Portsmouth, Virginia: The Murder of Richard Billings (1916)

Recently, while combing through newspaper archives, I came across a terrible story about the senseless robbery and murder of Richard Billings, a young and enterprising resident of Portsmouth, Virginia.

Richard Billings, a colored chauffeur, was murdered by two white men, who hired his car early Wednesday night for a drive into the country near Norfolk. Billings’ body with a bullet hole through the head, was found on the roadside, six miles from Suffolk, and between that place and Beaman Station, yesterday. The car, a new one, is missing. The object of the murder, evidently was robbery

The Alexandria Gazette, June 17, 1916

Craven County, North Carolina: Rev. Moses W. Wynn, 2nd U. S. Colored Cavalry, New Bern

Gravestone of QMS Moses Warren Wynn, New Bern National Cemetery, New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina. Photo: Find-aGrave user wanda parks

I came across an interesting article yesterday in the New York Age, and as is usual, it was found while on the hunt for something else. The article concerns Civil War veteran, and later, evangelist and author, Moses Warren Wynn, member of Company B, 2nd Regiment, U. S. Colored Cavalry, born enslaved in Tyrrell County, North Carolina.

Chowan County, North Carolina: 1st Sgt. Haywood B. Pettigrew, 2nd U. S. Colored Cavalry, Edenton

Gravestone of 1st Sgt. Haywood B. Pettigrew. Vine Oak Cemetery, Edenton, Chowan County, North Carolina. Photo: Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.

1st Sgt. Haywood B. Pettigrew, of Company B, 2nd Regiment, U. S. Colored Cavalry, was born on September 4,1845, in Tyrrell County, North Carolina. He enlisted at the age of eighteen on February 1, 1864, at Fort Monroe, Virginia. In his enlistment record, he was described as five feet, nine inches tall, with a “light” complexion, black eyes and hair. By occupation, 1st Sgt. Pettigrew was listed as a laborer. He mustered in on February 8, 1864, at Fort Monroe, and was appointed Sergeant later that afternoon. In December, 1864, he was appointed First Sergeant.1

From “A New Map of the State of North Carolina by J.L. Hazzard “(1859). Chowan and Tyrrell counties are indicated in red. Source: North Carolina Map, UNC-CH

Franklin County, North Carolina: Reclaiming self, the case of Alfred Collins Harris

Alfred Collins Harris, Raleigh, North Carolina. Date unknown. Photo courtesy: rejoice06

Alfred Collins Harris was born enslaved on February 22, 1849, near Louisburg, Franklin County, North Carolina. He was the son of William D. Harris (1815-1862), white, and Chloe Cope, African American, who was born enslaved, date unknown. On October 29, 1891, Alfred filed a petition in Franklin County Court, North Carolina, to legally change his surname to that of his biological father, William D. Harris.