The Weaver family originated with three men, probably brothers: Richard, John and William Weaver (born about 1675-1686) who came as indentured servants from India, probably by way of London, and were free in Lancaster County, Virginia, before 1710. They blended into the free African American community of Lancaster County, and spread to Hertford County, North Carolina, where there were 169 "free colored" people counted in Weaver households in 1820.
The following is the autobiography of Thomas P. Weaver, son of Isham Weaver, "colored," and Elizabeth Robbins, "colored," who married by 2 October 1840 Guilford County, North Carolina bond, Duncan Weaver bondsman. Photos of other members of the Weaver settlement follow.
This little pamphlet contains incidents of pioneer life, which I have written from memory, and I trust may be of interest to the reader. Respectfully, Thomas P. Weaver Carthage, Indiana, 1922
LIFE AND WORKS
After the lapse of 70 years the author of this Memoir will undertake to pen some of the scenes of his life from North Carolina to Indiana. The writer of this memoranda was born in Guilford County. North Carolina, February 17, 1841, and my father and Mother started to Indiana, September 28, 1846. The first thing that happened after we had been only three days on the road, I, with another little boy, were stolen. The mode of theft was by enticing us into a shop by showing us bright, new tin cups, something we had never seen before. It took all the afternoon to find us. Had it not been for a kind lady that saw the man take us into his Shop they never would have found us, and I can now say, thank God for the lady, as she gave the snap away. She saved us from Being taken away that night and being sold.
Well, we traveled on for about a week without anything transpiring, crossing several rivers the names of which I do not remember. My faithful little dog Ut his name, traveled with us about three days, and as he did not like to travel he turned and went back to his old home. At one time he saved my life, when I had rambled off into the weeds and laid down to sleep, by killing snakes until he was bloody all over. When he got time he ran to the house and mother saw what had happened to save my life; he had killed some fifteen or twenty snakes and how they came there I will never tell.
We will now go on as we are about four days on the road, and A very serious thing happened just after we had crossed a river by Ferry boat. A man was chopping wood a little ways from the ferry, and he came down to our wagon train and demanded Hardy Evans to show his free papers, to which Hardy objected , and without further words he struck Hardy on the cheek with the pole of his axe and smashed his cheek bone into his mouth and throat, a happening that caused us to have to stop there one week, and if the people had Caught him that afternoon they would certainly have killed him. Well, when Hardy got so he could travel, we started on our journey again.
This being the third week we had now reached the summit of the Blue Ridge mountains, at Wytheville. We then came down the Mountains until we reached the Kanawa river valley, and the next day we crossed the river, by ferry boat, and you may guess how afraid I was to get on that boat. After we had crossed the river and traveled a short distance, we came to the Kanawa Salt Works, and oh, what a sight it was, to both old and young. They were hauling salt in very large kettles, and hauling it around like gravel. We passed this place and the slogan was, "On to Point Pleasant." But we had to yet cross the Gauley mountains and Gauley river, over which is the natural bridge. When we arrived there we children soon discovered something which to us was wounderful. We would throw stones over the precipice and when they would strike the bottom the echo would sound back and oh, how curious it was to us. But this fun was all broken up when out mothers came up. They caught us up by the nape of the neck, or any old way as for that matter, and threw us right and left out into the middle of the road, and made us get away from there in a hurry.
Now on to Point Pleasant. We arrived there about the close of the third week on the road. Agnin here were ferry boats, steam boats, horse boats, row boats, and pole boats, but our fathers chose the steam boat, and they in a very short time landed us in old Ohio. now the slogan changed to "On to Chillicothe," where we will drink plenty of coffee.
Oh now we had traveled all these miles together, but now had come to the parting. Uncle Jim Pulley left us and went to Cincinnati, and in a few more days we all would be separated.
