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Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 9 Jul 2013 7:05PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Pierce, Pearce, Peirce, Moore, Magee, McGee
I am trying to locate information about Rhoda Pierce, my third great-grandmother. Oral history is that she was a White woman who got pregnant by an Indian and had to give her child away. My great-great grandfather David Pierce (b. 1844) was bonded to a couple in Plymouth (James and Eliza McGee/Magee)who owned a grocery store/boarding house. I don't know whether the bond would have been filed in Washington County (in which case it was destroyed by fire) or in another county of Eastern NC where Rhoda may have resided.

David's Beaufort County marriage license reflects his mother's name as Rhoda Pierce and his father's name as Charles Moore.

If anyone has any information or suggestions which may be helpful, please let me know. I have located a Mulatto Rhoda Pierce in Beaufort County, but based upon information David gave my great-aunt, I do not think she is David's mother.

Re: Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 10 Jul 2013 5:01AM GMT
Classification: Query
James Magee is in the 1840 census for Washington County, and is shown as employing free people of color as well as owning slaves, so it's more likely that the apprentice bond for David Pearce would have been issued in Washington County. But, if Rhoda was a white woman who was living in someone else's household, then she won't be found in the 1840 census. David is listed as black in the 1850 census, and then as mulatto in the 1860 one. I haven't yet located him in 1870 - do you know how he was listed in that and later census records?

One thing I did find was a Freedman's Bank Record entry at ancestry.com for James Henry Sparrow. The date is May 15, 1873, and he states he was born in Washington, NC (no notation as to if this is Washington County, or Washington, Beaufort County), and he's 27 years old. He lists his father as Canady Sparrow and his mother as Rhoda Pearce, both deceased. He names siblings: Washington Keyes, Daniel Moore and Robert Moore. The combination of having a mother named Rhoda Pearce and brothers with the surname of Moore definitely caught my attention, but with there being no mention of David Pearce...I'm not sure. I did find a Daniel and Robert Moore in Plymouth in the 1880 census, as boarders in a household, and working as hands in a saw mill, but I have not yet found them in 1870 (or James Henry Sparrow).

Is there anything in the family lore about why or how David ended up in Beaufort County?



Re: Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 10 Jul 2013 5:55AM GMT
Classification: Query
As an adult, David is typically listed as Mulatto. I have no idea what brought him to Beaufort County as an adult. My great-aunt who spent a lot of time with him growing up said that her grandfather did not come from Beaufort County and really never wanted to discuss his life prior to arriving there. All she could get out of him was that his mother was White and she had to give him away because his father was an Indian.

I cannot find any bastardy bonds naming Rhoda Pierce online, and if all the legal transactions occurred in Washington County, my concern is that the court records were likely burned.

There was a Mulatto Rhoda Pierce in Beaufort County in the 1850 census. I found a record of cohabitation for her with a freed slave named Jacob Grist. This is the only Rhoda Pierce I have been able to locate thus far. As far as I know, GGpa had no siblings. If the Beaufort County Rhoda Pierce is my 3GGma, why/how did her son get bonded in another county, and why can't I find any Beaufort County bastardy or apprentice bonds naming her or Charles Moore?

What I find interesting about your information about James Henry Sparrow besides the surname Moore is the surname Keyes. This is also a surname of interest in my family in Beaufort County; this is a lineage of free people of color going back to 1765. My guess is that they were Native American.

I really appreciate your informative response and assistance. Please let me know if you can think of any other angles I might take. In the interim, I will try to find our more information about the men who may be David's brothers. I did not find anything on the two bonded girls (Sallie and Sarah) who were also listed as Pearce in the 1860 census.

Sincerely,

Kim

Re: Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 10 Jul 2013 2:34PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Pierce, Pearce, Peirce, Moore, Magee, McGee, Sparrow, Keys
I looked at the Freedman's Bank Record you found. Thanks so much. He listed a brother David Moore, which would have been my GGpa's name had GGpa carried his father's surname. James Henry Sparrow is listed as a free person of color (Black) in Beaufort County in the 1850 and 1860 census. He is shown as living with adults with his last name, but never his mother. I have not looked at 1870 there.

I am looking for Washington Keys as a youth. It is interesting that I received another reply yesterday regarding the Keys family which mentions his name. In addition, I received a message this morning from someone researching surnames asking whether I have found connections in Washington and Martin Counties. Prayerfully, someone will have a family Bible or other document(s) to pull all these threads together.

