Births Deaths Marriages, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia

Adam’s diaspora: Haywood Artis.

I’ve written here and here about the migration of Adam T. Artis‘ children Gus K. and Eliza to Arkansas. Though most of his 30 or so children remained in North Carolina, a few went in North. Or, at least, a little further north. One was Haywood Artis, born about 1870 to Adam and his wife Frances Seaberry Artis. He was my great-great-grandmother Vicey‘s full brother.


                          Haywood Artis

In the 1880 census of Nahunta, township, Wayne County, North Carolina, Adam Artis, widowed mulatto farmer, is listed with children Eliza, Dock, George Anner, Adam, Hayward, Emma, Walter, William, and Jesse, and four month-old grandson Frank Artis.  (I’ve never been able to determine whose child Frank is.]

Haywood’s whereabouts over the next 15 years are unrecorded, though he was likely still living in his father’s home most of that time. However, at some point he joined the tide of migrants flowing into Tidewater Virginia, and, on 13 January 1897, in Norfolk, Virginia, Hayward Artis, age 26, born in North Carolina to A. and F. Artis, married Hattie E. Hawthorn, 23, born in Virginia to J. and E. Hawthorn. As early as 1897, Haywood began appearing in city directories for Norfolk, Virginia. Here, for example, is Hill’s City Directory for 1898:


Haywood and Hattie and their children Bertha E., 3, and Jessie, 11 months, appeared in the 1900 census of Tanners Creek township, Norfolk County, Virginia. The family resided on Johnston Street, and Haywood worked as a porter at a jewelry store. Ten years later, they were in the same area. Haywood was working as a farm laborer, and Hattie reported four or her seven children living — Bertha, 12, Jessie, 11, Hattie, 8, and M. Willie, 2.

In the 1920 census of Monroe Ward, Norfolk, Haywood and Harriet Artis appear with children Elnora, 22, Jessie, 20, Hattie, 18, Willie Mae, 12, Haywood Jr., 8, and Charlie, 5.  Haywood was a farm operator on a truck farm, daughters Elnora and Hattie were stemmers at a tobacco factory, and son Jesse was a laborer for house builders.

By 1930, the Artises were renting a house at Calvert Street.  Heywood Artis headed an extended household that included wife Harriett, Haywood jr. (laborer at odd jobs), Charles, son-in-law Daniel Johnson (machinist for U.S. government) and his wife Hattie (bag maker at factory), cousins Henry Sample, Raymond G. Mickle, and Lois Sample, and granddaughters Mabel Johnson, 2, Olivia Washington, 15, and Lucille, 13, Bertha, 9, and Lois Brown, 6.

On 19 March 1955, Haywood Artis’ obituary appeared in the Norfolk Journal and Guide:

Haywood Artis, who has made his home in Norfolk for some 65 years, was buried following impressive funeral rites held at Hale’s funeral home March 7 with the Rev. W. H. Evans officiating.

Mr. Artis died March 4 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Willie Mae Yancey, 2734 Beechmont avenue, after a long illness.

Mr. Artis, who was born in Goldsboro, NC, is survived by three daughters, Mesdames Elnora Brown, Hattie Johnson and Willie Mae Yancey, all of Norfolk, and a son, Hayward Jr., of New Jersey.

There are also 34 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren and other relatives and friends.

Interment was in Calvary Cemetery.

Thanks to B.G. for the copy of his great-great-grandfather Haywood Artis’ photograph.

Migration, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin

The bread was all mashed up.

I won’t say this one of my grandmother’s favorite stories. It was too painful to be favored. But it was a story she told me over and over, without prompting and with little variation. It tears me up to read it even now, nearly a hundred years after the events it memorializes. I imagine that frightened little girl, a near orphan, left with this relative and that, yearning for comfort from a great-aunt who generally offered little in the way of emotion, but who, to provide, went North for short stretches for the extra money she could make doing “day’s work” for white families. Theodore and the bread and the doorbell. My heart breaks.


And I went over to stay until – Mama was working. And so Edward, that was – Edward or Theodore? Theodore. It was Carrie’s, Papa’s daughter Carrie, like Annie Bell’s sister Carrie. That’s where I was staying, over to her house. And Mama was working and staying on the lot with the people, and I was supposed to stay with them while I was up there. Until Mama, I reckon ‘cause she was gon be making a little money to buy something with, but I don’t know what she said she wanted. So by her being one place and I was in another. And then when her son, Theodore – we went to the store to get a loaf of bread, and I went with him, I wanted to go with him. And he took me on down to the store, got the bread, then he give me the bread to hold, and there was a place in the sidewalk of dirt, where wasn’t paved, and he stopped there with some children and started shooting marbles in little space, that little square. So I walked on down the street, and we wont too far from the house, but I kept looking and trying to figure out what house we were in. They were all joined together. And I had seen him go up there and put a hand upside the thing, and I said, ‘Must be a bell up there.’ And I went up there and mashed that button, and the door didn’t come open. And so then I went back down the street to where Theodore was, and he was still shooting marbles. And so, I said, “You better come on, I’m tired of holding this bread.” And so he said, “Okay, okay.” And so then he stopped, and we come on up there, and the door was cracked open. The door was cracked open. So when we got there, I said, “The door was open. And you didn’t even have to mash the button up there.” Mash the button where was to the apartment where you live in? And they would mash the button back to open the door. But the door was already open. But I had mashed it, see? I didn’t know. So when Theodore and I went back up there, and we went in, and I had the bread, and the bread was all mashed up where I had held it so tight holding it. And so she fussed him out and whipped him on top of that, and I went to crying ‘cause I thought she was gon whip me, too, ‘cause it was both of us. And so I said, “I want to go home. I want to go to where Mama is.” They said, “Well, she’ll be over tomorrow.” And I don’t know if it was tomorrow or the next day or two after, but anyhow Mama come and got me, and I told her that I wanted to come home. And she said, “Well, I thought you was doing all right. What’s the matter with you and Carrie?” And I said, “She beat Theodore.” And I said we were at the store getting a loaf of bread, and so we stayed too long. He was shooting marbles, and I was holding the bread, and I had mashed the bread up, and I thought she was gon whip me ’cause I forgot about the bread, and I couldn’t get in the house to bring it to her. And when I mashed the button, the door didn’t come open. So then when Theodore and I came back, went on up there, and honey, she took her husband’s belt, one of his belts he had, and she whipped him, and I was crying, and I’m still crying. I said, I reckon that’s where I started crying ’cause every time I see somebody else cry …. So I told them I wanted to go home, and she said, “Well, Mama’s coming over tomorrow.” And so I stopped crying, but I thought Carrie was gon whip me, just like she whipped Theodore, and I was the one that mashed the bread. But I didn’t tell it. But she said we stayed out too long. Bread’s all mashed up, said, “Should have come on home.” She was fussing with him, and then she took the strap and hit him two or three licks with that, and I thought she was ton hit me, too. And so Mama came and got me and took me back over Frances’ house. So then she said she was going back South. And I was just happy to go back there.


