is an abbreviated account of George Applewhite’s involvement with the Lowry Band. I strongly urge you to seek out a more in-depth understanding of the Lowry War, which was rooted in the increasing marginalization of Native people and free people of color in the antebellum period and fierce conflict arising from conscription of Native men to work for the Confederacy during the Civil War.  As an introduction to the themes of resistance, revenge and redistribution of wealth that intertwine in this period, please see North Carolina Museum of History’s Community Class Series: Henry Berry Lowrie, Lumbee Legend, which features, among others, the incomparable Lumbee historian Malinda Maynor Lowery.]

After a series of raids and murders of both Native and white men, on March 3, 1865, Allen Lowry and his son William were put to a sham trial, found guilty of theft, and summarily executed. Their deaths sparked the infamous seven-year Lowry War.

George Applewhite arrived in Robeson County after the War began, and his 1868 marriage to Henry Lowry’s first cousin, Elizabeth Oxendine, presumably drew him into the conflict.

On 23 January 1869, Applewhite allegedly shot and killed former sheriff Reuben King during a robbery attempt. Applewhite and seven others were arrested in the fall of 1869. In April 1870, he and Steve Lowry were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. They were sent to Wilmington, North Carolina, to a secure jail in which Applewhite’s brother-in-law Henderson Oxendine was being held, but escaped with the help of Henry Lowry’s wife, Rhoda Strong.

In October 1870, after a raid on a neighbor’s still, a posse cornered the gang at Applewhite’s house. Applewhite was injured in the resulting firefight, but escaped into Long Swamp with others. Henderson Oxendine was captured at Applewhite’s house the following February and hanged in March. In April, Applewhite was ambushed outside his house. Though shot in the neck and back, he escaped. (His children told his attackers he had been shot twice in the mouth, but spit both bullets out.) His brother-in-law Forney Oxendine was arrested. Applewhite holed up at Henry Berry Lowry’s cabin, which came under attack on April 26. Applewhite and Lowry escaped the gun battle and spent several weeks raiding before breaking Forney Oxendine out of jail.

Officials arrested Betsy Applewhite and other family members of the Lowry band in an effort to draw the men out into the open. Lowry threatened retaliation against Robeson County white women, promising “the Bloodiest times … that ever was before.” On July 17, the Lowry band ambushed a police guardsman, resulting in several deaths.

Charlotte Democrat, 18 July 1871.

Shaken citizens demanded a release of the Lowry gang’s wives, and a truce of sorts took hold.

Eight months later, in February 1872, the Lowry Band raided Lumberton, escaping with more than $20,000 from private safes. Henry Berry Lowry was never (officially) seen again, creating a mystery that only burnished his legend to cultural icon. Applewhite, too, disappeared.

The long-winded heading of the New York Herald‘s extensive excerpts from correspondent George Alfred Thompson provides a rough summary of the entire saga (at least from the standpoint of white Robeson County), and the detailed map accompanying the article marked George Applewhite’s cabin with the letter B just south of Shoeheel, or modern-day Maxton. M, between his house and the railroad, marks the place he was shot in 1871.

The Swamp Angels. — The Blood Trail of the North Carolina Outlaws. — How Lowery Avenged the Murders of a Father and a Brother. — Cain’s Brand the Test of Admission to the Gang. — A War of Races. — The Outlaws in the Swamp-The Judge on the Bench-The Ku Klux on their Nightly Raids. — Lowery Breaks Prison Twice. — Sheriff King, Norment, Carlisle, Steve Davis and Joe Thompson’s Slave Murdered by the Band. — Killing the Outlaws’ Relatives When They Cannot Catch the Gang. — A Promise That Was Kept: “I Will Kill John Taylor — There’s No Law for Us Mulattoes.” — Aunt Phoebe’s Story. — The Hanging of Henderson Oxendine. — Outlaw Zach McLaughlin Shot By an Impressed Outlaw. — The Black Nemesis.

New York Herald, 8 March 1872.

Applewhite was arrested in Columbus, Georgia, late that fall. The Herald‘s breathless report mentions that he had committed a “terrible murder in the eastern section of the State at the close of the Civil War,” but this appears to be a misattribution. Applewhite was not in Robeson County at that time.

