Kinchen Liles and a man named Joe

Kinchen Liles was my 5th great-grandfather. He died in 1813 in Wake County, North Carolina. The paper trail on his probate shows one way in which enslaved people were used as an income stream for slaveholders.

Kinchen was around 47 when he died, apparently unexpectedly, as he left no will. Kinchen left behind a wife, Penelope Strickland Liles, and six children: Martha “Patsy” Liles, Wrightman Liles, Gideon Liles, Mary “Polly” Liles, Celinda “Lincy” Liles (my ancestor), and Callie Liles. Five of the six children were minors at the time.

(The following information is from “Wake County, North Carolina will, inventories and settlements of estates” at Family Search. Individual citations and more document images can be found on my public Ancestry tree.)

Kinchen’s estate inventory, taken 24 May 1813 in Wake County, lists two slaves: “one negro man Toby,” and “one negro boy Joe.” An estate sale was held in November of that same year. However, “Old Toby” and Joe were not sold, as was the usual practice. Instead, the “Widow Earp” purchased their services through January of 1815 for around $22.00.

Thomas Price, who was named guardian to Kinchen Liles children (it was common for a male relative to assume this role after a father’s death), then submitted seven more reports to the court through February of 1818. The first report includes the hire of both Toby and Joe to Mark Cole. The next six do not include Toby: presumably he died or became too old to work.

Joe continued to work for other men. John Lee, John Mitchell, and Charles King are all mentioned in the records. Joe may have had a particular project-based skill that put him in demand for “hiring out.” Perhaps he was a carpenter or blacksmith. His wages were specifically dedicated to pay for the Liles “orphans” expenses, including schooling.

Joe’s last job was for Charles King, through January of 1819. In February of 1819, Thomas Price reported that Joe had been sold for $999, with Price taking $49.95 as a sales commission.

Later records show that the profits from the sale were divided between Wrightman, Celinda, Callie and Gideon Liles. It’s unclear why Martha and Mary were left out of the equation, but that may simply be an omission in the record.

I was not able to locate the bill of sale, but it seems likely that Charles King, his most recent employer, might have purchased him. Looking briefly at wills left by various Charles Kings in the area, a Charles King of nearby Halifax County in 1826 did indeed bequeath a “negro man named Joe” to his wife during her lifetime and to his son Drew upon her death.

In 1830, Drew King’s census entry shows a male slave aged 24-35, which would be consistent with Joe being a teenage boy in 1813. So, although Joe is a very common name, it seems possible that this is the same Joe originally held by Kinchen Liles.

4 thoughts on “Kinchen Liles and a man named Joe

  1. Kelly,All I can say is, Wow! You have uncovered so much, that is will take awhile for me to process. I descend from Moses Jordan via son, Jonathan. So, that makes us cousins two ways.By the way, you are related to me on both my father’s and mother’s side. Before I delve into all the documents, what is the source of the 1823 petition? Warm Regards,Gary

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    1. Hi Gary. Good catch! I have lost the source of that petition, which I added to my tree a long time ago. I have just come back around to working on the Liles. I probably found it on Family Search under Wake County records. However, I do have a jpeg of the original document. I will email it to you now.

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  2. Have enjoyed your research, and that I am able to add Kinchen Liles to the chart as Martha’s father. Unfortunately, it appears that Penelope is his second wife, as Martha was born in 1793 some five years before the marriage in 1798. I will wager that Martha was listed as orphan in the administration because she was about 21 years old at the time of her father’s death. What say you, cousin twice over?

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    1. Hi Gary. I think it is likely that Martha was born later than 1793. She is listed as being 30-39 on Moses Jordan’s 1840 census entry, 20-29 on his 1830 entry, and 16-25 on his 1820 entry. That means her birth date leans toward around 1800, which right in line with the rest of the children. While she was married in 1813, she could have been quite young at the time. Let’s say she was born in 1799, one year after Kinchen and Penelope were married. (Or perhaps she was born in 1798 and was the reason they got married!) That would make her 14 or 15 at the time of her marriage, which happened all the time. And once she was married, she would no longer be Penelope’s dependent, so there would be no need to list her as an “orphan.” Furthermore, her guardian would be her husband, not Thomas Price, so he would not be reporting on her support to the court. So, while it is possible that there was another wife, given that there is no record of Kinchen marrying previously, I think the safest assumption is just that her age in 1850 is off by a few years.

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