Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Free People of Color, Land, Newspaper Articles, Paternal Kin

Six acres on the south side of the road.


Goldsboro Messenger, 10 March 1884.

 Gboro Messenger 9 11 1884 Wms v Artis

Goldsboro Messenger, 11 September 1884.

Solomon Williams‘ son (and estate administrator) Jonah Williams placed these notices in a local newspaper. Solomon’s six acres could not be meaningfully divided among the eight children that survived him. Ruffin Bridge is another name for Peacock’s Bridge, which spans Contentnea Creek on the Wilson-Greene Counties border. It is not at all clear to me, however, which road would have been regarded as the road from Goldsboro to the bridge.

Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The hoe penetrated to the tissue of the brain.


Goldsboro Headlight, 16 August 1900.

I don’t which Winn this is, but I am certain the Aldridge is my great-grandfather’s brother, John J. Aldridge. Here’s his World War I draft registration card, filed 17 years after this article was published:

JJAldridge WW1

(I’ve always wondered about the “skull broken about 12 years ago.”) Johnnie Aldridge not only recovered, but lived another 64 years after his horrific injury.

John J Aldridge

John J. Aldridge (1887-1964), son of John W. and Louvicey Artis Aldridge.

Free People of Color, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

An action for seducing away two colored boys.

John Jones v. James Mills, 13 NC 540 (1830).

Jones sued Mills in Jones County Court for “seducing” two apprentices from him. Jones produced evidence of his indentures of the boys, and Mills countered with proof that Jones had not properly executed bond, as required by law, not to remove the apprentices out of the county. The trial judge charged the jury that Jones had indentured the boys and taken care of them, and Mills, a stranger, “could not avail himself of any irregularity or defect in the bond” as a defense to the suit. The jury returned a verdict for Mills, and Jones appealed. The North Carolina Supreme Court overturned the decision, opining that, even if the bond were defective, the apprentices had not been turned loose, “fit subjects to be seduced and employed by any stranger that thinks proper to interfere.


I first encountered this case many years ago when I was researching my master’s thesis, which examined the involuntary apprenticeship of free children of color. The published decision in Jones v. Mills is not terribly interesting. I was stunned, then, when I peeked into the case file, now stored at the North Carolina State Archives: “This was an action on the case for seducing away two colored boys Durant and Willis Henderson alias Dove claimed by the plaintiff as his apprentices by virtue of indentures with the County Court of Onslow.”

Durant and Willis Henderson — alias Dove?

I knew that my Hendersons originated in Onslow. I also had a good friend during my college years who was a Dove. A bit of research quickly established that L.D. was a descendant of Durant Dove, via his son Lewis James Dove. Further research, still ongoing, strongly suggests that Durant and Willis’ mother, Nancy Henderson alias Dove, was the sister of my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Patsey Henderson. Their father appears to have been Simon Dove, a free man of color from Craven County.

The case file also reveals that John Jones bound Durant and Willis in 1819 to serve as his apprentices and learn the art of farming. They remained with Jones until 1828, when Mills took them into Jones County, giving rise to this suit.


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

Your friend and great-aunt by marriage.

After Rev. Joseph Silver died, my grandmother received a letter from his widow:

MC SIlver to H Henderson 2 2 1958_Page_1

MC SIlver to H Henderson 2 2 1958_Page_2

Martha C. Silver is a bit of a mystery. She was born about 1873 in Halifax County to William Hilliard Hawkins (born 1833 to Ambrose and China Harwell Hawkins) and his wife Mary E. Hulin Hawkins (born 1840 to Hilliard and Tabitha Locklear Hulin), both born free. I have found her with her birth family in the 1880 census of Enfield, Halifax County. I lose sight of her, though, until 5 August 1912 when she is listed as Cary Hawkins Henderson in her father’s Halifax County will and then until 16 December 1925, when as “Martha C. Henderson” she married Joseph Aldridge (born 1869), my great-great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge‘s younger brother.  (I cannot find a marriage license for Martha and any Henderson (much less one related to me).) In the 1930 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, “Carry” Aldridge is listed with Joseph and his children by his deceased first wife, Louberta Manley. Joseph died in 1934, and I lose Martha again until 8 September 1943 when she married Joseph Silver in Wayne County. He was 86 (and widowed five years previously by the death of my great-great-great-aunt Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver), and she was 70. Martha returned to Halifax County and remained there at least until Rev. Silver died in 1958. Past that, though, I know little, for I have not found her death certificate.


