We continue with our series on Allen Holleman's ancestors who migrated Virginia to North Carolina in search of productive farm land in the early 19th century. In a previous post, Allen wrote of Jordan Holleman, a 4th great uncle, who left a paper trail that paints a picture of life in the 19th Century largely rural North Carolina. In this article, an 1829 county court case reveals a startling act of humanity that went against the norms and laws of a society engulfed in the 'particular institution', human slavery! - GNH
Allen Holleman writes Part 2 of his Story of Jordan Holleman, his 4th great uncle....
JORDAN HOLLEMAN IS ACCUSED OF BREAKING A SOCIAL TABOO and the LAW- the GRAND JURY INDICTMENT of 1829
Note: The cover for this document says - State vs. Jordan Holloman - Forging a Free Pass for a Slave
"State of North Carolina, County of Chatham: Superior court of Law- Fall Term, A.D. 1829:
The Jurors for the State upon their Oath present, that heretofore, to wit on and before the first day of January A.D. 1829, a certain Thomas Bell was owner of a Negro slave named Willis, the said slave Willis being then a runaway and having left his master's service and that one Jordan Holloman, late of the county of Chatham aforesaid, farmer, on the day and year aforesaid in the County aforesaid,
fraudulently and deceitfully did forge make and counterfeit a certain written pass, commonly called " a free pass" for and on behalf of the said slave Willis which said "pass" is as follows, that is to say_
'State of North Carolina Chatham County this will certify that the Barrer Isaac Evans (an alias) a man of Color is of Free Parentage, was born'd and Raised in the County afores'd and a person of a Moral Character, is about six feet high and served 'is' (his) apprenticeship under me as a farmer and was of age the 15th of December in the year of our Lord Eighteen Hundred and nine and the same Registered in the county etc.'
James O'Kelly Test: Lesly O'Kelly which said free pass: he, the said Jordon Holloman then and there delivered and caused to be delivered to the said Willis, slave as aforesaid, and then and there well knowing that the said Willis was a slave and then and there "a runaway" to the great injury of the said Thomas Bell and against the peace and dignity of the state.
John Scott Sol'r Gen'l (Solicitor General) Thomas Bell Junr.Pros.; Wit.Wm. Rencher, Geo. Williams, Allen Wilson, Henry Moore Sworn; sub. Sept. Term, 1829
C. J. Williams, C.S.C. A true bill - Jno Linth? Henth? Foreman"
Note just above, 'Thomas Bell, Junr, Pros.'. If that means prosecutor, it would seem to be a conflict of interest as his father was bringing the suit. In searching Chatham Co. and state records, I have found nothing further about this indictment and suspect it was never brought to trial. Perhaps it was settled out of court or the prosecutor to the grand jury being family made it seem a fair trial was not possible.
As the senior Jordan Holleman (who had properties in both Wake and Chatham counties) was a slave “owner”, (with one field-hand), it’s hard to imagine him creating a document that would have been such a violation of the laws at the time and an affront to his friends and neighbors.
Another possibility might have been that this was a younger Jordan Holleman, the senior Jordan’s great-nephew, grandson of his brother John and son of Jeremiah. This Jordan was born 1810 in Wake. He would have been 19-20 years old and the ‘pass’ might have been the result of the impetuosity and rebelliousness of youth. His family also had holdings in both Wake and Chatham.
Afterwards he moved on to Georgia and then to Mississippi. I have found only this abstract, not the original court record nor any disposition.
I have seen the will of Thos. Bell (Sr.) above with some indications he was a reasonably decent fellow – if that can be said of anyone who held other humans in enforced servitude: slavery. He does state that he does not believe in separating husband and wife and further that their children are to be considered ‘property’ of the parents and to remain with them and are NOT to be considered as part of his estate and binding his heirs to these provisions.
JORDAN WAS ENUMERATED TWICE IN THE 1850 CENSUS
Twenty years later, Jordan's wife, Mary, had recently died, and he seemed at loose ends. As written earlier, he seems to like lots of people around him and appears also to be moving around a bit in Wake County. The census–taker was Stephen Stephenson who wrote with a beautiful hand, but couldn’t seem to even spell Smith correctly. He certainly never got Holleman right but I guess it works phonetically. Apparently the folks being counted did not see the pages as all of the men could read and write and many of the ladies could as well by then, and they all spelled Holleman when signing. Oh well.
