Foy Family Household

For more than five generations, Poplar Grove Plantation was owned and operated by the Foy family, descended from French Huguenots and settling in the Americas around 1670. According to Onlsow County Heritage – North Carolina (Copyright 1983), Francis Foy, a native of Normandy, France, was supposedly the direct ancestor of all the Onslow County Foys. However, there is an argument this individual is a John Foy.

Francis and/or John Foy traveled from France to England to escape persecution, and did in fact marry a Serena Miles in Yorkshire, England. Since London was the seat of British Colonial power at this time, many Protestants, such as the French Huguenots, Scottish Highlanders and Irish, were supported by Charles II of England to settle the New Colonies of the Americas, which would by and large serve to dissipate any further dissent regarding Charles II’s conversion to Catholicism. 

The Foys will seek their fortunes via the port of Baltimore around 1673. Their known children were Mary Foy, Peter Foy, Miles Foy, Joshua Foy, and Thomas Foy, Sr., of whom the Foys of Poplar Grove will descend.

Thomas Foy, Sr., born 1703, and his wife, Rebecca Puttee Putter, born 1710, married January 1726. The couple later relocated from Baltimore County, Maryland, to Craven County, NC, in 1749, settling on the Trent River at a point known as Rocky Run, near New Bern.

The children of Thomas Foy, Sr. and Rebecca Puttee (died 1785, Jones County) include:

(1) John Foy, born January 18, 1725/26 in St. John’s Parish, Baltimore, MD; died 1791 in Craven Co., NC.
(According to Julia Pollock Hariett, History and Genealogy of Jones County, NC, New Bern, NC, 1987, John died about 1781).

(2) Thomas Foy, born January 18, 1726/29 in Baltimore County, MD; died 1789/91 in Jones County, NC. Note: there is some mix up between John and Thomas birth and death dates and county of death that requires further investigation – twins perhaps?

(3) James Madison Foy, born 1732/37 in St. Johns Parish, Baltimore County, MD; died Nov 11, 1822 in Onslow Co., NC; married Elizabeth Ward 1771.

(4) Jacob Foy, born 1733 in Baltimore County, MD; died February 1786 in Jones Co., NC; married Elizabeth Simmons about 1766 in Jones Co., NC.

(5) Frederick Foy, born 1751, Craven County, NC; married Alice Fulford on May 26, 1801 in Craven Coounty, NC; died December 7, 1815, Craven County, NC.

Thomas Foy, Sr. operated an inn/tavern in Craven County from 1754 to his death in 1760, and his first- born son, John Foy, continued operating the inn as late as 1777. In the Colonial Records of North Carolina, John Foy takes out an advertisement on February 6, 1775, concerning a robbery that took place at his inn. The details of which are as follows:

“ONE HUNDRED POUNDS REWARD. WHEREAS on Friday the 3d Instant, two Men came to my House, who lodged there that Night, and eat Breakfast next Morning; when they gave me a Thirty Shilling Bill to change, in Order to pay their Reckoning. I accordingly went into a Room adjoining to change it when they rushed in upon me, presenting their Rifles at me, and ordered me to deliver up my keys; and upon my telling them I had n ot the keys, they made my Negro Wench bring them a Hammer, and compelled me to break open the chest, when they took thereout 375 I. Proc. They then proceeded to another Chest, made me unlock it, and plundered it of near the like Sum. They likewise took with them a light-coloured Great Coat, a Pair of Leather Breeches, a Pair of Leather Bags, &c.

One of the above Men is about six Feet high, between 25 and 30 Years old, of a sandy complexion, sandy red Beard; and has a down Look; had on a snuff coloured Surtout coat, with a Piece off the left Skirt, a blue Jacket, and black Breeches, and rode a large blaze Face Sorrel Stallion, about 15 Hands high, all four Feet white, and was lame with travelling. The other is about five Feet seven Inches high, between 28 and 30 years old, has curled Locks, full mouthed, talks very pertly, and a lame in his right Knee and Leg; had on a pale blue Surtout coat, Leather Breeches, a half-worn small brim’d hat, Leggins the same as the Surtout, and a Silver Spur, and took with him a black roan Horse (the property of the subscriber) near 14 Hands high, about 7 years old, one of his Feet white to the Footlocks, has a Roman Nose, full of grey Hairs, pretty lively, a natural Trotter, and branded on the rear Buttock I.W.

