These genealogies, comprising the colonial history of the majority of the free African American families of Virginia and North Carolina, reveal several facets of American colonial history previously overlooked by historians:
- Most families were the descendants of white servant women who had children by slaves or free African Americans.
- Many descended from slaves who were freed before the 1723 Virginia law which required legislative approval for manumissions. Families like Gowen, Cumbo, and Driggers who were free in the mid-seventeenth century had several hundred members before the end of the colonial period.
- Very few families descended from white slave owners who had children by their slaves, perhaps as low as 1% of the total.
- Many free African American families in colonial North Carolina and Virginia were landowners who were generally accepted by their white neighbors.
- Free Indians blended into the free African American communities. They did not form their own separate communities.
- Some of the light-skinned descendants of free African Americans formed the tri-racial isolates of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Louisiana.
Most of the free African Americans of Virginia and North Carolina originated in Virginia where they became free in the seventeenth and eighteenth century before chattel slavery and racism fully developed in the United States.
When they arrived in Virginia, Africans joined a society which was divided between master and white servant - a society with such contempt for white servants that masters were not punished for beating them to death [McIlwaine, Minutes of the Council, 22-24]. They joined the same households with white servants - working, eating, sleeping, getting drunk, and running away together [Northampton Orders 1664-74, fol.25, p.31 - fol.31; McIlwaine, Minutes of the Council, 466-7; Hening, Statutes at Large, II:26, 117; Charles City County Orders 1687-95, 468; Westmoreland County Orders 1752-5, 41a].
Some of these first African slaves became free:
- Michael Gowen, a "negro" servant, was freed by the 18 January 1654 York County will of Christopher Stafford [DWO 3:16].
- Francis Payne of Northampton County paid for his freedom about 1650 by purchasing three white servants for his master's use [DW 1645-51, 14].
- Emanuell Cambow (Cumbo), "Negro," was granted 50 acres in James City County on 18 April 1667 [Patent Book 6:39].
- John Harris "negro" was free in 1668 when he purchased 50 acres in York County [Deeds 1664-72, 327].
A number of African Americans living on the Eastern Shore gained their freedom in the seventeenth century. There were at least 33 taxable African Americans in Northampton County in the 1670s who were free, later became free, or had free children. They represented one third of the taxable African Americans in the county.(1)
The Nickens and Weaver families came from Lancaster County where Black Dick (Richard Nickens), his wife Chris, and their children were freed in 1690 by the will of John Carter [Wills 1690-1709, 5].
Free African Americans were beginning to be assimilated into colonial Virginia society in the mid-seventeenth century. Many were the result of mixed race marriages:
- Francis Payne was married to a white woman named Amy by September 1656 when he gave her a mare by deed of jointure [DW 1655-68, fol. 19].
- Elizabeth Key, a "Mulatto" woman, successfully sued for her freedom in Northumberland County in 1656, and married her white attorney, William Greensted [Record Book 1652-8, 66, 67, 85a, 85b].
- Francis Skiper was married to Ann, an African American woman, before February 1667/8 when they sold land in Norfolk County [W&D E:1666-75; Orders 1666-75, 73].
- Peter Beckett, a "Negro" slave taxable from 1671 to 1677 in Northampton County, Virginia, married Sarah Dawson, a white servant [OW 1674-79, 203; OW 1683-89, 59].
- Hester Tate, an English woman servant in Westmoreland County, had several children by her husband James Tate, "a Negro slave to Mr. Patrick Spence," before 1690 [Orders 1690-98, 40-41].
As the percentage of African Americans increased, so did tension between free African Americans and slave holders. In 1666 Bastian Cane, "Negro," was punished by the Northampton County court for harboring, concealing, and trading with Francis Pigott's "Negro slave" [Orders 1664-74, fol.29]. And as more and more slaves replaced white servants, the Legislature passed a series of laws which designated slavery as the appropriate condition for African Americans:
- In 1670 the Virginia Assembly forbade free African Americans and Indians from owning white servants [Hening, Statutes at Large, II:280].
- In 1691 the Assembly prohibited the manumission of slaves unless they were transported out of the colony. It also prohibited interracial marriages and ordered the illegitimate, mixed-race children of white women bound out for 30 years [Hening, Statutes at Large, III:86-87].
- In 1705 the Assembly passed a law which all but eliminated the ability of slaves to earn their freedom by ordering that the farm stock of slaves
shall be seized and sold by the church-wardens of the parish wherein such horses, cattle, or hogs shall be, and the profit thereof applied to the use of the poor of said parish [Hening, Statutes at Large, III:459-60].
- In 1712 all fifteen members of the Anderson and Richards families were freed and given 640 acres in Norfolk County, Virginia, by the will of John Fulcher, creating such a stir that the Legislative Council on 5 March 1712/3 proposed that the Assembly
provide a Law against such Manumission of Slaves, which in time by their increase and correspondence with other Slaves may endanger the peace of this Colony [McIlwaine, Executive Journals of the Council, III:332].
In an effort to "prevent their correspondence with other slaves" Fulcher's executor, Lewis Conner, by a deed dated 20 March 1712/3, swapped their land in Norfolk County with land on Welshes Creek in Chowan County, North Carolina [Chowan DB B-1:109].
In 1723 the Virginia Assembly prohibited the freeing of slaves except in cases where they had rendered some public service such as foiling a slave revolt. Also in 1723, the Assembly amended the 1705 taxation law to make female free African Americans and non-reservation Indians over the age of sixteen tithable [Hening, Statutes at Large, IV:132-3].(2)
Despite the efforts of the legislature, white servant women continued to bear children by African American fathers through the late seventeenth century and well into the eighteenth century. From these genealogies, it appears that they were the primary source of the increase in the free African American population for this period. Over 200 families in this history descended from white women. Many of these women may have been the common-law wives of slaves since they had several mixed-race children. Fifty families descended from freed slaves, twenty-nine from Indians, and nineteen from white men who married or had children by free African American women. It is likely that the majority of the remaining families descended from white women since they first appear in court records in the mid-eighteenth century when slaves could not be freed without legislative approval, and there is no record of legislative approval for their emancipations. The law binding the children of white women by African Americans until the age of thirty-one applied to their daughters and granddaughters, so any "Mulatto" child bound until the age of thirty-one descended from a white woman.
Table 1. Descendancy of Free African American Families in This Genealogy: Virginia and North Carolina White servant women 202 Freed slaves 50 Indians 29 White men 19
The replacement of white servants with African slaves, begun in earnest in 1660, continued for more than a century. African slaves had still not completely replaced white servants by 17 October 1773 when the jailer in Prince William County advertised in the Virginia Gazette that he had caught a runaway white servant man:
Committed to Prince William gaol a certain William Rawlings, who says he is the property of Francis Smith of Chesterfield. The owner is desired to pay charges, and take him away.
and he advertised in the same edition that he had jailed a runaway white servant woman:
Committed to the gaol of Prince William a servant woman about 26 years of age, named Mary Richardson; has on a short printed cotton gown, and striped Virginia cloth petticoat [R 17Oc73:33].(5)
Elizabeth Bartlett, an indentured servant from Accomack County, was punished in July 1716 for running away with her mistress' "Negro man named James" [Orders 1714-7, 28]. George Wallis, a white man, and "Negro Dick" were taken up as runaways in Westmoreland County in November 1752 [Orders 1752-5, 41a].
Racial contempt for free African Americans did not fully develop as long as there were white servants in similar circumstances. It was during this period, as late as the end of the eighteenth century, that free African Americans were accepted in some white communities.
Many free African Americans originated in or moved to Surry County, Virginia, where their deeds, marriage bonds, and wills were recorded in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. They were the Banks, Blizzard, Byrd, Charity, Chavis, Cornish, Debrix, Jeffreys, Kersey, Peters, Scott, Sweat, Tann, Valentine, Walden, and Wilson families. Descriptions in the Surry County, Virginia, "Registry of Free Negroes" in the late 18th and early 19th century read:
Armstead Peters a Mulatoe man, ...aged about 56 years, born free of a yellowish complexion... (6 October 1794).
James Williams a Mulatto man, pretty dark complexion, born of free parents residents of this county, 35 years old ... (11 May 1797).
Joseph Byrd son of Joseph and Nelly Byrd free Mulatto persons & residents of this county 20 years old, 5'5" high, bright complexion, short thick hair, straight & well made (27 September 1798).
William Tan, a mulatto man and son of Jemima Tan, a white woman late of this county. He is of bright complexion, has straight black hair, pretty stout and straight made, aged 21 last September (3 December 1801) [Back of Guardian Accounts Book 1783-1804, nos. 1, 21, 35, 136].
Since so many free African Americans were light-skinned, many observers assume that they were the offspring of white slave owners who took advantage of their female slaves. Only three of the approximately four hundred families in this history was proven to descend from a white slave owner. They were the children of South Carolina planters: Collins, Holman, and Pendarvis. Like their fathers, they were wealthy slave owners who were accepted in white society.
In 1782 Virginia relaxed its restrictions on manumission, and thereafter manumitted slaves contributed to the increase in the free African American population.
By 1790 free African Americans were concentrated on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the counties below the James River, and the northeastern part of North Carolina [Heads of Families - Virginia, 9]. This was a pattern of settlement similar to that of newly freed white servants. Land was available in Southside Virginia and in the northeastern part of North Carolina at prices former servants could afford [Morgan, American Slavery, 227-30].
Table 2. Number of free African Americans in Virginia and North Carolina and their percentage of the total free population in 1790 by county Virginia North Carolina Charles City 363 (14.8%)
York 358 (14.5%)
Northampton 464 (12.7%)
Surry 368 (11.8%)
Henrico 581 (9.4%)
Nansemond 480 (9.2%)
James City 146 (8.8%)
Dinwiddie 561 (8.5%)
Powhatan 211 (8.5%)
Southampton 559 (8.1%)
Greensville 212 (7.7%)
Sussex 391 (7.6%)
Accomack 721 (7.4%)
Prince George 267 (7.3%)
Isle of Wight 375 (7.3%)
Lancaster 143 (6.0%)
Hardy 411 (5.9%)
Goochland 257 (5.8%)
New Kent 148 (5.8%)
Chesterfield 369 (5.5%)
Mecklenburg 416 (5.2%)
Northampton 458 (8.2%)
Hertford 232 (6.6%)
Halifax 443 (5.8%)
Robeson 277 (5.8%)
Bertie 378 (5.1%)
Craven 337 (4.9%)
Granville 315 (4.6%)
Total Virginia 12,866 (2.8%) Total North Carolina 5,041 (1.7%)
Descendants of families which had been free during the colonial period continued to comprise a major part of the free African American population due to natural increase. In 1810 the Going/ Gowen family, free since the mid-seventeenth century, headed forty "other free" households with 105 persons in Virginia, sixty-two persons in North Carolina, eleven in South Carolina, and ten in Louisiana; the Chavis family, free since the seventeenth century, headed forty-one households containing forty-six persons in Virginia, 159 in North Carolina, and twelve in South Carolina.