First, Jordan is living with son Wiley Wilkins Holleman (1818-1890) and daughter Mary J, both unmarried with eldest son Wyatt next door. They were in the White Oak area of south west Wake County, between New Hill and Holly Springs. Brother John and his sons Davis and Edwin were also nearby and close to Hollemans Crossroads of today.1
Amazingly, in a second counting in the same 1850 census, Jordan is living with a family whose last name is spelled as Wibbern and Wilbern 2, and we see Jordan’s sense of humor. This would be Henry Wilborn and wife Cynthia Fuquay. I suspect he was visiting the Wilberns on that day and was messing with Stephen Stephenson, the census taker, when he claimed to be living there and gave his occupation as shoemaker – which he never was but he might have just ‘fixed’ one of his own. Or they were farming on one of Jordan’s properties. These folks had a distrust of government even then.
JORDAN MOVES AGAIN
The census of 1860 finds Jordan listed with his youngest daughter Mary J. Matthews (1828-1876) and her 2nd husband, Israel and five children. This time he says he’s a carpenter 3. While it is likely he built quite a few structures, there’s no indication that he ever did it for anyone else. The census fellow was Wm. M. Tompkins and his spelling is as poor as Stephen’s and his writing is hard to decipher. He has my ancestor as Jordain Holomon.
The latest deed I found was in March 1849 where Jordan took a fair sized farm of 57 acres in settlement of a debt, and he found folks to work the lands as who would be known later as sharecroppers or tenant farmers.
By 1870 he was pretty much retired as a farmer and was living with his daughter Susannah and her husband James Phillips in New Hill, Wake County. There are no children listed, but in the household were two other ladies: seven year old Eliza Overby and Jane Ricroft, 49. Jordan at 88 was the head of household so this is likely his property.
In the rural South, people looked after each other, family or friends. Orphans and widows were taken in and found homes with folks they had long known. Older family members remained with family. This was community at its best.
Jordan Holleman lived his last twenty-five years without his beloved Polly (Mary) and those must have been hard years for him, but he lived with and among family and friends and being an active do’er, he surely made the best of the life he had. He passed away on August 17, 1875 at 93 and was surely missed by those who knew and loved him.
I cannot imagine Jordan, so used to deeds and records as he was, not leaving a will to specify how his estate was to be handled but so far I haven’t discovered one. Unless he had already divided his properties: real and personal while still living and made any other provisions known but there should be deeds for those.
I also have a collection of associated family manuscripts and research collected by the late Walt Holliman, Cecil Holliman and Rhodes Holliman. Happy to send these materials by email and to insure their research is available. The surnames: Alexander, Baldwin, Barham, Bass, Beall, Blakeney, Baker, Bond, Bostick, Brewer, Bryan, Bryant, Bullock, Calvert, Carter, Champion, Chew,Cofer, Cole, Crafford, Crockett, Curtis, Dale, Daniel, Davidson, Davies, De Mallpas, Douglas, Duckett, Edwards, Edgerton, Emerson, Fitzhugh, Fowlehurst, Fox, Gains, Garrison, Gonson, Graves, Gray, Guyton, Guins, Hall, Hamby, Hawkins,Hendrix, Hill, Hogg, Holliman, Holt, Howard, Jackson, Jones, Judkins, Love, Lucas, Maget, Mansfield, Manwaring, McBee, McComas, McCurdy, McNewsome, Nicholson, Norsworthy, Noyall, O'dell, Oliver, Pearce, Peerce, Pettigrew, Petway, Pitman, Plow, Plyler, Porten, Prather, Petite, Ridgely, Riggan, Roberts, Smith, Spencer, Sprigg, Standley, Stanyard, Swan, Strother, Thompson, Thornton, Thrope, Trelawney, Turpin, Underhill, Underwood, Wallace, Walters, Weedon, Whitherspoon, Whitten,Williams,Wilmot,Wilson, Whitaker and Yerby. These are mainly of Alabama families and their ancestors from the Carolinas and Virginia. Materials vary from one page to 200. - GNH at firstname.lastname@example.org.