They said, well, [inaudible] get some bread, went to the store. I didn’t know where the store was, but I was just going with him to the store, you know? I got the bread, he give me the bread to hold, while he was shooting marbles in that little space was out there. And come on back, and I went way to the house and mashed the button ‘cause I’d seen him mash it. Didn’t want to ask nobody nothing. I said, I didn’t know them peoples up there. So the door didn’t open, and I went on back to find him and get him to come home. And I had held that bread so much and turned it from one end to the other under my arm holding it, and mashed the bread up. So Carrie looked at him: “Well, where y’all been so long?” And then she got that strap, ‘bout this long and ‘bout this wide. And she hit him a lick or two with that, and said, “I sent you out there after some bread, and you went off and stayed and stayed and stayed.” And so when she was hitting him, I went crying. So I thought she was gon beat me, too. But she didn’t. She didn’t even try to chastise me or talk nice to me or nothing. It was just simply ‘cause I’d done mashed that bread up – I had the bread when I went up there, see. She wont thinking ‘bout me. But I didn’t think that, nothing about it until it was later. I said, ‘No wonder she was gon beat me.’ ‘Cause I had done mashed that bread all up holding it up in my arms and changing it from one arm to the other, waiting on him shooting marbles. But I didn’t tell on him. But she knew he was shooting marbles.


... Mama took me to New York and everywhere she’d go. I stayed with Frances and her husband and son, when Mama went up there to work. And so I stayed with Carrie first. That was Albert Gay’s mama’s sister. She had one son, Edward. And she sent us to the store to get a loaf of bread. I’ll never forget it. And in the sidewalk, it was a block out the sidewalk where was closed up. And it just had dirt in it, and we went to get that loaf of bread. He handed me the loaf of bread, and when we got to that block it was boys shooting marbles in that little square where it was dirt. And so I got tired of standing there waiting on him. And I went on up to the house. And had seen them where they go up there and pushed the button. And the door didn’t come open then, and I went on back to where Ed was. And stood there waiting ’til he come to go in the house. And when we got to the house, the door was open. So when we got upstairs to the apartment floor, Carrie commenced fussing with him about ‘Who’s that coming in there playing with that bell?’ and opening the door, or something, I started to say it was me, and then I — she talked so hateful, and she beat Theodore, ’cause he got the bread all mashed up, with the belt. So I went to crying. I cried and I cried. I wanted to go home. I wanted to go where Mama was, but Mama wasn’t supposed to come over there ’til the next day or a day or two after that. I don’t know where she was working. Except that she was doing some day’s work. ‘Cause day’s work was plentiful then. People would clean up. So Mama wanted [inaudible] carried me with her and left Mamie there with Papa and knowing, too, Papa didn’t like Mamie. So, anyway, I cried so, and Mama took me over to Frances’ house. That’s where Mama come, after they took me over to Frances.’ I don’t think either one of ’em had no phone at that time and … but anyway, she come on over and got me, and I told her I didn’t want to stay there no more, I wanted to go home. I said I wanted to go where she was. She said, “Well, you can’t go right now,” said, “I got a job to do.” She said, “Well, I’ll take you over to Frances’. So that’s when she took me over to Frances’ house, and Edward.


“Mama” Sarah Henderson Jacobs (1874-1938) reared my grandmother and her sister Mamie, her great-niece. Sarah’s husband, “Papa,” was Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. (1856-1926). Annie Bell Jacobs Gay and Carrie Jacobs Blackwell (1890-1963) were Jesse’s daughters by his first wife, and Theodore Blackwell (1908-??), not Edward, was Carrie’s son.  At the time this story took place, the Blackwells were probably living at 37 West 112th Street in Harlem, just north of Central Park. In 1920, this was an all-African-American, fifteen-family building in a block otherwise occupied by Russian Jewish immigrants. Frances Aldridge Cooper Newsome was my grandmother’s paternal aunt, sister of her father Thomas Aldridge. Edward Cooper was Frances’ son.

Interviews of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.

Free People of Color, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Another Arkansas Artis.

Scrolling through old notes, I found two more Artises — Nathan and John — who migrated to Arkansas, probably in the 1880s.

Here’s what I know about them:

  • Nathan and John Artis were the sons of Charity Artis, daughter of Solomon Williams and Vicey Artis. I don’t know who their father was. They were first cousins of Gus Artis and Eliza Artis Everett and second cousins of Guy Lane Jr., all of whom headed west from Wayne County, North Carolina.
  • The 1870 census of Nahunta, Wayne County, shows Solaman Williams, 70 year-old farm laborer, with daughters Charity and Daliley and grandsons Anderson, Nathan, and John.
  • In the 1880 census of Pikeville, Wayne County, Nathan Artis is listed as a nephew in the household of farmer Jonoah Williams, farmer, his wife Pleasant, and children George, Cora, Clarissa, Willie and Vicey.
  • This is a notice of delinquent and insolvent taxpayers published in the Goldsboro Headlight on 28 September, 1893. Nathan Artis is GONE.


Goldsboro Headlight, 1893. 