New York Herald, 6 November 1872.

But was this in fact George Applewhite? I have found no follow-up to this pronouncement, and no report of his extradition to North Carolina. Rather, in July 1875 Applewhite was arrested in Goldsboro, where he had been living for years under the pseudonym Bill Jackson. Two African-American men, Bryant Capps and William Freeman, violently apprehended him, and he was jailed in Columbus County, N.C.

Weekly Telegraph and Journal & Messenger (Macon GA), 13 July 1875.

Applewhite obtained top-notch counsel, who exploited a technicality to win his release under state’s Amnesty Act, which pardoned persons found responsible for political violence in the years after the Civil War. The Act had been intended to shield Ku Klux Klansmen from prosecution and contained a provision excepting Steve Lowry, alone of the Lowry Band, from its protection. (The General Assembly likely assumed Henry Lowry and Applewhite were dead.) After a North Carolina Supreme Court ruling on the issue of whether Applewhite’s appeal of his conviction and death sentence had rendered him eligible for amnesty, Applewhite was freed.

Raleigh’s Daily Sentinel published a sympathetic portrait of Applewhite shortly after his release, outlining his background and questioning his culpability in the crimes attributed to him.

Daily Sentinel (Raleigh, N.C.), 28 June 1876.

Applewhite did return to Goldsboro. His wife Betsy and children remained in Robeson County, and he remarried in 1880. His date of death is not known.

——

George Applewhite, “The North Carolina Bandits,Harper’s Weekly, 30 March  1872, p. 249.

On 10 September 1869, the Wilmington (N.C.) Journal published descriptions of “the Robeson outlaws,” including George Applewhite:

Though Applewhite is described elsewhere as a dark mulatto, Herald correspondent George Alfred Thompson sought to demonize him by resorting to exaggerated stereotypes:

“George Applewhite is a regular negro, of a surly, determined look, with thick features, woolly hair, large protuberances above the eyebrows, big jaws and cheek bones and a black eye.

“He is a picture of a slave at bay. Mrs. [Harriet Beecher] Stowe might have drawn ‘Dred‘ from him.”

And: “Applewhite was an alert, thick-lipped, deep-browed, wooly headed African, with a steadfast, brutal expression.”

This pixelated image of Applewhite, the only version I could find on line, is the only known photograph of the man.

——

George Applewhite was born in the Stantonsburg area of what is now Wilson County about 1848 to Obedience Applewhite and Jerre Applewhite.

George Applewhite married Elizabeth C. Oxendine on 15 August 1868 in Robeson County, North Carolina.

In the 1870 census of Burnt Hall township, Robeson County: Betsey Appelwhite, 28; her children John, 12, Robert, 10, Emilie, 4, and Adeline, 2; and brother Furney Oxendine, 20.

In the 1880 census of Burnt Hall township, Robeson County: Betsy Applewhite, 38, described as a widow; and children Mariah, 15, Addena, 11, Forney, 6, and Polly, 4.

In the 1880 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, North Carolina: George Applewhite, 32, plasterer, living alone.

On 12 September 1880, George Applewhite, 32, of Wayne County, son of Jerre and Beady Applewhite (father dead; mother living in Wilson County), married Martha Hodges, 16, of Wayne County, daughter of Graham and Mary Hodges, in Goldsboro, Wayne County.

The last reference to George Applewhite I’ve found is this account of Christmas Day fight between Applewhite and Arthur Williams:

Goldsboro Messenger, 31 December 1883.

The estates of Ephraim Daniel and Zilpha Fort Daniel.

The second in a series documenting enslaved people held by the Daniel family, who lived in the Black Creek area in what was once Wayne County:

Though Ephraim Daniel named only four enslaved people — Simon, Temperance, Robbin and May —  in his will, estate documents reveal that he claimed 26 at the time of his death in 1822. On December 16 of that year, 22 enslaved people were sold to 16 different buyers in the liquidation of Daniel’s estate.

The men, women, and children dispersed from their homes were James (purchased by Hardy Horn and maybe the Jim referred to in Horn’s will and estate file); Jacob; Bob; Oen; Burden; Peter; Enos; Levi; Sarah; Fan; Hester; Jury and child Amy; Silviar; old man Bob; Lany and her three children George, Sintha, and Moses; old man Ned; old man Dick; and Isaac Hoods “the use of him reserved to the old Widow Hood her life time.”

