I’ve talked about her here and here, but now I’m a little uncertain. Were there actually two Winnie Coleys? Were the mothers of Cain and Caroline Artis and William M. Coley and Patrick, Philip and John Revis Coley different women? Here’s what I know — and conjecture — about her:
- In 1863, North Carolina’s Confederate government levied a tax on slaveholders across the state. Tax lists survive for only a few counties. (Most deliciously for me, Rowan is one.) I have not been able to find Wayne County’s anywhere, but fortuitously — and a little suspiciously — they were abstracted in Martha Ellis Will’s Wayne County North Carolina Court House Records Four Books 1780-1896. The 1863 tax list of Davis District, shows John Coley, Administrator of Estate of W.W. Lewis, with five taxable slaves. It’s the first record of Winnie and her children: Winey, age 29; Cane, age 9; Caroline, age 7; Pat, 4; and Nathan, 2. [Who was W.W. Lewis? Coley himself is not listed with slaves, but the 1860 slave schedule tells a different story. There he reported owning 114 men, women and children. And where were Winnie’s other children?]
- At #272 of the 1870 census of Pikeville, Wayne County, the unmarried 55 year-old John Coley heads a household of possibly related white folks. In every direction, there is evidence of his toppled fiefdom — African-Americans bearing the surname Coley. Were they related to him? To each other? How? (And the non-Coleys in the neighborhood — who among them were also John’s former slaves, men and women who’d disdained his name?) For now, a few. At #270, Trecendia Coley, 36, with Peter, 5, and Dallas Coley, 5. At #273, Winney Coley, 41, with John R., 17, Phillipp, 11, and Mack Coley, 5. At #276, Peter Coley, 50, Harret, 44, Devrah, 16, Delliah E., 15, Napolian, 14, Nicholas, 12, and Thomas V. Coley, 7. At #281, Thomas Coley, 35, Charlotte, 27, Branton, 8, Bealie, 6, Trecendia, 4, Harriett, 1.
- On 5 May 1872, Patrick Coley, son of Peter Coley “sen.” and Winney Coley, married Debby Coley, daughter of Peter Coley and Hannah Coley in Greene County. [The 1870 mortality schedule of Wayne County records the death of 52 year-old black farmer Peter Coley of Pikeville. Was he Peter Sr.? Also, though no ages are listed on the marriage license, the 1880 and 1900 censuses show Patrick’s birth year as 1849, which is not consitent with the “Pat” listed in the 1863 tax list.]
- On 2 Oct 1878, Richard Baker applied for a marriage license from the Wayne County Register of Deeds for Madison Artis of Wayne County, 22, colored, son of Calvin and Serena Artis, father living, mother dead, and Caroline Coley of Wayne County, age 24, colored, daughter of Adam Morris [sic, Artis] and Winny Coley, both living. The ceremony was performed by Fred G. Becton, Justice of the Peace, on 3 Oct 1878 at Winnie Coley’s in Nahunta, before E.L. Becton, Thomas Artis, and Jonah Williams. [Thomas Artis, son of Celia Artis, was Madison Artis’ uncle. Jonah Williams was Caroline’s uncle, Adam Artis’ brother.]
- In the 1880 census of Pikeville, Wayne County, Winnea Coley, 71, is listed with sons Jack R., 26, Phillip, 20, and grandson Dallas Coley, 15. [71?!?! This is the same Winnie Coley listed in 1870, but her age is inexplicably 20 years off.]
- On 5 November 1881, in Wilson County, Winnie Coley, 50, married Alex Barron, 57. The ceremony took place at minister Jessie Baker’s house in the presence of Mary Ellis, Peter Coley and Red Barnes. [Is this our Winnie? If so, she never appears elsewhere with this husband. Which Peter Coley was this?]
- On 16 February 1882, Phillip R. Coley, 22, son of Peter Coley (dead) and Winnie Coley (living), married Ann Exum, 18, in Pikeville, Wayne County, in the presence of witnesses Christopher Coley, Gard Coley and Olin Coley. [“Grad” Coley appears in the 1870 census in household #279 as the son of Howell and Amy Coley. In 1886, Gard married Ollin Coley [Sr.]’s daughter Miranda. Their witnesses were Philip R. Coley, Dennis Coley and Christopher Coley. Christopher appears in the 1870 census of Pikeville, Wayne County, as the son of Lafayette and Julia Coley. Philip R. Coley witnessed Christopher’s 1885 marriage to Sarah Powell. Ollin Coley Jr. married Christopher’s sister Imogen in the presence of Philip R., Dennis and Christopher Coley in 1885.]