The next town to which we were directed to was Xenin, Ohio, and from there in Richmond, Indiana, where the separation became general. Grandfather had, under all accidents and delays, kept his word, that he would land on the 28th day of October, and we landed in Richmond on the 27th, and you may imagine our surprise when at least about 200 people come out to greet us. There was singing and praying and shouting, all glad of the deliverance from slavery. And oh, the good things to eatcake, chicken, pies of all kinds,--and oh, that brotherly love was freely flowing. But tomorrow, oh, what of tomorrow. Grandfather and Uncle Beverly went to Centerville, and some went to a settlement called Swampsville. The people that we were going to live with met us between Newport and Richmond the 28th day of October, 1846, and took us To a little cabin on a creek called Nolans Fork; the peoples names were Nathan and Nancy Compton. I am now in Indiana, a tar heel worker and a Hoosier filling.
Well, we are all here in Indiana, and in a new county, and as I am only writing my own biography I shall endeavor to stay close to myself. I will now state that this man I called father was only my step-father, as I never saw my own father, I wish the Lord to forgive me as to what I may write as to my life with this step-father. As it is said, "Let the dead rest." If I write this sketch of my life and would leave these transactions out I would be a failure.
I commenced work when I was six years old, dropping corn, and since that time I never have found a place to get off at. When I was seven years old; I dropped corn for 25 cents a day, and was large enough to do errands for mother. As I remember now, mother one afternoon sent me on an errand to one, Mr. Williams, and as I was coming home the man I called father waylaid me and as he thought, beat me to death. I think it would be proper here for me to quote the poet:
What troubles have I seen;
What conflicts have I past.
But out of all, the Lord
Has brought me safe thus far."
But thank God for my mother. After I was thought to be dead and thrown in the corner of the fence. My mother saw what had been done and came screaming at the top of her voice, until she alarmed the whole settlement. Men and women came from all parts, and at once several men tied him and took him to a neighboring barn to await results, while two or three went after the doctor. The doctor came and he bandaged my head and stayed with me until 1 oclock that night, when he sent word to the barn that if complications did not arise, he thought I might pull through. And thank God, though dear mother has crossed the vale some thirty odd years ago, I am still a spared monument of Gods loving kindness. But as to the breaking of my head and smashing of my skull. I carry the marks today, which every doctor I have ever had occasion to examine me can testify as to the cracks in my skull.
Before I go further, let me say as to our landing on Nolans Fork. After a few days I was out in the yard playing. I looked up And there were eight or ten women on horseback coming to the house. Now I was not used to this, and I was scared to death nearly, and I ran to the house and under the bed I went. Here I must say, God bless the Quakers, for they were only a band of good Samaritans coming to see what, if any, our needs were, after which they went away. One day not long after, there come a man with A very large bundle, and in that bundle were shoes, little pants. blankets, pillows, bed ticks and clothes of all kind for the winter, and mother could not help saying. "God bless Indiana and the Quakers."
Now we come back to my break up. Grandfather (as I was taught) came up from Centerville on Sunday morning to see me and see what was the matter with Isom, his step-son. After he had talked with mother a short time, father sitting out on the porch, Grandfather said to him, "Come, go with me." Well, he took him out into the orchard and tied him to an apple tree and there he thrashed him properly, if thrashing would right the wrong. He whipped his shirt off his back and left him tied there, and while he stayed mother was afraid to go and release him. About 1 oclock he left to go home, but he went out to the tree and released him, with the strong admonition for him to not let him hear from him again doing his devilment. He being in the settlement only about a year this transaction mitigated terribly against him. The Compton folks discharged him, and work being scarce the load fell on poor mother, and she had to go and wash very near every day in the week.leaving me and my next oldest brother to ourselves to keep house, and we did the best we could for her. But old "Lucifer" would not go out of the old man. And he was always quarreling with mother, and the people found it out, and they gave him so long to make amends or take a dose of rotten eggs; and they also would not let him have a house anywhere. Comptons gave him orders to move, and we moved to the Baldwin place, but we did not stay there long until we moved to a place called Swampsville, on Howell Graves place. After one year here we moved back to the Compton Place. After a short time we then moved to Eri Houghs place, Near New Garden (a Quaker church).
