Napoleon Hagans had four sons. William Coley was born to Winnie Coley, an enslaved woman who lived on a nearby farm. Henry E. and William S. Hagans, were born to his wife Apsilla “Appie” Ward Hagans. Joseph H. Ward was born to Appie’s sister, Mittie Ward. By virtue of their father’s wealth and foresight (Henry and William) or their own pluck and good fortune (Joe), three were well-educated and accomplished men.
Though I knew the names of Appie’s boys, for many years I was unable to trace them beyond the early 20th century. (I didn’t know of Joseph’s existence at all.) A stroke of luck led to me to one of William’s granddaughters, then to a grandson, then to Joe’s granddaughter. My collaborative research (and development of “cousinhood”) with B., the grandson, has been one of the highlights of my many years of genealogical sleuthing.