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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Agriculture, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

A burned barn, an old well, and Officer Smith.

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Goldsboro Daily Argus, 11 June 1904.

Beyond the story of Officer Smith’s swift comeuppance, there is “Will Hagans’ barn, in the northern part of the city.” William S. Hagans and his family lived in Goldsboro at this point, and his landholdings were 15 miles north in the area of Fremont and Eureka, near the Wilson County line. For what, then, did he use a barn in town?

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

Maybe he might redeem it.

The fifth 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 T.F. Jones, who being duly sworn, testifies:

I had a conversation with Napoleon Hagans about this land, the 30 acre piece. (Plaintiff objects to question and answer.) I got after Uncle ‘Pole to see me the land. I told him if he would give me a deed for both places, the Calv Pig, that is the 24 acre piece, and the Tom Pig place, the 30 acre piece, I would take them. He told me he would sell me the Calv Pig place, but the Tom Pig place he had promised to let Tom stay on that as long as he lived, that maybe he might redeem it. That about ended the conversation with us. I bought some timber off this land from Tom. Off of the 30 acre piece. I suppose Hagans knew about it. (Plaintiff objects.) I couldn’t say that Hagans saw me hauling the timber, I guess he saw me. (Plaintiff objects.) Hagans never made any objection. I had a conversation with Tom about this land along during that time, when Uncle ‘Pole Hagans first got rid of that Calv Pig place, about 15 years ago. I asked him if he wouldn’t sell his part, and what would he ask for it, (Plaintiff objects). He said he didn’t want to sell it, he expected to redeem it sometime. Last Fall I told him if he expected to get that mortgage he had better attend to it. He said he had boys in Norfolk, who would take it up; that he had confidence in Will Hagans. That if his boys let it slip out after he died, they could. (Plaintiff objects.)

CROSS EXAMINED.

Mr. W.J. Exum died about 1885. Tom is known as Pig. I don’t know why he was called Pig. I think they got “Pig” from “Diggs”. Some of his people ‘way back there, were named “Diggs”, and they got to calling it “Pig” for short. I remember when Napoleon Hagans died. I was down the Country. I left here in ’94, and came back in 1900. He died during that time. I got this timber 20 years ago. I was buying all I could, I don’t know how much I got. I got it by the tree. I went in 1881 and milled ’till 1890. Either ’81 or ’82. I bought the timber about that time. I didn’t know that the deed from Mrs. Exum to Hagans was executed before 1892.

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Jones’ explanation of Tom Artis’ nickname is unsatisfying. “Pig” from “Diggs”? In fact, Thomas and Calvin Artis took their name from their father, an enslaved man, who was called “Simon Pig.” Artis was the surname of their mother Celia, a free woman of color. Though I have found no other record that he was manumitted prior to Emancipation, Simon Pig Artis is listed as the head of his household in the 1860 census of Davis township, Wayne County. He reported (or was attributed with) $800 of real property and $430 of personal property. The land was almost surely his wife Celia’s; she is one of the earliest free colored property owners appearing in Wayne County deed books.

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Diggs, on the other hand, while a family surname, was that of Frances Artis Diggs, daughter of Tom and Calv’s oldest sister, Eliza Artis. Frances married Wilson (or William) Diggs in 1868 in Wayne County. (Two of Frances and Wilson’s granddaughters, Etta and Minnie Diggs, married a son, William M., and a grandson, Leslie, of Adam T. Artis. As discussed here, Adam and Celia Artis were not meaningfully related.)

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Agriculture, Business, Free People of Color, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Tax trouble.

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Goldsboro Messenger, 2 April 1877.

Simmons & Aldridge??? I’m fairly certain that the Aldridge in this partnership was Robert Aldridge (though it could have been one of his older sons, George, Matthew and John) but which Simmons? Section 69 imposed penalties on “any manufacturer of tobacco or snuff” who failed to pay proper taxes on their products. Robert was said to have operated a brickyard near Dudley, but I’ve seen nothing else to suggest that he also had an interest in a tobacco cottage industry.

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Agriculture, Business, Free People of Color, Land, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

I stated the fact.

The fourth 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. Paragraph breaks inserted for better readability.

Plaintiff introduces John Rountree who being duly sworn, testifies as follows:

I know Tom Artis. I heard him say that the cotton was for rents. I heard that for the last 14 years. I collected the rent for W.S. Hagans for several years. I heard Tom alude to it as rents. I heard last September after the land was sold, that it was interest. I never heard anything but rents to that time. I had a conversation with Tom, and carried a message to Hagans for Tom. This last Fall Tom came over to the gin house where I was ginning, and said to me that he understood that Hagans was going to sell the 30 acres piece of land, and said to me to tell Hagans if he pleased not to sell till he gave him notice, because he wanted to buy it. I delivered that mesage to Hagans. Hagans said alright he would sell it to him as soon as anybody, but he didn’t want to sell one piece at the time. We didn’t talk about the sale to Coley.