- On 11 Apr 1888, Charles Battle applied for a marriage license for Cain Artis of Wayne County, age 35, black, son of Adam Artis and Winny Artis, both living, and Margaret Barnes of Wilson County NC, age 38, black, daughter of Sherard Edmundson, dead. P.D. Gold, minister of the gospel, performed the ceremony on the same day at Margaret Barnes’ home in Wilson before H.G. Phillips, Henrietta Clark and Mary J. Davis.
- On 26 February 1891, William Coley, 22, son of Napolion Hagans and Winney Hagans, of Gardner’s Township, Wilson County, married Minnie Woodard, daughter of Alfred and Sarah Woodard of Taylor’s township, Wilson. Cain Artis applied for the license and stood as a witness.
- In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Willie Coley, 30, wife Minnie, 30, children Effie M., 8, and James M., 6, mother Winnie Coley, 65, and sister Zilley Coley, 38. [Where was Zilley in previous censuses? Or was she, in fact, Minnie’s sister?]
- On 21 July 1909, in Wilson, Wilson County, William Coley, 42, son of Pole Hagans and Winnie Coley, married Mary Mercer, 34, daughter of Sam and Julia Mercer. Jonah Williams, Primitive Baptist Minister, performed the ceremony at the home of W.M. Coley in Wilson.
- Winnie is not found in the 1910 census or beyond and presumably died between 1900 and 1910.
- On 23 March 1917, farmer Cain Artis died in Wilson County of pulmonary tuberculosis. His death certificate reports that he was born March 1851 to Adam T. Artis and Winnie Coley, both of Wayne County NC. Informant for the certificate was W.M. Coley of Wilson NC.
- On 15 December 1920, Phil R. Coley died in Nahunta, Wayne County, of stomach cancer. His death certificate reports that he was born around 1861 to Peter Coley and Winnie [no last name], both of Wayne County. J.A. Coley was informant.
- On 26 January 1928, William Coley died in Wilson County of pulmonary tuberculosis. His death certificate reports that he was born about 1867 to Pole Hagans and Winnie Coley, both of Wayne County. Informant for the certificate was Mary Coley of Wilson NC.
- On 3 September 1934, Jack Revis Coley died in Nahunta, Wayne County, of bladder and prostate cancer. His death certificate reports that he was born about 1850 to Peter Coley and Winnie Coley, both of Wayne County. Informant for the certificate was Philip E. Coley of Fremont NC.
- In summary, Winnie Coley was born about 1830 and died 1900-1910. Her children included Cain Artis (circa 1851-1917); Caroline Coley, born about 1854; John Revis “Jack” Coley (born in the early 1850s-1934); Philip R. Coley (circa 1860-1920); Patrick Coley (??-??); and William M. Coley (circa 1867-1928); and possibly Nathan Coley (circa 1861-??) and Lafayette Coley (circa 1842-1913).
- Fun facts: Philip R. Coley’s son Philip Elmer Coley married Genetta Thompson, daughter of Celebus and Lillie Beatrice Artis Thompson. Lillie was a daughter of Adam T. Artis and a half-sister of Cain Artis. Genetta, then, married her half-uncle Cain’s half-brother’s son.
- Fun facts, 2: William Coley’s father Napoleon was the half-brother of Frances Seaberry, who married Adam Artis. Thus, William’s half-brother Cain was also his first cousin by marriage.
5 thoughts on “Collateral kin: Winnie Coley.”
Do you know if Winnie Coley was a slave or not?
This could be the reason she is found with different husbands and other sets of children. I was thinking she could have been a slave, while Adam Artis, Peter Coley and Pole Hagans.
Let me know what you think.
Winnie and all of her children were enslaved, as was Peter Coley. Adam Artis and Napoleon Hagans were freeborn. I don’t believe she ever married.
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I’m a descendant of Winnie Coley. I traced my linage from Dallas Coley was my Great-Great-Great Grandfather. I would love to chat more to see how you found all of your information.
I would love to know my sub-title name as a Moorish American from my ancient homeland.(EL, Bey, Ali,).