Sometime around 1845, probably in northern Wayne County, Levisa Hagans married Aaron Seaberry. She brought a young son, Napoleon, to the marriage, and he possibly brought a teenaged daughter named Celia.
Aaron Seaberry belonged to a large free family of color whose antecedents are poorly documented and not well understood. Naming patterns, birth years, and geographic proximity suggest a set of siblings, but the exact relationships between the Seaberrys who appeared in Wayne County in the first quarter of the 19th century are not clear. Nor is there a certain relationship to Raleigh Seaberry, a white head of household in the 1810 census of Duplin County. However, they are the only Seaberrys appearing in antebellum Wayne County records; all lived in the north-central section of the county; all were classified as mulatto; several were apprenticed to a single master; and they named their children after one another. (The extended family included three James Madisons, two Aarons, three Elizas, three Johns, two Melvinas, three Niceys, two Raleighs, amd two Rufuses.)
The first documented free colored Seaberry was 8 year-old Henry Seaberry, who was apprenticed to Simon Copeland in Wayne County on 19 May 1803. In 1820, Henry Best apprenticed 6 year-old Rufus Seaberry and 8 year-old James Madison Seaberry. Four years later, Best apprenticed 7 year-old Melvina “Viney” Seaberry. What was these children’s exact relationship?
The nine earliest Seaberrys, who may have been siblings or cousins, are:
- Theophilus Seaberry. Known as “Offie.” He was born about 1806 and married a woman named Rachel (possibly Smith.) The family lived in the Saulston area and included children Kenan (1833), Serena (1834, married Calvin Artis), Eliza (1835, married Lawrence Sampson), Aaron (1840), Litha (1842), Vicey (1843, possibly called Rebecca), Henry (1847), Theophilus jr. (1849), Milly (1850, married Rensnow Pace), John “Jack” (1851) and Rufus William (1853, married Della Mitchener). Offie probably died between 1860, when he appeared in the census, and 1862, when five of his children were apprenticed.
- Nicey Seaberry was born about 1810. She headed a household in Wayne County in 1840 and 1850 and appeared in other county households in 1860 and 1870. Her children may have been Mancy (1833-1914), Angeline (1835, m. Mike Faithful), Exeline “Exey” (1840, m. William H. Hagans), Joseph (1842), Elizabeth (1846-1870), Mary (1855, m. Jordan D. Best).
- James Madison Seaberry was born about 1812. He and his brother Rufus were apprenticed to Henry Best in 1820.
- Rufus Seaberry was born about 1814 and married a woman named Dolly. The family moved from Wayne to Johnston County before 1860 and included children Nicy (1838), Willis (1839, married Nancy Powell), Susanna (1841), John (1843), Mary “Polly” (1845), Eliza (1848), Emelina (1851), Melvina (1855), Hannibal (1856, married Phelena Cox), Isabella (1863), and Charles (1867, married Lou Cogdell.)
- Henry Seaberry was born about 1815. He was apprenticed twice: to Simon Copeland in 1822, and to John Alford in 1833.
- Melvina Seaberry. Known as “Viney,” she was born about 1817 and was apprenticed to Henry Best in 1824. On 27 August 1866, under a law designed to legitimate slave relationships, she and Joseph Carroll, though both freeborn, registered their 21-year cohabitation. Their children: Hannah (1833), Daniel (1836), Joseph (1838), Charity (1840), Willis (1842, married Caroline Whitehurst), Nicy/Nancy (1844), Jin (1846), Melvina “Viney” (1849), Delilah (1850), Ruffin C. (1853), and Tamar (1857).
- Aaron Seaberry was born about 1818. Around 1844, he married Lovisa Hagans and became stepfather to her son Napoleon Hagans. He and Lovisa had one daughter, Frances, born 1845 (married Adam Artis). Aaron died 1900-1910.
- Raleigh Seaberry was born circa 1824, “six miles from Goldsboro,” as he testified to the Southern Claims Commission. He lived near Averasboro, Harnett County, during the far, and settled in Cumberland County after. He married Emeline Manuel circa 1846. Their children: James Madison (1848, married Marianna McNeill), Sarah E. (1850), Smithy Jane (1854, married James McNeill), Eliza (1857), Leah (1859), John M.F. (1860), Nicey (1863), Raleigh (1866), and Lemuel (1871).
- Harriet Seaberry.
6 thoughts on “The Seaberrys.”
Thank you for clarifying the relationships between these Seaberrys. My grandchildren descend from Raleigh Seaberry and his wife Emmaline Emmanuel, through their son James Madison Seaberry. Have you been able to clarify who the parents of all those Seaberry siblings were? What is the relationship between them and the white Seaberrys?
Thanks for talking time to comment, William. Unfortunately, the Seaberrys’ early connections remain murky, but I am ever hopeful for answers.
Hey Lisa. I can tell you that Raleigh and Emmaline’s daughter Eliza married William Ross Cagle who is my great grandfather. Their daughter, Ross, married my granddaddy Alexander Womack.
Thank you. Have you, by chance, done DNA testing? I’d love to try to link various Seaberry lines genetically.
My grandchildren’s other grandmother is a descendant of Raleigh & Emmeline Seaberry through their son James Madison Seaberry. She has DNA tested through 23andMe. If someone is organizing a Seaberry DNA project, I’m sure she’d love to be a part of it.
If I knew how, I surely would. Will you email me at lisayhenderson at gmail dot com to see if she and I match?