Tag Archives: research

Document Facsimiles Relating to Slave Research on Display at the State Archives of North Carolina

[This blog is written and illustrated by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Special Collections Section, of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

The Search Room exhibit case, August 2019, features examples of resources for researchers seeking information about enslaved ancestors. The title is “Evidence of African American Ancestors in Unlikely Places: Examples from Private Collections, Including Account Books, at the State Archives of North Carolina.”

Photo of the exhibit case in the Search Room with facsimile documents on display.
Search Room exhibit case.
Photo of an African American woman sitting in a chair with her hair up in a bun. she is wearing a checkered shirt and a long, dark colored skirt.
Emma Jones Allen, emancipated from slavery. Allen, Carter, Gwynn Family Collection, PC.2154.V.12

Researching enslaved ancestors can be a challenging and sometimes frustrating process. One must work backwards from the known to the unknown, often turning up more questions than answers. However, private manuscript collections, including account books, sometimes provide crucial information about names, locales, and other details. These can supplement county records such as deeds, wills, and court minutes and can provide valuable insights not found elsewhere. The examples below represent the facsimiles in the exhibit and the accompanying captions.

Note of Permission from William Ezell, Sr. for Slave, James, to Marry, Signed July 24, 1825
Note of Permission from William Ezell, Sr. for Slave, James, to Marry, Signed July 24, 1825

In this note of permission, William Ezell, Sr., advises Col. E. Peete that his slave James, who wishes to marry one of Peete’s slaves, is “as well Disposed as common as fair [sic] as I know or believe.” No county is listed, but during the first half of the 19th century there were men named William Ezell in counties including Camden Duplin, Granville, and Richmond. Note: Help solve the mystery. We welcome confirmation of the county where the Ezell and Peete plantations were located.

From Slave Collection. PC.1629. Box 1, Folder 4.

Deed: Marriage Contract of Bennett T. Blake & Scheherazade Mial, Wake County, N.C., 16 Feb. 1837 (two excerpts from longer document)
Deed: Marriage Contract of Bennett T. Blake & Scheherazade Mial, Wake County, N.C., 16 Feb. 1837 (two excerpts from longer document)
Deed: Marriage Contract of Bennett T. Blake & Scheherazade Mial, Wake County, N.C., 16 Feb. 1837 (two excerpts from longer document)

Oaky Grove Plantation, southeastern Wake County, was owned first by Thomas Price, then Bennett T. Blake. Blake had married a Price daughter, Fetna, who died in 1836, then married her sister, Scheherazade, widow of Thomas Alonzo Mial III, who had died in 1830. The slaves named in the marriage contract between Scheherazade and Blake, were part of the Mial estate. Thomas Price was also one of the county’s largest slaveholders. Note the juxtaposition: in addition to enslaved men, women, and children, Scheherezade’s contract secured physical properties, such as a four-wheel carriage and harness.

From the Alonzo T. & Millard Mial Papers, PC.132. Box 25, Folder 3.

Bill of Sale, 1845: George W. Styron of Carteret County, N.C., Sells Two Slave Children, Harriet and Hannah, to William Jones, a Free Mulatto of Jones County, N.C.
Bill of Sale, 1845: George W. Styron of Carteret County, N.C., Sells Two Slave Children, Harriet and Hannah, to William Jones, a Free Mulatto of Jones County, N.C.

This bill of sale, dated 22 July 1845, documents the sale by George W. Styron, Carteret County, to William Jones, Jones County, of five-year-old-Harriet and nine-year-old Hannah. In 1860, the same William Jones was still living and farming in the Beaver Creek District, Jones County, where he died in 1868. The collection and public records shed little if any additional light on the life journey of these two girls. The Rumley papers, however, do contain other materials and types of document on slaves and freedmen. For additional information see the State Archives blog, History for All the People, for a post written by Elizabeth Crowder and entitled “The Rumley Family Papers: A New Collection Featuring Resources for Researchers Seeking Information About Enslaved Ancestors.

