Births Deaths Marriages, DNA, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

DNA Definites, no. 25: Colvert.

DNAnigma, no. 20 — SOLVED!

When my maternal second cousins’ DNA results posted last year at Ancestry.com, I immediately noticed we shared a close cousin in common.

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K.J. and G.W. are my second cousins. A.R. is a match we share.

Who was A.R.? Per Ancestry’s centimorgan (cM) totals (which run low), A.R. shared 99 cM with me, 98 cM with K.J., and 111 cm with G.W. That’s roughly the third cousin range. As K.J. and G.W. are the grandchildren of one of my maternal grandmother’s full sisters, I could be reasonably sure that A.R. was with us in the Colvert or McNeely line. (A.R. also matches E.J., great-grandson of my grandmother’s other full sister.)

In trying to contact A.R., I found his sister A.P. She was quite excited about our genetic link and expressed interest in DNA testing. I mailed her an Ancestry.com kit, and her results came in last week. As expected, A.P. matched K.J., G.M. and I in the same range as her brother does. What was our connection though?

A.P. told me that three of her four grandparents were from the Caribbean, so it was highly unlikely that I matched her in those lines. However, her fourth grandparent, her mother’s father J.W., was an enigmatic figure who had disappeared from the family. Was he the link?

J.W.’s name is a common one, and we had only a general idea of his birthplace. I examined my tree carefully, focusing on my maternal grandmother’s family. Given the information we had, nothing seemed to match up. A.P. probed her close relatives for more information and late last week learned that J.W. was born in 1933 and his mother was named Eva.  A quick search turned up J.W. and his mother (and father and siblings) in the 1940 federal census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina.

My heart leaped. Statesville??? That’s where my grandmother was born! Suddenly, connecting A.P. and her grandfather J.W. to my family seemed not just possible, but likely. I searched for more records of J.W.’s mother and found her marriage license. I scanned the document quickly, then stopped short. On 14 June 1930, when Gilmer Walker applied for a marriage license for himself and Eva Petty, 18, he had named her parents as Delia Petty and … Lon Colbert!

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Colbert was a common misspelling of my grandmother’s maiden name, which in fact was COLVERT. I paused. The handwriting was ambiguous, was the first name LON or LOU? Lon W. Colvert, son of John W. Colvert and Harriet Nicholson, was my grandmother’s father. Lewis “Lou” Colvert was his uncle — brother (or half-brother or maybe even step-brother) of John W. Colvert. If Eva’s father were Lou (and Lou were a biological rather than step-brother to John Colvert), then A.P. and my most recent common ancestor (MRCA) would be my great-great-great-grandfather Walker Colvert, and she and I would be estimated half-fourth cousins. The average shared cM range for this relationship is in the single digits, and there’s a 50% that cousins at this distance show no DNA match at all. But A.P. and I share 96 cM, so Lewis Colvert is extremely unlikely to be our MRCA. 

If, instead, Eva Petty Walker’s father were Lon, A.P. and I would be half-second cousins once removed. The cM range for that relationship would be the mid to high double digits. This range not only captures our cM, it also encompasses the cM totals that A.P. shares with my sister, K.J. and G.W., who would all have the same relationship distance with A.P. If Lon is our MRCA, A.P. and my mother and late uncle Charles would be half first cousins twice removed. As the chart below shows, their 182.4 and 173.8 cM shares with A.P. are on the high end of the 1C2R range.

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Gedmatch matrix comparing autosomal cM shares among Colvert descendants — me, my mother, my sister, my maternal uncle, two second cousins, and A.P.

Thus, the evidence points to A.P.’s great-grandmother Eva Petty Walker as the daughter of my great-grandfather Lon W. Colvert. Eva was born 3 October 1911, ten months after Lon’s wife Carrie McNeely Colvert’s youngest daughter was born. Eva was his seventh known child, all but one of whom were girls.

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Business, Maternal Kin, Oral History, Other Documents, Photographs, Virginia, Vocation

Texaco liked the work.

In the summer of 2002, my uncle Charles C. Allen told me this about my grandfather John C. Allen Jr.:

[Daddy] had to get reestablished after the war. But he had a friend named Buster Reynolds. And Buster Reynolds was reputed to have made his money in the numbers, and so when the numbers were getting real hot and heavy, when it was reputed that the Mafia was trying to take the numbers over, Buster got out. And he built this service station, and he had a Texaco franchise, and he had Daddy to build the station. And Texaco liked the work so much that Daddy built two more stations for Texaco. And both of the stations that were built in the black community are still up. They’re not gas stations anymore, but the buildings are still up. And the one that was built Overtown is gone. But even the station that was in the white community, Texaco had him to build that one, too.

