The beauty of genealogy is that one never knows what will pop up during research. The thrill of busting brick walls or finding an elusive ancestor has led me to break out into a happy dance or two at my desk. I’m not ashamed.
While working on my most recent labor of love one of those genealogical gems presented itself. The result was a jaw-dropping moment of awe and wonder for this gal (as well as for my client), when I found a 1769 advertisement stating William Hood had runaway from his “subscriber.”
The client for whom I was researching is descended from William Hood who died in Jennings County, Indiana, 8 April 1829.(1) William was a free man of color, listed multiple times as a “mulatto.” (1786 Caswell County, North Carolina Census, as well as the 1800 Rockingham County, North Carolina Census).
Born in Charles City, Virginia, about 1750, William was “bound-out” (likely indentured) to local ship captain Henry Minson at the age of nine.(2) William had been on at least two sea voyages by the time he was sixteen; the age at which he decided the indentured life was not for him, and he ran away from Captain Minson. (3) William was picked up in Halifax County, North Carolina, two months later. Virginia law at the time stated boys were under their indentures until the age of thirty-one.(4) In 1765, that law was changed to the age of twenty-one, so it’s likely William was back in his indenture for another five years after his escape and subsequent capture. (5)
Later, William went south to Caswell County, North Carolina, and eventually Rockingham, North Carolina, where he started a family of his own and lived as a free man of color.
William was a Revolutionary War veteran; he enlisted in the 4th North Carolina Regiment of the Continental Army prior to the Battle of Guilford (Guildford Courthouse, North Carolina, 15 Mar 1781) and served for a period of 18 months to two years.(6)
William and his sons eventually left North Carolina for a lengthy, dangerous trek through the untamed forests of the then western territories, to Jefferson County, Indiana, in about 1807 — nine years before Indiana achieved statehood. William Hood was a pioneer of that state and later removed himself and his family to Jennings County, Indiana, about 1819.
William applied for a Revolutionary War pension at the age of about sixty-six, citing his “reduced circumstances,” and that he “stands in need of the assistance of his country for support.” (7) William also suffered from rheumatism, making it difficult for him to farm his land.
On 8 April 1829, William Hood’s remarkable life came to an end. His wife Catherine had a difficult time collecting her survivor’s pension after his death, but at the age of 70, in 1855, she was finally awarded the money.
On 13 Feb 2013, the General Assembly of North Carolina issued a joint resolution to honor the slaves and free men of color who participated in the American Revolution. William Hood’s name was on this resolution.(8)
- Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina Vol. 1, Paul Heinegg, Genealogical Publishing Co., 2005, pg. 649, via Google Books.
- An Introduction to the 1995 Edition of June Guild’s Black Laws of Virginia by Joan W. Peters, via June Guild’s Black Laws of Virginia, 2005, via website http://www.balchfriends.org/glimpse/jpetersintrobklaws.htm, retrieved 11 Jan 2016.
- Southern Campaigns American Revolution Pension Statements and Rosters, Pension Application of William Hood, W25781, Catharine Hood, NC, Transcribed and annotated by C. Leon Harris. Revised 1 July 2015. http://revwarapps.org/w25781.pdf, retrieved 11 Jan 2016.
- General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2013, House Joint Resolution 113, Sponsors: Representatives Gill, Michaux, L. Hall, and Horn (Primary Sponsors), February 18, 2013, Joint Resolution honoring North Carolina’s African-American Revolutionary War Patriots and Supporting the Proposed National Liberty Memorial, http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H113v1.pdf, retrieved 11 Jan 2016.