Table 3. Number of Persons in the Households of Families who had Been Free During the Colonial Period - 1810 Census Family Name Virginia North Carolina Anderson 7 52
Archer 9 51
Artis(t) 86 38
Banks 54 28
Bass 21 80
Chavis/ Chavers 46 159
Cousins 52 6
Day 46 13
Fuller 28 3
Going/ Gowen 105 62
Haithcock 9 70
Ligan/ Ligon 39
Locus/ Lucas 100 25
Nickens 64 6
Reed 12 43
Valentine 55 7
Vena/ Venie 64
Walden 24 87
Weaver 64 37
Migration to North Carolina
Several free African Americans voted in the North Carolina General Assembly elections in 1701 [Saunders, Colonial Records, I:903]. Jack Braveboy was living in Chowan County before 17 July 1716 when he was presented by the court:
a negro, Coming into this Government with a woman and do live together as man and wife, it is ordered that the sd. Braveboy produce a Sufficient Certificate of their Marryage [Hoffman, Chowan Precinct North Carolina 1696 to 1723, 224].
In 1725 John Cotton was indicted for marrying a "Molatto Man to a White woman," and in 1726 the Rev. Mr. John Blacknall was fined fifty pounds for "joyning together in ... Matrimony Thomas Spencer and Martha paule a Molatto Woman" [Saunders, Colonial Records, II:591, 662].
Many of those who were free in Northampton County, Virginia, settled in Craven County, North Carolina. They were the Carter, Copes, Driggers, George, and Johnston families. They can be traced directly back to their seventeenth century Virginia ancestors. Those in the early eighteenth century lists of Northampton County, Virginia tithables who immigrated to North Carolina were the Allen and Roberts families.
The descendants of Nicholas and Bungey Manuel, "negro slaves" freed by the 28 October 1718 Elizabeth City County, Virginia will of Edward Myhill, were in the Edgecombe, North Carolina Militia in the 1750s [Elizabeth City County Deeds, Wills 1715-21, 194-5; Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South, 675].
James and Peter Black came to Craven County from Essex County, Virginia, where they had been free born. John Heath tried to sell them as slaves to William Handcock, but the Craven County court intervened on their behalf on 21 June 1745.
Moll, Nell, Sue, Sall, and Will Dove, "Negroes," came to Craven County, North Carolina, from Maryland with Leonard Thomas who was trying to keep them as his slaves in September 1749, but William Smith travelled to Maryland and proved their claim that they were free born [Haun, Craven County Court Minutes, III:465; IV:11-12].
The family histories of over 80% of those counted as "all other free persons" in the 1790-1810 federal census for North Carolina indicate that they were descendants of African Americans who were free in Virginia during the colonial period.
Free African American immigrants were of sufficient number in 1723 that the North Carolina General Assembly received complaints
of great Numbers of Free Negroes, Mulattoes, and other persons of mixt Blood, that have lately removed themselves into this Government, and that several of them have intermarried with the white Inhabitants of this Province... [Clark, State Records, XXIII:106-7].
Relations With Whites
While some North Carolina residents were complaining about the immigration of free African Americans, their white neighbors in Granville, Halifax, Bertie, Craven, Granville, Robeson and Hertford counties welcomed them. Their neighbors may have been accustomed to living among free African Americans in Virginia; they may have moved from Virginia in company with them; or perhaps they were drawn together by the adversities of the frontier. Neighbor depended heavily upon neighbor, and whites may have been more concerned with harsh living conditions than they were with their neighbors' color.
The slave population on the frontier was much lower than in the settled areas of Virginia, so the presence of free African Americans would not have posed a threat to most settlers. And several of these free African Americans owned slaves of their own. However, land ownership was more likely the social equalizer for them and their white neighbors.
The McKinnie family, originally from Isle of Wight County, Virginia, was one of the leading white families in the area around the Roanoke River. Barnaby McKinnie, member of the General Assembly from Edgecombe County in 1735, was witness to many of the early Bass, Bunch, Chavis, and Gibson deeds. John McKinnie called Cannon Cumbo his friend when he mentioned him in his 28 February 1753 Edgecombe County will. Other leading white settlers who sold them land adjoining theirs and witnessed their deeds were Richard Washington, William and Thomas Bryant, Richard Pace, and William Whitehead. Arthur Williams, member of the General Assembly for Bertie County in 1735, and John Castellaw, (brother?) of James Castellaw, a member of the Assembly from Bertie County, had mixed-race common-law wives, Elizabeth and Martha Butler [Saunders, Colonial Records, IV:115 and the Butler history].
On 9 November 1762 many of the leading residents of Halifax County petitioned the Assembly to repeal the discriminatory tax against free African Americans, and in May 1763 fifty-four of the leading citizens of Granville, Northampton, and Edgecombe Counties made a similar petition. They described their "Free Negro & Mulatto" neighbors as
persons of Probity & good Demeanor (who) chearfully contribute towards the Discharge of every public Duty injoined them by Law.
About ten years later a similar petition by seventy-five residents of Granville County included those of a few of the free African Americans of the county: Benjamin, Edward, and Reuben Bass, William and Gibea Chavis, Lawrence Pettiford, and Davie Mitchell (negro) [Saunders, Colonial Records, VI:902, 982; IX:96-97].
In March 1782 a Continental officer observed a scene in a local tavern at Williamsboro, North Carolina:
The first thing I saw on my Entrance was a Free Malatto and a White man seated on the Hearth, foot to foot, Playing all fours by firelight: a Dollar a Game [Journals of Enos Reeves, March 13, 1782, Manuscript Department, Duke University, cited by Crow, The Black Experience in Revolutionary North Carolina, 32].
By 1790 free African Americans represented 1.7% of the free population of North Carolina, concentrated in the counties of Northampton, Halifax, Bertie, Craven, Granville, Robeson, and Hertford where they were about 5% of the free population [Heads of Families - North Carolina, 9-10]. In these counties most African American families were landowners, and several did exceptionally well.
Economic Condition and Race Relations
Edward Carter was the fourth largest Dobbs County landowner with 23,292 acres in 1780 [L.P.46.1 in Journal of N.C. Genealogy XII:1664]. He was head of a Dobbs County household of 8 "other free," one white woman, and 20 slaves in 1790 [NC:137].(6) The Bunch, Chavis and Gibson families owned slaves and acquired over a thousand acres of land on both sides of the Roanoke River in present-day Northampton and Halifax counties, and the Chavis and Gowen families acquired over a thousand acres in Granville County.
William Chavis, a "Negro" listed in the 8 October 1754 muster roll of Colonel William Eaton's Granville County Regiment, owned over a thousand acres of land, a lodging house frequented by whites, and eight taxable slaves [Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South, 716]. His son Philip Chavis also owned over a thousand acres of land, travelled between Granville, Northampton, and Robeson Counties, and lived for a while in Craven County, South Carolina.
Migration to South Carolina
Some members of the Gibson family moved to South Carolina in 1731 where a member of the Commons House of Assembly complained that "several free colored men with their white wives had immigrated from Virginia." Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina summoned Gideon Gibson and his family to explain their presence there and after meeting him and his family reported,
I have had them before me in Council and upon Examination find that they are not Negroes nor Slaves but Free people, That the Father of them here is named Gideon Gibson and his Father was also free, I have been informed by a person who has lived in Virginia that this Gibson has lived there Several Years in good Repute and by his papers that he has produced before me that his transactions there have been very regular, That he has for several years paid Taxes for two tracts of Land and had several Negroes of his own, That he is a Carpenter by Trade and is come hither for the support of his Family [Box 2, bundle: S.C., Minutes of House of Burgesses (1730-35), 9, Parish Transcripts, N.Y. Hist. Soc. by Jordan, White over Black, 172].
Like the early settlers of the North Carolina frontier Governor Johnson was more concerned with the Gibsons' social class than their race.
Many of the free African Americans who were counted in the census for South Carolina from 1790 to 1810 originated in Virginia or North Carolina. They were:
Bass, Berry, Biddie, Bonner, Bowman, Bradley, Braveboy, Bryan, Bugg, Bunch, Butler, Buzby, Carter, Chavis, Clark, Collins, Combest/ Cumbess, Cumbo, Demery, Driggers, Ferrell, Gallimore, Gibson, Gowen, Grooms, Hagan, Haithcock, Harmon, Hatcher, Hawley/ Holly, Hays, Hazell, Henderson, Hicks, Hilliard, Howard, Huelin, Hunt, Ivey, Jacobs, Jeffries, Jones, Kersey, Lamb, Locklear, Lowry, Lucas, Matthews, Mitcham, Mosely, Mumford, Oxendine, Pavey, Rawlinson, Reed, Rouse, Russell, Scott, Shoecraft, Shoemaker, Sweat, Tann, Turner, Valentine, Weaver, Webb, Wilson, and Winn.
They represented many of the "free persons of Colour" of present-day Liberty and Marlborough counties, South Carolina, who petitioned the legislature to repeal the discriminatory tax against "free Negroes" on 20 April 1794: Richard Evins (Evans), Nathaniel Conbie (Cumbo), George Collins, William (his mark) Turner, Thomas Hulen, Spencer (his mark) Bolton, William (his mark) Swett, Solomon Bolton, James (his mark) Shewmak (Shoemaker), John (his mark) Turner, Junr., Solomon (his mark) Shewmk, Sampson (his mark) Shewmak, Thomas (his mark) Shewmake, Junr., Thomas (his mark) Shewmake, Senr., John (his mark) Shumake, James (his mark) Shumake, David Collins, Thomas Collins, John (his mark) Turner, Senr., Mildred (her mark) Turner, Grenelaper(?) (her mark) Turner, Catherine (her mark) Turner, Elias Hulon, Cudworth Oxendine, Archmack Oxendine, Dellie Gibson, and Drusilla Gibson. Others who signed the petition were Isaac Linagear, Isaac Mitchell, Jonathan Price, Nathan Price, G(?)reter (his mark) Colder, Moses (his mark) Colder, and George Mccloud. Stephen Gibson, Isaac Linegear, Jr., Jur.(?) Driggers, James Ivey, Joseph (his mark) Bass and Levi Gibson were considered white when they signed in support of the petition [South Carolina Department of Archives and History, General Assessment Petition, 1794, no. 216, frames 370-374, Free People of Color ST 1368, series no. 165015, item 216].
Few colonial South Carolina county court records have survived, so it is difficult to determine the origin of the other families. However, at least three families were the descendants of white slave owners who left slaves and plantations to their mixed-race children: Collins, Holman, and Pendarvis. James Pendarvis expanded his father's holdings more than fourfold to 4,710 acres and 151 slaves. John Holman, Jr., established a plantation with 57 slaves on the Santee River in Georgetown District and then returned to his homeland in Rio Pongo, West Africa to resume the slave trading he learned from his English father [Koger, Black Slaveowners, 104, 108-110, 112-121].
According to Koger, free Indians in Charleston were part of the free African American community. They married members of the free African American community and were members of the Brown Fellowship Society, an organization of "lighter skinned men" which maintained a cemetery, operated a school for the children of its members, and supported charity and social functions. Proof of descent from a free Indian allowed free African Americans to avoid the discriminatory state capitation tax [Koger, Black Slaveowners, 16-17; S.C. Dept. of Archives & History, Public Programs Document Packet No.1]. Free association of Indians and African Americans is also evident from their family genealogies. Rachel Garden, "a free Mustee," married Robert Baldwin, "a free Blackman," in Charleston on 5 September 1801.
