When you’re not looking for something, there it is.
The story I’d heard was that Adam T. Artis‘ youngest child, Pinkney Alphonso Artis, had run away to Baltimore as a young man (or maybe even teenager) and refused to return. I believed it; I certainly had not been able to find much trace of him. He was listed as a child with his parents in the 1910 census, then disappeared from that set of records. I found his Social Security application, filed in Washington DC on 29 May 1939, which told me that “Alfonso Artis” lived at 70 Eye Street, SW; was married to Essie Moore; was employed by WPA; and had been born 16 Apr 1903, Goldsboro, North Carolina, to Adam Artis and Katie Pettiford.
Just over a year later, in June 1940, his mother died, and “Pinkney Artis” of Washington DC was listed as the informant on her death certificate. And that was it. That was all I knew about Pinkney.
Until the other day, when I stumbled upon this, hidden in plain sight:
The 1940 census, Nahunta township, Wayne County: Adam’s notorious last wife, the remarried Katie A. “Cain” (her death certificate says “King”), son “Pinkny” A. Artis and daughter-in-law Ester Artis. Pinkney reported that he had been living in the same place five years earlier. (His wife had been in DC in 1935. What a transition that must have been.) They were surrounded on all sides by Artises. At #28, Richard Baker, his wife Odessa (daughter of Pinkney’s half-brother Henry J.B. Artis) and their daughter Daisy; at #29, Simon Exum (son of Simon Exum and Pinkney’s aunt Delilah Williams Exum) and his family; and at #31, J.B. Artis himself with wife Laurina and two children.
So, then, not only have I found no trace of Pinkney in Baltimore in his early years, but there is evidence that he was in Wayne County during at least the mid-1930s. He did come home. But where was he all that time?
I still have not found Pinkney in the 1920 or 1920 censuses, but here he is in the 1932 city directory of Richmond, Virginia:
Did he and Essie marry in Richmond? In DC? I don’t know. How long did they live there? I don’t know that either. But these finds add some texture and definition to Pinkney’s life, and I’ll continue to search.