As mentioned, Nancy Henderson Smith was my great-great-great-grandfather Lewis Henderson‘s half-sister, but she was closer in age to his children. She and her sisters Mollie Henderson Hall Holt and Louella Henderson King Wilson Best Laws were particularly close to Lewis’ daughter Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver, who reared my grandmother (her sister Loudie‘s grandchild) after she was effectively orphaned.
In 1881, Nancy married Isham Smith. They settled in the Harrell Town section of Goldsboro, where Isham worked as a wagon driver, occasional blacksmith, and then an undertaker. Their children were: Annie Smith Guess (1883-1953), Oscar Smith (1884), Furney Smith (1886), Ernest Smith (1888-1918), Elouise Marie Smith (1890), Johnnie Smith (1891), Mary E. Smith Southerland (1894), James Smith (1896), Willie Smith (1899-1912), Effie May Smith Stanfield (1904), and possibly Bessie Lee Smith (1911). (Was Bessie really a daughter? Nancy was born about 1864! A granddaughter maybe?) Isham died in 1914, and Nancy married Patrick Diggs four years later. After Patrick’s death, Nancy restored her first husband’s surname. She died in Goldsboro in 1944.
Here’s what marriage licenses reveal about this family:
- Another example of official laziness — though both Annie’s parents were living, only one is named.
- What Methodist church in Goldsboro? A Google doesn’t turn up much, but revealed that a Rev. J.J. McIntire was an African Methodist Episcopal minister in the South Wilmington (North Carolina) circuit in 1916.
- James Guess was a multi-faceted businessman, to say the least, with interests in barber shops, pool halls, real estate and a flourishing undertaking operation. He died in 1957 at a hospital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
- Annie and James had two children, Elma (1905) and James Jr. (1923-1950). (That is interesting spacing, definitely.)
- Annie Smith Guess died of heart disease 8 August 1953 at her home in Goldsboro.
- This was a short-lived marriage. In 1910, the census of Goldsboro showed Carrie Smith living at home with her parents, Furney and Clara Wooten, her siblings, and her not quite two-year-old daughter Pauline Smith. In the 1920 census, Carrie Smith is described as a widow, and she and Pauline remain in Clara Wooten’s home.
- And again, Isham is named, Nancy is not, though both were living.
- This time, the Methodist Episcopal church. A search for John H. Isham doesn’t yield anything.
- Alberta Paschall was soon to be the wife of Johnnie’s brother Ernest Smith, see below.
- Elma Guess was the 12-year-old daughter of James and Annie Smith Guess. (Or was there another Elma Guess? Twelve seems awfully young to be an official witness.)
- Five months after he married, Johnnie registered for the World War I draft. His draft card stated that he resided at 100 Smith Street in Goldsboro (his parents’ house); was 22 years old; worked as a laborer for Isaac Cohnes of Goldsboro; was married; and was of short height and medium build with brown eyes and black hair.
- Sylvia Kornegay Smith gave birth to a stillborn son in 1920, then to a son Herbert in September 1922 who died at age six moths. Son Russell Smith was born in 1925 and appears to have been Johnnie’s only living child. The family appears together in the 1930 census of Goldsboro, at which time Johnnie worked as a carpenter and Sylvia as a laundress. They split before long, however, as the 1940 census of Goldsboro showed Johnnie and his siblings Bessie and Jimmy living with their mother Nancy Smith. I have not found Johnnie’s death certificate.
- As late as 1959, Johnny Smith is listed in the Goldsboro city directory living at the Smith “home house,” 309 Smith Street. However, I have not found his death certificate.
- Nancy, as here, was sometimes called “Nannie.”
- A Missionary Baptist minister performed this ceremony. Alberta’s church, perhaps?
- Ernest’s sisters Effie Mae and Annie were witnesses.
- Ernest and Alberta had had a child together, a stillborn girl, born 1914 in Goldsboro, Wayne County. They had no others.
- Ernest, a barber, died 5 October 1918 of lobar pneumonia in Goldsboro — five months after he married.
- Nancy’s second marriage, which ended with Patrick Diggs’s death before 1930.
- The family appears in the 1920 census, Goldsboro, Wayne County: on Smith Street, Patrick Diggs, tinned at W.A. Works; wife Nancy; stepdaughter Bessie Lee Smith; and widowed “stepdaughter-in-law” Alberta Smith, a cook.
- Surprise, surprise. My great-aunt Mamie was not the only relative to follow Mollie Henderson Holt to Greensboro.
- Nancy is listed with her second husband’s name.
- This is my last sighting of Effie Mae. I have not found death certificates for her or her husband, but neither seems to appear in subsequent census records. And in the 1930 census, their seven-year-old daughter Vivian Stanfield was living with her grandmother “Nannie” in Goldsboro.
And what of Nancy’s remaining children?
- Furney Smith is elusive. He appears in exactly one census record with his parents (1900) and seemingly none on his own. Perhaps because:
Goldsboro News Argus, 27 January 1906.
Goldsboro News Argus, 23 February 1907.
- Elouise Marie Smith is listed as “Alerwese” Smith in the 1900 census in her parents’ household. I have no trace of her after. A “Mrs. E. Hall” of the home, 309 Smith Street, was the informant on Nancy Smith’s death certificate. Was that Elouise? (Or maybe Effie?)
- Mary E. Smith Southerland is listed as an informant on the delayed birth certificate of her sister Effie Mae Smith. I have not found a record of her marriage to a Southerland.
- James “Jimmy” Smith was born 18 April 1896. When he registered for the World War I draft in 1917, he reported that he resided at 100 Smith Street in Goldsboro NC; that he was born in Goldsboro; that he worked as a bottler as a bottling company; that was single; that he was of medium height and weight; and that he had black eyes and hair. He likely was not the James Smith that married Lou Pearl Moses on 15 November 1916 in Goldsboro. He is last seen in his mother’s household in the 1940 census of Goldsboro.
- Twelve year-old Willie Smith died of kidney disease (“nephritis”) on 29 June 1912.
- Bessie Lee was born about 1911. If Nancy were her mother, she’d have been in her late 40s when Bessie was born. Not impossible, but perhaps unlikely. Still, she is consistently referred to as daughter, rather than granddaughter, so I’ll leave it there for now. I have no record of any marriage for her, and she and two brothers appear in their mother’s household in the 1940 census.