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The Story of Thomas Green of Warren County, Former Slave
Part 1 of 3

Thomas Green was born about 1760 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, the son of a slave named Crease. He and his mother were the property of Elizabeth Alston-Williams,  widow of Capt. Samuel Williams who had died in 1754 and had left her and theirs sons a sizable estate.  Elizabeth apparently had property of her own because on July 24, 1765, she gave 2 slaves to her son, Samuel Williams, in a deed of gift, where it was expressed as "for the natural love and affection" that she had for her son; those 2 slaves were Crease & her young son, Tom. This is the first record I have found of the pair, and one can only speculate as to where Crease may have come into Elizabeth's possession.  There is record of Elizabeth receiving a slave named Moll from her father, John Alston, in his 1758 will probated in Chowan Co., NC, along with "what else of my personal estate that she has had already", so it is possible that there were other slaves received earlier from him which may have included Crease. Elizabeth had also received a number of slaves from her late husband's estate in 1754, "Fifth, to my loving wife, Elizabeth Williams, negroes Mingo, Coob, Priss, and Lucey".  On July 29, 1765, as part of a marriage contract when Elizabeth was preparing to remarry to her widowed neighbor, Richard Burt (1724-1805), she sold the 7 remaining slaves that she owned to her other sons, William, Solomon and Joseph John Williams. Those slaves were Mingo, Coobe, Davie, Little Crese, Nan, Moll & Sam'l, the first 2 of them were the ones inherited from her first husband, and Moll was the one received from her father in 1758. Possibly, Mingo & Coobe were the parents of Davie, Little Crese & Nan who had been born in the intervening years, and Moll may have had a child named "Sam", or he could have been her mate; since no ages were indicated, it is difficult to tell for sure, but that was the general scenario for such a listing.   And while the price of the sale of the slaves to the 3 sons was fairly nominal, one must wonder why she chose to gift one son, Samuel, with 2 of her slaves, while she received a payment for the remaining ones to her other sons rather than also just outright giving them to those sons. It is my belief that Samuel Williams had been having a relationship with the slave, Crease, and that he was Tom's father; it is likely that his mother was aware of this, and perhaps there was even some fondness for Crease & Tom, so Elizabeth gifted them to Samuel rather than selling them along with the other slaves. Perhaps young Samuel was inspired by the example of the neighbor, Robert Lang, whose land had been given to him after his father had purchased it from LANG some years before. In 1743, Robert Lang had freed his own son, Somerton, who he had fathered by a slave named Frances. (See WILLIAMS Abstracts).   Evidence suggests that Crease was probably Samuel Williams' longtime slave mistress and that upon his death, he wished to free his slave family, which by that time in 1791, consisted of not only Crease and Tom, but also of Tom's wife, Priscilla, and their five children, Allen, Charity, Breny, William and Lucretia. The fact that Samuel never married is also strong circumstantial evidence that there must have been some reason for not doing so during a time in history when it was every landowner's desire to leave an heir to carry on his name. In fact, Samuel devoted the first 3 paragraphs of his will to bequests for Crease and her family, as well as to the arrangements for helping them get their freedom from slavery; he left explicit instructions for his cousin, James Alston, to petition to the North Carolina General Assembly for their freedom, and in the event that it couldn't be worked out, he arranged for them to be taken care of and to live as close to being free as was possible. Alston followed through with his cousin's wishes, and petitioned for the family's freedom, and in 1798, the family was finally emancipated by an Act of the North Carolina General Assembly, where they were given the surname of GREEN.

