The Murder of Former Slave Manuel
For ten years Manuel had been a slave of Archibald Baynes, a planter in Caswell County, North Carolina. With emancipation, Manuel became a contract laborer. After several months of work he went to Baynes and asked for his wages, which were refused. After some words Manuel walked away and his employer shot him in the back, killing him almost instantly. Baynes was tried by a court of the occupying Union army and sentenced to hang.
A large number of local politicians and neighbors petitioned President Andrew Johnson, describing Baynes as a pillar of community and citing the state law whereby the "insolence by a colored person" should be regarded as a battery. The president referred the case to Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt, whose blistering opinion branded the crime as cold-blooded murder, the defense testimony as perjured nonsense, and the state law on "insolence" as not only wrong but also unsupported by testimony. The death sentence was approved, but apparently never carried out.
So far the story has been interesting, albeit tragic. It gets better.
The Archibald Baynes in question could be the person who married Barbara H. Morton, whose Caswell County will is dated 11 February 1896. This Archibald Baynes was born 10 October 1808 and died in 1882, all in Caswell County, North Carolina. That he owned slaves is well-documented.
In her will of 11 February 1896, the widow of Archibald Baynes (Barbara H. Morton Baynes) made the following bequest:
I give and bequeath and devise to the said Henry Baynes (Col) and Eliza Ann Richmond (Col) my House and land situated in Leasburg and also the forty acres of land adjoining the land of V L Morton and others , to be divided as follows: Henry Baynes (Col) shall have the east room, and the room above it and the basement under said east room, in my Dwelling house. Eliza Ann Richmond (Col) shall have all the balance of the Dwelling house and all the out houses, Except the stables which shall be for their equal use. And Henry Baynes (Col) and Eliza Ann Richmond (Col) shall have equal rights and benefits of the said land in the Town of Leasburg and also the forth acres.
Barbara H. Morton Baynes also left to Henry Baynes (Col) and Eliza Ann Richmond (Col) the residue of her personal estate.
Who were Henry Baynes and Eliza Ann Richmond? Were they former slaves? Were they former slaves who became household employees (servants). They were not husband and wife because the will made provisions should Eliza Ann Richmond ever marry. Were they related at all? Was one (or both) a child of the murdered slave Manuel? Was the restitution for the murder of the father?