Discriminatory Taxation and Indentured Apprenticeship
In mid-eighteenth century North Carolina we find wealthy mixed race families counted in some years by North Carolina tax assessors as "mulatto" and in other years as white. Jeremiah and Henry Bunch, Bertie County slave owners, were taxed in Jonathan Standley's 1764 Bertie County list as "free male Molattors" in 1764, but as whites in Standley's 1765 Bertie list, and again as "free Molatoes" in 1766 [CR 10.702.1]. Michael Going/ Gowen was taxed in Granville County as white in 1754 and was called "Michael Goin, Mulattoe" in 1759 [CR 44.701.19].
John Gibson, Gideon Gibson and Gibeon Chavis, all married the daughters of prosperous white farmers. Some members of the Gibson, Chavis, Bunch and Gowen families became resolutely white after several generations.
While some free African Americans owned slaves and were accepted in white society, others married slaves and socialized with slaves. Hester Anderson, one of those freed in 1712 in Norfolk County, was the common-law wife of a slave. She was the ancestor of the Artis family of Southampton County, Virginia, and several North Carolina counties. James Revell of Cumberland County entrusted his executor with the task of making application to the legislature for his wife's freedom [WB C:21].(7)
Abel Carter was suspected of aiding a runaway slave. The 14 November 1778 issue of the North Carolina Gazette of New Bern advertised a reward for a
negro fellow named Smart ... Tis supposed he is harboured about Smith River by one Abel Carter, a free Negro, as he has been seen there several times [Fouts, NC Gazette of New Bern, I:83].
However, the majority were small farmers owning a few hundred acres who married other free African Americans. Their marriages can be identified from colonial wills and tax lists, and they were recorded in the county marriage bonds starting in the late eighteenth century.
They suffered under the discriminatory North Carolina tax law enacted in 1749 which described taxables as
all and every White Person, Male, of the Age of Sixteen Years, and upwards, all Negroes, Mulattoes, Mustees Male or Female, and all Persons of Mixt Blood, to the Fourth Generation, of the Age of Twelve Years, and upwards, and all white Persons intermarrying with any Negro, mulatto, or Mustee, or other Person of mixt Blood, ... shall be deemed Taxables... [Leary & Stirewalt, North Carolina Research, Genealogy and Local History, chapter 13].
Thus, free African American and Native American households can be identified by the taxation of their female family members over twelve years of age. Some light-skinned people would claim to be white to avoid this discriminatory tax, and they would be listed by the tax collector with the notation, "Refuses to list his wife" [Thomas and Michael Gowin in the 1761 list of John Pope, CR 44.701.19]. It was in the interest of the tax collector to classify those of doubtful ancestry as "Mulatto" since he received a portion of the tax. However, those with some political and economic influence like the Bass and Bunch families were often listed as white.
In addition to the discriminatory tax, poor and orphaned African American children were bound out until the age of twenty-one by the county courts just like their poor white counterparts.(8) In July 1733 the General Assembly received complaints from "divers Inhabitants" that
divers free People, Negroes, Molattoes residing in this Province were ... bound out until they come to 31 years contrary to the consent of the Parties bound out. The said comittee further report that they fear that divers Persons will desert the settlement of those parts ...
The General Assembly ruled that those illegally bound should be released and the practice of binding out children to thirty-one years of age instead of twenty-one was to cease [Saunders, Colonial Records, III:556].(9)
The children were bound as apprentices in various crafts. Some apprentices were bound "to learn the art, trade, and mystery of farming" which may simply have meant working as an unpaid field hand; others were trained as coopers, blacksmiths, cordwainers, or other useful occupations.
The November 1774 Bertie County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions ordered eight-year-old Jemima Wiggins and ten-year-old Mary Beth Wiggins, "bastard Mulattos of Sarah Wiggins," bound to John Skinner. However, this order was reversed in the May 1775 Court session when Edward Wiggins, the children's father, convinced the court
of the said Skinners ill & deceitful Behavior procuring sd Order... [Haun, Bertie County Court Minutes, IV:157].
The courts bound out the children of many free African American women because they were the common-law wives of slaves, but Doll Burnett argued against the binding of her daughter, Edith, in the 28 May 1777 Johnston County court:
and the court taking the Conduct Character and Circumstances of the said Doll Burnet into consideration & finding no just reasons to apprehend that the said Edith would become a charge to this County, Ordered her to be returned to the care of her said Mother again [Haun, Johnston County Court Minutes, II:260].
In some instances the indenture laws virtually enslaved a person for life. George Cummins had the indenture of his white servant woman named Christian Finny extended by a year and her child bound for thirty-one years by order of the 7 December 1736 Carteret County court because she had a "Mallatto Bastard Child during her service." She may have been the common-law wife of a slave for she was charged with having another "Melato" born 10 July 1739 and another on 20 December 1743. When she applied to the court for her freedom on 9 June 1744, the court ruled that she serve for another five months to pay for the cost of the court suit against her. When she again applied for her freedom six months later, the court ruled that on checking the record she serve another year since she had a "Mullatto Child in the time of her servitude" [Minutes 1723-47, fol.33c, fol.58, 59b-c, 62d, 151-2].
Some unscrupulous masters treated their apprentices like slaves. On 21 September 1742 David Lewis brought John Russell, a six-year-old mixed-race boy, into Craven County court, requesting that he be bound to him and promising to
Cause to be learned the sd Boy to Read & Write a Ledgable hand & teach him or cause to be taught the Shoemakers trade...
However, Lewis "made a present of the said boy" to his brother, John Lewis, of Chowan County, and his brother sold the boy to Captain Hews of Suffolk County, Virginia [Haun, Craven County Court Minutes, III:328, 653].
Between 1759 and 1786 there were sixteen African American apprentices in Craven County who at the completion of their indentures had to petition the court for their freedom. The court ruled in the favor of the petitioners in every case [Minutes 1758-66, 1:22c; 1764-75, 1:50d; 1772-84, 1:49c, 58c-d, 59d, 61c; 2:4b, 34a-b, 49a, 79a; 1784-87, 1:5c, 11c, 33d; 2:26b].(10)
Caleb Lockalier was bound apprentice to Stephen Kades who assigned him to Francis Kennaday, who assigned him to James Oneal, who assigned him to Thomas Hadley, who refused to release him from his indenture until ordered to do so by the 27 July 1786 Cumberland County court [Minutes 1784-7, Thursday, 27 July 1786].
John Harris, a white Hyde County carpenter, found guilty of begetting a bastard child by Mary Ba_row, a white spinster, was required by law to support her. However, in June 1756 when the child was about two months old, the court learned that the child was mixed race. Harris was compensated for his expense by binding the child, a "Molatto Named George," to him for twenty-one years [Haun, Hyde County Court Minutes, II:174].(11)
Robert West, Sr., advertised in the North Carolina Gazette of New Bern on 13 March 1752 for Thomas Bowman as if he were a runaway slave:
Ran away from the subscribers, on Roanoke River, a Negro fellow, named Thomas Boman, a very good blacksmith, near 6 feet high, he can read, write and cyper, Whoever will apprehend him shall be paid 12 Pistoles, besides what the law allows [Fouts, NC Gazette of New Bern, I:3].
Almost twenty years later Thomas Bowman was a taxable "free Molatto" in John Moore's household in the Bertie County tax list of 1771, 1772, and 1774 [CR 10.702.1, Box 13].
A South Carolinian advertised in the North Carolina Central and Fayetteville Gazette on 25 July 1795 for Nancy Oxendine, daughter of Charles Oxendine of Robeson County:
$10 reward to deliver to the subscriber in Georgetown, a mustie servant woman named Nancy Oxendine, she is a stout wench, of a light complexion about 30 years old. It is supposed she has been ??els away by her brother and sister, the latter lives in Fayetteville [Fouts, Newspapers of Edenton, Fayetteville, & Hillsborough, 81].
We also find cases where children were willingly bound by their parents to neighbors, friends, and relatives. Lovey Bass bound her illegitimate child, Nathan, to her neighbor, George Anderson. George Anderson was probably the boy's father. He devised his land to Nathan and his farm animals to Lovey Bass but left his wife and children only a shilling each [Original 1771 Granville County will].
Other apprenticeships were simply a way for a person to acknowledge responsibility for a child's support. Mary Bibby, a "black" taxable, had a "base born" child named Fanny who was bound out to Amy Ingram in Bute County on 13 May 1772 [Warren County WB A:227]. However, Mary had been living in the Ingram household for at least ten years prior to this. She and a slave named Charles were "black" taxables in Jesse Ingram's household in Gideon Macon's list for Goodwin's District of Granville County in 1761 [CR 44.701.19], and she and Charles were taxables in the Ingram household in the Bute County tax list of William Person in 1771 [CR 015.70001]. Mary was Charles' common-law wife according to a 28 June 1893 letter from a Bibby descendant, Narcissa Rattley, to her children.(12)
Some masters took the apprenticeships seriously. In Bertie County on 26 September 1768 seven-year-old Frederick James, "natural son of Ann James," was bound as an apprentice to John Norwood [CR 10.101.7]. And about fifty years later on 25 February 1817 we find Frederick James able to write his own Bertie County will in good handwriting [Original at N.C. Archives].
Sale Into Slavery
Free African Americans were also in danger of having their children stolen and sold into slavery. In his Revolutionary War pension application on 7 March 1834 Drury Tann declared in Southampton County, Virginia court that
he was stolen from his parents when a small boy by persons unknown to him, who were carrying him to sell him into Slavery, and had gotten with him and other stolen property as far as the Mountains on their way, that his parents made complaint to a Mr. Tanner Alford who was Then a magistrate in the county of Wake State of North Carolina to get me back from Those who had stolen me and he did pursue the Rogues & overtook Them at the mountains and took me from Them.
An advertisement in the 10 April 1770 issue of the North Carolina Gazette of New Bern describes how the Driggers family was victimized in Craven County, North Carolina:
broke into the house ... under the care of Ann Driggus, a free negro woman, two men in disguise, with marks on their faces, and clubs in their hands, beat and wounded her terribly and carried away four of her children [Fouts, NC Gazette of New Bern, I:65-6].
And John Scott, "freeborn negro," testified in Berkeley County, South Carolina, on 17 January 1754 that three men, Joseph Deevit, William Deevit, and Zachariah Martin
entered by force, the house of his daughter, Amy Hawley, and carried her off, with her six children, and he thinks they are taking them north to sell as slaves.
One of the children was recovered in Orange County, North Carolina, where the county court appointed Thomas Chavis to return the child to South Carolina on 12 March 1754 [Haun, Orange County Court Minutes, I:70-1].
Stealing free African Americans to sell them into slavery in another state was not a crime in North Carolina until 1779. However, free African Americans were afforded some protection under the law. In 1793 the murderer of John James of Northampton County was committed to jail according to the 20 March 1793 issue of the North Carolina Journal:
Last night Harris Allen, who was committed for the murder of John James, a free mulatto, of Northampton County, made his escape from the gaol of this town. He is a remarkable tall man, and had on a short round jacket [Fouts, NC Journal, I:205].
