Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

Collateral kin: the Hamptons.

On 30 Jan 1905, in Statesville, North Carolina, my great-great-grandfather John W. Colvert married Adeline Hampton.  The marriage was performed by J.H. Pressley, the same Presbyterian minister who would marry John’s son Lon and Caroline McNeely a year later.  John and Adeline had had four daughters together. Selma Eugenia, Ida Mae, Lillie Mae and Henrietta were born between 1889 and 1893, and I don’t know what kept John and Addie from marrying for so long — or finally induced them to tie the knot. Separate or apart, I’ve found none in the 1900 census.

Addie’s whole family, in fact, is elusive in enumeration records. Her marriage license and death certificate reveal that she was born about 1864 in Wilkes County, North Carolina — northwest of Iredell — to Horace and Myra Hampton. (Other death certificates report Myra’s maiden name as Russell.) In the 1880 census of Wilkes, Addie appears in Wilkesboro township with her parents, younger siblings Vance, Josephine and Henry, and nephews and niece Arthur, Horace and Emma Hampton. Ten years earlier, however, in the 1870 census, Horace and Myra cannot be found, and Addie seems to be living in a household headed by much older siblings.

The 1890 census has perished, but Horace Hampton, “the veteran bridge keeper,” appears in a brief congratulatory article in the Wilkesboro Chronicle on the prosperity and good behavior of the county’s colored people.


Wilkesboro Chronicle, 14 January 1891.

Unfortunately, the family’s next mention is an obituary for Myra Hampton, which reveals a surprising number of siblings for Addie. Most of the children were adults before Emancipation, thus do not appear in census records with their parents. Also, though Myra’s age is given as “about 80,” the 1880 census suggests that she was closer to 70 at the time of her death.


Wilkesboro Chronicle, 3 January 1900.

Just over a year later, the Chronicle mocked Horace Hampton’s efforts to reclaim his position as bridge tender on the Yadkin River.


Wilkesboro Chronicle, 3 April 1901.

In June 1905, less than six months after his next-to-youngest daughter finally married the father of her children, Horace Hampton passed away.


Wilkesboro Chronicle, 14 June 1905.

 Adeline “Addie” Hampton Colvert outlived her husband by almost 20 years. She is buried next to him in Green Street cemetery in Statesville.

Adeline H Colvert death cert

Letters, Maternal Kin, Migration, North Carolina

The notebook in the shed.

The notebook in the shed yielded a number of treasures, some bittersweet.

I found a copy of a letter from my great-aunt Julia Allen Maclin, postmarked 11 May 1982, and another from my aunt, Marion Allen Christian, dated 14 August 1982, that push the date of my earliest genealogical inquiries back three years earlier than I remember. I knew I’d written to Aunt Julia early, but thought for some reason that it had been in the mid-’80s, when I was living in Massachusetts and researching in earnest. Though she opened the letter with a disclaimer — “I don’t think I can be of much help in tracing geneology of the Allen-Holmes family” — she in fact laid the groundwork, revealing her grandparents’ names (except her mother’s mother’s, which she did not recall) and telling me what she knew of her parents’ siblings. “All of my father’s and mother’s family are dead,” she concluded. My aunt followed up with a trip to Charles City County that shed a little more light. A few years later, I made copies of photos from Aunt Julia’s albums — her parents, her siblings as children, even a portrait of Joseph R. Holmes. (Which I unwisely gave to Eric Foner to use in Freedom’s Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction just before I left graduate school in 1991. He misplaced it before the book was even published, and my cousin has not been able to find the original in what remains of Aunt Julia’s scrapbooks.)

There is also a letter from Ardeanur S. Hart, dated 16 October 1985 — almost exactly 29 years ago. I have no recollection of having written to or heard from her, which makes her note all the more poignant:

“Dear Lisa, It was a surprise, but pleasant one, to have a letter from you. I am sure you know I don’t remember you, were you there when the reunion was in Virginia?” (In 1982. I was not there; we had never met.)

“I will do the best I can to give you the names of the folk I know that live here, thier schools, Jobs etc. I don’t know, so I can only tell you thier names.” (Is this really what I asked her about?!? Did I squander an opportunity to go back in time for information about people still living? What could she have told me about Henry and Martha McNeely?)

“I hope this helps a little I can’t help more, please give my love to your mother & father. I hope I will be able to go to the reunion, if I keep well, I am 83 yr old now, and folk don’t care to be bothered with folk my age –” (Oh, Ardeanur. What I wouldn’t do to be able to bother now.)

