Ca. 1823 - January 11, 1864
From the information available, it appears Ephraim was born into slavery in North Carolina in 1823. He was first enslaved by a man named Christopher “Kit” Crandall, of Beaufort County, a veteran of the War of 1812. While we don’t know the nature of Ephraim’s work on the Crandall farm, we do know that he enjoyed a small amount of mobile liberty and was able to travel about three miles to a neighboring plantation where he eventually caught the eye of an enslaved woman named Rosetta Perry.
Rosetta was born into slavery about the year 1825 on the Rosedale Plantation, then managed by David Bradley Perry. (By 1860, he enslaved close to one hundred people.) Following a period of courtship, Rosetta and Ephraim were married by the consent of both of their enslavers, per custom, in 1844. As Rosetta was a house "servant," indicating a higher status, the ceremony was conducted inside the main house at Rosedale (per an affidavit by R. W. Wharton). A free Black minister, Abram Allen, officiated the wedding, and a large supper was provided to the wedding party by the couple’s enslavers.
The newlyweds moved into a “double house” with Millie Perry, another woman enslaved by David Perry, who served as a nurse to both the white and enslaved children. Together, Ephraim and Rosetta had four children: Cicero, born August 23, 1845; Bettie, born September 14, 1847; Simon, born August 19, 1852; and King, born September 25, 1855. About the time King was born, Kit Crandall sold Ephraim to “speculators,” or slave traders, who then sold him to Edward (Edmon) Moore, of Jamesville, North Carolina.
Upon arrival in Jamesville, Ephraim was very quickly married off to Dolley Powers, a woman then held in slavery by George Moore Burras. Little is known about the ceremony, which transpired on or about October 30, 1855, and it’s unclear if Ephraim willingly entered into this relationship or was forced to. We do know that Burras himself presided over the ceremony and that other people then enslaved by Burras were in attendance. Ephraim and Dolley had three children (of six) that were still living in July 1869: Mozella, born August 15, 1855; Lewis, born October 23, 1856; and Isabella, born October 9, 1860. Katy Wilson and Charity Powers, two women also enslaved by Burras, “rendered the assistance usual” at each of the births.
During the entirety of his marriage to Dolley, Ephraim continued to visit Rosetta and his children by her about every two weeks. Life continued this way, with Ephraim splitting his time between the two families, until about the spring of 1863 when, during the course of one of these trips home to Rosedale, he told Rosetta of his plans to go to New Bern to enlist in the United States Army. It obviously pained the then forty-year-old man to leave them, telling his wife before he departed to “do the best I could & take care of his children.”
On June 16, Ephraim was formally enlisted into the Army and was assigned to Company B of the 1st North Carolina Colored Volunteers, later redesignated as the 35th United States Colored Troops. He had been outfitted as a soldier and was receiving basic training when he contracted small pox and became seriously ill. When the rest of the 35th departed to join Federal forces down in South Carolina in July, Ephraim was left behind in New Bern to recuperate. Recovery, however, did not come, and Ephraim died on January 11, 1864, with his eldest son Cicero by his side. His death made two women widows.
June 16, 1863: enlisted at New Bern, North Carolina
June 30, 1863: mustered in at New Bern, North Carolina
to June 30, 1863: Present
July & August, 1863: Absent; sick in New Bern, N.C. since July 30/63
September & October, 1863: Absent; sick in New Bern, N.C. since July 30/63
November & December, 1863: Absent; sick in New Bern, N.C. since July 30/63; *Name borne in column of names present cancelled.
January & February, 1864: known to have died in New Bern, N.C.
June 1, 1866: Died Jan. 11, 1864, Norfolk, Va. Typhoid fever.