Service in the Revolutionary War
Many of the families in this history have at least one member who fought in the Revolutionary War. Several moved to South Carolina in the eighteenth century, and their names appear in the musters of the South Carolina Militia in the 1759 Cherokee Expedition [Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South, 701, 883, 892, 894].
This service alongside whites established long lasting friendships. William Bryan, a Justice of the Peace for Johnston County, testified in court for Holiday Haithcock in support of his application for a Revolutionary War pension on 21 September 1834 explaining that
in the times of our Revolutionary War free negroes and mulattoes mustered in the ranks with white men ... This affiant has frequently mustered in company with said free negroes and mulattoes ... That class of persons were equally liable to draft - and frequently volunteered in the public Service.
And H. Thompson Venable wrote for him to the Commissioner of Pensions in Washington,
the case of Holliday Hethcock of N.C. has been suspended merely because he was a free man of color. As we understand that several cases of this sort have been admitted, you will oblige us by having it admitted.
Charles Roberson Kee, a leading citizen of Northampton County, testified that he knew Drury Walden for more than twenty years and that
no man, not James Polk himself is of better moral character.
The Free Negro Code
Many free African American families sold their land in the early nineteenth century and headed west or remained in North Carolina as poor farm laborers. This was probably the consequence of a combination of deteriorating economic conditions and the restrictive "Free Negro Code" laws.
Beginning in 1826 and continuing through the 1850s, North Carolina passed a series of restrictive laws termed the "Free Negro Code" by John Hope Franklin. Free African Americans lost the right to vote and were required to obtain a license to carry a gun. Tensions arising from Nat Turner's slave rebellion in nearby Southampton County, Virginia, played a major role in the passage of these laws.(13) It is also possible that moves against the African American population helped to divert the attention of poor whites from their worsening economic conditions in the 1830s.
With the whole state literally up in arms over Nat Turner's rebellion, delegates to the General Assembly from Newbern called on the Assembly "setting forth the incompetency of free persons of color exercising the privilege of voting." Edmund B. Freeman, editor of the Roanoke Advocate, a Halifax County Weekly, boldly came to their support in the January 5, 1832 issue:
It cannot be denied that free negroes, taken in the mass, are dissolute and abandoned -yet there are some individuals among them, sober, industrious and intelligent - many are good citizens; and that they are sometimes good voters we have the best proofs ... We do think that too much prejudice is excited against this class of our population... -but, at the same time, there is a class of white skinned citizens, equally low and abandoned, whose absence whould be little regretted [N.C. Archives, Microfilm HaRA-2].
If his attitude toward free African Americans was typical of white Halifax County residents, this would help to explain why free African Americans made up over 18% of the free population of the county in 1810 [NC:59]. The editor's backhanded compliment certainly compares well to the sentiments of Robeson County residents:
The County of Robeson is cursed with a free-coloured population that migrated originally from the districts round about the Roanoke and Neuse Rivers. They are generally indolent, roguish, improvident, and dissipated [Franklin, Free Negro in North Carolina, 79 (MS in Legislative Papers for 1840-41); Schweninger, Race, Slavery, and Free Blacks, Series 1, 96].
or a northern paper quoted in the 5 January 1832 issue of the Roanoke Advocate complaining about "the evils arising from the immigration of free blacks" from other states into Pennsylvania:
Overun by an influx of ignorant, indolent & depraved popullation most dangerous to the peace, rights & liberties of our citizens ... [N.C. Archives Microfilm HaRA-2, January 5, 1832].
John Hope Franklin recorded a famous case in which Elijah Newsom of Cumberland County was prosecuted for carrying his gun in the county [Franklin, Free Negro in North Carolina, 77 (State v. Newsom, 27 N.C., 183)]. However, Halifax County and Robeson County appear to have granted gun licenses freely. These licenses were recorded in the county court records from 1841 through 1846.(14)
Many of those who left the state were enumerated in the 1840-1860 censuses of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan. Some went to Canada and a few to Haiti and Liberia. By 1857 when Henry Chavers (Chavis) emigrated to Liberia, life for free African Americans in North Carolina must have been truly oppressive. A letter written for him to his friend, Dr. Ellis Malone of Lewisburg in Franklin County, describing Liberia sounds like that of a recently liberated slave:
this Land of Freedom ... a nation of free and happy Children of a hitherto downcast and oppressed Race ... I now begin to enjoy life as a man should do ... did my Coloured Friends only know or could they have seen what I already have seen they would not hesitate a moment to come to this Glorious Country [Ellis Malone Papers, NUCMC, 21-H, William R. Perkins Library, Duke University].(15)
By 1870 many of those who remained behind were living in virtually the same condition as the freed slaves. In the 1870 census for Northampton County, North Carolina, the most common occupation listed for those who were free before 1800 was "farm laborer," the same occupation as the former slaves. Some married former slaves, and by the twentieth century they had no idea their ancestors had been free.
Indians who adopted English customs became part of the free African American communities. There were no Indian communities separate and distinct from the free African American communities. In order to have established a separate Indian community, Indians would need to have had a strong preference for marriages and relationships with other Indians. However, no such preference is evident in the marriages of families with Indian ancestry. They appear to have made no differences between themselves and African Americans.
There were no complete nuclear Indian families (both parents, plus children) among Indian slaves mentioned in seventeenth century Accomack and Northampton County records, while there were many among African slaves [Deal, Race and Class, 75]. I did not find any nuclear Indian families in the eighteenth century Virginia and North Carolina tax lists.(16)
Molly Cockran, a free Indian woman from Goochland County, had a child by a slave, "Negro Ben," in August 1765 [Jones, The Douglas Register, 348]. The children of Judith Cypress, an Indian woman from Surry County, Virginia, married African Americans. Both families became part of the free African American community.
John Teague was an Indian tenant on land in Accomack County on 8 September 1725 [Orders 1724-31, 37]. His likely descendants were Robert Teague, a "Mulato" taxable on himself and a horse in Northampton County, Virginia, in 1787 [Schreiner-Yantis, 1787 Census, 1260] and Sacker Teague who registered as a "free Negro" in Accomack County: born July 1785, a light Black, 5 feet 10-1/2 Inches, Born free [Register of Free Negroes, no.3].
William Press, an Indian "born ... of the body of a free Negro called Priscilla," was fined for failing to list himself as a taxable in Northampton County, Virginia, in 1730 [Mihalyka, Loose Papers 1628-1731, 239].
The descendants of David Pinn, an Indian taxed in Benjamin George's Christ Church Parish, Lancaster County household in 1745 and 1746 were so much a part of the African American community by 1785 that a descendant left his estate to his wife with the proviso that she not marry a slave. Otherwise, it was to go to his sister who was married to a member of the free African American Nickens family [Library of Virginia Microfilm, Lancaster Tithables 1745-95, 1, 6; Northumberland County Wills and Administrations, 80].
It appears that some Indians with English surnames took their names from African American parents. Solomon Bartlett (born about 1727), a "free Mulatto" living in Bertie County in 1772, was probably the ancestor of Solomon and Fanny Bartlett (born about 1800) who were counted in the 1808 Nottoway Indian census [Executive Papers, June 21-July 22, 1808, Gov. William H. Cabell, box 154a, LVA].
John Dungee, a "free Mulatto," received thirty lashes in July 1755 when he was convicted of the attempted rape of a white woman in Brunswick County, Virginia [Orders 1753-6, 451, 498]. He was probably the grandfather of John Dungee, a Pamunkey Indian "descended from the aborigines of this dominion," who petitioned the Virginia Legislature to allow his wife, the daughter of a slave and her slaveowner, to remain in Virginia in 1825 [King William County Legislative Petition, 19 December 1825, LVA].
Francis Skiper was married to Ann, an African American woman, before 2 February 1667/8 when they sold 100 acres of land in Norfolk County [W&D E:28; Orders 1666-75, 73]. They may have been the ancestors of George Skiper, one of the Nottoway Indians who sold land in Southampton County on 2 February 1749 [DB 1:98].
The history of the Bass family, a mixed-race Nansemond and English family, illustrates the position of culturally English Indians Americans in Virginia and North Carolina. Their ancestor, John Bass of Norfolk County, Virginia, married an Indian woman in 1638. There is no evidence that the family ever adopted any Indian customs.
John Bass' son William1 Bass purchased land in Norfolk County in 1729. William's son Edward Bass purchased land there in 1699 and had normal dealings in the county court [DB 6, no.2, fols. 36, 170, 255; Orders 1708-10, 124; 1710-17, 14, 136]. William1's daughter Mary Bass was the mistress of two white children who were bound to her by the Norfolk County court on 8 June 1714 [DB 6:189].
William1 Bass obtained a certificate from the Norfolk County court clerk in 1727:
An Inquest p'taining to possession & use of Cleared & Swamplands ... William Bass, Senr. & his kinsmen ... are persons of English and Nansemun Indian descent with no Admixture of negor, Ethipopic blood.
William1 Bass' son by the same name, William2 Bass, described as tall and swarthy, also obtained a certificate of Indian ancestry from the Norfolk County Clerk on 20 September 1742 [Bell, Bass Families of the South, 15]. His descendants were at least as much African as Indian since he married Sarah Lovina, the "Molatto" daughter of a "Negro Woman" named Jean Lovina, in 1729 [Norfolk WB 6:fol.96; DB 12:188; 18:41-2]. About seventy years later on 27 May 1797 their grandson obtained a certificate from the Norfolk County Clerk stating that he was
of English and Indian descent and is not a Negroe nor yt a Mulattoe as by some falsely and malitiously stated.
and that he was the son of Sarah Lovina,
a vertious woman of Indian descent [Virginia State Archives Accession no.26371].(17)
William2 Bass' brothers came to North Carolina in the early eighteenth century, and their descendants settled in Northampton, Bertie, and Granville Counties. Those who settled in Northampton and Bertie Counties prospered and were among the larger landowners in the county. They married whites and most were considered white after a few generations. The Granville branch of the family were relatively small landowners who married free African Americans and were considered African American after a few generations.
One of the Granville County descendants, William Bass, was called "free negro" in an undated Granville County court presentation [CR 44.289.19]. Another William Bass was the foster son of a slave in Marlboro District, South Carolina. His extraordinary case illustrates both the extent which the family intermarried with African Americans and the degree of repression suffered by free African Americans in the mid-nineteenth century. On 14 December 1859 he petitioned the legislature to become the slave of Philip W. Pledger explaining that
his position as a free person of color, a negro, is more degrading and involves more suffering in this State, than that of a slave ... he is preyed upon by every sharper with whom he comes in contact ... and is charged with and punished for every offence guilty or not, committed in the neighborhood ... and lives a thousand times harder, and in more destitution, than the slaves of many planters [Henry, Police Control of the Slave in South Carolina, 196-7 (Charleston Courier, 20 December 1859)].(18)
Definition of "Mulatto"
John Bunch, "a Mulatto," and Sarah Slayden, a white woman, petitioned the Council of Virginia to allow them to marry because the Minister of Blisland Parish (in New Kent and James City counties) had refused to marry them. The Attorney General was undecided whether the petition "came within the intent of the Law to prevent Negros and White Persons intermarrying" because he could not resolve "Whether the issue begotten on a White woman by a Mulatto man can properly be called a Mulatto, that name as I conceive being only appropriated to the Child of a Negro man begotten upon a white woman or a white man upon a negro woman...[McIlwaine, Executive Journals of the Council, III:28, 31].