” — but I am still singing and enjoying it, in my church chior, and in a choral group of senior’s. Sat Oct 19th I will do solo work at the ‘Hyet Regency’ downtown for the Columbus City widows which I am looking forward to.” (Wonderful!)

“I shall be looking forward to seeing you someday. Meantime write again some time, continue your studies, and take care of your self.” (Did I? Did I write again? And when I saw her the following summer, did I do anything besides take a photo?)

And then, after listing the Ohio McNeelys — basically descendants of her aunt Janie McNeely Taylor Manley — “I am Ardeanur Smith Hart. Daughter of Addie McNeely Smith husband (deceased) no children senior citizen. Alone.” (Emphasis hers. Oh, Ardeanur.)

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Name of your spouse, if any.

The new tenant wants access to the shed, so I trudged over to clean it out this morning. On the floor, behind a bicycle and some galvanized pails, I found two dusty three-ring binders. The papers in them were beginning to yellow and were foxing on the outer leaves, but basically in good shape. One contained notes and articles related to my graduate thesis — fodder for — and the other contained copies of some of my earliest genealogical research, stuff I’d long thought lost.

Among other things, there was a stack of the questionnaires distributed at the 1986 Colvert-McNeely family reunion in Statesville. That was the reunion at which I snapped this photo of Cousin Ardeanur S. Hart. Had she …?

Ha! Yes, she had:

IMG_5141 copy

And just like that, her husband’s name — Frank W. Hart.

Education, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Vocation

Bright lady teacher.

For the better part of a year, the doings of Jonah Williams‘ daughter Clarissa regularly made the society columns of the African-American Raleigh Gazette:


Raleigh Gazette, 30 January 1897.


Raleigh Gazette, 19 June 1897.


Raleigh Gazette, 26 June 1897.


Raleigh Gazette, 18 September 1897.

And then the paper folded.

More than 20 years passed before Clarissa next appeared in print. The “bright lady teacher” had fulfilled her promise and was elected principal of the Colored Graded School. Her tenure was not long, however. Clarissa Williams died of kidney disease on 26 October 1922, at the age of 51.


Wilson Daily Times, 24 September 1918.


Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, North Carolina


Speaking of Ardeanur … Here’s what I know about her.

Ardeanur R. Smith was born 8 February 1903 in Statesville, North Carolina, to Daniel and Addie Lucinda McNeely Smith. Her brother James Garfield Smith was born four years later. I have not found the family in the 1910 federal population schedule, and the family had fallen apart before the census taker next came round. As revealed in the estate file of Ardeanur’s great-uncle Julius McNeely, Addie McNeely Smith died in early 1917. Her mother’s family, and in particular, her younger sister Minnie B. McNeely, took responsibility for the children.

McNEELY -- Bert_Minnie_Ardeanur 001

A Murphy, Bertha Hart, Alonzo Lord, Minnie McNeely, Ardeanur Smith, Statesville, mid-1920s.

But not for long. By 1920, Ardeanur had struck out on her own. She appears as “Ardenia” Smith in the 1920 census in Salisbury, 25 miles west of Statesville in Rowan County, her mother’s birthplace. At 17, she is the youngest of eight young African-Americans, men and women, occupying a boarding house at 319 South Lee Street. She reported no occupation, though it seems likely that she was engaged in domestic work. How long she remained in Salisbury is not clear, and on 13 February 1923, she stood as a witness at the marriage of her aunt Janie Caroline McNeely, 24, to James Martin Taylor, 21, by Reverend Zander A. Dockery, a Presbyterian minister. (The other witness was Archie Weaver, husband of Elethea McNeely.)

Whether in Salisbury or Statesville, Ardeanur did not have much longer for small town North Carolina. Sometime mid-decade, she joined the tide of black Southerners flowing North, setting her bags ashore in Bayonne, New Jersey. Though many McNeelys would follow, at that time only her aunt Emma McNeely Houser was there, and it is likely that Ardeanur lived initially with her family. She joined the Housers’ church, Wallace Temple A.M.E. Zion, and began to develop her gifts. By June 1928, she was taking elocution lessons in New York City and in 1929 sang in a program in honor of United States Congressman Oscar DePriest.

Even as she dreamed, though, Ardeanur had to make a living. In 1928, she lived at 115 Davis Avenue in the West New Brighton neighborhood of Staten Island, just across the Kill Van Kull from Bayonne. She undoubtedly worked as a live-in servant to William G. Willcox, a Tuskegee Institute board member whose wife Mary Gay Willcox was descended from a prominent abolitionist family. (In fact, the Gay house at 115 Davis is believed to have been an important station on the Underground Railroad.) By 1930, when the census taker came around, Ardeanur Smith, 25, shared a $50/month  apartment with Mary Snowden at at 2014 Seventh Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard) in Harlem. Both worked as housemaids for private families, and both were reported as South Carolina-born. Ardeanur seems still to have been living in New York three years later when she, her aunt Minnie and first cousin Charles McNeely accompanied the body of Charles’ brother Irving McNeely Weaver to Iredell County for burial.