Lest I forget, let me here speak of us two boys going to school. Again I saw three or four women coming up to the house, and I ran and told mother the women were coming. This was in May, 1847. And they had come to inform mother that she must send us to school that summer. It seemed to surprise mother, as she was not used to being without us two boys. The time came that school was to commence, and some little boys and girls came by after us to start to school. My brother cried, but I took a different view of the situation, and was glad of the change. The teacher, a young Quaker lady, did all she could to make it pleasant for us, and in a few days we became acquainted and began our studies. Let me say here, that dear mother had learned us our letters at home, and we could spell some. We spent three months with this teacher, Susanna Hough by name, and when school was out, how we cried at having to part and go to our homes that year. We went to her two more terms, one at New Garden and one at Dover. We also went one more term to John Woodard, at New Garden. With the exception of going to Axy Thomas and James Ferguson, at Fountain City (then Newport) and about ten days in Grant County to a teacher by the name of John Morris, this was all the schooling I received until I left home. This ended my school days at home. We were excluded from this school because it was a district school and we were colored, no provision being made by law for the education of colored children in Indiana.
Now to retrograde a little, I shall here have to to back to the Eri Hough place, and from there to town, where we lived about one year. As to how we lived the Lord knows best, but mothers prayers sustained us. Father would go off down about Liberty, in Union County, and stay three and four weeks at a stretch, without leaving us anything to eat or fuel to keep us warm. But the Lord will provide. Friends brought us wood and eatables, and we had plenty all the time. With all this, poor mother did not get discouraged. She kept her faith in God, that somehow or other there would be a change for the better..
"Oh for a faith that will not shrink.
Though pressed by every foe:
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe."
As I will have to get a little more brief with my story, on the 12th day of February, 1852, we had to move again, and this time we made a long jump, from Wayne to Grant County, getting there on my birthday, the 17th of February, and to my surprise the first thing I received was a birthday licking from Grandfather Weaver. This was my initiation to the then wild woods of the western Indian reserve. Well, things went smoothly for awhile, but oh my, my troubles were just commenced, and went on from bad to worse all the time. I was hired out, not being allowed to stay at home. I worked three months for a Nathan Cogshell, and did not get a straw hat, as he would take up my earnings faster than I made them, and kept me in debt.
I was next hired to Thomas Harvey, and I worked there three years. But Thomas got dissatisfied with the old mans way of dealing with me, and he told him if I could not have enough of my wages to clothe myself he could not keep me, to which he would not agree. As I had no home to go to, I stayed with him until spring, and I then went to William Peacocks and there I worked all the summer, and all I got out of it was a straw hat, to which William very much objected, with the same admonition that if I could not have enough out of my wages to clothe myself he could not keep me. But I stayed with him until winter, and then I went home. Mother was still all this time, but kept praying for help to bear her cross.
Can a mothers tender love
Cease toward the child she bears?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
Yet, oh Lord, will I remember thee."
The time was approaching that this kind of usage must come to an end, and I said to mother one day, "Mother, I am going to go away, that you and me may see some peace." She said to me, where do you think you will go? I told her I did not know, but that the Lord would provide. Now the greatest trial of my life was staring me in the face, that of going out into the unknown world, leaving mother and sisters and brothers behind, and all the neighbors that I had become acquainted with in Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana. I will here give a few of their names: William Cox, James Hollingsworth, Solomon Woody, Mahlon Neal, William Howell, William Jackson, Eri Haisley, John Haisley, Ira Haisley, Cyrus Haisley, Ezra Bishop, Morgan White, William Lawrence, Jackson Collins, Thomas Harvey, Isaac Carey, Jerry Howell, Daniel Winslow, John Crowell, Henry Winslow, John Carey, Stephen Scott, Asa Peacock, William Peacock, Solomon Knight. Tristam Connor, Willis Camack, Amos Whitson, John Morris, and many other acquaintances that I must soon part with to never meet again on earth.
It grieved me very much when I would think of it, but for the peace of my dear mother and myself what else could I do. I went away from home in February, 1857, and resolved in my self for the peace of my mother to go, and I went to a man by the name of Bartley Hockett, and told my condition. He gave me work in his clearing, and I worked for him until April 12th, when I had to quit or have every bone in my body broken. We were aware that the Quakers did not like trouble, and when Bartley heard that my father and his brother were coming on Wednesday to kill me, he soon planned a way for my escape out of the trouble. He came to me and told me what was coming and advised me to go to his uncles who lived in Rush County, to which I readily agreed. With aching heart and sorrowfully, I took my flight away from mother and all my old friends, and many there were, to never meet again on this earth, which has been the case, and yet I am spared to see this year nearly gone into eternity. With the poet I was made to exclaim:
Father I stretch my hands to Thee
No other help I know;
If Thou withdraw Thyself from me
Oh whither shall I go."
