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.


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?

Land, Migration, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Artis in Arkansas, follow-up.

Shortly after posting on the migration to Arkansas of Gus Artis and Eliza Artis Everett, I contacted the Lonoke County Museum.  After a brief and helpful phone conversation with a staff member named Sheryll, I sent a letter (and a donation) requesting any information about my Artises.  (Put your money where your mouth is with these little grassroots organizations, folks.)

Yesterday, I received a slim packet in the mail, postmarked “Central Ar.” Inside, the fruits of Sheryll’s diligent search for my long-lost relations. Much of the information I already had, but two pieces were particularly helpful. First, an 1890 county map showing all the county’s townships. Williams, where Eliza and Haywood Everett lived, is a little bulge on the lower western flank of the county, sliced through by the now-defunct Little Rock & Eastern Railway. (U.S. 165 now tracks the line.) This corner of the county, pocked by horseshoe bends, lies within the rich alluvial plains of the Arkansas River.

Lonoke County Map

The second revelation came in a transcription of Lonoke County personal property tax registers. In my first blogpost, I wondered if Gus Artis had migrated to and settled temporarily in Lonoke County with the Everetts. The answer appears to be yes. Gus paid taxes on property in Williams township in 1890 and 1891. Haywood (Hayard, Hawood) Everett paid taxes in Williams in 1890 and 1891 and thereafter, as did his father Thomas Everett. With this information, my next step is to hunt down particulars of the land the Artises and Everetts were owned. 

Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, Migration, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Artis in Arkansas.

Surprisingly few of Adam Artis‘ 25+ children migrated out of North Carolina, perhaps because the family’s relative farming wealth and good standing in their community made life in North Carolina — even in the 19th century — attractive. Two who did strike out went West. Sort of. They went to Arkansas.


Augustus Kerney “Gus” Artis was born about 1857 to Adam and his wife Lucinda Jones. He was a mere toddler when his mother died, and he was reared primarily by Frances Seaberry Artis, whom Adam married in 1861. Gus inherited one-third of his mother’s share of the estate of her father Jacob Ing, a small nest egg that may nonetheless have represented the pinnacle of his wealth. In 1879, Gus married Rebecca Morgan in Wayne County. Though a 13 year-old girl is implausibly described as their daughter in the 1880 census, there is convincing evidence of a daughter Lena, born in 1882. What Gus did or where he was over the years after her birth is a mystery, for in 1893 he suddenly appears in the city directory of Little Rock, Arkansas, living at the corner of Allen and Elm in North Little Rock. (Which, by all accounts, was a swampy outpost known as Argenta at that time.) In 1898, Lena Artis married Charlie Hill in Pulaski County. By 1900, however, she was back in her parents’ house on Washington Avenue in North Little Rock.  Farm laborer Gustice Artis and wife Mary R. (presumably Rebecca), married 19 years, are listed with Lena, 18, born in North Carolina, and Mary, 13, an adopted daughter born in Arkansas. By 1910, both daughters had left the household, though Mary reported them living. Augustus, then in his early 50s, worked as a laborer in a greenhouse. Lena, described as a widow, was living and working as a “dining room girl” in a Scott Street boarding house. I’ve found none of the Artises in the 1920 census, though Gus and Mary were still alive. Gus didn’t last much longer though. He died of heart disease 2 June 1921 in Brandie township, Pulaski County, and was buried in the “fraternal cemetery.” His death certificate lists his final occupation as “scavenger.”


Twenty-five miles east of North Little Rock, Gus’ younger sister Eliza Artis Everett also built a life far from her home. She was the twin of my great-great-grandmother Louvicey Artis Aldridge; the girls were born in 1865 to Adam Artis and his second wife Frances. I have not found their marriage license, but around 1890, Eliza married Haywood Everett. By 1900, they had migrated to Williams township, Lonoke County, Arkansas, and joined a veritable colony of Wayne County migrants, including Haywood’s elderly parents. Families listed near them in the census carried such familiar surnames as Barnes, Best and Coley. In 1910, the Everetts appear in the Richwoods section of the county. In 1920 and 1930, they are in Walls township. They never had children. On 10 October, 1936, Eliza Everett died of pancreatic cancer. Her husband remarried before she was cold in her grave.


Did Gus and Mary Rebecca Artis and Haywood and Eliza Everett migrate together in the late 1880s/early 1890s? Why Arkansas? Did Gus and family originally settle among other Wayne County families in Williams township, Lonoke County, before moving closer to Little Rock? And then there’s this — the Lonoke County Race War of 1897-1898?!?!

Free People of Color, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Adam Artis’ children, part 2: Lucinda Jones.


“Adam Artist” and “Lousinda” Jones married 10 October 1855 in Nash County. Lucinda’s father Jacob Ing (who was white) was bondsman, William T. Arrington witnessed, and justice of the peace D.A.T. Ricks performed the ceremony. Lucinda Jones Artis died circa 1860, and in 1870 her children Augustus Kerney, Noah and Mary Jane inherited her share of her father Jacob Ing’s estate.  In 1872, Adam Artis filed this guardianship application in order to manage their estate.

Augustus “Gus” K. Artis was born about 1857. Some time after the birth of their daughter Lena in 1882, Gus and wife Mary migrated to the Little Rock, Arkansas area. The city’s 1914 directory lists him as a laborer at J.W. Vestal & Son, a nursery. He died in 1921.

Noah Artis, born in 1856, remained in northeastern Wayne County, where he farmed, married Patience Mozingo, and fathered children Nora Artis Reid, Pearl Artis, Pauline Artis Harris, Rena Belle Artis, William N. Artis, and Bessie Artis. He died in 1952 in nearby Wilson NC.

Mary Jane Artis, born in 1859, married Henry Artis, son of Warren and Percey Artis. (Though all of Wayne County Artises are probably ultimately related, the exact kinship between Warren Artis, whose father was supposedly Absalom Artis, and Adam Artis is unknown.) Mary Jane remained in the Nahunta area of Wayne County all her life and died after 1900. Her and Henry’s children were Armeta Artis, Alonzo Artis, Lucinda Artis, Callonza Artis, Mattie Artis Davis and Marion Artis.