I’m not sure where Ardeanur was in 1940. Her name does not appear in enumerations of New Jersey or New York. Ninety miles south, however, a census taker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recorded North Carolina-born “Ardinia” Smith, age 40, living in a boarding house at 1710 West Fontain (just west of Temple University) and performing domestic work. Was this Ardeanur?

Sometime, probably in the early 1940s, Ardeanur Smith married. I have not found a marriage license for her, and no one I know knows her husband’s full name, much less where he was from. He was a Hart, a common name in Iredell County, but a common enough name everywhere that he is not necessarily someone she knew from “home.” I only know for certain that the wedding took place before 2 October 1947, when the Bayonne Times printed an obituary for John McNeely that listed niece Ardeanur Hart among his survivors. (Three years later, when the Times ran the obit of Edward McNeely, another uncle, she was Ardeanur S. Hart.)

When James G. Smith died in 1960 in High Point, North Carolina, Ardeanur, living in Jersey City, New Jersey, provided personal information for his death certificate. We get another glimpse of her in May 1961, when a brief entry in the church calendar feature of the Jersey Journal noted a recital at Lafayette Presbyterian Church, Summit Avenue and Ivy Place in Jersey City, featuring Mrs. Ardeanur Hart, soprano, and Mrs. James Spaights, pianist.

I have no record of any job Ardeanur held other than domestic, though such her style and bearing do not square with my naive (and classist) vision of what service workers look like. In the 1970s or so, she moved out to Columbus, Ohio, to live with and look after the last of her aunts, Minnie McNeely Hargrove.

IMG_5133 copy

Cousin Ardeanur, Newport News, Virginia, July 1986.  She was 83 at the time. (I cannot begin to tell you why I used to cut out photos before mounting them in those terrible adhesive photo albums.)

Ardeanur Smith Hart died 14 January 1996 in Columbus.

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Lewis Henderson’s Simmons branch.

Of all Lewis and Mag Henderson‘s children, descendants of only Ann Elizabeth and Loudie walk this earth.  Loudie had just two children in her brief life, Jack and Bessie, but their collective offspring number in the hundreds. Ann Elizabeth did not live long either, but her children Daniel and Dollie ensured her legacy. I have talked about Loudie’s children here and introduced a purported photograph of Ann Elizabeth here. Now, more about Ann Elizabeth’s life. Ann Elizabeth Henderson was born about 1862, probably in northern Sampson County. Her sister Isabella J. died early, leaving Ann Elizabeth the oldest girl in her family. The 1870 census of Brogden, Wayne County, North Carolina, shows Lewis Henderson, farmer, with wife Margarett and children James L. [known by his middle name, Lucian], Ann E., Caswell, and Mary S. [called "Sudie."] On 21 January 1879, William Freeman applied at the Wayne County courthouse for a marriage license for Hilery Simmons, of Wayne County, age 24, colored, son of George Simmons and Axy Jane Simmons, both living, and Ann E. Henderson, of Wayne County, age 17, colored, daughter of Louis Henderson and Margret Henderson, both living.  Hillary’s brother, R[iley] H. Simmons, a Methodist minister of the AME Zion Church, married the couple on two days later at Ann’s father Lewis’ home in Dudley.  Hillary’s father G.W. Simmons (or maybe his brother General W. Simmons,) Hatch Brooks, and Ann’s brother Lucian Henderson officially witnessed the ceremony. In the 1880 census of Brogden township, Wayne County, 28 year-old tenant farmer Hillory Simmons, his 17 year-old wife Ann Elizabeth, and 7 month-old daughter Abraskry shared a housheold with Ann’s sister nine year-old Sarah Henderson and 22 year-old brother Lucian Henderson. ["Abraskry"?!? Should that have been "Nebraska"? Was she named for a new state much in the news during the previous decade's battles with Cheyenne, Pawnee, Sioux and other Natives?] The bulk of Ann Elizabeth Henderson Simmons’ life played in the two decades bracketed by the 1880 and 1900 censuses. We can assume that she was enumerated in 1890 with her husband and young children, but that record does not survive. More intriguingly, the entire family is missing from the 1900 census, most likely the result of oversight but doubly unfortunate because she died around that time. In between, there are just a few glimpses of Ann Elizabeth in membership rolls of the Congregational Church of Dudley and in the deeds by which she and Hillary repeatedly mortgaged their 28-acre farm. In 1900 — 1901, at the latest — Ann Elizabeth Simmons died. She is surely buried in Congregational Church cemetery, perhaps next to her husband’s grave, or maybe with the Hendersons. Wherever she is, her grave is unmarked. Only children Minnie, Daniel and Annie C. “Dollie” survived her. In June 1902, Celestial Manuel Kemp, herself newly widowed, stepped into Ann Elizabeth’s shoes. Her first child with Hillary was born in 1904, the same year that H.B. Simmons applied for a marriage license for Jesse Budd of Wayne County, age 20, colored, son of John and Lou Budd, and Minnie Simmons of Wayne County, 17, colored, daughter of H.B. Simmons and Annie Simmons (he living, she dead).  Rev. W.H. Mapp, a Pentecostal Holiness minister from Norfolk, Virginia, performed the ceremony on 27 May at H.B. Simmons’ residence in the presence of Edie Hunter,  Cora Budd, and Sarah Jacobs, all of Wayne County.  Sarah Henderson Jacobs, Minnie Simmons’ aunt, was the little girl who lived with Ann Elizabeth and Hillary just after they married, as recorded in the 1880 census. Minnie and Jesse Budd’s first child, Jesse Manuel Budd Jr., was born 27 February 1905. Shortly after, the family moved to Philadelphia, where William Edward Budd was born in October 1906. Eddie died at home at 1652 North Darien Street at the age of nine months.  Jesse Jr. died in Goldsboro of complications from an appendectomy in August 1916. Her own children lost, Minnie sought to adopt my grandmother Hattie Mae, her first cousin’s child, who was being reared by Sarah Henderson Jacobs. Sarah, however, would not separate Hattie from her sister Mamie. Minnie Budd 001

