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Our History


James Henry Jones was born in Plymouth, North Carolina in 1845. His mother died while he was very young, and he was brought up by his blind grandmother. His father was said to be an Irish sailor. They lived in a small house near a corner store that his grandmother often sent him to buy groceries. The store owner gained his confidence by promising to give him a nice suit and have a good time.


One day the storekeeper told him to go home, go to bed and wait until his grandmother went to sleep, then come to the window and "I will be there to take you on a trip." Not only did he promise him a suit, but that he would give him a pocketful of money, which turned out to be pennies.

James Henry said he remembered getting into a boat, having his hands in the water, and being transferred from the boat and going to town. It may have been Tarboro, N.C. The town was in Edgecombe County. This is where he was sold.

A man named Dough Taylor was the highest bidder, and he took him home with him. Dough Taylor's wife's name was Fanny, and they had one son named John Taylor and one daughter named Hattie Taylor.

James Henry pleaded with Dough Taylor to let him go because he was born free. His wife believed him, but Dough Taylor said he was lying.

James Henry's name was changed from James Henry Jones to Henry Taylor. He was about the same age as John Taylor and they became friends. James Henry was ten years old when he was sold. He worked as a slave for nine years.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, James Henry was 19 years old. He had to be 21 to be free. He was to stay with his master until he was 21 years old. He had a friend named Wright Mayo who was working for pay. James Henry decided to run away. To a master this was a great crime, but James Henry did run away.

He hired himself out to a man named Carroll Taylor. Dough Taylor found out where he was working and told Carroll Taylor that he could not keep him because James Henry was bound over to him for two more years. Carroll Taylor was afraid and told Dough that he could have James Henry. Carroll told Dough to come in the morning and he would have James Henry ready. The next morning Carroll Taylor told James Henry to go in the barn and shuck some corn to feed the horses. When James Henry went into the barn, Carroll Taylor closed the door and kept him there until Dough Taylor came.

When Dough Taylor came he brought a rope. They tied James Henry down in a buggy and carried him down to Roberson Cross Road, tried him to a tree, took his shirt off and gave him 20 lashes with a bull whip. They took him to Aunt Hattie (she worked for Dough Taylor). Everybody, after they were freed was called Uncle or Aunt. When she saw James Henry, the blood had dried so hard she had to take lard to grease his back to get his shirt off.

 When his friend heard about it, he went to the authorities and told them what had happened. Dough Taylor was brought before the court, and was tried and found guilty. It was said he had to pay a big fine for the crime he had committed. As a result James Henry was set free.

James Henry started seeing a young woman named Pennie Watson. She was the sister of Hattie Watson, and they later were married.  James' friend Charles Jones married Hattie Watson, his wife's sister. The mother of Hattie and Pennie Watson was Hansh Watson.

Pennie often spoke of her granddaddy Frank and one of  Samuel's brother was named Frank after the maternal grandfather Frank. Pennie was 12 years old when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

The children's names are:

  1. Wilson

  2. John Henry

  3. Robert

  4. David

  5. Joseph

  6. Moses

  7. Frank

  8. Sally

  9. Edward Thames

  10. Harvey

  11. Samuel

  12. James Walter

  13. Hattie

This story was originally written by Reverend Samuel Taylor Sr., on February 7th, 1977.

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