New Bern-Craven County
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Historical Reminiscences

[From: New Bern Weekly Journal, December 27, 1904]
Col. John D. Whitford Fourth Article on New New Bern and Vicinity.

Soon after this act he went to note shaving and speculating, of course white men with money were behind him as more will be said in regard to this Stanly further on.

Will now mention here Moses Kennedy a slave born at Bellair when that property was the Fonvilles. He was afterwards inherited by John Stanly’s wife. Mr. Stanly, to have a barber at hand, had Moses make one with John Carruthers Stanly. Then this shop was occupied in town by John Carruthers, John Carruthers Stanly and Moses Kennedy and located where is now Mr. T.A. Henry’s drug store. As time moved on Moses through the effort of his master was emancipated by the legislature and after that act, though not claiming it the old slave gave the old master unstintedly all his service that would be allowed in the Stanly family, and was at Mr. Stanly’s side day and night form the day he was stricken down with paralysis in the Legislature of North Carolina in January 1827 until his death the 22nd of August 1833. Moses for 11 years was a tenant of the writer on a small house he had owned himself on ground now the south west corner of Mr. James Howard’s lot which his dwelling house covers.

Hon. Edward Stanly did not forget his father’s old slave and in his will left Moses a life interest in the house on the corner of Broad and George Sts, in which is the Baptist Tabernacle Church. This kindness from Governor Stanly enabled Moses to secure comforts in his last days that he would not otherwise have had. This man over and over again told the writer that in the days of his greatest prosperity John Carruthers Stanly had sixty-four slaves and about forty one free negroes bound to him. We knew he owned two plantations, the one before referred to near Bellair and one on Trent River about six miles above New Bern called Lion Pasture. In this tract there are about six hundred acres cleared land and as much as or more that has never been cultivated. That plantation is now owned by Mr. Stephen Isler of Kinston. Near this place was John Stanly[‘s] raccoon plantation with about eight hundred or a thousand acres cleared which is perhaps not half the acres in the tract. Mr. Hardy Whitford is now the proprietor.

This splendid plantation well stocked with negroes came to John Stanly down from the Fonville and Franks through his wife and all lost by the inattention or incapacity of his agents after his illness and before his own death but the knowledge of the loss was fortunately never known to him. In addition to the property mentioned John Carruthers Stanly built and owned at one time the home of Dr. Street so transformed and improved, on Johnson Street, and again he built and owned on the corner of Hancock and New Streets the house so well known as the Bishop residence. I think Captain Crapon of the A.C.L. is now occupying it, and still he again the Methodist Parsonage near the old church Stanly had erected after he left it as a residence it was enlarged. He finally died in a small house on New St which after his own death and the death of his two daughters, Catherine and Frances, was pulled down and on the lot was erected the mansion of Mr. W.M. Watson, the very efficient and popular Clerk of the Superior Court.

The above two colored women held slaves up to the time of the Civil War. They had a brother, John Stewart Stanly, who also held slaves up to the war. He lived in a house next east of the old office of the president of the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad on Queen street. We are quite confident Albert, the old servant of the Atlantic depot, was intimate with one of John Stewart Stanly’s slaves, Abrom, that cut and sawed wood about town. Yes, yes, master and mistress from these slaves seemingly came as willingly as if the owners had been white, and John Carruthers Stanly or his daughters would have reluctantly met a negro in equality or entertained one in their house as would have William Gaston or John Stanly or any other respectable white person in the town of New Bern. John Carruthers Stanly was never cruel to his slaves but an exacting task master. It is a fact some of them were lighter in color than he was himself or his children. His wife was even darker than her husband, so it is said. The writer never knew her. We do know, however, that some of the children were darker than others in the family. There were in it twins, Joe and Ben; the latter was dark and the former about the color of his father, and he was allowed to play on the Academy green in the games with the white boys, though did not go to school with them. There were others of these Stanlys: Alexander, an excellent bookkeeper, and was employed in some of the stores. They all, except those mentioned dying here, drifted North long before the war.

It should not be omitted here that the Stanly women were devout Presbyterians, their father being one and following his old mistress Mrs. Lydia Stewart. Often in their day could John C. Stanly be seen on the street with her holding her in her feebleness on his arm for support, and always when she could attend church would he be her escort, though did not sit with her in church. His pew for himself and family was the first one inside on the left of the west aisle. In size John Carruthers Stanly was bout middle height, rather heavy or stocky, was deliberate in speech, though not slow. He stepped with a slight swing of the body, and was naturally dignified. Like Moses with his old master he was with his old mistress, faithful to the end.

In New Bern were other negro slave owners and some almost as prominent as the Stanlys. We may in the future say something about them.


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