Freedmen’s Bureau

Why should not the girl be returned to her mother?

Screen Shot 2019-09-20 at 10.16.02 PM.png

No. 55        Bureau of Ref. Freedman & Abd. Lands, Office Asst. Supt. Goldsboro, N.C. March 27 1867

Mr. Organ, Stantonsburg N.C.

Sir,

Complaint has been made, that you keep Betsey Homes, aged 15 years & daughter of Julia Homes, without the consent of said Julia & after you promised the mother to bring the girl to Petersburg, Va. — You will please report to this office without delay, if Betsey is bound to you by any offices of the Bureau or if any other objection exists, why the girl should not be returned to her mother.

Very Respectfully, Your obd servant,

Hannibal D. Norton, [illegible], Asst. Supt. Bur. of R.F.& A. Lds.

——

“Mr. Organ” was almost surely John Organ, 38, the Virginia-born bookkeeper who appears with wife Anna and children in the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County. Only the youngest child, four-month-old Ellen, had been born in North Carolina, indicating that the Organs were recent transplants to Wilson County — apparently having dragged Betsey Holmes with them. Incredibly, her mother Julia had managed to track her across state lines and demand that the Freedmen’s Bureau intervene to secure her return to her family.

See also the Fisher brothers, likewise kidnapped from Virginia.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters sent, vols. 1-2, February 1867-February 1868, http://www.familysearch.org.

Please state by what authority they are apprenticed to you.

Bureau R F & A Lands, Office Asst Sub Asst Comr, Goldsboro N.C. July 15th 1867

Barnes William Esq., near Blk Creek NC

Sir:

it is reported at the Head Quarters that you have in your possession three Colored Children named Blaney Barnes, Leonard Barnes and Perry Barnes: which you claim to have apprenticed to you. It is farther represented that these children if apprenticed at all were bound in violation of existing Laws.

In view of these facts you are hereby directed to Report in writing to these Hd. Quarters of your earliest convenience the Authority by which you hold these children in your possession. If they are apprenticed to you please state by what Authority, and if the consent of Parents or next nearest of kin was obtained previous to such Apprenticeship.

Yours Respectfully, J.F. Allison [illegible]

——

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Blaney Barnes, 20, farm laborer.

Blany Barnes married Rachel Cooper on 10 August 1873 at J. Barden’s in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Blany Barnes, 27; wife Rachel, 25; and children Larry, 6, Mary An, 4, and William Anderson, 2.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: railroad laborer Blaney Barnes, 47; wife Rachel, 44; and children Anderson W., 22, Lanettie, 16, and Charlie, 11; plus boarder Dorch Wade, 25.

On 22 September 1903, Blaney Barnes, 50, married Diana Ricks, 45, in Spring Hill township.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Blaney Barnes, 55, log hauler for saw mill; wife Dianna, 44, farm laborer; daughters-in-law Louvenia Furgerson, 21, and Jane Barnes, 19; grandsons Hiliard, 7, and Joseph N. Barnes, 5, and Willie Furgerson, 4; granddaughter Martha G. Barnes, 12; and boarder Troy Barnes, 23.

Blaney Barnes died 26 April 1915 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1844 in Wilson County to Sip Barnes of Wayne County and an unknown mother; was married; and was buried in Barnes graveyard. Informant was Wiley H. Johnson of Lucama.

Roll 17, Letters sent, July-Sep 1867, Goldsboro Assistant Subassistant Commissioner’s Records, North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, National Archives and Records Administration images, www.familysearch.org

These, and other things too tedious to mention.

In this peevish sworn statement, dated 29 January 1866, Jane C. Barnes airs grievances held over from slavery. A man named Redmond and his family have left her employ, carrying with them items she had “let him have,” presumably at the start of 1865, when slaveholders typically dispensed clothing. She also complained that Redmond had depleted stocks of food and drink she had “put in his charge.” (When and why? Had Jane Barnes and family fled the area during the Civil War?) Tellingly, Barnes griped that Redmond’s “family was an entire expense instead of being a profit” what with his sick children and a wife who had never given her all to the labors imposed upon her.

