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

Honorary commissioner.


In a nod to his relative political and economic clout, Napoleon Hagans was named an Honorary Commissioner of the 1884 World Industrial and Cotton Centennial.  (The certificate is little hard to read, but that’s his name at the center fold.) According to the official program, Hon. H.K. Bruce [sic, this was surely Blanche K. Bruce, Republican Senator for Missouri 1875-1881] was Chief of Department, Colored Exhibits, and North Carolina’s “Honorary State Commissioners (Colored)” were J.S. Leary of Fayetteville and Jno. H. Williamson of Louisburg.

The 1884 World’s Fair was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, at a time when nearly one third of all cotton produced in the United States was handled in that port city. The Cotton Planters Association first advanced the idea for the fair, dubbed “World Cotton Centennial” because 1784 marked the earliest surviving record of export of a shipment of cotton from the United States to England.

The U.S. Congress lent $1 million to the Fair’s directors and gave $300,000 for the construction of a large Government & State Exhibits Hall on the site. However, the planning and construction of the fair was marked by corruption and scandals, and the Louisiana state treasurer absconded abroad with $1.7 million of state money, including most of the fair’s budget.

Despite such serious financial difficulties, the Fair succeeded in offering many attractions to visitors. It covered 249 acres stretching from Saint Charles Avenue to the Mississippi River and could be entered directly by railway, steamboat, or ocean-going ship. The main building enclosed 33 acres and was then the largest roofed structure ever constructed. The building was illuminated with 5,000 electric lights – still a novelty at the time and said to be ten times the number then existing in the rest of New Orleans. There was also a Horticultural Hall, an observation tower with electric elevators, and working examples of multiple designs of experimental electric street-cars. The Mexican exhibit was particularly lavish and popular, constructed at a cost of $200,000 dollars, and featuring a huge brass band that was a great hit locally.

On December 16, 1884, two weeks behind schedule, President Chester Arthur opened the Fair via telegraph.  It closed on June 2, 1885. In an unsuccessful attempt to recover financial losses, the grounds and structures were reused for the North Central & South American Exposition from November 1885 to March 1886. Thereafter the structures were publicly auctioned off, most going only for their worth in scrap.

The site today is Audubon Park and Audubon Zoo in Uptown New Orleans.

Adapted from World Cotton Centennial, Copy of certificate courtesy of William E. Hagans.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Military, Other Documents, Photographs, Virginia

Edward N. Allen.

After John C. Allen‘s birth in 1876, Graham and Mary Brown Allen had four children together. Emma, their only daughter, was followed by Willie, Alexander and Edward Noble.

Edward N. Allen grew up in Charles City County, but followed his half-brother John to Newport News some time after 1910. He was working there as a laborer for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad when he registered for the draft at the outbreak of World War I. (And had had a tough life, as he reported missing three fingers on his right hand.)

ImageEdward survived the war, but his life over the next 15 years is hidden from history. He apparently never married or had children. Unless he is the Virginia-born Edward Allen that is listed as a farmhand in upstate New York in 1920, he appears in neither that nor the 1930 census. He was back in Charles City County by the early 1930s, though, and died in early 1933 at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Norfolk. He was only in his early 40’s, but beset with an old man’s diseases.


Edward Noble Allen is buried in Hampton National Cemetery.


North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Infant baptisms.


From the records of the First Congregational Church of Dudley NC, an excerpt from a list of infant baptisms that reveals the centrality of the Henderson family in the church’s early congregation.  In 1896, two of the nine babies baptized were siblings Minnie and Daniel Simmons, born in 1887 and 1895, children of Hillary and Ann Elizabeth Henderson Simmons.

The following year, Hendersons comprised two-thirds of the infants baptized. Clement Manuel (1897) was the grandson of Edward and Susan Henderson Wynn. (His parents were Alonzo and Sallie Wynn Manuel.) Bessie and Jesse Henderson, born in 1891 and 1893, were children of my great-great-grandmother Loudie Henderson, and Hattie Jacobs (1895) was Sarah Henderson Jacobs‘ daughter.


Copy of entry made from originals held by First Congregational Church, Dudley NC.

Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Oral History

Carrie, formally.

Me: Well, I wonder where she got her name from?

My grandmother: Who?

Me: Your mama. Your mother. Caroline Mary Martha –

My grandmother: Yeah.  Who ever heard tell of such as that?

