AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
Re: Tabitha (Evans) Sawyer
In Response To: Re: Evans Surname ()
Tabitha (Evans) Sawyer, her husband, Solomon Sawyer, and several of their grandchildren, are all buried on the property designated as an historic site, Horne Creek Living Historical Farm, in Pinnacle, Surry County, NC. The site's caretakers emailed as much information as they had as to why the Sawyer family members are buried there, and their decades-long connection to the white Hauser family that once owned most of the land:
In 1842, the area now comprising the northern portion of Horne Creek Farm was purchased by Solomon Sawyers (also spelled Soyars) (1798-1880) and his wife Tabitha (1807 – 1910), a couple of mixed ancestory (Black, White, and Native American). In an act rare for the time, Sawyers bought 50 acres of land adjoining John Hauser’s for the sum of $75.00. By 1860, the farm’s value had increased to $250.00 and included one horse, three cattle, 16 hogs, and nearly 20 acres of corn, rye, wheat, and potatoes. During the next two decades the family also began raising an oat crop, increased production of corn, and established a 100-tree apple orchard.
At Solomon Sawyer’s death in 1880, his son Adam ( 1850 - 1943) took over operation of the farm. Although he never learned to read nor write and his wife Lettie could barely read the Bible, they both understood the necessity of education. Instrumental in the establishment of Stony Ridge Colored School in 1885, Adam served for several years on the school board. Their son Dalton became one of the first school teachers at the school.
The mutual friendship and respect between the Hauser and Sawyers families was lifelong. This is attested to by the fact that they often “traded off” work and that five of Adam Sawyers children are buried in the Hauser cemetery.
Quote to Use for the Sawyers Family:
Our neighbor, [Adam] Sawyer, had about four or five children to die young. And he buried them all in that graveyard [the Hauser graveyard] down behind the barn. I can remember on Good Friday he would fast and come down and clean off them graves. . .
"The Sawyer Family
Speaking of the discrimination and hardship experienced by free persons of color during the years before the Civil War, E.L. Cundiff remembered things he had heard from his grandmother.
“[Free blacks] were the poorest people of the country. They had to live off the sap of a tree...[yet] they had the pride...They lived [and worked] harder than anybody in the world...If you didn’t have a fair color, it didn’t matter a doggone if you were Indian or black...[you] were classified...with this darker race of people. They just didn’t hardly make it.”
In 1830, the same year John Hauser came to Shoals from Bethania, thirty-two-year-old Solomon Sawyer came to the area from Caswell County. A man of mixed racial lineage including Native American and African, Solomon was a free man and proud of his heritage. He made his home on property adjacent to the Hauser farm, and found seasonal work on the Boyden Plantation. Within the year he had taken as his wife Tabitha Evans, a light-skinned free, black woman. While working on the Boyden Plantation, Solomon and Tabitha were not paid with money but with “wheat or corn or meal.” As free blacks, the Sawyers had a difficult time just to survive.
On September 21, 1852, Solomon purchased from Elijah Warden fifty acres of farm land “on the waters of Horne Creek near the Big Yadkin River” for seventy-five dollars. There he put up a cozy log home and planted one of the largest apple orchards in the town. He and Tabitha raised ten children: six daughters and four sons. At the turn of the century their son Adam and their daughter Jane (Cundiff) lived in Shoals.
Adam Sawyer (1850 - 1942)
Adam Sawyer was fifty years old in 1900, a well-built stocky man, about five feet, six inches tall. He was known to be stern with his misbehaving children or grandchildren, but Adam was a gentle, tender-hearted man of good humor who enjoyed telling jokes and playing tricks. Four of his young sons are buried in the Hauser family cemetery. Throughout his life Adam cared tenderly for the graves of his dead children. Even into old age he skipped breakfast on Good Friday, spending that time in prayer and grooming the little plots where his dead sons rested.
Although Adam had never learned to read nor write and his wife Lettie could barely read the Bible, they both understood the necessity of education. Instrumental in the establishment of the Stony Ridge Colored School in 1885, Adam served for several years on the school board. His son Dalton was one of the first teachers at the school.
In 1913 Adam sold the property that he had inherited from his parents to the Hauser family."
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