DNA, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

New Ancestor Discovery, no. 2: Irvin and Sabra Fisher Sessoms.

Actually, Stephen Grant and his wife Marie Celina Armand were New Ancestor Discoveries 1 and 2, per http://www.ancestry.com. I talked about Stephen here. (Though I may share ancestry with her husband, Marie Celina I’ve discounted as a blood relative because she was of French descent.) Irving Sessoms and his wife, Sabra Jane Fisher, then, are NADs 3 and 4. Neither name speaks to me, but they were from Sampson County, North Carolina – like my Aldridge and Balkcum ancestors – so I’m intrigued.

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Here’s what may or may not be true about Irvin Sessoms:

  • He was the son of Blake Sessoms (1781-1841) and Rachel [last name unknown] (1792-1880).
  • He was born 22 April 1817 in Sampson County.
  • He married Sabra Fisher in about 1835.
  • They had nine children: Molcey Jane Sessoms Grice (1845-1894), Uriah Sessoms (1846-1925), Susanah Sessoms McGrossen (1848-1889), William Henry Sessoms (1850-1930), Elizabeth Sessoms (1852-1874), Gilead Sessoms (1854-1867), Lucinda Sessoms (1856-1927), Minson M. Sessoms (1859-1940), and Andrew J. Sessoms (1861-1905).
  • He died 1862 in Little Coharie township, Sampson County.

Here’s what may or may not be true about Sabra Jane Fisher:

  • She was the daughter of Sanders Fisher (1793-1876) and Sophia Butler (1792-??).
  • She was born 29 September 1821 in Sampson County.
  • She died 11 September 1903 in Roseboro, Little Coharie township, Sampson County.


  • The “circle” of DNA testers linked to Irvin and Sabra has five members, plus me. I match two of them — E.K. (an estimated 4th cousin), who is descended from their son Andrew J. Sessoms, and J.S. (estimated 5th cousin), descended from daughter Lucinda Sessoms. (I also match an estimated 4th cousin called “KnowThyPast” in common with both E.K. and J.S. I don’t know how I match KTP, but I thought it was via Van Pools on my mother’s side, which is not helpful here.) The other three in the circle: B.M. (descended from son William Henry), J.W. (descended from son Andrew), and A.L. (descended from son Minson.)
  • A passel of Aldridge/Balkcums have tested at Ancestry, but I seem to be the only one linked to the Sessomses. This could mean I’m totally off base with my speculation about my connection to them. Or, maybe it means that the link is specifically via my great-great-great-grandmother Margaret Balkcum Henderson, who likely had a different father than her sister, my great-great-great-grandmother Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge. Still, if this were the case, I might expect my Margaret-descended cousins H.K., L.G., and sibling set J.H., L.H. and M.C. to link to the Sessomses. They don’t.
  • Irvin Sessoms and Sabra Fisher Sessoms were contemporaries of my ancestors Robert Aldridge, Eliza Balkcum Aldridge and Margaret Balkcum Henderson. Thus, Irvin and Sabra could not have the direct ancestors of any of them.
  • Maybe “Molcey Jane” was a name with common currency in early 18th century Sampson County. It stood out for me though. There were three Molcey/Malseys among Eliza and Margaret’s (believed) Balkcum kin. The first was Malsey Lee Balkcum (1820-1889), wife of John Balkcum, whom I believe to have been a half-brother to Eliza Balkcum Aldridge and Margaret Balkcum Henderson. The second was Malsey Jane Balkcum Knowles, born about 1852 to Lemuel and Jemima Rackley Balkcum. Lemuel was, I believe, another half-brother to Eliza Balkcum Aldridge and Margaret Balkcum Henderson. The third was Malsey Alice Balkcum, born about 1855 to John and Malsey.


Military, Newspaper Articles, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Cpl. Adam Artis, 366th Infantry.

I recently received an email from James Pratt, whose father, Charles A. Pratt, was in the Army’s 366th Infantry from the time it was organized at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, in 1941 until it disbanded in Italy in 1945. Pratt is retired and has devoted considerable time to researching the 366th.

“I had the opportunity to spend two days in Tuscany,” he wrote, “where the 366th is still remembered fondly by the citizens. In Sommocolonia, the townspeople have started a small museum about the ŒBuffalo soldiers. I went to the American cemeteries in Florence and Nettuno and took photos of all the grave markers for the nearly 120 men of the 366th who are buried in Italy.”  Pratt is trying to match the markers with photos of the soldiers and wants to do the same for the more than 130 soldiers of the 366th who were buried across the United States.

Gibbs-Ithaca Journal-reduced

Ithaca Journal, 19 December 2015.

One of the 366th soldiers was Adam Artis, who enlisted in New Jersey, but was born in North Carolina. “Adam … lost his life while training in the U.S. He died on January 1, 1943.” Pratt is trying to find additional information about Adam Artis. He believes he had a son, Adam Artis Jr., who graduated from High School in East Orange, New Jersey, but has not been able to locate him.

