Business, Migration, Newspaper Articles, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia, Vocation

Home-cooking a specialty.

I’ve written of Cousin Tilithia Brewington King Godbold Dabney here and here. Her restaurant in Norfolk, the Strand Cafe, made a deep impression on my grandmother, who laughingly recalled waiting tables there on childhood visits and being dazzled by Cousin Tilithia’s menu offerings.

Thanks to B.J., great-granddaughter of Tilithia’s sister Mattie Brewington Braswell, who found these Norfolk Journal & Guide articles, we now know more about the cafe:

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12 March 1921.

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9 December 1922.

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28 May 1927.

Births Deaths Marriages, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Virginia

We got strayed apart.

I was thinking about Cousin Tilithia when I was a little girl.  She had a restaurant large enough to work in and serve patrons.  It wasn’t real big, but they were serving patrons, and Mama carried me up there, and we spent the night there.  And whenever she’d come to Wilson she’d stay with us.  

Tilithia Godbold, she lived in Norfolk, and she married this man.  That wasn’t her children’s daddy.  King was her children’s daddy.  Godbold was the man she married later. He lived over in Rocky Mount, and he worked in the roundhouse or something.  I think he fixed the train, but he wasn’t the one on the train.  And Godbold, Tilithia’s husband, he stayed there in Rocky Mount.  ‘Cause Tilithia lived in Norfolk.  Her and her five or six girls or whatever it was, and she was running what they call the Strand Café.  And it was down on the first floor, and they lived up over it.  Go out there, and it was a sleeping compartment.  I was over there one time, and I remember it.  I think I was about seven or eight years old.  Went with Mama over there.  We was just running all over the place.  She had us waiting tables.  I wanted to wait tables. I was wondering, I asked Mama, “Well, why come we couldn’t have a place like that?”  And all that food!  Look like whatever the food was – I didn’t even know what it was ‘cause we ain’t never had none.  It was a whole lot of stuff, look like they had, I didn’t want it, but then I know it looked good, and we ate down there in the café.  

And another time Mama took me over there on the train to see her.  And it was right down in South Philadelphia where we went to their house.  Where they was staying.  And when I moved up here, her sister, she was telling me ‘bout how the children were there in Norfolk, her sister and all them.  I said, well, I could remember some of them, but I don’t remember what –  and I asked where some of the girls was.  Some of them in Norfolk and some of ‘em, one’s dead.  [Inaudible] the family.  We got strayed apart. 

My grandmother reminisced fondly of “Ta-LIE-a-thy” and her cafe, but was not entirely sure how they were related. Not long into my research, I discovered that Tilithia Brewington King Godbold Dabney was born 1878 to Joshua and Amelia Aldridge Brewington. She was, then, the first cousin of my grandmother’s father, J. Thomas Aldridge. Tilithia married Emanuel King in 1898 and, by 1910, the couple and their daughters Juanita, Elizabeth, Amelia, May Bell and Tilithia had settled in Norfolk, Virginia. Tilithia and Emanuel divorced and, by 1920, she was married to railroad fireman Walter Godbold and running her cafe. Her marriage to Godbold did not last, and the 1930 census found him back in Rocky Mount NC (described as divorced) and her still in Norfolk, holding herself out to be a widow while maintaining the little restaurant at 426 Brambleton Avenue.
This was about all I could locate on Cousin Tilithia until 2009, when I met — genealogically speaking — B.J., a descendant of Tilithia’s sister Mattie Brewington Braswell (and my fourth cousin.)  Ours has been a most fecund collaboration, and it was she who discovered Tilithia’s obit and what had become of her daughters. My grandmother would have pleased to know that the branches of our family had found their way back from being “strayed apart.”

Image Virginian Pilot, 22 November 1965.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

The Home of Personal Service.

