Napoleon Hagans and other “colored” men remained on Wayne County’s voter rolls through Reconstruction and beyond. As a result, at least until the 1890s, they were called to serve as jurors alongside their white male neighbors.
The third in a series of posts revealing the fallability of records, even “official” ones.
The “true facts”: Jesse “Jack” Henderson was the son of Loudie Henderson and Joseph Buckner Martin. He was born about 1893.
On 3 Dec 1914, Solomon Ward applied for a marriage license for Jesse Henderson of Wilson, age 21, colored, son of Jesse Jacobs and Sarah Jacobs, both dead, and Pauline Artis of Wilson, age 18, colored, daughter of Alice Artis. They were married later that day.
Jesse and Sarah Henderson Jacobs, in fact, were Jesse’s foster parents, and both were very much living at the time. Sarah Henderson Jacobs was Jack’s maternal aunt.
And this …
First, by reporting his first name as “Jack,” rather than Jesse, to the Social Security Administration, Jack effectuated a legal name change and ensured that few would remember the name he was given at birth. (He was Jesse or Jessie in the 1910 and 1920 censuses, and when he registered for the draft in World War I, but Jack in the 1930 census and thereafter.) The names he gave for his parents are mystifying. Lewis Henderson was, in fact, his grandfather. “Ludy” (or Loudie) was his mother’s name, but she was Loudie Henderson, not Jacobs. Jacobs was the surname of the uncle and aunt who reared him after Loudie’s death in childbirth. And note his birthdate: 16 Sept 1892. (His draft registration card listed 1893, month and day unknown.)
And this …
Jack Henderson’s death certificate, with information provided by a daughter, lists his parents as an unknown father and “Lucy (?) Henderson” and his birthdate as 21 April 1898.
“Lucy” certainly was Loudie. My grandmother remembered her great-grandmother’s name variously as “Loudie” or “Lucy,” but a church record and a single census entry, in 1880, confirm that it was Loudie. God only knows Jack’s birthday, but the year was probably late 1892 or 1893, as reflected in the 1900 census and on his Social Security application.
My grandmother: She was a great Methodist. And she would come down occasionally to go to church, you know. Have on all them taffeta skirts, and they were shirtwaisted skirts, you know. And she was pretty, honey. Have you ever seen any of her pictures?
And another time:
Where did they have that funeral? They must have brought her down and had her in, at the Methodist Church in Statesville. She belonged there. She would come Saturday, get up Sunday morning, honey, and put on those taffeta skirts with those pretty blouses and lace all down the front and ‘round there.
I had not planned to go to Sunday School. I was on my way home for Christmas and stopped in Statesville just to look for Harriet Nicholson Hart‘s church. I suspected that Center Street AME Zion Church was the same as Mount Pleasant AMEZ, which still meets, but my internet search was inconclusive.
The morning was dreary and chilly when I pulled into a space across from the church. I had snapped a couple of shots with my phone when I saw a woman step from an SUV in the parking lot. “Excuse me,” I called. “I’m looking for Center Street AMEZ.” She tilted her head toward the church behind me. “This is it,” she said. “It’s called Mount Pleasant now.” I explained that my family had been members of the church a hundred years before and my great-great-grandmother had been funeralized there in 1924. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and after asking if I might peek inside, I followed her through a side door — straight into Sunday School.
A junior pastor was addressing a small gathering of adults, and I — acutely conscious of my jeans and hoodie — took a seat just inside the door. As he spoke on the necessity to reach out to youth, I discreetly glanced around. In the nave, dully gleaming brass organ pipes stretched nearly wall-to-wall. At the back of the sanctuary, a large arched tripartite stained glass window brightened the pews. At an opportune time, I introduced myself and expressed my joy at joining in a service at a church that had been so important to my family at one time. “What were their names?” “Nicholson and Colvert and Hart,” I said, “and other family lived in the neighborhood. My great-aunt was Louise Colvert Renwick.” There were nods of familiarity and expressions of welcome.
I slipped out before too long and paused again as I reached my car to gaze back at the building. A woman hurried around the side of the church, calling out for me to wait. She was the pastor’s wife and she had a small gift — a card and a CD of hymns. “Thank you for visiting,” she said. “We’re so glad you found us.”
Center Street AMEZ Church, Sanborn map of Statesville, 1918.
Interviews of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.
