enslaved people

The estate of Hardy H. Williamson.

Hardy H. Williamson died without a will in 1858, and his brother Raiford Williamson was appointed administrator of his estate. He died  possessed of 15 enslaved people.

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Six “boys” (at least some of whom were in their 20’s) were hired out for short terms while the estate was in probate:

These are the enslaved people named in Hardy H. Williamson’s will. Their lives, if possible, will be explored in detail elsewhere with updated links here.  Daniel, Edmond, and Alex are believed to be brothers — the sons of Silvy. (Though not the Silvy listed here.) Angy, Silvy, Henry and Spencer were Liddy’s children by Handy Atkinson, who had a different owner.

Negro man Sesor.

On 11 July 1821, Hardy Williamson prepared an inventory of the property “lent” to his mother Ann Williamson under the terms of the will of his father Joseph Williamson. (“Lent” indicates that Ann Williamson received a life estate in the property. In other words, it was hers during her lifetime, but once she died, it reverted to Joseph Williamson’s estate, to be distributed under additional terms of his will.)

The first line item is astonishing: 1 Negro Man Sesor 75 years old

Caesar was born in 1746. He may have been born in Africa, though not necessarily, as there were tens of thousands of enslaved people in America at the time of his birth. What is certain, however, is that for now he is the oldest African-American documented by name in what is now Wilson County.

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Estate of Ann Williamson (1822), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Hardy Williamson.

I had the great fortune recently of reuniting — after more than 20 years — with Gregory D. Cosby, who descends from and has extensively researched the Williamson and Shaw families of the Lucama area. Flipping through Cosby’s Eight Generations: The Williamson Family of Lucama, North Carolina, An African-American Legacy (1998) has spurred me to take a closer look at documents related to these families.

There were a number of white Williamson families living in the areas of Wilson County that were once parts of Johnston and Nash Counties in the early 19th century. For now, I am looking at records documenting the enslaved men and women — which included members of Gregory Cosby’s family — of the family of Hardy Williamson (1761-1833), son of Joseph and Ann Williamson. (See here for details of Ann Williamson’s estate.) The children of Hardy Williamson and his wife Sarah (Nichols, or Newsome, researchers disagree) were Martha, Joseph, John P., James E., Patience, Stephen, Nancy, Raiford, Elizabeth, Hardy H., Zilpha, and Bethana Williamson.

Hardy Williamson wrote out his will in Johnston County in 1829. The will entered probate in 1833, but I have not found a copy of the estate file.

——

In the Name of God Amen I Hardy Williamson of the County of Johnston and State of North Carolina being in Pefect mind and memory thanks be given unto God Calling to mind the mortality of my body and Knowing that it is appointed for all men once to Die Do make and ordain this my Last will and Testament that is to say Principally and first of all I give and Recommend my soul unto the Almighty God who gave it and my Body I recommend to the Earth to be Buried in Decent and Christian manner at the Descretion of my Executors and as Touching such Worldly Estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this Life I give Demise and Despose of the same in the manner following that is to say I Lend unto Sarah William[son] my beloved wife all my Land Lying in Johnston County during her natural Life and after her Decease I give and Bequeath all the said Land unto my beloved son Hardy H. Williamson to him and his heirs forever I likewise Lend unto my wife Six Negroes Jane Silvy Sampson trion Aid Daniel During her natural Life after her Decease I give and bequeath Jane and Sampson to my beloved Daughter Martha Peelle to her and her heirs forever Likewise after my wife Decease I give to my beloved son Joseph Williamson trion I Likewise give him one Negro girl by the name of Fonne and all her increase to him and all his heirs forever Likewise after my wife Decease I give and bequeath unto my beloved son Hardy H. Williamson three Negroes viz Silvy aid and Daniel they and there increase to him and his heirs forever I Likewise give and bequeath unto my beloved son Raford Williamson two negros viz Cater and Simon I Likwis give to him one hundread and twenty Acres of Land Lying in Nash County one horse and one feather bed and furniture to him and his heirs forever I Likwis give and bequeath unto my beloved son James Williamson two Negroes Viz Jacob and Nice one horse one feather bed and furniture to him and his heirs forever I Likewise give and bqueath unto my beloved Daughter bethhana Williamson two negro girls Viz mary & Chany Likewise one bed and furniture to her and her heirs forever I have given to my son Stephen williamson the part of my Property alotted for him So I give him Nothing in this will I Likewise have given to my son John Williamson and Patience Watson the Parts of my Property alotted for them so I give them Nothing in their will I likewise give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Nancy Barnes two negroes viz Rhode and Sherod they and there increase to her and her heirs forever I Likewise Give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Elizabeth Whitley two negroes Viz tabitha and Simon to her and her heirs forever I likewise give unto my Beloved Daughter Zilpha Whitley one Negro Girl Named Selah to her and her heirs forever I Likewise give unto my wife Sarah Williamson all the Property belonging to me which is not mentioned in this will to Do as She thinks best for her children I Do Likewise Constitute make and ordain Matthew Peelle and Raford Williamson the Sole Executors of this my Last will and Testament Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my Last will and Testament in Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand this 12th Day of November one thousand Eight hundred and twentynine    /s/ Hardy Williamson

