While reading the 1838/1839 estate record of Bryan Randolph of Northampton County, North Carolina, I found several documents that uncovered the case of Nancy Flood, a white woman, who had an illegal “common-law marriage” with Davy Horn. Davy had been enslaved by Randolph. Relationships between southern white women and enslaved Black men were relatively uncommon, but they happened, probably more than what many know. However, this blog post is not meant to expound on the subject itself. I wanted to bring this particular case to light, in case Nancy Flood’s descendants are out there seeking more information and are unaware that these documents are in Bryan Randolph’s estate record. At least two family trees on Ancestry.com have her and her daughter Priscilla Flood in them.
These are the three documents about Nancy Flood among the
436 pages of Bryan Randolph’s estate record.
This third document clearly shows how society despised Nancy Flood’s relationship with Davy Horn. In so many terms, she was considered the “scum of the Earth,” and the people of North Carolina wanted her to pay for her “depraved and vicious morals.”
Twelve years later, Nancy Flood was enumerated in the
1850 U.S. Federal Census in Northampton County, and she and everyone in her
household were reported as being “mulatto.” The 1838 case confirmed that the North
Carolina court had considered her to be a white woman, which is why she was
indicted in the first place.
Presumably, Nancy Flood had died before the 1860 U.S.
Federal Census was taken, as Priscilla Flood, likely her daughter, was the head
of the household. I wonder if Davy Horn was Priscilla’s father. Before she
passed away, Nancy likely had faced a lot of public humiliation for loving and
living with an enslaved Black man.
Priscilla Flood is the head of household in 1870. The census-taker appeared to have been confused if she was a white woman or “mulatto.” He attempted to edit her race. Interestingly, her household included two white men, Isaac Parker and William Carter, who were reported as being farm laborers.
Later censuses and death certificates indicate that the
family of Priscilla Flood did not pass as white and lived as Black people in
Northampton County. Her son, Wiley Flood, was a longtime school teacher in the
county before he died on 9 December 1929, at the age of 79, according to his