Letters, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

By all means Ward should have the Spingarn Medal.

DuBois Ward Spingarn

Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. Memorandum from W. E. B. Du Bois to Spingarn Medal Award Committee, January 2, 1933. W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Uncle Joe Ward

Iconic photograph of Major (later Colonel) Joseph H. Ward during his World War I service, from Emmett J. Scott’s The American Negro in the World War (1919).




Journal of the National Medical Association, volume 21, April-June 1929.

Though it’s hard to imagine a more resounding endorsement than one emanating from Dr. W.E.B. DuBois (himself a winner), the NAACP’s 1933 Spingarn Medal in fact went to YMCA secretary Max Yergan for his missionary work in South Africa.

[For a earlier bit of correspondence from Dr. DuBois to the Wards, see here.]

Hat tip to cousin A.W.P., Dr. Joseph H. Ward‘s granddaughter, who alerted me to this document.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, Other Documents

Frank, found.

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My first question: why have I just found this 1940 census entry today?

My second: Cousin Ardeanur married a Jamaican????

Her age is way off — Ardeanur was 37, not 47 — but this is definitely my great-great-aunt Minnie McNeely, my grandmother’s first cousin Ardeanur Smith Hart, and Ardeanur’s mysterious husband Frank living right in Jersey City, the city next door to Bayonne (where Martha Miller McNeely and most of her children lived for greater or lesser stretches of time.) The address was 359 Pacific Avenue. A family of McKoys rented one apartment in the building, and the Harts, Aunt Minnie, and a William Macklin shared another, splitting the $30/month rent. Frank Hart, a naturalized citizen, worked as a butler in a private home and reported earning $500 in 1939. Ardeanur and Minnie were housekeepers in private homes earning $400 and $360 respectively. Macklin, an insurance agent, earned more than everybody else in the flat combined — $1700.

I still don’t know when Ardeanur married Frank Hart, but they reported that they’d been living at the same address five years before. This suggests they were married before 1935.

I don’t see Frank in earlier census records, but is this his arrival in the U.S. in 1922?

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If so, did he leave his first wife back in Jamaica, or maybe Cuba?

This World War II draft registration card is definitely Ardeanur’s Frank:

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The back of the card, dated 27 April 1942, described him as Negro, 5’8″ and 165 lbs., with a light brown complexion, brown eyes and black hair. It’s the last record I’ve found for Frank W. Hart.

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359 Pacific Avenue, Jersey City, as seen from Google Street View. Per Zillow, the building was built in 1901.

Education, Maternal Kin, Other Documents, Virginia

To get up a school in the county.

On 19 August 1868, Thomas Leahey, Assistant Sub Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands (better known as the Freedmen’s Bureau), took pen in hand:

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Leahey’s brief letter suggests deep familiarity with Joseph R. Holmes, my great-great-grandfather Jasper Holmes‘ brother. He is telling Holmes that he has moved his office from Farmville to Charlotte Court House and wants him to notify Holmes’ “people” — the community he represented — where they can find him. Leahey’s invitation to meet at any time implies previous visits, though to date I’ve found no evidence of them in Freedmen’s Bureau records. Leahey’s inquiry “whether there is a School for colored Children at Keysville, and if there is not what are the prospects of getting up one.”

Just three days later, in a clear hand and with fairly sound grammar speaking to years of practiced literacy — though he was only three years out of slavery — Holmes replied. He advised that a small for-pay school operated in the Keysville area and expressed pleasure at Leahey’s interest in education. He apologized for not having been to see Leahey sooner — “I have been so busey” — and mentioned that he was headed to Richmond the following day. (Who was “Lut. Grayham” A lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s First Military District?) If “life last,” he promised, he would see Leahey on the next court day.


