“It comes from Fremont, Wayne county, that Adam Artis, colored, 75 years old, who lives near there, is the father of 47 legitimate children and that in addition there are 80 or 90 grandchildren.” — Statesville Landmark, 9 Jan 1906.
Try as I might, I can only account for 32 children. My great-great-grandmother, by Adam’s third wife Frances Seaberry, was one of them. Adam was born in 1831 in Greene County, North Carolina, to a freeborn mother and an enslaved father. They gave him the middle name Toussaint, and I’d love to know that story. He was apprenticed as a carpenter and purchased his first acreage in 1855 from his brother-in-law, John Wilson. Over the years, he bought and sold a few hundred acres in northern Wayne County, and descendants still live on land that was his. It is said that his fifth wife, 50+ years his junior, treated him badly in his last days, and was so afraid that he would haunt her that she had his feet cut off before the burial. No photos of him remain, but his legacy is well-secured. As his granddaughter Beulah Williams once told me: “These Artises, they are innumerable.”