Whoever apprehends the above Persons, and secures them and the Money, shall receive the above Reward, or in Proportion of the Money they shall find with them. JOHN FOY – Craven County, February 8, 1775. 

The third son of Thomas Foy, Sr., James Madison Foy, was first married in Craven County to Elizabeth Ward, daughter of Richard Ward.  On October 23, 1761, James Madison Foy obtained his first piece of property in Craven County when he received a land grant of 294 acres. A daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1763, though sadly her mother died before 1766, leaving James Madison Foy. a young widower. 

In 1769, James Madison Foy moved to Onslow County, settling in the lower Southwest District.  Two years later, in 1771, he married again — oddly enough — to Elizabeth Ward, daughter of Enoch Ward. His second wife was born in 1752 on Sugar Maple Plantation in said Onslow County.

A prominent planter and influential man in Onlsow County affairs, James Madison Foy (Sr.) served in the Revolutionary War, first as a Lieutenant and then Captain of the Wilmington Brigade in the NC Line, along with other prominent Onslow County Revolutionaries. From the Commonwealth of Onslow – A History: “The officers of the Onslow Militia that year (1775) were William Cray, Colonel; Henry Rhodes (Jr.), Lieutenant Colonel; Thomas Johnston and James Howard, Majors.

Colonel Rhodes (Jr.) was to collect and pay for all firearms in the county. In 1776 a company of militia was raised in Onslow with officers as follows: Ephrain Battle, Captain; James Foy, Lieutenant, and William Shaw, Ensign” (Brown).

The connection between the Rhodes and Foy families of Onslow County intersected for decades prior to the Revolutionary War, and the early Colonial population of the local area was small enough that family wealth and resources were kept within blood lines.

From Onslow County Heritage — North Carolina, Henry Rhodes, Sr., an early Onslow County settler came presumably from Bertie County.  According to records in the Onslow County Courthouse some of the property he owned was a grant from the Kind of England: “George The Second To All whom we know that I have given and granted unto Henry Rhodes a tract of land containing five hundred acres lying, or being in Onslow County, beginning at a Spanish Oak on the west side of New River upon Stones Creek standing by the main creek, September 14, 1737.”

Henry Rhodes, Sr., was named as a commissioner of roads in Onslow County as early 1736.  In January 1742, Rhodes appeared before the Onslow County Court and proved rights for importing five white persons and two black persons belonging to his family.  His wife was named Mary, and they had two sons, Thomas Rhodes, Henry Rhodes, Jr., and a daughter, who later marries Daniel Mashbone.

In January 1744, Henry Rhodes, Sr., applied for a license to sell spiritous liquors in his home. In April 1747, Henry Rhodes, Sr., gives to his son Thomas Rhodes “237 acres of the tract whereon said Henry Rhodes now lives on Stones Creek.” He was later chosen commissioner of roads in South West District July 1749, at the death of Samuel Moore.  The Will of Henry Rhodes, Sr., was proved in Onslow County Court October 1751 by his two sons, Thomas Rhodes and Henry Rhodes, Jr. (born between 1731 or 1734).

Henry Rhodes, Sr. gave his manor plantation whereon he lived to his son Henry, Jr. and left instructions that the plantation joining his manor plantation be sold and equally shared between son Thomas, son Henry, and granddaugther Elizabeth Mashbone.

Not much is know about his son, Thomas Rhodes.  He was appointed Constable in South West District January 1749.  He also had a son, James Rhodes, and daughters, Mary, Merebe, and Elizabeth Rhodes. Thomas Rhodes will was proved in Onslow County Court July 1779.  Records indicate he died before January 29, 1780.

Henry Rhodes, Jr., was an active and enterprising man. In October 1755, Henry Rhodes Jr., received a license to run an Ordinary (Inn) and was appointed one of two commissioners of roads in  South West District.  He was appointed a justice of the peace in 1758 and was elected Sheriff of Onslow County in 1759; he remained in that office until 1773.

His first wife was Mary Woodhouse, born in Virginia in 1731 and daughter of Horatio Woodhouse, whose family, upon coming to America from England, had originally settled in Virginia. Horatio moved with his wife and children to Onslow County about 1746-47 and settled on the west side of the New River. Mary Woodhouse and Henry Rhodes, Jr., married in 1751.  Mary died on June 5, 1769, “in the 38th year of her age.”

