LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) — Anthony Carter, his wife, and three kids were enslaved by Henry Erskine in Lewisburg until July of 1837 when they were freed.
Greenbrier Historical Society Curator, Toni Ogden, told 59News, they found a ledger from Carter at the bottom of a box given to them from the Greenbrier County Courthouse. Ogden said Carter’s early life is still a mystery to them.
“Suddenly, we started finding records about Anthony Carter after he was freed by Henry Erskine,” Ogden said. “We don’t know why the family was freed. They were sort of in the prime of their life, so to speak. They were worth money.”
After the Carters’ were emancipated, Anthony became a cobbler, making and mending shoes. Ogden said his business was located right in Downtown Lewisburg. Even Carter’s former owner Erskine got his shoes mended at Anthony’s shop, which employed slaves.
“Anthony Carter as a free black man was actually hiring enslaved people to work for him,” Ogden said.
Ogden said being a freed black man in a slave economy was not easy.
“You had to go every five years and report yourself to the courthouse,” Ogden said. “Your names were posted on the Courthouse doors. It was not a comfortable situation.”
Ogden said they are continuing to research the life of the Carter Family as they still are not sure where the family was from. She added these may be questions they won’t get answers too.
“We never give up. We may find things that will point out something to us,” Ogden said. “We haven’t gone through all the courthouse records yet.”
Ogden said the exhibit is now open at the North House Museum in Lewisburg.