Columbus Estell “C.E.” Artis was born in 1886 near Eureka, Wayne County NC to Adam T. Artis and his fourth wife, Amanda Aldridge Artis. Census records and city directories show that he tried his hand at a number of businesses, including grocery stores and “eating houses.” The 1915 directory of the town of Wilson NC described him as an undertaker, but it’s not clear for whom he worked or if he owned his own business at that time. He spent several years in Washington DC during and after World War I, but a 1922 newspaper article makes references to Batts Brothers and Artis as local undertakers, and the 1925 Wilson city directory carries this entry:

ARTIS & FLANAGAN (CE Artis, WE Flanagan) funeral directors 563 E Nash phone 1183

Here’s Artis’ business  described in 1979 in National Register of Historic Places Inventory — Nomination Form for  “East Wilson Business Area,” Wilson Central Business and Tobacco Warehouse Historic District:

One of only two black funeral directors in Wilson, Columbus Estelle Artis (1886- 1973) had this modest, one-story, three-storefront building [at 567-571 East Nash Street] erected in 1922. His funeral business occupied the 571 store until the mid 1950s when he retired and closed his business; the other two stores have always been used for rental purposes, except for a brief period from ca 1945 until ca 1951 when Artis expanded his funeral home into the 569 store. The stuccoed brick structure has narrow stores at 567 and 569 that contain a simple door and a large adjacent display window, both of which have transoms of clear glass. The store at 571 East Nash Street has a central door with flanking display windows, also with transoms. Unfortunately, all of the windows and three of the window transoms have been boarded up. The blind northwest elevation originally abutted the drug store occupied by Darcey D. Yancy during the 1940s and 1950s; this building was razed in the mid 1960s. The rear elevation of the Artis building has a one central door per store. The southeast elevation wall is adjacent to the Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, which has maintained offices of the Artis building since 1980.

(Historic designation notwithstanding, Jackson Chapel tore down the buildings in the 1990s to make way for a church expansion and parking lot.)

C.E. Artis’ distinctive, wide-nibbed, angular cursive — r’s slashed diagonally — appears on hundreds of Wilson and Wayne County death certificates.  Like James Guess in Goldsboro, with whom he competed to some extent, C.E. Artis was often called upon to bury his kin, including several of his siblings. Among the funerals he conducted were:

Vicy Aldrich, 13 Feb 1927.  Buried Aldrich cemetery, Dudley NC.  Daughter of Adam and Frances Seaberry Artis, Vicey Artis Aldridge was C.E.’s half-sister.

+ Baby Jacobs, 22 Apr 1928.  Buried Rountree cemetery, Wilson. Unnamed stillborn son of Hattie Mae Jacobs, who was the granddaughter of Vicey A. Aldridge.

+Napoleon Artis, 9 Sep 1928.  Buried family cemetery, Wayne County.  Son of C.E.’s half-brother Walter S. Artis, who was son of Adam and Frances Seaberry Artis.

Jane Sauls, 16 Dec 1928. Buried Union Grove cemetery, Wayne County. Daughter of Sylvania Artis Lane, who was sister of C.E.’s grandmother Vicey Artis Williams.

+ Mable Barnes, 18 Apr 1929.  Buried family cemetery, Wayne or Wilson County. Daughter of C.E.’s brother Robert E. Artis.

+ Ivery Artis, 24 Jul 1930.  Buried Wayne County. Son of Morrison Artis, who was first cousin of C.E.’s father Adam T. Artis.  Also, Morrison’s first wife, Jane Artis, was Adam’s sister.

+ Alberta Artis, 9 Jun 1931.  Buried Wayne County.  Granddaughter of C.E. Artis’ paternal aunt Delilah Williams Exum.

+ Lucinda Artis, 23 Jun 1931.  Buried Wayne County.  Widow of C.E.’s uncle Jesse Artis.

+ Susiannah Artis, 11 Sept 1931.  Buried Wayne County.  Widow of C.E.’s uncle Richard Artis.

+ Leslie Exum, 4 Jul 1934.  Buried Wayne County.  Grandson of C.E.’s half-brother Jesse Artis, son of Adam and Frances Seaberry Artis. Leslie’s wife Beulah Artis Exum was daughter of C.E.’s half-brother, William M. Artis.

