Enslaved People, Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Photographs

Dr. Ward’s house. And me.

After my recent rediscovery of a Confederate map that revealed the locations of several plantations significant to my genealogical research, I began searching for more information about John Lane, Silas Bryant and David G.W. Ward‘s landholdings. Pretty quickly, I found a link to a copy of a nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places Inventory, submitted for the Ward-Applewhite-Thompson house near Stantonsburg, North Carolina. This Greek Revival house, dating back to about 1859, was owned and occupied by several of the area’s leading planters — including “country doctor” D.G.W. Ward, who purchased it in 1857 — and it and its outbuildings are little changed from their antebellum forms.

As I read the detailed architectural description of the house and its setting, a tiny kernel of recognition began to form in the back of my mind. A big, white, two-story house? Set well back from the road? Just outside Stantonsburg? Could it …?

I scoured the maps attached to the nomination form, trying to lay them over the current topography. State Road 1539 … that would be Sand Pit Road today …  just east of a fork in the road and just north of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad (which was not there in Ward’s time) … and there it is, just like I remember.

sand pit road

Yes. Like I remember.

I’ve BEEN in this house. Many times, though long ago.

Growing up, my sister and I were very close to my father’s sister’s daughters. Our local family was quite small, but my cousin’s father came from a big family with deep Wilson County roots. Her grandmother had nearly a dozen siblings — whom we also called “aunt” and “uncle” — and we were often invited to attend their family gatherings. I remember best the delectable Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners gathered around tables groaning with food, but there were also the annual 4th of July family reunions at Aunt Minnie’s out in the country near Stantonsburg. The Barneses were tenant farmers for an absentee landowner and rented his large two-story house. We’d pull off the road into a sandy circular drive and park under the trees alongside cars with New York and New Jersey plates. I vividly remember my cousin’s great-uncles and cousins tending a barbecue pit in which a split pig roasted, chickens strutting among them.  A screened side porch protected platter after platter of home-grown, home-cooked goodness.  My memories of the interior of the house are vague: a central staircase, two large front rooms, the kitchen in back. (The staircase I remember mostly because, carefully tending a tall glass of lemonade, I missed a riser and slid down their length, smacking my ribcage against the steps and knocking the wind out of myself.)

I couldn’t believe it. It is exciting enough to identify D.G.W. Ward’s house and find that it is still standing, but to realize that I knew the house at which Appie and Mittie Ward had lived and worked as the enslaved children of their own father was uncanny.

IMG_4960Ward-Applewhite-Thompson House today.

Photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2014.

Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Family cemeteries, no. 9: Daniel Artis’ Edwardses.

A right turn out of my parents’ neighborhood puts me onto Highway 58. Head southeast, cross the edge of Stantonsburg, over Contentnea Creek and the Greene County line, and, 13 miles from home, you reach Lane Road. Turn left, round the curve, and there, neatly marked and kept, is the Edwards cemetery. Here are buried Daniel Artis‘ daughter Clara, her husband Henry Edwards, and their descendants.


Photo taken today, Lisa Y. Henderson.

Free People of Color, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Politics

Alderman and poll holder.

Despite the collapse of Reconstruction, African-Americans continued to participate in Wayne County’s political life through the end of the 19th century. Mathew W. Aldridge, in particular, was active in local governance, as announced in eastern North Carolina newspapers:

Wilm Msgr 4 27 1889

Wilmington Messenger, 27 April 1889.


Goldsboro Headlight, 1 May 1889.


Goldsboro Headlight, 8 May 1889.

Wilm Msgr 5 8 1889

Wilmington Messenger, 8 May 1889.


Goldsboro Headlight, 8 October 1890.

Other notables: C[larence] Dillard (Presbyterian minister who arrived in Goldsboro in 1884, later principal of “colored school”); Bizzell Stevens (also a minister; like William S. Hagans, married into the Burnett family, a prominent free family of color in the antebellum era; later a postal clerk at Goldsboro post office); John Frank “J.F.” Baker (postmaster at the Dudley post office; married Mary Ann Aldridge, daughter of J. Matthew Aldridge; murdered); James Winn; and Henry S. “H.S.” Reid (son of Washington and Penninah Reid; member of large prominent free family of color.)

DNA, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

DNA Definites, no. 13: Nicholson.

For all I malign the inadequacies of Ancestry DNA, it has yielded up distant-relative matches in a way that 23andme has yet to touch. I did a search for “Nicholson” among my matches, and J.W.B. popped up. As I scanned his family tree, the name that snagged my eye first was “Jehu Idol.” I knew that name. I LOVED that name. So economical. So Biblical. So 18th century. And the husband of Hannah Nicholson, sister of John Stockton Nicholson Jr. and half-sister of James Nicholson. J.W.B. and I are 5th cousins, twice removed.

Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Oral History, Photographs

A bird’s eye view.

The bird’s-eye view map of Statesville, North Carolina, drawn in 1907, reveals a number of features in Lon W. Colvert‘s landscape (click for a closer look):


At #1: near the intersection of Centre Street, 109 East Broad Street, early site of Colvert’s barbershop. At #2: Center Street AME Zion Church. At #3: Southern Railway station, built in 1906. Colvert had an earlier shop in the Depot Hill area near the depot.  At #4: the railroad.  The Colverts’ house was adjacent to the railroad in Wallacetown, southeast of the station, as was that of his in-laws, Henry and Martha McNeely.