I am now in a new place, with strangers my friends, but thanks be to God, they were Quakers again, and they stepped into the parental breach at once. They had heard how I came there, and it seemed to me that I had fell into a paradise. I did not have much clothing, but soon they went to town and got me a good suit of clothing. Then I had to go with them to Sabbath school and meet ing every Sunday. But my thoughts would turn to mother. I was only 10 years old, and I wanted to see my good mother once in awhile. But time went on, and I worked all that summer for the Binfords, for that was their name, Micajah C. Binford, one of the then best Quakers in Rush county, and his wife, Susanna.
I went to school three winters, one to Daniel Clark and two to Thomas Clark, and in these schools I made good progress. In 1800, June 18th, I was married to a lady by the name of Brown, and to this union were born Albert R. and T. C. Weaver, but they both became sick and died.
I had ended my school days and married, and now the Rebellion came on and I got a hankering to go. At last I got a chance to go with Elwood Hill, and I went. After camping in Camp Peel about two weeks we were ordered to Kentucky, and there we met Kirby Smith and his forces, at Richmond, Kentucky, on the 30th and 31st days of August, 1862 and we were his, and with the rest they took me and kept me eleven months. As there was no record of me, where I was and what went with me, I could never get a pension.. They reported me dead, taken prisoner and whereabouts unknown. In this eleven months I was in a good many engagements, at Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, at Crab Apple Orchard, then at Buzzards Roost, then at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and at Nashville, Tennessee Then the Rebels started south to help cut off Gen. A.I. Smith in his Red River expedition, but the sagacious General Stoneman got us hemmed in down in Louisiana, and we turned and went back to Mobile, Alabama. But the Yanks were prepeared to give us a good reception, which they did. Then shut us out; they burned us out, and any old way to get rid of us, and we were in a hurry as General Stoneman was pressing us very hard.
After about ten or fifteen days we went over the mountains, finally landing in Knoxville, Tennessee, in February, 1863. There we took quarters until in March, when we were ordered to Virginia, and it took the train we had seven days to run from Knoxville to Richmond, Virginia. When I got there I was introduced to Bells Island, and I stayed on this island until Captain Streight dug out of Libby prison, and then I got an introduction to Libby prison, which in all was about two months. In this time I cannot contrive how I lived on what was given me to eat, meat with maggots running over it, and bread covered with green worms. My stomach has many, many times revolted at the thought of seeing it, much less eating it. Men died like rats, sitting up, or if they laid down, four-fifths of them never more awakened.
Oh the scenes of starvation, or wounds, and death. Any way, It took all my sympathies until I had none whatever. As they were taxed and taxed I lost all the sympathies I ever had. I left Libby Prison to go to the field again, in April, and went up the Fredricksburg & Richmond Railroad to a station called Guinea Station, and from there we went to a place called Moss Neck. We went into camp and stayed there about two weeks, and then trouble broke out again. We were ordered to Hamptons Crossing, and there we fought the Yankees two days and nights, without any advantage. All at once we were ordered to Fredricksburg, and there they whipped us and drove us five miles back into the country. This is the place where I saw some of the finest maneuvering which I ever got to see while I was in the army, and a general by the name of Sedgwick performed the feat. He got killed there.
