Births Deaths Marriages, Land, Maternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia

Family cemeteries, no. 16: Holmes-Clark.

No one knows where Joseph R. Holmes is buried. It stands to reason, though, that it might be here.

I owe this entire post to the inestimable Kathy Liston, a Charlotte County archaeologist who has immersed herself in the history of the area’s African-American families. She tracked down the location of Joseph’s small acreage near Antioch Church on Old Kings Highway near Keysville, Charlotte County,Virginia. And there, at edge of a clearing, now completely overgrown, is a small cemetery. Only four stones stand, but a number of unmarked or fieldstone-marked graves are visible:

Rev. Whitfield Clarke / Born July 15, 1840 / Died Aug. 21, 1916

In Memory of Our Beloved Son / Thomas C.C. Clark/ Born Sept 2, 1882 / Died Aug 27, 1907

William Jasper Almond / Virginia / Mess Attendant / 3 Class / USNRF / A[illegible] 2, 1934

Mary J. Barrett / May 16, 1903 / May 2, 1942 / Her Memory is Blessed

These folks are not Joseph’s family, per se. They are his wife’s and are evidence of the life she built after his assassination.

Joseph Holmes married Mary Clark toward the end of the Civil War. Their four children were Payton (1865), Louisa (1866), William (1867) and Joseph (1868). Mary was the daughter of Simon and Jina Clark, and Whitfield Clark was her brother. As detailed here, Joseph R. Holmes was shot down in front of the Charlotte County Courthouse on 3 May 1869.

When the censustaker arrived the following spring, Joseph and Mary’s children were listed in the household of a couple I believe to have been Joseph’s mother and stepfather: Wat Carter, 70, wife Nancy, 70, and children Mary, 23, Liza, 17, and Wat, 16; plus Payton, 4, Louisa, 3, and Joseph Homes, 2, and Fannie Clark, 60. (That Mary is possibly Mary Clark Holmes, but may also have been Mary Carter.)

On 3 January 1872, 24 year-old widow Mary Holmes married John Almond, a 35 year-old widower. In the 1880 census of Walton, Charlotte County, carpenter John Almond’s household includes wife Mary, 31, and children Payton, 14, Wirt H., 12, Ella M., 10, and Lemon Almond, 8. Payton, it appears, was in fact Joseph’s son Payton Holmes; Wirt and Ella were John’s children by his first wife; and Lemon was John and Mary’s son together. The family remained on the land that had been Joseph Holmes’.

The oldest marked grave in the little cemetery dates to 1907. It stands to reason, though, that Mary Holmes would have had her husband buried here, where she could watch over his grave and perhaps protect it from any who sought to punish him further. Who were the four whose stones still reveal their resting places? Thomas C.C. Clark was the son of Whitfield Clark and his second wife, Amanda. He appears in the 1900 census as a student at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia. I’ve written a bit about Reverend Whitfield Clark here. William Jasper Almond (known as Jasper, which is interesting because that was the name of Joseph Holmes’ brother, my great-great-grandfather), born in 1896, was the son of Lemon Almond and his first wife, Rosa W. Fowlkes.  Mary J. Almond Barrett was Jasper’s half-sister, daughter of Lemon and Mary B. Scott Almond.

IMG_9958

Joseph R. Holmes’ land, near Keysville, Charlotte County, Virginia.

IMG_9959

IMG_9962

IMG_9968

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2012. 

Standard
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.

——

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.

Standard
Education, Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The question of a half-acre in Fremont.

North Carolina, Wayne County    }         In the Superior Court Before A.T. Grady C.S.C.

A.A. Williams & R.J. Barnes          }

vs                                                               }         Complaint

John W. Moore & Isaiah Barnes   }

The plaintiffs allege

1. That the plaintiffs and the defendants are tenants in common of a lot of land situate in the town of Fremont in said State and County adjoining the lands of W.R. Ballance & others bounded as follows:

Beginning at a stake in the centre of Sycamore Street below J.P. Hopewell’s lot and running the centre of said street 47 yards; then at right angles with said street nearly East to R.E. Cox and W.R. Ballance line; then nearly North with said line 47 yards to a stake thence nearly west to the beginning containing one half acre.

2. That the plaintiffs and the defendants are seized and possessed in fee simple of said lands as tenants in common in the following proportions to wit   1. A.A. Williams to one third part thereof 2. R.J. Barnes to one third part thereof 3. Isaiah Barnes to one sixth part thereof 4. John W. Moore to one sixth part thereof

3. That the defendants Isaiah Barnes and John W. Moore refuse to [illegible] with the plaintiffs in a petition for the sale of said lands for division.

