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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Births Deaths Marriages, Migration, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

At rest in Indiana.

It pays to check back. Ancestry.com is continuously adding new databases, and I was alerted yesterday that Indiana death certificates are now available. I didn’t find any new Henderson-Simmonses, but was pleased to discover details of the lives and deaths of those I knew of.

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I’ve discussed the myriad inaccuracies in this death certificate before, but here’s a quick summary: (1) her name was Anna; (2) she was not white; (3) she was born circa 1852, not 1856; (4) her father was James Henderson, not Harrison; and (5) her mother’s maiden name was Eliza Armwood, not Henderson. The certifying physician, Benjamin D. Bradfield, is the same one who treated Anna’s son Dock Simmons for horrifying burns the previous August.

  • Montraville Simmons Jr. (1882-1910)

44494_350220-00691

Montraville? Montreville? Monteville? Which was it? Junior’s birth place was correctly listed as Canada, and his parents and their birth places were correctly stated. He died of diffuse tuberculosis and a lumbar abscess. (The certifying doctor lived in Young America, Indiana.) His sister Muncie Bassett was informant and reported that Montraville was single. In fact, he was divorced. As reported in the 10 February 1909 edition of the Logansport Daily Tribune, “Jessie Simmons was granted a divorce yesterday from Montraville Simmons, Jr., and was given custody of their one child. The defendant is permitted to visit the child once a week.”

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The irascible Montraville Simmons Sr. died of kidney disease. He was twice-widowed (his first wife, Victoria Brown, died within a few years of their marriage in Ontario, Canada) and once-divorced (from a third wife.) His father is correctly identified; his mother was Hepsie Dixon of Duplin County, North Carolina. Son Dock Simmons was informant.

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Edward Simmons also died of tuberculosis. His birth place is precisely identified as Dresden, Ontario, Canada. His mother’s middle initial is revealed to stand for “Jean,” though I think it much more likely that it was “Jane.” His wife, Cecilia Gilbreath Simmons, was his informant.

  • Susan Simmons Bassett (1878-1937)

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Susie Bassett died of a pulmonary embolism in Kokomo. Her death certificate reports that she was born in North Carolina, which is consistent with the 1881 census of Chatham, Kent, Ontario, Canada, in which she is listed as U.S.-born. (Though her brothers Doctor and Montreville were born in Canada.) She was married to Britton Bassett Jr., great-grandson of the founder (also named Britton) of the antebellum  Bassett settlement of North Carolina-born free people of color located in northwest Howard County.

  • Muncie Simmons Bassett Palmer (1873-1942)

45232_355692-01316

Muncie Palmer was apparently skipped over in the 1881 Canada census. She and Susie appear to have been born during a brief return by her parents to North Carolina from Canada in the mid-1870s. Muncie succumbed to the same disease that killed her father. Newton Palmer was her second husband. The first was Daniel Bassett, a brother of Susie’s husband Britton Jr.

  • Harold Simmons (1904-1963)

44494_350948-00152

Astonishingly, Harold Simmons seems to have been the ONLY grandchild of Montraville and Anna Henderson Simmons to reach adulthood. (And there seem only to have been three to begin with. Susan’s two died in childhood.) Harold never married and apparently had no children. His parents separated shortly after his birth, and he was reared in his stepfather Ernest Griggs’ household. At the time of his death, he was living in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana, southeast of Kokomo and Logansport.

All death certificates found at Indiana Death Certificates, 1899-2011 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

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Military, Newspaper Articles, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Cpl. Adam Artis, 366th Infantry.

I recently received an email from James Pratt, whose father, Charles A. Pratt, was in the Army’s 366th Infantry from the time it was organized at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, in 1941 until it disbanded in Italy in 1945. Pratt is retired and has devoted considerable time to researching the 366th.