Zilpha Daniel died just two years after her husband Ephraim. An inventory of her estate listed six enslaved people among her property. On 2 January 1826, her belongings went on the block. Her son Rufus hired out Hester; Simon, his wife, and children; and Oen [Owen], who was described as “very sick,” until March 1. On 11 March 1826, all were offered for sale. Rufus Daniel bought Simon, Temperance, and their children Robert and May, whom his father had specifically passed to Zilpha under the terms of his 1822 will.

Estate Files of Ephraim Daniel (1822) and Zilpha Daniel (1824), Wayne County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

The estate of Elisha Woodard Jr.

Elisha Woodard Jr., son of Elisha and Mary Elizabeth Sasser Woodard, lived north of Contentnea Creek in an area of Edgecombe County now in Wilson County. When he died in 1835 at age 80, he left 14 heirs stretching from Edgecombe County across the South. Treasy Woodard, Henry Woodard, Elisha Woodard, Patsy Woodard Batts and her husband William Batts, Zylphia Eure, Josiah Woodard (a minor), Anna Woodard (a minor), and Henry Benson lived in Edgecombe; Elizabeth Peele and her husband John Peele in Georgia; Nathan Woodard and Jethro Benson in Alabama; and Treasy Stokes and husband John Stokes, Judith Amason and husband Levi Amason, Betsy Boyte and husband Patrick Boyte in Tennessee.

Elisha Woodard’s estate included Old Ben, Young Ben, Jesse, Old Beck, Young Beck, Hester, Mary, Sylley, and Ethel[illegible]. Per administrator Stephen Woodard’s Petition for Sale & Division of Negroes, presented to court at November Term 1835, “owing to the small number of slaves & the large number of those entitled to distribution it is impossible to make a fair & equitable division of the same without a sale.”

Detail of petition.

Estate file of Elisha Woodard (1835), North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com.

African-American members of Lower Black Creek P.B. Church, part 8.

Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist Church, founded in 1783, was the second church organized in what is now Wilson County. (It closed its doors in 2010.) The church’s nineteenth and early twentieth-century records includes names of enslaved and freed African-American members, who worshipped with the congregation as second-class Christians even after Emancipation.

This page is entitled “A list of Names & members belonging to the church at Black Creek Meeting House Wayne County.” It is not dated, but the left margin contains baptism dates (and suggests the page was compile from earlier data.) Additional info appears for a few members in the right-hand column. Four “servants,” i.e., enslaved people, appear in the list.

  • Choe, a servant of John Barnes, baptized in 1827
  • Joe, a [servant of] of William Horne, baptized in 1828, “dead”
  • Jim, a servant of John Hooks, baptized in 1828
  • Mary, a [servant] belonging [to] T. Wasson, baptized in August 1852

 

The last will and testament of Jonathan Bailey.

In the name of God Amen. I Jonathan Bailey of the County of Edgecombe and State of North Carolina do this 6th day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty One, being of sound disposing mind and memory do make and publish this my last will and testament in the form and manner following.

1st. I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Lucy Braswell, one Negro boy by the name of Jacob to her and her heirs forever.

2nd I give and bequeath unto the heirs of my daughter, Polly Taylor one Negro girl by the name of Amy

3rd I lend unto my daughter, Sally Jordan, the land whereon she now lives and after her death to be equally divided betwixt her children. I also lend unto my daughter, Sally Jordan, one Negro girl named Sucky, and after her death the said Sucky with all her increas to be divided betwixt the children of the said Sally Jordan.

4th I lend unto my daughter, Nancy Ruffin, the land whereon she now lives during her natural life and after her death to be equally divided betwixt her children. Also I lend unto Nancy Ruffin one Negro girl named Ellen and after her death the said Negro girl Ellen with all her increased to be equally divided betwixt the heirs of the said Nancy Ruffin

5th I give unto the heirs of my son, Berry Bailey, lawfully begotten of his body all my land lying on the north side of the road adjoining the land of Mathew Whitehead, Jeremiah Batts, and others. I also give unto the heirs of Berry Bailey as above one negro boy named Lewis.

