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

Carter kin?

Several months, when I was examining delayed birth certificates filed in Wayne County, North Carolina, I asked who the A.J. Carter was listed as a cousin on Christine “Nora” Aldridge Henderson‘s birth record. Today I found a marriage license for A.J. Carter and Mallie Simmons, and it hit me suddenly that A.J. was Ammie J. Carter, (1) oldest of A. Marshall and Frances Jacobs Carter’s sons, (2) thus, nephew of “Papa” Jesse A. Jacobs Jr., and (3) brother-in-law of Beulah Aldridge Carter, my great-grandfather Tom Aldridge‘s sister.

But how in the world was Ammie Carter Nora Aldridge Henderson’s cousin? “Play” cousin? Or blood?

Ammie Carter, born about 1881, was the son of Archy Marshall Carter and Margaret Frances Jacobs. His mother Frances was the sister of “Papa” Jesse A. Jacobs Jr., who reared my grandmother, and the daughter of Jesse Sr. and Abigail Gilliam (or Gilliard) Jacobs. Jesse and Abigail’s parentage is unclear, but they are believed to have been born in Cumberland or perhaps Sampson County. As far as I know, neither was related to Nora Aldridge’s parents, John W. Aldridge and Louvicey Artis.

Marshall Carter (1860-1922) was the son of William and Mary Cox Carter of Sampson County. I know little about them. Their census records are muddled by duplicate, but conflicting, entries, and most of their children seem to disappear from the record. (An exception: daughter Virginia Ann “Annie” Carter (1863-1930) married Hardy Cox. They were close enough to Sarah Henderson Jacobs that my grandmother called them Cousin Annie and Cousin Hardy Cox. More about her later.)

William Carter was the son of Michael Carter (circa 1805-circa 1875) and Patience, maiden name unknown, of Sampson County, whom I know only through the 1860 and 1870 censuses, in which they are enumerated in Sampson County. They both seem to have died before 1880. My lack of knowledge about Robert Aldridge or Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge‘s parents makes me hesitate to say that either (or neither) was related to Michael or Patience Carter. The same holds for Mary Cox Carter’s parents, whoever they might have been.

In short, for now, I have no anwers.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Land, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia

The life of Joseph R. Holmes, radical.

I’ve written of Joseph R. Holmesdeath. What of his life? The details are sketchy and poorly documented. Nonetheless, here is what I know.