  • In the 1900 census of Point, Woodruff County, Arkansas: Nathan Artist (born February 1852, NC, farmer), Nora (born Dec 1863), and children John F. (October 1877), Bicy Ann (December 1880), Nathan jr. (March 1883), Adalina (February 1885), James H. (October 1887), Lou (August 1890), Solomon (September 1891), and McKinley (November 1897); plus Nathan’s brother John Artis (May 1866, NC), nieces Parthena (December 1894) and Alsie (February 1899) and nephew John H. (February 1897).  Nathan’s last four children were born in Arkansas.  The nieces and nephews were born in Arkansas to a North Carolina-born father and Tennessee-born mother.
  • In the 1910 census of Point, Woodruff County, Nathan Artis (55, farmer, b. NC), wife Norah (50, b. NC), and children Solomon (16), McKenley (11), Markannon (11), Mittie Ann (8) and Anderson (6), all born in Arkansas.  Nora reported 10 of 15 children living. John Artis (47, born NC) appears in the same township with second wife Bettie (33, born Georgia) and children Parthenia (14), John Henry (12), Elsia Jane (11), Pinkie Ann (7), Josheway (5) and Daisy (3), plus Mary Artis (65), described as “mother.” [Who was this? A stepmother? Bettie’s mother?]
  • Nathan Artis died 3 August 1915 in Woodruff County, Arkansas, and was buried in Harris cemetery in that county. His headstone gives his birthdate as 23 January 1849.
  • Nathan’s five sons registered for the World War I draft: (1) Nathan Artis, born 12 March 1885; resided Brinkley, Monroe County, Arkansas; section laborer for St.L.S.W.Ry.; wife Mary Artis; tall, medium build, brown eyes, black hair; signed his name; registered 12 September 1918; (2) James Artis, born 14 November 1888 in “Goldsburg,” NC; resided Aubrey, Arkansas; farmer for self; supported wife and three children; medium height, slender, brown hair and eyes; registered 5 June 1917; (3) Mark Hanna Artis, born 6 November 1896; resided Audrey, Arkansas; employed by T.F. Turner; nearest relative, Nora Artis; medium height, slender, black hair and eyes; signed with X; registered 5 June 1918; Mark’s twin (4) McKinley Artis, born 6 November 1896; resided Audrey, Arkansas; employed by Angeline Steward; nearest relative, Frances Artis; tall, medium build, black hair and eyes; signed with X; registered 5 June 1918; and (5) Solomon Artis, born 16 November 1893; resided Aubrey, Arkansas; farmer for self; single; medium height and build, black hair and eyes; signed with X; registered 5 June 1917.
  • So did John’s oldest son John Henry Artist, born 8 April 1899; resided Gregory, Arkansas; farmer for John Artist; nearest relative, John Artist; tall, medium build, brown eyes, black hair; signed with X; registered 12 September 1918.
  • John Artis was alive as late as 1930, when he appears in the census of Mississippi County, Arkansas.
  • At least two of Nathan Artis’ sons migrated to the Memphis. McKinley, died there in 1925 of tuberculosis. His first cousin John Henry, who lived in Oakville, Shelby County, died three years later of the same disease brother. His brother “Jack,” however, lived into early middle age, dying in Memphis in 1939. The remainder of Nathan and John Artis’ children seem to have remained, at least till the eve of World War II, in eastern Arkansas.


Letters, Maternal Kin, Migration, North Carolina

The notebook in the shed.

The notebook in the shed yielded a number of treasures, some bittersweet.

I found a copy of a letter from my great-aunt Julia Allen Maclin, postmarked 11 May 1982, and another from my aunt, Marion Allen Christian, dated 14 August 1982, that push the date of my earliest genealogical inquiries back three years earlier than I remember. I knew I’d written to Aunt Julia early, but thought for some reason that it had been in the mid-’80s, when I was living in Massachusetts and researching in earnest. Though she opened the letter with a disclaimer — “I don’t think I can be of much help in tracing geneology of the Allen-Holmes family” — she in fact laid the groundwork, revealing her grandparents’ names (except her mother’s mother’s, which she did not recall) and telling me what she knew of her parents’ siblings. “All of my father’s and mother’s family are dead,” she concluded. My aunt followed up with a trip to Charles City County that shed a little more light. A few years later, I made copies of photos from Aunt Julia’s albums — her parents, her siblings as children, even a portrait of Joseph R. Holmes. (Which I unwisely gave to Eric Foner to use in Freedom’s Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction just before I left graduate school in 1991. He misplaced it before the book was even published, and my cousin has not been able to find the original in what remains of Aunt Julia’s scrapbooks.)

There is also a letter from Ardeanur S. Hart, dated 16 October 1985 — almost exactly 29 years ago. I have no recollection of having written to or heard from her, which makes her note all the more poignant:

“Dear Lisa, It was a surprise, but pleasant one, to have a letter from you. I am sure you know I don’t remember you, were you there when the reunion was in Virginia?” (In 1982. I was not there; we had never met.)

“I will do the best I can to give you the names of the folk I know that live here, thier schools, Jobs etc. I don’t know, so I can only tell you thier names.” (Is this really what I asked her about?!? Did I squander an opportunity to go back in time for information about people still living? What could she have told me about Henry and Martha McNeely?)

“I hope this helps a little I can’t help more, please give my love to your mother & father. I hope I will be able to go to the reunion, if I keep well, I am 83 yr old now, and folk don’t care to be bothered with folk my age –” (Oh, Ardeanur. What I wouldn’t do to be able to bother now.)

” — but I am still singing and enjoying it, in my church chior, and in a choral group of senior’s. Sat Oct 19th I will do solo work at the ‘Hyet Regency’ downtown for the Columbus City widows which I am looking forward to.” (Wonderful!)

“I shall be looking forward to seeing you someday. Meantime write again some time, continue your studies, and take care of your self.” (Did I? Did I write again? And when I saw her the following summer, did I do anything besides take a photo?)

And then, after listing the Ohio McNeelys — basically descendants of her aunt Janie McNeely Taylor Manley — “I am Ardeanur Smith Hart. Daughter of Addie McNeely Smith husband (deceased) no children senior citizen. Alone.” (Emphasis hers. Oh, Ardeanur.)

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, North Carolina


Speaking of Ardeanur … Here’s what I know about her.

Ardeanur R. Smith was born 8 February 1903 in Statesville, North Carolina, to Daniel and Addie Lucinda McNeely Smith. Her brother James Garfield Smith was born four years later. I have not found the family in the 1910 federal population schedule, and the family had fallen apart before the census taker next came round. As revealed in the estate file of Ardeanur’s great-uncle Julius McNeely, Addie McNeely Smith died in early 1917. Her mother’s family, and in particular, her younger sister Minnie B. McNeely, took responsibility for the children.

McNEELY -- Bert_Minnie_Ardeanur 001

A Murphy, Bertha Hart, Alonzo Lord, Minnie McNeely, Ardeanur Smith, Statesville, mid-1920s.

But not for long. By 1920, Ardeanur had struck out on her own. She appears as “Ardenia” Smith in the 1920 census in Salisbury, 25 miles west of Statesville in Rowan County, her mother’s birthplace. At 17, she is the youngest of eight young African-Americans, men and women, occupying a boarding house at 319 South Lee Street. She reported no occupation, though it seems likely that she was engaged in domestic work. How long she remained in Salisbury is not clear, and on 13 February 1923, she stood as a witness at the marriage of her aunt Janie Caroline McNeely, 24, to James Martin Taylor, 21, by Reverend Zander A. Dockery, a Presbyterian minister. (The other witness was Archie Weaver, husband of Elethea McNeely.)

Whether in Salisbury or Statesville, Ardeanur did not have much longer for small town North Carolina. Sometime mid-decade, she joined the tide of black Southerners flowing North, setting her bags ashore in Bayonne, New Jersey. Though many McNeelys would follow, at that time only her aunt Emma McNeely Houser was there, and it is likely that Ardeanur lived initially with her family. She joined the Housers’ church, Wallace Temple A.M.E. Zion, and began to develop her gifts. By June 1928, she was taking elocution lessons in New York City and in 1929 sang in a program in honor of United States Congressman Oscar DePriest.