Henry Rhodes, Jr. was one of the managers of the New River Lottery in 1761, which was instigated to obtain funds for the removal of shell rock in New River Inlet.  On July 25, 1768, Henry Rhodes, Jr. purchased 120 acres on North West of New River on Gravelly Run, and soon after married a second time to Elizabeth Ward, widow of Enoch Ward, on August 5, 1770. In 1774, in the meantime, James Foy, Sr. was appointed procession master in the Southwest District. (He did this for nearly 20 years).

In 1775, Henry Rhodes, Jr. was elected to the House of Commons of North Carolina.  This proved to be the last session of the House of Commons before the creation of the Provincial Congress.  He later served as a delegate in the Second Provincial Congress, which met in Newbern in April 1775, as well as the Third Provincial Congress at Hillsborough, which convened on August 20, 1775.  In the third congress, Henry Rhodes was made a Lieutenant Colonel of the Onslow County Militia on September 9, 1775.

In addition to serving on several important committees, he was commissioned to buy all the ammunition in Onslow County.  Rhodes continued to serve as a delegate in the Fourth Provincial congress in April of 1776 at Halifax. He was also listed on the  Roster of Patriots at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge under Colonel Caswell. Alongside of him was his neighbor and friend, James Foy, Sr. who also participated in the Battle of Cowpens, King’s Mountain, Guilford Courthouse as well as the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge

During the period of the American Revolution when the Provincial Congress was not in session, six committees of safety carried on the military affairs of each of the six designated districts. Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes was a member of the Provincial Council of the Wilmington District of which Onslow County was a part.

At the important Fifth Provincial Congress held at Halifax in November 1776, a constitution for the state of North Carolina was adopted.  Henry Rhodes, Jr. was one of the five delegates from Onslow County to help create this constitution.  The constitution adopted by this body became effective immediately.  It provided one senator and one representative from each county.  In 1777, Henry Rhodes, Jr. represented Onslow County in the North Carolina House of Commons.


Tryon Palace

When Senator Cray, Onslow County’s first state senator, died in 1778, Henry Rhodes, Jr. was elected to take his place, thereby having the honor of being Onslow County’s second state senator. He was also named Money Inspector for Onslow County.  As a Senator, Rhodes was outstanding for his activities favoring the passing of a bill to confiscate the property of those persons, such as the Tories, working against the state government.

In April 1778, James Foy, Sr. was appointed County Ranger and took the tax list in the Southwest District.  In April 1782, he became a Justice of the Peace for Onslow County, (an office he resigned in the fall of 1803).

On the first of December 1778, Henry Rhodes, Jr. was made Superintendent of the Printing Press for printing North Carolina’s paper money.  He was also mentioned for appointment to the council of the new state of North Carolina, but instead was made Treasurer of the Wilmington District.

Henry Rhodes, Jr. died in Onslow County on December 24, 1780.   Although Rhodes died in December 1780, his term would not have expired until 1782.  He did not live to see the enemy defeated, for which the final battle of the  Revolutionary War, which took place at Yorktown, Virginia, on October 19, 1781, came just 10 months after his death.

It is thought that Lieutenant Colonel Henry Rhodes is buried in the family cemetery on a part of the property now occupied by Camp Lejuene, at Gravelley’s Run, possibly between Stone Creek and Muddy Creek in the Stone Bay area. However, at the time that Camp Lejuene was established, his grave was not located and most likely moved as so many others were.

Henry Rhodes, Jr. had the following known children 

with first wife, Mary Woodhouse:

(1) Sarah Rhodes, born March/May 22, 1755, married February 1773 to Soloman Ward

(2) Elisabeth Rhodes, born February 24, 1756, married to ____ Fonvielle

(3) Woodhouse Rhodes, born January 19, 1759, (the only son to live to maturity) married Elizabeth Hatch

(4) Aliss Rhodes, born February 16, 1762

(5) Mary Rhodes, born August 20, 1766

with second wife, Elizabeth Ward:

(6) Henry Rhodes, born November 22, 1773, died September 13, 1791, when he was thrown from his horse and died while attending boarding school in Wilmington.  His body was returned to Onslow County for burial.

(7) Henrietta Rhodes, born April 4, 1777, married James Foy, Jr.  They were both buried in the Foy Graveyard, located about three-tenths of a mile north of Porters Neck Road about eleven hundred feet southeast of Highway 17.  Their graves have since been relocated to Poplar Grove Plantation.

