Tuesday, May 22, 2007

RUN AWAY BOB


A few years ago I stumbled on this very early newspaper advertisement for a runaway slave. Although mis-identified as "Hartford County, North Carolina", it was clearly meant to read "Hertford County, North Carolina".

I sent the transcript to Alice Eley Jones, a native Murfreesboro historian who was working on a book about African-American tradesmen in North Carolina. Alice included it as part of the introduction to her book.

I think it's worth repeating:

April 16, 1767. RUN AWAY from the subscriber, near Williamsburg, last Saturday night, a Negro fellow named BOB, about 5 feet 7 inches high, about 26 years of age, was burnt when young, by which he has a scar on the wrist of his right hand, the thumb of his left hand burnt off, and the hand turns in; had on a double breasted dark coloured frieze jacket and yellow cotton breeches. He was lately brought home from Hartford [Hertford] County in North Carolina, where he has been harbored for three years past by one Van Pelt, who lives on Chinkopin creek; he passed for a free man, by the name of Edward or Edmund Tamar, and has got a wife there. He is an extraordinary sawyer, a tolerable good carpenter and currier, pretends to make shoes, and is a very good sailor. He has been gone for eight years, a part of which time he lived in Charlestown, South Carolina. He can read and write; and, as he is a very artful fellow, will probably forge a pass. All masters of vessels are hereby cautioned from carrying him out of the colony, and any person from employing him. Whoever apprehends the said fellow, and conveys him to me, shall have 3 [pounds] reward, if taken in this colony; if in North Carolina, 5 [pounds], and if in any other province, 10[pounds]

William Trebell

The Virginia Gazette.
Williamsburg [Va.]
Printed by Alexander Purdie and John Dixon.


It's a fascinating document, listing the many skills "Bob" (Edward/Edmund Tamar) possessed, a description of his clothes, and it points out that many slaves had their own names (including surnames).

With a little online digging I was able to "flesh out" some of the references.

The custom ports with their large warehouses were King's Landings. Van Pelts' on Chinquapin Creek was such a landing. It had been established by John and Jacob Van Pelt, New York Dutchmen, who began visiting Carolina around 1722. They were mariner-merchants. They bought 100 acres of land in Chinquapin Neck. John was master of the Sloop "John and Mary", built in New York 1732. This sloop was owned by John Van Pelt and Paul Richards, New York merchants. The second customs' warehouse in the vicinity of the Wiccacon River was on the Wiccacon and Catherine Creek near the present town of Harrellsville. There was a short lived settlement, four miles above Murfree's Landing on the Meherrin River that was called Pitch Landing, later known as Princeton. Afterwards, Van Pelts' on the Chinquapin Creek was called Pitch Landing and that name identifies the spot today.


And some specific information about the Van Pelts:

Captain John Van Pelt (1691-1748), his brothers, and his sons settled in this area beginning in the 1720s and 1730s. Today, this land would be found east of Bethlehem as you approach Chinkapin Bridge. His descendants gradually moved northeast of this area toward Wiccacon Creek. When they first settled in this area it was part of Bertie County until Hertford County was formed in 1759.

Captain John Van Pelt died in 1748, so "Bob" (Edward/Edmund Tamar) was more likely harbored in Hertford County by one of his sons (John or Daniel).

1 comment:

jbarnes949@aol.com said...

Where on earth did you dig up an article that old? Capt John Van Pelt was a grandfather way back so I found the aricle extremely interesting. I lived in Murfreesboro the first 4 yrs of my life but don't get back there very often anymore. I guess, according to your blog, you have now moved as well. I just happened to find the article when I googled John Van Pelt. Thanks!