Even as she dreamed, though, Ardeanur had to make a living. In 1928, she lived at 115 Davis Avenue in the West New Brighton neighborhood of Staten Island, just across the Kill Van Kull from Bayonne. She undoubtedly worked as a live-in servant to William G. Willcox, a Tuskegee Institute board member whose wife Mary Gay Willcox was descended from a prominent abolitionist family. (In fact, the Gay house at 115 Davis is believed to have been an important station on the Underground Railroad.) By 1930, when the census taker came around, Ardeanur Smith, 25, shared a $50/month  apartment with Mary Snowden at at 2014 Seventh Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard) in Harlem. Both worked as housemaids for private families, and both were reported as South Carolina-born. Ardeanur seems still to have been living in New York three years later when she, her aunt Minnie and first cousin Charles McNeely accompanied the body of Charles’ brother Irving McNeely Weaver to Iredell County for burial.

I’m not sure where Ardeanur was in 1940. Her name does not appear in enumerations of New Jersey or New York. Ninety miles south, however, a census taker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recorded North Carolina-born “Ardinia” Smith, age 40, living in a boarding house at 1710 West Fontain (just west of Temple University) and performing domestic work. Was this Ardeanur?

Sometime, probably in the early 1940s, Ardeanur Smith married. I have not found a marriage license for her, and no one I know knows her husband’s full name, much less where he was from. He was a Hart, a common name in Iredell County, but a common enough name everywhere that he is not necessarily someone she knew from “home.”** I only know for certain that the wedding took place before 2 October 1947, when the Bayonne Times printed an obituary for John McNeely that listed niece Ardeanur Hart among his survivors. (Three years later, when the Times ran the obit of Edward McNeely, another uncle, she was Ardeanur S. Hart.)

When James G. Smith died in 1960 in High Point, North Carolina, Ardeanur, living in Jersey City, New Jersey, provided personal information for his death certificate. We get another glimpse of her in May 1961, when a brief entry in the church calendar feature of the Jersey Journal noted a recital at Lafayette Presbyterian Church, Summit Avenue and Ivy Place in Jersey City, featuring Mrs. Ardeanur Hart, soprano, and Mrs. James Spaights, pianist.

I have no record of any job Ardeanur held other than domestic, though such her style and bearing do not square with my naive (and classist) vision of what service workers look like. In the 1970s or so, she moved out to Columbus, Ohio, to live with and look after the last of her aunts, Minnie McNeely Hargrove.

IMG_5133 copy

Cousin Ardeanur, Newport News, Virginia, July 1986.  She was 83 at the time. (I cannot begin to tell you why I used to cut out photos before mounting them in those terrible adhesive photo albums.)

Ardeanur Smith Hart died 14 January 1996 in Columbus.

**30 August 2015: Mystery no more: Ardeanur married Frank Wellington Hart of Jamaica.

Maternal Kin, Migration, North Carolina

William B. McNeely.

John Wilson McNeely‘s elder brother, William Bell McNeely, was born about 1804 in Rowan County. Their father was Samuel McNeely; their mother, Nancy Van Pool. The first known record of William’s life is John Van Pool‘s will, dated 13 October 1825 and probated in Rowan County at August term, 1827.  The document named John’s sons David, Jacob, and John Van Pool; his daughters Nancy [McNeely], Margaret [McNeely] and Maria Van Pool; son-in-law Samuel McNeely; grandson Elihu N. Pool; and granddaughters Eliza Pool and Margaret T. Pool. Samuel McNeely was named executor, and witnesses were John McNeely Sr. and Jr. and William B. McNeely. (“Senior” and “junior” did not necessarily mean father and son in that era. Rather, as “II” can today, a “junior” could simply be a younger relative with the same name. Margaret Van Pool married Samuel McNeely’s brother John McNeely, who was named after his father. However, John McNeely the elder died in 1801, so could not have been the Sr. here. If Samuel’s brother John himself had a son John, he would have been rather young to have been a legal witness in 1825. Long story short, I don’t know which John McNeely in the will is Margaret’s husband, or who the other one is. William B., of course, was Samuel’s son and may simply have been close at hand.)

Five years later, on 1 Aug 1832, William B. McNeely married Elizabeth McNeely in Rowan County. Undoubtedly cousins, their exact relationship is not known. Within just a few years, the family would leave North Carolina forever, headed west to Missouri to claim a land grant.

On 24 Jan 1837, William Bell McNeely of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, deposited a certificate with the registrar of the Jackson, Missouri, land grant office.  He registered a parcel described as the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 25 in township 33, north, of Range 12, east and measuring 40 acres.

RHUSA2007B_MO0620-00086 copy

On 17 September, 1839, William B. McNeely married Elizabeth McPherson in Cape Girardeau County. William’s son Samuel was then about 4 years old, and it does not appear that William and his second wife had any children together.

On 10 Dec 1841, William McNeely made his final payment on the purchase of the parcel, which was located in Perry County, and took title. He had not finished moving though. In 1850, the censustaker of Saint Francois County, Missouri, counted among that county’s residents farmer William McNealy, 46, wife Elizabeth, 46, and Samuel E., 15. William claimed real estate valued at $300. Ten years later, after the formation of a new county, the family is listed in the Middlebrook postal district of Iron County: North Carolina-born farmer William B. McNeely, 56, wife Elizabeth, 56, and 7 year-old Catherine Green.  William claimed $2000 in real estate and $500 personal property.  Next door, son Samuel E. McNeely, 26, and his young family —  wife Emily, 20, and daughter Elizabeth, 5 mos. — appear.  Samuel reported $50 personal property.

William was too old to serve during the Civil War, and I have found no record that Samuel did either. William did, however, sign a loyalty oath in 1864.

In the 1870 census of Ironton, Iron County, Missouri, in Township 32, Range 3 East: Wm. B. McNeely, 66, farmer, appears with wife Elizabeth.  William claimed $2500 real estate; $200, personal property.

Meanwhile, back in North Carolina, William’s brother John W. McNeely edged toward death. John’s demise in mid-summer of 1871 makes clear the totality of William’s break with his home state. John’s administrator, Joshua Miller, initially named his heirs as his widow, “Acenith McNeely a sister reported to be in Missouri and a Brother name not known and residence not known.” A little information trickled in, and Miller’s next report  identified “Wm. B. McNeely, age 65, residing in Missouri Post Office unknown.” Though William had been in Iron County at least twenty years by then, Miller never found him (or Acenith), and the estate was settled without him.

