North Carolina Freedman to the Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Superintendent of the Subdistrict of Weldon, North Carolina

Rich Square N.C.  May 16th 1867.

My dear Sir:  I write to ask you to favor me with a few lines. giving you opinion as to the work of my Wife (col) and two oldest sons (col), who worked for Thos Bolden (white) of this place year before last, after we were all declared free.  Bolden promised to give my wife and one of my sons their last years provisions as pay for their work the year before, and whatever was right for the other son he promised to pay me in cash.

He kept them on until 29th of Sep. after they had made a crop for him and then drove them away without a cause, and has refused to make a settlement of any kind with me.

There was but one other hand on his place regularly that year but my wife & sons. and they worked hard and made a good crop for him and have never received even a stitch of clothes for their work.

What he pretended to get mad about when he drove them away, was this.  I went hunting one night and catched a coon. and gave it to my boy to take to his mother.  She cooked it and sent some of it into Boldens little children, and beause she did not send it all in, Bolden got mad and drove them away.

My sons were 16 & 14 years old at that time.

Now if you will be so kind as to let me know if there is not some way to get pay for their work, it will greatly oblige Your humble Servt

Wilson Maggett (Col.)

Direct Rich Square  Northampton Co N.C.

Wilson Maggett to Capt Foot, 16 May 1867, Letters Received, series 2666, Halifax NC Assistant Superintendent, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives. The elements of the address at the end of the letter have been run together on a single line. By an endorsement of May 21, 1867, the assistant superintendent, Lieutenant John M. Foote, returned Maggett's letter to him with the information that “cases of this kind must now be settled by the civil authorities.” “You must warrant this man for the wages due,” he advised the freedman, “fix the amount at a fair price for the time. Lay your case before some Magistrate who will deal fairly & request him to report his action to me.” Maggett followed Lieutenant Foote's instructions, but to no avail. An unsigned notation dated September 28, 1867, indicates that he was again seeking assistance from the Freedmen's Bureau after having put the claim “in the hands of two constables neither of whom have taken any action.” He thought, however, that a justice of the peace named Smallwood “would have done him justice if the constables had ‘returned’ it.” By an endorsement of October 7, 1867, Lieutenant Foote–now stationed at Plymouth, North Carolina, as subassistant commissioner of Subdistrict No. 1–referred the case to the assistant subassistant commissioner at Murfreesboro (near Rich Square), with instructions to “take such action as will secure the payment of this claim if it is a just one,” and, if the civil authorities refused to act, to “adjudicate the claim himself.” Beneath that endorsement appears the following notation: “setled by civil authorities Nov 30th 1867.”

Published in Land and Labor, 1865, pp. 794–95.