enslaved people

W. Alfred Boykin house.

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

“This fine early nineteenth-century house [near Sims] was probably built between 1830 and 1840 for William Alfred Boykin, one of Wilson’s first commissioners. Boykin was born in 1814 in what was then Nash County. He was a son of Hardy Boykin Jr. and acted as the administrator of his father’s estate in 1837. Boykin married Elizabeth Barnes of Black Creek in 1832, and this house was probably erected shortly after their marriage. … The house, as it stands today, is a rare example of pre-Civil War architecture in Wilson County. As the home of an affluent farmer, the Boykin House reflects the life style of this influential and civic-minded man. On the exterior, the simple gable-roof house is enriched by two bands of dentils and scalloped wooden trim. The shed porch is enclosed at each end by sleeping rooms and the subtle peak of the porch ceiling above the two panelled front doors has a decorative effect.”

——

In the 1860 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Alfred Boykin, 45, farmer; wife Elizabeth, 48; and children Temperance, 27, Patience, 19, Hardy, 17, Mahala, 15, Alfred B., 14, Sarah and Lenora, 11, Martha, 6, Addison, 6, and Lerozah, 7 months. Boykin listed $4910 in real property and $4800 in personal property. His personal property, per the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, included 4 enslaved girls and women ranging from 6 to 26 years old and one enslaved boy, age 8.

London Woodard, Penny Lassiter Woodard and the London Church.

On 14 February 1970, the Wilson Daily Times published a full-page article detailing the life of London Woodard, founder of London’s Primitive Baptist Church.

London Woodard was born enslaved in 1792. He was recorded in the estates of Asa Woodard in 1816 and Julan Woodard in 1826 (in which he was recognized as a distiller of fine fruit brandies.) In 1827, James B. Woodard bought London at auction for $500. The same year, London married Venus, a woman enslaved by Woodard. In 1828, London was baptized and appears as a member in the minutes of Tosneot Baptist Church. Venus was baptized in 1838 and died in 1845.

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Transfer of title to “a negroe man by the name of Lonon” from Nathan Woodard to James B. Woodard, 1928.

J.B. Woodard’s second wife in 1837, and he hired Penelope Lassiter, a free woman of color, as a housekeeper and surrogate mother to his children. Lassiter, born 1814, was the daughter of Hardy Lassiter, who owned a small farm south of Wilson. She met London, who was working as overseer, at Woodard’s. In 1852, Penny Lassiter bought 106 acres for $242 about five miles east of Wilson on the Tarboro Road.

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In 1854, Penny Lassiter purchased her husband London, then about 62 or 63, from J.B. Woodard for $150. In 1858 Lassiter bought another 53 acres near her first tract and purchased 21 acres in 1859. The same year, she sold a small parcel to Jordan Thomas, a free man of color [who was married to her step-daughter Rose Woodard.] In 1866, the years after he was emancipated, London Woodard bought, subject to mortgage, a 200-acre parcel.

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In 1866, London Woodard was granted authority to preach “only among his acquaintances,” i.e. African-Americans. A member of Tosneot Baptist donated an acre of land to build a black church, regarded as the first in Wilson County. London Woodard was licensed to preach in 1870.

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London Woodard preached his last sermon on 13 November 1870. The next day, he suffered a stroke and fell into an open fireplace. Despite severe burns, he was able to dictate a will before his death.

The history of London Church for the 25 years after Woodard’s death is murky. In 1895, white churches Tosneot and Upper Town Creek dismissed several African-American members in order that they might establish an independent congregation at London’s. [London Church reorganized under the umbrella of the Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Association in 1897.]

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By the terms of his will, London Woodard provided for his wife Penelope; sons William, Hardy, Haywood, Howell, Elvin, Amos and London; and daughters Treasy, Rose, Pharibee, Sarah, Harriet and Penninah. (Deceased son John’s daughter was apparently inadvertently omitted.)  “A few facts” about Woodard’s children follows.

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Receipts for payments for taxes and accounts for Penny Lassiter and London Woodard.

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This building was moved around the corner to London Church Road. It has long been abandoned and collapsed in 2017 after suffering serious storm damage the year before.

The life and times of Nathan W. Boyette.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 November 1921.

In a nutshell: Nathan W. Boyette lived at 210 Pender Street. He was born 18 September 1850 and was enslaved in Old Fields township by Jimmy Boyette. He was the second oldest of 11, eight boys and three girls. His mother Julie was literate and taught her children to read and write. In October 1865, Boyette purchased a Blueback Speller from Moses Rountree’s store at Tarboro and Broad Streets in Wilson. In 1871, he began subscribing to the Wilmington Post. Before he was 20, he became Sunday school superintendent at New Vester Baptist Church. Shortly after, he moved to Goldsboro and went to work for “Old Man” John Robinson. After seven years, he became a carpenter and continued to work into his 70s. In 1920 Boyette married his sixth wife. All but one — Roscoe Boyette — of his 14 children were dead. However, Roscoe’s whereabouts since his discharge from the military after World War I were unknown. Boyette was hardworking and thrifty and gave up his sole vice, smoking, as a condition of his last marriage. He had only been inside a courtroom to serve as a juror three times. He was a member of the Missionary Baptist Church on East Nash Street. “Never had a doctor but once in my life and then I could have done without him. The Lord has been good to me.”