Sometime between 1870 and 1880, William was again widowed. He appears in the census of Liberty, Iron County, in the household of his son, farmer S. McNeely, 45, with wife E., and children Ellen, Thomas, Owen, Margarett, Nancy, Charles, and George D. Samuel’s daughter Elizabeth — El. Huff — and her children William, 2, and Sam, 6 months, also lived in the house.

By 1900, Samuel McNeely was an elderly hired man living and working in Shoal Creek, Bond County, Illinois, some 125 miles northeast of Iron County. Samuel’s children, by this time, have moved west to Arizona and California. His father is not with him in Illinois and does not appear in the Missouri census. Most likely, he did not live to see the new century.

Maternal Kin, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Vocation

Ardeanur, elocutionist.


Pittsburgh Courier, 2 June 1928.

This brief blurb intrigues me any number of ways:

(1) Ardeanur R. Smith? This is the first I’ve seen of a middle initial for Cousin Ardeanur.

(2) Smith? My grandmother said Ardeanur married somebody she ran off with when she was a teenager. However, every mention of her I’ve found dating before 1947 — and she is elusive in official records — names her as Smith, her maiden name. In her uncle John McNeely’s 1947 obituary, she’s a Hart for the first time. I have no idea what Mr. Hart’s first name was, where they married, or how long they stayed that way.

(3) Elocution? This may absolutely be a function of me failing to ask the right questions, but, as much as I heard about Wardenur playing the organ on the radio, I never heard my grandmother speak of Ardeanur’s singing or speaking career.

(4) And who was Ardeanur’s publicist that he or she managed to get her name and photo in the Pittsburgh Courier? And not for the last time.

(5) Staten Island?

(6) “Where a balcony fell at the closing session”?!?!?

Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

That glorious climate of Arkansas.

Perhaps this sheds some light on Gus Artis and his sister Eliza Artis Everett‘s migration to Arkansas from North Carolina well after the Exoduster era:

Goldsboro_Headlight_11_6_1889_Arkansas_migrantsGoldsboro Headlight, 6 November 1889.

On 27 November 1889, the Wilson Mirror reprinted a Goldsboro Argus piece that described Williams and Herring as “railroad hirelings and speculators.” “However much the desire should be divided among our people — and by this we mean the white people — for the negro to exodus this country or remain, the solid, stubborn truth shall not be kept from the poor, deluded, half-informed negro, that this is his home, the climate of his nature; that our people are the most tolerant and generous in the world; and his best friends, and that, therefore, he should stay right here where his associations date back through the centuries; where his faults, and there are many (but who of us is without faults?) are borne with from custom; where his privileges as a free citizen are unquestioned and untrammeled, and where his destinies are linked by law with the whites, who, under a Democratic administration, have for twenty years paid 90 per cent. of his government and education, while he has furnished 90 per cent. of the crime and ignorance of the State.”

Best friends, indeed.

The 20 December 1889 issue of the Wilmington Messenger chimed in the mockery, noting that “Peg leg Williams and Silas Herring have not dissolved copartnership. Peg leg is now in [Goldsboro], and he and Silas are as active as bees in inducing the “coons” of this section to leave their homes of peace and plenty here, to go the far off miasmatic lands of the West, there to die like cattle with the black tongue.”

Robert “Peg-Leg” Williams is memorialized in 100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History, edited by Melvin I. Urofsky. Described as the most famous and successful of Southern “emigrant agents, Mississippi-born Williams, a Civil War veteran, assisted 16,000 African-Americans in leaving North Carolina in the wake of discriminatory labor laws passed in 1889.

*Kizzy Herring Herring, who applied for her husband’s Civil War pension from Lonoke County, Arkansas, was another who left Wayne County for the West. So, I suspect was Guy Lane, Jr., son of Guy and Sylvania Artis Lane, who decamped from Wayne County to Memphis, Tennessee, sometime between 1880 and 1900. Did he just not quite make it to Arkansas? Or did he double back to the city after deciding that Arkansas did not suit?

Births Deaths Marriages, Education, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The rise of the Grand Chancellor; or “There was something unusual in that green looking country boy.”

In which the Indianapolis Freeman enlightens us regarding Joseph H. Ward‘s journey from Wilson, North Carolina, to Naptown:

Joseph H Ward Grand Chancellor Ind Freeman 7 22 1899

Joseph Ward early years 7 22 1899 Ind Freeman_Page_1

Joseph Ward early years 7 22 1899 Ind Freeman_Page_2

Joseph Ward early years 7 22 1899 Ind Freeman_Page_3

Indianapolis Freeman, 22 July 1899.

A few notes:

  • Joseph Ward’s mother might have been too poor to send him to school, but his father Napoleon Hagans, had he chosen to acknowledge him, certainly could have, as he sent his “legitimate” sons to Howard University.
  • The school in LaGrange at which he worked was most likely Davis Military Academy:  “By 1880 a second school for boys … Davis Military Academy, was founded by Colonel Adam C. Davis. “School Town” became La Grange’s nickname as the military school would eventually have an enrollment of 300 students from every state and even some foreign countries. The school also had a band, the only cadet orchestra in the country during that time. The school prospered, but an outbreak of meningitis closed it in 1889.”
  • Dr. George Hasty was a founder of the Physio-Medical College of Indianapolis, which Joseph Ward later attended.
  • Joseph graduated from High School No. 1, later known as Shortridge, an integrated institution.
  • A “tour of the south”? Really?
  • Do student records exist from the Physio-Medical College? The school closed in 1909.
  • Joseph’s first wife was Mamie I. Brown, an Indiana-born teacher. The 20 October 1900 issue of the Indianapolis Recorder reported: “Mrs. Mamie Ward, through her attorney O.V. Royal, was granted a divorce from her husband, Dr. J.H. Ward, in the Superior Court no. 1, and her maiden name was restored. Both parties are well known in society circles.” Four years later, Joseph married Zella Locklear.
Agriculture, Births Deaths Marriages, Business, Education, Land, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Politics

William Scarlett Hagans.

William Scarlett Hagans, born about 1869, was the second of Napoleon and Appie Ward Hagans‘ sons. He is first found as “Snowbee” in the 1870 census of Nahunta, Wayne County, North Carolina, in a household headed by “Poland Hagans” with wife Apcilla.  (Next door was Jonah Williams, brother of Adam Artis.  Artis married Napoleon’s half-sister Frances Seaberry; they were my great-great-great-grandparents.) Two years later the censustaker reported Napoleon’s stepfather, Aaron Seaberry, with the family.

William and older brother Henry E. Hagans attended primary  school in Goldsboro. William then departed for Howard University in Washington, DC, where he completed the preparatory division in 1889, the college department in 1893 (when he was one of six graduates), and the Law Department in 1898 (from whence he received a Bachelor of Arts degree.)