In October 1705 Virginia passed a law barring anyone convicted of a crime as well as "any negro, mulatto or Indian" from holding office and added, "for the clearing all manner of doubts which hereafter may happen to arise upon the construction of this act, or any other act, who shall be accounted a mulatto, Be it enacted and declared...That the child of an Indian and the child, grandchild, or great grandchild, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto" [Hening, The Statutes at Large, III:229-235]. This has been taken by some to mean that there was a community of people of mixed white and Indian ancestry in Virginia. However, no such community existed. The law was apparently enacted in response to the request of John Bunch, a "Mulatto," the son or grandson of an African American man, who petitoned the Council of Virginia on 16 August 1705 for permission to marry a white woman.
In October 1785 Virginia passed a law specifically "declaring what persons shall be deemed mulattoes":
every person of whose grandfathers or grandmothers any one is, or shall have been a negro, although all his other progenitors, except that descending from the negro, shall have been white, shall be deemed a mulatto, and so every person who shall have one-fourth or more of negro blood, shall, in like manner, be deemed a mulatto [Hening, The Statutes at Large, XII:184].
But regardless of the legal definition, the word "Mulatto" was most commonly used by the colonial county courts of Virginia and Maryland when they prosecuted over one thousand cases in which white women who had children by a slave of African descent were sold with their "Mulatto" children as servants. The few cases in which a woman had a child by an Indian were prosecuted under the same law as white bastardy for which the penalty was a fine or corporal punishment.
Tri-racial, "Portuguese," and "Indian" Communities
Some of the lighter-skinned descendants of these families formed their own distinct communities which have been the subject of anthropological research. Those in Robeson County, North Carolina, are called "Lumbee Indians," in Halifax and Warren counties: "Haliwa-Saponi," in South Carolina: "Brass Ankles" and "Turks," in Tennessee and Kentucky: "Melungeons" and "Portuguese," and in Ohio: "Carmel Indians." Several fantastic theories on their origin have been suggested. One is that they were from Raleigh's lost colony at Roanoke and another that they were an amalgamation of the Siouan-speaking tribes in North and South Carolina [Blu, The Lumbee Problem, 36-41].
Documents from a court case held in Johnson County, Tennessee in 1858 provide a detailed description of one such family. They illustrate the extent to which the family was accepted by the white community and the extent to which the family history was already clouded by myths in 1858. Joshua Perkins, born about 1732 in Accomack County, Virginia, was the "Mulatto" son of a white woman [Orders 1731-36, 133]. He owned land in Robeson County, North Carolina, in 1761, moved to Liberty County, South Carolina, and in 1785 moved to what later became Washington County, Tennessee [Bladen County DB 23:80, 121, 104-5, 424-5, 147-8; Philbeck, Bladen County Land Entries, no. 1210]. Along the way, succeeding generations of his family married light-skinned or white people. They owned a ferry, race horses, and an iron ore mine; ran the local school house, and were election officials. However, conditions had changed drastically just prior to the Civil War in 1858 when Jacob F. Perkins, great-grandson of Joshua Perkins, brought an unsuccessful suit against one of his neighbors in the Circuit Court of Johnson County for slander because he called him a "free Negro" [The Perkins File in the T.A.R. Nelson Papers in the Calvin M. McClung Collection at the East Tennessee Historical Center].
More than fifty witnesses made depositions or testified at the trial. Many of the deponents had known three generations of the family in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Tennessee. Sixteen of twenty-two elderly witnesses who had actually seen Joshua Perkins testified that he was a "Negro," describing him as a
dark skinned man with sheeps wool and flat nose ... [Ibid., deposition of Nancy Lipps].
black man, hair nappy ... Some called Jacob (his son) a Portuguese and some a negro [Ibid., deposition of John Nave, 88 years old].
Knew old Jock (Joshua) in North Carolina on Peedee ... right black or nearly so. Hair kinky ... like a common negro [Ibid., deposition of Abner Duncan, 86 years old].
However, eighteen witnesses for Perkins testified that Joshua Perkins was something other than "Negro" - Portuguese or Indian.(19) They said little about his physical characteristics and those of his descendants. Instead, they argued that he could not have been a "Negro" and been so totally accepted by his community:
dark skinned man ... resembled an Indian more than a negro. He was generally called a Portuguese. Living well ... Kept company with everybody. Kept race horses and John Watson rode them [Ibid., deposition of Thomas Cook, 75 years old].
mixed blooded and not white. His wife fair skinned ... They had the same privileges [Ibid., deposition of Catherine Roller, 80 years old].
Hair bushy & long - not kinky. Associated with white people ... Associated with ... the most respectable persons. Some would call them negroes and some Portuguese [Ibid., deposition of John J. Wilson, about 70 years old].
He was known of the Portuguese race ... Four of his sons served in the Revolution ... Jacob and George drafted against Indians ... they came from and kept a ferry in South Carolina [Ibid., deposition of Anna Graves, 77 years old].
They kept company with decent white people and had many visitors [Ibid., deposition of Elizabeth Cook, about 71].
I taught school at Perkins school house ... they were Portuguese ... associated white peoples, clerked at elections and voted and had all privileges [Ibid., deposition of David R. Kinnick, aged 77].
Some who testified in favor of the Perkins family had never seen Joshua Perkins and seemed to be genuinely confused about the family's ancestry:
I was well acquainted with Jacob Perkins (a second generation Perkins). A yellow man - said to be Portuguese. They do not look like negroes. I have been about his house a great deal and nursed for his wife. She was a little yellow and called the same race. Had blue eyes and black hair. Was visited by white folks [Ibid., deposition of Mary Wilson].
One of the deponents, seventy-seven-year-old Daniel Stout, explained very simply how people of African descent could have been treated well by their white neighbors:
Never heard him called a negro. People in those days said nothing about such things [Ibid., deposition of Daniel Stout].
Many of these light-skinned communities were isolated from both the white and former slave populations after the Civil War. Mobile Hobson was the descendant of Ann Hobson, a white woman of Elizabeth City County, and a slave. He was a very old man when interviewed by the Virginia Writers Project which described him as "Grecian featured with skin as white as a white man's." He described events in Poquoson, Virginia, after the Civil War:
We used to go to de white churches fo' de war; an' arter dey started schools dey say we was Injuns. Well, we was, too, partly. But we wasn't no Negroes. First dey say we couldn't go in de white church no more. Well, we stopped goin'. Den when dey start de schools, dey say we couldn't go to de white schoolhouse. Some wouldn't go to de colored schoolhouse, an' some would. My dad wouldn't let us go to school wid de Negroes, so we didn't git no schoolin. When it come to marryin' we was in a worse fix. Couldn't marry white an' we wasn't aimin to marry colored. Started in to marryin' each other an' we been marryin' close cousins ever since [WPA, The Negro in Virginia, 36]. (The foreword to the 1994 printing warns that a thicker dialect was added in some interviews).
And a study in 1886 described these groups and their relations with the newly freed slaves:
The line of demarcation between the Old and New "Ishy" is not only still plainly visible, but bids fair long to continue so. Associating but little with each other, intermarriage is not common. A free Negro who marries a freed one almost invariably loses caste and is disowned by his people.
In their habits, manner, and dress, the free negroes still resemble, as they always did, the poorest class of whites much closer than they do the freedman [Dodge, "Free Negroes of North Carolina," Atlantic Monthly 57 (January 1886):20-30].(20)
Mixed-race families from Virginia were among the earliest settlers of Bladen County, North Carolina, from which Robeson County was formed in 1787. They were described in a report to the colonial governor of North Carolina in 1754:
50 families a mixt Crew, a lawless People, possess the Lands without patent or paying quit rents; shot a Surveyor for coming to view vacant lands being inclosed in great swamps.
... No Indians...in the county [Saunders, Colonial Records, V:161].
The colonial tax lists for Bladen County listed the following mixed-race families as "Mulattoes" from 1768 to 1770: Braveboy, Carter, Chavis, Clark, Cox, Cumbo, Dimry, Doyal (Dial), Drake, Evans, Goin, Groom, Hammons, Hayes, Hunt, Ivey, James, Johnston, Jones, Kersey, Lamb, Locklear, Lowery, Overton, Oxendine, Perkins, Phillips, Russell, Skipper, Sweat, Sweeting, Walden, Wharton, Wilkins, and Wilson. Only one person was called an Indian: Thomas Britt [Byrd, William L., III, Bladen County Tax Lists, 1768-1774, I: 4-9, 14-17, 24-46, 50].
A complaint of 13 October 1773 listed "free Negors and Mullatus living upon the Kings land...Raitously Assembled together" in Bladen County: Captain James Ivey, Joseph Ivey, Ephraim Sweat, William Chavours Clark, Bengman Dees, William Sweat, George Sweat, William Groom, Senr, William Groom, Junr, Gidion Grant, Thomas Groom, James Frace, Isaac Vaun, Sol. Stableton, Edward Locklear, Tiely Locklear, Major Locklear, Recher Groom, and Ester Carsey [G.A. 73, Box 7]. Actually, most of these families were either granted or purchased land in Bladen County during the eighteenth century. John Groom entered 200 acres in 1748, John Locklear entered 100 acres in 1752, and Major Locklear was living on 100 acres in 1753 when a land entry was recorded for that land in the name of two white men. Thomas Ivey recorded a land entry for 150 acres in February 1754 and in December 1754 Robert Sweat was granted 150 acres which was sold by Philip Chavis in 1768.
A representation from Bladen County to the House of Assembly on 18 December 1773 complained of
the number of free negroes and mulattoes who infest that county and annoy its Inhabitants [Saunders, Colonial Records, IX:768].
And a white man named Jacob Alford petitioned on behalf of the inhabitants of the upper section of Bladen County that he and his neighbors lived in "Constant dread & Fear of Being Robbed and Murdered by a Set of Robbers and Horse Thiefs," mostly "mulattoes" who numbered about forty [Schweninger, Race, Slavery, and Free Blacks, Series 1, 58]. Winslow Driggers was a notorious leader of one of the outlaw, back-country communities in South Carolina that bordered Bladen County and which were said to consist of both white and mixed-race men. In the Fall of the year 1770 he escaped from jail in Savannah, Georgia, and returned to the area of the Little Peedee River in North and South Carolina where he continued his outlaw career. The following year a band of ex-Regulators captured him at his hideout near Drowning Creek and used the provisions of the Negro Act as an excuse to hang him on the spot [Brown, South Carolina Regulators, 29-31, 103; Saunders, Colonial Records of North Carolina, IX:725, 771].