By 1800, the Thomas GREEN family, which that year showed a household consisting of 13 Free people of Color, and 2 Slaves, was a part of the Warren County community in the section that some years later became known as "Greentown". The family members that I have identified so far besides Tom and his wife, Priscilla, and mother, Crease,  were his children Allen, Charity, Breny, William, Lucretia, Samuel, Priscilla, Mary Polly, Elizabeth, Lucy and Nancy. There may have been an additional son, Levi Green, of whom there is a record of having died along with a wife named Nancy, by 1836, leaving a son named Isaac, born about 1826,  who was bonded out as an apprentice to Edward Davis, one of Tom Green's neighbors; however, I haven't found any proof as to who Levi was other than the fact that he was a free person of color, nor have I found anything else on Isaac Green except that he was probably the male Free Person of Color, aged 10-23, in the 1840 Census for Edward Davis.  Tom and his children were very fair-skinned, another indication of his white ancestry, but as the generations went by, his true history was forgotten and his descendants were under the impression that he had been a white slaveowner who had several children with his "slave" mistress...hmmmm, sound familiar?  What they didn't know was that they were several generations off, and starting about the 1880s and through the next 120 years or so, the GREEN family history was unknown to most of us, and researching Tom's life has been one of those great revelations that most people dream about and makes it all worthwhile. The GREEN family was an accepted part of the community and apparently maintained a friendship with members of the WILLIAMS, ALSTON and DAVIS plantation owning families since there are many records with transactions involving them with Tom Green's family.  Tom and his mother, Crease, had received some 110 acres from Samuel Williams' will among other things, and the 1811 Tax List shows that he had a total of 220 acres by that time, having acquired additional land and property over the years, so with his large family, there would certainly have been enough work to keep the family busy as well as having enough land to raise crops  both feed and sell to support themselves and have a comfortable living. In addition to that, Tom continued to have one to two slaves throughout the early 1800's, the last of which I see listed in 1830 where there was a male slave aged 36-55 who had also been with them in 1820, and perhaps earlier. While it may seem odd to some to realize that a person of color owned slaves, it was not an unheard of fact for them to have been slaveowners. In some cases, they were actually members of the slaveowners' family that were not free, however, it was indicated on the GREEN emancipation record in 1798 that all children born to any of the females in the family since the will had been written in 1791, were also to be set free, so it is not likely that the slaves were any of the GREEN children. Whatever the case was with Tom Green, he did own a few slaves, but unfortunately, I have found no record of who they may have been. Tom died in August of 1850, and at the time, 4 of his daughters who were unmarried - Polly, Elizabeth, Lucy and Nancy- were still living at home with him and his wife, Priscilla, so he did provide for them in his will. He also made a provision that his daughter, Lucretia, who was married to Archibald Evans, was to be lent the 10 acres of land that she was living on until her death, at which time it was to go to the children of her brother, William Green. His wife, Priscilla, was left 110 acres of his land to use during her lifetime, which was then to go to the four unmarried daughters after his wife's death. Priscilla died shortly after Tom, so apparently the daughters received that land before 1860, but one of the daughters, Nancy, got married in 1854 to Amos Artis, a.k.a. Pettiford, a stone mason, who earned a pretty good living, and whose family traveled around a lot to wherever there was a housing boom, which at the time was in the Warren/Halifax County area, with the building of new plantation homes just prior to the Civil War. Afterwards, Nancy & Amos moved to Plymouth, Washington County, NC, where they lived out the rest of their lives. The conditions of Tom's will was that as each of the daughters died, the property would go to the surviving ones; Lucy apparently died just after 1850, and the 2 remaining daughters, Polly and Elizabeth (known as "Bett") stayed in Warren Co. and were known as the spinster daughters of Tom Green, who for many years were considered as the "wealthy" Green sisters by the family members. Family lore was that the 2 wealthy sisters hoarded all of their money and hid it in their house or somewhere on their property when they died. What the family didn't know was that since the sisters never married, their property likely ended up back in the family by going to either the children of their brothers Allen, or of William's, since I have found that the family stayed on top of who owned what land, at that time.    What follows is a brief listing of the  family of Thomas Green, and their immediate family members, most all of them married other members of the Free Colored community of Warren County.  A complete listing of the family is included by clicking onto this link to this portion of the Thomas Green Family Tree.

 

 

 

2013 to present.  This website and all material on it are the property of Deloris Williams. Last updated 03/05/2015