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

Carter kin?

Several months, when I was examining delayed birth certificates filed in Wayne County, North Carolina, I asked who the A.J. Carter was listed as a cousin on Christine “Nora” Aldridge Henderson‘s birth record. Today I found a marriage license for A.J. Carter and Mallie Simmons, and it hit me suddenly that A.J. was Ammie James Carter, (1) oldest of A. Marshall and Frances Jacobs Carter’s sons, (2) thus, nephew of “Papa” Jesse A. Jacobs Jr., and (3) brother-in-law of Beulah Aldridge Carter, my great-grandfather Tom Aldridge‘s sister.

But how in the world was Ammie Carter Nora Aldridge Henderson’s cousin? “Play” cousin? Or blood?

Ammie Carter, born about 1881, was the son of Archy Marshall Carter and Margaret Frances Jacobs. His mother Frances was the sister of Jesse A. Jacobs Jr., who reared my grandmother, and the daughter of Jesse Sr. and Abigail Gilliam (or Gilliard) Jacobs. Jesse and Abigail’s parentage is unclear, but they are believed to have been born in Cumberland or perhaps Sampson County. As far as I know, neither was related to Nora Aldridge’s parents, John W. Aldridge and Louvicey Artis.

Marshall Carter (1860-1922) was the son of William and Mary Cox Carter of Sampson County. I know little about them. Their census records are muddled by duplicate, but conflicting, entries, and most of their children seem to disappear from the record. An exception: daughter Virginia Ann “Annie” Carter (1863-1930) married Hardy Cox. They were close enough to Sarah Henderson Jacobs that my grandmother called them Cousin Annie and Cousin Hardy Cox. Was Annie Carter Cox really a cousin?)

And there’s this: on Sarah H. Jacobs’ 1938 death certificate, her mother’s maiden name is listed as Margaret Carter. When I asked my grandmother about it, she did not know why. I believe Sarah’s mother, who was otherwise known as Margaret Balkcum, was the sister of Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge. Is the Aldridge-Carter connection actually via their Balkcum side? Was their unknown father — a man of color — a Carter?

William Carter was the son of Michael Carter (circa 1805-circa 1875) and Patience, maiden name unknown, of Sampson County, whom I know only through the 1860 and 1870 censuses, in which they are enumerated in Sampson County. They both seem to have died before 1880. My lack of knowledge about Robert Aldridge or Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge‘s parents makes me hesitate to say that either (or neither) was related to Michael or Patience Carter. The same holds for Mary Cox Carter’s parents, whoever they might have been.

In short, for now, I have no answers.

Agriculture, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Oral History

He had it in his pocket.

My mother: Tell Lisa about that thing you were telling me about your step-grandfather. Mr. Hart.

My grandmother: Mm-hmm.

Mother: And what he brought you.

Grandmother: He used to always bring us something, you know. It wouldn’t be much, but it would be a little something, you know. So this night, he brought me a chick. A little live chick. And told me to raise the chick, and I did. And it was a –

Mother: Where was it, Ma? Where was it when he brought it to you?

Grandmother: He had it in his pocket. [We laugh.] He had it in his pocket. And, oh, they were called game chickens. And they got great big bodies and long necks and their heads were small. You know, they’re funny-looking, but they’re very productive. You know, they lay a lot of eggs. And he had all kinds of stuff like that. He was a lawyer, really. But he did real estate, and he farmed. But anyway, he gave me this chick, and it was a hen. And she laid eggs and everything. And so Mama sat the eggs, sat her on her own eggs, and she hatched this little group of chickens, you know. And I don’t know why it was separate from any other ‘cause Mama had chickens and all. She had chickens then, but anyway this chicken was separate from the chickens, and it was ‘round on the side of our house. And the house wasn’t, you know, where you cover the bottom of the house. It wasn’t –

Me: Oh, yeah. It was up on pillars.

