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AfriGeneas Brick Wall Forum

Re: emancipated Mendenhalls of NC

This may be of little help... but it is interesting reading:

A further example at a later date from the biography of Nereus Mendenhall (descendant of Aaron & Rose Pearson Mendenhall) illustrates the difficulties encountered in North Carolina. It speaks of George Mendenhall, grandfather of Nereus. "He was a lawyer of distinction in the State...greatly interested in everything which tended to an improved and enlightened state and community...He married Eliza Dunn, a woman of intelligence and refinement, but the heir to a large number of Negro slaves. For this act he was promptly disowned and never came back into the Quaker fold. Both he and his wife were opposed to slavery and were quite ready to arrange for the freedom of those belonging to them as soon as this could be done...this was a difficult thing for the masters and a perilous thing for the Negroes. The only safe way was to transport them to free soil, and even then to have left them there to provide for themselves would have been a cruelty...The Negro population on the estate grew with wonderful rapidity. They were well fed, well clothed, and each family had its own cabin on the bluff down the river. George Mendenhall never sold a slave, but he bought several who came to him pleading that he would not allow them to be put up at public auction and very likely sent into the more southern states...After a few years George Mendenhall married as his second wife, Delphina E. Gardner...She at once entered into her husband's plans for liberating the slaves. Group by group, as the slaves could be made ready without disrupting family units, they personally took them to Ohio and stayed with them there until each one was secure in some sustaining occupation.

The biography further tells of little Nereus Mendenhall overhearing his grandfather's visitors discussing the horrors of the slave trade. When he grew up he was anti-slavery, as was his wife, and distributed books against slavery. He was summoned to appear before the bar of justice in the town of Greensboro for this act. His friends helped his wife collect the books and burn them.

For a long time the Yearly Meeting in North Carolina took protective custody of slaves but then there was the question of what to do with them. Over time a system evolved whereby Quakers traveling to free territory took "ownership" and transported them to free territory and helped them establish themselves. No accurate number of liberation remains but it is estimated at about two thousand.

New GardenFriends Meeting by Hiram Hilty, 1983, pp. 48-49, tells us that "the underground railroad and the Manumission and Colonization Society of North Carolina were both tools of Guilford County Quakers. Settlement of freed slaves was made in Haiti and Liberia, with Guilford Quakers involved all the time. One shipload of freedmen was diverted to New Orleans by a greedy captain, who sold them back into slavery. One of the slaves had been taught to write by the Quakers, and he succeeded in sending back a letter. Thereafter, a representative of the Quakers was on every ship until the people were landed in a safe port."

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On another note, Art Thomas once wrote to me to say that he thought the Champaign County Mendenhalls and the Hamlins of the same county were related -- or intermarried. I do find it noteworthy that, if you look at the
1860 Census, North Lewisburg/Champaign County
Mendenhall women have located practically next door to each of the two William Hamlins listed.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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