4. That the plaintiffs desire to have partition of said land made amongst the plaintiffs and the defendants according to their respective rights and interests therein so that each party may hold his interest in severalty, but the number of the parties interested it is impossible that actual partition thereof can be made without serious injury to the parties interested

Wherefore the plaintiffs demand judgment

1. That the plaintiffs and the defendants be declared tenants in common in said lands

2. That an order issue for the sale of said lands on such terms as this Court shall deem reasonable and that the proceeds of such sale may be divided among the plaintiffs and the defendants according to their respective shares and interests in the said lands.

   W.S.O’B.Robinson, Atty for plaintiffs

——

North Carolina, Wayne County    }   Superior Court Before the Clerk

A.A. Williams & R.J. Barnes

vs

Jno. W. Moore et als

The defendants Jno. W. Moore, Isaiah Barnes and R.J. Barnes, answering the petition herein say:

I. That paragraph I thereof is not true.

II. That paragraph II thereof is not true.

III. That paragraph III thereof is not true.

IV. That paragraph IV thereof is not true.

For a further defense defendants allege:

I. That on the [blank] day of 1888, the plaintiffs and defendants, together with Geo. Aldridge and Wm. Durden for the purpose of obtaining a school site for a free school in District No. 6 Colored, in Wayne County, which district had been in July 1888 created at the request of the said persons above-named, paid for the lot of land described in the petition and procured a conveyance thereof from R.E. Cox to themselves, it being the intent and purpose of all the parties thereto that the parties in said deed should hold the lot therein conveyed as trustees for the said district for use as a free school in the same, and that the said deed should be executed to them as said trustees.

2. That by the eventual mistake of the parties to said deed the same was executed by the said R.E. Cox to the parties individually and not as trustees.

Wherefore defendants pray that they be hence dismissed and that they receive their costs of plaintiff A.A. Williams and for such other and further relief is they may be entitled to.

                                   Aycock & Daniels, Attys for Deft.

——

These undated pleadings do not exactly speak for themselves, but I hesitate to read into them something that’s not there. I don’t know how the suit turned out, but if the answer is credited, something like this happened: my great-great-grandfather John Aldridge‘s brother George and five others purchased a half-acre from R.E. Cox to be used for the erection of a school for Fremont’s African-American children. (That’s how it worked then — communities had to donate the land for schools to be built upon.) Through mistake and oversight, Cox made out the deed to the six men individually, rather than as trustees. Subsequently, Williams and R.J. Barnes, seeking to take advantage of the tenancy in common, sought to force a sale of the land — which was too small to divide — so that each owner could cash out his share.

Who were these folks?

  • A.A. Williams was a teacher and principal of the Colored Graded School in Goldsboro.
  • John W. Moore appears in the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County, as a 57 year-old farmer. He is named in Goldsboro newspaper as active in colored school affairs.
  • Isaiah Barnes appears in the 1880 census of Fremont, Wayne County, as a 30 year-old farm laborer.  By 1894, he is named in Goldsboro newspapers as a poll holder for Fremont voting district.
  • R.J. Barnes cannot be identified.
  • William E. Durden is most likely the “William Darden” who appears in the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County, as a 29 year-old farmer.
  • R.E. Cox was a physician and Fremont town commissioner. Goldsboro newspaper show that he also owned a drugstore and was active in other business ventures. He was white; the other men were African-American.

Document found in School Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives. 

Standard
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.)

Goldsboro_Messenger_12_30_1880_exodusting

Goldsboro Messenger, 30 December 1880.

Standard
Enslaved People, Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Roadtrip chronicles, no. 4: Rowan County deeds.

My notes from an hour or so spent poking around the Rowan County Register of Deeds’ office:

  • No deeds filed by my Henry W. McNeely.
  • Julius McNeely bought his one and only parcel of land — the one his half-brother Henry’s children inherited — for $20 on 5 January 1876 from J.M. and H.E. Goodman.
  • In 1869, John W. McNeely applied for a homestead exemption. The application, filed at Deed Book 44, page 247, attached descriptions of his real and personal property. His real property consisted one tract of land bordered by Joshua Miller on the north, Frederick Menius on the east, “Dr. Luckey” and Ephraim Overcash on the south, and Jacob Shuliberinger and Mrs. Malissa Pool on the west, containing 235 acres and valued at $940.
  • On 7 January 1880, Ransom Miller, husband of Mary Ann McConnaughey, paid $900 to John S. Henderson, trustee for the estate of Archibald Henderson and Jane C. Boyden, for 135 acres. The land’s bounds lay on the north side of Sills Creek and touched on the Buffalo Big Road, crossed Second Creek and followed its meander to the intersection of Back Creek. On 1 December 1883, Ransom paid G.W. and C.C. Corriher $600 for 40 1/2 acres west of Neely’s Mill Road.
  • On 18 September 1889, Green E. Miller, husband of Grace Adeline Miller, paid $220 to John S. Henderson, trustee for the estate of Archibald Henderson and Jane C. Boyden, for about 22 acres. [Archibald Henderson Jr. and Jane C. Henderson Boyden were children of Salisbury lawyer Archibald Henderson. John Steele Henderson was Archibald Jr.’s son.] The plot description: “beginning at a stone in a field, South of where the said Green Miller now lives” running at one corner to a stake or stone in Ransom Miller’s line. The land was part of the Foster tract on the east side of Sill’s Creek and the west side of the Neely’s Mill Road, but not immediately adjoining either. Green had contracted to buy the property on 30 November 1886.
  • Oddly, on 28 May 1897, Green Miller and John Henderson sold 10 acres of the above tract to “Grace Adeline Miller, wife of Green Miller” for $100. [What was this about? Records seem to indicate that Adeline and Green remained married until her death in 1918. Why did he partition the land? And, why, if Green had purchased the full tract in 1889, was John Henderson listed as a grantor?]