The record of inventory of the estate of Colonel Henry Rhodes was taken on December 24, 1780:

“(To Wit) Thirty Eight Negroes & Two Hundred & Eighty Eight Dollars Continental, five thousand seven hundred & seventeen dollars North Carolina Currency, three yoke of oxen, four mares & two horses and one two-year old, six sows & pigs, two mahogany tables & six chairs, two chests four cases five bed and bed steds, four rugs & six sheets and one blanket, five holsters, three pillows & pillow cases, eight large silver spoons, five tea spoons, two desks, one large gilded looking-glass, two small looking-glasses, ten chairs, two watches, two tea tables, half dozen knives & forks, one brass candlestick, one iron ditto, two hackles, two pewter quarts & one pint, two funnels, two pair smoothing irons, one box iron & two heaters, two pairs of Chards, three linen wheels, two woolen wheels, one dozen Queens China plates, three glass tumblers, one large wine glass, five cups & saucers China, two earthen pots, one pewter pot, one large bowl, one cruet, two pepper boxes, one Sniffer Standard, one nutmeg grater, one oyster dish, one sugar dish, one butter boat, two pairs of tongs & one shovel, one spice mortar & pestle, once coffee pot, two large Bibles & one Dictionary, one Testament & Watt’s Hymns & Sunday Books too tedious to mention, two coopers and two axes, one cross, one dowling bit stock, one round shave, two drawing knives, two flock plows & two X bars plows, two pair fire dogs, one pair compasses, five cutting axes, eight weeding hoes, three shipping hatchets, three turpentine dippers, one heading joints & stave, one breed ax, one cross cut saw & two hand saws, one small sword & Silver Hilted, mill stone rock tools, seven picks, four axes, six wedges & two broken picks, two rail wedges, one still & pots & one cracked pot & one kettle, one pan, one brass skillet, one hat and hat bag, two tubs and two pails & two rigging sheep shears & lantern, two wide chisels & two narrow chisels, one mill pick, one ax, one grubbing hoe, three large sugars, two small sugars, two pounds & a half of steel, one gauge, two hat brushes, two pot racks, four chunk bottles, one barrel of brandy, three jugs, one large butter pot, one small butter pot, one bung box, one small bung box, one pair of spoon molds, one canister, two looms, two ox yokes, one old cart, one flax brake, one copper old ditto, one cooper saucepan, one tea kettle, five new pewter plates, half dozen old plates, one old deep plate, three large dishes, two small dishes, three basins, 42 head of cattle, one pair of small.

On Gravelly Run Plantation, three narrow axes, two sugars, two chisels, two flock plows & one bar plow, three weeding hoes, fourteen head of sheep, one yoke of oxen & sixteen heads of cattle.

Stone Bay Plantation, twenty head of sheep, four hides of Tann’d leather, three raw hides, some mill stones, money rec’d by notes nine hundred & thirty six pounds.

The above is all that is come to hand to this 9th of April 1781.

Woodhouse Rhodes, Executor; Thos. Johnston, Executor”

(From the Robert Lee Foy Collection, Collection No. 32, East Carolina Manuscript Collection).

In addition to this inventory, the Will of Colonel Henry Rhodes, Jr. from 1780 lists the names of his slaves and reads as follows:

In the name of God Amen __ I Henry Rhodes of the County of Onslow and the State of North Carolina Planter being Sick and Weak of Body but of perfect and Sound mind and memory thanks be to God therefore calling to mind the Mortality of my Body and Knowing it is appointed for all men once to Dye Do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form Following

First of all I Resign my Body to the Earth to be Decently Buryed at the Discretion of my Executors hereafter Named believing in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus the Mediator and Intercessor and as for what worldly goods I am Blessed with in this Life I Dispose of the Same as Follows viz.

Imprymus, I first will and order that all my Just Debts and Funeral Expenses be fully paid and Satisfied.

Item I Lend unto my beloved wife Eilsabeth Rhodes one Negro man called Isaac and one Negro wench Tamer one mare called Phill a womans Saddle and Bridle one Feather Bed and Furniture one Desk one Iron Pot half a Dozen Pewter plates Two pewter Dishes Two pewter Basons half a Dozen Chears (chairs) one Small Table and ll the Room in my House wherein I know Live During her Natural Life or Widowhood She Committing no waste but if she should marry again She is to have the use of one Negro only Named Tamer and the Bed and Furniture until her Death.  Likewise she Shall be allowed Twenty Pounds to be paid out of the profits of my Estate yearly for her support but if my Executors hereafter Names Should find she ought to have a Larger Sum allowed for her support they may allow i at their Discretion out of the profits of my Estate I also leave my wife for her use one Table Silver Spoon Six Sliver Tea Spoons and the sue of Four Cows and Calves.  During her life or widowhood as afore Said She Committing no waste the above named Negroes Isaac and Tamer is not be be Carryed off the plantation where I know Live also I Lend her such a part of the plantation where I know Live as my Executors Shall find Necessary.