From Rumley Family Papers, PC.1969, Box 2, Folder 51.

Promissory Note for Hire of a Negro boy, Simon, Wake County, 27 Dec. 1847
Promissory Note for Hire of a Negro boy, Simon, Wake County, 27 Dec. 1847

Transcription:

“Twelve months after date we promise to pay Thomas F. Grice Ex. [Executor] of Hugh Lee, Dec’d, on order Twenty Seven Dollars for the hire of a negro Boy named Simon [.] Said negro to have the following clothes [:]Two suits of cotton clothes and one of woolen, one pair of Double soled shoes, one pair of stockings, one good Blanket, one wool Hat for value received on this 27 Dec. 1847.”
Signed by A. T. Mial (Also, C. Bryan; A. Montague, Witnesses)

From the Alonzo T. & Millard Mial Papers, PC.132. Box 25, Folder 4-B.

Deeds of Gift Bequeathing Peter and Ailsey, Robeson County, 1851
Deeds of Gift Bequeathing Peter and Ailsey, Robeson County, 1851

Peter and Ailsey, a man of forty-five and a girl of fifteen, the subjects of these deeds of gift, were enslaved by the McKay family of Robeson County. In 1851, “for the love and affection” Christian McKay Galbreath had for her two nephews, Duncan and Dougald McKay, she sold Peter and Ailsey to them for a dollar each. Peter died in 1896. Ailsey’s descendants continued to live on the McKay farm into the 20th century.

McKay, McPherson, McNeill Family Papers, PC.2144.3 McKay Family Papers, 1790–1984, Box 3, Folder 01.

Receipt for sale of Catey, and her three children, Mary, Richard, and Sally (Wilmington, N.C.) 1853
Receipt for sale of Catey, and her three children, Mary, Richard, and Sally (Wilmington, N.C.) 1853

Slave receipt/bill of sale, with one for Catey, and her three children, Mary, Richard, and Sally; and the other for Cloey, a girl. The documents are dated 4 May 1853 and 5 March 1862, respectively. The receipt shown was given at Wilmington, New Hanover County, N.C. by Ansley Davis to Speir [Spier] Walters, in the amount of $1,000 for Catey, a slave woman and children, Mary, Richard, and Sally. Receipt attests that all are healthy, but the child Mary is “marked with burns.”

From the Bill of Sale of Catey and Children [and one other bill of sale] Collection, PC.2094.

Impressment of John, Slave of A. T. Mial, for Service as a Teamster, Supposedly for Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, 15 March 1864
Impressment of John, Slave of A. T. Mial, for Service as a Teamster, Supposedly for Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, 15 March 1864

Transcription:

“E O. Wake Co. Raleigh, N.C. March 15 [1864] This day received of A. T. Mial one negro Slave named John aged 26 years for duty as teamster in Genrl. Johnson’s army.” Signed by E. Porter, Capt. E.O. Wake County. The slaveholder referred to was probably Alonzo Thomas Rush Mial, Sr. (1823–1897), the son of Thomas Alonzo Mial (1799–1830) and Scheherazade Price Mial Blake (1805–1853).

Note: Teamsters loaded and drove supply trains/wagons, often returning in dangerous terrain to the march or to the camp. The Confederate government had passed a slave impressment law on March 26, 1863. Slaves were used extensively, though the effort was not as successful as the generals had hoped.

From the Alonzo T. & Millard Mial Papers, PC.132. Box 25, Folder 18.

Page from Joseph & William Peace Account Book, Wake County: Slave Birth and Death Dates, 1852–1864
Page from Joseph & William Peace Account Book, Wake County: Slave Birth and Death Dates, 1852–1864

The J. & W. Peace general store was located on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh, from approximately 1798 until 1832, when the store burned. Before and after the building’s demise, the proprietors used the store ledger to keep a record of slaves owned by them and other family members, with slave birth and death dates ranging from 1784 to 1864. Example shown is one of six pages of entries.

