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.
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!
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.