Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Follow-up on Sylvester Brown Gaskill: Bastardy Bonds

Following my last post, Ministers and preachers of Township 5: 1900, a cousin asked about the disclaimer at the bottom of the page concerning a message board post RE: black Gaskills and Amanda Gaskill's bastardy bond for the birth of Sylvester (July 1829).

Desiring to know how a person could conclude paternity from a bastardy bond, without the full transcription of the case (which this descendant claimed to possess), I searched for additional information on North Carolina bastardy bonds. In the book of transcriptions written by Betty & Edwin Camin they explain:
The "Bastardy Bonds" of North Carolina contains bonds posted because of the birth or impending birth of a bastard child. These bonds were intended to protect the county or parish from the expense of raising the child. When the pregnancy of a woman or birth of a child was brought to the attention of the court, a warrant was issued and the woman brought into Court. She was examined under oath and asked to declare the name of the child's father. The 'reputed' father was then served a warrant and required to post bond. If the woman refused to name, the father, she, her father or some other interested party would post the bond. In some cases, the mother and reputed father together posted the bond. If the woman refused to post bond or declare the father, she was often sent to jail. The records are indexed by county and complimented by a full-name index at the back of book for easy references. 
In light of the above information, Amanda Gaskill's specifics were transcribed as:

Carteret County:
Amanda Gaskill     July 1829   Bondsman: John N. Hamilton, Bondsman: John H. Styron, Bondsman: James Nelson.

It is possible that she named one of these men . . . the first bondsman listed, as the father of her child; but, it is also possible that these men got together to pay her bond because they had some other interest in the case. Without the full transcription of the case, it is impossible to know for sure.
For more about Betty Camin, see her home page.

My curiosity has led me to request a copy of the bastardy bond and a transcript of the case, if available, from the North Carolina State Archives. I'll keep you posted . . . .


  1. Was it ever concluded whether John N. Hamilton is in fact that father of Sylvester Gaskill? I am a descendent of Sylvester Gaskill and am trying to figure this out. Interestingly, searches show Amanda Gaskill as Sylvester's parent and a bastardy bond for Sylvester. Based on this, it appears that he took the name of his mother because his father was not present. Are there any known family members or parents of Amanda Gaskill?

    1. I have not found any documentation which 100% proves that John N. Hamilton was indeed the father of Sylvester; however, it is generally accepted that he was since he was the first named bondsman. He would've been abt. 20 years old & Amanda Gaskill would've been abt. 17 years old when Sylvester Brown Gaskill was born. In 1850 she appears in Sylvester's household, age 40.

      In the 1840 Census, there are no FPOC Gaskill families enumerated. If living in Carteret (or even Craven) County, she (abt. 30) and her son (age abt. 13) would be slaves, most likely in one of these households. The only two households including both a female and male of these ages are that of Robert Gaskill and Jacob Gaskill. Unfortunately, I am unable to locate any estate records for either of these two men on

      John's father was Edward Hamilton. I had thought to look for him in the 1840 Census, thinking that per chance he lived near either Robert or Jacob Gaskill; and while neither of them appear on the same page as Edward Hamilton, there are four other Gaskill families living close by.

      So we are unable to determine at this time who Amanda's family might be, and living in which household. You might try contacting the The History Place in Morehead City. Perhaps they might have some Gaskill info that might help narrow down the possibilities.

    2. Thank you very much, Debra. This is great information and I appreciate you taking the time to look into this!

    3. You're very welcome! Glad to help.