Civil War, Enslaved People, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin

Daniel was always spoken of with respect and love.

I recently received a comment from a reader in response to my posts on the Daniel Artis family. She was hesitant to contact me because her ancestor John Lane had owned slaves — quite possibly some of the people I’ve written about — but was anxious to share a story about Daniel that had been passed down in her family for 150 years. I was surprised and excited to read her message and encouraged her to get in touch. Here’s our April 28 exchange:

Hi, Tammi! Please forgive my excitement and inability to wait for your response. I’m traveling to NC next week to meet some of my newfound Sauls relatives — descendants of Daniel Artis. I’m just beside myself wondering about John Lane — whom I believe apprenticed several of Daniel’s sister Sylvania’s children and might have owned Sylvania’s husband, Guy Lane. I know you’re busy, but I hope you’ll be able to touch base soon. Thanks again!

——

Lisa, thank you for getting back to me! … Yes, apparently there were a few children apprenticed. I recall, I think, five or six on one census. The younger Daniel Artis was 17 years old on, I think, the 1860 census in my g-g-grandfather John Lane’s home. From my family’s handed down stories, the little Daniel was my g-g-g-uncle Christopher Lane’s body servant. Christopher was one of John’s sons and only about seven years older than little Daniel. So they kind of grew up together. The story is that when they both grew up Christopher went to War and Daniel was allowed to go with him as his servant because Christopher was an officer. Only officers could take a servant with them. Daniel was considered free before the war although an apprentice as you probably know. Well, Christopher was captured by the northern troops and taken to their POW camp at Fort Pulaski, Ga. He died there from dysentery. The thing that my family is grateful for is that Daniel went to the camp with Christopher and stayed with him until his death, never leaving his side. When he died, Daniel made his way back to Bull Head, NC to let Christopher’s family and his father John Lane know what happened to him. Daniel was always spoken of with respect and love for what he did for Christopher.

I thank you so much for replying to me, Lisa, because I’ve always wanted to thank his descendants for what Daniel did and for his devotion to our family in such a terrible time. I always wondered if the Daniel Artis next door who was older was related to little Daniel. I saw on the census that he owned property near John Lane, my relative. I hope this information helps some, and I wish all of his relatives happiness and blessings.

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What a pleasure to hear from you! The Daniel you speak of was the older Daniel’s nephew. “Your” Daniel was the son of Sylvania Artis, a free woman of color, and Guy Lane, her enslaved husband. My direct ancestor, Vicey Artis, was the sister of Sylvania and Daniel the elder. Vicey also married a slave, Solomon Williams. Most of their children were apprenticed by Silas Bryant, a close neighbor of John Lane’s. Daniel the elder’s wife was enslaved, as were their children.

Thanks so much for sharing the story about Daniel the younger. I had no idea that he served in the War. I need to look in my files, but I don’t think I know much about him, though I recall that he married Eliza Faircloth. I do not know of any his descendants either. I grew up in Wilson NC, but with no knowledge of my Greene County links. During a visit home this weekend, I’m going down to Bull Head to meet some Saulses and visit Artis Town cemetery, which is where Daniel the elder was buried in 1905. I’ll keep you posted on anything I find about Daniel the younger.

If you are willing, I would love to share Daniel and Christopher’s story on my blog. I so appreciate your coming forth with this bit of history. Researching African-Americans is generally incredibly difficult, and so much lies locked away with other families. I always dream that someone will contact me just like you did!

Best wishes, keep in touch, and thanks again!

——

I’d be honored for you to use Daniel’s story, of course. I’ve also dreamed and wanted for years to find his relatives, as I mentioned, so I could thank all of them. To be honest, I don’t know if the younger Daniel was enlisted or just went along as an aide to Christopher. I’m only learning recently about the service of black troops both Confederate and Union. I don’t think Daniel was enlisted but I may be wrong. I’ve found the Saulses in many of my genealogy searches but not able to make a connection directly to the Lanes. I can’t remember if I mentioned but my genealogy research came to a brick wall with my g-g-grandfather John Lane. No one anywhere, not even Ancestry.com knows who his father was for sure. I have hints but nothing else. It’s all fascinating.