“I had the opportunity to spend two days in Tuscany,” he wrote, “where the 366th is still remembered fondly by the citizens. In Sommocolonia, the townspeople have started a small museum about the ŒBuffalo soldiers. I went to the American cemeteries in Florence and Nettuno and took photos of all the grave markers for the nearly 120 men of the 366th who are buried in Italy.”  Pratt is trying to match the markers with photos of the soldiers and wants to do the same for the more than 130 soldiers of the 366th who were buried across the United States.

Gibbs-Ithaca Journal-reduced

Ithaca Journal, 19 December 2015.

One of the 366th soldiers was Adam Artis, who enlisted in New Jersey, but was born in North Carolina. “Adam … lost his life while training in the U.S. He died on January 1, 1943.” Pratt is trying to find additional information about Adam Artis. He believes he had a son, Adam Artis Jr., who graduated from High School in East Orange, New Jersey, but has not been able to locate him.

The Artis branch of my family tree holds at least seven Adam Artises, including our patriarch Adam Toussaint Artis (1831-1919). If 366th Adam is one of ours, he is likely Adam, son of Adam T.’s son Robert E. Artis and his wife, Christana Simmons Artis. That Adam was born in 1913 near Black Creek, Wilson County. He appears in his parents’ household in the 1920 and 1930 censuses of Wilson County, but not thereafter. On 16 April 1941, Adam Artis, born in 1913 in North Carolina, enlisted in the Army in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. (His brother Robert Arzell Artis, born 1908, appears in the 1940 census of Newark as an unmarried restaurant cook.) That Adam is buried in Glendale cemetery in Bloomfield, Essex County.

AArtis grave

If this Adam had a son Adam Artis Jr., he may be the one born in 1942 whose senior portrait appears in the 1960 East Orange High School yearbook.

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He is listed as a student in the 1961 Boston, Massachusetts, city directory and in later directories as a teacher in Cambridge and Boston city schools. Here he is in a booklet titled “The Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools,” published in 1989.

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This blog about William Monroe Trotter Elementary School mentions that it was the second magnet school in the U.S., and a comment enthuses about the plays Adam Artis produced. His impact also shines through in a testimonial posted by a former student on the blog, http://www.myblackteacher.net. Adam Artis Jr. is surely retired by now, but it is not clear to me whether he is still living. If he is, perhaps Scuffalong will reach him.

U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

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Education, Maternal Kin, Other Documents

Candidates for degree of Bachelor of Laws.

Tailored to women from working-class families, Portia Law School was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1908.  Sensitive to the financial and time pressures these women faced, it offered part-time enrollment as well as the high school and college-level courses required to prepare students for legal studies. During the Great Depression, Portia Law School began opening up its programs to male students. The candidates for the Bachelor of Laws in the Class of 1932, however, were all female. And cousin Evelyn C. Kiner was one.

Portia Law School

Portia Law School 2

Portia Law School continues today as New England School of Law.

Many thanks to Peggy King Jorde and Peggy King Jorde Archive for sharing this document.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Your aunt-in-law.

Speaking of Caswell Henderson‘s wife Carrie, what do we know of her?

She was a young woman when she married the widowed Caswell, who was nearly 20 years her senior. Here is their marriage license:

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Caswell C. Henderson, 47 West 66th Street, age 42, widowed, customs clerk, born N.Y. City [not true], father Lewis Henderson, mother Margaret Balcum, married Carrie Louise Lowe, 200 East 99th Street, age 23, single, born Culpepper County, Virginia, father Warren Lowe, mother Annie M. Spillman, on 7 November 1907, by G.C. Houghton. (I’ve written of this here.)

The earliest sighting of Carrie is in the 1900 census of  Manhattan, New York County, New York: at 166 West 67th Street, Georgia-born Warren Lowe, his 35 year-old Virginia-born wife Annie, and their children Carrie L., 16, Elsie, 14, Lillie, 10, Walter A., 5, and Warren L., 3.  Carrie was born in Virginia, Elsie in New Jersey, and the younger children in New York. Warren Senior worked as a janitor, presumably in the building in which the family lived as the sole African-Americans. [Had Caswell and Carrie met in the neighborhood? 47 West 66th, a location now occupied by ABC New headquarters, lies between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West. 166 West 67th seems to be in what is now the middle of the median of Broadway, a block west of Columbus.]

