Re: "Free" vs. "Freed".
Wow, this conversation has certainly come a long way since I initially responded. What an interesting line of thought this has provoked, and it's good to see the all of the different scenarios being discussed, it certainly can be helpful to those new to researching who do wonder how we arrive at some of the conclusions that we have.
My thought on the matter is that if one was free prior to the end of the Civil War, they were a free person of color. Now that person could have been free for many generations before that, or they may have been freed at some time in the previous 60 years. I think that as long as you can find them in the the 1860 census by name, they were a "free person of color".
While there are some families who were always listed as free as far back as records can be found (my EVANS family comes to mind, which Paul has wonderously been able to trace back to the 1600's in some cases), there are those which can be traced back to being emancipated by a will in the 1700s, and there are others who were free in the 1800s, but whose origins may never be found. I don't think it matters whether they were slaves at some point in time, how are we to know exactly when that was unless extensive research is done? The point is, we are all researching people we find in records listed as persons of color prior to the Civil War. Whether they were freed in 1859, or in 1620, shouldn't make a difference, we want to know who they were.