I can only imagine the difficulty there must be tracing African American genealogy, but I see DNA is being used which is great. It’s part of why I find Scuffalong so interesting. There’s so much information. I really love hearing about Vicey, Sylvania and the elder Daniel since their names have come up so often in my own research. And so happy to meet you, a descendant! Many of my Lane ancestors ended up in Wilson, NC after leaving Bull Head. I’m not sure why, but there were many there in my research including a great-grandmother of mine. Please pay my respects at the Artis Cemetery, to their memory, Lisa, when you visit it. Feel free to write me anytime, if you have any thoughts or questions or just to say hello!

——

CCLane Page 2

Christopher C. Lane enlisted in the 3rd North Carolina Infantry on 23 April 1861 at Snow Hill, Greene County. He was wounded at Gettysburg on September 1863, recuperated at home, then returned to war. He was captured 12 May 1864 at the Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia, and sent to Fort Delaware. In August, in retaliation for the Confederate Army’s imprisonment of Union officers as  human shields in Charleston, U.S. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton sent 600 Confederate officers to Morris Island, South Carolina, to serve as human shields. Lane was among them. After 45 days, the men were transferred to Fort Pulaski, Georgia, and imprisoned in dismal conditions. Christopher Lane died there on 8 December 1864.

I have found no record of Daniel Artis’ service to Christopher Lane during the Civil War, which is not surprising. He was not a soldier; he would not have enlisted. The role of body servants in the early days of the War is the subject of intense debate, and Artis’ status as a free man of color, rather than a slave, further complicates any assessment of his motives (or volition) in following Lane to war.

Many thanks to Tammi Lane for reaching out and sharing a part of Daniel Artis’ life that would otherwise be lost to his family.

——

Image found at http://www.fold3.com.

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Agriculture, Free People of Color, Land, North Carolina, Rights

But for marl.

I don’t know if I’m an Armwood or not, but (1) my great-great-great-great-grandfather James Henderson’s second wife, Louisa, was Henry Armwood’s cousin, (2) I’ve got a DNA match with one of Henry Armwood’s descendants, and (3) Inez Armwood Watson always said we were kin. Either way, I claim him just on the strength of the moxie he displayed when he, a tenant farmer, fought back against the landowner who sought to cheat him of his cotton.

Herring v. Armwood, 130 NC 177 (1902).

B.W. Herring filed this suit in Duplin County, North Carolina, to recover from William Henry Armwood two bales of cotton worth $81 that he alleged belonged to him. Armwood responded that the cotton was worth much more than $81 and that it was not Herring’s. Further, countered Armwood, he rented the farm on which the cotton was raised under this contract: “I, B.W. Herring, do hereby agree to rent my farm to Henry Armwood for the year of 1899 for five bales of cotton of the first picking, weighing five hundred pounds, or the equivalent in money. I do also agree to dig marl to the amount of two thousand bushels, more or less, and Henry Armwood agrees to haul the same and scatter on the land.” Armwood was to use the marl in lieu of commercial fertilizers to improve the land and increase crop yield. However, Herring refused to dig the marl, and Armwood’s crops suffered.

