AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
Re: FPOC move from S.C. to Mississippi 1820 - 1840
In Response To: FPOC move from S.C. to Mississippi 1820 - 1840 ()
Who were these settlers living on the Pee Dee in this time period who would later be called Melungeons, Lumbee, Redbones, and identified as Portuguese? Our first and probably most important case is that of Solomon Bolton.
Solomon was the son of Spencer Bolton who according to military records was born in 1735 on the Pee Dee River. Spencer and probably his brother Solomon Bolton were living in Georgetown, South Carolina [later would become Marion County] in 1790. In 1794 South Carolina imposed a pole tax on ‘all free Negroes, Mustee, and Mulatoes,” Spencer and Solomon Bolton both signed a petition to repeal the act that was ‘so truly morifiying to your distressed petitioners.”
By 1860 this family had removed to the Sale Creek area of Hamilton County, Tennessee where they were known as ‘Malungeons,’ along with the Shoemake, Perkins, Goins, Mourning, Manley and ‘others.’ The trial which arose when the granddaughter of Spencer Bolton married into a fairly wealthy family gave birth to a daughter and died shortly afterwords. Her daughter, Martha Bolton Carter, would become the center of this case which was known as the ‘Romantic Melungeon Case.” Evidence was presented that showed the Bolton had ‘negro blood’ but many of their neighbors from South Carolina, Marion and Hamilton Counties of Tennessee testified Solomon Bolton’s family were Portuguese or Spanish.
One of the most convincing was the Reverend D. D. Scruggs who testified under oath;
Q. If you ever resided in Spartanburg District, South Carolina, state when and how long you resided there?
Q. State whether or not you were acquainted with a man named Spencer Bolton in Spartanburg District So. Ca.?
Q. State to what race of people Bolton belonged, and state fully all the facts in connection with your acquaintance with him and his family?
A. He belonged to the Spanish race of people I think. I am positive that it was either Spanish or Portugese. I was Tax Collector in the District at one time and amongst other things I was required to levy a per capita tax on all Negroes and I recollect distinctly that it was not levied by me upon him. He, Bolton was a dark skinned man with very straight hair and long nosed, thin visaged man-At the time referred to when I was tax collector, some parties reported to me that Bolton was of mixed blood. Thereupon I proceeded to investigate the matter by calling in three citizens living in his neighborhood, among whom were a Mr. Young, Mr. Miles, and other to assist me in deciding the question; the decision was in favor of Bolton, to the effect he had no Negro blood in him.
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