Re: Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 10 Jul 2013 6:11PM GMT
Classification: Query
Trying to answer both replies here, so if I miss something, forgive me.

If the other men are also the children of your Rhoda Pearce, then it could be that the people they were apprenticed to were in Washington County, but then left. Or, Rhoda might have moved around that three county area, in which case, you might find mention of her in either the bastardy bonds, apprentice bonds, or Court of Please and Quarter Sessions records for Beaufort and Martin. But, the apprentice bonds won't give you information about the father(outside of whether the child was considered mulatto or colored, which meant anything from having any African blood to having Native American blood), and unless Rhoda named the father, a bastardy bond won't give you information on the father, either. The court records would be more likely to give more information, but even then, the court would be focusing on the mother, wanting the bond money from someone. If she didn't name the father, then someone else would have been expected to pay the bond, either the male head of the house where she lived, or she'd have to put it up herself.

It's good that you've ruled out the one Rhoda Pierce, and if James Henry Sparrow was a half-brother to David, then you know that as of 1873, Rhoda is deceased (at least as far as James knew). Family lore, from your family, the people looking for Washington Keys, and perhaps the families, if any, of Daniel and Robert, might be your best leads. The fact that David never mentioned siblings isn't that surprising, given how young he was when he was apprenticed to James Magee, as he wouldn't have been around the others, who are all younger than him. I do wonder though if Daniel and Robert were full siblings, and not half-siblings (provided of course, that this is David's family). And there's also the two Pearce girls at the hotel in 1860 - relatives through Rhoda, siblings/half-siblings, or just a coincidence that they had the same surname?

I go down to Washington County once a month, and sometimes I have the opportunity to go to the courthouse. If you need/want something looked up, let me know. I've had times when I needed to go to Beaufort County, but right now, I've gotten just about all of the local records from there that i need. The court records are up at the NC Archives. I do collect court records, but right now I'm still gathering Tyrrell County records, as I've got just all of what they have for Washington County at the archives (although I still need to see what they've got on microfilm). My regular e-mail is glroberts@cox.net, if you have something you'd like looked up and don't want to go into it here.

Good luck.

Re: Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 10 Jul 2013 8:01PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Pierce, Pearce, Peirce, Moore, Magee, McGee, Sparrow, Keys
I can't thank you enough for all your assistance and direction. There is one thing-- I couldn't find the Freedman's Bank records on James Henry Sparrow on ancestry. I found it on familysearch.org and I don't see a Daniel Moore listed as his brother, I see a David Moore; this could be a reference to my GGpa. If James Sparrow was GGpa's brother, he would have been the oldest son from what I can tell by the 1850 census. His father Cannady must have died sometime after the 1850 census unless he left Beaufort County. I have scoured the Beaufort County census for 1850 and 1860 and cannot find Washington Keys. I am wondering how much free colored people who did not farm moved around to find work. I also wonder about all the free women of color listed as heads of household with no occupation listed. Is it possible that these men worked away from home a fair share of the time?

I am going to begin searching Martin County next. If you have any additional ideas/comments, please let me know.

Regards,

Kim

Re: Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 11 Jul 2013 6:50PM GMT
Classification: Query
I found the record for James Sparrow in an overall search for Rhoda Pearce in North Carolina. And I did read it wrong - it is definitely David. I wish I could blame it on me needing new contacts, but I just had my eyes examined a few months ago...I think my brain turned it into Daniel because the one time I found Robert Moore, he was with a Daniel Moore in the same household. David Moore could definitely be your David Pearce.

The only other thing I can think of right now would be church records. And even then, those would probably just give you more of an overview of David's immediate family, and not his parents. But, finding out who he was close to at church might help you find more family stories.

As for the earlier census records and the free women of color being listed as heads of household, I think it's more a case of the fathers being slaves, as opposed to them working away from home. Even if a man was working somewhere else, the census was supposed to reflect place of residence. One of the problems with trying to figure out a neighborhood in the pre-1850 census records is that free people of color were supposed to be listed on a separate page, so you can't see who the neighbors are. If you could see the neighbors, then you could check to see if any of them were slave owners, and you can do that with the 1850 and 1860 years.