In a glimpse at young William’s social life, here’s a brief from the 20 October 1888 edition of the Washington Bee: “A company of young ladies and gentlemen, composed of Misses Mamie Jones, Ella Perry, Mary Dabney, Emma Ingrim, Louise Chapman, Mamie Dorster and Messrs. St. Clairlind, E. Williston, W.S. Hagans, Benjamin Henderson, J.W. Whiteman, James Usher, H.L. Hyman, L.A. Leftwich, spent an evening of pleasure at Miss E. Alley Thornton’s residence with her uncle, Rev. W.H. Howard, No. 77 Defrees street northwest.”

On 27 September 1894, the Goldsboro Daily Argus printed an article about the confused state of affairs among Wayne County’s Republicans, noting that “old-line leaders” like Napoleon Hagans, Rev. C. Dillard and E.E. Smith opposed “fusion” with Populists. The piece also noted that Will S. Hagans had been nominated to “legislature.”

The 1895-96 Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction included a report from A.L. Sumner, principal of the State Normal School at Goldsboro, who noted that the school enrolled 172 students from 13 counties. “The Dorr Lyceum [a mandatory Friday evening lecture] was placed under the supervision of Prof. W.S. Hagans. In this association the students were taught to appreciate, write and speak the masterpieces of our literature, to write essays and debate, and were made acquainted with the meanderings of parliamentary usage.” The school’s catalogue for that year listed as faculty Sumner, Miss L.S. Dorr, and W.S. Hagans, who taught Classical Latin, Natural Philosophy, Theory and Practice of Teaching, Arithmetic, North Carolina History, etc. [Sumner was also editor of the Headlight, a Baptist-affiliated newspaper that published wherever Sumner moved for work.]

Per the 21 May 1896 issue of the Mecklenburg Times, at the state Republican convention, W.S. Hagans was elected alternate delegate to the national convention.

On 20 March 1897, the Raleigh Gazette, in an article about a reception in Goldsboro for African-American state senator W. Lee Person of Hickory, noted that Professor W.S. Hagans “spoke in high terms of commendation and praise of the Senator and his colleagues, and assured them that the colored people of Goldsboro were wedded to them, and would ever honor them for the record made for their race in the General Assembly of the State.”

On 5 June 1897, the Raleigh Gazette commented: “We certainly regret to hear that our friend, Prof. W.S. Hagans of Goldsboro, was not endorsed for the postmastership there. He certainly is worthy of the place. We hope to see him appointed to some good salaried place in Washington yet.”

On 27 June 1898, William S. Hagans, 27, married Lizzie E. Burnett, 23, in Nahunta, probably at the Hagans house. Presbyterian minister Clarence Dillard officiated and neighbor J.D. Reid, brother H.E. Hagans, and sister-in-law J.B. Hagans witnessed. Burnett was a member of the large and locally prominent Burnett family, but her parentage is not clear.

BURNETT -- Lizzie Burnett Hagans

Lizzie E. Burnett Hagans

Lizzie Burnett Hagans gave birth to a daughter Daisy in about 1898. She died in infancy.

The 19 January 1899 edition of the Washington Evening Star ran a breathless review of the season’s judicial reception at the Taft White House. The lengthy recitation of invited guests included Mr. W.S. Hagans.

On 21 March 1899, Henry Hagans and William S. Hagans received proceeds from the partition of about 476 acres in Nahunta township, Wayne County, belonging to the estate of the late Napoleon Hagans.

William and Lizzie Hagans welcomed a daughter, Susan A., in September 1899. The child was named for Lizzie’s mother. (And the A perhaps was for “Apsilla,” William’s mother.)

On 11 October 1899, William purchased from Minnie and Effie Morgan a lot on Oak Street in Goldsboro adjoining that of Lizzie E. Hagans.

On 28 October 1899, the Colored American noted that William S. Hagans “has returned from Goldsboro, where he attended the funeral of a relative. Mrs. Hagans accompanied her husband here, and apartments have been taken at No. 1524 O street northwest.” (Whose funeral?!?!)

On 9 December 1899, in a short article titled “Mr. White as Host,” The Colored American informed all that “Thanksgiving tide was made more joyous by the genial and whole-souled hospitality dispensed on Thursday evening of last week by Congressman George H. White at his handsome home, 1418 18th street northwest. … Those who sat at the festal board were Register [of U.S. Treasury] J.W. Lyons, Recorder H.P. Cheatham, Ex-Senator John P. Green, Major Charles R. Douglass, Messrs. John H. Hannon, Henry Y. Arnett [clerk to Cheatham], S.E. Lacy, W.S. Hagans, Lewis H. Douglass and R.W. Thompson.”

A month later, on 13 January 1900, the Colored American announced that “Mr. W.S. Hagans has returned from a holiday visit to his home at Goldsboro NC.  The great prominence of Congressman White and the voluminous mail occasioned by it, is keeping Mr. Secretary quite busy these days.”

On 24 February 1900, the Washington Bee ran “A Pen and Pencil Club: Washington’s Literati Form an Organization for Mutual Improvement and Promotion of Good Fellowship” a “brilliant coterie of journalists and writers” met at the Southern Hotel and organized the nucleus of  the Pen and Pencil Club. Editor T. Thomas Fortune was placed on the honorary roll, reserved for “prominent out-of-town scholars and penman.” Active members L.H. Douglass [Lewis Henry Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass and Civil War Union officer], J.W. Cromwell [John Welsey Cromwell, educator, lawyer, journalist], C.R. Douglass [Charles Remond Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass], C.A. Fleetwood [Christian A. Fleetwood, major, U.S. Colored Troops], E.L. Thornton, T.J. Calloway [Thomas J. Calloway, journalist], E.E. Cooper [Edward E. Cooper, editor, Colored American], W. Calvin Chase [William Calvin Chase, lawyer, editor of the Washington Bee], A.L. Manly, Paul H. Bray, S.E. Lacy, F.G. Manly, J.N. Goins [journalist], J.G. Clayton, J.H. Wills, W.L. Pollard, John T. Haskins, W.M. Wilson, W.O. Lee, A.O. Stafford [Alphonso O. Stafford, folklorist, teacher], W. Bruce Evans [physician and educator], W.L. Houston [William L. Houston, attorney], Lucien H. White [music critic, editor], H.P. Slaughter, Kelly Miller [mathematician, “The Bard of the Potomac”], C.W. Williams, J.H. Paynter [John H. Paynter, journalist/author], W.C. Payne [vice-presidential candidate, National Liberty Party, 1904], W.S. Hagans, R.H. Terrell [Robert Herberton Terrell, lawyer, teacher and later judge] and others.