6th I give unto my grandchildren, David Lawrence Williams and Elizabeth Williams one Negro girl named Mary and one hundred and twenty dollars in cash to be equally divided betwixt them, but should either of them die without having a lawful heir, the living one to have the others part, and should both die the said property to return to the Baily family.

7th I lend unto my daughter, Rebecca May, one Negro girl named Esther, during her natural life, together with her increase and after her death to be equally divided betwixt the children of the said Rebecca May lawfully begotten of her body. I also give unto my daughter, Rebecca May, one hundred and twenty dollars in cash.

8th I give unto my son, Bert Bailey all my tract of land whereon I now live also one Negro boy by the name of Petter.

9th I lend unto my daughter, Martha Amason, one Negro woman named Mariah, one Negro girl named Betty, one Negro child named Chaney, one Negro girl named Patience, and one girl named Cherry together with all their increase and I further give the said Martha Amason, the right to dispose of any part of said Negroes as she may think proper.

10th My will and desire is that all my property which is not disposed of above be sold and all my just debts be paid and the balance remaining to be queally divided betwixt my children as follows: Lucy Braswell, Polly Taylor, Sally Jordan, Nancy Ruffin, Dilly’s two children, viz David Lawrence and Elizabeth, being Bailey heirs, Rebecca May and Nancy Ruffin.

11th I hereby appoint my son, Bert Bailey, Thomas Amason, and Jeremiah Batts Executors to this my last will and testament.

Signed sealed and acknowledged in presence of: D. Williams Thomas Fly

Jonathan Bailey

——

Jonathan Bailey lived in an area of Edgecombe County that became southeast Wilson County in 1855. His will entered probate in 1852.

Will of Jonathan Bailey (1851), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Lemon P. Stanton.

On 12 October 1844, Lemon P. Stanton of the Stantonsburg area drafted a will that, among other things, bequeathed a man named Larry to his nephew George W. Stanton and an enslaved family to his niece and nephew, Louisa and Lemuel DeBerry.

The will entered probate in February 1846, and six years later, the court received this  petition to partition Negroes:

The takeaways:

  • Stanton’s will left the DeBerry siblings an enslaved woman named Phillis, her children Alford and Curtis, and any future children.
  • As the time of the petition in early 1852, Phillis had four children — Alford, Curtis, Romulus, and Laura. Another child, Haywood, had died.
  • Phillis and her children were in the care of Lemuel DeBerry Senior, guardian of Louisa and Lemuel DeBerry.
  • In November 1850, Louisa DeBerry had married Ferdinand H. Whitaker, the petitioner.
  • Whitaker sought the partition of Phillis and her children so that his wife could get the half owed her under her uncle’s will.
  • Lemuel DeBerry chimed in that he was “equally desirous” of partition. However, he later filed a memorandum with the court explaining that he was not certain, but Stanton’s will might have directed payout to the DeBerrys only when they reached age 21 — Louisa was 20 and Lemuel Jr., 18.

The digitized file contains no order in response to Whitaker’s petition. Inevitably, though, dividing the group in half would have meant that Phillis and one or more of her children were separated.

Will Book F, page 334, Edgecombe County Register of Deeds Office, Tarboro, North Carolina; Estate of Leeman P. Stanton, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Estate Files, http://www.familysearch.org.

African-Americans excommunicated from Lower Black Creek P.B. church, part 7.

Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist Church, founded in 1783, was the second church organized in what is now Wilson County. (It closed its doors in 2010.) The church’s nineteenth and early twentieth-century records includes names of enslaved and freed African-American members, who worshipped with the congregation as second-class Christians even after Emancipation.

This page continues with names of members excommunicated for serious infractions of church rules or doctrine. The page includes references to four enslaved African-Americans, including one man cast out for disobedience. As Primitive Baptists did not practice infant baptism, the four were, if not adults, then nearly so, and thus were all born in the very late 1700s or early 1800s. Some may have lived to see Emancipation, but even if they remained in Wilson County, I have no way to identify them further.

The estates of Barnes and Roderick Amason.