Apparently, Holmes and Leahey did meet, then and perhaps on other occasions. The next bit of correspondence found between them is dated 24 November 1868, when Leahey sent Holmes a voucher for a school’s rent. Whether this is the private school Holmes referred to in his August letter or a school established by the Freedmen’s Bureau is not clear. Leahey asks that “Mrs. Jenkins” sign the rent voucher as well as triplicate leases for the school. (I haven’t found copies of either to date.)

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Who was Mrs. Jenkins? Below is a short stretch of the 1870 census of Walton township, Charlotte County, Virginia. It shows part of Joseph Holmes’ former neighborhood, just west of the town of Keysville. “Former,” because Holmes had been shot dead on the steps of Charlotte Court House in May 1869, as detailed here. There are his children, Payton, Louisa and Joseph Holmes, living with the family of Wat and Nancy Carter, whom I believe to be Holmes’ mother and stepfather. Two households away is 30 year-old presumed widow Lucy Jenkins, “teaching school.” Jenkins, born in Virginia, was no Yankee schoolmarm; I’m searching for more about her. Her commitment to the little school at Keysville, even after Holmes’ assassination, evinces some mettle.

1880 Lucy Jenkins

Records from “Virginia, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872,” database with images, www.familysearch.org, citing microfilm publication M1913, National Archives and Records Administration.

North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Betty and Edward Henderson.

How have I missed this??? Betty and Edward Henderson were two of great-great-great-great-grandfather James Henderson‘s younger children. Each appeared in a single census record — Betty as a three year-old in 1870, and Eddie as a six year-old in 1880.

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1870 federal population schedule, Faison, Duplin County, North Carolina.

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1880 federal population schedule, Faison, Duplin County, North Carolina.

I have just noticed that both were described, in the unfortunate parlance of the day, as “idiotic.” The word did not mean then, as it connotes today, “stupid” or “foolish.” Rather, it was a medical term designating a person with severe intellectual disabilities. What condition affected these children? A congenital defect? An environmental deficiency?

It is impossible to know. Neither Betty nor Edward seems to have lived to adulthood, and I honor their brief lives here.

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Religion

Memorial page.

In 1915, forty-five years after her husband Lewis Henderson helped found Dudley’s Congregational Church, Margaret Balkcum Henderson was buried in its graveyard. She was the last member of my direct Henderson line on the church rolls. To this day, however, my kin can be found in Congregational on Sunday mornings, worshipping, singing, ushering, fellowshipping.

In 1970, the church published a photo-filled anniversary booklet commemorating its centennial. A Memorial Page lists more than 150 members who had gone on to their reward before the church marked its hundredth birthday. At least a third of those memorialized are my direct or collateral kin.