Most of the families listed in the 1790 and 1800 Robeson County census as "other free" are traced in this history back to persons referred to as "Negroes" or "Mulattos" in Virginia or North Carolina. These are the Branch, Braveboy, Brooks, Carter, Chavis, Cumbo, Dunn, Evans, Gowen, Hammond, Hogg, Hunt, Jacobs, James, Johnston, Kersey, Locklear, Manuel, Newsom, Oxendine, Revell, Roberts, Sweat and Wilkins families.
It appears from court records that free African Americans in Robeson County were at times accepted by the white population. They attended white schools and churches, voted, and mustered with whites. On 1 April 1805 the Robeson County court appointed James Lowery overseer of a road, a position usually reserved for whites [Minutes I:321]. However, they lost many of their rights with the passage of North Carolina's "Free Negro Codes" from about 1826 to 1850. Charles Oxendine was indicted by the Robeson County court for assault and battery and fined fifteen dollars. When he failed to pay his fine, the court ordered the sheriff to hire him out since he was a "free Negro." Oxendine appealed the ruling to the supreme court of North Carolina in 1837 on the basis that the law unconstitutionally discriminated against free persons of color.
During the Civil War, two cousins of the Lowery family of Robeson County were murdered while absent from fortification duty. The white man suspected of their murder was himself murdered shortly afterwards. A few months later in March 1865 a grandson of James Lowery, Allen Lowery, and his son William were murdered by the White Home Guard on the suspicion they were aiding escaped Union prisoners. The following month Hector Oxendine was murdered on the suspicion he helped General Sherman when he marched through Robeson County.
In response to these acts Henry Berry Lowery, a son of Allen Lowery, led a band of armed men who killed or drove from the county those who were involved in the murders. The band remained at large for nearly ten years despite the determined efforts of the White Home Guard, federal troops, and huge rewards for bounty hunters [Blu, The Lumbee Problem, 50-65].
The New York Herald sent journalist Alfred Townsend to the county to report on the band. He described the area where most of the former free persons of color were living as
Scuffletown...The Mulatto Capital...spreads besides three or four miles on both sides of the (Rutherford Railway) track and is surrounded on three sides with swamps, a tract of several miles, covered at wide intervals with hills and log cabins of the rudest and simplest construction, sometimes a half dozen of these huts being proximate. The people have few or no horses, but often keep a kind of stunted ox to haul their short, rickety carts... and a little old lever-well of the crudest mechanism. The cabin is found built of hewn logs, morticed at the ends, the chinks stopped with mud, the chimney built against one gable on the outside of logs and clay, with sticks and clay above where it narrows to the smoke hole. There is beside the large chimney place, a half barrel, sawed off, to make lye from the wood ashes, and the other half of the barrel is seen to serve the uses of a washtub. The mongrel dog is always a feature of the establishment. The two or three acres of the lot are generally ploughed or planted in potatoes or maize...The bed is made on the floor, there are two or three stools; only one apartment comprising the whole establishment. Just such a place as the above is the house of Henry Berry Lowery, the outlaw chief, except that, being a carpenter he has nailed weather strips over the interstices, between the logs and made himself a sort of bedstead and some chairs. His cabin has two doors, opposite each other. The Scuffletowners go out to work as ditchers for the neighboring farmers who pay them magnanimous wages of $6 a month. The above picture while true of the majority of Scuffletowners, is not justly descriptive of all. The Oxendines are all well to do, or were before this bloody feud began, and the Lowerys were industrious carpenters, whose handiwork is seen at Lumberton, Shoe Heel and all round that region...The whites hated the settlement because it was a bad example to the negroes. But most people were Baptists or Methodists, and nearly all owned their own homesteads [Townsend, The Swamp Outlaws, 42-5].
He described Henry Berry Lowery as "a yellow fellow, Indian-looking...of mixed Tuscarora, mulatto, and white blood...has straight black hair, like an Indian...one of the handsomest mulattoes you ever saw." And stated that the Lowerys "and their blood relatives showed Indian traces while Scuffletown at large is mainly plain, unromantic mulatto." He described the predominantly-white county seat of Lumberton as
wholly built of unpainted planks or logs which have become nearly black with weather stains. The streets are sandy and without pavements of either brick or wood [Townsend, The Swamp Outlaws, 39, 42-6].
Though started for the purpose of exacting revenge for the murders of members of the Lowery family, the band also demonstrated that the community could not be intimidated by whites. Much of the white community was in fear of the band, but their leader was quoted as saying,
We don't kill anybody but the Ku Klux [Townsend, Swamp Outlaws, 26-7].
The end of the band came in 1874 with the death of Steve Lowery, but the establishment of a self defence force helped their community maintain some political power at a time when white aggression prevented many African Americans from exercising their political rights.
After the Civil War the former free persons of color voted for the same party as the former slaves: Republican. This made for an almost equal division between the Democrats and the Republicans in Robeson County (and in North Carolina as a whole) [Blu, The Lumbee Problem, 20, 61, 73]. However, those who had been free before the Civil War objected to the arrangement whereby the schools were divided between white and "Colored" districts. Their settlements were included in twelve of Robeson County's "Colored" districts.
In 1885 North Carolina passed a law sponsored by Hamilton McMillan, a Democrat from Robeson County, creating separate school districts for the former free persons of color of the county. McMillan invented the name "Croatan Indians" and theorized that they had descended from a friendly tribe of Indians on the Roanoke River in eastern North Carolina who had mixed with the whites in Sir Walter Raleigh's lost colony in 1587 [Blu, The Lumbee Problem, 62]. Twelve "Croatan Indian" districts were created from districts which had formerly been "Colored" [Minutes, County Board of Education, 1885-1911, 1-4]. This swung many of their votes to the Democrats.
Thus, in the early part of the Jim Crow era, the Democrats solidified their position in the legislature and solved the problem of drawing racial lines in a county where they had been blurred. In 1900 when the former slaves were disenfranchised by Jim Crow laws and "Red Shirt" violence, the "Croatan Indians" lost much of their political influence since the Republicans were no longer a factor in politics.
The 1885 law did not confer any benefits, just made a division that created three castes in Robeson County: white, Colored and "Croatan Indian." Later, there would be three sets of water fountains, seating areas, rest rooms, etc. [Blu, The Lumbee Problem, 23, 62-3]. The change of name from "mulattoes" to "Croatan Indians" did not change white attitudes toward them. Whites shortened the name to the pejorative "Crows." The name was changed to "Cherokee Indians of Robeson County" in 1913, "Siouan Indians of Lumber River" in 1934-1935, and they were recognized by the U.S. Congress as Lumbee Indians in 1956.
The 1885 North Carolina bill changed the history of Indians in the Southeast. Anthropologist James Mooney included the Croatan Indians and other mixed-race communities in adjoining North and South Carolina counties in his studies of the Indian tribes of the Southeast in 1907, and Frank G. Speck travelled throughout the Southeast "discovering" lost tribes [Blu, The Lumbee Problem, 41].
Person County granted a group called "old issue negroes" their own separate school on 2 February 1887. It was discontinued about 1896 but reestablished on 4 January 1901: listed as "Mongolian" through 1906, "Cuban" from 6 April 1908 through 1911, and listed as for "the Indian race" in October 1912 [Person County School Board Minutes cited by G.C. Waldrep, III, personal communication, 20 April 2000]. Other invented North Carolina Indian tribes followed: the Sampson County Coharie Indians, Columbus County Waccamaw-Siouan Indians, and Halifax County Haliwa-Saponi Indians. Virginia recognized the former free-person-of-color community of Norfolk County as Nansemond Indians and the community in Amherst county as Monacan Indians.
A study in 1920 described the group in Halifax County:
Probably the largest group of free Negroes to be found in North Carolina was the exclusive "old issue" settlement known far and wide as the Meadows, near Ransom's Bridge on Fishing Creek in Halifax County. The group still bears the appellation "old issue" and are heartily detested by the well-to-do Negroes in the adjoining counties [Taylor, R. H., The Free Negro in North Carolina (James Sprunt Historical Publications) v. 17, no.1, p.23].
It is also evident that most Indians living on Virginia reservations during the colonial and early national periods made little distinction between themselves and African Americans.
In 1811 Thomas Jefferson described the remaining members of the Mattopony tribe as being "three or four men only and they have more Negro than Indian blood [Johnston, Race Relations in Virginia, 281].
A number of free African American families had joined the Pamunkey reservation by 1836 when they signed a Pamunkey petition to the governor: Isaac Miles, Jr. (one of the "headmen"), Anderson Holt, William Holt, Ben Holt, Archia Miles, Sylvanus Miles, Pleasant Miles, William Sweat, Abram Sweat and Allen Sweat [Rountree, Pocahontas's People, 344]. One hundred and forty-three whites in Prince William County, Virginia, petitioned the legislature in 1843 concerning the Pamunkey Tribe saying
Now the Pamunkys form only a small remnant of the population, having so largely mingled with the negro race as to have obliterated all striking features of Indian extraction. Their land is now inhabited by two unincorporated bands of free mulattoes in the midst of a large slave holding community.
The Pamunkey submitted a counter-petition in which they claimed that they were generally of at least half Indian extraction [LVA, Legislative Petitions, King William County, 1843, B-1207, B-1208, cited by Russell, Free Negro of Virginia, 129].
The Gingaskin Indians of Northampton County, Virginia, said to be as numerous as all other tribes in the county put together, numbered only thirty persons by 1769. In 1813 their descendants were described as a heterogeneous mixture of Indian, Negro, and white [Whitelaw, Virginia's Eastern Shore, 30, 284]. Their land was divided among the heads of families, and in 1828 the clerk of Northampton County court stated that their descendants were respectable free Negro landowners [Johnston, Race Relations in Virginia, 280-1].
The nearest thing to a census of the reservations is provided by the deeds by which Indians living on tribal lands sold or leased their land. The deeds were signed by the "chief men" (and women) of the tribe.
The principal members of the Nottoway and Nansemond living in present-day Southampton County were:
King Edmunds, James Harrison, Ned, Peter, Robert Scoller, Sam, Wanoke Robin, William Hines, Frank, Wanoke Robin, Jr., Cockarons Tom, and Cockarons Will (in 1735).
Sam, Frank, Jack Will, John Turner, Wat Bailey, and George Skiper (in 1750).
John Turner, and Celia Rogers (a Nansemond Indian) and Suky Turner (in 1795) [Surry County DB 8:550; Southampton County DB 1:98; 7:714].
Between 1734 and 1756 the Nottoway had been so reduced by "the want of the common necessaries of life, sickness, and other casualties" that the Virginia Legislature allowed them to sell a total of 18,000 acres of their land in Southampton County [Hening, Statutes at Large, IV:459; V:170; VI:211; VMHB V:339]. They used land sales and leases to support themselves. There were only six adults and eleven children in the census taken in 1808:
adults: Littleton Scholar, Tom Turner, Jemmy Wineoak, Edy Turner, Nancy Turner, and Betsy Step
children: Tom Step, Henry Turner, Alexander Rogers, John Woodson, Winny Woodson, Anny Woodson, Polly Woodson, Fanny Bartlett, Solomon Bartlett, Billy Woodson, and Jenny Woodson [Executive Papers June 21- July 22, 1808, Gov. William H. Cabell, Box 154a, LVA].