Jane Barnes’ outrage is not surprising. Her husband had been one of Wilson County’s largest slaveholders, claiming 79 men, women and children just before the war. He estimated their value in the 1860 census as $89,000 — roughly $2.8 million in 2019 dollars. The Barneses’ sturdy plantation house still stands today.

I have not found evidence of the outcome of Jane C. Barnes’ complaint.

——

record-image_.jpg

To be sworn to that it has been given after May 1, 1866

I certify that Redmon had clothing last year to the amount of shirts and of winter pants before he left. I also let him have three gallons of molasses, twenty-five pounds of flour and some lard, also quinine and other medicines for his children. I also let him have one hundred dollars at one time to buy leather, and put in his charge twenty-six gallons of wine and returned only six gallons to me, about the same time I put in his charge fifty-three peices of bacon and when it was returned six peices were missing. His family was an entire expense instead of being a profit, for his three children had the hooping-cough from April up to the time they left, and his wife had to be in the house nearly all the time with them; I further say that his wife never done me a week’s washing in her life by herself. He has had many other things too tedious to mention.

January 29th 1866         Jane C. Barnes

Dear Captain, Above you will find a statement of Mr Wm S Barnes’ wife — I know the lady to be one of very high character & quite an estimable lady.  Yours very truly, J.J. Lutts

——

In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer William Barnes, 48; wife Jane, 44; and others. [William Barnes was a brother of Joshua Barnes and Elias Barnes.]

In the 1860 slave schedule of Saratoga township, Wilson County, William Barnes claimed 79 enslaved people living in 12 dwellings on his property. He held an additional 26 in trust for minor heirs.

Reddin Barnes and Martha Barnes registered their seven-year cohabitation on 6 July 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Redmond Barnes, 34; wife Martha, 29; children Adeline, 9, Mary, 3, and Laura, 1; and farm laborer Alfred Simms, 23. Next door: Toby Barnes, 56, and wife Hannah, 84, who registered their 15-year cohabitation in 1866 as well.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Redmond Barnes, 45; wife Martha, 38; and children Adline, 19, Mary, 13, Laura, 11, Harriet, 9, James, 7, Margaret, 5, Joan, 4, Martha Ann, 2, and Ed, 1.

Roll 17, Miscellaneous Records, 1865-1867, Goldsboro Subassistant Commissioner’s Records, North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, National Archives and Records Administration images, www.familysearch.org

 

I never drove off any.

record-image_undefined-17.jpg

Wilson N.C. Dec 22 1865.

Capt. G.O. Glavis, Capt.

I have received your communication by the hands of Mary. I of course do not know what kind of statement has been made to you; but I will make one myself. I have settled with all my employees to their satisfaction. As soon as it was announced that negroes were free I offered wages to those who could earn anything, and expressly told the others I could not give them wages, among these were Mary and Sukey. Mary had 3 children and she was not fit for steady hard work. She was worked as she saw fit. One of her children was sick one month during summer. I employed a physician to attend him, during all this time the mother did not go to work at all. I furnished their diet, houses and all their clothes until they left. The other Sukey has two children and an aged grandfather & mother the last two have not worked for a great many years, and this grand daughter spent a good deal of her time in attention upon them & her children.

I further state that I never drove off any. Who have gone did so of their own accord.

Respectfully &c., J.H. Adams

——

In the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, North Carolina, Jesse H. Adams is listed as the owner of 31 enslaved people living in six dwellings. In the population census, Adams is described as a farmer, but he was also proprietor of the newly opened Adams Hotel.

I am unable to identify Mary, Sukey or their families.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 16, Unregistered Letters Received Aug 1865-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

Were they illegally bound?

Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 5.10.16 PM.png

Bureau R.F.&A.L. Goldsboro May 18 /67

Edwards Marcellus J., Wilson N.C.

Sir

Complaint has been made at this office that the boy Freeman and the girls Amanda & Bethany now living with you were illegally bound to you You will please forward a statement of the case to this office on or before the 23rd inst and show cause if any exist why the indentures should not be cancelled.

