Slave-trading was good money.
In the area that became Wilson County, Wyatt Moye and Robert S. Adams were perhaps the major players in the domestic slave trade, moving humans from eastern North Carolina into the Deep South, where prices were high and demand insatiable.
It was a lucrative business, and both men eventually settled in Aberdeen, Monroe County, Mississippi. An 1852 newspaper ad touts Adams and his business partners’ arrangements: “They will keep at their depot in Aberdeen, during the coming fall and winter, a large lot of choice Negroes, which they will sell low for cash, or for bills on Mobile.”
Both Adams and Moye moved into large homes in town to signal their wealth. We’ve seen R.S. Adams’ grand Greek Revival mansion (which checks every antebellum architecture box); Moye’s more modest house was close enough that they’re in the same historic district, North Aberdeen. (Descriptions of the houses’ history describe Adams and Moye as “bankers.” It is true that they formed a money-lending concern in Aberdeen. Their wealth, however, was built on buying and selling enslaved people.)
Built circa 1855 and now known as the I.Y. Johnson House, Moye’s house was recently purchased for restoration after decades of deterioration.
I.Y. Johnson House, 108 West Canal Street, Aberdeen, Mississippi. Front and side facades. March 11, 2010, W. White, photographer.
Wyatt Moye wore a lot of hats, including “general” (of what?), sheriff of Greene County, North Carolina state legislator (he introduced the bill to incorporate the Town of Wilson), and, as we’ve seen, slave trader and money lender. He seems to have been in Mississippi full time shortly after 1850, but spent his last decade between Monroe County and business concerns in Saint Mary Parish, Louisiana. He is listed in both Mississippi and Louisiana in the 1860 census.
In the 1830 census of Greene County, N.C., Wyatt Moye reported owning 27 enslaved people.
In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County, N.C.: Wyatt Moye, 55, no occupation listed; [second] wife Louisa, 37; and daughter Louisa V., 17. [Judging by their neighbors, the Moyes appear to have lived in the Stantonsburg area of what is now Wilson County.]
In the 1850 slave schedule of Lowndes County, Mississippi, Wyatt Moye reported 27 enslaved people.
In the 1860 census of Western Division, Monroe County, Mississippi: trader Wyatt Moye, 66; [third] wife M.M., 44; W.A. Rover, 33, lumber dealer; and D. Farmer, 25, laborer. Moye reported owning $5500 in real property and $7500 in personal property (which would have included enslaved people).
In the 1860 slave schedule of Western Division, Monroe County, Mississippi, Wyatt Moye reported 8 enslaved people.
But also: in the 1860 census of Western Division, Saint Mary Parish, Louisiana: Yatt Moye, 50, planter; wife Mary, 32; Margaret Fisher, 21; and W.J. Deson, 42, agent. Moye reported a whopping $100,000 in real property and another $100,000 in personal property. [One hundred thousand dollars in 1860 is roughly $3.5 million today.]
In the 1860 slave schedule of Western Division, Saint Mary Parish, Louisiana, Wyatt Moye & Company is listed with 119 enslaved people.
Wyatt Moye died in 1862 in Saint Mary Parish. His body was returned to North Carolina for burial in Calvary Church cemetery, Tarboro.