Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Elvira.

I knew Rebecca Colvert was my great-great-grandfather John W. Colvert‘s stepmother. Until now, though, I’d seen his mother Elvira Gray‘s name listed only on his death certificate.

On 30 January 1905, six days before his father Walker‘s death, John married Adeline Hampton, mother of his four daughters. I’d seen the marriage register entry for their union, but not the actual license. Here it is, and there is the second reference to Walker’s first wife.

42091_334850-01229

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Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

28 August 1866.

I’ve seen these cohabitation registrations many times, but I just noticed today that Vicey Artis, Sylvania Artis and Daniel Artis, whom I believe to be siblings, and their spouses all registered their marriages on the same day before the same justice of the peace, Henry J. Sauls.

williams cohab

lane cohab

dartis cohab

Did the six travel to Sauls’ home together, walking or, perhaps, in a wagon? August 28 was a Tuesday during the relative lull before fall harvesting began. Did the families celebrate?

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Uncle John’s first wife?

I am clearly getting my whole life in these marriage records, but I have to wonder. What in the world have I been doing? Why have I missed so many of these records? Have I just assumed that what was on the shelf or on-line was all that was available? Fie.

Here’s another.

42091_334849-01098

Lots about this license says it relates to a previously unknown first marriage for my grandmother’s uncle, John McNeely. First, the parents are named correctly, and they were the only Henry and Martha McNeely in Iredell County at the time. Second, the church is right, as the McNeelys were Presbyterians. (Except when they were being Episcopalians.) Third, that middle name, Alexander — the first I’ve heard of one for John! — is a family name, borne first by Alexander “Sandy” McNeely, son of Henry McNeely’s sister Alice. In fact, the only thing that throws me is John’s age. Uncle John was 27 in 1899, not 21. That’s a curious error, but not critical enough to trump the other details. I’ll update my tree to include John’s middle name and his first wife.

McNEELY -- John McNeely young w cigarette

John A. McNeely as a young man. (I think. Even as I post this, something is worrying me about the timeframe of this photo….)

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

William emerges.

As I discussed here, my great-great-grandmother Harriet Nicholson Tomlin Hart had two half-brothers named William. I discovered her mother’s son, William H. Nicholson, in the 1900 census. The newly widowed Harriet and her young son Golar — the only one of her Tomlin children to see the 20th century — were living in her brother’s household in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. With this information, I found William’s 1909 death certificate. Harriet was the informant, and she listed his parents as Burwell Carson and Lucinda Nicholson. Other than a few city directory listings, this was the only documentation of William that I had until last night, when I found this:

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It’s hard to read, but it’s a Mecklenburg County marriage license for William H. Nicholson. On 3 April 1884, he married 38 year-old Lizzie King of Charlotte.

… William had a wife?

I went back to the 1900 census and examined it more closely. At 611 East Stonewall, William “Nickolson,” age 51, plasterer; Harriet Tomlin, 38, his sister; and Golda, 6, his niece. (Actually, his nephew.) Harriet was described as a widow, with only one child of ten living. (This is not quite right either, as her oldest child Lon was also alive, but 80% mortality versus 90% is meaningless.) William, in fact, is described as married, but there is no wife in the household. Where was Lizzie Nicholson?

I searched further. More city directories have been digitized since last I looked, and I quickly found several entries from the latter half of the first decade of the 1900s. Here’s one:

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.25.48 PMWalsh’s City Directory for Charlotte, North Carolina, 1907.

If there had been a rough patch around 1900, it was smoothed over within a few years. William’s 1909 death certificate describes him as married (though his sister came all the way from Statesville to provide information.) Lizzie died just a year later.

I went back further. I’d seen city directory listings for William Nicholson in Charlotte in 1890 and 1891, but last night I found a couple like this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.32.50 PMA Directory of the City of Charlotte, North Carolina for 1896 and 1897.

Same occupation, same address, same wife. This appears to be William using his middle name, Henry. I found others: in 1889, Henry Nicholson, brickmason, and Lizzie Nicholson, cook at the Central Hotel, living at 611 East Stonewall. In 1897, Henry H. Nicholson, laborer, and Lizzie Nicholson at the Stonewall address. The entry below: Nicholson & Allen (c) [for “colored”] (Lizzie Nicholson & Richard Allen), proprs Northern Rest, 220 East Trade.  In 1904: Henry Nicholson (Isabella), plasterer, 611 E Stonewall.

A Newspaper.com turned up nothing on William Henry, but there were several notices published in late 1910 and early 1911 regarding Lizzie Nicholson’s estate, and a delinquent property tax listing in 1894 that reveals that she was the owner of the Stonewall address. Levine Museum of the New South’s People of 1911 Charlotte project depicts the Sanborn drawing of this one-story house on an unpaved street and lists its owner at that time as Montgomery Caesar. The Second Ward street is no longer residential, and 611 is just a block from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. East Boundary Street, William and Lizzie’s other address, is gone. And 220 East Trade is now the Epicentre.