Grandmother: Yeah. And right there where she was there was none, and she made a little coop for her and her chicks. They would run around, but they would come back to that thing ‘cause she was in there. And one day a dog came along and was messing with the chickens, and oh, this hen was just a-jumping up and screaming and carrying on and stuck her head out the thing, and the dog bit her head off. Lisa, I nearly died. And you know, Mama wouldn’t cook her. We wouldn’t have eaten her nohow.

Me: Did she have a name?

Grandmother: I can’t think of the hen’s name. I can’t think of it, Lisa. But I’m sure she had one.


Game hen, courtesy

Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.

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

Reverend Silver’s circle.


  • This is the license for my great-great-great-uncle Joseph Aldridge‘s second marriage. I’ve written about Martha Carrie Hawkins Henderson Aldridge Silver here. What startled me was to see who performed the ceremony — Reverend Joseph Silver, whom Martha would marry almost 20 years later!
  • I still don’t know why the wedding was in Wilson, unless that’s where Martha lived. Reverend Silver lived near Enfield, so he was pretty far off his beaten path.
  • And how did Columbus “C.E.” Artis, brother of my great-great-grandmother Louvicey Artis Aldridge, get involved? Joseph was Vicey’s brother-in-law, but that hardly seems a reason for C.E. to apply for his and Martha’s license.


  • Reverend Joseph Silver, Sarah Henderson Jacobs‘ second husband, was prominent in North Carolina’s Holiness Church movement. Until recently, I’d been unable to find their marriage license, though I knew when and where they were married. When I tracked it down I realized that its illegibility probably has resulted in its being misindexed.
  • That’s Joseph Sliver at the top.
  • Barely legible, Sarah Jacobs and her parents Louis [sic] Henderson and Margaret Henderson.
  • I haven’t been able to find anything about Reverend J.H. Scott. I assume he was head of a Holiness congregation in Wilson. Sarah herself was very active in the domination as an evangelist.
  • I knew they’d married on Elba Street. My grandmother told me this: “When Mama got married there on Elba Street, there at the house.  Yeah.  He come up there …”  It’s so funny to imagine my four and not-quite seven year-old uncles with my grandmother, squeezed in a corner of that tiny front room, fidgeting as Mama Sarah took her vows.


  • Five years after Mama Sarah died, Reverend Silver married Martha Aldridge. Astonishingly, he lived almost a decade and a half longer.
  • A Justice of the Peace performed the ceremony? That’s odd for such a prominent Holiness preacher.
Business, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

That is the promise I made my father.

The tenth in an occasional series excerpting testimony from the transcript of the trial in J.F. Coley v. Tom Artis, Wayne County Superior Court, November 1908.

W.S. HAGANS recalled by Referee.

I testified that I told Tom that I wouldn’t sell this land to anybody who wouldn’t make the same agreement on which he had been living on the land, that is the promise I made to my father in his presence. I requested Mr. Coley to carry out this agreement. Mr. Coley said he would let the Defendant stay as long as the Defendant could let him. I considered it the same promise I made my father. I told him what rent the old man was paying. He didn’t agree to let him stay for the same rent. Said he would raise it. Said he would let him stay as long as he would protect him, and give him good crops.


The conversation was before the delivery of the deed to Coley. I remember the occasion when Henry Reid and I were together, we talked with Tom about the land. Reid was on my buggy one day, and we met the Defendant. The Defendant wanted me to sell him this 30 acres of land, and I told him that I would prefer selling it all together. He wanted to purchase the property from me in the presence of H.S. Reid. That tract that Coley gave mortgage on was additional security, was worth 4 or $5000. That was the 60 acre tract. (Coley mortgaged.) He gave me notes due for January of next year, and the January following. I have traded those notes. (Plaintiff objects.) Artis stated to me when he came to my house that it would be to my advantage to sell to Mr. Coley, in preference to Mr. Cook, on account of Mr. Coley would not only take the two pieces, the 30 and the 24 acre lot, but would also take the 9 3/4 acre lot, and that he wanted me to let him have it, on the grounds stated yesterday, Mr. Cook being disagreeable etc.