Item I give and bequeath unto my beloved son Woodhouse Rhodes all the Land with the Improvements theron it being at Lewis Williams Lying on Gravelly Run with all the Cattle one Sorrel Horse with a Blaze one Two year old Horse. Likewise all the hogs seep and household furniture, tools of every sort that is at the afore Said Plantation one Large Mahogany Table three mahogany Chears (chairs), likewise three Negroes to wit, Bob Warrick and Amme Two Table Spoons and Six Tea Spoons all of Sliver, the Table Chears (chairs) and Spoons is at the house where I now Live also a Silver Hilted Sword and Silver watch half my wearing apparel also a Church Bible and half my other Books Likewise I give and bequeath unto my son Woodhouse Rhodes in manner and form Following one Still with all its apurtenances he paying to my son Henry Fifty pounds per Anum in the Liew of thereof otherwise for Henry to have the use therof Every other month as Long as Said Still Shall be of use that matter to be Left to the Discretion of my Executors.

Item I give and bequeath unto my beloved Son Henry Rhodes the plantation whereon I now Live with all the Land on the North and South Sides of the mill Dam and Creek with the mill with all its apurtenances also one Negro Named Ephraim and one Negro Named David also one White mare called Bonne with her future increase one Saddle and Bridle Two yoke of Oxen Two Table Spoons Six Tea Spoons all of Silver one Silver watch all the plantation where I now Live with one half  of my wearing apparel one Feather bed and Furniture also a Bible and one half of all my other Books with one Fourth part of all my other home Stock of Cattle and Sheep.

Item I give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Sarah Ward all the Land I bought of Thomas Johnstone with the plantation thereon it being one hundred acres of Land also fifty acres I Bought of James Gray and wife with the plantation thereon likewise three negroes (To wit) Dick Rachel and Leah which Land and Negroes is to be in part of her proportionable part of thirty Negroes hereafter to be named also I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Sarah one half of Four Hundred acres of Land lying and being on the North Side of Mill Creek it being half of a Tract of Land granted to me by pattent (sic).

Item I give and bequeath unto my Beloved Daughter Elizabeth Fonville one Negro man called Peter and one negro girl called Ester which Negroes she has now in possession they being in part of her proportionable part of thirty Negroes Hereafter to be Named.

Item I give and bequeath unto Each of my other Beloved Daughters Aliss Mary and Henrietta one Feather Bed and Furniture Six pewter plates one pewter Dish Two Table Spoons and Six Tea Spoons all Sliver Likewise one third part of all my home Stock of Cattle and Sheep that is not other ways Disposed of in this will one Ew one three year old Heffer and one Steer Excepted a proportionable  part of thirty Negroes hereafter to be named.

Item I give and bequeath unto my beloved Children Woodhouse Rhodes Sarah Ward Elizabeth Fonvielle Aliss Rhodes Mary Rhodes Henry Rhodes and Henrietta Rhodes Thirty Negroes (To wit) Jim Tom Tony Aster Brister Ben Peter Trent Dick Sarah Hannah Suke Rachel Ester Jim the younger Aniss Ben the younger Lettis Apple Daniel Silvea Marean Lucy Ginne Leah Nancy Frank Tom the younger and Treacee to be Equally Divided between them.  I further give and bequeath unto my Daugher Aliss one Bay  mare called Pleasure with a Side Saddle and Bridle I likewise give to my Daughter Mary one Bay Mare called Fancy with a Side Saddle and Bridle.  I likewise will and order that my Executors Buy a mare out of the profits of my Estate Equal in Value to one of the Last mentioned Mares for my Daughter Henrietta with a Side Saddle and Bridle.

Item I give and bequeath unto Beloved Niece Marybee Rhodes one three year old Heffer and one Likely Ew to her and her heirs and assign for Ever.

Item my will and Desire further is that if any part of the Legacys mentioned in this will Should not be found it is to be purchased out of the profits of my Estate also that all the residue of any Lands not mentioned in this will be Equally Divided atwixt my Two Sons Woodhouse and Henry.