Now by this time General Joe Hooker had managed to throw a very large force of men across the Rappahannock river at the United States ford, and one came across at Banks ford, and there commenced the ever memorable five days fighting of the Wilderness. Wilderness it was, of pine, scrub oak and everything that grows in the woods. The pine straw and leaves were two feet deep in most places, and in shelling this pine straw and leaves caught fire and hundreds were burned up. Well, there came a big rain, such as I never seen before or since. It rained so hard that horses and mules drowned standing in their tracks. It was here that I got my first taste of horse ham and mule ham, for we were on the verge of starvation, and if General Hooker had only knew it, he had them whipped. They had already started long trains of wagons, ambulances, disabled artillery and the wounded to Richmond. But as the men were wore out, we rested a few days, and then took up the sad march for New York City and Baltimore, but there was an army to battle with and a general that they had not met before, in the person of General Meade. After we left the Wilderness we had the next encounter at Brandy Station, and I never saw such quick action with troops. In two hours time the Yankees whipped them, burned the station and then fell back, as it suited them, to Winchester, where General Milroy was. I was surprised at General Milroys action, when he knew that the Rebel army of Virginia was coming down upon him l80,000 strong, and he just laid in Winchester until they had about surrounded him and he had to cut his way out and get away the best he could, for which he was court martialed.
Now on to Baltimore. But when we got to Gettysburg we found to the surprise of the Rebels, the Army of the Potomac there waiting for them. When I came out of the mountain gap I beheld what I had not seen before, the great Army of the Potomac and do you know, I was anxious to see them get in action, for somehow I was imbued with confidence that they could beat back the Rebel hordes, for here was my only hope that God would overthrow them, and he did. The battle raged for two days and a part of another. The first went against the Yankees, for they had been beaten back about five miles, but Yankee like that night they went into the ground and the Rebels found to their dismay, about 9 oclock that they had an elephant on their hands, and at no point could they remove them. About 10 oclock the general order went forth for the whole army to charge, charge it was, men, horses, wagons, artillery and everything that could get out of the way was stampeding. This went on for about two miles, and then they made another stand, which was broken about 1 oclock . Then another fall back, and at night it found them where they started from.
Now as the day had proved disastrous to them (the Rebels, I mean there was a council of war held at General Lees headquarters, and of course, I was on hands to hear what the result of the two days fighting had been. I laid down by the side of the tent, and it did not take long to hear the good news to me, that a general retreat be made at once. Now here I must arrange to make my retreat, too, as I had seventeen other men seeking., through me, their freedom. I was at a loss to some extent, not being acquainted with the topography of the country, how to manage it with so many men hanging to me. But here I put my trust in God, and the resolve was to go as high in the mountains as we could go, which we did. We went so high that the thunder and lightning was beneath us, and up there we stayed for five days, living on whortleberries all the while. After we had been up there five days I concluded that it would be safe to venture down out of the mountains, and we went down to General Redfields headquarters.
I stayed at headquarters two days and fell sick, and everything was done for me that could be done to get me able to go back with the army and tell how they might take old Richmond by assault. I told General Redfield that all the way that it could ever be done was to cross James river at Manikintown ferry and go around to the north and west on Richmond, and come upon the west end of Winchester, a town on the west side of old Richmond. After this I left the army, bound for home, 700 miles away, without a dollar except Rebel money.
I went to a town by the name of Shippingsburg, on the Camberland Valley Railroad, and I found there a good man waiting for me. Here I unloaded myself of my men quickly, as laborers were scarce, and they all got good wages too. This man was a German, and he said he would give me $25 a week to help him in his hotel, and all the extras I could make. I went to work and stayed my month out, when I left him to go to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I had made in all over $100. But alas for my $100. There was a sharper on the train selling trinkets, and he came to me, after trying several, to change some bills, which I did, and when we got to Harrisburg, I did not have a dollar, as the money was all worthless.
I fell sick again, and I had to lay there, under the care of Dr. Retherford, one month before I was able to travel again. I went to Governor Curtin, and told him my condition, and he told me to come and see him next morning, which I did, and he gave me $75 to help me on home. I left the ever kind lady that kept a boarding house in Tanners Alley, in Harrisburg, and started home, but on the way I fell sick, and they put me off the train for dead at the Horseshoe Bend on the Pennsylvania Railroad, where I stayed for about two weeks. Then I started again, and I got as far as Pittsburg, and there fell sick again.