Memorial Page

  1. The Aldridges were my grandmother’s father James Thomas Aldridge‘s family. Frances Aldridge [Newsome] (1883-1961) was Tom’s elder sister. John J. Aldridge (1885-1964) and Ora Bell Mozingo Aldridge were his brother and sister-in-law, and Fitzgerald Aldridge (1917-1962) was their son. John W. Aldridge (1853-1910) and Louvicey Artis Aldridge (1865-1927) were Tom’s parents (and my great-great-grandparents), and Lula Aldridge (1882-1917) another sister.
  2. Joshua Brewington married John W. Aldridge’s sister Amelia Aldridge Brewington (1855-1895).
  3. Richard Boseman married Lillie Aldridge (1871-1944), daughter of William Aldridge and Cornelia Simmons. William’s father was John Matthew Aldridge (ca. 1810-ca. 1868), brother of my great-great-great-grandfather Robert Aldridge (1819-1899.) Estelle and James were Richard and Lillie’s children. Arlander Boseman, their cousin, married Flora E. Manuel, daughter of Shafter and Mamie Cobb Manuel, below.
  4. I’ve written of the Carters here. Marshall Carter married Frances Jacobs, sister of “Papa” Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. Ammie, Willoughby, Freddie, Granger, Johnnie, and Littman Carter were Marshall and Frances’ sons. Hersey Carter was a grandson. And Florence Carter Camp was their only daughter. Florence’s son William Homer Camp married Onra Henderson, daughter of Henry L. Henderson and Nora Aldridge Henderson. Ammie Carter is listed as Nora Aldridge Henderson’s cousin on her delated birth certificate. Johnnie Carter was my great-great-great-uncle James Lucian Henderson‘s caretaker and sole heir. And their brother Milford E. Carter married my great-grandfather Tom’s sister, Beulah M. Aldridge (1893-1986).
  5. Mack D. Coley, grandson of Winnie Coley, married Hattie Wynn (1873-??), daughter of Charles Wynn and Frances Aldridge Wynn (1853-??). Frances was a daughter of J. Matthew Aldridge and Catherine Boseman Aldridge. Roosevelt Coley (1905-1977) was Mack and Hattie’s youngest child.
  6. Mittie Boseman Flanagan (1896-??) was another daughter of Richard and Lillie Aldridge Boseman.
  7. Archie Barfield Grantham’s father, also named Archie Barfield Grantham, married Carrie Henderson Boseman, sister of my great-great-grandmother Loudie Henderson (1874-1893), in 1899. Carrie died within the next five years.
  8. John H. Henderson (1861-1924) was half-brother of my great-great-great-grandfather Lewis Henderson (1836-1912), father of Carrie and Loudie and others. John married Sarah Simmons. Their son Henry L. Henderson (1901-1942) married Nora Aldridge (1902-1961), another daughter of John and Vicey Aldridge. Aaron “Jabbo” Henderson (1922-1944) was John and Vicey’s son, and Katie Lee Henderson, wife of Horace B. Henderson, was their daughter-in-law. (My Henderson line: Lewis and Mag Henderson’s daughters Ann Elizabeth, Carrie, Loudie, Mary Susan and Sarah Henderson were members of Congregational Church.  And probably sons Lucian and Caswell, too, in their youth. Ann Elizabeth and Loudie’s children were baptized in the church in the 1890s. By 1910, however, only, Lewis and Mag remained. He died in 1912, and she, in 1915.)
  9. Elizabeth Syrona Simmons Hill (1925-1965) was the daughter of George Gideon Simmons and Luella Solice. George G. Simmons (1895-1962) was the son of Samuel M. Simmons and Elizabeth Wynn Simmons (1876-1930), whose parents were Edward J. and Susan Henderson Wynn. Susan (1854-1907) was the sister of John and Lewis Henderson.
  10. Solomon Jacobs was the brother of “Papa” Jesse A. Jacobs Jr.
  11. William Shafter Manuel (1898-1966) was the son of Alonzo Manuel and Sallie Wynn Manuel (1877-1967). His mother’s parents were Edward and Susan Henderson Wynn.
  12. Blonnie Coley Flowers Matthews (1898-1948) was the daughter of Mack and Hattie Wynn Coley.
  13. Yancy Musgrave (1892-1961), son of Alfred and Polly Ann King Musgrave, married Annie C. “Dolly” Simmons (1898-1934), daughter of Hillary B. Simmons and Ann Elizabeth Henderson Simmons (1862-1900). Ann Elizabeth was the sister of my great-great-grandmother Loudie Henderson.
  14. Amanda Aldridge Newsome (1892-1919) was a daughter of John and Vicey Artis Aldridge.
  15. Hillary B. Simmons (1855-1941), son of George W. and Axie Jane Manuel Simmons, married Ann E. Henderson in 1879.
  16. Frances Aldridge Speight was possibly the daughter of William and Cornelia Simmons Aldridge.
  17. Charles Sykes (1920-2004) was the son of William O. and Gertrude Wynn Sykes (1885-1954). Gertrude’s parents were Charles and Frances Aldridge Wynn. [Why was Charles included in a memorial in 1970? Was there another Charles Sykes?]
  18. Blanche Coley Williams (1900-??) was another daughter of Mack and Hattie Wynn Coley.
  19. Charles Wynn married Frances Aldridge, daughter of Matthew and Catherine Boseman Aldridge.
  20. Eddie Wynn (1886-1965), son of Edward J. and Susan Henderson Wynn, married Fronnie Greenfield.
  21. Israel H. Wynn (1892-1967) was the son of W. Frank and Hepsey Henderson Wynn (1856-circa 1894) (who were the brother and sister, respectively of Edward and Susan Henderson Wynn). Israel married his first cousin Frances “Frankie” Henderson (1891-1985), daughter of John and Sarah S. Henderson.
  22. Levi Wynn … well, there were lots of Levi Wynns in Dudley. (Levi was one of the “five Wynn brothers” who headed a large and prosperous free family of color in southern Wayne County and northern Duplin County in the antebellum era. I use quotation marks because (1) there were more than five male Wynn heads of household in the period; (2) there is evidence that, though surely very closely related, they were not all brothers; (3) there were women who appear to have been Wynn sisters heading families.) This may have been the Levi Wynn (1883-??) who was a son of Charles and Frances Aldridge Wynn.
Births Deaths Marriages, Migration, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The baby boy, found. (Sort of.)

