Agriculture, Business, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

“They call me Tom Pig.”

The eighth 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.

Defendant introduces TOM ARTIS, who being duly sworn, testifies:

My name is Tom Artis. They call me Tom Pig. I own some land, 30 acres. (Plaintiff objects.) I have been living on the 30 acre tract of land 25 years, except one year. I mortgaged this land to Mr. Exum. (Plaintiff objects.) I don’t know about how long it was. About 25 or 30 years. (Plaintiff objects.) I don’t know what became of that mortgage. I got Hagans to take it up. (Plaintiff objects.) I don’t know who was present when I got Hagans to take it up. When Hagans agreed to take it up, Mrs. Exum, Hagans and myself were present. I own the 30 acre tract and lived on the the tract adjoining. After Hagans took up the papers, he told me that I could build on that place, or on the 24 acre piece. He said he thought it best for me to build on mine, he might die sometime, and there might be some trouble about me holding the house. I did so. He furnished the lumber, and I did the work. I decided to build on his side. After I built there I had been paying the 800 lb. of lint cotton year in and year out. (Plaintiff objects to each and every statement of the foregoing evidence.) The 800 lb. of cotton was to keep up the taxes and the interest of the money. (Plaintiff objects.) I have been paying this 800 lb. of cotton all the time. (Plaintiff objects.) I left that place one year. I left because my house got in such a bad fix, and I couldn’t stay there, and run my business like I wanted to, and I went over to Mr. Jones’. I rented the land. I rented it to Simon Exum. He gave me 950 lb. for the 30 acre place. I rented the Calv Place and the Adam Artis place. I moved back after one year at Mr. Jones’ place. I built on the Hagans place. Since then I built the piaza and shed room, to my own expense. Borrowed money from Hagans. I paid him back. He didn’t pay for the repairing of it. He furnished some shingles. Got 1/4 covered. I never asked W.S. Hagans to sell the 30 acre tract of land. I never said to Hagans in the presence of Reid or anybody else that I wanted im to sell it. I never asked anybody to buy the 30 acre tract of Hagans. Not the 30 acre tract. I had a conversation with Mr. Coley with reference to buying that land. I was talking about the Calv place. My land wasn’t brought in. The Calv place is the place I rented and lived on. That’s the land I spoke to Mr. Coley about buying from Hagans. He said if Mr. Cook and Hagans didn’t trade to send him a note. I told Hagans, he said tell him Coley, if his hands were not tied. I remember going over to Mr. Coley’s mill with Hagans. I didn’t hear any conversation bwteen Hagans and Coley with reference to buying this tract of land. They were off from me. I didn’t know what they were talking about. I heard them say when they came back to the buggy, Hagans said that he would see him again shortly. I don’t know if he said what day. Next I heard after that was that Hagans had sold it all to Mr. Coley, mine and all. I never rented the 30 acre tract of land. I know Jno. Rountree. I never asked him to go to Will Hagans and ask him to give me an opportunity of buying the 30 acre piece of land. I never said to Will Hgans, Jno. Rountree or Henry Reid, or anybody that I wanted Hagans to give me the opportunity of seeing my boys in Norfolk, so I could buy the 30 acrea piece. I asked Hagans what he would take for the acre back of my huose, of the Calv place. I told him I would buy that. His answer was, “Can you find a buyer for the other part of the Calv place.” I told him I didn’t know. He walked about his buggy house door. He said, “Uncle Tom” I can’t take what that mortgage calls for for your land, land is so much more valuable now than it was when yours was given. It passed off at that. Next I heard he had sold it to Coley.

To be continued.

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N.B. Calvin “Calv Pig” Artis was Tom Pig Artis’ brother. He sold the Calv Pig place to Napoleon Hagans in 1879. (Tom and Calvin apparently derived their nicknames from their father Simon Pig Artis, who had been an enslaved man.)

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Agriculture, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Gravy.

Sometimes you’ll run across a little extra information in an unexpected place. 005152197_04657 I’m not related to Robert E. Simmons. But I’m connected to him a couple of ways. As the son of George R. and Mary McCullin Simmons, he was (1) the nephew of my great-great-uncle Lucian Henderson‘s wife Susie McCullin Henderson and (2) the nephew of my great-great-aunt Ann Elizabeth Henderson Simmons‘ husband Hillary B. Simmons. While researching for Robert’s great-niece, I found his World War I draft registration card and in it a little glimpse at my great-great-grandmother Vicey Artis Aldridges life after her husband John’s death in 1910. Per the correction on the back of the card (at right), Robert Simmons was a tenant farmer on Vicey’s land. Under this arrangement, Robert would worked in exchange for rent in the form of cash or a fixed portion of the crop he raised. The arrangement may also have included housing for Robert and his family and a small wage if he had additional responsibilities. Typically, though, a tenant farmer provided his own equipment and animals. (Farm laborers, on the other hand, were hired hands working for wages.)

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Agriculture, Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

A home for his lifetime.

The seventh 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.

Defendant introduces JESSE ARTIS who being duly sworn, testified:

I had a conversation with Tom Artis and Hagans about this land. I was working there for Hagans (Plaintiff objects) as carpenter. Tom Artis was working with me. The Old man Hagans was talking to Tom about claim which Mrs. Exum had on his land, and was telling him that he had some money at that time, and was would take it up if he wanted to, and give him a home for his lifetime. He left us, and Tom talked to me. I told him he did not know whether he would have a home all his life or not. I advised Tom to let Hagans take up the papers, and Tom did so. Hagans told me next day that if Tom should pay him 800 lb. of cotton he should stay there his life time. When he paid him his money back, the place was his. I don’t know that Tom and I are any kin. Just by marriage. We are not a member of the same Church.

