slave sale

The estates of Barnes and Roderick Amason.

It’s not a common surname in Wilson County anymore, but in the early 1800s a prosperous extended family of Amasons (Amersons) lived in the Stantonsburg area (in what was then Edgecombe County, North Carolina). They owned extensive real property and considerable slaves, and often left estates that spent years in probate as family members bickered, and heirs and administrators died.

This post is third in a series featuring documents from Amason family estate files.

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Roderick Amason was appointed administrator of his brother Barnes Amason’s estate soon after Barnes’ death in April 1844.

On 25 October 1844, at Joshua Wilkinson’s store, John A. Tyson testified in a deposition that on 10 June 1844 that he “happend in company with Roderic Amason & General Moye at Daniel & Rountrees store in Stantonsburg and that Mr. Gill had presented his account against Barnes Amason ….” Amason had run up credit with Andrew E. Gill, but a number of credits reduced the debt. For 1840, that credit included the  “Hire of 2 Hands” on December 22 for 80 cents. For 1843 and 1844, Amason’s credits included the hire of an enslaved man named Jerry to Gill.

At November Term of Edgecombe County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Roderick Amason filed a petition for division stating that “the slaves belonging to the estate of … Barnes [Amason] will not be required for the purpose of paying the debts of said intestate, there being ample personalty besides them for that purpose. That of them, there are fifteen as follows — 1 Frank 2 Mourning 3 Stephen 4 Jack 5 Solomon 6 Jerry 7 Richmond 8 Lucy 9 Jinny 10 Hilliard 11 Judy 12 Rosa 13 Dyer 14 Patsy & 15 Sally,” and they should be divided among Barnes’ heirs, who consisted of his siblings and their children.

Roderick himself died in December 1844, however. Wyatt Moye — state senator and slave dealer — took over as administrator of both estates. His stewardship of both estates was contentious.

In October 1845, B.B. Bell complained to Edgecombe County court that Moye owed him $63.21 from the estate of Roderick Amason.

A justice of the peace sided with Bell and noted that Moye claimed that he had paid out sums greater than the cash at hand, but noted “there is four negroes yet to be sold.”

At August Term, the heirs complained to the court that Wyatt Moye was still holding on to Barnes Amason’s estate and had refused to make full distribution, a charge Moye denied.

I have not been able to determine the fates of the enslaved people held by Barnes and Roderick Amason.

Estate of Roderick Amason, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estates of Jesse and Patience Aycock.

Revolutionary War veteran Jesse Aycock (1743-1823) lived in the Nahunta area of Wayne County, N.C., but owned property in what would become Black Creek township, Wilson County. This property included the land upon which Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist church stood; he bequeathed the parcel to the church in his 1822 will.

The Aycocks attended Lower Black Creek P.B., as did their slaves. Church records mention a woman Hannah owned by Jesse Aycock, and Briton(?) and Peter, owned by Aycock’s second wife, Patience Aycock.

Jesse Aycock drafted his will on 7 November 1822. To his wife Patience, he left a lifetime interest in “four negroes by names Jacob Peter and two by name of Haner.” (In other words, the four were Jacob, Peter, Hannah, and Hannah.)

Aycock owned additional slaves, as evidenced by a subsequent provision: “I leave all my Negroes that I have not lent to my wife to be sold with Balance of my Estate.” The proceeds were to be used to pay off his debts, and any remainder was to be distributed among his children and grandchildren.

Further, after Patience Aycock’s death, Jesse Aycock’s enslaved people were to be sold, with “Peter and Haner to be sold together.” (Presumably, they were a married couple and perhaps were elderly.)

Jesse Aycock died in 1823, leaving many dozens of heirs by his first wife and an estate whose settlement dragged on for decades.

Patience Aycock drafted her will on 4 June 1824. Though she had life estates in her husband’s slaves, she could not devise them to anyone, and her will only mentions a woman named Rose, who was to go to her son Joel Newsom.

The inventory of Patience Aycock’s estate, made in November 1827, confirmed that she owned only one enslaved person outright:

“An Inventory of the Property of Patience Acock Deecast Late of Wayne County Taken the 3rd of November 1827 by Hardy Williamson”

Will of Jesse Aycock (1822), Wayne County, North Carolina, U.S. Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com; Estate of Patience Aycock (1827), Wayne County, North Carolina, U.S. Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Benjamin Amason Jr.

It’s not a common surname in Wilson County anymore, but in the early 1800s a prosperous extended family of Amasons lived in the Stantonsburg area (in what was then Edgecombe County, North Carolina). They owned extensive real property and considerable slaves, and often left estates that spent years in probate as family members bickered, and heirs and administrators died.

This post is second in a series featuring documents from Amason (Amerson) family estate files.