When you’re not looking for something, there it is.

The story I’d heard was that Adam T. Artis‘ youngest child, Pinkney Alphonso Artis, had run away to Baltimore as a young man (or maybe even teenager) and refused to return. I believed it; I certainly had not been able to find much trace of him. He was listed as a child with his parents in the 1910 census, then disappeared from that set of records. I found his Social Security application, filed in Washington DC on 29 May 1939, which told me that “Alfonso Artis” lived at 70 Eye Street, SW; was married to Essie Moore; was employed by WPA; and had been born 16 Apr 1903, Goldsboro, North Carolina, to Adam Artis and Katie Pettiford.

AP Artis SSN App

Just over a year later, in June 1940, his mother died, and “Pinkney Artis” of Washington DC was listed as the informant on her death certificate. And that was it. That was all I knew about Pinkney.

Until the other day, when I stumbled upon this, hidden in plain sight:

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The 1940 census, Nahunta township, Wayne County: Adam’s notorious last wife, the remarried Katie A. “Cain” (her death certificate says “King”), son “Pinkny” A. Artis and daughter-in-law Ester Artis. Pinkney reported that he had been living in the same place five years earlier. (His wife had been in DC in 1935. What a transition that must have been.) They were surrounded on all sides by Artises. At #28, Richard Baker, his wife Odessa (daughter of Pinkney’s half-brother Henry J.B. Artis) and their daughter Daisy; at #29, Simon Exum (son of Simon Exum and Pinkney’s aunt Delilah Williams Exum) and his family; and at #31, J.B. Artis himself with wife Laurina and two children.

So, then, not only have I found no trace of Pinkney in Baltimore in his early years, but there is evidence that he was in Wayne County during at least the mid-1930s. He did come home. But where was he all that time?

I still have not found Pinkney in the 1920 or 1920 censuses, but here he is in the 1932 city directory of Richmond, Virginia:

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Did he and Essie marry in Richmond? In DC? I don’t know. How long did they live there? I don’t know that either. But these finds add some texture and definition to Pinkney’s life, and I’ll continue to search.

Education, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Signature Saturday, no. 6: James Henry’s Hendersons.

For decades, men (and the rare women) who apprenticed free children of color in North Carolina were required to teach them to read and do basic math. However, in the crackdown on free colored people that followed the Nat Turner Rebellion, this mandate was first ignored and then done away with altogether. It is not a surprise then that census records generally report that my great-great-great-great-uncle James Henry Henderson was illiterate.


James H. Henderson (1838-1920).