In the 1905 New York state census: at 200 East 99th Street, 68 year-old watchman Warren Lowe, his 42 year-old wife Annie, daughter Carrie, 22, a waitress, and sons Walter, 12, and Warren J., 8.

As noted above, Carrie and Caswell married in 1907.

Interestingly, in the 1910 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York, Carrie L. Henderson, 28, married, is listed in the household of 75 year-old Warren Lowe, his wife Anna  M., sons Walter A. and Warren Jr., and daughter Elsie Lightbourn, her husband Paul H. Lightbourn, and son Paul H. Lightbourn.

However, at 55 East 130th, telegraph company messenger Caswell C. Henderson, 44, and wife Carrie L., 26.

In the 1915 New York state census, at 446 West 163rd Street, apartment 21: chief messenger C.C. Henderson, 49, and his wife Carrie L., 32.

In the 1920 census of New York, New York County, New York: at 446 West 163rd Street, Caswell C. Henderson, 54, custom house messenger, with wife Carrie, 35. In another apartment in the building: steward Paul H. Lightbourne, 35, wife Elsie L., 33, and son Paul Jr., 13.

In the 1925 New York state census, at 308-10 West 147th, file clerk Caswell C. Henderson, 59, and wife Carrie L., 40.

Caswell Henderson died 17 January 1927 at 6 Belknap Avenue, 10th Ward, New York City NY.  His death certificate lists his widow as Carrie Henderson, but curiously her sister’s married name, “(Lightbourne),” is written beneath her name.

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In the 1930 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York: at 121 [East?] 100th Street, widow Carrie Henderson paid $20 to board.  She worked as a maid for a private family, and her age is listed as 28 — more than 15 years off.)

The 1933 city directory of Manhattan and Bronx carries a listing for Henderson Carrie (wid Carswell)  3778 3rd Ave [Bronx, Bronx County NY].

On 5 January 1934, Carrie L. Henderson married Fernando Borrero in Bronx, New York.

Almost exactly four years later, my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks sent Carrie a telegram notifying her of the death of Caswell’s beloved sister, Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver (who was my grandmother’s great-aunt and adoptive mother):

Sunday Jan. 9. 38

My Dear Hattie

I received your telegram to-day.  1 P.M.  it was certainly a shock to me you & family certainly have my deepest sympathy & also from my family.

I did not know your mother was sick you must write later and let me know about her illness.

It is so strange I have been dreaming of my husband Caswell so much for the past two weeks he always tells me that he has something to tell me & that he feels so well so I guess this is what I was going to hear about your mother.

I wish it was so that I could come to you & family but times are so different now seems we cannot be prepared to meet emergencies any more but you must know that my heart & love is with you & family

I am just writing to you a short note now will write you again.  Let me hear from you when you get time to write.

From, Your aunt in law, Carrie L. Borrero

32 E. 100th St. N.Y. City

In the 1940 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York, 54 year-old Carrie Borrero is listed sharing a household with her 86 year-old mother Anna Lowe. Carrie was described as white and Anna as negro. Carrie is also described as married, though Fernando does not appear in the household (or, apparently, elsewhere in the 1940 census.)

On 28 May 1953, Carrie L. Borrero filed a claim to receive Social Security benefits. An index lists her birthdate as 26 November 1885.

I have no further information about Carrie Louise Lowe Henderson Borrero.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

No information that the deceased left a will.

Little more than a month after his death, Caswell C. Henderson‘s widow Carrie applied for letters of administration for his estate.

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Her petition noted that he had been a resident of 1884 Belmont Avenue, Bronx; had died in Yonkers; and had left no will.

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She identified his next of kin and heirs at law as his brother Lucian Henderson of Dudley, North Carolina, and sister Sarah Henderson Jacobs of Wilson, North Carolina.

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Bronx Probate Administration Records, #161-193; New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

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