A few years ago, I obtained a copy of a photo of family group from someone who knew only that they were Aldridges. Last year, a cousin confirmed what I had suspected. Eight of the nine people pictured above are Joseph and Louberta M. Aldridge’s children. The ninth? Martha Cary Hawkins Henderson Aldridge Silver, with whom they remained close even after their father’s death. My cousin told me that Martha had children of her own when she married Joseph Aldridge and had gone to live with a son in Washington DC in her latter years. My cousin and her father, Joseph’s son George, visited her regularly until her death at age 100 or older. [Update: on 27 May 2014, Martha’s grandson contacted me and advised that, while she had a son named Charles who lived in New York, Martha had spent her final years with her daughter in DC.]

(By the way, the “Johnnie Aldridge of Dudley” referred to in the letter was Joseph’s nephew, and my great-great-uncle, John J. Aldridge. “Reka” was Reka Aldridge Ashford Morrisey, daughter of Joseph’s brother George W. Aldridge. Luke Morrisey was her husband.)

Hat tip to Patricia Aldridge Polack for her identification of William J.B. Aldridge, Milford Aldridge, Lillie Mae Aldridge, George Mitchell Aldridge and Joseph Leon Aldridge (top) and Daniel W. Aldridge, Allen Aldridge and Mary Eliza Aldridge Sawyer (below).

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Photographs

In remembrance, if not memory.

My great-grandfather, James Thomas Aldridge, was born 127 years ago today. Ordinarily, I’d do a “remembering so-and-so” kind of post, but something stays my hand. I don’t literally remember him, of course, but that’s not surprising. The problem is neither my father nor my grandmother, if she were living, could really say they much remember him either.

Nora and them stayed up there where the old house burnt down. And her mama, Aint Vicey — we called her Aint Vicey, but she was my grandmama. Her son was my daddy. And I stayed at Nora’s, they taken me up there, and Johnny always bring me watermelons. He’d say, “You just like your daddy.” And those kinds of things. So I ain’t made nothing outn it. I said, whatever. I would just say something like, well, “I’m some kin to the Aldridges.”  

Johnny, he called me and I was working to the hospital. And he called me and told me, at least he called the hospital and wanted to speak to me: “Well, if you want to see your daddy – you said you ain’t never seen him before – come down here. He’s down here now. So, don’t let him know I told you.”   So, I went down – I said, well, I’m gon go down there and see Silas Cox ‘bout selling the lots where Grandma Mag’s house was on. So, I got off. So, I got Mr. Fisher to take me down there. I said, “Mm, I wanna see that man.” So Nora had been all good to me and always said, ‘bout, “Tom was your daddy,” and she’d come and visit me, and I’d go down there, go down there and stay with her. When Jesse was a baby, I went down there and stayed. And when I was a child, when I went up to New York, that’s when Frances took me ‘cause I was her son’s, her brother’s child. I said, then in later years, nobody wanted to own me. But whatever.

So my grandmother met her father only once, after his brother Johnnie Aldridge called and she invented a ruse for stopping by his sister’s Nora Aldridge Henderson‘s house. The visit did not go terribly well, and Nora, to whom she’d been closest, never spoke to her again. My grandmother had spent time with her grandmother Vicey Artis Aldridge and aunts in Dudley and had started school in New York City while living with Tom’s sister Frances Aldridge Cooper Newsome, but over time — after Tom married and as his professional star rose — the Aldridges mostly drifted away. Or clanged shut the door.

Science has settled the question of my grandmother’s kinship to the Aldridges, though she did not live long enough for the validation. Happy birthday, Tom Aldridge.

Tom Aldridge older


Interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.