At trial, Herring testified that Armwood paid only three of five bales of cotton he owed in rent. Armwood took two more bales raised on the rented land to Ruffin Cameron’s to be ginned and those bales were seized. Herring’s testimony is somewhat confusingly recounted in the opinion, but he seems to assert that he did not agree to dig any marl for the 1899 crop, but that he used it as an experiment in 1898 on about 16 of the 40 acres he rented to Armwood.  Armwood countered: “It was agreed that the two thousand bushels of marl shoul dbe hauled on the crop for 1899. I lived on the plaintiff’s land in 1898, and hauled marl for 15 or 16 acres. The crops were increased by the use of the marl 50 to 75 per cent. I hauled the marl from Mr. Dan Lee Flowers. He had the bed, and furnished Mr. Faison Hicks, Mr. Ab Herring, Andrew Barfield, and others in the neighborhood. My crop was decreased by the failure to use the marl at least 50 per cent.” Herring objected to this testimony on the grounds that it was too remote, and the trial judge sustained the objection. Though Dan Lee Flowers testified in support of Armwood, the judge rendered a verdict and judgment for Herring. Armwood appealed.

The North Carolina Supreme Court neatly framed the issue: “The sole question involved in this appeal, when stripped of its technical paraphernalia, is whether an action for damages will lie for a breach of contract in failing to furnish fertilizers, whereby the yield of the crop was decreased, because such damage or failure in the yield will be too remote.” And decided: “… the conclusion is irresistible that a lessening in the yield would be the natural result of a failure to use the marl, if marl be beneficial to the growth and development of the crops, and that the lessened yield would be incidental to such breach, and therefore plaintiff would be liable.” Further, everybody knows that fertilizers increase yield and marl can greatly increase production. “… [i]f damages be recoverable for a breach of contract which decreased the yield, they can also be recovered for a breach of contract whereby the yield was not increased.” Armwood had a right to present his proof to the jury. Error in the lower court, and a new trial awarded.

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

Either of us do promise to pay.

G Winn Note_Page_2

On demand the first day of January 1848 we or Either of us do promise to pay John Lewis the Admr for ayres of urban Lewis decd it being for the Sum of thirty dollars and fifty cents it for Rent of the land belonging to W. Husted lying on the East side of the Railroad Joining James Kelly this January 29th 1847   Gray X Winn, Levi Winn, Adam X Greenfield  Test Obed Brock

This promissory note is listed in John Lewis‘ inventory of his father Urban’s perishable and personal property. Via Joseph Buckner Martin, Urban Lewis of Wayne County is my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. (He was Buck’s father Lewis Martin‘s mother Eliza Lewis Martin‘s father.) Gray Winn, Levi Winn and Adam Greenfield were prosperous free men of color and the ancestors of many of my Henderson cousins, though not my own.

 

 

 

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

Angeline McConnaughey Reeves; or, Charlotte and beyond.

Angeline McConnaughey‘s mother Caroline may have lived long enough to breathe the sweet air of freedom, but not deeply. By 1870, she was gone, and her only child is listed in the census that year with Caroline’s mother, Margaret McConnaughey. By 1875, Angeline had left the Mount Ulla countryside for the town of Salisbury and in February of that year she married Fletcher Reeves, the 21 year-old son of Henry and Phrina (or Fina) Overman Reeves. With unusual candor, Angeline named her father on her marriage license. He was Robert L. McConnaughey of Morganton, white and a relative of Angeline’s former owner, James M. McConnaughey.

Angeline Reeves gave birth to her first two children, Caroline R. (1875) and M. Ada (1878), in Salisbury. The Reeves had plans bigger than that town could hold, however, and shortly after 1880 the family settled at 409 East Eighth Street in Charlotte’s First Ward, a racially integrated, largely working-class neighborhood in the city’s center. Fletcher Reeves went to work as a hostler for John W. Wadsworth, who climbed to millionaire status with his livery stables even as Charlotte’s first electric streetcars were poised to dramatically transform the city’s landscape. In short order, three more children — Frank Charles (1882), Edna (1884) and John Henry (1888) — joined the household, and Angeline took in washing to supplement the family’s income.

