Laura Dunston, Free Person of Color, b. June 17, 1846, Louisburg, NC, Contributed by Renate Yarborough Sanders

Laura Dunston, Louisburg, NC

Laura Dunston, b. 1846, Louisburg, NC

Laura Dunston was the daughter of Simon and Susan Reed Dunston, of Louisburg, NC. She was born June 17, 1846 into a family of Free People of Color. On September 13, 1865 she married Wilson “Wils” Dunston, with whom she had five children – Susan, Daniel, Judy, Rosa, and Eddie. Laura died on March 28, 1920. At the time of her death, she was living in Raleigh, NC with her granddaughter, Mabel Green Powell. Lovingly submitted by great-great granddaughter, Renate Yarborough Sanders


  1. Kevin Carvery

    I’d say this is a family connection. Recently posted on @runawayslaveads Facebook. I’m not sure exactly how, however, the family I posted lived in Franklin & Lunenburg County, North Carolina. Please delete if not relevant.

    The Dunstan family of Virginia was probably related to Ann Dunstan who confessed to having illegitimate “Mulatto” children in Piscataway Hundred, Prince George’s County, Maryland, in 1746 and 1748.

    Patience Dunstan, born say 1734, was a “Mulatto” girl belonging to the estate of Peter Brewer of Brunswick County, Virginia, in May 1741 [Orders 1732-41, 444]. She was living in Lunenburg County when the churchwardens of Cumberland Parish were ordered to bind out her son Charles to John Howell in April 1751 and her daughter Lucy (no race indicated) in November 1753. In April 1754 the court bound her daughters Lucy and Amey to John Howell, and in October 1759 the court bound Alice, her “Molatto” child, to John Howell [Orders 1746-52, 391; 1753-4, 486, 623; 1755-57, 278; 1759-61, 32]. In August 1766 the churchwardens of Meherrin Parish in adjoining Brunswick County were ordered to bind out her children Isaac and Pheby (no race indicated) [Orders 1765-68, 148]. She was called Patience Dunstal, a “mallatto,” in Bute County, North Carolina, on 9 November 1778, when the court ordered her children James, Tom, Frank, and Isaac bound as apprentices. She was probably living in John Howell’s household since her children were bound to him in Lunenburg County and her son James was bound to him in Bute County [Minutes 1777-79, 136]. She was head of a Franklin County, North Carolina household of 4 “other free” in 1810 [NC:826]. Her children were

    2 i. Charles1, born say 1750.

    3 ii. Lucy, born say 1752.

    iii. Amy, born say 1753, “daughter of Patience Dunstan,” bound by the churchwardens of Cumberland Parish, Lunenburg County, to John Howell, in April 1754 [Orders 1753-54, 623].

    iv. William, born about 1755, one of the “Molatto Children of Patience Dunstan,” bound apprentice to John Howell by the April 1757 Lunenburg County court [Orders 1755-57, 278]. According to the militia returns for Bute County, he was born in Virginia about 1755, about 5’9″ high, one of the Continental Soldiers from Bute County who volunteered for nine months [Militia Returns, NCGSJ XV:109]. He married Fanny Bibby, 11 July 1778 Bute County bond.

    v. ?Wallace, born say 1757, a soldier from Halifax County, Virginia, who deserted Captain Shem Cook’s Second Georgia State Battalion. On 27 October 1777 Cook placed an advertisement in the Virginia Gazette offering “mulattoes” Wallace Dunstan and James Smith of Halifax County (and 10 other soldiers, including a sergeant) a pardon if they returned [Virginia Gazette (Purdie), p.3, col. 1].

    vi. Alice, born say 1759, “a Mulatto Girl daughter of Patience Dunston,” bound out to John Howell in Lunenburg County in October 1759 [Orders 1759-60]. Alcey was head of a Franklin County, North Carolina household of 3 “other free” in 1810 [NC:826].