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.06.40 PM

This section of the Cleveland, North Carolina, USGS quadrangle topographical map helps narrow the location of Ransom, Green and Adeline Miller’s properties in Steele township, Rowan County. (1) is the point at which (2) Second Creek branches into Back Creek and Sills Creek. That Ransom and Green’s lands adjoined supports a conclusion that Ransom was, in fact, the man referred to in the letter published in local newspapers about a damaging hailstorm in the area. The road running north-south is today called White Road. (3) marks the location of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, attended to this day by descendants of Adeline’s daughter Mary Caroline Miller Brown, her brother John B. McConnaughey and cousins of Martha Miller McNeely‘s husband Henry W. McNeely.

Standard
Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Roadtrip chronicles, no. 3: Eagle Mills ramble.

Monday afternoon came the highlight of the whole little road trip. I’d arranged to meet P.P. at a little cafeteria at the crossroads that is Harmony, North Carolina. I first spoke with her a little over a month ago, when she responded to my blog post about Walker Colvert’s will. P. is a distant cousin, another descendant of Thomas and Rebecca Nicholson Nicholson, and I was giddy with anticipation.

After lunch, at her direction, I headed north on Highway 21 toward Houstonsville. The sky was overcast, and a little drizzle had begun that would deepen into steady rain before long. I was undeterred. Over the next few hours, we traced the back roads of Eagle Mills and Union Grove townships, rolling through fallow fields, pastures, and woodlands, crossing and recrossing Hunting Creek and its tributaries. This was Colvert and Nicholson ground zero, and the highlights of our ramble warrant their own blogposts, soon to come.

My everlasting gratitude goes to Cousin P.P. for her generosity of time and knowledge.

Standard
Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Roadtrip chronicles, no. 2: Iredell County records.

I was killing time in a way, but I wanted to do so usefully, so I arrived at the Register of Deeds office shortly after it opened at 8 A.M. I side-eyed this —

IMG_5993

— and headed into the search room. I had a few loose questions: did Walker Colvert in fact never file a deed for his acres in Union Grove? Did John W. Colvert file any deeds? Where did Abner and Harriet Nicholson Tomlin live?

I took these notes:

  • Who were the William and Lucy A. Dalton from whom Lon W. Colvert purchased his first property in 1906? What was their relationship, if any, with his first wife Josephine Dalton?
  • No recorded deeds for Walker Colvert.
  • No recorded deeds for John W. Colvert.
  • However, John’s wife Adeline Colvert bought two lots on Harrison Street in Statesville in 1912 for $472. Huh? John and Adeline married in 1905. As far as I know, they remained married until his death in 1921. So why was she purchasing property in her own right in 1912? The house built on the property sheltered John and Addie’s descendants as late as 1959, and probably later. There’s a plat filed at Book 33, page 398, for the section of Statesville in which the lots lay. I forgot to get a copy.
  • Abb Tomlin had one recorded deed — for the $40 purchase of an acre of land from William and Laura Pearson on 19 June 1891. The tract adjoined the AT&O Railroad and is probably the same one that Abb and Harriet Nicholson Tomlin‘s son and heir Harvey Golar Tomlin sold to Lon W. Colvert in 1906.
  • My grandmother believed T. Alonzo “T.L.” Hart to be a real estate lawyer. I haven’t found any evidence that he attended law school or practiced law, but there is no question that he knew his way around a land acquisition. Between 1887 and 1922, he recorded 14 deeds for purchases in or near Statesville totaling well over 200 acres. Three small purchases in 1911 and 1920 were from Andy King (1839-1919) and his heirs. King was a farmer and rock quarry laborer whose near neighbors were Logan and Laura Sherrill.
Standard