  • Joseph R. Holmes was born circa 1838, probably in Charlotte County, Virginia. His parents are listed as Payton and Nancy Holmes on his death certificate. I don’t know what the “R” stood for.
  • According to Luther Porter Jackson, Joseph had a brother named Watt. According to my great-aunt Julia Allen Holmes, he also had a brother named Jasper Holmes, born circa 1841, who was her grandfather.
  • The “Inventory and Appraisal of the Personal Estate of Capt. John H. Marshall,” filed in Charlotte in June 1857, lists 20 “Negroes,” including Joe, $600; Peyton, $900; and Nancy, $1000. There’s no Jasper. Nor are there any children bearing the names of Nancy’s younger children, some of whom who were born before 1857. Thus, though I’m tempted, I can’t draw any conclusions about whether these enslaved people are Joseph R. Holmes and his parents.
  • Joseph probably was last owned by John H. Marshall’s son, judge Hunter Holmes Marshall, whose plantation “Roxabel” was (and still is) located about five miles west of Charlotte Court House.
  • Joseph learned to read and write most likely as a child, as he exhibited a well-formed penmanship when in his mid-20s.
  • He was trained as a shoemaker or cobbler.  In Negro Office-Holders in Virginia 1865-1895, Luther Porter Jackson
    asserted that brother Watt was also a shoemaker and that Joseph was “hired out by his master to engage in shoemaking by traveling from plantation to plantation.”
  • However, according to “Shooting in Charlotte Court House,” published in volume VIII, number 2, of The Southsider quarterly, Joseph served as a butler for Marshall, then became a cobbler and opened a shop on the Kings Highway (now U.S. Route 360) near Dupree’s old store.
  • Some time around 1865, Joseph married Mary Clark, born about 1849 to Simon and Jina Clark of Charlotte County. The couple had at least four children: Payton (1865), Louisa (1866), Joseph (1867) and William H. Holmes (August 1868).
  • Tax records filed in Charlotte Court House for 1866 list Joseph R. Holmes in District #2 (T.M. Jones, revenue commissioner), paying one black poll tax, as well as taxes on four hogs valued at $5 and $20 worth of real property. I have not found a deed for this property.
  • In 1867, Joseph R. Holmes was elected to represent Charlotte and Halifax Counties at Virginia’s Constitutional Convention. In A List of the Officers and Members of the Virginia Constitutional Convention, Holmes is
    described:  “… Jos. R. Holmes. Colored. Shoemaker. Can read and write a little. Ignorant. Bad character.” [This comes from an unfortunately unattributed photocopy of a page from a scholarly journal. I’ll hunt down the source.]
  • Charlotte County tax records for 1867 show Joseph R. Holmes living at A.J. Johnson’s in District #2, paying only a black poll tax. (This seems to indicate that he was landless and working as either a sharecropper or tenant farmer.)
  • In 1867, he registered to vote at Clements’ in Charlotte Court House. (So did Watt Carter, who may have been Joseph’s stepfather.)
  • On 2 May 1868, Joseph Holmes purchased 11 1/2 acres in Charlotte County from A.J. Johnson for $92. The metes and bounds: “beginning at a corner on John R. Baileys on the Roanoke Valley Extension Rail Road marked as the plat (A) and thence along the Road South 15 W 22 poles to a corner at B. thence off the Road a New line S 70 E 17 poles to corner chestnut oak S 25 E 46 poles to pointers on John P. Dickersons line, thence his line N 55 E 44 poles to pointers on William H. Fulkers line thence N 57 W 80 poles to the beginning.”
  • An entry for August 1868 in the Charlotte County birth register shows a son William H. born to Mary and Joe Holmes. Joe’s occupation was listed as “radicalism.”
  • A letter Joseph wrote on 22 August 1868 is preserved among Freedmen’s Bureau records. In it, he requested of Thomas Leahey, Assistant Subassistant Commissioner at the Bureau’s office in Farmville, Virginia, that a school be established in the Keysville area. The plea was effective, and there’s a 24 November letter in the records from Leahey to Holmes enclosing vouchers for rent for the school, as well as triplicate leases for “Mrs. Jenkins'” signature. “I send them in your charge (believing you call to the D.O. daily) in order there may be no delay.”
  • An anonymous article in the 23 November 1868 Richmond Whig, signed “Roanoke,” reported a visit to Charlotte County and, among comments about African-Americans and politics, stated: “They seem to be realizing the fact that politics won’t fill their empty stomachs nor clothe their naked bodies, and those who have been idle during the summer and did not make hay while the sun shone, meet with no sympathy and are left out ‘in the cold.’ I passed by the shop of our former representative, ‘Hon.’ Joseph Holmes, a few days ago; he was busily at work pegging away at a pair of boots. I told him I thought he was much better at making a boot than a constitution; and as he was anxious to make a pair for me, I believe, he agreed with me.”
  • On 3 May 1869, Joseph was shot and killed in front of Charlotte County Courthouse by a group of men that included John M. Marshall, Griffin S. Marshall, William Boyd and M.C. Morris. The Marshalls were sons of his former master.
  • In the 1870 census of Walton, Charlotte County: Wat Carter, 70, wife Nancy, 70, and children Mary, 23, Liza, 17, and Wat, 16; plus Payton, 4, Louisa, 3, and Joseph Homes, 2, and Fannie Clark, 60. I strongly suspect that Nancy Carter was Joseph Holmes’ mother and Wat, his stepfather. The young children are clearly Joseph’s. Mary may have been his half-sister, but more likely was his widow.) The younger Wat is likely the “Watt” referred to L.P. Jackson’s book.
  • Joseph Holmes, age 12, son of Joe and Mary Holmes, died 11 March 1880 in Charlotte County.
  • H.C. Williamson’s Memoirs of a Statesman: Being an Account of the Events in the Career of a Mississippi Journalist-Legislator were published by descendant Fred Thompson (actor and failed Republican presidential candidate) in 1964. In reminiscing about his youth, Williamson wrote: “Among the bolder of this presumptuous class of Negroes in my native county was one named Joe Holmes, a saddle-colored shoe cobbler, who occupied a small hut on the side of the public road a few miles from our home. Holmes aspired to the office of representative in the State Legislature and insolently asserted his equality ‘with any white man.’ Feeling that he was protected in his new-found rights by his white allies, he denounced, in public harangues throughout the county, the men who had so lately been the masters and believed themselves secure in control of that government which they had constructed and hitherto maintained. Such a condition prevailing over all the Southern States prompted the organization and active operations of that secret society of native, white southern men known as the Ku Klux Klan, which proved to be the salvation of the remnant left of southern homes and southern civilization. I remember passing Holmes’ shop one dae day and seeing nailed to the door the picture of crossbones and skull (the sign of the Ku Klux Klan, as I afterwards learned). But this did not deter him in the least. A short time thereafter, he fell in the Court House door, pierced with a leaden messenger of death from an unknown source, as he was entering to make an inflammatory speech to a horde of Negroes assembled.”