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Benjamin Amason Jr. married a woman named Mary Ann in 1815. Amason was a widower with a young daughter, Nancy Matilda Amason. The marriage quickly failed, and Amason left Edgecombe [later, Wilson] County for Fairfield County, South Carolina. There, he fathered a son, Washington Amason, out of wedlock.

Amason died in South Carolina about 1823. A few years prior, he transferred to his children his interest in several enslaved people belonging to the estate of his father Benjamin Amason Sr. Mary Amason sued, claiming that the deed of gift had been made to defraud her of her dower right.

A set of referees agreed. Their 7 March 1829 decision named the enslaved people at issue as Cherry, Henry, Tamar, Pheby, Spencer, Jinny, and Polly, and ordered that they be sold.

The account of sale notes that Polly was Cherry’s daughter. They were sold out of the family to Ephraim Daniel, while Roderick Amason bought Henry and Tamar. Asa Amason bought Phebe; Josiah R. Horn bought Spencer; and Jinny went to Jonathan Ellis. In total, the sale raised $1325.00 for the estate.

When Roderick Amason died just months later, Henry and Tamar went on the block again. Two days before Christmas, they were “taken and resold by Josiah R. Horne” in what appear to be various trades in forgiveness of notes owed to Roderick Amason’s estate. Reddick Barnes came away with Henry; Tamar went to Blake Little.

Estate Files of Benjamin Amason Jr., North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Isaac Amason.

It’s not a common surname in Wilson County anymore, but in the early 1800s a prosperous extended family of Amasons lived in the Stantonsburg area (in what was then Edgecombe County, North Carolina). They owned extensive real property and considerable slaves, and often left estates that spent years in probate as family members bickered, and heirs and administrators died.

This post is first in a series featuring documents from Amason (Amerson) family estate files.

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Isaac Amason was born about 1755. When he died in 1828, several of his children were young minors, resulting in a drawn-out estate settlement. At November term, 1843, the Clerk of Edgecombe County Court ordered finally ordered that notices be placed for the thirty days around the county, advertising the sale of enslaved people belonging to Amason’s estate “on a credit of six months, with interest.”

Lemuel DeBerry filed a report with the court detailing his activity pursuant to the order. He posted notices “both in and out” of the county (likely because Amason lived close to the borders of Greene, Wayne, and Pitt Counties) for more than thirty days informing the public that the sale would take place in the Town of Stantonsburg on 27 January 1844. At auction, Isaac Amason’s son David Amason paid $25.50 for “One Old Negroe Man by the Name of Lewis” and $553 for “a Young Woman & Child by the Names of Exelina & her Child,” and son Isaac U. Amason paid $7 for “One Old Woman by the Name of Phillis.”

Note that in the 1820 federal census of Edgecombe County, the last in which Isaac Amason was enumerated, he reported owning three enslaved boys under age 14; one enslaved man aged 14-25; one enslaved man aged 26-44; and one enslaved woman aged 26-44.

In the 1830 federal census, Isaac’s widow Delona [Delana] Amason reported one enslaved man aged 36-55; one enslaved girl under the age of 10; and one enslaved woman aged 36-55. It seems likely that these three people were Lewis, Exeline, and Phillis.

Delana Amason made out a will on 4 September 1841 in which, among other items, she bequeathed to her daughter Jemmima Amason “one negro man named Ned.”

I have not been able to trace forward Ned, Lewis, Phillis, or Exelina and her child.

Estate File of Isaac Amason, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The sale of Sampson at auction.


When Wilson Simpson died in 1854, ownership of an enslaved man named Sampson passed to his heirs as tenants in common. In other words, each owned an equal share of his value. Led by Lovett Atkinson, administrator of the estate of Amanda Simpson (who died after Wilson Simpson), the heirs sought to divide their interests in a petition filed in October Term, 1857, of Wilson County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions.

Clerk of court T.C. Davis issued an order “to sell said slave to the highest bidder at public auction” and appointed Hardy H. Williamson to carry out the task.

A few months later, Williamson reported that W.W. Barnes had bought “Boy Sampson” for $605.00.

Estate of Amanda Simpson (1857), Wilson County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, familysearch.org.

Recommended reading, no. 3: the Second Middle Passage.

You cannot understand the men and women who emerged from slavery to appear in the 1870 census of Wilson County without understanding who was not there — the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children sold South in America’s domestic slave trade, known as the Second Middle Passage. 

I have no ancestors from Alabama or Mississippi or Louisiana or Texas, but my DNA matches scores of African-Americans who do. They are descended from the close kin of my North Carolina and Virginia ancestors, and the bits of identical chromosome we share is the only evidence of the crime that befell our common forebears.

To understand the depth and breadth of this trade, please study Edward E. Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

To glimpse how this trade unfolded among our own Wilson County people, see:

To see how buying and selling men, women, and children even locally devastated families:

Remembering Mariah Clark.

