AUTHOR: Kenneth Whitehurst (originally posted 9/2/2018; edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter 7/22/20)
My great-great-grandfather, Toney Boyd, was a slave of Frederick Boyd at a place called Long Acre, near Bath, in Beaufort County, North Carolina. Around 1850, with permission from both parties’ owners, Toney married my great-great-grandmother, Harriett Ann Windley, who was enslaved by John Windley of Beaufort County, North Carolina. In 1862, the couple escaped from enslavement, first fleeing to Washington, North Carolina; however, by 1864, the couple had made their way to James City, outside of New Bern, North Carolina.
On September 3, 1864, 40-year-old Toney Boyd, escaped slave, joined the Union Army for a 3-year enlistment, swearing to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America. Private Boyd served in Company K, 37th Infantry, United States Colored Troops [USCT]. Private Boyd went with his company to Wilmington, N.C., in November 1864, and, in December of the same year, his regiment was ordered to the first battle against Ft. Fisher. During the second battle, Ft. Fisher fell. Afterward, Boyd’s unit joined General William T. Sherman’s Army and remained under that command until the surrender of the Confederate General Johnston in North Carolina. After the war ended, Boyd and Company K of the 37th USCT was eventually garrisoned at Fort Macon, N.C.
His wife, Harriett Ann Windley Boyd, traveled with him to his posts; she was with him at Wilmington in 1864 and at Ft. Macon during the summer of 1865. She remained with him until he mustered out in February of 1867 at Raleigh, North Carolina. Toney Boyd later moved to Elizabeth City, N.C. and then relocated to Princess Anne County, Virginia, where he died on June 16, 1885. Pvt. Toney Boyd’s name is inscribed, alongside the names of the other members of his regiment, on the wall of the African American Civil War Memorial at Washington, D.C.
As a result of a dispute between my great-great-grandmother, Harriett Ann Windley Boyd, and Boyd’s second wife, Philis Boyd, for a widow’s pension, a folder of very informative affidavits is stored at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.