Today I found this:

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The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 1 February 1948.

My uncle passed away in January; I wish dearly that I’d been able to share this with him.

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The former service station at 28th and Chestnut, Newport News, 2002.

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Education, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Honor graduate.

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From “The American Negro in College 1943-44,” The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races, volume 51, number 8 (August 1944).

——

Macy Oveta Aldridge was born 20 January 1923 in Dudley, Wayne County, to John J. and Ora Bell Mozingo Aldridge. She attended Wayne County public schools, then received an undergraduate degree from Georgia State College (now Savannah State University.) After her honorable discharge in 1946, she resumed her education at the University of Pennsylvania and Glassboro State College. Cousin Macy worked as a laboratory technician for the United States Army Medical Corps and then as a teacher. She married Clay J. Claiborne and was mother of three sons. Macy Claiborne died 12 October 1999 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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Macy Aldridge Claiborne.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The Hawaiian princess.

Toward the end of his college days at Howard University, Aldridge descendant Charles Cromwell Coley married Harriet Purdy, a native Hawaiian athlete and performer and a descendant of King Kamehameha I.

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Their only child, daughter, Laulupe Kaleilani Coley, was born in 1932 in Washington, D.C.

A post in the D.C. neighborhood blog Popville notes: “In March 1934, the Hi-Hat, a ‘smart new continental Cocktail Lounge and Cafe, styled in the modern manner,’ opened on the top floor of the Ambassador. The Post raved about its decorations: ‘The silvery iridescence of kapiz shell gives the mellow effect of moonlight on the water, and the imported blue and white mirrors trimmed in stainless steel surrounding the columns introduces a new note in modern interior decoration.’ The Hi-Hat Lounge quickly became a popular nightspot, offering top names in the nightclub circuit. Its opening act was Princess Harriet Purdy, a Hawaiian who strummed a ukulele while crooning languorous songs in her native tongue.”

Harriet and C.C. Coley divorced in the late 1930s. Their daughter was educated on the mainland, but married and settled in Hawai’i.

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Yearbook of Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, New York, 1950.

Harriet also returned to Hawai’i where she continued to preserve the island’s traditional arts and culture. In this video posted to Youtube, Harriet Purdy dances hula as Sonny Chillingworth, Myrna English and Billy Hew Len perform “Kaula Ili”:

Harriet Keonaonalaulani Purdy Kauaihilo, 96, of Kapolei, a professional hula dancer, died Aug. 26 in Kapolei. She was born in Waimea. She is survived by son Bill, daughters Laulupe K. Dempster and Harriet Clark, hanai sister Olive S. Purdy, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grand-children. Private graveside services. — Honolulu Bulletin, 11 September 2002.

HARRIET KEONAONALAULANI PURDY KAUAIHILO, 96, of Kapolei, died Aug. 26, 2002. Born in Waimea, Hawai’i. A high diver and swimmer, known as the Hawaiian Human Cannonball at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier in the early 1930s; and professional Island hula dancer. Survived by daughters, Laulupe Dempster and Harriet Clark; son, Bill; grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; hanai sister, Olive Purdy. Private graveside services. Arrangements by Ultimate Cremation Services of Hawai’i.— Honolulu Advertiser, 11 September 2002.

www.popville.com, “Streets of Washington Presents — The Ambassador Hotel, catering to ‘experienced travelers’ (Formerly at 14th and K St, NW)”

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Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Napoleon Artis, known as Doc.

Napoleon Octavius “Doc” Artis was the oldest son of Adam T. Artis and Frances Seaberry Artis.

In the 1870 census of Holden, Wayne County: Adam Artices, black farmer, wife Francis and  children Kerney, Noah, Mary J., Idar, Octavia, Elizer, Vicey, George A., and Adam.  Adam reported owning $200 personal property and $300 real property. In Nahunta township, there was a duplicate listing: farmer Adam Artis, wife Francis, and children Kenney, Noah, Mary J., Jaden, Tavious, Elizar, Vicy, George A., and Adam. In Nahunta, the family appears next door to Adam’s brother-in-law and sister John and Zilpha Artis Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Adam Artis, 48, and children Eliza, 15, Dock, 17, George Anna, 13, Adam, 12, Haywood, 10, Emma, 8, Walter, 6, William, 4, and Jesse, 2, and grandson Frank, 4 months. (Frances died shortly after Jesse’s death.)

On 10 January 1887, Napoleon Artis married Sallie Taylor in Wayne County.

