The EVANS and WEST Family of Warren County, NC



The EVANS and WEST Families of Warren County, North Carolina

  Some of you may have seen the article I first published in 2008 on the NCGenWeb Warren County website called "Matthew Evans and Nathaniel West", which outlines my initial findings on the origins of Matthew Evans, a Free Person of Color who first appeared in the 1808 Warren County Tax List, and then in the 1810 Warren County Census. Since then, my research has been even more fruitful in proving that Matthew Evans was actually the same person as Nathaniel West, a former slave of William West, a longtime Warren and Halifax County resident and landowner, who also was a neighbor to the EVANS family. In December 1804, Mourning Evans a Free woman of color, purchased a slave named Nat from William West, for Two hundred dollars, having saved up her money for that sale, because she & Nat had been married for a number of years, and as revealed in papers filed  by 1806, they were the parents of 8 children. During Nat's years as a slave, he had apparently been allowed a fair amount of freedom by West, who had also entrusted him to conduct business as a shoemaker. While it was unusual for a Slave to be married to a Free person, it was not unheard of at that time, since laws weren't passed until later forbidding such unions. In 1806, Mourning filed petitions to emancipate her husband, and along with the help of William West, who also filed a petition in support of her request, in which he stated that  he had raised Nat from a child until he had sold him to Mourning, as well as the fact that he had intended to free him upon his own death, had he not been sold. William West was not a large slaveholder, as a matter of fact, he never owned more than 4 Slaves at any time, and it appears that as any of them died, he didn't replace them. In 1800, he had 4 Slaves, as well as 7 Other Free, living with him and his wife, Susanna, it is very likely that the 7 Free persons were Mourning and her children born up to that time. West's will in 1821, lists the names of 2 Slaves given to Moses Bennett, Juda and her child, Sally; I don't know what, if any, relationship Bennett was to William West. He also gave 2 slaves to his wife, Susanna, whose names were Benn and Jonas. When Susanna died in 1871, at the supposed age of 113, Jonas, who was then an elderly freedman, was still with her, along with his wife, Chaney, both of whom she provided for in her will. William & Susanna, who married in 1775 as stated in Susanna's application for her husband's Revolutionary War pension, do not appear to have had any children, unless they died early in life. The 1790 Warren County Census shows William West's household with 2 males under 16, 1 male over 16, and 2 females, which would seem to point to the couple having at least 3 children; however, none of them ever appear again, nor were any children mentioned in either William or Susanna's wills. As a matter of fact, Susanna left her estate to a freedman, James Verser, which was the cause of a great dispute in court by her other relatives in a file covering some 112 pages, with the decision being the overturning of the will due to the claims that Verser had been involved in a scheme to defraud the family out of their rightful legacy. I have brought all of this up because some have asked if Nat could have been the son of William West, but the answer is, I don't know. William West did not have any surviving children, and I also don't know which West family he was from. I have not currently seen any DNA matches for myself to anyone showing European WESTs in their ancestors trees.

The 1806 petitions filed for the freedom of Nathaniel, were done so even though he was already living as if he were free with his wife and children, because Mourning was in her 40's and it had occurred to her that if anything happened to her, it was possible that her husband, who was still a slave, could be sold upon her death and that some unscrupulous persons may also have made false claims about her children as being slaves, which they were not, since the status of a child was dependent upon the status of the mother. That sort of thing had happened before to free families of color. So, she wanted to ensure that they would be safe by having her husband legally emancipated by the State. She was successful in obtaining his freedom, at which time he was given the name of Nathaniel Ivins; in 1808 he first appears as a free person in the Warren County Tax List under the name of Matthew Evans, which he apparently preferred and would be known as by his descendants. Matthew Evans appeared in the 1810 Warren Co. Census, and as Matthew Evins & Evans in the 1811 & 1814 Tax Lists. Matthew Evans purchased 100 acres of land in 1814 from Caswell Drake in Warren Co, part of which was the property inherited by his 8 children upon his death in 1844. He did at times use the name of Nathaniel West, such as the case in the 1820 Census, and I did find him as Nathaniel Evans in an 1829 deed where he was mentioned by his youngest son, Isaac.  Over the years, the children of Matthew and Mourning, alternated in using the EVANS and WEST surnames; in their early Census and Apprenticeship records, they used the surname of EVANS, but by 1850, each of them started gravitating towards WEST, with the exception of Moses Evans, born abt 1790, who lived in Halifax County, and whose family continued with the EVANS surname. The other 2 sons were Henry, b.1783, who was called Henry West by 1850, never married, and didn't have any children by the time he died in 1862; and Isaac, who is the best known because his descendants are the ones who carry the WEST surname as Free People of Color living in Warren, Franklin, and Nash Counties. 

A recap of the children of Matthew & Mourning Evans:

  1. Lucretia (1782-bef 1870); married in 1809, Allen Green, son of Thomas & Priscilla Green, former slaves freed in 1798.
  2. Henry (1783-1862).
  3. Fanney, 1785,married Kinchen Toney (1782-1852), son of John Toney & Martha Carpenter.
  4. Celia, 1786, married Matthew Toney (1784-aft 1860), son of John Toney & Martha Carpenter. Matthew moved to Tennessee.
  5. Moses Mechan Evans (1790-bef 1870), married Elizabeth Toney (1810-aft 1880).
  6. Nancy Evans (1795-bef 1867) married James Green (1778-1867), former slave freed before 1830, by John Christmas Green; J.C.Green,b.1777, the son of William Green & Mary Christmas, moved his family to Dallas Co, Arkansas in 1848.
  7. Patience (1797-bef 1870) married in 1823, David Marshall (1770-bef 1860); family moved to Dane Co, Wisconsin by 1850.
  8. Isaac (1805-bef 1880), married in 1825 to Winifred Dales (1806-1880) daughter of William Dales & Sally Evans.

And a note about the GREEN family, who I've recently seen some trees trying to identify Priscilla Green as someone surnamed Andrews. WRONG! Thomas & Priscilla Green, both born ca 1760, were former slaves of the WILLIAMS family of Warren Co., who were freed in 1798, when the family were given the GREEN surname. Read the entire story about Thomas Green Family.

Matthew Evans died in 1844, at which time the division of his land was the first listing of the names of all of his children. Prior to that, I have found only a few indications tying them to one another, which makes the Estate record extremely important in identifying each of them. Luckily, the children were free, and they can be found in the same records that anyone who was a free person would be included in. For instance, Henry Evans was bonded out to serve an apprenticeship in 1794, which not only gave his age, but also stated that he was the son of Mourning Evans. It was rare to find a parents name in their records, but most of the children of Matthew & Mourning, are found in the marriage records of Warren, Halifax and Franklin Counties, and much of their lives can be followed with their spouses. There is no record of when Mourning Evans died, however, one can make a guess by viewing Matthew's Census records, where in 1820 (as Nathaniel West), the household included a female over 45, while in 1830, only a female younger than 36 years old, plus a young boy, were living with Matthew. This would likely be an indication that Mourning died between 1820 and 1830; the younger female was probably a daughter or granddaughter, one thought that I have is that it could have been their daughter, Patience, who had married in 1823, however, there is no free female in her husband's household in 1830.   All of Matthew and Mourning's children were married, with families of their own by 1830. They and their families can be followed in my tree: Family of Matthew Evans


Continue on to the next page to view transcriptions and images of records about Nathaniel/Matthew Evans and Mourning Evans, as well of those concerning their children.



2018 to present. This website and all material on it are the property of Deloris Williams. You may use these records for personal research only, no materials on this website is to be reproduced or republished to a commercial website  or used for commercial purposes. Last updated 04/15/2021