Signed sealed and Delivered in Presence of us John Peelle, William Peelle, James Williamson

——

The enslaved people named in Hardy Williamson’s will, whose lives, if possible, will be explored in detail elsewhere:

  • Jane
  • Silvey
  • Sampson
  • Trion — Probably, Trial Williamson.
  • Aid
  • Daniel — This is possibly Daniel Williamson, but if so, he was a young boy at the time.
  • Fonne
  • Cater
  • Simon
  • Jacob
  • Nice
  • Mary
  • Chany
  • Rhode
  • Sherod
  • Tabitha
  • Simon
  • Selah

Will of Hardy Williamson, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

 

 

 

The estate of Jesse S. Barnes.

The children and grandchildren of Jesse and Edith Jordan Barnes were among Wilson County’s wealthiest planters. Elias Barnes’ estate records are especially rich sources of information about enslaved people, but it is not unique.

Barnes’ son Jesse Sharpe Barnes was, perhaps, family’s golden child. Born in 1838, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and established a prosperous law practice in Wilson. Jesse S. Barnes enlisted in a South Carolina militia company in 1860 and in the spring of 1861 recruited his friends and neighbors into the Wilson Light Infantry. In a few months, he mustered into Company F, 4th North Carolina State Troops as a captain. In April 1862, while enlisted, Barnes drafted his will, leaving all his property to his mother Mahala Sharpe Barnes. A little over a month later, he was killed at the Battle of Seven Pines, Virginia.

This portrait of Jesse S. Barnes is in the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In “an inventory of the property of Jesse S. Barnes deceased which came into my hands as Executor this __ day of ___ A.D. 1863,” William Barnes Jr. itemized the eight enslaved people Jesse Barnes had possessed: “negro man Cooper Caroline negro woman Clarky negro woman, Wash negro boy Celia negro child John 1 year old Charles 8 months old Celia.” He also noted receipt of fifty-six dollars from John Oats for “the hire of a negro.”

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At the time of his death, Jesse Barnes still owned three of the enslaved people he had inherited from his father — Cooper, Clarky and Celia. Hardy was gone, and he had added an adult woman named Caroline and two small children, Charles and Celia. All returned to the community at Mahala Barnes’ plantation on what is now Stancil Town Road, a couple of miles east of Stantonsburg.

Will and Estate Records of Jesse S. Barnes, images available at North Carolina Wills and Estates 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Elias Barnes.

Every once in a while, antebellum Wilson County estate records will offer details about enslaved people that allow you to identify nuclear families and to trace their movements in the tumultuous period after a slaveholder died and a community was broken up. The probate of the undated will of Elias Barnes of Edgecombe County [later the Saratoga area of Wilson County], drafted prior to 1855, is a rich example.