When the Daily Times covered Sallie Clark Harrison’s 80th birthday, among other reminiscences it included this snippet:

“Eighty Years Old Today,” Wilson Daily Times, 17 August 1935. 

Records of ownership and sales of enslaved people are relatively rare for Wilson County, and Harrison’s recollection supplies uncommon detail. John Cherry “brought in” (perhaps to the office in which Harrison’s father Edwin Clark worked as postmaster) a 17 year-old girl. Clark paid Cherry $1200 for her and named her Mariah — what had her name been? — an extraordinary sum for that time (likely toward the end of the Civil War) and place.

The 1870 census of the Town of Wilson, Wilson County, shows 20 year-old Mariah Clark, described as mulatto, living in the Clark household as a domestic servant. Despite Sallie Harrison’s claims of selfless devotion, Mariah Clark is not listed in any further census records with the Clarks or Harrisons, and I have not been able to identify her otherwise.

 

The sale of Charity, Aaron, Sarah, Lucinda, and Cloe.

I have undertaken a page-by-page examination of Wilson County’s earliest deed books to look for evidence of the mortgage, sale, trade, or transfer of enslaved people. I found plenty.

  • On Christmas Eve 1861, Ann Scarborough of Wilson County for natural love and affection for her daughter, Mrs. Louisianna C. Murphy, and for one dollar paid by John E.F. Harper of Greene County, sold and conveyed to Harper, in trust for Murphy’s sole use, these enslaved people: a woman named Charity, about 30 years old; a boy named Aaron, aged about 13; a girl named Sarah, aged about 7; a girl named Lucinda, aged about 5 years; and a girl named Cloe, aged about 9. Deed Book 1, page 793, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

The sales of Penelope, Emily, Rose, Caroline, Isham, Harriet, Lewis, Haywood, Eugena, Dicy, Teresa, Guilford, Mary, Judah, and William.

I have undertaken a page-by-page examination of Wilson County’s earliest deed books to look for evidence of the mortgage, sale, trade, or transfer of enslaved people. I found plenty.

  • On 1 January 1856, for love and affection, Thomas Hadley of Wilson County sold to Mary Malvina Hadley, wife of Stephen Woodard, nine enslaved people — Penelope, Emily, Rose, Caroline, Isham, Harriet, Lewis, Haywood, and Eugena. Deed Book 1, page 542, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office. [Stephen Woodard Jr. was a physician in Black Creek township. His and Mary Hadley Woodard’s children included Sidney A. Woodard, Paul L. Woodard, and Frederick A. Woodard.]
  • On 3 February 1859, for $6555, David Taylor of Wilson County sold to R.J. Taylor of Wilson County “all of his the said David Taylors slaves to wit Dicy Teresa Guilford Mary (Moll) Judah & William (Bill),” as well a horse and buggy, furniture, all stock in trade in David Taylor’s liquor establishment, and various farm animals. Deed Book 1, page 392, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office. [David Taylor lived in Oldfields township, Wilson County, which had formerly been Nash County. In the 1850 Nash County slave schedule, he is listed with six enslaved people — women aged 40, 55, and 48; two boys aged 5 and 6; and a girl aged 2. Despite the statement in the bill of sale that he was selling “all” of his slaves, Taylor reported in the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County two women aged 47 and 50, a 13 year-old boy, and girls aged 8 and 12. Robert Jackson Taylor (1833-1912) was David Taylor’s son.]

The sales of Peggy, Henry, Mourning, Harry, Elvy, Essex, Aaron, and Julia.

I have undertaken a page-by-page examination of Wilson County’s earliest deed books to look for evidence of the mortgage, sale, trade, or transfer of enslaved people. I found plenty.

  • On 10 May 1860, for love and affection, John P. Clark sold Pomeroy P. Clark, in trust for Nancy B. Clark, a woman named Peggy, aged about 25, her children Henry, 7, and Mourning, 3, and a man named Harry, 19. Deed Book 1, page 570, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office. [John P. Clark is listed in the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County as the owner of five enslaved people — a 25 year-old woman (Peggy), a 19 year-old man (Harry), a 7 year-old boy (Henry), a 5 year-old girl, and a 3 year-old girl (Mourning). For more about Peggy Flowers Farmer and Harry Clark, see here and here and here.]
  • On 29 December 1860, for $1, Jennet Holland of Wilson County transferred Needham G. Holland of Wilson County, in trust, property to sell as he thought most advantageous to the benefit of numerous creditors assorted property, including 415 acres on Great Swamp in Wayne and Wilson Counties, farm animals, and enslaved people Elvy, Essex, Aaron, and Julia. Deed Book 1, page 658, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office. [Forty-six year-old Jennet Holland is a head of household in the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County.]