Item it is my Intent and Meaning that what I have Left in this my will to my Wife Elisabeth is in Liew of and in full a Marriage Contract made before Marriage but if She Should not be Content and Claim her Contract then all that is Left to her to be Equally Divided amongst my Children by Lot or other wise and if any Dispute Should arise amongst my Children or between them and my Executors I request that three Justices in the Commission of the peace for this County may assist in the Division and that they be paid for their Trouble by my Executors Vix. Robert Snead Seth Ward and John Spicer.

Item my further will and Desire is that the Remaining part of my Estate that is not other ways Disposed of in this will be Equally Divided betwixt my four youngest children (To Wit) Aliss Mary Henry and Henrietta and my further will is that my son Woodhouse give my Daughter Henrietta Two years Schooling and that my Executors See that my son Henry and my Daughters Aliss and Mary have Reasonable Education to be paid for out of the profits of their Estates and my further Desire is that Tom and his wife Sarah and Aster be a part of the proportionable part of the Negroes and Remain on the plantation as Long as my Executors Shall think it Best and my further will is that my Old Horse Called Spark Shall Remain on the plantation for the use of my family.

And I do hereby Constitute and appoint my beloved son Woodhouse Rhodes and my good Friends Thomas Johnstone and George Mitchell Esquires my Whole and Sole Executors of this my Last will and Testament Hereby Revoking and Disannulling all Former Wills Testaments and bequeaths heretofore by me made or Named Ratifying and Declaring this and no other to be my Last Will and Testament In Witness Whereof I have here unto Set my hand and affixed my Seal this 14th Day of December in the firth year of American Independence and in the year of our Lord one Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty.

Signed Sealed published pronounced and Declared by the Said Henry Rhodes as his Last Will and Testament in the presence of us the Subscribing Evidences Hosea Barrow, Zephaniah Ward, William Pollock.”

After the death of Henry Rhodes, Jr., Elizabeth Ward Rhodes marries John Nichols, Sr., of New Hanover County, NC.

Notably, the contributions of the Onslow County militia that included both Henry Rhodes, Jr. and James Madison Foy, Sr. was honored by a visit of General George Washington on his Southern Tour in the spring of 1791. From the Commonwealth of Onslow – A History: “Through Virginia into North Carolina in his chariot of State, drawn by four horses, Washington came, passing through Halifax, Tarboro and New Bern.


George Washington
Battle of Monmouth

The Presidential Party reached Onslow April 22, 1791, entering the county from Shines (Old Comfort) through what is now Richlands (but then not even a house) on to Chapel Run, where he found a store, a chapel and an ordinary (inn)” (Brown).

In Excerpts from Colonists of Carolina Washington “spent the night at Shine’s Inn, the guest of Captain Daniel Shine and Barbara Franck Shine; took breakfast at Averitte’s, near Rich-lands; dinner (lunch) at Captain James Foy’s on Hick’s Run; and spent the night at Sage’s Ordinary on the southern line of the county.”

From Washington’s own account under date the Saturday, April 23, 1791, he writes: “Breakfast at one Everetts 12 M.—Bated at a Mr. Foy’s 12 M. farther and lodged at one Sages’ 20 M. bey’d it, all indifferent houses.”

After reaching Wilmington on Sunday, April 24, 1791, Washington wrote down his observation of the landscape: “The whole road from New Berne to Wilmington (except in a few places of small extent) passes through the most barren country I ever beheld; especially in parts nearest the latter which is no other than a bed of white sand. In places however before we come to these, if the idea of poverty could be separated from the sand, the appearance of it are agreeable, resembling a lawn well covered with evergreens, and a good verdure below from a broom of course grass which having sprung since the burning of the woods had a neat and handsome look, especially as there are parts entirely open, and others with ponds of water which contributed not a little to the beauty of the scene” (Brown).

George Washington Among His Slaves

Absent from the local pages of most early colonial history is the mention of slavery. George Washington was bequeathed his first enslaved persons at the age of 11. By the time of his death, Washington’s estate in Virginia was comprised of 318 enslaved men, women and children.  

In 1790, the First Census of the United States lists the state of Virginia as holding 292,627 persons in bondage out of a total population of 747,610; thus, 39% of the population was enslaved.  Comparatively, the state of North Carolina held 110,572 persons in bondage out of a total population of 393,751, or 25%.

In 1790, the enslaved population of Onslow County, North Carolina, was 32%, well above the state average. By 1830, the enslaved population of Onslow County had increased to 40%.

