estate records

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.

 

The estate of Moses Hagans.

Moses Hagans died early in the spring of 1873. His wife Theresa Lassiter Hagans, unlettered and unfamiliar with the workings of probate, signed over her rights to administer her late husband’s estate to Larry D. Farmer, a public administrator.

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Farmer filed in Probate Court for letters of administration, estimating the value of Hagans’ estate at $200 and naming his heirs as widow Theresa Hagans and Lucinda Hagans Brantley, who was Hagans’ daughter.

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On 12 April 1873, Farmer filed an inventory of Hagans’ personal estate, which consisted of meat and lard; household kitchen furniture; “old plunder in & around the houses”; a small amount of lint cotton; corn and peas; a cart and a crosscut saw; fodder; poultry and dogs; a horse and farming implements; sows and pigs; and a garden of greens. All of it was allotted to “Trecy” Hagans for her support while the estate was in probate.

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It was a meager showing, insufficient to meet the $300 minimum required for a year’s support.

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——

In the 1830 census of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, Moses Hagans was head of a household of four free people of color.

In the 1840 census of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, Moses Hagans was head of a household of nine free people of color.

On 10 February 1846, Moses Hagans, “now of Edgecombe,” paid Thomas Hadly of Wayne County $328.50 for 164 1/4 acres on Little Swamp in Nash County. The transaction is recorded in Deed Book 18, page 331. (A mortgage for the purchase is recorded at book 18, page 325.) Little Swamp is now in Wilson County. It rises near Old Raleigh Road; flows south between Radio Tower and Flowers Roads; crosses under Interstate 95 near its junction with N.C. Highway 42; then flows east to join Contentnea Creek.

In the 1850 census of Nash County, North Carolina: Moses Hagans, 48, farmer; wife Pitty, 38; and son Gray B., 19, farmer. Also: Thomas Brantley, 28, turpentine worker, and wife Lucinda, 23.

On 25 October 1857, Moses Hagans applied for a license to marry Trecy Laciter in Wilson County.

In the 1860 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Moses Heggins, 60, farmer, and wife Theresa, 48. Moses claimed $125 in real property and $115 in personal property. [Hagans’ estate records do not mention real property.] Also, Thomas Brantley, 52, farmer; wife Lucinda, 35; and children William, 9, and James W., 6. Thomas claimed $800 in real property, $200 in personal property.

In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Moses Hegans, 70; wife Trecy, 50; and James R. Locust, 12, farm laborer. Also: farm laborer Thomas Brantly, 57; wife Lucinda, 39; and son Willie, 15, farm laborer.

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

The hire of Patrick.

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The hier of one Negro man Patrick left in the last Will and Testament of Thomas Williamson Dec’d to Dempsey Williamson (his son) hired out by the Admr’s of said Dec’d for the term of one year on the following conditions said negro is to have the following conditions said negro is to have the following clothing 1 suit of woolen 2 suits of cotton 3 pare of shoes 2 pare of woolen socks 1 hat and 1 Blanket and if said negro is cald for before the Expiration of his hier to be returned and pay in perpotion said negro is not to work on Railrods nether in Ditches

The hire of Patrick To Edwin Fulghum $80.00

——

Thomas Williamson’s executors hired out Patrick during the settlement of Williamson’s estate. This document sets remarkably precise terms for Patrick’s hire, including changes of clothing; several pairs of shoes; restrictions on the type of work he would be put to (see here to understand why); and, in effect, a cancellation clause. Edwin Fulghum was a neighboring white farmer whose wife Mary was a Williamson. The document is undated but was probably executed about 1857.

Estate File of Thomas Williamson, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org. 

The last will and testament of Thomas Williamson.

