Enslaved People, Free People of Color, Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Confederate map tells all.

Years ago — 10? 15? — I ordered copies of two Confederate field maps from the fine folks at Wilson County Genealogical Society. (The originals are held at North Carolina State Archives.) The maps feature not only geographic markers, such as creeks and towns, but the names of landowners throughout the region. I remember intently scanning the area around modern-day Eureka, hunting for signs of my Artises and finding none. (Celia Artis is on one of the maps, but she’s not “mine.”) Disappointed, I folded them away in a box.

A couple of days ago, I stumbled across the maps while reorganizing some files. I let my eyes drift a little further afield and

SILAS BRYANT! JOHN LANE! DR. WARD!

jumped off the page.

Just like that, the locations of the farms on which Vicey Artis‘ children, including Adam, were apprenticed; Sylvania Artischildren were apprenticed; and Mittie Ward and Apsilla Ward Hagans were enslaved (by their father.) Not only that — with a little extrapolation from the 1860 census, I can determine approximately where my people were living during the War.

Here’s the first map (with my annotations in unfortunate grayscale, click to enlarge):

Confederate_Field_Map_2 annotated

The left edge of the map is defined by the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad. (2) Nahunta, bottom left and now the town of Fremont, is exactly halfway between Wilson, seat of Wilson County, and Goldsboro, seat of Wayne County. Follow the road east out of Nahunta on what is now NC 222, and you’ll see (3) Martinsville, now Eureka. Angle southeast from Eureka on what is now Faro Road, then veer right at the fork onto what is now Lindell Road. (See “B. Mooring”? Frances Seaberry and her family are listed near his household in the 1860 census.) After crossing a north-south road, pre-Lindell takes a sharp turn north. Drag your finger straight across from the bend and you’ll touch two squared names — Silas Bryant and John Lane.

Here is Bryant’s household in the 1850 census of Greene County:

silas bryant 1850

And on the next page:

john lane 1860

As reflected on the map, Silas Bryant and John Lane lived in close proximity, and, on their land,┬ásisters Sylvania and Vicey Artis, who owned no property. My great-great-great-grandfather Adam Artis and his sisters Charity and Jane are┬álisted in Bryant’s household, which suggests that they served him as involuntary apprentices under North Carolina’s laws governing the labor of the children of unmarried free women of color. (Both Sylvania and Vicey were married, of course, but to enslaved men — relationships that were not recognized under the law.) The 1860 census suggests that John Lane also had apprentices, Sylvania’s younger children. Lane may also have owned their father, Guy, who adopted the surname Lane after emancipation.

[And remember this?: "On 20 Aug 1853, in Greene County NC, Silas Bryant sold Daniel Artis for $325 120 acres adjacent to the mouth of a lane at the dividing line between said Bryant and John Lane, the Bull Branch, and the mouth of Sellers Branch." I think Daniel was Vicey and Sylvania's brother.]

Where is this now? Just inside the Greene County line, dotted at left, Highway 58 crosses over Speights Bridge Road. The second road on the left is the same one shown on the field map and is still called Lane Road. (9) marks the approximate location of Silas Bryant’s home and (10), John Lane’s.

Screen shot 2014-02-12 at 10.56.56 AM

Due north of Lane and Bryant, across Contentnea Creek is another boxed name, Dr. Ward. This was David George Washington Ward, physician, wealthy planter, and owner of twin daughters, Mittie and Appie, whose mother was an enslaved woman named Sarah. (More about the Wards elsewhere.)

Just inside the Greene County line, a few miles southeast of Stantonsburg in Wilson County, (11) marks the approximate location of Dr. Ward’s house today. [Update: Actually, it's the approximate location of Dr. Ward's name on the map. His house was, and is, in Wilson County close to Stantonsburg.]

Screen shot 2014-02-12 at 10.55.30 AM

Back on pre-NC 222, about a third of the way between Martinsville/Eureka and Stantonsburg, a road leads off to the east toward Watery Branch Church. (It still does — and is called Watery Branch Road.) Barely legible is the name of one of the few free people of color marked on the map: Celia Artis. Though not related by blood, at least in any immediate way, Adam Artis and his family are listed next to her in the 1860 census, and their descendants intermarried. (And share a cemetery that lies next to the road about where the C is in Celia.) Here, then, is the approximate location of Adam Artis’ earliest farmland. He later accumulated property all along the highway.

Other landmarks on the field map: (4) Toisnot Swamp (marked Creek here), a tributary of the Contentnea that flows down from Wilson County; (5) Contentnea Creek itself; (6) Black Creek, another Wilson County tributary; (7) Aycock Swamp, another tributary, upon whose banks Adam Artis’ brother-in-law and Appie Ward’s husband Napoleon Hagans built his house; and (8) Turner Swamp.

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