What of his children though? Was he able to send them to school long enough to gain at least the rudiments of literacy? His first five children were daughters. I have not found Mary Ella, Elizabeth or Nancy Henderson in census records as adults, but Amelia Henderson Braswell‘s entries indicate that she could neither read nor write. The evidence is mixed for James’ “outside” daughter Carrie M. Faison Solice, whose mother was Keziah “Kizzie” Faison. The 1900 and 1930 censuses say no, she could not; the 1910 and 1920 say yes, she could. As for James’ sons and youngest daughter and some of their offspring, here’s what I’ve found:

Elias Lewis Henderson (1880-1953) was James and Frances Sauls Henderson’s oldest son. He was a farmer and founder of Saint Mark Church of Christ, near Fremont, Wayne County. I am fairly certain that he could read, but have found no sample of his handwriting.

Elias L Henderson Text

David John Henderson (1901-1960) was E.L. and Ella Moore Henderson’s oldest son.

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Their second son was James Henry Henderson (1906-1947).

James Henry Henderson Sig

And Ira Junior Henderson (1911-1984) was their third.

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Jazell Westly Henderson (1924-2004) was Elias’ son with his second wife, Sarah Edmundson Henderson.

Jazell W Henderson Sig

James Ira Henderson (1881-1946) was James and Frances Henderson’s second son. He signed his World War I draft card with an X.

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Here’s the signature of Ira’s son, William Henry Henderson (1902-1974).

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James’ son Lewis Henderson (1885-1932) was named after his uncle, my great-great-great-grandfather Lewis Henderson (1836-1912).

Lewis Henderson Sig

Lewis had ten daughters and one son, James Ivory Henderson (1922-1986).

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Georgetta Henderson Elliot (1889-1972), called Etta, was James and Frances Henderson’s youngest daughter. This signature appears on her daughter Mackie Bee‘s marriage license, but there is a possibility that it was inscribed by the officiating minister, rather than Etta herself.

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Georgetta Henderson 001 Text

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Amelia Henderson Braswell.

A long time ago, like, maybe, in the late 1990s, I took a ride with my cousin L.H. over to LaGrange, Lenoir County, to visit Mackie Bee Elliott Williams. The daughter of Roland and Georgetta “Etta” Henderson Elliott, Cousin Mackie Bee was then a little more than 80 years old. Today, as I began writing this piece, I discovered that she passed away just this past March at the age of 97.


Cousin Mackie Bee as a young woman, early 1930s.

In that era before phone cameras and portable scanners, I’d arrived at Cousin Mackie Bee’s armed with my trusty old Canon AE-1 and several micro-filters. Fortune rewards the prepared. Cousin Mackie, whose grandfather was James Henry Henderson, had lined the walls of home with photographic portraits of her mother Etta and, to my astonishment, two of her aunts, Mary Ella and Amelia Henderson.

Of Mary Ella Henderson, I have found only one reference — the 1880 census of Brogden, Wayne County, which lists mulatto farmer James Henderson, his wife Frank, and children Mary, 12, Nancy, 10, and Lizzie, 6. Amelia was born in 1880, but too late to be counted by the census taker. I have been able to fill out some details of her short life, however.

On 31 1898, 18 year-old Amelia Henderson married Manuel Braswell in Bullhead township, Greene County, North Carolina. Their license noted that she was a Wayne County resident, and, assuming she was still living in her father’s household in the far south of the county, I’m not sure how she would have met Braswell.


By the time of the 1900 census, “Man” and Amelia Braswell were living in Nahunta, Wayne County, which bordered Greene County.  Man worked as a farm laborer; the couple had no children. Ten years later, they remained in the same area, still with no children.

Four years after that, Amelia Henderson Braswell was dead.

The death certificate for Amelia “Brazzell” records her death on 26 March 1914 in Goldsboro of uremic convulsions following an operation for pyosalpinx.  It was a slow and agonizing demise. Uremic convulsions are involuntary muscle spasms or seizures resulting from the toxic effects of kidney failure. Pyosalpinx is pus-filled infection of a fallopian tube. Amelia was 37.  Her brother Elias L. Henderson provided the information for her death certificate, and the family buried her in Jason, Greene County, the day after she died.