On 26 August 1852, Thomas Williamson of Nash County (brother of Hardy Williamson) penned a will whose provisions disposed of these 16 enslaved men, women and children:

  • to wife Kesiah Williamson a life estate in “three negro slaves namely Turner Patrick and Dennis,” with Turner to revert to daughter Tempy Fulghum, Patrick to son Dempsey Williamson, and Dennis to son Garry Williamson
  • to daughter Tempy Fulghum, negro girl Mary (and her increase) already in her possession and negro girl Bethany
  • to daughter Mourning Peele, four negroes Cherry, Merica, Charity and Washington
  • to daughter Rhoda Williamson, Ally, Arnold and Randal
  • to daughter Sidney Boyett, Julien, Issabel and Daneil
  • to son Garry Williamson, “negro man named Jack and one set of Blacksmith tools”

Kesiah Williamson died shortly after Thomas Williamson wrote out his will, and he died in October 1856 in the newly formed Wilson County.  Executors Dempsey Williamson and Jesse Fulghum filed suit to resolve “certain doubts and difficulties” that arose concerning the distribution of Thomas Williamson’s slaves.

In the meantime, the estate hired out Patrick and prepared an inventory that credited Thomas Williamson with 375 acres and 33 enslaved men and women: Patrick, Denick, Jack, Tamar, Mary, Spice, Tony, Thany, Amos, Catherine, Judy, Isbell, Daniel, Randel, Harret, Dilly, Nathan, Denis, Disey, Allen, Charity, Ben, Hester, Ally, Craroline, America, Arnold, Cherry, Bitha, Chaney, Renar, Lydia and Jo.

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After the Supreme Court rendered its decision, Thomas Williamson’s executors filed an “Account of Sale of the Negros belonging to the Estate of Thomas Williamson Dec’d Sold agreable to the desision of the Supreme Court on the construction of the last Will and Testament of said Dec’d for a divission among the heirs therein named Six months credit given the purcher by given Note with two approved Securites before the Rite of property is changed Sold the 16th of May A.D. 1850 By Garry Williamson and Jesse Fulghum Extrs.” Note that all sold were children. Nine men paid top dollar for 16 children, investments that would be as ash in their hands in six years.

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John T. Barnes purchased Nathan, age 8, for $927.50; Denick, age 7, for $855.00, Dillicy, age 10, for $508.00; and Carolina, age 7, for $871.00.

W. Swift purchased Ben, age 7, for $800.00, and Harriet, age 9, for $950.00.

Garry Fulghum purchased Amos, age 5, for $552.00, and Catherine, age 3, for $400.00.

Wright Blow purchased Joe, age 5, for $580.00.

James Boyette purchased Allen, 3, for $381.00.

John Wilkins purchased Bethea, 8, for $807.00.

Joshua Barnes purchased Chaney, 7, for $661.00.

William Ricks purchased Renner, age 5, for $600.00.

Ransom Hinnant purchased Dizey, age 5, for $575.00.

And A.J. Taylor purchased Lyddey, age 2, for $416.00.

There’s quite enough to ponder in this post. More later on some of the individual men, women and children whose lives were upended by Thomas Williamson’s death. Estate File of Thomas Williamson, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org. 

The estate of Albert Adams.

Albert Adams and Spicey Williams[on] registered their eight-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. Spicey Williamson Adams is almost certainly the Spicy listed in the 1859 inventory of Hardy H. Williamson’s enslaved property.

In the 1870 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Albert Adams, 50; wife Spicy, 37; and children Arch, 14, Arnold, 13, Frank, 7, Caroline, 5, and James, 2.

Albert Adams died near the end of 1878. W.T. Williamson was appointed administrator of his estate. Williamson estimated the value of Adams’ estate as about $400 and named his heirs as Frank Adams, Caroline Adams, Arnol Adams, James Adams, Guilford Adams, Albert Adams, an unnamed infant, and widow Spicy Adams.

For the support of Spicy Adams and their children, the court approved the transfer of property from Albert Adams’ estate, including a black mule; three head of cattle; 16 hogs; poultry; perishables like corn, fodder, bacon, potatoes and “turnups greens;” furniture; and cotton seed, totaling $378.25 in value. In January 1879, Williamson sold Adams’ cotton crop for $165.63 and paid off large debts to his bank and a mercantile firm.

Payment of debts owed to Branch, Hadly & Co., the bank that eventually became BB&T.