Birth, death, marriage and court records at Charlotte County Courthouse, Charlotte Court House, Virginia; other records as noted. Thanks, as always, for the incalculably valuable assistance of Kathy Liston.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Virginia

The case for the Carters.

Were Walter “Wat” and Nancy Carter the step-father and mother of Joseph and Jasper Holmes? Here is the evidence:

  • Per my great-aunt, Julia Allen Maclin, her grandfather Jasper Holmes and Joseph R. Holmes were brothers.
  • According to historian Luther Porter Jackson, Joseph had a brother “Watt,” who was a shoemaker like Joseph.
  • Jasper Holmes and Joseph Holmes were born in Charlotte County, Virginia, circa 1838 and 1841.
  • In 1867, Watt Carter registered to vote at Clements’ in Charlotte Court House, as did Joseph Holmes.
  • About 1867, Jasper Holmes named a son Walter. (Another son, born in 1874, was named Joseph. And both Jasper and Joseph had sons named William.)
  • Joseph’s death certificate, issued in 1869 in Charlotte County, lists his parents as Payton and Nancy Holmes. Neither Payton Holmes nor Nancy Holmes have been found in the 1870 census or any other record.
  • In the 1870 census, Joseph Holmes’ children Payton, Louisa and Joseph, and possibly his widow, appear in the household of Wat and Nancy Carter in Charlotte County. Wat and Nancy have a son also named Wat.
  • In the 1870 census, Jasper Holmes and family are listed in Charles City County, some 100 miles east of Charlotte County. (Why Charles City County? What was the pull to that particular place?)
  • On 14 June 1873 in Charles City County, Lotsey Carter, age 22, born in Charlotte County to Walter Carter and a mother whose name is illegible, married Claiborne Booker, born in Chesterfield County and residing in New York.
  • On 10 January 1874, Lettie Booker opened account #6605 at the New York branch of the Freedmen’s Bank. She stated that she was 22 years old; born in Richmond, Virginia; and resided at 28 Cornelia Street. She was light brown in complexion; worked washing and ironing; and was married to Claiborne Booker. Her father was Watt Carter of Keysville [Charlotte County], Virginia; her mother was named Nancy; and her siblings were Watt, Eliza and Louisa.
  • In the 1880 census of Queens, Queens County, New York: living on premises, Claiborne Booker, 39, headwaiter in a hotel; wife Lettie, 28, laundress in hotel; and Walter Holmes, 12, “nephew.” All were born in Virginia.
  • On 23 October 1883 in Charles City County, Walter Carter, age 28, shoemaker, born in Charlotte County to Walter and Nancy Carter, married Alice Christian, 22, of Charles City County, at Shirley.
  • Watt Carter died 3 May 1885 in Charles City County at age 72. His death certificate states (probably erroneously) that he was born in Charles City County.
  • Nancy Carter, age 75, died 18 June 1884 in Charles City County. Her death certificate states that she was born in Charlotte County and was single (widowed?)
  • And possibly: “Claiborne Booker has been appointed guardian for the estate of the late Louisa McKie and in his custody her children, Wm. McKie and Clarence McKie, have been placed by the surrogate court of New York county.”  New York Age, 16 March 1905.

My conjecture: Nancy [last name unknown] married first Payton Holmes in Charlotte County and had at least two children, Joseph and Jasper. Nancy then married Walter “Wat” Carter in Charlotte County. Their children included Louisa, Lettie, Walter Jr. and Eliza. Between 1867 and 1870, perhaps in response to his brother’s murder, Jasper moved his family to Charles City County. Between 1870 and 1873, Wat and Nancy Carter and family also moved to Charles City County. Lettie Carter Booker married and settled in Queens with her husband. For some period, her nephew Walter Holmes, son of Jasper, lived with them. The fortuitous capturing of this stay in the 1880 census cements these relationships for me, as it is a direct connection between Jasper and his half-sister.

Sources: federal census records; Charlotte County VA death records; Charlotte County voter register; Charles City County VA birth, marriage and death records; Freedman’s Bank records.

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Land, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin

Uncle Lucian’s house.

My grandmother has been gone more than 13 years, and there are still days that I think, “Gahh! Mother Dear would be so tickled to hear this!” Yesterday was one of them.

