Paul Delaroche etching of mother and childThis article was originally published August 28, 2016, but I’ve updated it today (May 23, 2017) because I’ve just found new information.

I found the following while researching one of my ancestors, Celia AVERY, the wife of John HOLMES. I was looking for all variations of the name since I have seen both spelled many different ways.

I came upon some bastardy records for a woman named Selah AVERITT, who I thought could possibly be her, but when I saw the dates I initially dismissed her being my ancestor. I thought it seemed she was born far too late. After all, John HOLMES had two children that would’ve been born when she was only about 12 years old.

Turns out, I ended up finding something that proves she is John HOLMES wife, but he was apparently married before her. His first two children, Betsy HOLMES (wife of Dennis WIGGINS) and William HOLMES (second husband of Alpha MORRIS), would’ve been with his first wife. His next three children, Jane (wife of Harvey EDWARDS), Sally (wife of Levi MORRIS), and Sophia (wife of Roland MORRIS), were born to him and Selah AVERITT.

Selah Averitt shows up in the Craven County Bastardy Bonds on at least four occasions.

24 May 1823
Mother – Selah Averett
Bondsman – Selah Averett (Selah Averitt)
Bondsman – Zachariah Williams (Zachariah Williams)
Bondsman – Fredrick Butler (Frederick Butler)

[Note: There is some confusion about the next two entries in the Bastardy Bonds book so I have grayed them out below. I have requested copies of Selah Averitt’s bastardy bonds from the North Carolina Archives and while documents were sent for 1823, 1824 and 1825, I saw no bonds in the package that was sent that mentioned John Dawson, Charles Nelson, Osborn Clark, or Stephen Chapman as bondsmen. I will be visiting Archives in person in June and will report back once I have combed through the records myself.]

30 Nov 1824
Mother – Selah Averitt
Bondsman – Thomas Hardy
Bondsman – John B. Dawson
Bondsman – Charles J. Nelson

30 Nov 1824 
Mother – Selah Averitt
Bondsman – Osborn Clark
Bondsman – Stephen Chapman

May 1825 
Mother – Selah Averitt
Bondsman – Selah Averitt
Bondsman – Enoch Averitt
Bondsman – Joseph Hardy

A few quick notes about relationships of the above names.

  • There was a Selah Averitt born about 1803 in Craven County to David Averitt (b. abt 1770) and his first wife (name unknown). If that is the same Selah Averitt, she was about 20 when she first had to appear before the Justices of the Peace of Craven County in May 1823 regarding an illegitimate child. That child’s name was listed as Serenia Averitt.
  • The same month, May 1823, Selah’s father, David Averitt, married Sarah “Sally” Butler, daughter of Arthur Butler and Sarah Johnson Butler. Sarah Butler was his second wife.
  • Sarah Butler’s brother, Frederick Butler, is one of the bondsmen on that May 1823 bastardy bond, which means Selah’s step-uncle, Frederick, posted bond for her the same month his sister married Selah’s father. Frederick was born 30 December 1798, so he was only five years older than Selah (at the most).
  • Zachariah Williams, the second bondsman for the May 1823 record, has no relation to Selah Averitt that I can find. I do know there was a Zachariah Williams, son of Talbot Williams (aka Tolbert Williams) and his wife, Nancy Gardner Williams. Zachariah was born about 1795, so he also wasn’t much older than Selah — about 8 years at the most. I can’t make sense of how he ended up as a bondsman unless he was the father but wanted to keep it secret. It may be worth mentioning that a year later Zachariah marries Nancy Manker and not long after, they move to Posey County, Indiana.
  • The November 30, 1824 entries seem to be related to Selah being pregnant with a child conceived with Thomas Hardy.
  • Enoch Averett (Enoch Averitt), named as a bondsman in the May 1825 record, is Selah’s brother. From what I can tell, he is also the son of David Averitt and his first wife (name unknown). In this record, she has been delivered of her child, called Stephen. It would seem this is the baby she conceived with Thomas Hardy, so it would make sense that Joseph Hardy is a bondsman.
  • It may be worth mentioning that, according to the 1820 census, Zachariah Williams (May 1823 bondsman) was a close neighbor of both Enoch Averitt (Selah’s brother) and David Averitt (Selah’s father, and presumably, where she resided). Zachariah was also very close in age to Enoch, so it’s likely that the two of them were good friends. [Enoch and David are listed with the last name Avery and not Averitt on the 1820 census.]
  • Relating to the second November 1824 entry, the Chapmans and Clarks (bondsmen were Osborn Clark and Stephen Chapman) are cousins several different ways. Also, the Justices of the Peace were both part of the Chapman family.
  • Stephen Chapman married Penelope Hardy in 1819. There may be a kinship between Penelope and Thomas Hardy (the father named in the second bond) and Joseph Hardy (who served as bondsman in one of the Nov 1824 bonds).