Elias Barnes, son of Jesse and Edith Jordan Barnes, was the brother of prominent farmer, politician and slaveholder Joshua Barnes, often dubbed “Father of Wilson County” for his efforts to establish the county. He married Mahala F. Sharpe, daughter of Benjamin and Anna Farmer Sharpe, in Edgecombe County in 1830.

Barnes’ will included these provisions:

  • to wife Mahala Barnes and children Joshua Barnes, Elias Barnes and Willis Barnes $3584 “worth of my negro slaves” each (unnamed), and
  • to children Benjamin B. Barnes, John S. Barnes, Jesse Barnes, Edith Barnes, and William Barnes $2500 “worth of my negro slaves” each

Elias Barnes was fatally stuck by lightning in June 1856, when most of his children were minors. The inventory of his estate, taken 27 October 1856, included these 55 enslaved people:

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List of Slaves: Jack, Celia, Jim Sr., Elva, Ann, Reddick, Spice, Exy, Mary, Green, Scinda, Siller, Gincey, Daniel, Jim Jr., George, Rachel, Zany, Pleasant, Gilbert, Harry, Charles, Cad, Cooper, Spence, Winny, Brister, Eliza, Minters, Willie, Susan, Albert, Chany, Sarah, Abel, Austin, Adeline, Henry, Hardy, Sampson, Morrison, Liberty, Cary, Lewis, Judith, Jolly, Warren, Hilliard, Edward, Bob Sr., Bob Jr., Clark, Winsor, Gray, Bunny.

Here’s a partial list that includes alternate spellings or full names of some of the people listed above, such as Scinda/Cindy, Cad/Cadmus, Minters/Mentus, and Siller/Priscilla.

Mahala Barnes administered her husband’s estate. At the first of the year following his death, she hired out most of his slaves to family members, like her brother-in-law Joshua Barnes, daughter Anna S. Thompson, and son John P. Barnes. Note these family groups hired out together: Redick, Spice and four children; Gray, Bonny and three children, Sillah and child; and Ax and three children. (And possibly, Clark and Abel and Ann and Sampson.)

Again in January 1858, the enslaved people of Elias Barnes’ estate were hired out. This time, Mahala Barnes was ready to assume control of her husband’s farm operations and hired many herself. Note that Reddick and Spice had had another child together; Bonny/Bunny had had another child; and Elva and Eliza now had two children. (Together? Separately?)

In October of 1858, for just over $2500, administrator Mahala Barnes sold Axey and her two children and Rachel and her child to her brother-in-law Joshua Barnes in his capacity as administrator of the estate of his father Jesse Barnes Sr.

The partition of Elias Barnes’ enslaved property, valued at $32,076.00, was made 1 January 1859:

  • to Benjamin B. Barnes — Gilbert, Jim, Anna, Sampson, valued at $2451.00
  • to John P. Barnes — Bob, Cilla, Spicy and child Ida, and Jolly, valued at $2400.00
  • to Jesse Barnes — Hardy, Clarky and child Celia, and Cooper, valued at $2425.00
  • to Edith Barnes — Cinda, Gray, Bunny and child Violet, and Hilliard, valued at $2550.00
  • to William Barnes — Willie, Winnie and Reddick, valued at $2350.00
  • to Mahala Barnes, widow — Harry, Green, Mary, Elva, Eliza, Austin and Jack (“invalid”), $4175.00 (with a credit of $150 for Jack)
  • the balance in common to minor children Joshua, Elias, Willis and Mahala J. Barnes, valued at $16,725.00

For more on the lives (and deaths) of Elias and Mahala Sharpe Barnes and their children, see Katharina Schichtherle’s article in the Autumn 2015 edition of Military Images, an on-line magazine.

—–

Barnes is far and away the most common surname in Wilson County, black or white. And the universe of given names was far smaller in the mid-1800s than it is now. Further, many freedmen did not adopt the surname of their enslaver at Emancipation, especially women and children whose husbands and fathers had had a different owner. These facts complicate the identification in the postbellum period of the men and women who once lived on Elias Barnes’ plantation.