Me: Fisher Valentine McNeely.  Well, I know where the Martha came from, ‘cause that was her mother’s name.

My grandmother: Yeah.

Actually, it was Caroline MARTHA MARY Fisher Valentine McNeely. And “Caroline” was the name of her aunt, Caroline McConnaughey, Martha Miller McNeely’s sister. But Mary and Fisher and Valentine?


Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Virginia

And then there were …

It’s beyond heartbreaking, even given the terrible infant mortality rates of times.  Of Jasper and Matilda Holmes’ 11 children, only three lived to see the 20th century. Matilda herself died giving birth to her last child, who lingered a few months before slipping away. Others died in clumps, compounding the family’s grief to unimaginable intensity.

Robert, the first child, was born in 1864. He lived long enough to be recorded in the 1880 census of Charles City County, but was dead before his father’s estate opened in 1899.

Walter and Angelina, born in 1868 and 1870, died within six months of each other in 1887, felled by tuberculosis.

William and Joseph, born in 1871 and 1874, died on consecutive days in January 1875, victims of whooping cough.

Emma, born in 1876, lived long enough to marry Cornelius Jefferson in November 1899 and to give birth to son, Jesse Holmes Jefferson, the following January. (Though, oddly, she is not listed in a transfer of property to Jasper’s heirs on 30 December 1899.) She died when Jesse was an infant, however, and the boy was reared in his aunt Agnes’ family.

My great-grandmother Mary Agnes, born in 1877, lived into her 80s. Her death in 1961 came more than 60 years after the death of all but one of her siblings.

Martha, called “Mattie,” born 1879, married Jesse E. Smith, in May 1899. She received a share of her father’s estate in 1899, but died during the next decade.

Julia Ellen, born in 1882, lived the longest of all the children. She was close to 90 in 1961 when she was listed in her sister’s obituary as the sole remaining Holmes.

The last babies, unnamed infants, died at or within months of birth.  The first, a boy, died in 1880 at the age of 2 days; the second, a boy, in 1884 at the age of 6 days; and the last in 1885, weeks after his mother gave birth to him.

Civil War, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Confederate Citizens File: Adam Artis.

Adam T. Artis was 30 years old at the start of the Civil War, a farmer and carpenter who had already begun to amass relative wealth. Men much poorer than he lost stock and provisions to foraging Union soldiers, and I wondered why he had not filed with Southern Claims Commission to recoup any losses. Perhaps he had none, but the more likely answer is that, because he supplied fodder and other items to the Confederate government, he knew he was ineligible for reimbursement from the United States.

Form of the estimate and assessment of agricultural products agreed upon by the assessor and tax-payer, and the value of the portion thereof to which the government is entitled, which is taxed in kind, in accordance with the provisions of Section 11 of “an Act to lay taxes for the common defence and carry on the government of the Confederate States,” said estimate and assessment to be made as soon as the crops are ready for market.

Adam Artis by wife

Cured Fodder     Quantity of gross crop. — 1500     Tithe or one-tenth. — 150     Value of one-tenth. — $4.50

I, Adam Artis of the County of Wayne and State of North Carolina do swear that the above is a true statement and estimate of all the agricultural products produced by me during the year 1863, which are taxable by the provisions of the 11th section of the above stated act, including what may have been sold of consumed by me, and of the value of that portion of said crops to which the government is entitled.   /s/ Adam X Artis

Sworn to and subscribed to before me the 3 day of December 1863, and I further certify that the above estimate and assessment has been agreed upon by said Adam Artis and myself as a correct and true statement of the amount of his crops and the value of the portion to which the government is entitled.  /s/ J.A. Lane, Assessor.

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The Confederate Papers Relating to Citizens or Business Firms, 1861-1865 (NARA M346), often called the “Confederate Citizens File,” is a collection of 650,000 vouchers and other documents relating to goods furnished or services rendered to the Confederate government by private individuals and businesses.  The “Citizens File” was created by the Confederate Archives Division of the Adjutant General’s Office from records created or received by the Confederate War and Treasury Departments that were in the custody of the U.S. War Department. The Citizens File was created to aid in determining the legitimacy of compensation claims submitted for property losses allegedly inflicted by Union forces. The records were used by the Treasury and Justice Departments, Southern Claims Commission, Court of Claims, and congressional claims committees to determine whether the claimant had been loyal to the Union or had aided the Confederate government and thus not eligible for compensation.


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