In the 1900 census of Saulston, Wayne County: farmer Napolion Artis, 37, wife Salie, 29, and children Humphrey, 12, Lesley, 8, and Odel, 6, plus his grandfather Aaron Sebery, 85 [father of Frances Seaberry Artis, often called Frances Hagans], and his brother Jesse, 23.

Tragedy struck soon after. As reported in the Goldsboro Headlight on 3 January 1903:

On Christmas day, Humphrey Artist, the 18 year-old son of Dock Artis, colored, was shot and killed by William Smith, also colored, in Saulston township.  The latter claims the shooting accidental but the coroner’s jury pronounces it criminal neglect.  Smith was promptly arrested and brought here to be jailed.

In the 1910 census of Saulston, Wayne County: on Goldsboro & Snow Hill Road, Napoleon Artist, 46, with wife Sallie J., 35, and children Leslie, 18, and Odel, 15. Next door: Celepus Thompson, 23, wife Lillie, 20, and daughter Jenettie, 5 months. [Lillie was Napoleon’s half-sister. Two doors away: six year-old Lula Shadding, see below.]

On 21 January 1914, Lesly Artis, 22, son of Napoleon and Sallie Artis, married Minnie Diggs, 19, in Nahunta, Wayne County. Odell Artis of Saulston was a witness to the ceremony.

On 5 June 1917, both of Napoleon’s surviving sons registered for the World War I draft registration: Odell Artis, born 14 August 1893 in Wayne County; resided at RFD 1, Saulston, Wayne County; worked in farming; nearest relative, Napeon [sic] Artis, Saulston; single; medium height and weight; brown eyes, black hair. Leslie Artis, born 5 Feb 1892 in Wayne County; resided in Goldsboro; had a wife and two children; tall and slender; black hair, black eyes.

In the 1920 census of Saulston, Wayne County: Napoleon Artis, 57, wife Sallie, 45, and son Odell, 24. Napoleon reported owning his farm. Also in Saulston: Leslie Artis, 28, wife Minnie, 25, and daughters Gertie, 5, Alberta, 4, and Malave, 2.

On 4 December 1920, Lula Shadding, 19, of Saulston married Ed Fowler, 20, of Saulston at a Freewill Baptist church in Pikeville. Their license names Dock Artis and Minnie Shadding as Lula’s parents.

On 20 January 1921, Odell Artis, son of Napoleon and Sally Artis, married Olivia Diggs, daughter of Suler Diggs, in Wilson. Edgar Diggs applied for the license and served as one of the witnesses. (The marriage record mistakenly lists Napoleon as the groom.)  By 1929, the couple had moved to Washington, D.C., and appear in city directories thereafter. Odell worked as a Pullman porter. [Lizzie Olivia Diggs Artis was a first cousin to Minnie Diggs Artis.]

Napoleon seems to have been skipped in the 1930 census. In Saulston township, Wayne County: farmer Lesley Artis, 37, wife Minnie, 35, and children Gurtie, 15, Alberta, 14, Mallie V., 13, Katheleen, 8, Sallie, 6, Russel, 4, and Marvin Artis, 2.

In the 1940 census of Saulston township, Wayne County: on Saulston and Snow Hill Road, Leslie Artis, 48, wife Minnie, 48, and children Mallie V., 21, Sally May, 15, Russell, 13, and Marvin, 12, and father Napoleon, 77.

On 16 April 1942, Napoleon Artis died in Saulston township.  His death certificate reports that he was the widowed spouse of Sallie Artis, that he was born 28 Feb 1863 to Adam Artis and Frances Hagans of Wayne County, and that he was buried 18 April 1942 in Shadden Cemetery, Wayne County. Son Leslie Artis was the informant.

Napoleon’s will entered probate in September 1942. Written 17 years earlier, its terms bequeathed one 22-acre parcel in Wayne County [adjacent to Wheeler Thompson, father-in-law of his sister Lillie Beatrice Artis Thompson Whitley Pridgen] to son Odell and his remaining property in Wayne and Greene Counties to son Leslie. The explanation: Odell “has not lived with me, and has not assisted me in the payment of my indebtedness.”

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Leslie Artis died 10 March 1974 at Wayne Memorial Hospital in Goldsboro. His death certificate notes that he was a retired farmer born 5 February 1892 to Napoleon Artis and Sallie Taylor.  He was buried 13 March 1974 in Diggs cemetery, Wayne County. Informant was his daughter Gertie M. Best.