Solomon Williams and Vicey Artis‘ youngest daughter, Delilah Williams, married Simon Exum around 1870. The couple settled on a farm near both of their families and reared seven children: Ora Exum Artis (1871-1933), Patrick Exum (1873-??), Mollie (1875-??), Alice Exum Finlayson (1877-1961), Alice Exum (1879-??), Loumiza Exum (1879), William Exum (1881-??), and Simon Exum Jr. (1884-1963).
Last summer, I drove up and down Highway 222 searching unsuccessfully for this family’s graveyard, which should have been just up the road from both Delilah’s brother Adam Artis’ grave and the larger Exum cemetery containing the remains of Simon’s parents, John and Sophronia Exum. Later, using GPS coordinates, I found it in the backyard, more or less, of a house whose occupants erected a six-foot fence to block the view. I returned yesterday and, across a plowed-under field, immediately spotted several stones, including:
Delilah Williams Exum (1851-1939), and
Simon Exum (1842-1915).
Other kin buried in this cemetery: grandson John Brogdus Artis (1903-1979), son of Ora Exum Artis; Emma E. Exum (1884-1978), wife of son Simon Exum Jr.; Estelle Exum (1910-1988), daughter of son Simon Jr.; Simon Exum Jr. (1884-1963); and daughter Alice Finlayson (1875-1961).
P.S. After posting this, I found this obituary in the 10 July 2009 edition of the Goldsboro News-Argus:
WASHINGTON D.C. — Simon Devon Exum, 59, formerly of Wayne County, died Tuesday at Washington Center Hospital.
His life will be celebrated Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. James Christian Church in Fremont, with minister James Earl Bunch officiating. His mortal remains will be laid to rest in the historic John C. Exum I Cemetery in Eureka.
Warm memories are cherished by his siblings, Larry Exum and Timothy Exum of Upper Marlboro, Md., Ray Exum and Brenda Mills of Goldsboro, Diane Exum of Chicago, Carol Packer of Eureka, Sherla Exum of Fremont and Gloria Exum of Wilson.
He will lie in state Saturday from 10:15 a.m. until the funeral hour at the church.
The family will receive friends at the home place, 3073 NC 222 East in Stantonsburg, where they will also assemble in preparation for the funeral procession.
John C. Exum was Simon Exum Sr.’s father. John and “Fraunie” Exum’s gravestones note that they were born free, but I’ve found no evidence of either pre-Civil War. 3073 NC 222 East is directly across the street from the house in front of the Simon Exum cemetery (which is probably now closed to burials,) and Simon Devon Exum was a son of M.R. Cornell Exum, son of Simon Exum Jr. 3073 caught my attention as I pulled my car off the road; it has recently been reduced to a pile of rubble.
Ancestry.com pegs O.M. and me as 4th to 6th cousins, and L.P. and me as 5th to 8th. O.M., who is in her 80s, discovered her African ancestry (estimated at about 35%) only after receiving her DNA results. Apparently, this inheritance came entirely entirely from her father, whose identity her mother did not disclose. O.M.’s daughter B.C. and L.P. have deduced that their connection lies in an mixed-race African-American Herring family from Sampson County that I haven’t been able to connect to either Margaret Herring Price or Hillary Herring. Still, is that my link, too?
They sat rather stiffly side by side, each with hands clasped in lap. The occasion was their 50th anniversary, and granddaughter Marion captured the moment in the only photograph I have seen of them together.
Three years later, family gathered again on the day after Christmas to pay respects to John and Mary Agnes Holmes Allen. Papa Allen retired to bed after dinner and never woke again.
Norfolk Journal and Guide, 2 January 1954.
Top photo taken by Marion Allen Christian, 1953, copy in possession of Lisa Y. Henderson; bottom photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2011.
Henry Solice, near Mount Olive NC – railroad section hand, circa 1910.
Walter Holt, Greensboro NC – husband of Mollie Henderson Holt; fireman, Southern Railway Company, 1910s-20s.
Edward N. Allen, Newport News VA – railroad laborer, circa 1918.
Eli McNeely, Salisbury NC – worked in “scrap can” at Southern Railroad shop, circa 1920.
Atwood Artice, Portsmouth VA – machinist helper, railroad shop, circa 1920.
Freddie Artis, Portsmouth VA – railroad freighthandler, circa 1920.
Walter Godbold, Rocky Mount NC — husband of Tilithia Aldridge King Godbold Dabney; worked at roundhouse, 1920s.
Quincy McNeely, Asheville NC — mail porter, railway express, circa 1940.
The sixth in an occasional series exploring the ways in which my kinfolk made their livings in the 19th and early 20th centuries.