CROSS EXAMINED.

I have lived at W.S. Hagans’ for about 18 years. I farm at Hagans’. I rent land. I pay him 1/3. I collected Tom’s rent along in the Fall. Hagans has asked me to go to Tom and ask him to send his rents. Uncle Tom sometime would bring the rent and Hagans wasn’t there, and he would give it to me to keep for Hagans. Tom called it rent when Pole Hagans was living. (Plaintiff objects.) I wasn’t there when he sent it to W.J. Exum. While Mr. Exum was living, I didn’t see Tom taking his cotton there. I didn’t tell Hgans that I would swear the old man always called it rent. I had no right to, I didn’t tell the lawyers I would swear to that. I stated the fact that he always called it rent. I told Tom that Hagans had sent me for the rent two or three times. I knew it was rent. I told Hagans that I had his rent from Tom. I told Coley that the old man called it rent last summer. They had me subpoenad before then. I told him Tom always called it rent. I told Mr. Coley’s lawyers that last summer. I never told Hagans, he knew it.

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Agriculture, Free People of Color, Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

I never heard anything but “rent.”

The third 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. Paragraph breaks inserted for better readability.

Plaintiff introduces Jonah Reid who being duly sworn, testifies as follows:

I have heard Tom Artis say that he was going soon to pay his rent with cotton to [William S.] Hagans. I don’t know how often I have heard him speak of that, I have heard him say something about it several times when rent was due. I didn’t hear him say what lands. Some times he was cultivating the three pieces, sometimes the 30 acre piece. I am his son-in-law. I never lived with him. Live back of his house. Never heard him call it anything but rent cotton, not interest cotton. (Defendant objects.)

CROSS EXAMINED.

I told Hagans that I heard the old man say he was going to pay his rent, that was along in September, I think this past September. The only reason I told him was he asked me. He came by where I was working on the road. He asked me how long I had been in the family. I told him 16 years. He asked if I had ever heard anything but rent. I told him no. That’s why I told him. That’s all he asked me. Tom worked the three pieces, then afterwards the 30 acre piece. That’s all I remember Hagans said. I didn’t know there had been a suit about the land. Hadn’t had the suit yet. I said I didn’t like to say anything about my father-in-law. Hagans didn’t tell me that he Artis was claiming that he was paying interest. I just answered what he asked me. I told him I had never heard any thing but “Rents”.

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Jonah Reid was married to Magnolia Artis (1871-1939), daughter of Thomas and Loumiza Artis Artis. Loumiza Artis was a sister of my great-great-great-grandfather Adam T. Artis. One of Adam Artis’ wives, Frances Seaberry, was William Hagans’ paternal aunt.

 

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

I would be glad if you would wait a few days.

The second 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. Paragraph breaks inserted for better readability.

Plaintiff introduces H.S. REID who being duly sworn testifies as follows:

I know the Defendant Tom Artis. I had a conversation with him in reference to payment of cotton to [William S.] Hagans. This last fall I was on the road with Hagans and met Tom Artis carrying a bale of cotton. Heard conversation between Artis and Hagans. When we met in the road Tom said, “You are leaving home, and I have started to your house with a bale of lint cotton.” Hagans told Tom to carry it on as quick as he could, for he needed it about as bad as he ever saw anyone. He said that in a joking way. Hagans started off, and he said, “Hold on Captain!” He told him that he understood that he was going to sell the land down there. Hagans said yes, that it was for sale. Tom said, “I would be glad if you would wait a few days Captain, I think I can raise the money for that place, didn’t say what place just then. Hagans said he had rather sell it altogether. Tom said if he would give him a few days until he could see his boys, he thought he could raise the money for it all. Hagans said alright, it was all for sale. That was about the end of the conversation and we parted. Later then that one day, at Eureka, Artis asked me if I knew when Hagans would be out at his place. I told him about the day Hagans told me he would be out there. Artis said I wish I would deliver a message to Hagans for him, “ask him not to sell that place to Mr. Wright Cook. Said if he did, he would be out of house and home. He said he would rather Hagans sell it to Coley, for he thought he could get along better with Mr. Coley. I delivered the message to Hagans when he came out home. I think this is about the substance. That last conversation was a short while before the sale I think. Am not real sure when it was.

CROSS EXAMINED.

I told this conversation about Tom wanting Hagans to wait before he sold the land. I told several people, I don’t remember all. I am not able to tell. I think Hagans and I talked about Tom Wanting to buy the land. I am not positive. I heard Hagans say that the old man wanted to buy the land from him, as I remember. I think I told the lawyer about the first conversation.

HENRY S. REID recalled by Defendant.

I don’t know that on the occasion I met Tom Artis, that he forbid Hagans selling his land. It wasn’t mentioned that day. I have never admitted to Tom that he forbid Hagans selling that land.

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