    vii. Phebe, born say 1760, bound apprentice in Brunswick County in August 1766.

    viii. Isaac1, born say 1762, ordered bound apprentice in Brunswick County in August 1766 [Orders 1765-68, 148].

    ix. James, born about 1764, fourteen-year-old son of Patience Dunstal, bound apprentice to John Howell in Bute County on 9 November 1778 [Minutes 1777-79, 136], head of a Franklin County, North Carolina household of 3 “other free” in 1810 [NC:826].

    x. Tom, born about 1769, a seven-year-old bound apprentice to Peter Tatum in Bute County on 9 November 1778.

    xi. Frank, born about 1773, five-year-old bound apprentice to Peter Tatum in Bute County on 9 November 1778.

    xii. Isaac2, born about 1776, a two-year-old bound apprentice to Peter Tatum in Bute County on 9 November 1778 [Minutes 1777-79, 136].

    2. Charles1 Dunston, born say 1750, son of Patience Dunston, was bound apprentice in to John Howell in Cumberland Parish, Lunenburg County, in April 1751. He was called “a poor soldier in the service of the United States” on 8 May 1780 when the Mecklenburg County, Virginia court allowed his wife Elizabeth Dunston a barrel and a half of corn and 50 pounds of bacon for the support of herself and two children [Orders 1779-84, 34, 53]. He purchased 230 acres in Wake County, North Carolina, on both sides of Little Lick Creek on 21 September 1787 [DB H:221]. He sold 105 acres of this land to William Evans, Sr., before 21 June 1798 when Evans sold this land [Deeds, p.76]. He was counted as white in 1790, head of a Wake County household of one male over 16, two under 16 and six females [NC:105]. He was living in Orange County when he received his final settlement for his service in the Revolutionary War [The North Carolinian VI:755]. He may have been the father of

    i. Phillis, born say 1800, married Solomon Locklear, 19 January 1818 Wake County bond, John Phillips bondsman.

    3. Lucy Dunston, born say 1752, daughter of Patience Dunstan, was bound apprentice to John Howell in Lunenburg County in April 1754, and she was one of the “Mollatto Children of Patience Dunstan” bound to John Howell in April 1757 [Orders 1753-54, 623; 1755-57, 278]. She was living in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, on 13 April 1772 when her son Charles, no age or race mentioned, was bound an apprentice to William Murphy [Orders 1771-73, 184]. Her children were

    i. Charles2, born say 1771, married Sally Bass, 21 November 1814 Wake County bond, Mark Beasley bondsman.

    ii. ?Winny, head of a Wake County household of 7 “other free” in 1800 [NC:760] and 6 “free colored” in 1840 [NC:16].

    iii. ?Richard Miles, married Nancy Stewart, 18 February 1802 Mecklenburg County, Virginia bond, Thomas Spence security. He, Robert Brannum, Thomas Spence, William Stewart, Humphrey Wilson, Joseph Stewart, Frederick Ivey, and Pompy Mayo were ordered to work on the road which Benjamin Edmundson was surveying in Mecklenburg County on 10 October 1803 [Orders 1803-5, 45].

    You will also find a picture of Richard Rice Dunston (1835-1924) of Franklin County, North Carolina, and his second wife Mary Eliza Harris Dunston. Richard’s first wife was Mary Eliza Manley.

    I hope this information helps in some way to identify this family.


    • Toni

      Thank you so much Kevin! We will call this to the attention of the contributor of the photo. Many thanks for taking the time to send this!


    • Renate Sanders

      Thank you, Kevin, for your comments. Yes, this is the work of Paul Heinegg, (that you posted) and it is indeed the family from which I descend. If we are related, I would love to hear from you! Please email me at

      Thanks, again!

      • Kevin Carvery

        Hi, Renata. I hope you’re well! Not connected to your family. I was fascinated by both stories & knew I shared it. I knew there had to be a family connection.

        Blessings to you!



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