Roots Run Deep and Crosses both sides
By Trisha Blount Hewitt
Researching my great great grandfather, Alexander Suggs, I never would have thought I would have come across the information I found. There were a lot of unique stories in this journey.
The oral history passed down from my Uncle James (my grandmother’s oldest brother) based out of Greene County, NC. Alexander’s mother was a white woman, Miranda Suggs and father believed to be a slave on her plantation, William. His mother had him during the Civil war and gave him to slave family to protect him. He had a brother, but believed was a part of the family that raised him. Alex later took a Native American off the reservation and married her Clara Lee Suggs.
Story after Research
Records named Miranda Sugg and Wm Conner as parents of William and Alex Sugg. Alex and William retained their mother surname. From previous marriage. Miranda was found with Alex and William on the 1870 census, in Hookerton, NC. Miranda was white and Alex and William was Mulatto. William Conner was also found in Hookerton on 1870 census, with his sister Chloe and her kids.
Very interesting!!!! I will be focusing this blog on William Conner. He was also considered a mulatto in 1870. Just playing around, I looked to see if he was on the 1860 census. Low and behold he was. William was 28 and with a lady by name of Argent, who was 50 years. I will make an educated assumption, Argent is his mother. He also has brother Shadrach. William and Shade were apprentices to a carpenter in 1850 and 1860. Shade moved to Duplin County by 1870 and was a carpenter. Argent and Chloe were found in 1850 in Pitt County, NC, Burney township. Everyone was together in 1840 in Kinston, Lenoir County. They were listed under Argent Conner—4 free person and 1 white female.
Come to found out this Conner family was free since 1690. They were listed in Free African American Families in North Carolina. Elizabeth Conner, born 1690, a white woman was exiled from York Parrish, Va for having a mulatto baby. She and her children settled in Jones County, NC. We come from her son Mark Conner’s line. His child Zilphy Conner settled in Greene County and is believed to be a parent to Argent Conner.
The most interesting part is William Conner’s service in the Civil War. He was initially a confederate soldier in NC 3rd Infantry Co A, as a laundress. Unconfirmed sources state freemen of color were paid by the state of North Carolina to work for the Confederate Army. William left or escaped the Confederate Army and joined the US Colored Troop. He enlisted in Newberne, NC and was mustered into USCT 2nd Cav. On December 22, 1863, Ft Monroe, Va. In his service records was described as being 33 years old, 5 ft 8 in. tawny (copper) complexion with dark eyes and black hair, from Greene County, NC. The records also state was free person. He was promoted from Private to Sergeant to Farrier (Blacksmith). He was mustered out February 12, 1866 in Brazo Santiago, Texas. William returned to Greene County, NC and found on the 1870 census with his sister Chloe and her kids. He also wrote a letter to General Howard through the Freedman Bureau on August 1, 1867. In the letter he writes that he has not received his bounty after prior request. He turn in his documentation that he was free prior to the war and still have not received his promised bounty. He states he put a lot time and money to acquire the bounty and want to know is there really a bounty for him.
Future Research & Questions Unanswered
William is located in the 1880 census and on Alex’s marriage certificate for the last time. In 1880 and 1884 he was stated to live in Wilson County, with wife Ada. In 1894 the marriage license stated he lived in Louisa County, but unsure of location and it was hard to read on the marriage certificate.
William for right now is lost to history. Did he ever get his bounty or even a pension? Where did he moved and where is his wife & other children? What his relationship Miranda Suggs, Alex Suggs, and William Suggs? He was seen on their documents, but nothing is said about him in oral history. Did have to walk away because Miranda was white, but Miranda raised her black kids with her white kids? A very interesting tail. Below is William’s son Alex Sugg and Alex’s daughter Gertrude Sugg Blount (my great grandmother).
US Federal Census 1790-1880
US Colored Troop Service Records 1861-1865 records 258-271 (filed backwards on Ancestry.com)
US Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices 1863-1878 (record 5838 on Ancesrtry.com)
Greene County Courthouse Marriage Records
Free African American in North Carolina e-book http://www.freeafricanamericans.com/