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The 1860 slave schedule of Old Fields township, Wilson County, lists James Boyett as the owner of eight enslaved people: a 28 year-old woman [Julia?]; six boys aged 19, 12, 9 [Nathan?], 7, 4 and 2; and a girl aged 8. They were housed in two dwellings.

On 23 February 1882, Nathan Boyett, 31, of Wayne County, son of Moses Bayley and Julia Bayley of Wilson County, married Charity Crow, 27, of Wayne County, daughter of Jorden and Jane Crow of Wayne County, in Mount Olive, Brogden township, Wayne County, North Carolina.

On 2 March 1904, Nathan Boyette, 53, married Louisa Fowler, 38, daughter of Suckey Wiggins, in Goldsboro, Wayne County.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Boyette Nathan carp h 210 Pender; Boyette Emma dom h 210 Pender.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Boyett Nathan W (c, Emma) carp h 210 Pender

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 115 West Walnut Street, rented for $20/month,  Nathan Boyette, 79, and Emma Boyette, 56, cook for private family.

Nathan Boyett died 2 June 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 February 1850 in Wilson County to Moses Bailey and Julia Boyett of Wilson County; had worked as a laborer until three months prior to his death; was married to Emma Boyett; and lived at 115 West Walnut. [Note that Nathan Boyette adopted his mother (and former owner’s) surname upon Emancipation. Julia Boyette apparently died before 1870. In that census Moses Bailey is listed as the single parent of several children, and on 5 January 1871, he married Isabella Renfrow in Wilson County. Per their marriage license, Bailey was the son of Benja Bryant and Juda Jones.]

Receipt for negro slaves.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 January 1950.

This brief article appeared in a edition of the Daily Times celebrating Wilson’s centennial. It possibly raises more questions than it sheds light:

  • Did this transaction take place in Wilson County? Burket Barnes and Jethro Aycock appear in Wayne County census records after Wilson County’s 1855 creation.
  • How many enslaved people did Barnes sell to Aycock? The $3400 sale price suggests several. (And why did the Daily Times see fit to omit their names in 1950?)
  • Does the last paragraph relate to the receipt?
  • “One of the negro slaves of the township”? I assume the township is Wilson township, and the reference is to formerly enslaved people.
  • Wiggins Mill was a grist mill on Contentnea Creek, and the modern dam and reservoir can be seen from U.S. 301 South.
  • Who was “Aunt Sylvia“? The 1940 census of Wilson County reveals only one African-American woman named Sylvia in Wilson township old enough to have been enslaved, and barely. Sylvia Jones‘ age was estimated as 75, which yields an 1865 birth year. However, Jones noted that she had lived in Edgecombe County just five years earlier, and in the 1930 census she was living in Toisnot township. And only 50 years old.

 

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

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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

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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.

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Image of 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.”

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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.”

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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. Thomas Williamson had separately bequeathed Turner, Patrick and Dennis to his wife Keziah Williamson, and Jack to son Garry Williamson.

 

James and Zilpha Newsome Daniel house.

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

“This handsome plantation house is thought to have been built for James Daniel. Daniel was born in 1802 and died in 1854. He married Zilphia Newsome, and after her death in 1862 the property was sold to Dr. Alexander G. Brooks …. The Daniel House is a smaller version of the type of plantation house built for such prominent planters as William Barnes (Stantonsburg Township), Elias Barnes (Saratoga Township) and Colonel David Williams (Toisnot Township). It is two stories high with a rather shallow hipped roof and interior chimneys. Both front and rear doors are trabeated, and the front elevation is sheltered by a hipped-roof porch supported by slender chamfered posts. A kitchen wing is located on the side elevation. The house has a double-pile central-hall plan with two rooms off the hall. All the original mid-nineteenth century mantels and doors are still in place.”

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In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County: farmer James Daniel, 48; wife Zilpah, 47; and her children Elizabeth, 23, Eliza, 21, Lawrence, 19, Joseph, 15, James, 17, Sarah, 12, Mary, 8, and Martha, 8.

In the 1850 slave schedule of the North Side of the Neuse, Wayne County, James Daniel is reported with eight slaves, five girls and women aged 3 to 26, and three boys and men, aged 1 to 35.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Zilpha Daniel, 53, and her children Elizabeth, 33, Eliza, 29, Larry, 28, Sallie, 19, Mary, 18, and Martha, 18. Farm laborer Smithy Artis, 38, a free woman of color, and her son George, 21, described as “idiotic,” also lived in the household. [The term was often applied to deaf people.] Daniel reported $8000 in real estate and $12,000 in personal property, including enslaved people.

In the 1860 slave schedule of Black Creek township, Wilson County, Zilpha Daniel is reported with 14 slaves, eight girls and women aged 1 to 39, and six men and boys, aged 2 to 39.

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

Robert M. and Zillah Horne Cox house.

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

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“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.”

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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.