Meet the Couples
These six antebellum couples represent the beginning case studies of what will become a deep analysis and long-term project. They will eventually be joined by more cases from earlier and later American eras as other couples are found and investigated. For now, these six couples are under query.
Early preliminary research has revealed, in most cases, their parentages and some 1st generation descendants. Additional research in extant archival records will help to determine the socio-historical context of their lives which very preliminary reviews have already found were extremely varied. Nevertheless, what all the couples had in common is they each had been charged with violating extant anti-miscegenation statues in their respective states and whose cases would eventually find their way to their state’s Supreme Court during an appeals process. In each case, however, the lower court’s rulings, convictions, punishments, and Grand Jury indictments upon which they rested, were affirmed.
William Phillip Waters and Zilpha Thompson, Ashe County, North Carolina, married 1840[i]
Alfred Hooper and Elizabeth Suttles, Rutherford County, North Carolina, married c. 1830[ii]
Henderson Ashworth and Leticia Stewart, Jefferson County, Texas, married c. 1848[iii]
John C. Clark and Sobrina, Wharton County, Texas, married c. 1837[iv]
Joseph “Joel” Fore and Susan Chesnut, Craven County, N. Carolina, married 1840[v]
Thornton Ellis and Susan Bishop, Lee County, Alabama married c. early 1860s[vi]
Eventually, each couple will have its own web page, (linked from a Master Table) where their stories will be told, adding an original but nuanced layer to the narrative of what we currently know about race relations in America and how it was oppressed in the service of power and racial hegemony. Some may find these narratives useful as they seek answers to understanding their personal history and how it shapes their perception of race.
[i] “State v . William P. Watters,” in North Carolina Reports Cases at Law Argued in the Supreme Court of North Carolina, Vol 25, 308-310 [Dec. term 1842-June Term 1843]
[ii] “State v. Alfred Hooper Et Al” in North Carolina Reports: Cases at Law Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of North Carolina Vol. 27, [Dec. Term 1844 - June Term 1845] 201-202.,
[iii] “Henderson Ashworth v the State,” in Reports of Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Texas during Austin term, 1852, and a part of Galveston term, 1853. Volume 9. 245-246
[iv] “G.W. Honey, Treasurer v. B. Clark ET AL, “ in Reports of Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Texas, Vol 37; 686-709.
[v] S. v. Fore” in North Carolina Reports: Cases at Law Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of North Carolina, Vol. 23, 389-291
[vi] “Thornton Ellis et al v. the State” in Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Alabama, [June Term, 1868] Volumes 41-42, 525-527