The following are transcriptions of the records I found documenting Selah Averitt having children outside of wedlock and having to go before Craven County justices to either pay the fine (as happened in the first case) or name the father (as happened in the second case).


State of North Carolina
Craven County

Know all men by these presents that we the said Selah Averitt and Zacariah Williams and Frederick Butler are held and firmly Bound unto the Chearman of our County Court to be held for the County of Craven in the Just Sum of Five Hundred dollars to be paid unto the Said Chearman or his Successors in office to the which payment well and truly to be maid and done we the Said Selah Averitt and Zacariah Williams and Frederick Butler do Bind our Selvs our hears Executors and Administrators jointly and Severally firmly By these present to Sealed with our Seals and dated the twenty fourth day of May 1823

The Conditions of the above obligation is Such that if the above Bounden Selah Averitt and Zacariah Williams and Frederick Butler doth will and truly keep or cause to be kept a Certain Basterd Child by the name of Serenia Averitt from Becoming Chargeable to the County and State aforesaid which Child the above Bounden Selah Averitt has Lately been delivered of and Refuses to tell the name of the father of said Child and if the above Bounden Selah Averitt Zacariah Williams and Frederick Butler do well and truely perform and keep the Said child from becoming Chargeable to the County and State until the Said Child arrivs to the age of Seven Years oald then the above obligation to be paid other wise to Remain in full force and virtue.

Signed

Selah {her X mark} Averitt {Seal}
Zachariah Williams {Seal}
Fredrick {his X mark} Butler {Seal}

Attest

John Chapman JP
Seth Chapman JP


State of North Carolina
Craven County

The Examination of Selah Averitt in the Said County Single woman stated on Oath before us John and Seth Chapman two of the Justices of the peace in and for the Said County this the 30 day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand and Eight Hundred and twenty fore who sayeth that She is now with Child and that the Said Child is Likely to be Born a basterd and to be Chargeable to the County aforesaid and that Thomas Hardy of and in the Said County planter is the father of the Said Child.

Selah {her X mark} Averitt

Taken before us and Signed
the day and year above written

John Chapman JP
Seth Chapman JP


State of North Carolina
Craven County

To John Fornes to Execute and Return Whereas upon the Examination of Selah Averitt Single woman this day taken on Oath before us it appears that She is now with Child with Child when it Shall be born will be a Bastard and may becom Chargeable to the Said County and the Said Selah Averitt hath Confessed that Thomas Hardy of the County aforesaid planter did beget the Said Child and hath Charged him with the Same These are therefore to Command You to apprehend the Said Thomas Hardy and Bring him before us or any two Justices of the peace for the Said County to answer the Said Charge.

Given under our hands and Seals at the hous of Seth Chapman in Said County this the 30 day of November AD 1824

John Chapman JP {Seal}
Seth Chapman JP {Seal}


State of North Carolina
Craven County

Know all men by these presents that we the said Selah Averitt and Enuch Averitt and Joseph Hardy all of the County and State aforesaid are held and firmly bound unto the State of North Carolina in the Sum of three Houndred dollers to be Respethfully Levied of our goods and Chattels Land and tennements tho which payment Shal well and truly be made or Caused to be maid we bind our selv our hears and assigns that is if default shall be maid in the Condition under written Signed and Sealed with our Seals this the 2 day of May AD 1825.

The Condition of the above obligation is Such that the above bounden Selah Averitt hath Lately fetched forth a Child born of her Body which Child is Cauld Stephen and is a basterd and may becom Chargeable the Said County and the Said Selah Averitt and her Securitys hath agreed and do all obligate to keep Said Child from becoming Chargeable to Said County and bear harmless the over Ceers of the fore of Said County and if the Said Selah Averitt Enuch Averitt and Joseph Hardy shall perform and Keep said Child from becoming Chargable to Said County and also bear harmless the wardeans and over Ceers of the fore of Said County then the above Obligation to be paid otherwise to Remian in full force and virture Signed by the partys above named the day and year above written

Selah ( her X mark ) Averitt { Seal }
Enoch Avritt { Seal }
Joseph ( his x mark ) Hardy { Seal }

Attest
John Chapman JP