On 24 Sept 1870, Geo. Jno. Robinson, Probate Judge, bound to “Jonah Williams (col)” John H. Britt, Ida Britt and Cora Britt, aged 12, 10 and 6, to “live after the manner of an apprentice and servant until the said apprentice shall attain to the age of twenty-one years and until Ida & Cora shall attain the age of eighteen years” John was to be taught trade of a farmer, and Ida and Cora that of house servant. Williams “shall further provide said apprentices each with a new suit of clothes, six dollars in cash & a new Bible at the end of said apprenticeship.” Williams signed the indenture with an X.*
Who were the Britts to Jonah Williams?
They are not listed in Jonah’s household in the 1870 census. Rather, Ida, 9, and Corah Britt, 6, and their mother Hannah Britt, 39, appear in the household of drayman Doctor Thompson, his wife Feribee, and daughter Lucy in Goldsboro, Wayne County. John Britt is not found.
Ten years later, Ida Britt, 20, is listed in the Wayne County household of Jonah’s 80 year-old father, Solomon Williams. Ida and Charity Artis, 42, were described as Solomon’s “daughters.” Charity certainly was, but Ida? It is possible, certainly, that Solomon fathered three children with Hannah Britt in the eight years prior to Emancipation and his 1866 marriage to the mother of his 11 other children, born between 1828 and 1851. If so, the arrangement with his son Jonah might have been a way to insure their care. Solomon did not legitimate the Britts, however, as none appear in his 1883 estate records. The more likely explanation is that Ida was in the household as a quasi-servant, and the censustaker assigned her relationship based on his assumptions. I have not found her in any record after 1880.
*Wayne County Apprentice Bonds, NC State Archives.