In the 1900 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, the censustaker recorded William B. Hagins (November 1872), wife Lizzie E. (April 1874), and daughter Susan (August 1898).  William is listed as white; his wife and daughter as black.

On 3 May 1900,  in an article titled “Hagan’s Win Out,” the Goldsboro Weekly Argus noted that Will S. Hagans had been elected to the Republican district executive committee and his brother Henry E. Hagans as a delegate to the national convention.

In 1902, W.S. Hagans, age 34, registered to vote in Wayne County under the state’s grandfather clause. He named “Dr. Ward” as his qualifying ancestor. David G.W. Ward, a physician in Wilson County, was William’s maternal grandfather. William could have named his father Napoleon (as did his brother Henry), and I am certain the choice was deliberate.

On 7 October 1902, the Winston-Salem Journal reported that “leading negroes have issued a call for a negro convention to be held on October 16 in Raleigh to put out a ticket against the Republicans. The call expresses indignation at the treatment negroes are receiving at the hands of Republicans and heaps abuse on Senator [Jeter C.] Pritchard, who, they declare, must be defeated at all hazards. The following negroes sign the call: Jas. E. O’Hara, Scotland Harris, H.P. Cheatham, W. Lee Pearson, R.W.H. Leak, W.S. Hagans, S.G. Newsom, W.F. Young.”

Daughter Eva Mae Hagans was born 1 January 1903 in Goldsboro.

On 31 January 1903, the Colored American shone a spotlight on Goldsboro, “a progressive little town of 8000 inhabitants. It is historic,” it claimed, “for the peaceful relations existing between the races. The chief occupation of its people is trucking. Yet we have negroes who are rapidly forging their way to the front along all industrial lines. Our people own thousands of acres of forming land, as well as excellent city property…. Prof. H.E. Hagans, the principal of our State Normal School and also a farmer, is worth $20,000. Mr. W.S. Hagans, who is one of the most successful agriculturalists, is worth $20,000. …”

On 9 May 1903, The Colored American reported “Mr. W.S. Hagans, who has made a host of friends among Washingtonians by his genial bearing and sterling qualities, will indulge in an extensive hunting expedition in and about his North Carolina home during the Xmas holidays.  He will have as his guests Congressman White and Recorder Cheatham.”

Wm S Hagans in Goldsboro with dogs

William S. Hagans, perhaps with hunting dogs, Goldsboro.

On 13 January 1904, William S. Hagans purchased 38 acres in Wayne County from J.D. Reed [sic] and wife. Reid grew up with William near Fremont, had been a witness at his wedding, and was principal of the Colored Graded School in the nearby town of Wilson.

On 20 January 1904, W.S. Hagans and wife Lizzie deeded 25 acres to J.W. Johnson. This land had been purchased by Napoleon Hagans in 1883 from J.W. Aycock and wife Emma, B.F. Aycock and wife Sallie, and O.L. Yelverton and wife Susan G. for $270. The property was located on the “public road leading from Sauls Crossroads to Bull Head.”

On 9 June 1904, West Virginia’s Charleston Advocate ran an editorial by R.H. Thompson titled “In the National Field/ The Lily-White Situation in The South as Viewed through Northern Glasses.” In it, he decried the state of the Republican Party.  “… The action of the North Carolina republican convention was a crime. The summary turning-down administered to such war-horses as John C. Dancy, Henry P. Cheatham, James E. Shepard, Samuel H. Vick, J.E. Taylor, Isaac Smith, W.S. Hagans and others has been an outrage that requires an emphatic prefix to fittingly characterize it. Not a solitary colored man of all of North Carolina’s able gallery of political lights was chosen as a delegate to the national convention. Time was when the race’s political sun set in the piney woods and moonshining camps in the Blue Ridge mountains, but the ill-fated ascendancy of Jeter C. Pritchard and his coterie of lily-whites has gradually dimmed the luster of the Tar Heel Negro constellation, now there are few so poor to do it reverence. George H. White was wise in moving his lares and penates to the hospitable shores of New Jersey, and it is a mercy that the tired frame of John Hannon went over to its lasting place ere his failing eyes witnessed the downfall of the house of cards he and his faithful allies had created as so ruinous a cost. …”

Daughter Flora Irene Hagans was born in 1904, and Rosalie Lorene Hagans in 1907.

On 16 May 1907, William S. Hagans contributed a lengthy column to the Washington Post entitled (and subtitled): “At Issue with Adams/ Goldsboro Man Reviews Politics in North Carolina/ Hopeless for Republicans/ ‘Lily White’ Faction Arraigned for Treatment of Colored Vote – Conventions Held on Trains to Trick the Negroes – Ingratitude Alleged – 20,000 Colored Votes Will Not Submit.” Which pretty much sums up the article, which is aimed at rebutting comments made in an interview with Judge Spencer B. Adams of North Carolina. “Where you find the negro voting at all, he is doing as he has always done — voting the Republican ticket or the ticket that goes by that name. He is just as much a Republican in this State to-day as every, but that he is not so enthusiastic cannot be denied. This can be easily explained. It has been the custom in this State ever since the enfranchisement of the negro for him to follow the lead of a few white men calling themselves Republicans. He expected and got this leadership before the adoption of the Constitutional amendment in 1900, which disfranchised a large majority of colored citizens. Those who happened to be spared from the operations of this new law still looked for this same leadership but found it not — a clear case of being left in outer darkness.”

At the heart of Wayne County Superior Court proceedings stemming from the suit in J.F. Coley v. Tom Artis (1908) was a dispute over 30 acres of land.  Thomas “Tom Pig” Artis began renting the property in 1881 from W.J. Exum.  In 1892, Exum’s widow Mary sold it to Napoleon “Pole” Hagans.  In 1896, after Napoleon’s death, the land passed to his sons Henry and William S. Hagans.  In 1899, Henry sold his interest to his brother.  In 1908, William S. Hagans sold the 30 acres to J.F. Coley.  Coley filed suit when Tom Artis laid claim to it, arguing that Napoleon had sold it to him.  Tom claimed the 800 lbs. of cotton he tendered to Napoleon (and later, son William S. Hagans) was interest on a mortgage, but William Hagans and other witnesses maintained the payment was rent.  William Hagans testified that his father was in feeble health in 1896 when he called his sons together “under the cart shelter” to tell them he would not live long and did not know to whom the land would fall.  William testified that Pole asked them to let “Pig” stay on as long as he paid rent, and they promised to do so.  The court found for Coley and against Artis.