Page Section and Scrap from Joseph & William Peace Account Book, Wake County: Slave Births and Death Dates, 1852–1864
Page Section and Scrap from Joseph & William Peace Account Book, Wake County: Slave Births and Death Dates, 1852–1864

The note written on a piece of scrap paper (bottom of photo) recorded names and birth dates temporarily until they could be entered permanently into the account book (top of photo):

Matilda (daughter of Mary) born 4th March 1864.
Patsey (daughter of Harriet) born 22nd April 1864.

Both document photos above from the Joseph & William Peace Account Book, 1784–1864, Wake County. Page 297. PC.AB.132.

In summary, researchers of enslaved populations and freedmen in North Carolina may find a variety of resources, both in public and private records. County records contain deeds, wills, and court minutes, and some counties have a miscellaneous series that contains slave records. While these can be rich sources, private collections and account books surely supplement public records in ways that have often been overlooked.

Finding Aids in DOC

With the launch of the State Archives of North Carolina’s new catalog system, Discover Online Catalog (DOC), there will be a new way to access the Archives’ finding aids and they will also have a brand new look.

There are two ways you can access the finding aids in DOC. The first option: when you have located a catalog record, if there is a finding aid available, there will be a link “view finding aid” under the record summary. This will open the finding aid in a new tab.

DOC Search Result

DOC Search Result

The second option: after clicking on the catalog record, if there is a finding aid available, there will be a button labeled, “Finding Aid” on the right side of the window which you can click on to open the finding aid in a new tab.

DOC Bibliographic Record

DOC Bibliographic Record

 

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Finding Aid in DOC

Please note that not every collection will have a finding aid available. However, the finding aid only re-formats data that is already in our catalog system. The catalog records and the finding aids are the same information just displayed in different ways. So even if the collection you are looking at in the catalog doesn’t have a finding aid, you can still be assured that what you are looking at is the most up-to-date information we have available.

Additionally, the new look of our finding aids is still under construction, and there might be some quirks in how information is displayed. If you are concerned that the information the finding aid is displaying is inaccurate, please consult the catalog record or contact a reference archivist for further assistance. We appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.

More information on how to navigate our new catalog system will be coming soon, stay tuned!

Facets

The latest installment of learning how to use the new Discover Online Catalog (DOC) at the State Archives is all about facets. Selecting a facet or multiple facets at the beginning of your search can help you to narrow down your search in the catalog. Facets are used to identify types or groups of information and a great way to start and continue your search of the State Archives records. Facets include, but are not limited to:

  • Repository
  • Creator Type
  • Collection
  • Record Begin & End Dates

For example, under Repository you can refine your search by selecting the location where the record resides – for instance, if you know the record you are looking for is at Western Regional Archives, you may click on its link.

If you are searching for records produced within a certain date range, you can select those dates under the Record Begin Date and Record End Date facets.

Please let any of our reference archivists know if you have questions. As always, stay tuned for more information about using the DOC at the State Archives of North Carolina!

Searching in DOC

[This blog post was written by Anna Henrichsen, Information Management Archivist in the Digital Services Section.]

Searching for North Carolina history in the State Archives has never been easier than in our new system, Discover Online Catalog (DOC). There are several ways to begin looking through our catalog. The easiest way is to type a keyword in the search bar at the top of the page. DOC will search for your keyword in all the fields used to describe our collections and return the most relevant results for you to explore.

Screenshot of the basic search bar in the Discover Online Catalog

Fig. 1: Just type a keyword in the search bar and press enter to begin looking for records!

If you have something specific in mind, use the advanced search options to narrow down your results. Search by combinations of subject, date, record creator, and more with DOC’s advanced search. In the following example, we conducted an advanced search for wills from Swain county.

Screenshot of the advance search fields with "wills' in the title field and "swain county" in the creator field. Below is a single result for Swain County Wills.

Fig. 2: Using advanced search options makes finding the records you want easy.

You can see that DOC immediately found what we are looking for and presented it without extra clutter. You can click the result to learn more information about this series and see our holdings. Searching our catalog is a good first step to take when determining if the State Archives has the records you are looking for. As always, you can also reach out to our amazing team of reference archivists who will be happy to help you out.

