Enslaved People, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The husband might become a slave of his children.

To the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina now in Session – The Petition of Lovedy Henderson a free woman of color, respectfully represents that your Petitioner intermarried some years since with a certain man of color by the name of Horace, then a slave, but with the consent of his owner. That since their marriage by care and industry, she has been enabled to purchase her said husband at the price of Eight Hundred & Seventy dollars of Hugh and John G. McLaurin Executors of Duncan McLaurin deceased. That she has paid the purchase money & has a Bill of Sale duly executed by the said Executors. That your Petitioner now has two children by her said Husband & as by possibility her husband might become the slave of her children, your petitioner is induced to ask the interference of your honorable body, as the only tribunal authorized to grant the relief prayed for. Your Petitioner would not presume to ask this indulgence in her favour, in contravention to the policy of the Laws of the Land, but from the peculiar circumstances of her case & the belief that she will be enabled to establish for her Husband such a Character as to entitle him to the favourable notice of your honorable body. For this, she relied on the certificates of highly respectable gentlemen both in Fayetteville & the City of Raleigh, where they have lived since their intermarriage. Your Petitioner therefore prays the passage of an Act, emancipating her said husband Horace Henderson, and she in duty bound will ever pray &c. /s/ Lovdy Ann Henderson

We Hugh McLaurin & John C. McLaurin Executors of Duncan McLaurin dec’d unite in soliciting the passage of an Act for the emancipation of Horace Henderson as prayed for by his wife and we are free to say that we have long known said Horace who is a Barber and a boy of unexceptionable good character and of industrious & moral habits. /s/ H. MacLaurin for himself and John C. MacLaurin

We the undersigned citizens of Fayetteville freely unite in soliciting the General Assembly to pass an Act emancipating the negro man Horace, that we have known said Horace as a Barber & a Boy of good character, industrious habits and as we believe of the strictest integrity. /s/ J.H. Hooper, John MacRae, John Kelly, Thos. L. Hybart, [illegible] Cochran, John Lippitt, D.A. Saltmarsh, Chas. B. Jones, [illegible] Hawley, William S. Latta, Jas. Huske, Duncan Smith, Henry W. Ayer

We the undersigned citizens of Raleigh freely unite in soliciting the General Assembly to pas an Act emancipating the negro man Horace, that he has lived in the place for the last three or four years as a Barber, and has conducted himself with the utmost propriety, that in his deportment he is humble & polite, free as we believe from any improper intercourse with slaves, industrious & honest. /s/ M. Stokes, R.M. Saunders, Jo. Gales, B.W. Daniel, Geo. Simpson, J. Brown, John Primrose, Hazlett Wyle, Richard Smith, S. Birdsall, Jno. G. Marshall, A. Williams, Fabius J. Haywood, Robert Staniroy

Ninety years after this petition was filed, a Horace Henderson was born into my extended family, but I know no connection between my Hendersons, who were originally of Onslow County, and Lovedy Ann Henderson.


General Assembly Session Records, November 1832-January 1833, Box 5, North Carolina State Archives.

This family is found in the 1850 census of Greensboro, Guilford County: Horace H. Henderson, 40, barber, and wife Love, 39, both born in Fayetteville; children James, 18, farmer, Mary Ann, 17, and Timothy, 14, born in Raleigh; and Albert, 10, Sarah, 8, Thomas, 4, and Alexander, 3, born in Greensboro; all mulatto.


Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Where did they go?, no. 1: Nicholson.

In 1850, James Nicholson of northern Iredell County dictated a will that distributed 17 enslaved people – Milas, Dinah, Jack, Liza, Peter, Elix, Paris, Daniel, Carlos, Nelson, Lucinda, Joe, Manoe, Armstrong, Manless, Calvin and Sophie — among his heirs. I am descended from one, Lucinda, whose daughter Harriet was conceived after she joined Thomas A. Nicholson’s household. As I wrote here, Lucinda is found post-slavery only on death certificates of two of her children.  What of the other 16? Are they any easier to trace?

In a word – no.

Mary Allison Nicholson received five slaves from her husband’s estate.  Son Thomas received three outright and a share in five others. Son John McCombs Nicholson received four and a share in the same five. (It is not at all clear whether the groupings of these 17 people respected family units or were simply combinations devised with an eye for equal value.) Mary died in 1857 and, presumably, her property passed to her sons. However, in the 1860 slave schedule of Iredell County, only two Nicholson slaveholders appear: Thomas, who owned 13, and Martin T. Nicholson, who owned three. (Martin was Thomas’ brother-in-law and first cousin.)  In the population schedule, Thomas reported owning $11,000 worth of personal property, a figure that would have included the value of his slaves. His brother John reported only $565. Had he sold his?

And the bigger question, where did Thomas’ slaves go after Emancipation?  Freedmen did not always adopt the surnames of their immediate masters, of course, but in the 1870 census of Iredell County, only four black residents claimed the surname Nicholson. Eliza Nicholson, age 25, lived in the household of Thomas Nicholson’s son Wes. She presumably is the Liza of James’ estate.  Manless Nicholson, 22, his wife (?) Maggie Nicholson, 24, and daughter Annie, 5, lived in Thomas’ household and worked for him. Manless had been jointly owned by Thomas and his brother. In Yadkin, the adjoining county, 35 year-old Alaxander Nicholson (probably the “Elix” above) is listed in the household of Isabel Cartwright. But that is it.  No more.

Obviously, some people were simply inadvertently omitted from the 1870 schedule, such as Lucinda and her daughter Harriet, who were clearly living in Iredell then, and Milas Nicholson, who appears ten years later in Turnersburg township, Iredell County, as a 33 year-old with a wife and child. Also, the 1880 census of Deep Creek, Yadkin County, shows an 80 year-old Sophia Nicholson who may have been “Soffie.” (And was probably Manlius “Manless” Nicholson’s mother, as a Yadkin County marriage license and his death certificate indicate.)  Of Dinah, Daniel, Nelson, Armstrong and the others, however, there is no trace, either in surrounding counties or under a different surname.

Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Cohabitation as man and wife.

COLVERT -- Walker Colvert Rebecca Parks CohabitationIn March 1866, in order to ratify marriages and legitimate children, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act directing Justices of the Peace to collect and record in the County Clerk’s office the cohabitations of former slaves. Freedmen who did not record their marriages by September, 1866, faced misdemeanor charges. Stragglers rushed the courthouse that August, and on the 25th Walker Colvert and Rebecca Parks traveled the 12 miles or so from Eagle Mills to stand in line. They declared that they had been together for 13 years and named three children, John, Elvira and Lovenia. (There should also have been a son Lewis, the youngest — and who in the world is Lovenia? I have found no trace of her.)

Walker, fifty-ish at the time, was my great-great-great-grandfather. He was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, then passed, like a bedframe or milk cow, from one Colvert to another and into Iredell County, North Carolina. Rebecca was not his first wife, and his age suggests earlier children, names and fates unknown. My grandmother, who died in 2010 at age 101, knew and remembered Rebecca. And, like that, a link across five generations.