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.”
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).]
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.