[The Francis Diggs Cemetery is located at 168 Watery Branch Road, Stantonsburg (but in Wayne County.) This was originally the family cemetery of Leslie’s wife Minnie Diggs Artis, who was descended from Celia Artis. Leslie’s family members buried there include wife Minnie D. Artis  (1894-1970), daughter Alberta Artis Suggs (1916-2000), daughter Mallie V. Artis Hobbs (1918-2014), son-in-law Alonzo Shackleford (1921-1996), son Russell Lee Artis (1926-1963), and son Marvin “Doc” Artis (1927-1998).]

Leslie Artis

Leslie Artis

Minnie Diggs Artis

Minnie Diggs Artis

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; photos courtesy of user James Diggs at http://www. ancestry.com.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Newspaper Articles, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The devoted son.

Edward, the youngest of Montraville and Anna Henderson Simmons‘ children, died 11 April 1936, another victim of tuberculosis.

Koko Trib 4 13 1936 Ed SImmons obit

Kokomo Tribune, 13 April 1936.

A few observations:

  • Edward Simmons was born about 1883. His obituary states that he had “lived in Kokomo since seven years of age.” This was not literally true. He was listed in the 191o census of Eel township, Cass County, as a 20 year-old living with his father Montraville, 63. I take this actually to mean then that he and his family arrived in Kokomo (or Howard County) from Canada when he was 7, i.e. about 1890.
  • Second Baptist Church is a successor to Free Union Baptist Church in the Bassett settlement. From Second Baptist’s website: “In the year of 1887 the Freewill Baptist Church, meeting in the Bassett Settlement, under the leadership of Rev. Richard Bassett disbanded. Its members met with Rev. W. A. Stewart and members of the First Baptist Church of Kokomo. They organized the Second Missionary Baptist Church as we know it today. Services were held in the third ward school on the corner of North Lafountain and Richmond Streets. By the end of November of that year the Second Baptist Church, known as a Missionary Church, had been constitutionally established. The First Missionary Baptist Church made contributions to foreign missions on behalf of Second Baptist. Rev. Richard Bassett served as pastor of Second Baptist Church a short time and he was known throughout the state as an organizer of churches.  He was elected to the State Legislature in 1892, being only the third black to be elected to his position.”
  • Edward’s body lay for viewing in his home for almost a day before his burial at Crown Point cemetery. I assume that his headstone and plot were pre-purchased as his plot is nearly beside previous wife Belle’s grave and their stones are of identical make and engraving style.
  • Speaking of wives, this: “Mr. Simmons was devoted to his mother and father, and remained unmarried until both of them died.” … And then he married and married and married some more.
  • First wife: On 25 February 1915, Edward Simmons married Mary E. Jones in Kokomo. On 21 January 1919, Mary Simmons died of influenza in Kokomo. Her death certificate reports that she was born 2 August 1875 in North Carolina to George Taylor and an unknown mother and was married to Edward Simmons.
  • Second wife: On 28 July 1919, Edward Simmons married Cora White in Kokomo. In the 1920 census of Kokomo, Howard County, at 721 Waugh Street, Edward Simmons, 38, laborer at Globe Range Company; wife Cora, 40; and lodger Roger Jones, 17. On 18 February 1923, Martha Cora Simmons died of myocarditis in Kokomo. Her death certificate reports that she was born 26 April 1878 in Kentucky to Jacob Bushaw and Martha Heardin and buried in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
  • Third wife: In the 1930 census of Kokomo, at 800 E. Dixon Drive (owned and valued at $1150) were Edward Simmons, 42, janitor at Y.M.C.A., and wife Belle, 45. [Not to be mistaken in records for bank president Edward Simmons (1859-1945) and wife, Belle George Simmons, who were white.] Bell Simmons died 17 July 1933 at Sipe Theatre in Kokomo of chronic myocarditis. Her death certificate reports that she lived at the Y.M.C.A. at 200 E. Walnut and was born in Ohio to unknown parents. She was buried at Crown Point.

Koko Trib 7 18 1933

Kokomo Tribune, 18 July 1933.

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  • Fourth wife: I don’t know exactly when Edward married Cecilia Gilbreath, but it happened during the narrow window between Belle’s and Edward’s deaths in 1933 and 1936. She and Edward had no children. Per Celie’s son Joe L. Gilbreath’s death certificate, filed in Kokomo in 1979, her maiden name was Silvers. Joe was born in Texas, but I know nothing of his mother’s early years..

Koko Trib 4 10 1937 Ed Simmons memorial

Kokomo Tribune, 10 April 1937.

  • “Tenie” was the nickname of Susan Simmons Bassett.
  • How many ways was the other sister’s name spelled? Monsie, Moncy, Muncie, Muncey?
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