When Northern Restaurant was, though, a small but confident ad:

Charlotte_Observer_9_16_1896_Northern_Rest

Charlotte Observer, 16 September 1896.

Then, less charitably:

Charlotte_Observer_3_14_1897_Northern_Rest

Charlotte Observer, March , 1897.

Charlotte_Observer_10_8_1897_Northern_Rest

Charlotte Observer, 8 October 1897.

So, to update what I know about Harriet’s brother:

William Henry Nicholson was born between 1842 and 1848 to Lucinda Nicholson and Burwell Carson. His whereabouts in 1870 and 1880 are unknown. He was trained as a brickmason and plasterer and plied both trades in Charlotte. In 1884, he married Lizzie King (whose first name was possibly Isabella). It was at least her second marriage. (Her parents’ names on the license are nearly illegible, but they are not “King,” and she is referred to as Mrs. in the document.) Lizzie worked as a cook at a hotel, and then at her own establishment, Northern Restaurant, which she co-owned with Richard Allen. Perhaps before her marriage to William, Lizzie bought or inherited a house at 611 East Stonewall in Charlotte. For a brief period around 1900, William’s half-sister Harriet lived at the Stonewall house. By 1907, William and Lizzie had moved to 200 East Boundary, and each of them died in the house there. William died in December 1909, and Lizzie not quite two months later in February 1019.

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Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

And just like that….

… the elusive Aunt Ella.

Back before I completely fell off the 52 Ancestors Challenge, I wrote a piece about my great-great-grandmother Loudie Henderson‘s sister Louella. The gist of it was that, other than the 1880 census and my grandmother’s recollections, there were no sure sightings of this woman. But Ancestry’s new North Carolina Marriages collection is paying off for me in a big way, and the first cha-ching was Aunt Ella’s license for her marriage to William James Laws in 1931. The collection is indexed by parents, as well as bride and groom, and a search for James Henderson picked the record up. I’m elated, but thrown. The last husband my grandmother remembered was Wilson, but he clearly was not the end of the line for Ella. (And 40? Please. By 1931, she was pushing 55.) The witnesses: is that “Mary” Smith? Or “Nany” Smith, i.e. Nancy “Nannie” Henderson Smith Diggs, Ella’s sister. Nancy’s second marriage, to Patrick Diggs, was short-lived, and in the 1930 census, she had reverted to Smith. And which A.M.E. Zion church?

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Just when I thought I’d gotten tangled up in enough questions, I found this:

42091_343604-00592

Rastus Best?!?! Aunt Ella was married yet another time? And where are the licenses for the husbands — King and Wilson — I thought I knew? And Disciple Church?

So. Louella Henderson King Wilson Best Laws moves to the top of my “get to the bottom of this” list. A quick search for a Laws death certificate turned up nothing, but I’m hot on her trail.

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Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

North Carolina Marriage Records.

Ancestry.com recently launched North Carolina County Marriage Records, a date collection that includes images of marriage bonds, licenses, certificates and registers from 87 counties. (Including all of mine!) I’ve already stumbled across two previously unseen records for distant cousins, aunts or uncles, and I anticipate filling in gaps with many more that I managed to overlook over the years.

As a sample of the value of these records, here’s a single page from one Wayne County marriage register:

Wayne Marriage

1. James Aldridge, 70, married Eliza Thompson. Just about every “colored” Aldridge in 19th century Wayne County is a member of my extended family, but this one doesn’t seem to be one of mine. I can’t place a James born circa 1832. Perhaps this man came into the county from Lenoir or Duplin, which had slave-holding Aldridge families.

2. Adam T. Artis, 68, to Katie Pettiway, 20. This was my great-great-great-grandfather’s last marriage. He was actually 71, rather than 68, so Katie was more than 50 years his junior. (And her maiden name was actually Pettiford.) I’ve written about their family here. (By the way, more about their officiant, Rev. Clarence Dillard (5) here.

3. Robert Artis, 20, to Christiana Simmons, 18. Robert Artis was a son of Adam and Amanda Aldridge Artis. His witnesses may have been his cousin Jesse Anthony Artis, son of Jesse Artis, and uncle William Artis.

4. Robert Aldridge, 37, to Rancy Pearsall, 31. My great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge‘s second youngest brother Robert finally married in 1903. He and Rancy (or Rannie) adopted a son, Bennie, born in 1908, and she died before 1916, when Robert remarried.

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They’re not exactly brick walls, but this one data collection has revealed this and this and this and this… 

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