Census Year Total White Free Colored Slaves
1790 5387 3555 84 1748
1830 7814 4569 101 3144

The Foys of Onlsow and Craven Counties were the owners of a significant number of enslaved persons. Records indicate that in 1789, Thomas Foy, Sr., bequeaths a number of his enslaved to brother, James Madison Foy, Sr:

“Item. I Give & Bequeath to my Brother James Foy the Negroes following Namely Joe Jacob & Ned, also Sall & her children Viz: Anthony & Cato, Sue & her children Viz: Dick & Sarah, Mull & her children Viz: Primus Jude and Ceasar, Ruth & her children Viz: George Miriam Joe & Charles, also Robin, Moll & Rana To him his Heirs & Assigns for ever -”

The names of several of these enslaved resurface in the will of James Madison Foy, Sr., below.

From 1793-1795, James Madison Foy, Sr. was the mail contractor from New Bern to Wilmington, a distance of 100 miles, from which he got $500 per year – a Foy postal tradition that continued for several generations.

James Madison Foy, Sr. and second wife, Elizabeth Ward, had the following children, most born at the family plantation, “Sugar Maple,” near Hick’s Run, Onslow County:

(1) James Madison Foy, Jr., born in Onslow County, Sugar Maple Plantation, in 1772; died at New Topsail Sound, New Hanover County, on March 14, 1823; married Henrietta Rhodes (born April 4, 1777; died April 9, 1840), youngest daughter of Colonel Henry Rhodes, Jr., and had six children.

(2) Thomas Foy, born in Onslow County, 1774; died March 23, 1800 in Jones County at the age of 26.

(3) Enoch Foy, born in Onlsow County, Sugar Maple Plantation, on May 17, 1777; died in Jones County in October 1842; married four times and had fifteen children.

(4) Serena Foy, born in Onslow County, Sugar Maple Plantation, on February 16, 1780; married first to Jeremiah Spicer and married second to Jacob Golden, Innkeeper, Captain of Onslow Regiment of Militia in 1812 and Postmaster of Golden Place, Onlsow County. She died October 6, 1844, Onslow County.

(5) Lewis Alexander Foy, born in Onslow County, 1782; lived in Jones County, mentioned as cripple in 1819 and died December 15, 1851 at the age of 69.

(6) Frederick Foy II, born in Onslow County, Hicks Run, March 18, 1785 and died at the age of 48 in Onslow County on September 20, 1833; he was married twice and had seven children.

(7) Elizabeth (Betsey) Foy, born in Onlsow County in 1789; died 1839; married Robert B. Nixon.

(8) Joshua Foy, born in Onslow County, Sugar Maple Plantation, in 1786; died there December 15, 1851; married twice and had nine children.

(9) Thomas Foy, born in Onslow County; died at his plantation in Jones County of a severe fit of cholic March 1800; married in Onslow County September 1796 to Margaret Dudley.

(10) Morris Foy, born in Onslow County, Sugar Maple Plantation, in 1791; married several times, moved to Louisiana, and died May 4, 1864, New Hanover County, age 73.

(11) Hester Foy, born in Onslow County, Sugar Maple Plantation, in 1793. She was disinherited; married Durant H. Rhodes and died at the age of 36 in 1829.

In 1817, James Madison Foy, Sr., owns a sizable number of enslaved men, women and children and bequeaths them accordingly in his will, as follows:

“In the name of God, Amen. I James Foy, Senior, of the County of Onslow and State of North Carolina; being of sound, perfect and disposing mind and memory, blessed be God for the same; Do this fifteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord Christ, One thousand eight hundred and seventeen, make and publish this my last will and desire is that all my just debts be paid as also my funeral expenses; and, as touching my worldly estate, wherewith it hath pleased God to bless my endeavors with, I will and bequeath in manner and form following, viz:

Imprimis: I give and bequeath unto my dearly beloved wife Elizabeth Foy my best bed and furniture, also the saddle and Bridle, one Bay mare and colt, two calves, two sows and pigs, one grubbing ditto, one round table, six Windsor chairs, all the crockery ware, all the pewter, iron tea kettle, two iron pots, all the copper ware, that are in the house at the time of my decease.