I think I told all these reasons yesterday; I am repeating this because my lawyer asked me. I just didn’t think about the Henry Reid statement. I told my lawyer. I said I would not let anyone have the property, until they had made me the same promise I made my father in presence of Defendant. Mr. Coley also agreed to it. I didn’t say it because I wasn’t asked. I told Mr. Cook that he must let the old man stay there. Mr. Cook said that he had no desire whatever of removing the Defendant. I told Mr. Cook that I heard that he wanted to move his son-in-law up there, and I feared that on that account he would interfere with the Defendant. Mr. Cook said his son-in-law was very well situated on another place, belonging to him, Cook.

What did it take to call a white man “disagreeable” in open court in 1909?

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

United in matrimony: Barnes.

Willis and Cherry Barnes had seven children (or six, if oldest daughter Rachel was actually Wesley’s stepchild.)   What do  their marriage licenses reveal?

  • I’ve long had a copy of this license. Jesse Barnes, born about 1868, was the second of Willis and Cherry’s sons. His elder brother Wesley married his sister-in-law, Ella Mercer.
  • Jesse and Mary Mag married in a Missionary Baptist church. (The spelling here is an accurate reflection of local pronunciation.)
  • The official witnesses were Jesse’s brothers Wesley and Ned Barnes.


  • Early in life, Edward Barnes went by his formal first name, but by 1900 he is inevitably referred to as “Ned.” He passed this name on to his son, who in turn begat three more generations of Ned Barneses, the youngest of whom is still living.
  • Louisa Gay was the daughter of Samuel and Alice Bryant Gay. Her brother Albert Gay married Jesse A. Jacobs Jr.’s daughter Annie Bell.
  • Samuel H. Vick was a heavy hitter in black Wilson.
  • Was Spencer Barnes a relative? He does not appear near these Barneses in early census records, and those records and his marriage license seem to indicate that he was orphaned.


  • Mary Barnes was Willis and Cherry’s younger daughter.  Assuming it’s accurate, her marriage license helps narrow the range of Cherry Barnes’ death from 1880-1897 (the latter is the year Willis remarried) to 1893-1897.
  • Whoa!!! Is this verification of Hugh B. Johnston’s hunch that Willis Barnes belonged to General Joshua Barnes? Did Willis’ family remain on the general’s former plantation, perhaps as tenant farmers, more than 30 years after Emancipation? If not, why marry there?
  • Small world moment: Duplin County-born barber and brickmason George Gaston, who lived north of Wilson in Elm City, was the great-grandfather of M.R.L., one of my childhood friends.


  • This marriage was reported in the Wilson Daily Times. Prior to finding the article, I had not known of Willis and Cherry’s youngest child.
  • A slight clarification for Cherry’s possible death date — 1893-1899.


  • I do not at all understand why I haven’t seen this license before. William “Willie” Barnes was the youngest of Willis and Cherry’s sons.
  • Hattie Best’s family had roots in Greene County, but were well-known in Wilson.
  • This wedding took place at Orren Best’s home, but was conducted by the pastor of the A.M.E. Zion church at which Cintha Barnes married.
  • Witness Charles B. Gay was the brother-in-law of Willie’s brother Ned Barnes.


  • At last, a mystery solved. In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, Willis Barnes’ household includes wife Cherry, step-daughter Rachel Battle, children Wesley, Jesse, Ned, Eddie, Mary and Willey, and niece Ellen Battle (whom I have not been able to identify further.) That Ned and Eddie had always confused me, as I knew that Ned’s real name was Edward. Was this a recording error? Well, no. Eddie was Edgar Barnes, whom I have never identified as a child of Willis and Cherry. (Also, note below how closely Willis Barnes and family lived to Joshua Barnes.)

1880 Barnes

  • Edgar and Mary Hill Barnes were also married at Saint John A.M.E. Zion.
  • The couple is recorded in the household of Mary’s parents in the 1910 census of the town of Wilson, Wilson County.
  • They were not married long. In 1917, Edgar registered for the World War I draft in Greenville, North Carolina. He described himself as single.
  • In 1921, he married Delia Hawkins in Greenville. They appear as a childless couple in the 1930 census of Greenville, North Carolina. Edgar reported working as a plasterer and Delia as a presser at Carolina Pressing Club.In 1940, they are in the same house at 1311 West 4th Street, owned and valued at $2000. I have not found North Carolina death certificates for them.


