Miles Bembry Part III: 1810-1819

Finally getting back to writing about old Miles Bembry! The previous post, taking his biography up to 1810 can be found here. It ended with Miles’ purchases of several tracts of land in Edgecombe County in preparation for his move there.

By September, 1810, Miles and his wife Nancy Ann Bryan had settled just north of Tarboro in Edgecombe County. They sold nearly all their Martin County land to John Mayo, likely the father of Miles II’s wife, Marina Mayo.

Edgecombe County Deed Book:

Miles Bembery and wife Nancy Bembery to John W. Mayo (Edgecombe), 1810, 1300 dollars, 525 acres. 

Land lying on Cain’s branch beginning at the mouth of a small branch in said Cain’s branch along various courses to Jones corner then along Jones line along various courses to the northwest side of Cain’s branch to a line of marked trees supposed to be Bryant’s line then along various courses of Caine’s branch to the first station. 

Miles Bembery (seal), Ann (x) Bembery (seal) Wit: John Hyman and Jonathan Cherry. Sept. term in court 1810, by Mills Bembery. Verified by examination of Ann Bembery by E. Slade and Cotton Powell, JP. 

Around the same time, they sold an additional 100 acres to John “O’Cain,” who is almost certainly John Cain, a relative of Ann Bryan. (This brings the total land sold to 625 acres, or 225 acres more than I have records of purchases for to date. The missing acres must be accounted for in deeds or wills somewhere!)

Miles Bembery to John O’Cain 8th September 1810, 100 pounds, 100 acres. 

1.) beginning at a pine in Jonathan Cherry’s line to a line of marked trees to the dividing line between Belflower’s land and Hardy Bryant’s line to a corner tree then to Cherry’s line along said line back to the beginning–50 acres.  

2.) beginning at a Post Oak running a line of marked trees to Williams corner and Belflowers then to a line of marked trees to John May’s corner to Cherry’s line back to the beginning.- 50 acres. 

Miles Bemery (seal) Wit: Jas. Cherry & Lewis Hyman Sept term 1810 proved by Miles Benbry.

In 1812, Miles is named on a commission of men to divide the estate of Warren Savage in Edgecombe County. This is of interest because later, in 1822, Miles leased four acres of land to Elizabeth Savage “for her natural life” for one dollar.  This Elizabeth Savage, probably the daughter, or daughter-in-law of Warren, is found living next to Miles’ son John in 1820. Also, his Thomas Bembry’s second wife, Mary, was most likely a Savage.

I do not yet know how all these Savages relate to each other, or to the Bembrys, but my father’s DNA shows many fourth cousins with the surname Savage in their backgrounds. Since Mary Savage was Thomas’ stepmother, not a direct ancestor, there is definitely some connection there that is yet to be discovered.

Beginning around 1813, Miles Bembry was employed as an overseer at Albin Plantation in Scotland Neck, North Carolina (map). Scotland Neck, located just up the road from Tarboro, was largely settled by Americans of Scots descent who had migrated south from Virginia. (Was this Miles’ tribe?) A brief history of the town can be found here.

Albin was owned by David McKenzie Clark, a wealthy banker who was one of the first directors of he Bank of Raleigh. His plantation no longer exists, but was described in 1928 by a woman who had visited as a child. It sounds like something straight out of “Gone With the Wind.”

“A large white house with an entrance porch with Ionic pillars, massive front door, with a resounding brass knocker…In the front hall a beautiful wrought iron spiral stairway that left you dizzy when you had climbed its heights led to the second floor…on the south side of this hall was the parlor, wainscoted with wide, deep handmade molding, extending about this to the ceiling was landscape papering with its Watteau figures and bow bridges. The gray marble mantle with its bronze ornaments was especially noticeable. In the front yard among the trees and shrubs were two unusually large fine Norway firs, with two life size bronze deer beside them. In the north side of the large oak grove was a little stream of water fed by several springs from the hill side. Over these springs Mr. Clark had built picturesque spring houses…”

plantation

Athol Plantation, in nearby Edenton, gives us some idea of what Albin may have looked like.

David Clark’s will, dated 10 May 1828, is a bit unusual in the detailed instructions it gives regarding the slaves that were a major part of the estate. As Clark was a banker, these provisions reflect his practical concern for the slaves as a valuable investment. But he was also Miles’ boss, so this tells us something about Miles’ tenure as overseer, as well. This plantation seems to have been run in an especially businesslike manner.

I David Clark…appoint my brother William M. Clark my friends James C. Johnston & Gavin Hogg and my nephew Colin Clark executors and guardians of my children…not to sell the rest of my real Estate and Slaves unless some important change in the affairs or trade of the Country or the Laws of the state…my daughters…each of them five slaves, said slaves to be selected…by my executors to be of an average value with the slaves undivided at the time of the selections…my executors to see that my slaves be treated with Kindness and indulgence that they may have an ample allowance of provisions, clothing and bedding that they may have comfortable Houses to live in and when sick all needfull Medicine and nurseing: that each labouring slave may have ground laid off to him or her to Cultivate for his or her use and that half of every Saturday be allowed such slave for Cultivation. I also request my executors to restrain those in immediate authority over my slaves from all wanton unnecessary or severe punishments, and I direct that all disorderly slaves who will not do without punishment be sold. I direct that old Ned for his Honesty and fidelity be discharged from all Labour but what he may choose to do and that his comfortable support be provided for out of my Estate by a yearly allowance of Provisions, clothing, &c…10 May 1828…(signed). November Court 1829.

Miles was paid around $350 per year for his overseeing duties at Albin. I learned this from the “day book” of the plantation which is viewable on microfilm. It reveals that Miles was literate, and conducted financial transactions on behalf of the owner. He also sold goods produced on his own farm to Albin: “brandy” (applejack), molasses, corn and salt pork are mentioned. As the four Bembry sons were all minors during these years, Ann Bryan would have managed the Bembry plantation in Miles’ absence, including the 18 slaves found on the 1810 census.

Miles also sent his youngest son, the ambitious Kenneth, to be educated with the Clark children. This was a common practice, as public schools did not yet exist in the South. Several payments of $10 apiece for “tuition” are recorded.

Miles last appears in the day book in 1818. By then he was presumably in a position to focus on his own, smaller plantation.

Spellings of Bembry to date: Benbory, Bembry, Bembray, Bembery, Banbury, Bambury, Bembrey, Bemery, Benbrey, Benbray, and Benbery.

 

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