Payment of Adams’ account at the mercantile firm Moses Rountree & Co.

In the 1880 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Spicy Adams, 39, and children Frank, 19, Carline, 15,  James, 12, Calvin, 8, Albert, 6, and Dora, 1. Next door: farmer Arnol Adams, 24, and wife Sarah, 18.

On 15 September 1882, Ishmael Wilder filed for letters of administration for Spicy Adams. Wilder estimated her estimated her estate at $500 and named Arnold, Frank, Archibald, James, Calvin Busbee, Albert and Dora Adams as her heirs.

On 1 December 1883, a trio of appointed commissioners divided Albert Adams’ 173 acres among his and Spicy Adams’ heirs. Lot number one went to Arnold Adams; number two to Archibald Atkinson; number three to James Adams; number four to Calvin B. Adams; number five to Frank Adams; number six to Albert Adams Jr.; and number seven to Dora Adams.

[Ten years later, things fell apart. To be continued.]

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

The estate of Patrick Williamson.

Henry Singletary Williamson was appointed executor of his father Patrick Williamson‘s estate. On 11 July 1896 , H.S. Williamson conducted an inventory of his father’s personal possessions, which included hogs, sheep, a horse, cattle, turkeys, chickens, geese, farm implements, dried peas and corn, 200 pounds of meat and lard, a clock, a watch, four beds, furniture and a gun.

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The record of the actual sale of Williamson’s property, however, paints a much richer — in more than one sense — picture of his life. His neighbors gathered to bid on quilts, six walnut chairs, a sewing machine, a loom and three different kinds of plows, as well as farm animals.

Estate of Patrick Williamson, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Daniel Williamson.

Daniel Williamson did not live long in freedom, but he made the most of the time he had.

In 1866, Daniel Williamson and Amy Deans registered their 20-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace. Within months, Daniel Williamson was dead. He died without a will, and his brother Alexander “Ellic” Williamson was appointed administrator of his estate.

Alex Williamson conducted a sale of Daniel’s property on 24 December 1867. Items could be purchased on six months’ credit. The buyers were drawn from neighbors and kin in Daniel Williamson’s Springhill township community. Many, like him, were newly freed. It’s not clear whether Daniel owned land at his death, but he certainly had a houseful of furniture and utensils and enough animals to indicate a dedicated farm life.

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  • London Rentfrow
  • Albert Adams — Albert Adams and Spicey Williams[on] registered their eight-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Albert Adams, 50; wife Spicy, 37; and children Arch, 14, Arnold, 13, Frank, 7, Caroline, 5, and James, 2.
  • Thomas Shaw — Thomas Shaw and Catherine Williams[on] registered their 16-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County:
  • Ellic Williamson — Alex Williamson, son of Samuel Bass and Silvy Williams[on], married Gracy Shaw, daughter of Thomas Narron and Katty Williamson, on 9 December 1869 at Thomas Shaw‘s. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Ellis Williamson, 33; wife Gracy, ; and children Ellic, 4, and Eugenia, 1.
  • James H. Hinnant — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: white farmer James Hinnant, 44, and family.
  • David Row
  • Mingo Hinnant — Mingo Hinnant and Angeline Kent registered their four-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Hinnant, 80, and wife Angeline, 70.
  • Isaac Barnes
  • Larry Lamm — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: white farmer Larry Lamm, 46, and family.
  • Edmond Williamson — Edmond Williamson and Hannah Winbourn registered their 13-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.
  • Nathan Barnes — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Cherry Hinnant, 49; Henry Hinnant, 12; Nathan Barnes, 29; wife Harriet, 23, and Bitha, 14, Welsly, 12, Cenia, 10, Sallie, 8, Charles, 6, and Nathan, 3, months.
  • Amos Hinnant — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Amos Hinnant, 30; wife Linday, 25; and sons Haywood, 9, and Burruss, 3. [For Malinda Hinnant’s courageous fight to secure a widow’s pension for her husband’s Union Army service, see here.]
  • Handy Atkinson — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Handy Atkinson, 50; and children Nathan, 21, Spencer, 17, Simon, 15, Charity, 13, Sarah, 10, and John, 8.
  • Right Atkinson — Wright Atkinson and Bina Boykin registered their six-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Wright Atkinson, 40, farm laborer; wife Binah, 27; and children Celestia, 3, and Flora, 1; plus Patrick Williamson, 10.
  • John Adams
  • Moses Bynum
  • Elbert Kent — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Elbert Kent, 25; wife Rebecca, 23; and daughter Mary, 1.
  • George Creach — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer George Creech, 40; wife Margaret, 35; and children Lucy, 7, John, 5, and Sarah, 1.
  • Jacob Hinnant
  • Willie Watson
  • John Barnes

