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Matthew Evans and Nathaniel West
Contributed by Deloris Williams

Matthew Evans has been a mystery to researchers for years because he seems to have come out of nowhere yet he had enough land that had to be divided up between his 8 children in 1844 Warren County, North Carolina. He was a Free Person of Color who first appeared in the 1808 Warren County Tax List in Capt. Hazelwood's District showing 1 Poll. He next appeared in the 1810 Warren County Census, the 1811 and 1814 Warren County Tax Lists in Fishing Creek District, and again in the same District in the 1830 Census.  He died about 1844 apparently without leaving a will and his estate of 56 acres of land was divided between his 8 heirs:

(1) Fanney Evans, married to Kinchen Toney
(2) Moses Mechan Evans, married to Elizabeth Toney
(3) Isaac Evans, married to Winnie Dales
(4) Henry Evans, does not appear to have married
(5) Lucretia Evans, married to Allen Green
(6) Nancy Evans Carter, married to James Green
(7) Celia Evans, married to Matthew Toney
(8) Patience Evans, married to David Marshall

I now know that Matthew Evans was a former slave named Nathaniel, a shoemaker by trade, who had belonged to William West, a landowner who had lived in the Warren/Halifax/Granville area for a very long time.  A petition filed in 1806 reveals that Nathaniel had been married for a number of years to a free woman of color, Mourning Evans, with whom he had 8 children and that in 1804, she had purchased him from West, and she was seeking his freedom to protect Nathaniel and their children, who were born free in accordance to the laws of the land.  While Matthew Evans appeared in the  1810 and 1830 census he was was probably the same person listed as Nathaniel West in the 1820 Warren County census. Mourning may have been a daughter of James & Elinor Evans, who had been living in the area since the mid-1750's where record is found of them in Edgecombe County, and later in Granville, Warren and Halifax Counties.  By 1786, Mourning was listed as Head of Household of 4  in Halifax County, next to Elinor Evans (listed as Elender Evens) the widow of James Evans.  I do not know if this Mourning Evans was the same person who was referred to as the wife of Powell Evans, whom she was separated from, in the 1798 Deed of Gift from Robert Caller in Warren County; Caller married that Mourning Evans in August 1798, and in his will probated in 1805, she received his entire estate.  Curiously enough, the bill of sale for the purchase of Nathaniel by Mourning Evans was filed in the same term of Court that Caller's will was proved in February 1805. I would be interested in finding more proof as to whether or not these were the same women.

For the children of Matthew/Nathaniel and Mourning Evans, there were variations in which surname they used throughout the years.  Mourning Evans was indicated to be the mother of Henry Evans, born August 1783, in a 1794 Warren County Court record when he was apprenticed to William Lancaster. There is a (4)Henry Evans, Free Person of Color, in the 1830 Warren County, 2nd Regiment Census, showing as 24 to 36 years of age; in the 1850 & 1860 Warren County census, Henry West, born about 1783, appears in the Sandy Creek District, listed twice in 1850.  Henry West died intestate in 1862, and Benjamin Best was appointed to administrate his estate. (3)Isaac Evans married Winifred Dales on October 14, 1825 in Franklin County and he was on the Insolvents list for 1829 in the Judkins District of Warren County; he was in the 1830 census in Judkins Township, and in 1850  also in Warren County. By 1860, most of the family had moved to Franklin County, but in 1870 they all started using the West surname in the census. His family has proven to be the most prevalent ones to have remained in the Warren/Halifax/Franklin and Nash County area and many researchers may find that they are related through them. 

