North Carolina

A North Carolina Negro in Venice

Extracted from the People's Press dated Saturday, March 13, 1852

Some two or three years since, we published in the Republican, then printed at New-Berne, a brief extract from the letter of a traveller, dated at Venice, stating that the keeper of the principal Hotel in that city resorted to by foreigners, was a negro of North Carolina.

Feeling a curiosity about him, we made an inquiry as to his origin, expecting it to attract attention of some person who could give us accurate information. The paragraph lately arrested the attention of a friend while looking over the files of this paper, who visited Venice about ten years since, and who has kindly furnished us with the copy of the part of a letter written to his family at that time, in which some account of the negro alluded to is given. The letter was written at Geneva, Switzerland, and will doubtless be perused with interest by our readers: Goldsboro' Republican

"During our sojourn at Venice, we (my friend from Virginia and myself,) met with rather a singular adventure.

At the Hotel where we lodged - a fine sort of Astor House on the "Grand Canal," the Broadway of Venice--was a negro man, who, though only Porter I believe, seemed to be the principal functionary of the establishment. This man, on our alighting from the Gondola a little after dark, hearing us speak English in reference to our baggage, approached us very politely, but deferentially, and invited us to go up to our rooms, and that he would attend to the luggage. He spoke English very purely, and was really a very polished gentleman. Our Southern ideas and prejudices against the color, forbade, of course, any approaches on our part, -- not for a moment supposing that we had a countryman for our Host. He also speaks French and Italian very well, and seems to be held in high regard, not only at the Hotel, but also by the citizens of this city. On the day we left, whilst waiting in the reception room for a Gondola, (for you know we cannot pass to the main land except by water,) we entered into conversation with him and enquired where he was from. To my great astonishment, he was from North Carolina-- yes, not only from North Carolina, but from Lenoir County!--and could tell me all about Kinston, New-Berne, the neighboring places, and many of the inhabitants. His name is Martin, and belonged to one of the Patricks, who resided in Murphy's neighborhood, and who keep, for a while, a Hotel in New-Berne. He left there about fourteen years ago, was sold to a family of New Orleans, accompanied his mistress to Europe, and learning after his arrival here, that he was free, left her at Genoa, and is now playing the Gent. in Venice. He has a family in his new home, and says he would not return to America on any account. But enough of negroes and the first County-man that I have met with during my tour, and let me turn to beautiful Lake Leman at my feet, and the snow-capped Mt. Blane, clearly visible from my chamber window, though fifty miles distant."

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