Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/491

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485
NEGROES WHO OWNED SLAVES

There is a good deal of human interest to be found in many of the experiences of these colored slaveholders and in their relations with those whom they held in bondage. Rose Petepher, of the neighborhood of New Bern, N. C, was a free colored woman who was married to a slave named Richard Gasken, who had taken the name of his master. He ran away and was in the woods for years, when his wife finally bought him to take possession when she could find him; this change of owners brought him in at once. They lived together for many years afterward, raising many children whom they hired out just as slaves were hired out. Thus they all prospered. Near the town mentioned above, on their own land, some of the grandchildren are now living and doing well.

Judge William Gasken, who owned the man of whom we have just told, was thrice married, one of his wives being a daughter of Colonel McClure, of New Bern. After his death, one of the slaves, Jacob, became the property of Mrs. Gasken. This Jacob's wife was a free woman, and they had a son Jacob, then a young man and free, of course, as the child of a free woman. Aided by his mother's efforts, he managed to purchase his father at a very reasonable price as negroes were then held. All went smoothly for awhile, when young Jacob did not act as his father thought he should and his parent reproved him with fatherly love. Young Jacob was so disgruntled that he went off to a negro speculator named John Gildersleeve, who was from Long Island and was then in New Bern. This trader bought the father at a high price and at once sent him off south. Young Jacob afterward boasted that "the old man had gone to the corn fields about New Orleans where they might learn him some manners."

There was, about 1840, in the county of Mecklenburg, Va., a family of free negroes who owned slaves. Mr. George W. Brooks, of Atlanta, recalls them when he was a youth in North Carolina in the county of Person, which lay immediately on the Virginia line. There was there quite a colony of free negroes, many of them named Epps, and supposed to be descendants of the slaves set free by Mr. Epps, the brother-in-law of Thomas Jefferson. In Person County there was a free negro named Billy Mitchell, an honest man of genial disposition, who being without means, often hired himself to work for Mr. Brook's father on his tobacco farm. Mr. Brooks remembers hearing Mitchell telling his father of his trip to Mecklenburg, about thirty miles away, when and where he went courting, and told of the lands and slaves which were owned by his girl's father. He told with much humor of an incident which occurred while he was there. He went out one morning with the girl's brother to the pig pen to look at the fattening swine. He said that one of the slave boys came and got upon the pen with them; that soon he heard the girl calling her mother to "look at Jim perched up