I am Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servt

A. Compton, Major 40th U.S.I., Sub Asst Com

——

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Marcellus Edwards, 42; his children Emma, 16, Sallie, 14, Mary, 13, William, 10, Julia, 9, Marcellus, 6, Joseph, 2, and James, 1; Virginia Edwards, 25; plus Freeman, 18, Amand, 16, and Bethena Edwards, 12, all farmer’s apprentices.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters sent, vols. 1-2, February 1867-February 1868, http://www.familysearch.org.

The mother does not wish him to have them.

A man named Abram sought the Freedman’s Bureau’s help in removing his children from John Bailey Batts’ indenture, and Batts wanted to set the record straight. With hubris typical of the times, Batts claimed to have raised the children (by virtue of having held them in slavery from their birth). Abram had once been married to an unnamed woman, but he had left her for Penny. Several children later, Abram left Penny, but was now claiming custody of their children. According to Batts, neither he nor Penny wanted the father to have them.

record-image_undefined-16.jpg

Joyners N.C. Jany 12th 1866

Agent of Freedmen Goldsborough N.C.

Sir, I write to inform you of the condition of colored children born with and so far raised by me the man Abram that claims them had wife and she is still living but he left her and took up with Penny at my home she has several children by him but he has left her (Penny) but now claims her children the mother does not wish him to have them and those you bound to me I wish to retain. Penny can give her statement and I wish to hear from you please write to me and send by the woman Penny or by mail to Joyners Depot N.C. Your favorable consideration will much oblige

Yours verry truly, John B. Batts

——

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer John B. Batts, 32; wife Margaret, 23; children Mary A.F., 4, and Nancy H., 1; Eveline Morris, 21; and farm laborer Elba Lassiter, 16. [Lassiter was a free person of color who probably had been apprenticed to Batts.] Batts reported $1600 in real property and $7740 in personal property [which would mostly have been in the form of enslaved people.]

Batts is not listed in the 1870 census, though he likely remained in Wilson or Nash Counties. I have not been able to identify Abram or Penny.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

We are now friendly with each other.

record-image_undefined-10.jpg

Joyners Depot NC Dec 26th 1865

Geo. O. Elavis [Glavis], Agt. Freeman Bureau, Goldsboro N.C.

Sir Louis Bearer of a repot ordering me to appear before you in Goldsboro on the 27th of the present inst. for trial has repoted to me. And find me in Verry feble health also short of funs inlily too unwell to come down by the time that you have ordered me to do.

I am one of the Home polease of Wilson Co and have been ever since the surrender of the Army. And had Louis under arest when he left me and carried off my doble Barrel Gunn. Louis now has come & diliverd to me the Gunn and has been given all of his clothing. And myself & Louis are now friendly with each other and Louis tels me that he is coming back soon to work on my land &c.

Louis will sattisfy you inreguards to the former order

Please write me at Joyners Depot & let me know if I can be let off from coming down to see you

I am Verry Respecfully yours &c, J.H. Armstrong

P.S. I will be prepared in afew days if compell to come down

——

  • Louis — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Lewis Armstrong, 23; wife Vicey, 17; Chester Garrett, 16; and Mary E. Parker, 4.
  • J.H. Armstrong — in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: farmer Jas. H. Armstrong, 57; wife Emily, 56; and children Amos, 19, Carolina, 17, William, 15, and David W., 13; plus servant Martha Watson, 16.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 16, Unregistered Letters Received Aug 1865-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

I have no men to send for them.

Though Wilson is a few miles closer to Rocky Mount, Wilson County was under the jurisdiction of the Goldsboro field office of the Freedmen’s Bureau. The people of northeastern Wilson County — the area around Elm City — were closely tied to southeastern Nash and southwestern Edgecombe Counties, and many families moved frequently across county lines for work and family.