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

Aldridge marriages.

The first in a series* of posts mining the data found in North Carolina marriage licenses:

Aldridge Ashford Marr

  • Reka Aldridge‘s father George W. Aldridge was the brother of my great-great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge.
  • Wayne County clerks sometimes listed mothers by maiden name, but more often didn’t. Dora was a Greene.
  • I don’t know what black Methodist churches were in Fremont in 1912, but R.R. Grant possibly served Salisbury AME Zion Church. The church is still active, but recently suffered a devastating fire. (Five minutes later: Or not. R.R. Grant appears regularly in the Journal of the North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the 1912 city directory for Fremont lists him as Methodist minister. In other words, he and his church were white. Were the Aldridges members? Did they sit in a designated pew? How did that work?)
  • Witness Eva Aldridge was the bride’s sister. William J. Boswell appears in the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County, as a married, 30 year-old house carpenter. Ezekiel B. Bailey, 23, white, appeared in his mother’s household in the same township.


  • Robert and Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge‘s youngest sons, Robert Jr. and Joseph, married relatively late. Joseph Aldridge was 16 years older than his first wife, Lou Berta Manley.
  • Holiness Church.
  • Witness Johnnie Aldridge was Joseph’s nephew, son of John W. and Louvicey Artis Aldridge. W.M. Manley was Lou Berta’s father. “Robert Hob” was possibly Robert Hobbs, who appears in the 1910 census of Grantham township, Wayne County, as a 24 year-old farmer.

Aldridge Faircloth Marr

  • William Aldridge was the son of J. Matthew and Catherine Boseman (or Simmons?) Aldridge. His father died in 1868.
  • The ceremony took place at Edward Simmons, whose identity is not clear to me.
  • Richard Boseman was the son of James and Tempsey Locus Boseman. James Boseman appeared in the household of J. Matthew and Catherine Aldridge in the 1860 census of Buck Swamp, Wayne County. (James may have been Catherine’s brother.) Richard married Lillie Mae Aldridge, Matthew and Catherine’s daughter. Eddie Budd was the son of Haywood and Phereby Simmons Budd. There were several Bryant Simmonses, but this was likely the son (1831-1890) of James and Winnie Medlin Simmons.

Aldridge Green Marr

  • Of course, George Aldridge knew full well who his mother and father were, and both were living when he married Dora Greene in 1884. I see this omission a lot. Laziness or “who cares?” by the Register of Deeds?
  • Benjamin F. Aycock was later elected as Republican state senator.
  • It’s difficult to read the names of the witnesses, but neither appears to be a known relative of George.

Aldridge Handly MArr

  • This is Robert Aldridge Jr.‘s second marriage. His first, to Ransy Pearsall, was in 1903.
  • Frank “F.B.” Daniels appears in the 1910 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, as a 20 year-old white lawyer. George F. Vann appears in the 1910 census of Stony Creek township, Wayne County, as a white, 20 year-old farmer.

*Actually, this languished in the Draft queue for a few weeks, so it’s not first anymore.

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

Small world.


In midwinter of 1911, Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams made his way to the home of Stanford Holmes to preside over the marriage of Peter Barnes and Sinthia Pate.  Jonah was the brother of my great-great-great-grandfather, Adam T. Artis. Thirty-three year-old Peter was the son of Calvin and Celia Barnes. Thirteen years previously, Peter’s brother Redmond Barnes had married Jennette Best in Wilson County. Redmond and Jennette Barnes‘ daughter Edith Bell married Theodore Roosevelt Ellis in 1933, and their first son was Theodore Jr., who married my father’s sister in 1960.



Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 7.42.33 AM

I don’t remember exactly when I submitted my sample to 23andme, or what exorbitant price I paid for it, but I received my results in early April 2012. My mother and father received their results in, I think October of the same year. They are numbers 176,931 and 176,975.

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 7.42.00 AM