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  • Willis Revell
  • Joseph Hinnant — Joseph Hinnant and Roda Godwin registered their six-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Joseph Hineard [Hinnant], 30; wife Rodah, 27; and children Vandier [Van Dorne], 8, Zadoc, 6, Roxy, 4, and James, 1.
  • Simon Williamson — there were several Simon Williamsons in the area, but this was likely Daniel’s son Simon, who died two years after his father.
  • Sylva Deans — Sylvia Deans may have been a half-sister of Daniel Williamson’s son Gray Deans.

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  • Richard Durrom
  • Wm. Godwin
  • Henry Cockrel — in the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County, white farmer Henry Cockrell, 29, and family.
  • Thomas Durrom
  • Ransom Godwin — in the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County, white farmer Ransom Godwin, 34, and family.
  • Jordan Godwin
  • Robert Raper — in the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County, white farmer Robt. D. Raper, 41, and family.
  • Isaac Pearce
  • Stephen A. Watson
  • Gilford Hales
  • Loney Hinnant

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As was common, Alex Williamson spent considerable energy trying to collect on the notes issued by buyers at Daniel Williamson’s estate sale.

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In the meantime, Simon Williamson, believed to be Daniel’s son, died in early 1869. Alex Williamson, on behalf of Daniel’s estate, paid out $9.00 to Albert Adams for the “nursing and Barrien” [burying] of Simon. [Is the Simon Deens, 19, listed in the 1870 mortality schedule as having died in February 1870 the same boy? Despite the discrepancy in the year, it would seem so, as the schedule lists Simon as a member of the household of Albert Adams.]

Daniel Williamson’s wife Amy apparently died even before he did, and he left two young sons, Gray Deans and Turner Williamson. Probate dragged on for decades, and in 1886, they sued the estate to receive assets they believed due them. The document below reports on the collectibility of several debts and the whereabouts of an ox and reveals family relationships.

White farmer Simon Barnes was called on behalf of the plaintiffs to swear that Jacob Hinnant’s note was worthless when taken at the sale; that Edmond Williamson’s note was good because he owned land that could be used as collateral; that Nathan Barnes and Thomas Shaw’s notes were good because Edmond Williamson had signed them as surety; that Handy Atkinson and Wright Atkinson’s notes were worthless; and that Moses Bynum’s note was good because Willis Taylor was surety.

Handy Atkinson testified that the ox sold [to London Renfrow] at the sale and left with Alex Williamson was at Atkinson’s house for a time, but it ran “at large” and died in March after getting stuck in mire.

Alex Williamson testified that he sold an ox for $35.40 on 24 December 1867, but the purchaser could not give a good note and left the ox with him the day of the sale. He did not recall if he offered the ox at public sale again, but he tried unsuccessfully to sell it privately. It died.

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Edmond Williamson testified that the reason he did not pay the note against him was that he considered it paid by taking care of Daniel’s son Turner Williamson, who was a small boy and did not “earn his [own] support” for a few years.

Gray Deans testified that the ox was a good one that his father paid $40 for; that he and Turner had been carried to Edmond’s house after their father’s death; and that Turner was about 11 years old at the time and could work for his support.

Alex Williamson testified that Handy Atkinson had kept Daniel’s sons before Daniel died and was paid $20.50 for it.

Estate File of Daniel Williamson, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

 

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.

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.