As the Lord would have it, I fell in the hands of one of my distant relatives, Betsy James, as she was called. There were several Betsys in the family, and she was the daughter of Uncle Jimmy Shoecraft, my grandmothers brother, and what good care she took of me. When I was able to travel again she went out awhile in the morning, and when she came in again she gave me $25. Where she got it I did not know, for I asked no questions. I left her and started home again, and I got as far as Richmond, Indiana, where I had to get off the train, worn out and nearly dead. But fortunately, Uncle John lived there, and he took charge of me and I soon recuperated., so that in a few days I was able to go on to Knightstown, and there the first man I met was Micajah Moss. As soon as he was relieved of his surprise he ran up the street exclaiming as he ran, "Tom Weaver has come! Tom Weaver has come!"Everybody was surprised for they supposed I was dead.
Well, I am home again, more dead than alive, but I went TO where my wife was, and again, after the lapse of two years, we were united. I stayed in Rush County a short time, but all the time anxious to see my dear mother, who had all this time nearly grieved herself to death on account of reports that I was dead. She never expected to see me alive again. But here I must not forget the friends that I left behind and were glad to see one another again. They consisted of : Anthony Roberts, General Tootle, Turner Newsom, Newsom Archey, Starlin Watkins, Seth Lassiter, Daniel Watkins, Wyche Watkins, John Watkins, Goodwin Hunt, Green Turner James Duffey, Hub Winslow, Bob Roberts. Blue Jim Watkins, Reddick Brooks, John Brooks, Lem Porter, Joseph Overman, Samuel Gates, Thomas Hill, Jonathan Phelps, William Parker, William Binford, Thomas Jessup, with a host of others that have crossed the river and gone on.
I cannot but exclaim with the Psalmist: "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He leadeth me by the side of still waters: His rod doth comfort me. "
As I must be a little more brief. I will have to leave off some things that are herein connected with this story which I will abridge and hasten on with the story. My wife deserted me, and I am working for a man by the name of Jacob McCormick. For whom I worked one year. I then hired to another man by the name of David Whitson and I worked with him three summers. I taught school in the winter until I taught four winters with good success both literally and financially. I then went on the Panhandle Railroad to work, and worked with them two years. I then helped to build the Ft. Wayne & Cincinnati Railroad from Eaton to Bluffton in Wells County. I then went to Ft. Wayne and worked in a hotel all winter and up until in June, when I took a contract for laying the iron from Adams Station to Wabash river, which I finished in November.
I then married a lady by the name of Julia Ward. We were married seventeen years when she died. I then broke up housekeeping and went to live with my brother-in-law in Grant County. Now before I get too far from Ft. Wayne let me say that there was no colored church there, so I went to work and got a lot given to the colored people by a wealthy lady, and today there stands on it the most beautiful edifice belonging to the Michigan conference of the A.M.E. Church. The donor was Mrs. Eliza Hamilton.
In 1888 I left Ft. Wayne and went to Grant County, where I made mortar and carried brick. I helped put up the first five barracks of the Soldiers Home, and also many other buildings in Marion I worked in Marion for one year, and then I went to Anderson and worked one summer and one winter, until the 15th of January 1800, when I returned to Carthage.
Here I will append a few more names of my friends in Rush County: Charles Henley, John Hill. T. C. Hill. John Frazer, Absalom Lemons, George Jack. OBrien Gwynn. William Johnson. Amos Hill. William S. Hill. Elisha White. Sally Prevo. Abraham Small, Henry Henley, Jr., Robert Patterson, Richard Johnson, Bettle Hill, Owen S. Henley, Owen Hill. Enos Hill. Dayton Holloway, Jesse Pusey, Henry Henley, Sr., Thomas W. Healey, John Clark, Thomas Clark, Daniel Clark, Jesse Hill, Dr. John M. Clark, George Foust, Ephraim Edwards, Jim Griffin. William Branson, and Henry B. Hill. To these I might append fifty other names, the most of whom have gone over the river and left me here, nearly alone, and I am wondering for what. It is not sixty-seven years since I first came to Carthage, and I have done the best I could.
I will here have to recapitulate some and go back to old Liberty Township and Fairmount and Center Township, beginning with my Friends in Fairmount. They were Jonathan Winslow, Walker Winslow, Henry Harvey, Robert Bogue, Nixon Rush, John Little, Jabez Winslow, Nixon Winslow, Jude Smitson, Isaac Smitson, Dr. Henley and son. Thomas and many others that at this time have passed my memory.