CROSS EXAMINED.

When I was a carpenter ‘Pole told me all about this on his place. He took me into his confidence. I don’t know whether he told me all. He told me a good deal.

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Jesse Artis (circa 1847-circa 1910) was a brother of my great-great-great-grandfather Adam Artis and his brother Jonah Williams, the latter of whom also testified in this trial.

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Agriculture, Land, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

No need for exodusting.

Napoleon Haganstestimony before a Senate committee was not his last word on the migration of African-American farmers out of North Carolina. Nine months later, he — or someone for him, in any case, as he was unlettered — penned a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, recounting his agricultural success and exhorting his “race” to cast down their buckets where they were. His sentiments were echoed by Jonah Williams, his friend, neighbor, pastor and brother-in-law’s brother. (Jonah, too, was illiterate. Both men, however, were strong believers in the value of education and saw that their children received the best they could afford. See here, here and here.)

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Goldsboro Messenger, 30 December 1880.

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Agriculture, Land, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

An educated colored man comments.

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After a few observations about colored dockworkers in Norfolk and the spirit of brotherly love that enveloped black and white railroad workers, Alfred Islay Walden arrived in Wayne County. At Mount Olive, he asserted confidently that “nearly all the families own their homes and farms” and marveled at the reported wealth of “some men.” The former is not true, but the latter could have been a reference to the members of the Simmons and Wynn families, whose relative wealth dated back to their status as free skilled craftsmen and landowners in the antebellum era.

The week in Dudley is particularly interesting, as all of my mother’s Henderson and Aldridge ancestors and relatives lived in this community in 1879, when Walden was perambulating. The “excellent school carried on by the American Missionary Society” was probably the school conducted at First Congregational Church, which my forebears founded and attended. The many who taught first and second grades in public schools included my great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge and his brothers Matthew W. and George W. Aldridge. I’m not sure who owned the saw and shingle mills, but the landowners included the Aldridge brothers and their father Robert Aldridge, Lewis Henderson and his father James Henderson, Hillary B. Simmons’ father George W. Simmons, and other extended kin.

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Goldsboro Messenger, 28 August 1879.

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Agriculture, Foodways, North Carolina, Oral History

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 5. Plowing through.

Week 5 of the 52 Ancestors Challenge asks bloggers to consider “plowing through.” I immediately thought of two very different recollections by my grandmothers of gardens their families’ tended in their childhood.

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Me: Did you grow all your vegetables and stuff, or was there a store?

My mother’s mother: Child, Papa would, every spring of the year, Papa would start out with this great big garden. Everybody would be out there hoeing and carrying on and planting and doing. And he wouldn’t go back out there anymore, and in a few weeks, the weeds would have taken over. [Laughs.] Oh, we might have some things that grew quickly first. Now, we always had potatoes, white potatoes. He would plant white potatoes, and what else would he plant? Green peas. You know, like snow peas. And I can see now, the cabbage with the worms eating that up. [Laughs.] That was no good. And what else did he have out there? Tomatoes. He’d have tomatoes. That was just about all. There’d be just those things that’d come early in the spring. And we wouldn’t have anything later. And then we had somebody who came in and – we lived on about an acre. It was just about an acre of land. And he would have all this cornfield, cornfield and pole beans. Ohhh, I can see those beans and great big ears of corn. I don’t think Mama ever canned any corn or anything like that, but we would eat corn, and all the neighbors would eat corn from that cornfield. And this old gentleman that I told you that helped Papa…. What was that man’s name? I can’t think of it, but anyway, he was the one who cultivated the land and did the planting.

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My father’s mother: Yeah, they said he could use it and grow a little cotton. Old Man Price was in a house over on one corner, and the school over here. And while he was working, plowing that garden where was on the side, Professor [Charles L.] Coon[, superintendent of Wilson city schools] let him have whatever he put in it. He would buy all the stuff to go in the ground, if he would just work it. The part there where was to the children’s playground. But they had it barred off, the children didn’t actually go over in that part. So he’d plant that, and then he’d [inaudible] me and Mamie had to get up two o’clock in the morning, go down there and pick up potatoes. Light night. It’d be so bright you could see ‘em. He’d plow it up, turn that ground over, and all them old potatoes down there, put ’em in baskets, and what we couldn’t see ‘fore it got real daylight, we had to go out there and pick ‘em up when it got day.

Interviews of Margaret C. Allen and Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Agriculture, Land, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

A sufferer by the hailstorm.

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Carolina Watchman, 27 June 1889.

The Ransom Miller named above may not have been not “my” Ransom, but a white man. However, “Green Miller, col.” was definitely my great-great-grandmother Martha Miller McNeely‘s brother-in-law, husband of her sister Grace Adeline Miller Miller.

Two days earlier, a Winston-Salem newspaper had also posted an appeal for help for Rowan County’s devastated farmers.

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Winston-Salem Progressive Farmer, 25 June 1889.

When it came down to it, however, despite having “lost nearly everything,” Green Miller somehow failed to benefit from the Wood Grove Alliance’s appeal.

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Carolina Watchman, 11 July 1889.

 

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