Fletcher and Angeline’s combined incomes created a comfortable cushion for their children. On 1 March 1894, in an article snarkily titled “A Fashionable Wedding in Colored High Life,” the Charlotte Observer identified Carrie Reeves, accompanied by Cowan Graham, as a bridal attendant at the marriage of Hattie L. Henderson and Richard C. Graham, “one of the best and most popular waiters at the Buford Hotel.” The ceremony was held at Seventh Street Presbyterian Church and “‘owing to the prominence of the contracting parties,’ a number of white people were present.” Carrie herself was a bride eight months later when she married James Rufus Williams. Her sister Ada’s nuptials, in March 1895, were announced in the March 14 edition of the Observer: “Frank Eccles and Ada Reeves, colored, were married Tuesday night. The groom is Farrior’s man ‘Friday.’ He is a good citizen and deserves happiness and prosperity.”

By 1900, the Reeveses were renting a house at 413 East Eighth. Fletcher continued his work as a “horseler,” but Angeline reported no occupation, apparently having withdrawn from public work. Eighteen year-old son Frank worked as a porter, and youngest children Edna (15) and John (11) were at school. On 21 August 1902, Frank made an ill-starred marriage to Kate Smith. Two and a half years later, his sister Edna married William H. Kiner of Boston, Massachusetts.

When the censustaker returned in 1910, he found Fletcher and Angeline still living in the 400 block of East Eighth. All of their children had left the nest, and in their place was 7 year-old grandson Wilbur Reeves, who was probably Frank and Kate Reeves’ child. If the boy found comfort and stability in his grandparents’ home, however, it was not to last. On 4 September 1910, Fletcher succumbed to kidney disease. He was buried in Pinewood Cemetery, and Angeline went to live with her oldest daughter’s family.

In the 1900 census, Rufus and Carrie Williams and sons Worth (5) and Hugh J. (2) shared a house at 419 Caldwell Street with Frank and Ada Eccles and their son Harry. Rufus, who owned the house, worked as a hotel waiter and Frank as a day laborer. In 1906, Carrie posted a series of ads in the Charlotte News seeking customers for her sewing business.

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Charlotte News, 5 September 1900.

Rufus seems to have spent his free team pitching for a top local baseball team:

Char Obs 8 13 00 Quicksteps

Charlotte News, 13 August 1900.

Charl Obs 9 4 00 RWms Baseball

Charlotte News, 4 September 1900.

In the 1910 census, the family is listed at 212 West First Street. Rufus worked as a porter at a club and Carrie as a seamstress. Sons Worth (14) and Jennings (12) were students. Ada Eccles, already a widow, had migrated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is listed at 8 Rockwell Street with brother-in-law William H. Kiner, sister Edna E. and their children Addison F. (4) and Carroll M. (2), plus brother John H. Reeves. William worked as a clothes presser in a tailor shop, Ada as a servant, and John as a hotel waiter.  William was born in Virginia, all the others except Carroll in NC. (The Kiners also spent time in Oak Bluffs, on Martha’s Vineyard. Son Carroll Milton was born there in 1907; the birth register gave William’s occupation as theological student.) Frank is not found in the 1910, but the state of his marriage can be inferred from a newspaper article about his wife, passing for white in Hollywood.

 Charl News 5 15 10 schools J Wms

Charlotte News, 15 May 1910.

Hugh Jennings Williams died after a battle with tuberculosis in 1913, during his final year in Biddle University‘s preparatory division. (His older brother, Worth Armstead Williams, also attended Biddle for high school and college.) Jennings’ obituary paints a charming picture of the boy and makes clear his parents’ status in the eyes of white Charlotte. HJW obit

Charlotte News, 20 November 1913.

Just months later, more than 800 miles away in Cambridge, Jennings’ uncle John H. Reeves also contracted TB. He was dead by April 1915.

