Adam Artis bought and sold hundreds of acres in northeast Wayne County in the last half of the 19th century. Almost 160 years after he filed his first deed, his descendants remain on pockets of his land strung along Highway 222. More enduringly, their family cemeteries cluster east of Eureka toward Stantonsburg — at the heart of his erstwhile empire.
#1 marks the location of Adam Artis’ grave. His many wives and children notwithstanding, until the mid-1980s, his was the only readily identifiable grave in the plot.
#2 is the self-proclaimed “Historic John I. Exum” cemetery. Adam’s kin intermarried considerably with Exums, including his granddaughter Cora Artis, who married John Ed Exum, and his sister Delilah Williams, who married Simon Exum. Delilah and Simon, however, are buried at #3, along with several of their descendants.
Red Hill Road debouches into 222 across from #3. Not a half-mile back up the road, at least two and possibly four of Adam’s sons rest. Noah and June Scott Artis are buried in #4 with several of June’s offspring, as well as their brother Robert‘s wife and their brother Henry J.B.‘s wife and children.
About a half-mile, as the crow flies, south of #3 is #5, which contains the graves of Adam’s son William M. Artis and his descendants, as well a daughter of Adam’s brother Jesse Artis.
The road snaking northwest out of Eureka becomes Turner Swamp Road past the city limits. Just off the edge of this map, perhaps a mile up the road, stands Turner Swamp Baptist Church, once led by Jonah Williams, brother of Adam Artis, Jesse Artis and Delilah Williams Exum. A sizeable cemetery lies behind the church, and it contains the graves of Magnolia Artis Reid, daughter of Loumiza Artis Artis, who was another Artis sibling, as well as descendants of Zilpha Artis Reid and Richard Artis, yet more siblings. Turner Swamp itself appears as a dark green curve bracketing the upper left corner of the photo. It is likely that the original location of the church was north along the banks of the waterway, at the site where the overgrown graves of Jonah Williams and his family lie.
Back in the other direction, east on 222 toward Stantonsburg, lies Watery Branch Road. (The branch itself is the dark green sword piercing more than halfway into the frame from the right.) Perhaps a quarter-mile, if that far, down the road on the right lies the Diggs cemetery, another small family graveyard. Celia Artis, born about 1800, the wealthiest free woman of color in Wayne County, was the Diggs’ matriarch. She and Adam Artis’ kinship, if any, was unknown even to them. Two of Celia’s great-granddaughters married a son and a grandson of Adam Artis. Leslie Artis, his wife Minnie Diggs Artis, and some of their descendants are buried here.
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