The Artis branch of my family tree holds at least seven Adam Artises, including our patriarch Adam Toussaint Artis (1831-1919). If 366th Adam is one of ours, he is likely Adam, son of Adam T.’s son Robert E. Artis and his wife, Christana Simmons Artis. That Adam was born in 1913 near Black Creek, Wilson County. He appears in his parents’ household in the 1920 and 1930 censuses of Wilson County, but not thereafter. On 16 April 1941, Adam Artis, born in 1913 in North Carolina, enlisted in the Army in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. (His brother Robert Arzell Artis, born 1908, appears in the 1940 census of Newark as an unmarried restaurant cook.) That Adam is buried in Glendale cemetery in Bloomfield, Essex County.

AArtis grave

If this Adam had a son Adam Artis Jr., he may be the one born in 1942 whose senior portrait appears in the 1960 East Orange High School yearbook.

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He is listed as a student in the 1961 Boston, Massachusetts, city directory and in later directories as a teacher in Cambridge and Boston city schools. Here he is in a booklet titled “The Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools,” published in 1989.

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This blog about William Monroe Trotter Elementary School mentions that it was the second magnet school in the U.S., and a comment enthuses about the plays Adam Artis produced. His impact also shines through in a testimonial posted by a former student on the blog, http://www.myblackteacher.net. Adam Artis Jr. is surely retired by now, but it is not clear to me whether he is still living. If he is, perhaps Scuffalong will reach him.

U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

DNA, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

DNA Definites, no. 24: Nicholson.

Two more Nicholson matches at Ancestry DNA.

The first is with T.L. His ancestor Moses P. Nicholson migrated to Indiana in the 1830s, long before my great-great-grandmother Harriet Nicholson was born. T.L. has no other Iredell County lines, underscoring the unlikelihood that our match is through some other line.

Nich Hint

The second is R.H., who also matches T.L. R.H. is descended from a first-cousin marriage between grandchildren of both of John S. Nicholson‘s wives, as am I.



Unfortunately, Ancestry has a hard time interpreting matching trees that involve multiple spouses and fathers and sons with the same names, and these charts are not quite right.

Education, Maternal Kin, Other Documents

Candidates for degree of Bachelor of Laws.

Tailored to women from working-class families, Portia Law School was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1908.  Sensitive to the financial and time pressures these women faced, it offered part-time enrollment as well as the high school and college-level courses required to prepare students for legal studies. During the Great Depression, Portia Law School began opening up its programs to male students. The candidates for the Bachelor of Laws in the Class of 1932, however, were all female. And cousin Evelyn C. Kiner was one.

Portia Law School

Portia Law School 2

Portia Law School continues today as New England School of Law.

Many thanks to Peggy King Jorde and Peggy King Jorde Archive for sharing this document.

DNA, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

DNA Definites, no. 23.


Joseph Buckner Martin (1868-1928) is said to have been the father of my great-grandmother Bessie Henderson and her brother Jesse “Jack” Henderson. Does DNA back this up?

Sort of.

One of Bessie’s descendants (me) and three of Jack’s (J.E., L.H. and M.C.) have tested with Ancestry DNA. I match each of them as expected. But whom do we match?

Buck Martin was the son of Lewis H. and Mary Ann “Polly” Price Martin. Though Lewis and Polly had ten children, so far I have not identified matches for any of us with descendants of any of them.

Let’s back up a generation though. Lewis H. Martin was one of 11 children of Waitman G. and Eliza Lewis Martin. My close cousins J.E. and L.H. match G.A., who is descended from Lewis’ brother Henderson N. Martin.

Eliza Lewis Martin (1813-??) was the oldest child of Urban Lewis and Susan Casey Lewis. Her siblings: John Lewis, Fannie Lewis Denmark, Joel Lewis, Bethany Lewis Martin, Susan Marinda Lewis Potts, Patience Lewis Denmark, William Lewis, Elizabeth Lewis, and Mary Ann Lewis Martin. My close cousins and/or I match descendants of at least two of them, John (J.K., K.P.) and Susan (E.P., B.P.). (My father also has matches to Susan’s descendants E.G.P. and B.A.P. at Gedmatch and D.P. at FTDNA.) In addition, J.E. and L.H. match B.T., a descendant of Urban Lewis’ brother Laban Lewis. And over at 23andme, my father’s first cousin J.H. matches A.L., an Urban and Susan Casey Lewis descendant, and K.C.K., a descendant of one of Susan Casey Lewis’ siblings.

Polly Price Martin was the daughter of James and Margaret Herring Price. Polly had  sisters Margaret “Peggy” Price Williams and Susan Price Dail. M.C., J.E. and/or I match a descendant of Susan Dail and five descendants of Peggy’s great-grandson Merle Williams.

So, while we do not have matches with any of Buck’s siblings’ descendants, we do have matches to all four of his grandparents’ line — Martin, Lewis, Price and Herring. This does not exclusively establish Buck Martin as my ancestor, but it goes a long way.