Nonetheless:

  • “Ann & Sampson”

The pair listed in the 1857 hire list may have been a couple. Harriet Barnes, daughter of Sampson Farmer and Ann Barnes, married Robert Barnes, son of Tony Flowers and Hanah Bass, on 20 July 1867 in Wilson County. (Though if so, where was Harriet in the 1856 inventory?)

  • Austin Barnes

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Austin Barnes, 45; wife Cintha, 33; and children Fonser, 12, and Etna, 7. (The 1870 mortality schedule of Saratoga township lists five deaths in April 1870 in this household, all of pertussis: Mourning, 5, Austin, 4, Loyd, 2, Richard, 3, and Mary, 9 months.)

Austin Barnes, 45, married Ferbe Barnes, 36, on 21 September 1873 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Austin Barnes, 56, farmer; wife Pharby, 44, farmworker; and children Zilla, 6, Thomas, 4, and Pet, 1.

  • Axey Barnes

Axey Barnes and Washington Sims registered their 30-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Washington Simms, 57; wife Exy, 47; and children and likely grandchildren Henry, 32, Catsey [Gatsey], 27, Nathan, 10, Grant, 4, and Harret Simms, 5, Waity Nelson, 18, Joseph, 14, Samuel, 12, Mary, 10, and Della Simms, 8, and Ella Barden, 1; plus William Nelson, 26.

  • Bill Barnes

Possibly, the Bill Barnes who registered his cohabitation with Harriet Ellis on 18 April 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Bill Barnes, 47, farm laborer; wife Harriet, 36; and children Amanda, 15, Bettie, 13, Ellen, 12, Caroline, 9, John, 6, Dinah, 5, Jason, 2, and Lettuce, 7 months.

  • Brister Barnes

Bristor Barnes and Catherine Barnes registered their three-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

  • Cadmus Barnes

Cad Barnes and [Rose] Bearfoot registered their cohabitation on 31 August 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Cadmus Barnes, 23; wife Rose, 27; and children Elly, 3, Fanny, 2, and an infant, 1 month. (The 1870 mortality schedule of Saratoga township lists the death of Baldwin Barnes, 70, in January 1870 in this household.)

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Cadmus Barnes, 45; wife Rose, 28; and children Elvy, 12, Fanny, 9, William Thos., 7, Edwin, 4, and Julia Ann, 2.

  • Charles Barnes and Chaney Barnes

Perhaps, the Charles Barnes and Chaney Barnes who registered their three-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

  • Gray and Bonny Barnes and their children Hilliard, Violet and others.

Gray Barnes and Bunny Barnes registered their 44-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

Hilliard Barnes, 30, married Nancy Baker, 25, on 16 February 1880 in Wilson County. In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Hilliard Barnes, 30; wife Nancy, 28; and Edmund Taborne, 3.

Hilliard Barnes died 6 January 1944 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 100 years old; was born in Wilson County to Gray Barnes and Bernie Barnes; lived at 705 Woodard Line; and was married to Fannie Barnes, age, 70.

  • Green Barnes

Perhaps, Green Barnes who married Sarah Barnes on 17 November 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Greene Barnes, 46; wife Sarah, 26; children Lindy, 12, Mary, 10, Ora, 7, Joseph, 5, Henrietta, 3, and Cinda, 1; and father-in-law James Sharp, 76.

In the 1900 census of Olds township, Greene County: Green Farmer, 65; wife Sarah, 45; and children Joseph, 23, [his wife] Florence, 18; John, 18; Ada, 15; Ivy C., 12; Eddie, 9; Allanora, 7; and Jenette, 5.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Fountain Road, Greene Barnes, 70; wife Sarah, 65; and daughter Mary J., 20. Green reported that he had been married three times.