Stay tuned for further posts about DOC, including information about finding aids, bibliographic records, and more. We are very excited about this new system and we hope you are too!

The Rumley Family Papers: A New Collection Featuring Resources for Researchers Seeking Enslaved Ancestors

[This blog post was written by Elizabeth Crowder, contract archivist with Private Collections of the Special Collections Branch. This position is overseen by Fran Tracy-Walls and is supported by funds bequeathed to the North Carolina Genealogical Society by the estate of the late Frances Holloway Wynne.]

Private manuscript collections, part of the State Archives’ Special Collections Section, can provide useful source material for researchers seeking information about enslaved ancestors. In many cases, these collections organize records concerning slaves and freedmen into dedicated series. The accompanying finding aids often identify those slaves who can be tentatively traced in federal census records dating from 1870 and later. Such is the case with the Rumley Family Papers (PC.1969). This collection contains correspondence, bills of sale, promissory notes, mortgages, receipts, and a warrant concerning enslaved and free African Americans.

Among these documents is an 1837 bill of sale for William, an approximately fifty-year-old slave whom Gibbons Bell (1807–1875) sold to his brother-in-law William Jones (1807–1850) in Carteret County, N.C. In attempting to find more information about the slave named William, I worked from three assumptions: that he was born around 1787 and lived at least until 1860, that he called himself either William Bell or William Jones after emancipation and the Civil War, and that he settled in Carteret County or an adjacent county once he was free. William might well have died earlier, used an entirely different name, and/or moved elsewhere. However, I needed a starting point for my search.

Continue reading

Documenting the World of Outlander #5: Mapping Colonial North Carolina

[This post was written by Alison Thurman and Josh Hager, Reference Archivists]

This blog is intended as a “bonus feature” for fans of Outlander who want to explore the world of Jamie and Claire through original documents housed at the State Archives of North Carolina. SPOILERS for the first 9 episodes of Season 4!

Outlander, the hit series from Starz, has officially arrived in colonial North Carolina. This season, Jamie and Claire will traverse the state from Wilmington to the mountains. The State Archives of North Carolina will join them on this journey as we showcase documents that provide a window into their world. Welcome to our biweekly series, Documenting the World of Outlander, wherein each new entry in our series will focus on one topic that appears on screen in Outlander.

With a few weeks left to go in Season 4, Jamie and Claire have now traveled from the bustling colonial port of Wilmington through Cross Creek and up to Fraser’s Ridge. Our intrepid adventurers have traversed the colony from ocean to mountains, seeing the varied landscapes that make North Carolina such a geographic wonder. To parallel with their journey’s end at Fraser’s Ridge, we would like to showcase our map collections to get a better handle on Jamie and Claire’s Carolina voyage.

We’ll start with a map of the Wilmington area, where Jamie and Claire first arrived in the colony in the first episode of Season 4.

mc_195_w743_1743v

Map Collection. MC.195.W743.1743v. (Vault Collection No. 4). A plan of Wilmington scituate [sic] on the east side of the north-east branch of Cape Fear River agreable [sic] to the original survey by Jeremiah Vail, c.1743.

This map, dating to circa 1743, is the earliest map in our holdings that shows the city of Wilmington. Prepared by cartographer Jeremiah Vail, this map was the earliest plan of the city of Wilmington as laid out by the city’s proprietors in 1733. No place names, street addresses, or property owners appear on this map due to its early date. However, you can use the Cape Fear River’s placement to map out the equivalent current areas of the still-bustling port city. It’s possible that Jamie and Claire may have used a map such as this example to navigate their way through Wilmington’s streets when they first arrived in North Carolina.

Our next example takes us up the Cape Fear River to the town of Cross Creek, site of Jamie’s aunt’s plantation and the harrowing events of the second episode of Season 4.

mc_195_f284_f284_2014ma

Map Collection. MC.195.F284.2014ma. Fayetteville, N.C. about 1770 (after Sauthier), by Dan MacMillan, 2014.

