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THE BENJAMIN & EDITH SPAULDING
SPAULDING FAMILY HISTORY
The Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants are a large extended family whose roots lead back to Colonial America.
Benjamin Spaulding (1773-1862) was of mixed-race background, born into slavery in Duplin County, NC. His wife Edith Delphia Freeman Spaulding (1786-1871) was a Native-American of Waccamaw and Cape Fear Indian ancestry from Bladen County, NC. The couple had nine children: William, Emanuel, Armstead, John, Iver, Ann Eliza, Benjamin Jr., David and Henry.
Benjamin was legally freed in 1825 by manumission papers filed in Columbus County, NC courts. Earlier census records and land deeds in indicate Benjamin was considered free for many years before that date.
Benjamin and Edith acquired land and a mill in Farmers Union, NC becoming skilled farmers and turpentine distillers. With their extended families the couple helped establish a free, independent and self-sustaining community with a school and church on their land prior to the U.S. Civil War. Post-Civil War the family entered politics as well, with their son John Spaulding (1817-1894) elected as the first county commissioner of color in Bladen County, NC in 1868.
Benjamin and Edith’s nine children raised 76 grandchildren and many extended family members as well. Step-grandson George Henry White (1852-1918) was elected to U.S. Congress in 1897 serving two terms as the sole African-American congressman of that era. After being forced out of his seat due to implementation of discriminatory "Jim Crow" laws in North Carolina, Congressman White relocated to Philadelphia becoming a prominent business leader. In 1901 he founded the town of Whitesboro, NJ as a place for settlers to have an even chance for opportunities and success. Many of our family members relocated to Whitesboro successfully replicating traditions of self-sufficiency and achievement. New York, Washington, DC and Los Angeles became additional early 20th century nexus points where Spaulding descendants made their mark.
Grandson Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore (1862-1923), with his nephew Charles Clinton Spaulding (1874-1952) and business partner John Merrick (1859-1919), created unparalleled opportunities for people of color in Durham, NC. Together they co-founded North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., Mechanics & Farmers Bank, Lincoln Hospital and other entities forming “Black Wall Street” in Durham, the preeminent African-American business center of the mid-20th century. C.C. Spaulding also had a significant role in the founding of North Carolina Central University at Durham in 1909, while Dr. A.M. Moore spearheaded the establishment of numerous Rosenwald Fund elementary schools in rural African-American communities throughout the Carolinas.
Great-grandson Rev. William Luther Moore (1857-1930) left a profound legacy within the Native-American community as a renowned educator and religious leader among the Lumbee Tribe. He founded the Croatan Normal School in 1887, now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Rev. W.L. Moore also initiated the ongoing effort for federal tribal recognition of the Lumbee by the U.S. Government in the 1890s. Spaulding descendants continue to maintain a proud and significant presence in the modern Lumbee and Waccamaw-Siouan Indian communities in North Carolina.
Spaulding descendants have pioneered in many key areas. Their achievements in education, finance, public service, arts, agriculture, and invention have been truly remarkable.
Today some nine generations since Benjamin and Edith have come into existence with more than 5,000 descendants. Bi-annual Reunions connect cousins from all over the country, with annual events additionally held by our regional committees. Our family association (BESDA, Inc.) and non-profit foundation (BESDF, Inc.) now support many beneficial projects among our extended family.
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