Below, the current tenant at 109 East Broad:


Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2013.

Maternal Kin, Paternal Kin, Vocation

Where we worked: hewers and builders.

Adam T. Artis, near Eureka NC – carpenter, 1850s-circa 1900.

Adam T. Artis Jr., Washington DC – hod carrier, circa 1910.

Isham Smith, Goldsboro NC – husband of Nancy Henderson Smith, blacksmith, 1880s?-1914.

Junius Allen, Newport News VA – carpenter, circa 1917.

Prince A. Aldridge, Wilson NC – plasterer, circa 1940.

Van Smith – husband of Mattie Taylor Smith; bricklayer, Pool & Whitehead, Smithfield NC, 1917; Wilson NC, circa 1920.

Jesse Artis, Norfolk VA – laborer, house builder, circa 1920.

Dock Simmons, Logansport IN – owned and operated hauling and excavating company, circa 1924.

John C. Allen Jr., Newport News VA – carpenter, construction contractor, 1920s-1948.

Benjamin A. Harris, Wilson NC – husband of Pauline Artis Harris; brickmason, 1930s-1950s.

Daniel Simmons, Philadelphia PA – construction laborer, circa 1930.

Johnnie Smith, Goldsboro NC – carpenter, circa 1930.

Eugene Stockton, Statesville NC – husband of Ida Colvert Stockton; brickmason, circa 1930.

Ira Henderson, Mount Olive NC – carpenter, circa 1940.

Ned Barnes, Wilson NC — building carpenter, circa 1930.

Richard G. Wynn, Wilmington NC – brickmason, 1950s.

The eleventh in an occasional series exploring the ways in which my kinfolk made their livings in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Finding the Wards.

This is what we knew:  Joseph Henry Ward, born circa 1870 in or near Wilson, North Carolina, was the son of Napoleon Hagans and a sister of Napoleon’s wife, Apsilla Ward Hagans.  I couldn’t find him in the 1870 or 1880 censuses, but by 1900 he was listed in Indianapolis, Indiana, working as a physician.

The hunt for Joe Ward’s people thus began.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, a nephew, Augustus Moody, born about 1893, is listed in the Ward household. I searched for Augustus in 1900 and found him in Washington DC in this household: William Moody (born 1872), wife Sarah S. (1876) and children Augustus (June 1894) and Crist (1896), plus sister-in-law Minerva Vaughn (1890), mother-in-law Mittie Vaughn (1854), and mother Fannie Harris (1854) — all born in North Carolina.  Soooo …  Augustus’ mother was Sarah S. Moody, and Sarah’s mother was Mittie Vaughn.  Okay, and how was Joe Ward related to these folks?

I went back to the 1880 census of Wilson County and found: Sarah Darden (57, mother), Algia Vaughn (23, son-in-law), Mittie (22, daughter), Joseph (8), Sarah (6), and Macinda (5 mos.), the last three Sarah’s grandchildren.  From this I deduced that Mittie Vaughn, daughter of Sarah Darden, had at least two children, Joseph and Sarah, before 1880.  I then located young Sarah’s marriage license to William Moody, which listed her maiden name as Ward.  So Joseph and Sarah were listed in the 1880 census in their stepfather’s name, not their mother’s, and “Joseph Vaughn,” son of Mittie Vaughn, is in fact the Joseph Ward I was looking for.

How did I know Algernon was a stepfather? He was only 22 years old when he married Mitty Finch,  27, in Wilson on May 6, 1879.  (Finch?!?!?! That’s an as-yet unexplained anomaly.) I also found a cohabitation registration for grandmother Sarah Ward and Sam Darden, dated 12 July 1866. This registration, which formalized the marriages of ex-slaves, noted that they had been married five years, well after the births of Sarah’s children Mittie and Appie. If Sam was not their father, who was?

The first clue: in 1902, when William S. Hagans (son of Napoleon and Appie Ward Hagans) registered to vote in Wayne County, North Carolina, under the state’s grandfather clause, he named “Dr. Ward” as his qualifying ancestor. I didn’t know what to make of that — I couldn’t find a Dr. Ward in Wayne County — so I laid it to the side for a bit.

Then I found a reference to Appie and Mittie’s previously unknown brother. On 16 June 1870, Henry Ward, son of D.G.W. Ward and Sarah Darden, married Sarah Forbes in Wilson, North Carolina.  If we assume that Henry, Appie and Mittie had the same father, who is this D.G.W. Ward? Was he the “Dr. Ward” that William claimed as his qualifying ancestor under the grandfather clause?

In the 1860 census, D.G.W. Ward (45) and wife Adline (19) appear in Speights district, Greene County, which borders Wilson County to the southeast. Ward reported owning $26,500 in real property and a whopping $112,000 in personal property! (As the 1860 slave census shows, this wealth largely consisted of 54 slaves.) He was one of the, if not the, wealthiest men in the county. And he was a physician. Here, indeed, was Dr. Ward.

David George Washington Ward was married twice — perhaps circa 1840 to Mariah H. Vines, who died after having one child; then to Emily Adeline Moye in 1859. Between those marriages, he fathered at least three children with Sarah, an enslaved woman.