Lindsey Joyner died 18 March 1924 in Speights Bridge, Greene County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 March 1864 in Pitt County to Green Barnes and Sarah Barnes, both of Wayne County; was married to Charles Joyner; and was buried in Red Hill cemetery [Stantonsburg.] Jesse Joyner was informant.

  • Hardy Barnes

Perhaps, the Hardy Barnes registered his 25-year cohabitation with Mary Barnes with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

Or, in the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Watson Stanton, 65, farm laborer, born in Virginia; wife Rosa, 53; and children Richard, 15, Adeline, 13, Feribee, 8, and Louisa, 21; Cherry Rogers, 80, midwife; and Hardy Barnes, 20, carpenter’s apprentice.

  • Harry Barnes

There were three adult African-American men named Harry Barnes listed in the 1870 census of Wilson County, aged 47, 44 and 26.

  • Lewis Barnes

Perhaps, the Louis Barnes who registered his eight-year cohabitation with Alley Whitley with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Lewis Barnes, 54; wife Harriet, 35; children Gray, 12, Julia, 4, and Louisa, 5 months; and Amanda Barnes, 24, and [her son] Warren Hardy, 2.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, Lewis Barnes, 43, farmer; wife Harriette, 45; children Julia A., 14, and Anarchy, 8; C. Applewhite, 25, servant, and Anna Applewhite, 5.

  • Mintus Barnes

Mintus Barnes, son of Reddic Barnes, married Frances Stanton, daughter of Watt Stanton and Rose Stanton, on 23 December 1873 at Watt Stanton’s.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Mentus Barnes, 23, farm laborer, and wife Frances, 18.

  • Pleasant Barnes

Perhaps, the Pleasant Barnes who registered her cohabitation with Guilford Bynum with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4. [Guilford Ellis and several of his relatives changed their surname from Bynum to Ellis between 1866 and 1870.]

  • Priscilla Barnes

Perhaps, the Precilla Barnes who registered her nine-year cohabitation with Henry Applewhite with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Applewhite, 30; wife Priscilla, 32; and children Cherry, 7, Amanda, 11, and Love, 6; George Lindsey, 21; and Abram Applewhite, 69.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Henry Applewhite, 43; wife Pricilla, 44; and daughter Cherry, 17.

  • Reddick and Spicy Barnes and their children Jolly, Ida, Harry and others

Reddic Barnes and Spicy Barnes registered their ten-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Reddick Barnes; wife Spicy, 54; and children Jolly, 16, Ida, 15, and Harry, 11. [Recall that this family had been divided. Spicy and children Ida and Jolly were passed to John P. Barnes; Reddick to William Barnes; and Harry to Mahala Barnes.]

On 6 February 1876, Jolly Barnes, 21, married Alice Barnes, 18, at E. Felton’s.

  • Zany Barnes

Zany Barnes and Henry Rodgers registered their ten-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Henry Rogers, 34, farm laborer; wife Zana, 33; and son Thomas, 11; Mary F. Barnes, 2; and Feribee Ellis, 40.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Henry Rodgers, 50, laborer; wife Zanie, 35; and children Tiny, 7, Leelie, 5, Callie A., 4, and Sarah, 2.

Will and Estate Records of Elias Barnes, images available at North Carolina Wills and Estates 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The Haynes’ estates.

In an undated will, dated perhaps in the early 1860s, William Haynes Sr. of Wilson County penned a will that included a bequest to his wife Nancy Haynes of “one Negro girl Caroline and increase if any.”

On 22 June 1863, P.W. Barnes made an inventory of the estate of Haynes’ son Bythel Haynes. Among the hogs, cows and calves, barrels of corn, fodder, sweet potatoes, bacon, Irish potatoes, hoes, axes, plows, augers, knives, beds, chests, tables, chairs, dishes, pots and skiers, bowls, cups and saucers.saddles, bridles, and baskets was “1 negro girl.

Will of William Haynes, Estate Records of Bythel Haynes, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], ancestry.com.

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.

Roadwork.

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.