+ Malinda Artis, 5 Mar 1936.  Buried Wilson County.  Second wife of C.E.’s brother Robert Artis.

malinda artis

+ Sarah Jacobs Silver, 8 Jan 1938. Buried Wayne County [in fact, in the Congregational Church cemetery].  Silver’s great-niece Hattie Henderson (alias Jacobs) was the granddaughter of C.E.’s half-sister Louvicey Artis Aldridge.  Silver also lived on Elba Street in Wilson NC, around the corner from C.E.’s Green Street home.


+ Viola Artis, 1 Feb 1938.  Buried Wayne County.  Granddaughter of C.E.’s brother Henry J.B. Artis.

+ William Wilson, 5 Mar 1939.  Buried Wilson County. Grandson of C.E.’s aunt, Zilpha Artis Wilson.

+ Delilah Exum, 18 Jul 1939.  Buried Wayne County.  C.E.’s father’s sister.

+ Julius Artis Jr., 18 Dec 1939. Buried Wilson County.  Grandson of C.E.’s brother Henry J.B. Artis.

+ Katie Artis King, 22 June 1940.  Buried family cemetery, Wayne County.  C.E.’s stepmother, his father Adam’s last wife.

+ John G. Reid, 29 Dec 1941. Buried Turners Swamp cemetery, Wayne County.  Husband of C.E.’s first cousin, Emma Artis Reid, daughter of Richard Artis Sr.

+ Ada Dixon Sauls, 28 January 1945. Buried Baptist church cemetery, Snow Hill. Wife of C.E.’s cousin, Cain D. Sauls.

+ Liberty P. Artis, 10 Jul 1945.  Buried family cemetery, Wilson County.  Son of C.E.’s brother Robert.

+ William Artis, 28 Sep 1945.  Buried “family (Seabury)” cemetery, Wayne County.  C.E.’s half-brother, son of Adam T. Artis and Frances Seaberry Artis.

+ Scott Artis, 6 Apr 1947.  Buried Red Hill cemetery, Wayne County. Son of  Morrison Artis, son of Sylvania Artis Lane, who was C.E.’s grandmother’s sister.

+ Bettie Reid, 2 Dec 1947.  Buried family cemetery, Wayne County.  Elizabeth “Bettie” Wilson Reid was C.E.’s first cousin.  Her mother, Zilpha Artis Reid, was Adam Artis’ sister.

+ Solomon Shearard, 6 Feb 1948.  Buried Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson.  Husband of C.E.’s sister Josephine.  Name generally spelled “Sherrod.”

+ Annie Marie Cooper, 16 Oct 1948.  Buried Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson.  Daughter of C.E.’s youngest sister Alberta.

+ Annie C. Best, 4 Jan 1949.  Buried Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson. Daughter of C.E.’s half-brother Jesse.

+ Minnie Belle Artis, 4 Apr 1950.  Buried family cemetery, Wilson County.  Daughter of C.E.’s brother Robert.

+ Walter Scott Artis, 25 Jun 1951.  Buried Fort cemetery, Wayne County.  C.E.’s half-brother, son of Adam and Frances Seaberry Artis.

+ Noah Artis, 16 May 1952.  Buried family cemetery, Wilson County.  C.E.’s half-brother, son of Adam and Lucinda Jones Artis.

Pages from index

The Carolina Times, 19 September 1942.

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

Keeping it in the family.

James N. Guess operated a funeral home that served Goldsboro, North Carolina’s black community for at least 40 years. (He also ran a barbershop for a half-century and, in the early years, a billiards and pool hall.) Guess’s father Matthew Guess, father-in-law Isham Smith, nephew Kennon Guess and son James N. Guess Jr. worked for or with him to build his business.

ImageGoldsboro City Directory, 1916-17. 

Image Hill’s Directory of Goldsboro, NC, 1950-51.

Not surprisingly, Guess provided services to members of the extended family of his wife, Annie Smith Guess, daughter of Isham and Nancy Henderson Smith. Among those he buried were:

Baby Wooten 2

James N. Guess was born 2 May 1882 in Goldsboro to Matthew and Martha Guess. He died 28 November 1957 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, after a lengthy illness.