Free People of Color, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Collateral Kin: the Carters.

One of the most rewarding results of my decades of genealogical sleuthing has been the development of a deep connection with many of my Carter cousins, descendants of Milford and Beulah Aldridge Carter. My grandmother talked often of the Carter family, to which she was connected both via the Aldridges and “Papa” Jesse Jacobs, who was Milford Carter’s uncle.

The Carters looked ‘bout like white folks. I didn’t really know all of  ‘em. I think it was nine of them boys. The three I knew was Milford and Johnnie and Harold, I think. They used to come to Wilson, but the older one [Willoughby] didn’t come up. But Milford, Harold — the two youngest ones come over and stayed with Annie Bell [Jacobs Gay, Papa’s daughter.] Johnnie – and Freddie, too.   When I’d go to Uncle Lucian’s, they lived not too far from there. But I never went to their house. I think Harold was the youngest one. ‘Cause that’s the one came to Wilson, and Albert, Annie Bell’s husband, got him a job down to the station driving a cab. And he got his own car, and he was down there for a long time. Harold. He’s the youngest one. Carter. All of them was great big.

There were indeed nine Carter brothers — Willoughby (1880), Ammie (1881), Freddie (1890), Milford (1893), Granger (1895), Lippman (1898), John Wesley (1899), Harold (1903) and Richard (1906) — plus a sister Florence (1887). (Florence’s son William Homer Camp Jr. married Onra L. Henderson, Beulah A. Carter’s niece and my grandmother’s double cousin.) The brothers were born in Sampson and Wayne Counties to Archie Marshall (or Marshall Archie) Carter and Margaret Frances Jacobs, sister of Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. Marshall Carter (1860-1926) was the son of William and Mary Cox Carter of Sampson County. (My grandmother also spoke of Marshall’s sister, Virginia Ann “Annie” Carter, who married Hardy Cox and was a close friend of “Mama” Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver.) William Cox (1833- ca. 1875) was the son of Michael Carter (ca. 1805-ca. 1875) and his wife, Patience.

As attached as Papa was to my grandmother, he did not take her with him on visits home to Dudley, very likely in deference to the feelings of his nephew’s wife Beulah, who had little use for the child her brother Tom fathered out of wedlock.

When Papa was living, he used to go to Dudley down there to the mill where they ground corn and all down there.   They’d carry him around down there on horse and buggy, wagon, whatever it was. He was their uncle. Their mama’s brother. He’d go there every once in a while. But he didn’t never say nothing ‘bout taking me down there with him. I guess ‘cause Beulah, Milford’s wife, was my daddy’s sister, but she was kind of cool toward me. And he know he wasn’t gon carry Mamie.  So we didn’t never get to go down there with him. 

Early in their marriage, Beulah and Milford Carter lived in Wilson in a small house on Green Street whose yard touched those of Milford’s uncle and first cousin Annie Bell. The Carters’ second child, son Dewey Belvin, who died before his second birthday, was born during their short stay there.

Beulah stayed in Cora Miller’s house there on Green Street. A little house down there ‘cross from where we were staying, first house behind the church, near ‘bout on the corner there. And she and Milford were there.

After a few years shifting between Wayne to Duplin Counties, Milford moved his family north to Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and then New York City — first Brooklyn, then Queens — where he pursued a long career as a chef.


Milford E. Carter, during his time as a chef at H. Hicks & Son, 30 West 57th Street, New York City.

Freddie, Freddie was the one that went to Atlanta for a year and day. Moonshine. And Johnnie was fat. And rosy. Like, you know, like if somebody say like, seeing a baby and say that it was “oh so fat, look like you pinch they cheek the blood pop out?” And just fair, and just that red look.

Johnnie Carter was also the brother that cared for my grandmother’s great-uncle, J. Lucian Henderson, and his wife Susan Henderson in their final infirmity. In June 1934, John W. Carter was named administrator and sole legatee of Lucian’s estate. Johnnie and his family lived near Lucian just west of Dudley, but I am not sure of the genesis of their close relationship.

The Carter boys was always nice. They come up here, come to stay with Annie Bell, Papa’s youngest daughter. They wasn’t here at the same time. They was driving cabs. So they used to come over all the time. I went with Harold down to Dudley once ‘cause he was going and coming back that same day. See, Uncle Lucian was sick, so I went down with him and come back.



Top: John, Ammie, Wesley (a cousin), Richard, Granger, Richard Jr. and Harold Carter; bottom: Milford, John and Harold Carter; both 1955. Copies of photos courtesy of Dorothy Carter Blackman and Daniel M. Carter.

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


9 thoughts on “Collateral Kin: the Carters.

  1. Lisa Carter Leak says:

    OMG…thank you for this, Lisa. I’ve seen the pictures before and knew part of my dad’s (Clarence Marshall Carter) family history. But this was just great. My Grandmother,Beulah, was always stand offish…sort of mean. But Grandpa Milford was cool.

  2. Carla Jacobs says:

    You know I love when you post about the Carter-Jacobs clan because I get info on both my maternal and paternal side of my family tree!! However,I’m a little confused over one entry.

    You refer to Gramma Beaulah as Papa’s daughter-in-law. Wasn’t she actually his niece-in-law (the wife of Papa’s sister’s son)?

  3. Pingback: Memorial page. | Scuffalong: Genealogy.

  4. Mack Williams says:

    Lisa, I am Mack Williams, the Great-Great-Grandson of Sallie (Sarah) Carter, the older sister of Marshall Carter. Sallie Married John Henry Cobb in November of 1880 (formerly John Henry Bryant; not sure why he went by Cobb, but his mother was Mary Bryant who married Barney Bryant, presumably his stepfather). The pair had Mary Elizabeth (1884), Texas Irene (1887), William James (1893), Vanny (1895) and Carrie (1896). Sallie and her children moved from Brogden to Marianna in Lee County, Arkansas sometime in the 1890s; I do not know what happened to John Henry Cobb, as he died either shortly before or shortly after they left N.C. Sallie stayed in Lee County for about 15-20 years, remarried a Dan Logan, but moved to Little Rock where her son William James and daughter Carrie relocated. She died there in 1934. Her son William James Cobb later moved to Gary, Indiana where he died in a work accident. His sister Carrie moved to Indiana as well, while my Great-Grandmother Texas Irene remarried in Arkansas with her husband James Williams for the rest of her life, passing away a mother after her husband in 1959. I have photos of both Texas Irene Cobb and her husband James Williams. (James’ father George Williams was also from Brogden, Wayne County, NC; he was a former slave, the son of Larry and Mary Purdy who were enslaved in Elizabethtown, Bladen County, NC). I would love to get more information on life in Wayne County, Sampson County, etc. for my enslaved and free ancestors!

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