Item: I lend to my wife for her sole use and benefit, during her natural life, the house and plantation where I usually reside at, as also fire wood and wood for use of the said plantation. And also, I lend unto my said wife, two negroes named Todge and Eve his wife during the life of my said wife Elizabeth; and at her decease, I will and bequeath unto my daughter Betsey Nixon, the aforesaid negroes Todge and Eve, to her and her heirs (lawfully begotten of her body) forever. Two negroes also pay debts.

Item: I give and bequeath unto my grandson Joseph Mumford, as his mother had all the land and negroes that came to my first marriage, and was delivered to Lewis Mumford for my daughters use, which I considered in full of my first wife’s child portion, to him and heirs forever.

Item: Whereas I have made a deed of gift unto Thomas Foy, son of Thomas Foy, deceased, bearing date 2nd June 1800, for the following negroes, viz: Sall and all her children &c. and I do hereby this my last will and testament confirm the above deed of gift and also one Dollar in full.

Item: I give and bequeath to my oldest son James Foy, Junior, three Hundred Pounds, and Yellow Joe. And I have given him a deed of gift for six negroes and other property, such as horses, beds, hogs, tools, &c. which have been all delivered to him at his marriage, and since, to him and his heirs forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my son Enoch Foy one negro by name of Ruth, one by name of Sarah dittoMoll and her two children, their names are Ceasar and Frank as also a negro boy by the name of Joe, with the horses, cattle, hogs, beds and tools, put in his possession at his marriage, and all he got for the leased land on the west side of Shillings branch, Mill Creek in Jones County, I give to him & his heirs forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my son Lewis Foy the seven hundred Dollars he got of my son Enoch for the lease on the east side of Shillings Branch, and a negro by the name of Peter, beds, furniture, Horses, cattle, hogs, tools and smith tools, to him and his heirs forever. Also I lend to my son Lewis Foy the following negroes for his support, as he is a cripple, viz: Dick & Ann, & Hannah & Ned and negro Fan for and during his natural life for his sole support, and at his death I give the said negroes I lend to son Lewis, to his heirs lawfully begotten of his body forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my daughter Sereney all the household goods and beds she had in her possession when she married Golden, also I lend for and during my daughter’s, Sereney’s natural life, the following negroes by name Peter and Tamar and her child Moses. And also Nathan and Mary for her support, during her natural life and at their death I give said negroes, and Tamar’s increase, to be equally divided between the heirs lawfully begotten of her body forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my son Frederick Foy, the following negroes Viz: Dave, George, Sal, Lott, and girl Alice and beds and such tools or stocks of cattle, hogs, as in her possession, and I have given her a deed of gift for the lands where my son James Foy now at present resides in this county, his heirs forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my daughter Betsey Nixon two feather beds and furniture, and two cows and yearlings, one chest, and the following negroes viz: Mimey and her children of the following names,Simon, Sarah and Grace, and also Jack, Lenea, to her and her heirs (lawfully) begotten of their body forever.

Item: Whereas I have paid unto my son Joshua Foy to the amount of sixteen hundred dollars, or thereabouts in lands, which has been sold and conveyed by me, and I hereby confirm the same to him and his heirs forever. Also I give and bequeath to my said son Joshua, two parcels of land on Mill Run, adjoining Wards and Corbettes, being four hundred acres more or less, to him and his heirs forever. And also the following negroes viz; Issac, Hannah, Duke, Charlotte, Nicey, Rose and Miranda, to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Morris Foy one bed and furniture, one bay mare and colt, one yoke oxen and chain, and further I give unto my said son Morris three hundred acres of land known by the name of Bear Garden and also two hundred acres of land where old Suck died, to him and his heirs (lawfully begotten of his body) forever, and also I hereby give unto my said son Morris, the following negroes viz; Douglas and Robin, Abb, Jack and Tony, to him and his heirs, as also one feather bed and furniture to him and his heirs forever.

After my wife’s decease, my will and desire is that my lands I left to my wife during her natural life, being the lands I purchased of James Hebble and John Lester to my son Morris and his heirs and assigns forever, the residue not mentioned in my will to pay debts.

Lastly I constitute, make and appoint my sons Frederick Foy and Joshua Foy my whole and sole Executors to this my last Will and Testament, revoking all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made. And I do hereby desire my executors above mentioned to do their duty in full.”

James Foy Senior. (Seal)

Poplar Grove Land Deed Cover

Poplar Grove Land Deed

However, it is the legacy of James Foy, Jr. and his wife, Henrietta Rhodes Foy, and their household of bequeathed and purchased enslaved men, women and children that Poplar Grove still stands today.