Now in Jonesboro, where I became acquainted in 1852, I knew more there than I did in Fairmount as I was mill boy, and had to go to the mill twice a week, hot or cold. This milling had to be done by me. I shall now give a few names of friends in Mill and Center Townships: Elihu Pemberton, Bartley Hockett, Jonathan Hockett. David Hutchins, Denny Jay, David Jay, Thomas Jay, Sr., Charley Ink, Frank Tracy, John Weaver, David Wilson, Daniel Winslow, Thomas Jay, Sr., Ithamar Russell, Rufus Dollman, Robert Corder, Hudson Stewart, Solomon Daily, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Meeks, Reaben Small, Noah Harris and Pleasant Weaver.
Now I have come to the many partings with frieds and relatives that have gone on from labor to their reward. My brother, John A. Weaver who gave his life in the defense of his country at The Point of Rocks, Virginia. Mother, brothers and sisters have gone on before me. It seems but yesterday when we all used to meet around the old fireplace. All have gone to the God who gave them. Job says: "Man dieth and is taken away from his home, and he returneth no more.
"Time by moments steals away
First the hour, then the day.
Soon the daily loss appears.
And it soon amounts to years"
Now, young men. Let me say to you in my closing remarks, re member thy mother and thy father in the days of thy youth. The Scriptures admonish children to obey their parents, and parents to bring up their children in the admonition of the Lord. Solomon says: "Bend the twig while it is young and it will not depart from it when it is old." I say this because I had a praying mother and her prayers have followed me thus far down the uneven roads of life. I have been "killed" twice, five times given up for dead and sick twice and the doctors said that I could only live a short time. But by the mercies of God and the prayers of my good mother I am here today, a lively corpse.
A short sketch of my migrating from Wayne County to Grant County. It took us five days to make a trip of about seventy-five miles in the most inclement weather that is common in Indiana. The first two days it rained incessantly and then turned to snow and then it got cold and colder. The mud was knee deep to the poor horses and snow and mud stuck to the wagon wheels until they were a solid mass. When we got to Hunts Tavern we unloaded part of our stuff and went on through to our destination, arriving there on the 17th day of February 1852. I was then eleven years old, and we had landed in the wilderness of woods and swamp galore, deer, wolves, wild turkeys and game of all kinds and some Indians, too. But all this was not to my liking and I longed to go back to the old home. In getting out there I had walked all the way, through water, mud and snow, my other brothers often giving out and riding.
I myself only stayed in Grant County about five years, as it was evident that I could no longer stay at home and live. Go I must and I did. At the age of sixteen years I was doomed to take up my abode with strangers and leave mother and children behind, for aught I knew. I will say that I soon had friends both white and colored by the scores, in and around Carthage. I soon became acquainted with one Robert Patterson, who was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. I worked for him two years off and on when I was not at the Binfords. Now the whole family is wiped out with the exception of the only daughter.Permelin Ann who now resides in Marion, Indiana, and is a deaconess in the Fifth Street A.M.E. Church in Marion, Indiana.
It is wonderful how I am yet alive, in my eighty-third year after having been "killed" four times once knocked in the head, twice by horses, twice on railroads and once by drowning. I know what it is to be in the jaws of death and not get there.
I have worked hard all my life and I am about to end up at the County Home, where respects have no bearing as to age or previous condition. You simply begin life over again but not for long.
I wish to say to all who may read these stammering lines that as I feel about at this time of my unfortunate life, may God lay out for me a more beautiful pathway than I have traveled, beaten about from post to pillar as a cast away far from home and in a strange land and with strangers, perhaps to the end of my days. After going through the dangers, trials and tribulations, I can only say, praise God that He has brought me safe thus far. As I am nearing the Golden City, it is all Gods will that it was to be that I might be brought in close touch with Christ. I hope friends will pardon me for calling the dead in question and relating things that perhaps had better not have been said, but as for me they had better never been done. I am aware that perhaps some things may seem impossible, nevertheless it is all true, the half not being told.