No adult Indian was married to or sharing a household with any other adult Indian [Roundtree, "The Termination and Dispersal of the Nottoway Indians of Virginia," VMHB 95:193-214].
A legislative petition from Southampton County in 1818 reported that
Their husbands and wives are chiefly free negroes [Legislative Petition, Southampton County, December 16, 1818, LVA].
Some of the names of the Chowan Tribe were recorded in Chowan County deeds by which they sold their land on Bennett's Creek in 1734 in what was later Gates County. They were
Charles Beasley, James Bennett, Thos Hoyter, Jeremiah Pushin, John Reading, John Robins, & Nuce Will [Chowan DB W-1, 215-216, 237-239, 247-253].
When the surviving members of the tribe sold the last 400 acres of their 11,360 acre patent in 1790, they were described as
a parcel of Indian women, which has mixed with Negroes, and now there is several freemen and women of Mixed blood as aforesaid which has descended from the sd Indians[General Asembly Session Records, Nov-Dec 1790, Box 2; Gates County DB 2:273, 274; A-2:33].
About 300 Tuscarora men, women, and children were living on 40,000 acres in Bertie County between 1752 and 1761 [Saunders, Colonial Records, V:161-2, 320-1]. The tribe never gave up its Indian customs. Their numbers had been reduced to 260 in 1766 when they leased part of their land. 155 members of the tribe moved to the state of New York after the 1766 lease, and the remainder joined them in 1802 [Swanton, Indian Tribes of North America, 87].
Since they left the Southeast, it is difficult to determine the extent to which they mixed with the free African American population of Bertie County. Many of their names were recorded in the deeds of 1766 and 1777 by which they leased over 8,000 acres of the land in the southwest corner of Bertie County between the Roanoke River and Roquist Pocosin to the Attorney General:
James Allen, Sarah Basket, Thomas Basket, William Basket, Betty Blount, Billy Blount, Sr., Billy Blount, Jr., Edward Blount, George Blount, Sarah Blount, Thomas Blount, Bille Blunt, Jr, Samuel Bridgers, William Cain, John Cain, Molly Cain, Wineoak Charles, Jr., Wineoak Charles, Sr., Bille Cornelius, Charles Cornelius, Isaac Cornelius, Billy Denis, Sarah Dennis, Billy George, Snipnose George, Watt Gibson, James Hicks, John Hicks, Sarah Hicks, Senicar Thomas Howell, Tom Jack, Capt. Joe, John Litewood, Isaac Miller, James Mitchell, Bille Mitchell, Bille Netof, Bille Owens, John Owens, Nane Owens, William Pugh, John Randel, Billy Roberts, Tom Roberts, Jr., John Rogers, Harry Samuel, John Senicar, Thomas Senicar, Ben Smith, John Smith, Molly Smith, Thomas Smith, Bille Sockey, William Taylor, Bridgers Thomas, Tom Thomas, Lewis Tuffdick, West Whitmel Tufdick, Whitmel Tuffdick, Isaac Whealer, James Wiggians, John Wiggins, Molly Wineoak and Bette Yollone [DB L-2:56; M:314-9].
The names of the Piscataway Indians living in Richmond County, Virginia were mentioned in a court case in September 1704:
Young Toby, Long Tom, Jack the Fidler, Old Mr. Thomas, Bearded Jack, Jemmy, Harry Capoos, and Bearded Jack [Orders 1702-1704, 361].
Members of the Sapony in Orange County, Virginia, were mentioned in a court case in 1742-1743 in which they were charged with stealing a hog and burning the woods:
Alex Machartion, John Bowling, Manissa, Caft Tom, Isaac Harry, Blind Tom, Foolish Jack, Charles Gibb, John Collins, and Little Jack [VMHB III:190].
The Cherokee lived in the mountainous regions of North Carolina and East Tennessee and had little contact with the colonists.
1. Tithable Heads of Household:
Bastian Cane and his wife Grace, Emanuel Driggers, Basshaw Ferdinando, his wife Susan, and Hannah Carter, John Francisco Negro and Christian Francisco, William Harman and his wife Jane, Anthony Johnson, John Johnston (2), John Kinge, Philip Mongon and his wife, Francis Pane Negro, King Tony and his wife Sarah.
Tithables in White Households:
John Archer Negro, Peter Beckett Negro, Edward and Thomas Carter, Thomas, Frances, and Mary Driggus Negro, Peter and Joan George, Jane Guzell, Ann Harmon, Gabriel and Bab Jacob, and Daniel and Isabell Webb [Order Books 1657-64, p.103, fol.104, 176, 198; 1664-74, fol.14, 15, 19, 42, 54, pp. 15, 42, 54, 55; 1674-79, fol.114, p.191]. In the year 1677 there were 25 tithable free African Americans and 53 tithable slaves out of a total of 467 tithables [1674-79, 189-91].
2. Female free African Americans were made tithable in 1668, but the 1705 law did not include them [Hening, Statutes at Large, III:258-9]. Norfolk County officials did not enforce the 1723 amendment until 1735-1736 when female members of the Anderson, Archer, Bass, Hall, Manley, and Price families were taxed [Wingo, Norfolk County Tithables, 1730-1750, 144, 157, 168, 183, 185, 190]. Surry County probably did not enforce the 1723 amendment until 21 November 1758 when the Surry County court presented thirteen free African Americans for not listing their wives as tithables. They were the Banks, Barkley, Barlow, Charity, Debrix, Eley, Peters, Simon, Tann, Walden, and Wilson families [Orders 1757-64, 135].
3. Families descended from white women whose histories are included in this work include the Allen, Alvis, Ancel, Anderson, Armstrong, Arnold, Baker, Baltrip, Banks, Barber, Barnett, Bazden (2 children), Beckett, Bell, Bibbens, Bibby, Boon, Boyd, Britt, Brooks, Bryant, Bugg, Bunch, Bunday, Burke, Burkett, Burnett, Burrell, Buss, Butler, Byrd, Cassidy, Chambers, Clark, Collins, Combess, Conner, Cook (two families), Cooley, Copes, Cousins, Cunningham, Cuttillo, Davenport, Davis, Day, Dempsey, Dennis, Donathan, Driver, Duncan, Dungee, Dunn, Dunstan, Elliott, Ellis, Farrell, Finnie, Fletcher, Flora, Fortune, Gallimore, Grace, Graham, Grant, Grantum, Graves, Gray, Grayson, Gregory, Griffin, Grimes, Gwinn, Hall, Hamilton, Hammond, Harrison, Haws, Haynes, Heath, Hilliard, Hobson, Hodges, Hogg, Holt, Hood, Howard, Howell, Hubbard, Hughes, Kelly, Kent, King, Lamb, Lang, Lansford, Lawson, Lewis (two families), Lighty, Ligon, Locus/ Lucas, Lynch, McCarty, McCoy, McIntosh, Madden, Magee, Manly (two families), Martin, Mason, Matthews, Mays, Meade, Mills, Morgan, Morris, Murray, Murrow, Nicholas, Norris, Norman, Oliver, Overton, Oxendine, Palmer, Parsons, Perkins, Phillips, Pickett, Pierce, Powell, Price, Proctor, Pryor, Pursley, Range, Redman, Reed, Ridley, Roach, Roberts, Robinson, Rollins, Ross, Ruffs, Russell, Sample, Sampson, Saunders, Scott, Shepherd, Simmons, Simms, Simpson, Sorrell, Sparrow, Stephens, Stewart, Stringer, Swan, Symons, Tate, Thomas, Timber, Toney, Tootle, Toyer, Tyler, Tyner, Tyre, Venie/ Venners, Wallace, Warwick, Webb (two families), West, Whistler, White (two families), Wiggins, Williams, Wilson, Winn, Wise Wood, Wooten and Worrell families.
Other white women who had mixed-race children were:
- Jane Alexander in 1754 [Prince William County Orders 1754-5, 4, 131].
- Mary Ballard on 29 March 1708 [Northampton County Orders, Wills 1698-1710, 398].
- the mother of Joseph Barham in July 1744 [Charles City County Orders 1737-51 311],
- Dorothy Bestick, Accomack County in 1687 [W&Co 1682-97, 119a]
- Hannah Boughan in 1714 in Northumberland County [Orders 1713-19, 102].
- Ann Bradger in 1744 [Chamberlayne, Vestry Book of Stratton Major Parish, King & Queen County, 56]
- Mary Breedlove in 1767 [Essex County Court Orders 1764-7, 415, 469].
- Sarah Bunbury in 1692 [Richmond County Orders 1692-94, 40]
- the mother of Margaret Callahan in 1751 [Frederick County Orders 1751-3, 418].
- Elizabeth Cambridge in 1702 [Essex County Orders 1699-1702, 116]
- Eleanor Caverner in 1724 [Richmond County Orders 1721-32, 158, 164, 208]
- Elizabeth Chilmaid in 1706 [York DOW 13:19]
- Margaret Chiswick in 1705 [Richmond County Orders 1704-8, 97].
- Mary Cicile (3 children) in 1702 [Richmond County Orders 1702-04, 157]
- Hannah Clagg in 1695 [Princess Anne County Minutes 1691-1709, 81].
- Mary Collowhough in 1691 [Westmoreland Orders 1690-92, 24]
- Elizabeth Crane in 1712 [Westmoreland Orders 1705-21, 203a]
- Margaret Davison in 1748 [Frederick County Orders 1745-8, 501, 505]
- Catherine Dennison in 1704 [Lancaster County Orders 1702-13, 107].
- Charlotte Deormond before 1769 [Rowan County Minutes 1766-9, 16 (abstract p. 194)].
- Mary Edgar in 1772 [Princess Anne County Minutes 1770-3, 369].
- Eleanor Fielding in 1753 [York County Judgments & Orders 1752-4, 232].
- Christian Finny in 1736 [Carteret County Minutes 1723-47, fol.33c]
- Margaret Fitzgerald in 1703 [Richmond County Orders 1702-04, 274]
- Isabel Forbess in 1761 and 1764 [Historic Dumfries, Records of Dettingen Parish, 114-5]
- Sarah Gupton in 1737 [Richmond County Orders 1732-9, 556].
- Tamer Haislip in 1765 [Chesterfield County Orders 1765-7, 96]
- Eliza Hamilton in 1758 [Norfolk Orders 1755-9, 209]
- Mary Hanson in 1706 [York DOW 12:424]
- Mary Hipsley in 1707 [Westmoreland County Orders 1705-21, 64, 69, 72]
- Martha Hudman in 1760 [Prince William County Orders 1759-61, 223, 229, 230, 241]
- Isabel Hutton in 1707 [Accomack County Orders 1703-9, 91a, 122]
- Martha Inglish in 1768 [Isle of Wight County Orders 1764-8, 498]
- Dorcas Johnston in 1758 [Caroline County Court Orers 1755-8, 347].
- Jane Kewmin in 1703 [Richmond County, Va. Orders 1702-04, 154]
- Jane Knox in Augusta County in 1758 [Orders 1757-61, 177, 221, 285].