I've got digital images of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions minutes for Tyrrell County, as well as images from three boxes of slave and free people of color records for that county from the NC Archives, so I can say that based on Tyrrell County, some slave owners had no problem with allowing their slaves to marry and would issue passes so that the men could go to visit their wives. In those cases though, it's not mentioned if the wives are slaves on other farms, or if they're free women of color. I know of at least one case where a slave owner had a complain against a white woman because one of his slaves was living with her, and he wanted her to leave his slave alone. Looking at the bastardy bonds around that same date, she was also having kids with this man, but unable to marry him because she was white.

Another thing to be aware of, is that some of the family lore might be wrong in order to save family pride. I've been helping a woman with her family, most of which were in Bertie and Martin, but some in Washington County, and the thing that her mother and aunts were most adamant about was that they only had one ancestor who was a slave - everyone else was a free person of color or Native American. After 4 years of research, we've yet to find a free person of color in her family tree. Ticked the mom and aunts off a tad bit, but the records don't lie. So, it could be that Charles Moore was Native American, or it could be that he was a slave. Either way, as a person of color he and Rhoda would not have been allowed to marry. But things like that are the things that acquaintances, especially ones known for a long time, might tend to gossip about, so finding David's friends and acquaintances, and then locating their descendents, might get you more stories and/or a different perspective on David's story.

Cathy

Re: Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 11 Jul 2013 9:28PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Pierce, Pearce, Peirce, Moore, Keys, Keyes, Keese, Kee, Key, Keeyse, Keis
Cathy,

I'm really enjoying reading your posts and learning more about the way society operated in Eastern NC. I read in Paul Heinegg's book that slaves were not permitted to legally marry, but were allowed to cohabitate. Based on upon this premise, I believed that if I found marriage licenses for my family members prior to emancipation, and they were listed in the Federal census, these were indeed free people of color.

I know in theory that the census is only supposed to count a person at their place of residence. However, as I reviewed census records for Beaufort County in 1850 for every person surnamed Keys, I found that apprenticed and/or bonded children were often counted at their family residences and at the residences where they worked. I also notice that both the parents may be called Mulatto, but the children may be called Black; I have come to disregard this information to a degree, because it was probably a function of appearance (complexion, hair color/texture, facial features) and perception (my 2GGpa was categorized differently many times over his 100+ year lifespan) versus strict application of the 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 rules used in other slave states. My 2GGpa was very fair in complexion with straight hair, according to his family and my grandmother who married into the family.

I will keep plugging away online, but I may not be able to get to the court documents you recommend until I visit NC next spring or summer. I am working on determining whether Washington Keys was my 2GGpa's brother and trying to definitively rule out the Mulatto Rhoda Pierce.



Re: Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 11 Jul 2013 10:26PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Howcott, Beasley, McRae, Davis
At least some slaves did marry in North Carolina before the Civil War.

For instance, the register of Grace Episcopal Church at Plymouth in Washington county includes a number of marriages, such as "William (servant of C Howcott) & Axy (servant of J B Beasley)" on 18 March 1854. These were separately listed in a section of the register under the heading "Marriages Colored".

Another example is found when Dinah McRae applied in September 1892 for a pension as the widow of Stephen Davis, who had served in the US Army during the Civil War. She stated that they had been married on 15 January 1856 at Tyrrell county by “Clayton (Master)”. Both bride and groom were held in slavery at the time of their marriage. More details appear at: http://www.howcutt.org/catherine.htm

Francis

Re: Rhoda Pierce/Peirce/Pearce - Born about 1820, probably Eastern NC

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 12:14AM GMT
Classification: Query
I'm more familiar with the other end of Washington County - Scuppernong Township, and where the records of St. David's Episcopal church do include marriages of slaves (which they referred to as servants, instead) of some of the more prominent slave owners, it appears that the majority of the slaves were those who attended the church with their masters and mistresses. In other words, the house slaves. The St. David's register is chronological, with no separation of the colored and white marriages.

Interestingly, the McRae surname is one of the names for the woman that I've been helping. Sherrod McRae, who was the last male of his line (he had daughters, but no sons), not only owned quite a few slaves in Washington County, but he also owned a saw mill where he hired slaves from others. At least one of his daughters ended up living in Martin County, and that could be how Willis McRae ended up with that surname.



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