I will now close these sketches by saying to those who may read them, please excuse misconnections in this short epigram by saying that I was born in 1841, of largely Indian extraction of the Cherokee tribe of North Carolina. I came to Indiana in 1840 on October 28th landing in Wayne County.
ACCIDENTS OF MY LIFE
- Kicked by a horse and nearly killed.
- Hit with a piece of fence rail and nearly killed.
- Pushed off diving board and nearly drowned.
- Hit by hand car and nearly killed.
- Caught by engine and injured internally, nearly dead.
- Nearly died from exposure in the army.
- Twice given up by doctors to die
But by the mercies of God I am spared to see this, my 83rd year, and I am yet alive. Please excuse grammar and punctuations. Do not view me with a critics eye, but pass my imperfections by.
THOMAS P. WEAVER
The Weaver Settlement
Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana
Weaver, Indiana was founded by free African American families from North Carolina and Virginia: Pettiford, Weaver, Burden, Smith, Jones, Shoecraft, Patterson, and Mitchell.
Elizabeth Robbins, daughter of Josiah Robbins and Tabitha Shoecraft. She married James Isom Weaver, and they were the parents of Thomas P. Weaver whose story is told above.
Jack and Tamer Curry Pettiford of North Carolina. Like many free African American families they left for Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan in order to avoid the repressive "free Negro Code Laws" passed during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Jack and his brother Beverly were sons of Edmund Pettiford.
Beverly D. Pettiford, brother of Jack Pettiford, and his brother-in-law Henry Weaver. They traveled west with Jack Pettiford about 1850. Beverly's death certificate in Marion, Grant County, Indiana, states that he was 63 on February 24, 1884 [Department of Health certificate no. 16344].
Owen Franklin Weaver (standing), born in North Carolina about 1845, moved to the Weaver settlement in Grant County, Indiana where he lived in Jeremiah Shoecraft's household. He enlisted in the Civil War in 1865 and married Henrietta Shoecraft in 1869. He purchased 162 acres in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1895. Following the massacre of African Americans in Tulsa in 1922, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he died in 1929. (Jeremiah and Henrietta Shoecraft were the grandchildren of William Shoecraft and his wife Bicey Nickens).
The man sitting in the picture is Owen's father Christopher Weaver who lived in Ohio in the 1850s.
Edith Weaver Pettiford (b. 1824), Lynn Weaver (b.1820), and Marticia Weaver Hill (b. 1842), children of John and Lucy Huddleston Weaver. Edith was the wife of Beverly Pettiford who is shown above.
Henry Weaver (b. 1832), son of John and Lucy Weaver, and wife Sarah Burden Weaver, daughter of James and Dlean Burden.
Mary Weaver Nickles and John Henry Weaver (right front), daughter and son of Henry and Sarah Burden Weaver. John Henry was the store owner and postmaster of the town of Weaver.
James Weaver (brother of John H. and Henry Weaver) with his son Henry. Photo donated by Opha D. Botts.
James Weaver as a young man
Joseph Pettiford, son of Jack and Tamer Pettiford, and his wife Martha, daughter of Henry and Sarah Burden Weaver, in their home in Weaver, Indiana, in 1915.
Another photo of Joseph and Martha Pettiford. This one with their children.
John Aaron Weaver
Robert Weaver and Mary Pettiford, daughter of Beverly and Edith Pettiford
Marticia Weaver (b. 1842), daughter of John and Lucy Weaver.
Mary Elizabeth Weaver
Augustus (Buck) Weaver
Uncle Poe Weaver
Nancy Ann Weaver and Peter Hunter with children Lawrence, Joe, DeLooth, and Emme. Nancy was the daughter of Lawrence Weaver, granddaughter of Jesse Weaver and great granddaughter of William Weaver.
Most of the above photos are from the collection of Betty Weaver Ford and Norma Johnson NCJ218@aol.com
The Stewart family of Weaver, Indiana. Photo donated by Opha D. Botts.
Two unknown Weaver men.
John D. Shoecraft, grandson of Jeremiah Shoecraft. Photo donated by Ms. Verna Shoecraft Adams.
A member of the Nickens family in the Weaver settlement.