It’s not a common surname in Wilson County anymore, but in the early 1800s a prosperous extended family of Amasons (Amersons) lived in the Stantonsburg area (in what was then Edgecombe County, North Carolina). They owned extensive real property and considerable slaves, and often left estates that spent years in probate as family members bickered, and heirs and administrators died.

This post is third in a series featuring documents from Amason family estate files.

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Roderick Amason was appointed administrator of his brother Barnes Amason’s estate soon after Barnes’ death in April 1844.

On 25 October 1844, at Joshua Wilkinson’s store, John A. Tyson testified in a deposition that on 10 June 1844 that he “happend in company with Roderic Amason & General Moye at Daniel & Rountrees store in Stantonsburg and that Mr. Gill had presented his account against Barnes Amason ….” Amason had run up credit with Andrew E. Gill, but a number of credits reduced the debt. For 1840, that credit included the  “Hire of 2 Hands” on December 22 for 80 cents. For 1843 and 1844, Amason’s credits included the hire of an enslaved man named Jerry to Gill.

At November Term of Edgecombe County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Roderick Amason filed a petition for division stating that “the slaves belonging to the estate of … Barnes [Amason] will not be required for the purpose of paying the debts of said intestate, there being ample personalty besides them for that purpose. That of them, there are fifteen as follows — 1 Frank 2 Mourning 3 Stephen 4 Jack 5 Solomon 6 Jerry 7 Richmond 8 Lucy 9 Jinny 10 Hilliard 11 Judy 12 Rosa 13 Dyer 14 Patsy & 15 Sally,” and they should be divided among Barnes’ heirs, who consisted of his siblings and their children.

Roderick himself died in December 1844, however. Wyatt Moye — state senator and slave dealer — took over as administrator of both estates. His stewardship of both estates was contentious.

In October 1845, B.B. Bell complained to Edgecombe County court that Moye owed him $63.21 from the estate of Roderick Amason.

A justice of the peace sided with Bell and noted that Moye claimed that he had paid out sums greater than the cash at hand, but noted “there is four negroes yet to be sold.”

At August Term, the heirs complained to the court that Wyatt Moye was still holding on to Barnes Amason’s estate and had refused to make full distribution, a charge Moye denied.

I have not been able to determine the fates of the enslaved people held by Barnes and Roderick Amason.

Estate of Roderick Amason, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estates of Jesse and Patience Aycock.

Revolutionary War veteran Jesse Aycock (1743-1823) lived in the Nahunta area of Wayne County, N.C., but owned property in what would become Black Creek township, Wilson County. This property included the land upon which Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist church stood; he bequeathed the parcel to the church in his 1822 will.

The Aycocks attended Lower Black Creek P.B., as did their slaves. Church records mention a woman Hannah owned by Jesse Aycock, and Briton(?) and Peter, owned by Aycock’s second wife, Patience Aycock.

Jesse Aycock drafted his will on 7 November 1822. To his wife Patience, he left a lifetime interest in “four negroes by names Jacob Peter and two by name of Haner.” (In other words, the four were Jacob, Peter, Hannah, and Hannah.)

Aycock owned additional slaves, as evidenced by a subsequent provision: “I leave all my Negroes that I have not lent to my wife to be sold with Balance of my Estate.” The proceeds were to be used to pay off his debts, and any remainder was to be distributed among his children and grandchildren.

Further, after Patience Aycock’s death, Jesse Aycock’s enslaved people were to be sold, with “Peter and Haner to be sold together.” (Presumably, they were a married couple and perhaps were elderly.)

Jesse Aycock died in 1823, leaving many dozens of heirs by his first wife and an estate whose settlement dragged on for decades.

Patience Aycock drafted her will on 4 June 1824. Though she had life estates in her husband’s slaves, she could not devise them to anyone, and her will only mentions a woman named Rose, who was to go to her son Joel Newsom.

The inventory of Patience Aycock’s estate, made in November 1827, confirmed that she owned only one enslaved person outright:

“An Inventory of the Property of Patience Acock Deecast Late of Wayne County Taken the 3rd of November 1827 by Hardy Williamson”

Will of Jesse Aycock (1822), Wayne County, North Carolina, U.S. Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com; Estate of Patience Aycock (1827), Wayne County, North Carolina, U.S. Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com.