Amelia Henderson 001

Amelia Henderson Braswell (1880-1917)

North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Signature Saturday, no. 5: Napoleon Hagans and family.

Napoleon Hagans, self-made man, could neither read nor write. His wife, Appie Ward Hagans, born into slavery, picked up the rudiments of an education at some point in her life and was able to scratch out a shaky signature, as shown in this 1888 deed. By time his sons were born, Napoleon had begun his ascent into Wayne County’s African-American elite, recognized by both blacks and whites as a savvy and successful cotton farmer. Thanks to his wealth, the children he reared, Henry and William Hagans, would lead lives very different from their father’s, starting with their educations at local schools and then Howard and Shaw Universities.Napoleon Hagans X Appie Hagans SigHenry E. Hagans spent much of his life as a teacher and principal, and his small, firm hand reflects his pedagogical life. He likely met his wife, Julia B. Morton of Danville, Virginia, at Howard. This sample of their signatures is on a deed dated 1899.
HE Hagans & Julia Hagans SigWilliam Hagans’ signature was bolder and more architectural than his brother’s, as shown on the 1916 deed below. Though not a teacher, his early career as secretary (read: assistant or even chief of staff, if there was additional staff) to United States Congressman George H. White and as businessman/farmer provided ample opportunity for him to display his conjoined signature. (William M. Artis, son of Adam T. and Frances Seaberry Artis, was William Hagans’ first cousin, and Hannah E. Forte Artis was the wife of William Artis’ brother, Walter S. Artis. William likely did not attend school beyond eighth grade, but his penmanship is lovely. Hannah, too, clearly benefitted from several years of schooling. I wish I knew more about late 19th century rural African-American schools in Wayne County.)
WS Hagans WM Artis Hannah Artis Sig

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Jonah’s Jonah.

This caught me a bit by surprise.                                    42091_343647-01367

Jonah Reid’s first wife was Magnolia “Maggie” Artis, daughter of Thomas Artis and Loumiza Artis ArtisPatrick Exum and J.D. Reid witnessed their marriage on 30 August 1892 in Wayne County.  Patrick’s mother, Delilah Williams Exum, was Maggie’s late mother’s sister.  (Judge James Daniel “J.D.” Reid was Jonah’s maternal uncle.  He would later become a prominent school principal, bank promoter and hospital administrator in Wilson, North Carolina.  Jonah and Maggie named their son Judge Daniel Reid in his honor.) Magnolia Artis Reid died of apoplexy on 1 June 1939 in Township No. 13 [Cokey], Edgecombe County. She was 68 years old.

Three months later, as shown above, Jonah Reid remarried. That’s a little surprising. So soon. At his age. But what’s really surprising is whom he named as his father. Jonah Williams?

Elder Jonah Williams?

Jonah Reid appears in the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County, in the household of his widowed grandfather Wash Reid (spelled “Reed.”) Washington Reid was one of several related Reids, born free in the early 19th century, who built successful farms in the area of Turner Swamp. Several members of this family intermarried with Artises, including Isaac Reid, who married Adam T. Artis‘ daughter Ida in 1877; William Reid, who married Zilpha Artis Wilson‘s daughter Bettie in 1882; Henry Reid who married Adam Artis’ daughter Georgianna in 1883; John Gray Reid, who married Richard Artis‘ daughter Emma in 1907; and Milton C. Reid, grandson of William and Bettie, who married his cousin Nora M. Artis, granddaughter of Adam Artis, via son Noah, in 1916. Wash and Penninah Reid’s daughter Louisa gave birth to Jonah Reid about 1874. (She later married Perry Barnes.) That same year, Jonah Williams’ wife Pleasant had a daughter, named Vicey after his mother.

Jonah Reid’s first marriage license does not list his parents. (If in fact his father was the Jonah Williams, Reid was marrying his first cousin, which was not uncommon during the time.) In his second, he openly claimed Jonah Williams as his birth father.  His marriage license is not proof of paternity, but does suggest a starting point for researchers in his line.