A couple of characteristics about this map should jump out at you immediately. The first idiosyncrasy is that the map shows Fayetteville, not Cross Creek. Fayetteville became an incorporation city in 1783 when Cross Creek and the neighboring town of Campbellton merged and named the new city in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. The fact that Fayetteville appears on this map rather than Cross Creek, in addition to the modern type face, is a giveaway to the second peculiarity; this map is not actually from Jamie and Claire’s time but rather is a contemporary depiction of the Fayetteville area circa 1770. Fayetteville resident Dan MacMillan painstakingly created this map of Fayetteville in 1770 using land records from the State Archives of North Carolina, including deeds and land grants. Many of the property owners shown on this map could have interacted with the Frasers as they made their way through Cross Creek. Notice that the Cape Fear River snakes right through the middle of the city, thus connecting Fayetteville to Wilmington. It should therefore come as no surprise that Fayetteville would later become one of the most prominent distribution centers in North Carolina, especially after the advent of railroads allowed Fayetteville to become a transfer point of goods from the Cape Fear River to all points inland.

We end our pictorial journey with a map of the entirety of the colony from 1770.

mc_150_1770c1

Map Collection. MC.150.1770c1. A Compleat Map of North-Carolina from an actual Survey, by John Bayly, William Churton, John Abraham Collett, and Samuel Hooper (publisher), 1770.

In this map, colloquially known as “the Collett map,” we see the colony from the Atlantic to the Appalachians. Unlike earlier maps, the Collett map utilizes surveyed information to create what was in 1770 the most accurate map of the colony ever produced. The summary of the map from our online catalog MARS provides further information:

This map was prepared by Captain John Abraham Collet (1756-1789), a Swiss-born army officer and commander of Fort Johnston at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and [it] was based largely on surveys conducted by William Churton (1749-1767), surveyor of the Granville Land Office. It was engraved by John Bayly and published in London by Samuel Hooper. The map portrays all of North Carolina west to the Blue Ridge Mountains near present day Morganton. The Collet map is far more accurate and comprehensive than any previous map of North Carolina and depicts for the first time the roads and settlements in the growing western part of the colony.

From Cross Creek, Jamie and Claire would have taken the rivers and roads depicted on the Collett map as they journeyed further west toward Frasers Ridge. What modern features can you spot on this map?

If you’re interested in further map research, your best resource is NC Maps, an award-winning website collaboration between the State Archives of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Outer Banks History Center. You’ll find maps sorted by location, date, and more. Plus, you can view maps in different sizes and zoom in to the smallest detail to find that one elusive town, road, or body of water.

Now that we’ve mapped the Frasers to their new homesite, we’ll now turn our attention to a slightly more dangerous topic. Join us in our next entry as we look at piracy in the world of Outlander!

Documenting the World of Outlander #2: Meeting Governor William Tryon

[This post was written by Alison Thurman and Josh Hager, Reference Archivists]

This blog is intended as a “bonus feature” for fans of Outlander who want to explore the world of Jamie and Claire through original documents housed at the State Archives of North Carolina. SPOILERS for the first three episodes of Season 4!

Outlander, the hit series from Starz, has officially arrived in colonial North Carolina. This season, Jamie and Claire will traverse the state from Wilmington to the mountains. The State Archives of North Carolina will join them on this journey as we showcase documents that provide a window into their world. Welcome to our biweekly series, Documenting the World of Outlander, wherein each new entry in our series will focus on one topic that appears on screen in Outlander.

In episode one of Outlander, Season 4, “America the Beautiful,” Jamie and Claire are introduced to  Governor William Tryon at a dinner party. He seems interested in the couple’s future plans in North Carolina and takes an opportunity to propose a land deal that interests Jamie a great deal. He offers Jamie large tracts of free land in exchange for recruiting settlers to the back country. If he accepts the deal, Jamie realizes that Tryon will expect his loyalty and gratitude in the future.  Claire knows that conflict with the British is coming and she is suspicious of Tryon’s motives. Is William Tryon to be a friend to the Fraser’s or will association with him bring them unhappiness in the future?