Isaac and Winnie's children were:  1] William West, born 1826, married to Mary Jane Carter (daughter of William Carter & Polly Evans) on July 8, 1850 under the surname of Evans, with his brother, Joseph John Evans, as bondsman; William and Mary settled in Warren County.  2] Joseph John West, born 1827, who married Jane Carter (daughter of William Carter & Polly Evans) in 1856 Warren County where they raised their family.  3]  Matthew West, b. 1830, married Harriet Odom (daughter of Burton & Rebecca Odom of Edgecombe County) in 1868, although they had been living together prior to that and had 7 children at that time; they lived and raised their family in Warren County. 4] Priscilla West, b. 1834, married John Evans (son of Archibald Evans & Lucretia Green) in 1858 Warren County; John and Priscilla lived first in Franklin then moved to Nash County.  5] Henry West, born 1837, last identified in the 1860 Franklin County census working as a carpenter.  6] Richard Crockett West, born 1840, married to Margaret McGee (daughter of Henry McGee of Halifax County) in about 1860; Richard and Margaret were living in Halifax in 1860 where he was listed as a mattress maker, but moved to Nash County by 1870, where most of their children were born.  7]  Winnie West, born 1841, married William Durham (probably the son of Stephen & Prudence Durham of Warren County) in 1867 Franklin County; she and William lived in Franklin County until her death in 1926.  8] Betsey West, born 1843, married James Westley Carter (son of Hawkins Carter & Elizabeth Wiggins of Warren County) in 1865 Franklin County; she and Westley moved their family around between Franklin, Halifax and Warren Counties, where she died in 1928.  9]  Haywood Doctor West, born 1844, married in about 1874 to Emily Arrington (daughter of Isham & Sallie Arrington); they lived mostly in Franklin County, where they raised 12 children and Haywood died in 1922.  10] Nancy West, born 1845, the last census I have found her in was 1870 when she was living with her parents, I would love to know if anyone has any further info on her.   11]  Moses West, born 1848, married Harriet Perry (daughter of Berry Wester & Silvia Perry of Franklin County) in about 1894; they do not appear to have had any children together, although Harriet had children by a previous marriage to a member of the Coppage/Coppedge family.   

As for the other children of Matthew/Nathaniel and Mourning Evans, I will give a brief description of their families. (5)Lucretia Evans, b. 1782 and Allen Green, b. 1775, (son of Thomas & Priscilla Green )lived in Warren County; I have only been able to identify 4 of their children so far: Edward, Elizabeth, Martha and Peter Green.  Martha Green, b. 1824, is my ancestor who married James Evans, b. 1815 (son of Archibald Evans & Lucretia Green).  (1)Fanney Evans, b. abt 1785, wife of Kinchen Toney, b. 1785/d. 1852 (son of John Toney & Martha Carpenter), I have been unable to find her after the 1844 estate record; the only child I have identified as theirs is Hilliard Toney, b. 1820 who lived in Halifax County. (7)Celia Evans, b. abt 1786, wife of Matthew Toney, b. 1786 (son of John Toney & Martha Carpenter), appears to have died before 1850, and I have yet to positively identify any children. (2)Moses Mechan Evans, b. 1790, d. 1860-1870 Halifax Co., family seems to have kept the Evans surname, however, he and his wife, Elizabeth Toney, separated prior to 1850, and she raised their children John, Martha, William, Moses, and Mary Jane Evans.  (6)Nancy, b. 1795,  listed as Carter, in the 1847 marriage to James Green, b. 1778 (a former slave of John C. Green of Warren County) although they had been living together prior to that date and their known children were Mary Polly, Robert, and James Green Jr.   Mary Polly Green, b.1825, married William A.Green, b. 1786 (son of Thomas & Priscilla Green) and they are also my 3rd great-grandparents, who lived in Warren County.  (8)Patience Evans, b. 1797,  and her husband, David Marshall, b. 1770 Virginia, who she married in 1823, moved to Dane County, Wisconsin by 1850, with Patience's son, John W. West, b. 1814 Warren County, and his wife, Elizabeth Green, b. 1813, (daughter of Allen Green & Lucretia Evans).  Patience and David died in Wisconsin between 1860-1870, while John & Elizabeth West moved on to Polk County, Iowa, along with their two children, Margaret and John H. West.  John W. West died before 1900, but Elizabeth was still alive in Iowa in 1900, where she was listed as 87 years old, living with her unmarried son, John. 

I would certainly be interested if anyone has any further information on some of these families, I believe that what I have found is just touching the surface of a very complex family foundation. 


2002 - 2008  by Deloris Williams, Ginger Christmas-Beattie, and/or individual contributors.  No portion of this any document appearing on this site is to be used for other than personal research.  Any republication or reposting is expressly forbidden without the written consent of the owner. Last updated 07/17/2009