By 1920, the Williamses had moved a little ways out of the heart of the city to 826 South Church Street in the Ninth Ward. Widow Angeline Reeves was listed in the household with Rufus, Carrie, and 24 year-old Worth Williams.  Rufus was a porter at a club, Carrie was a dressmaker, and Worth a student at a dental college.  (Worth was only at home temporarily. He was enrolled at Howard University’s dental school.)Meanwhile, up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the censustaker found William H. Kiner (a chipper at a shipyard), wife Edna E., and children Addison F., Carroll M. and Evelyn C. living at 8 Rockwell Street, and Ada Eccles and her son Harry at 65 Grigg Street.

Charl Obs 3 4 1917 R Williams

Rufus Williams continued to enjoy the esteem of his employer and patrons at the Southern Manufacturers Club — at what personal cost unknown. Waiting on the cream of the Queen City’s burgeoning manufacturing magnates was a path to economic security, but that path was strewn with daily indignity, both casual and intentional. Rufus, and his father before him, were what some fondly called “white man’s niggers,” but to acknowledge this is not to indict them. In a 1924 news article, note that Rufus’ speech honoring his benefactor, John C. McNeill, also shines a light on the fruit of his years as a servant — his “son, W.A. Williams, who is a surgeon dentist at New Bern.”

rufus Wms deskCharlotte News, 1 June 1924.

James Rufus Williams died 24 May 1947 in Charlotte. Six years later, on 25 March 1953, his mother-in-law Angeline McConnaughey Reeves passed away at the age of 94. Her mother and husband gone, Carrie Reeves Williams lived just six months more and died 28 September 1953. I have not found record of Frank Reeves’ death. His sisters Edna Reeves Kiner died in New York City in 1969 and Ada Reeves Eccles in Cambridge in 1979.

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DNA, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

DNA Definites, no. 14: Artis.

Well, I’ll be….

Several months ago, I sent a share request to N.S. on 23andme because he listed Kinston NC as a family location. N.S. is a match to my cousin K.H. Though K.H. and I don’t have ancestors from Lenoir County, it’s close enough to Dudley that I thought it worthwhile to establish contact.

I was skimming through K.H.’s matches yesterday and stopped short at N.S. … Hmmm … Kinston? Speight? Could he …?

I sent a message, “Are you descended from Lemmon Speight?,” and he quickly responded that he is indeed, that Lemmon was his grandfather.

If you remember, I discovered Lemmon Speight a few weeks ago in the Civil War pension application file of Bailham Speight. Speight’s widow Hannah Sauls Speight, several friends and relatives, and Lemmon himself testified that Lemmon, Hannah’s first child, had been fathered by Loderick Artis, whom she had never married. Loderick Artis was the son of Daniel Artis, who was brother of my great-great-great-great-grandmother Vicey Artis Williams.

N.S. and K.H. share .46%, and 23andme estimated their relationship as 3rd-5th cousins. They are, in fact, 4th cousins.

[UPDATE: I was at the North Carolina State Archives last week when my phone rang with an unfamiliar number from area code 202. I stepped out to answer it and found myself talking to N.S.’ brother-in-law, the family historian. We talked in depth later that night, and he told me that the family had long known the identity of Lemmon Speight’s father, that several descendants migrated to Georgia and are holding a reunion here next year, that he himself is also a Greene County Speight, and did I know D.S.? “Are you kidding??? He lives two doors down from my parents! I’ve known him all my life!” They are both descended from Stephen and Fereby Speight and are somehow related to Mr. Kenny!  — LYH, 6 May 2014]

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Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

All of my possessions to have and to hold.

COLVERT -- W Colvert Will_Page_1

COLVERT -- W Colvert Will_Page_2

Born 40 years into American independence, and less than ten after the importation of African slaves was banned, Walker Colvert could have prayed for, but never foreseen, that he would gain his freedom just past the midpoint of his life and that he would die possessed of something to leave his wife and son.

 

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It could stand some hard pruning, and the music is awfully jaunty, and if there’s any mention of slaves at all, I missed it. (After all, this is a plantation tour.) Needless to say, I might have done this differently. Nonetheless, for the light it sheds on the larger community in which my ancestors lived, I hold my tongue and present.