In this letter, William Cox, the assistant superintendent at the Rocky Mount field office referred a matter to Goldsboro. In a nutshell: father and son Spencer and Churchwell Bullock signed a labor contract with James J. Taylor of Joyners Depot (now Elm City) in Wilson County. However, the Bullocks had left Taylor’s employ to work for E. Ferrell in “this county” (either Edgecombe or Nash County, Rocky Mount straddles the county line and Joyners Depot was close to both). Cox had no staff to spare to go out and round up the Bullocks and, in any case, because Taylor’s farm was in Wilson County and the contract therefore was approved by the Goldsboro F.O., the problem was not his.

Freedmen’s Bureau, Rocky Mount April 25th, 1866.

Captain Geo. O Glavis, U.S.A., Asst. Supt. Bureau of R.F. and A.L., Goldsboro, N.C.

Captain:

I have the honor to request that two freedmen, Spencer Bullock, and Church Bullock, his son, who have entered into a written contract with Mr. Jas. J. Taylor of Wilson County, and who have left him, The contract is approved by You, The freedmen are now living in this County, on the plantation of E. Ferrell Near Joiners Depot in this County, I have no men to send for them, and as the contract was drawn up in Your County, and as Mr. Taylor lives in Wilson County, I have referred the case to you,

I am, Captain,

Very respectfully, William F. Cox, 2d Lieut. and Asst. Supt.

P.S. I suppose the reason why Mr. Taylor did not go to you is that freedmen are in this county. W.F. Cox

——

In the 1870 census of Tarboro township, Wilson County: farm laborer Spencer Bullock, 56; wife Mathilda, 53; and children Georgewell [Churchwell], 17, Emeline, 9, Leda, 8, and Louisia, 3.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

Their father claimed them.

Don’t let anyone tell you that slavery destroyed the black family. African-Americans struggled against terrible odds to unite sundered families, often standing up to authority in the process.

In June 1866, George W. Blount wrote a letter to the Freedmen’s Bureau on behalf of Josiah D. Jenkins of Edgecombe County. Just months after being forced to free them, Jenkins had indentured eight siblings whose mother had died. Within six months, the children’s family had come for them, and the five oldest had left for more agreeable situations. Sallie, 14, Sookie, 12, and Isabella, 10, were in Wilson County with their elder sister and her husband Willie Bullock. Arden, 16, was working for what appears to be a commercial partnership in Tarboro, and Bethania, 14, was with her and Arden’s father Jonas Jenkins (paternity that Blount pooh-poohed.) Jonas Jenkins had sought custody of his children before their indenture, but his claims had been trumped by a “suitable” white man who “ought” to have them because he had “raised them from infancy” [i.e., held them in slavery since birth] and their mother “died in his own house.”

record-image_undefined-18.jpg

Wilson No.Ca. June 29 1866

Col. Brady   Col.

Mr. Jo. D. Jenkins of Edgecombe County has been here expecting to see you; but as he did not find you here he requested me to write to you and state his case, asking you to furnish him the remedy if any he is entitled to, and such he believes he has. In Dec 1865, Capt Richards Asst Sup F.B. for the dist of Tarboro, Apprenticed to him Eight (8) Orphan Colored children. The indentures he has, five, and the only ones large enough to render any service have been enticed away from him, leaving him with three who are hardly able to care for the own wants every thing furnished. Three of them are in the custody of Willie Bullock F.M. [freedman] whose wife is the older sister of the three. The others – Arden is in the employment of Messrs. Haskell & Knap near Tarboro. Bethania is in the custody of Jonas Jenkins F.M., who claims to be the father of both of her & Arden. The three first mentioned are in Wilson County the others in Edgecombe.

Mr. Jenkins desires me to say to you that if he cannot be secured in the possession of them he desires the indentures cancelled; for according to law he would be liable for Doctors bills – and to take care of them in case of an accident rendering them unable to take care of themselves.

This man Jonas set up claim to Arden and Bethania before they were apprenticed. The matter was referred to Col Whittlesey who decided that as they were bastard children he Jonas could not intervene preventing apprenticeship to a suitable person.

