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.
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.