On 4 February 1909, the Goldsboro Weekly Argus announced that Will S. Hagans, “one of our best-known and most reputable colored citizens and who owns one of the best farms in the county, has been invited by the inaugural authorities at Washington to officiate as a marshal at the inauguration of President-elect Taft.” The article noted that the selection was particularly significant as Hagans had been “squelched” the local Republican chairman who selected “lily-white” delegates to the convention.

On 17 April 1909, the Indianapolis Freeman printed a nice, but erroneous, article lauding well-educated negro farmers and citing as prime example William S. Hagans, a Harvard graduate. William, of course, was no such thing. He was a proud graduate of Howard University. [Might his half-brother, Indianapolis physician Joseph H. Ward, have commented upon this mistake?]

On 19 May 1909, the Charleston (West Virginia) Evening Chronicle announced that Prof. William S. Hagans of Goldsboro would address the exercises of the Agricultural Literary Society during the tenth annual commencement at North Carolina Agricultural & Mechanical College for colored youth in Greensboro May 23-27.

On 3 June 1909, the New York Age reported that W.S. Hagans of Goldsboro had delivered the principal address at the exercises of the Agricultural Literary Society. Hagans was “one of the most successful and prosperous farmers” in North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: W.S. Higgins [sic], 38, wife Mrs. W.S., 36, and children Sussie A., 11, Eva, 9, Flora, 6, and Loraine, 3.  All are listed as white.

Son William Napoleon Hagans was born 16 May 1910.

On 14 December 1911, the Greensboro Daily News covered a meeting of 750 members of the Grand Lodge of F. & A. A.M. “Prominent negroes” attending included Archdeacon H.B. Delaney, Prof. W.S. Hagans, C.C. Spaulding and ex-Congressman H.P. Cheatham.

On 7 August 1912, Will S. Hagans was listed on page 9 of the “List of Coloed [sic] Pole Tax paid by May the first for Nahunta Township,” which is now found in Wayne County Voting Records at the North Carolina State Archives.

Sometime during 1913, William Hagans moved his family from Goldsboro to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They settled in a rowhouse at 650 North 35th Street, and William entered the real estate business. Lizzie was probably already pregnant with their seventh child, but neither she nor the boy would live to know their new city. On January 11, 1914, Lizzie gave birth to a stillborn son, whom she and William named Henry Edward, after William’s brother. Eleven days later, Lizzie died of double pneumonia and nephritis, conditions brought on or exacerbated by her having carried a dead fetus for five weeks. She and little Henry were buried in the same grave in Eden Cemetery, just outside Philadelphia.

On 25 November 1914, the Weekly Argus ran a lengthy letter to the editor from “one of Wayne County’s best known colored citizens and properous land owners, as was his father before him” — none other than Will S. Hagans. After a self-effacing reference to “looking after his little affairs,” William gave a number of flattering nods to prominent citizens and to “the magnificent new court house.” He proclaimed his fondness for Goldsboro and asserted that only a desire to give his children the “very best school advantages” had compelled his move North. (One suspects, however, that much more in the state’s tense political climate was at play.)

Gboro_Weekly_Argus_11_25_1914 WS Hagans Good Citizen

On 26 January 1916, William Hagans sold his first cousin William M. Artis and wife Hannah two tracts on Turner Swamp in Nahunta township totaling 68 acres.

In the 1920 census of Philadephia, Pennsylvania, at 643 North 34th [sic, should read 33rd] Street, 49 year-old widowed real estate broker William S. Hagans and his children Eva M., 17, Flora I., 15, Rosalie L., 12, and William N., 9, all described as mulatto and born in NC.  Hagans owned this home, a three-story rowhouse in the Mantua neighborhood that is still standing.

William Hagans' children after 1913

William’s children Rosalie, Eva, Susan, Flora and William, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, circa 1916.

The 10 November 1921 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Court of Common Pleas awarded $750 to Lillian Wolfersberger, who sued William S. Hagans for injuries received at 36th and Powelton. Wolfersberger, who was blind, was being led across the street when she was struck by Hagans’ vehicle.

In its 29 December 1925 issue, the Pittsburgh Courier announced that William S. Hagans was elected president of the Citizens’ Republican Club with no opposition. “Mr. Hagans is popular and competent and a banner year is anticipated by the Citizens.” He was reelected to the office several times.

On 16 March 1929, according to the Pittsburgh Courier, the Citizens’ Republican Club president William S. Hagans appointed a committee to discuss ways to form a “Big Brother movement” in Philadelphia. “The need for such an organization is apparent because the white society have no provision for handling Negro cases.”

In the 1930 census of Philadelphia, at 643 N. 33rd Street, widowed real estate broker William S. Hagans, 59, and children Flora I., 26, public school teacher; Lorena,23, real estate stenographer; and William N., 19, all described as white.  All born in NC, but children’s mother’s birthplace listed as NY.  The house was valued at $8000.  The Haganses were the only “white” family on the block.  All others were Negro.

On 18 January 1930, the Pittsburgh Courier ran an article lauding the Citizens’ Republican Club’s hosting a “fanfest and fed” for “varsity football players of color” from Philadelphia high schools. Dr. Charles Lewis, “father of the Howard-Lincoln classic … for the first time

In 1930, Alfred Gordon, M.D. published an essay titled “Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital and Training School” in a slender volume called Philadelphia: World’s Medical Centre. After setting forth the history of the hospital, Gordon named W.S. Hagans as a member of its Board of Managers.

The Scranton Republican on 15 October 1931 reported that Governor Pinchot had announced the termination of 43 employees in an reorganization of the department of labor and industry. Among them: William S. Hagans, special investigator, Philadelphia, whose salary was $1000.

On 18 January 1932, the Delaware County Daily Times reported that a special committee of the Pennsylvania State Negro Council had presented to the state superintendent of public schools a resolution calling for the establishment of a vocational school in Philadelphia. William S. Hagans, president of the Citizens Republican Club was a committee member.

On 27 September 1932, the Harrisburg Telegraph reported that the Republican state chairman had appointed a Colored Voters Advisory Committee for the current campaign. Members included William S. Hagans of Philadelphia.

In 1933 in Philadelphia, William married Emma L. Titus. The Great Depression dealt the couple crippling blows, and William lost his home and other holdings. In the 1940 census of Philadelphia, at 650 – 57th Street, realtor William Hagans, 65, was renting an apartment for $40/week with wife Emma, 40, a public school teacher, and mother-in-law Ellen Titus, 70. (Assuming this address is North 57th, William’s final home was a flat in a three-story rowhouse just two blocks from the house my grandmother later owned at Wyalusing and North 56th.)

William Scarlett Hagans died in 1946 in Philadelphia.

Wm Scarlett Hagans portrait

William S. Hagans.

Personal photographs courtesy of W.E. Hagans and W.M. Moseley. Other sources as cited.