Minnie Simmons Budd, perhaps the 1940s.

In 1910, the censustaker found Hilory Simmons, wife Zalista, and children Daniel, Dollie, John, Susan A., Charles and Kajy living in Brogden township. The family remained in the Dudley area, and Hillary B. Simmons died 25 October 1941. On 24 Dec 1912, Hillery Simmons applied for a marriage license for Yancy Musgrave of Wayne County, age 21, colored, son of Alford and Pollie Musgrave, both living, and Annie C. Simmons, 17, colored, daughter of Hillery and Annie E. Simmons (he living, she dead).  Riley Simmons (now described as a Freewill Baptist minister) performed the ceremony the same day at Annie Simmons’ home in Dudley in the presence of Minnie Simmons of Dudley, Dave Budd of Mount Olive, and Liddie Winn of Dudley. Dollie’s children were Yancy Oliver (1913), Alfred Rudolph (1916), Bruce M. (1917), Marie Estelle (1920), Muriel (1922), Rossie Lee (1923), Ruth (1924), and Ralph Mordecai Musgrave (1926). Four months after Dollie’s marriage, on 10 April 1913, Daniel Simmons married Annie Irene Hogans, daughter of James and Annie Watson Hogans, in Goldsboro.

Daniel Simmons Annie I Hogans Wedding

The couple’s first two children, James Daniel (1914) and Hettie Louise (1915), died in infancy. The family then moved briefly to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where daughter Harriet Latta Simmons (1916-1970) was born. Daniel and Annie Irene Simmons moved to Richmond, where a second James Daniel (1919-2001), Anna Bell (1921-2000) and twins Mary (1924-2004) and Martha (1924-2012) were born;  then to Philadelphia, where Hillary Bunn II (1926-2010), Stanley Armstead (1928-2000), and Matthew Dallas (1930-2009) were born; and finally Brooklyn, where twins Clement and Clifton (1931) died within a day of their birth. Annie Irene H. Simmons died soon after.

Annabelle Mary Daniel Martha Harriet Stanley Dallas Hillary Simmons

Top: Anna Bell, Mary, Daniel, Martha and Harriet. Bottom: Stanley, Dallas and Hillary.

Dollie Simmons Musgrave died in Norfolk, Virginia, in the early 1930s. Minnie Simmons Budd died in Philadelphia on 8 June 1961, and Daniel Simmons died in Farmingdale, New York, on 8 October 1964. Daniel Simmons in Dudley

 Daniel Simmons at left, an unidentified man, and possibly his stepmother Celestial and father Hillary B. Simmons, perhaps late 1930s, Dudley, North Carolina.

Photo of Minnie S. Budd in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson; photos of Daniel Simmons and family courtesy of D. G. Campbell.