The historical William Tryon served as royal governor of North Carolina from 1765-1771.  He was born in 1729 to a landed gentry family in Surrey, England.  He served in the British military during the Seven Years’ War and rose militarily and politically. Through family connections he obtained a political appointment as governor of North Carolina in 1764 and arrived with his wife, Margaret, and their young daughter, assuming his duties in 1765. He made some internal improvements in the colony such as successfully negotiating a boundary dispute with the Cherokee Indians, establishing a postal service and completing church building projects for the Church of England.  However, he arrived in North Carolina during a period of political unrest in the back county where the Regulator movement was gaining support over such issues as insufficient currency, currency fraud, unequal taxation, and discontent with local officials. Though his time as governor was short, he had to contend with violent conflicts and political upheaval in the years prior to the American Revolution. You can read more on the life of William Tryon on the NCpedia website https://www.ncpedia.org/

List of Land Grants to Scots, Isle of Jura, Argyle Shire, Nov.4, 1767

List of Land Grants to Scots, Isle of Jura, Argyle Shire, Nov.4, 1767 Colonial Governor’s Papers: William Tryon C.G.P.10

In the State Archives we have the official governor’s papers of William Tryon. Most of them have been digitized and made available on the Digital Collections webpage where the public can search by subject, place and time. The papers include petitions from the colonists, proclamations and orders and correspondence on a wide range of topics.

Are you curious to see what kind of genealogical information may be found in his papers?  The image to the left is a list of land grants awarded to Scots from the Isle of Jura, Argyle Shire dated November 4, 1767. It lists not only the names of the families, but the acreage they were allotted in Cumberland and Mecklenburg Counties. This kind of document would have been helpful to Roger and Brianna if they were searching for proof that Jamie and Claire settled in North Carolina.

Are you interested in historical topics included in Tryon’s correspondence of 1765-1771, or do you want to read his proclamations concerning unrest in the back country? You can read all about it in the Governor’s Papers, Historical Collection on the Digital Collections webpage http://digital.ncdcr.gov/

Tryon’s final legacy in North Carolina is the “palace” he commissioned in New Bern in 1767. He was convinced that the colony needed a house of government that was equal to more prosperous British colonial buildings at the time.  It was completed in 1770, but it was controversial from the beginning. The General Assembly allocated a budget for the project, but the costs quickly went over. At the same time settlers were petitioning Tryon to pay taxes with commodities instead of cash because currency was scarce, he was persuading the General Assembly to require an extra poll tax to help pay the cost of building the mansion.  He miscalculated how unpopular this would be with the settlers in the west who did not agree with the need for such an unnecessary extravagance. It only added to existing tensions and was one of the catalysts in North Carolina’s War of the Regulation.

The image below is a list of expenses for the building of Tryon Palace. You can see why some colonists questioned the necessity versus the cost.

Expense for Governor’s Mansion, 1767

Expense for Governor’s Mansion, 1767 Colonial Governor’s Papers : William Tryon C.G.P.6

Gov. Tryon left North Carolina in 1771, to become governor of New York after living in the mansion only a little over a year. It was used as a meeting place for the General Assembly sporadically, but was abandoned in 1792 when the state capital moved from New Bern to Raleigh. Shortly after that, the main building burned in an accidental fire. A reconstruction of the palace was built in the 1950’s using the original architect’s plans and period inventories. Today it is a thriving historic site open  to the public. You may learn more about visiting Tryon Palace at   https://www.tryonpalace.org/

Jamie and Claire will no doubt cross paths with Governor Tryon again, especially now that Jamie has accepted his offer of a land grant knowing that, in return, Tryon is expecting his loyalty and help with any disturbances among his neighbors in the back country.  Accepting an offer of free land where you can begin anew is very tempting, but will Jamie and Claire regret taking Tryon’s deal?

Stay tuned for more…