PETERSBURG AND THE ATLANTIC WORLD
LOCAL HISTORY IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT
PETERSBURG'S BLACK PATRIOT VETERANS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

This list of African Americans in Petersburg who petitioned for pensions as veterans of the American Revolution is from Paul Heinegg's collection: http://www.freeafricanamericans.com/revolution.htm . Heinegg's book, Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware , is available for purchase as well available digitally .

John Chavis enlisted in the Fifth Virginia Regiment in December 1778 and served for three years. Captain Mayo Carrington, in a bounty warrant written in March 1783, certified that Chavis had "faithfully fulfilled [his duties] and is thereby entitled to all immunities granted to three year soldiers" [Mecklenburg County Legislative Petition of 14 December 1820]. On 20 April 1818 his sons John, Charles, and Randolph Chavis of Mecklenburg County gave their power of attorney to Melchizedek Roffe to collect money due to them from the State Treasurer for their father's service in the Revolution [Virginia Genealogist, p.153; Mecklenburg County DB 17:218-9]. William O. Goode, former member of the General Assembly from Mecklenburg County, wrote a letter on 12 January 1836 in support of the petition to the Legislature made by his son Randall. Goode stated that John and his brother Anthony Chavis were wagoners in the Revolution who were issued certificates of public debt at the end of the war, about 21 pounds for Anthony (signed by Captain Young) and 89 pounds for John (signed by Captain Carrington). These certificates were burnt in a fire in the Petersburg home of Charles Watts who was John Chavers' brother-in-law according to the testimony of Thomas Evans who had been a resident of Petersburg at the time of the fire [Mecklenburg County Legislative Petitions of 14 December 1820 and 19 January 1836, LVA].

Charles Evans was listed as a "yellow" complexioned soldier, born in Petersburg and living in Mecklenburg County when he enlisted in the Revolution [NSDAR, African American Patriots, 149].

John Harris was a "yellow" complexioned soldier born in Prince George County who enlisted as a substitute in the Revolution in Dinwiddie County [NSDAR, African American Patriots, 150]. He was a "Mulatto" taxable in Dinwiddie County in 1790 and 1792 and a "free" taxable from 1794 to 1801 when he was listed as a cooper in the same district (Braddock Goodwyn's) as another "free" John Harris and a "free" Andrew Harris [PPTL 1801 B, p.7]. He was called a "free man of Colour" on 27 April 1818 when he made a declaration in Prince George County to obtain a pension for his services, stating that he enlisted in 1777 in the 15th Virginia Regiment. He was taken from the regiment and made a servant to President Monroe who was then the major of horse and aide-de-camp to Lord Sterling. He made a second declaration on 18 May 1821 in Petersburg court, stating that he was about sixty-nine years old and residing in Dinwiddie County in the immediate vicinity of Petersburg. He was a cooper by trade and his family consisted of himself and four children: three boys and a girl [M805-401, frame 0640].

Another John Harris was a soldier who enlisted in the Revolution in Petersburg. His children were living in Wilkes County, North Carolina, on 3 July 1852 when they applied for a pension for his services as a drummer. They declared that he and their mother Mary Walker were married by the Episcopal Minister in Dinwiddie County in October or November 1785. They moved to Randolph County, North Carolina, near the old courthouse, called Randolph Cross Roads, and lived there for five or six years, and then moved to Rowan County near Lexington (Davidson County) where their father died on 20 April 1806 [CR 104.923.2 by NCGSJ V:251-2].

Thomas Lively was taxable in Chesterfield County from 1793 to 1811, a "Mulatto" living with his 2 children on James Scott's land in 1809 and 1811 [PPTL, 1786-1811, frames 162, 198, 268, 301, 374, 563, 689, 738]. He was a "man of Colour," eighty four years of age on 31 May 1820 when he made a declaration in Petersburg to obtain a pension for his services in the Revolution, stating that he enlisted in Chesterfield County in the 5th Virginia Regiment in 1777. On 27 August 1820 his family consisted of his twenty-three-year-old daughter Sally Freeman, her twenty-seven-year-old husband Kit Freeman and their seven-year-old son James [M804-1573, frame 0042].

Francis Morris was a "yellow" complexioned man born in Henrico County who was living in Petersburg when he was listed in the size roll of troops who enlisted at Chesterfield Courthouse [The Chesterfield Supplement cited by NSDAR, African American Patriots, 151].

Jesse Scott registered in Petersburg on 16 August 1794: a light Mulatto man five feet six & 1/2 inches high who served as a Soldier & a free man during the American Revolution about thirty four years old [Register of Free Negroes 1794-1819, no. 9].

William Scott registered in Petersburg on 16 August 1794: a light Mulatto man five feet six inches high, about forty one years old, who served in the American Army during the Revolution [Register of Free Negroes 1794-1819, no. 10].

Reuben Byrd applied for a pension in Powhatan County on 15 June 1820 at the age of fifty-six years. He testified that he had enlisted in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and served in Captain James Gunn's regiment of dragoons. Benjamin Sublett testified that he met Reuben, a sixteen or seventeen-year-old "Mulatto boy," while serving in the Revolution in May 1780. Gabriel Gray testified that Reuben served as "Boman" for his brother Lieutenant William Gray. In 1820 Reuben's family consisted of his 37 year-old wife and a seven-year-old girl [M804-243, frame 0362]. He was head of a Petersburg household of 5 "other free" in 1810 [VA:121b]. He registered in Petersburg on 9 June 1810: a brown Mulatto man, five feet seven inches high, forty seven years old, born free in Essex County, a stone mason [Register of Free Negroes 1794-1819, no. 576].

Dempsey Stewart, born about 1764, enlisted in the 1st North Carolina Regiment for eighteen months while residing in Northampton County, North Carolina. He was taxable in Meherrin Parish, Brunswick County, Virginia, from 1793 to 1815: listed as a "Free Person of Colour" in 1810 and 1811, a "Free Negro" from 1813 to 1815 [PPTL 1782-1798, frames 401, 497, 543; 1799-1815, frames 197, 259, 295, 349, 394, 478, 520, 559, 637, 675, 733]. He registered in Petersburg on 9 November 1805: a brown Free Negro man, five feet ten inches high, thin made, about forty one years old, Born free p. register from the Clk of Brunswick County [Register of Free Negroes 1794-1819, no. 368]. He was head of a Free Town, Brunswick County household of 4 "other free" in 1810 [VA:770], 2 "free colored" over forty-five years old in 1820 [VA:670], and 5 in 1830 [VA:249]. He was about fifty-seven years old on 27 January 1823 when he made a declaration in Brunswick County court, stating that he had entered the service in 1782, that his property included 60 acres of land, and that his family consisted of his wife who was about fifty-six [M804-2290, frame 0162].

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