former slave and wealthy North Carolina planter, was born a slave in Craven County, North Carolina, the son of an African Ibo woman who had been brought to America on a vessel owned by the merchant-shipper John Wright Stanly in the decade prior to the American Revolution. Described as a “dark-skinned mulatto,” he was almost certainly the son of John Wright Stanly, although his apparent father did not acknowledge paternity. As a young boy he was turned over to Alexander Stewart, who captained the ship that brought his mother from Africa, and Stewart's wife, Lydia Carruthers Stewart, who taught Stanly to read and write and arranged for him to open a barbershop in New Bern as a teenager. Intelligent, gracious, and personable, Stanly quickly became a success, and as New Bern expanded commercially, he earned a good livelihood, even as a slave. In 1795 the Stewarts petitioned ...
Melanie R. Thomas
emancipated slave and antebellum businesswoman, grew up on a tobacco plantation in Albemarle County, Virginia. Information about her parentage is scarce, but some reports suggest that Sally Thomas was of mixed racial heritage. She had two sons, John and Henry, apparently by John L. Thomas, who was the brother of her enslaver, Charles L. Thomas. Years later, she had a third son, James P. Thomas, whose father was Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice John Catron.
Following the death of her owners, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Thomas, the remaining members of the Thomas family, led by John L. Thomas, transported Sally Thomas—and about forty other servants of the family estate—to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1817 Charles Thomas s will stipulated that Sally and her two sons John and Henry remain together She feared being sold separately from her sons and worried for the safety and well ...