- Elizabeth Lane in 1691 (two children) [Surry Orders 1682-91, 771, 777]
- Mary Lawhan in 1708 [Middlesex County Orders 1705-10, 177, 181].
- Mary Lawler on 30 July 1707 [Westmoreland County Orders 1705-21, 64]
- Isabella Levingston in 1768 [Fairfax County Orders 1768-70, 70, 90].
- Bridget Lugrove in 1692 (two children) [Henrico County Orders 1678-93, 406, 419]
- Mary Lynn (Robert Hitch) before 1710 [Westmoreland County Orders 1705-21, 144].
- Katherine Mackeel in 1699 [Princess Anne County Minutes 1691-1709, 211, 213, 224].
- Jane Morrison in 1768 and 1770 [Fairfax County Orders 1768-70, 70; 1770-2, 17, 145].
- Mary Ormes in 1697 [Middlesex County Orders 1694-1705, 182].
- Mary Overton in Orange County, Virginia, in 1750 [Orders 1747-54, 259, 261].
- Mary Owen in 1720 [Prince George County Orders 1714-20, 320]
- Mary Phillips in 1694 [Northumberland Orders 1678-98, part 2, 673]
- Ann Pittman in 1722 [Princess Ann County Orders 1717-28, 151]
- the mother of Sarah, a "molotto" in York County in 1694 [OW 9:318].
- Eleanor Poor in 1704 [Lancaster County Orders 1702-13, 70].
- Mary Poore (two children) in 1686 [Surry Orders 1682-91, 529, 630]
- Ann Pullen in 1688 [Henrico Orders 1678-93, 278]
- Ann Pursley in December 1737 [Westmoreland County Orders 1731-39, 252a]
- Eleanor Road in Augusta County in 1747 [Orders 1745-7, 288]
- Mary Rowland in 1740 [Surry Deeds, Wills, 9:172]
- Jane Scot in Augusta County in 1749 [Orders 1747-51, 112]
- Ann Screws in 1748 [Isle of Wight County Orders 1746-52, 109]
- Margaret Shaw in 1715 [Prince George County Orders 1714-20, 30],
- Susanna Shelton in 1686 [Surry Orders 1682-91, 508]
- Mary Sherredon in 1736 [Surry DW&c 1730-38, 569]
- Tamer Smith served a six months prison term and paid a 10 pound fine in order to marry Major Hitchens, head of a Northampton County, Virginia household of 4 free tithables and 2 slaves in 1737 and 1744 [L.P. 1737, 1744; L.P. #24 (1738) by Deal, Race and Class, 216]
- Mary Taggat in 1751 [Lunenburg Orders 2:474].
- Margaret Theloball in 1735 [Princess Ann County Orders 1728-37, 272]
- Ann Tillett in January 1744/5 [Pasquotank County Court Minutes, 1737-53, 141]
- Joan Tinkham in 1687 [Westmoreland County Orders 1675-89, 611].
- Ann Vasper in 1732 [Overwharton, Stafford County Register, 1724-74, 30]
- Anne Verty in 1747 [Frederick County Orders 1745-8 354]
- Mary Vincent in 1664 [Accomack County DW 1664-71, fol. 20]
- Sarah Williamson in July 1716 [Saunders, Colonial Records of North Carolina, V:114].
- Catherine Wilson in 1723 [Northampton County, Virginia Orders 18:86].
- Ann Wimball in 1703 [York County DOW 12:80].
4. Families descended from freed slaves include: Africa, Anderson, Archer, Artis, Black, Bowser, Cane, Carter, Charity, Churton, Cole, Cornish, Cuffee, Cumbo, Dove, Driggers, Drury, George, Gowen, Harmon, Harris, Jacobs, James, Jeffries, Johnson, Leviner, Lytle, Manuel, Mongom, Moore, Mordick, Newton, Nickens, Payne, Roberts, Sisco, and Tann families. Families descended from Indians who married into the free African American community include: Bass, Cockran, Cypress, Findley, Hatcher, Hatfield/ Hatter, Hiter, Jeffery, Jumper, Kinney, Lang, Lawrence, Logan, Month, Pinn, Press, Teague, Robins, and Vaughan. Families descended from white men who married free African American women include: Berry, Combs, Ivey, Lantern, Newsom, Norwood, Snelling, Skipper and Sweat.
5. The same advertiser in that edition clearly identified a runaway free African American, Reuben Dye, as a "Negro man."
6. In a most extraordinary move, on 13 February 1773 the Dobbs County court recommended to the General Assembly that Edward Carter's daughters be exempted from the discriminatory tax against female children of African Americans [Saunders, Colonial Records of North Carolina, IX:495].
7. Another member of this family, Hiram Revels, first African American to be elected to the U.S. Senate, was born in Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina in 1822 [Encyclopedia Britannica, Ready Reference & Index VIII:538].
8. North Carolina and Virginia enacted apprenticeship laws similar to those in England. In 1646 Virginia passed a law giving justices of the peace at their own discretion the right to bind out children of the poor "to avoyd sloath and idleness wherewith such children are easily corrupted, as also for the relief of such parents whose poverty extends not to give them breeding" [Hening, Statutes at Large, XXVII:336].
9. Carteret County, however, continued the practice of binding mixed-race children until the age of thirty-one at least until 1759 [Minutes, 1747-64, 53]. This attitude of the court may explain why free African Americans made up only 0.3% of the free Carteret County population in 1790. Craven and Granville Counties, on the other hand, bound out free African American girls until the age of eighteen - the same as for white girls, and free African Americans made up almost 5% of the free population of these counties in 1790 (4.6 and 4.9% respectively) [Heads of families - North Carolina, 10; Craven Minutes 1764-66, 50d; 1779-84, 79a; 1784-86, 49a; 1786-87, 26b; Granville Minutes, 1792-95, 65, 92].
10. The Craven County court also ruled in favor of three African Americans who were born free elsewhere but held in bondage in Craven County between 1770 and 1778 [Minutes 1764-75, 2:147b; 1772-84, 2:38d, 48b, 58c-d, 69a].
11. George Barrow was head of a Hyde County household of 5 "other free" and a slave in 1800 [NC:363] and 9 "free colored" in 1820 [NC:248].
12. Narcissa Ratley's letter is in the possession of Robert Jackson of Silver Springs, Maryland.
13. Free African Americans arrested in Southampton County after Nat Turner's Rebellion included Arnold Artist (Artis), Exum Artes, Berry Newsom, Thomas Haithcock, and Isham Turner. Artes, Haithcock, and Newsom were sent for further trial [Drewry, The Southampton County Insurrection, 195-6].
14. "By petition signed by 5 or more of their respectable neighbors" the 18 August 1845 Halifax Court issued gun licenses to
Lemuel Morgan, Aaron, Arthur and Gabriel Locklear, Matthew Jones, John Smith, Robert Mitchum, Fed Haithcock, Fed Wilkins, Alex Jones, David Reynolds, Julius Flood, Ambrose Hawkins, Simon Purnin, William Jones.
The November 1841 Robeson County court issued licenses using the form, "Whereas ... a Colored man residing in this County by name ____ doth sustain a good moral Character therefore it is adjudged that the said ____ be permitted to bear fire armes ... & use the same as any other good Citizen of the Community." They were issued to
David, Aaron, and Alexander Oxendine, Ishmael, Ethelred, Nelson, and Willis Roberts, David Scott, William Goings, Henry Sampson, Abraham Jones, George Morgan, Levi and Hector Locklear, and John Blanks.
15. Bell I. Wiley understandably mistook Chavers for a recently manumitted slave, including this letter in his book, Slaves No More (1980), University Press of Kentucky.
16. The slave population of some Virginia counties may have had a fair amount of Indian ancestry in the early eighteenth century. Daniel Jenifer's "negro Slave called old Daniel" had a child by his Indian slave, Nanny, before 15 April 1687 when Jenifer made his Accomack County will. Their child Annis was called a "mustie" young woman in a 9 December 1697 Accomack County court case [Orders 1697-1703, 8]. Mary Scarburgh's slave, Songo, had an Indian wife named Molo when Scarburgh made her 19 December 1691 Accomack County will [Orders 1682-97, 216, 228a]. I count thirty-two Indian children brought to court to have their ages adjudged in Charles City County court between 1687 and 1695, a similar number in Henrico County between 1683 and 1687 and another thirty children in Henrico County between 1691 and 1712 [Charles City Orders 1687-95, 144, 180, 244, 263, 295, 314, 332, 349, 351, 353, 385, 409, 415, 421, 458, 461, 474, 482, 505, 507, 535; Henrico Orders 1678-93, 139-41, 146-7, 150, 157-8, 161, 163, 177, 210, 241, 391, 430; 1694-1701, 40, 71, 80, 82, 112, 117, 149, 169, 200, 210, 211, 213, 218, 229-31, 235, 237; 1707-9, 29; 1710-4, 134, 161]. The Henrico County court bound out as an apprentice "Joe a Mollatto the Son of Nan an Indian Woman" in November 1740 [Orders 1737-46, 128]. And "Tom a Mulatto or Mustee" petitioned the Henrico County court for his freedom in January 1737/8, testifying that he was the grandson of a white woman but was held as a slave by Alexander Trent [Orders 1737-46, 20]. In June 1722 "Peg a Mulattoe woman Servant ... whose mother was an Indian" was ordered by the Henrico County court to serve her master until the age of thirty years [Orders 1719-24, 182].
17. Other free African American families (Anderson, Weaver, Perkins, Bright, Newton, and Price) were issued certificates of Nansemond Indian ancestry by the Norfolk Court on 15 and 20 July 1833 [Bell, Bass Families of the South, chapter on Nansemond Indian Ancestry of Some Bass Families, 1, 8].
18. Philip Pledger may have been related to Morris Pledger, head of an Anson County, North Carolina household of 6 "other free" in 1800 [NC:203].
19. The use of the term "Portuguese" for a mixed-race person accepted as white was used as early as October 1812 when the Marion District, South Carolina Court of Common Pleas ruled that Thomas Hagans did not have to pay the levy on "Free Negros" because he was Portuguese [NCGSJ IX:259]. Thomas was the son of Zachariah Hagins, a "Mulatto" bound out in Johnston County, North Carolina Court in October 1760 [Haun, Johnston County Court Minutes, I:46].
20. "Old" and "new issue" were terms used to distinguish African Americans free before and after the Civil War. The term probably referred to the new monetary currency issued after the war.
21. The free African American residents of colonial Bladen County were the Chavis, Grooms, Ivey, Kersey, Locklear, and Sweat families, called "free Negors and Mullatus living upon the Kings Land" in "A List of the Mob Raitously Assembled together in Bladen Countey October 13th 1773" [G.A. 1773, Box 7].
22. Thomas Lockery was identified as "Thomas Lockleer" in the 1780 Granville County tax assessments list.
23. Scuffletown was the term for the center of the Lumbee settlement.
24. Kinston Robins was one of the "sundry persons of Colour of Hertford County" who petitioned the General Assembly in 1822 to repeal the act which declared slaves to be competent witnesses against free African Americans [NCGSJ XI:252].
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