Mr. J is a suitable man to have charge of them and ought to have their services now. He raised them from infancy, and after the mother died in his own house

I am Col,                       Very Respectfully &c, G.W. Blount

An early reply desired.

A note from the file listing the Jenkins children to which Josiah D. Jenkins laid claim.

——

Entry for Josiah D. Jenkins in the 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County. By 1860, Jenkins claimed ownership of 36 people, evenly divided between men and women. 

  • G.W. Blount — A year later, George W. Blount was embroiled in his own battle for control over formerly enslaved children. He lost.
  • Jo. D. Jenkins — Joseph [Josiah] D. Jenkins appears in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County, as a 59 year-old farmer who reported $25,000 in real property and $15,000 in personal property — remarkable wealth so soon after the Civil War. John Jenkins, 10, domestic servant, is the only black child living in his household and presumably of the one of the children at issue here.
  • Bethania Jenkins — on 7 April 1874, Turner Bullock, 23, married Bethany Jenkins, 21, in Edgecombe County.
  • Willie Bullock
  • Arden Jenkins
  • Sallie Jenkins
  • Sookie Jenkins
  • Isabella Jenkins — Isabella Jenkins, 22, married Franklin Stancil, 30, on 16 April 1878 at Jackson Jenkins’ in Edgecombe County. Isabelle Stancill died 19 November 1927 in Township No. 2, Edgecombe County,. Per her death certificate, she was about 80 years old; was born in Edgecombe County; was the widow of Frank Stancill; and was buried in Jenkins cemetery. Elliott Stancill was informant,
  • Jonas Jenkins — in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County, Jonas Jenkins, 45, farm laborer. No children are listed in the household he shared with white farmer John E. Baker.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

Barnes reports an outrage.

A year after Austin F. Flood‘s plea to the Freedmen’s Bureau, Van Buren Winbourn continued to terrorize African-Americans in Wilson. In this letter, a Central District superintendent directed his assistant in Goldsboro to refer this complaint to Wilson County authorities and, if they failed to act, to arrest and jail Winbourn and his gang. I have not located Jacob Barnes‘ referenced affidavit.

record-image_undefined-20.jpg

Office Superintendent Bureau Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, Central District

Raleigh, N.C., August 25th, 1866.

Maj. Jas. W.H. Stickney, Asst. Supt. Sub District of Goldsboro N.C.

Major

Jacob Barnes freedman of Wilson in your sub District complains that an outrage was committed upon him by “Van Winman” and seven others, citizens of Wilson with intent to kill, for full particulars in this case your attention is invited to the enclosed Affidavit taken before me — Present this case to the proper County Authorities and if upon your application in behalf of this freedman, they neglect or refuse to arrest and bring to trial the offenders, in accordance with G.O. No. 3, current series Hd.Qrs. Asst.Com. N.C. and in accordance with Genl Grants G.O. No. 44. You will arrest the offenders and send them to Raleigh to be “detained in Military confinement until such time as a proper justicial tribunal may be ready and willing to try them.”

Very respectfully, A.G. Br[illegible], Bvt. Col. and Supt.

——

  • Jacob Barnes — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Hardy Barnes, 50; wife Mary, 49; and children Alfred, 21, Riley, 24, Jacob, 22, Isaac, 19, Warren, 17, Zilly, 12, Mary, 9, and Wade, 6.
  • “Genl Grants G.O. No. 44” — General Order 44 directed division and department commanders in the former Confederate states “to arrest all persons who have been or may hereafter be charged with the commission of crimes and offenses against officers, agents, citizens, and inhabitants of the United States, irrespective of color, in cases where the civil authorities have failed, neglected, or are unable to arrest and bring such parties to trial, and to detain them in military confinement until such time as a proper judicial tribunal may be ready and willing to try them.” General Orders, No. 44, Headquarters of the Army, Adjutant General’s Office, 6 July 1866, Orders & Circulars, series 44, Adjutant General’s Office, Record Group 94, National Archives.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 16, Unregistered Letters Received Aug 1865-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org