After my Carter collateral kin post last week, my cousin C.J. posted the photos of the Carter brothers on her Facebook page. (Her great-grandfather was Milford Carter Sr.) Her grandfather’s first cousin D.C. responded, mentioning that he is a son of Johnnie Carter. I pounced. After a couple of email exchanges last week, I called D.C. yesterday. I clarified for him who my grandmother was and what her relationship was to Lucian Henderson. Not only did D.C. know who Uncle Lucian and Aunt Susie were, he was born in their house! Presumably the Carters moved in after Lucian’s death in 1934, but Johnnie and his wife Atha cared for both Lucian and Susie in their declining years. Susie died around 1940, and four years later the family sold the house and moved a few miles southeast to Clinton. The house eventually burned down, but was rebuilt in the same spot in essentially the same form. My grandmother had loved visiting her great-uncle Lucian’s house, and her warm memories of her time there inspired the name of this blog.

Several years ago, the late Mae Brewington Marks of Dudley sent me a photo of a house near the intersection of Sleepy Creek Road and Emmaus Church Road that she believed to have been Lucian Henderson’s. (Where is that picture???) She was right. I’d been a little skeptical because it looks too new to have been Lucian and Susie Henderson’s home. D.C.’s explanation and confirmation made my day.

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Free People of Color, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Collateral Kin: the Carters.

One of the most rewarding results of my decades of genealogical sleuthing has been the development of a deep connection with many of my Carter cousins, descendants of Milford and Beulah Aldridge Carter. My grandmother talked often of the Carter family, to which she was connected both via the Aldridges and “Papa” Jesse Jacobs, who was Milford Carter’s uncle.

The Carters looked ‘bout like white folks. I didn’t really know all of  ‘em. I think it was nine of them boys. The three I knew was Milford and Johnnie and Harold, I think. They used to come to Wilson, but the older one [Willoughby] didn’t come up. But Milford, Harold — the two youngest ones come over and stayed with Annie Bell [Jacobs Gay, Papa’s daughter.] Johnnie – and Freddie, too.   When I’d go to Uncle Lucian’s, they lived not too far from there. But I never went to their house. I think Harold was the youngest one. ‘Cause that’s the one came to Wilson, and Albert, Annie Bell’s husband, got him a job down to the station driving a cab. And he got his own car, and he was down there for a long time. Harold. He’s the youngest one. Carter. All of them was great big.

There were indeed nine Carter brothers — Willoughby (1880), Ammie (1881), Freddie (1890), Milford (1893), Granger (1895), Lippman (1898), John Wesley (1899), Harold (1903) and Richard (1906) — plus a sister Florence (1887). (Florence’s son William Homer Camp Jr. married Onra L. Henderson, Beulah A. Carter’s niece and my grandmother’s double cousin.) The brothers were born in Sampson and Wayne Counties to Archie Marshall (or Marshall Archie) Carter and Margaret Frances Jacobs, sister of Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. Marshall Carter (1860-1926) was the son of William and Mary Cox Carter of Sampson County. (My grandmother also spoke of Marshall’s sister, Virginia Ann “Annie” Carter, who married Hardy Cox and was a close friend of “Mama” Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver.) William Cox (1833- ca. 1875) was the son of Michael Carter (ca. 1805-ca. 1875) and his wife, Patience.

As attached as Papa was to my grandmother, he did not take her with him on visits home to Dudley, very likely in deference to the feelings of his nephew’s wife Beulah, who had little use for the child her brother Tom fathered out of wedlock.

When Papa was living, he used to go to Dudley down there to the mill where they ground corn and all down there.   They’d carry him around down there on horse and buggy, wagon, whatever it was. He was their uncle. Their mama’s brother. He’d go there every once in a while. But he didn’t never say nothing ‘bout taking me down there with him. I guess ‘cause Beulah, Milford’s wife, was my daddy’s sister, but she was kind of cool toward me. And he know he wasn’t gon carry Mamie.  So we didn’t never get to go down there with him. 

Early in their marriage, Beulah and Milford Carter lived in Wilson in a small house on Green Street whose yard touched those of Milford’s uncle and first cousin Annie Bell. The Carters’ second child, son Dewey Belvin, who died before his second birthday, was born during their short stay there.

Beulah stayed in Cora Miller’s house there on Green Street. A little house down there ‘cross from where we were staying, first house behind the church, near ‘bout on the corner there. And she and Milford were there.

After a few years shifting between Wayne to Duplin Counties, Milford moved his family north to Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and then New York City — first Brooklyn, then Queens — where he pursued a long career as a chef.

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Milford E. Carter, during his time as a chef at H. Hicks & Son, 30 West 57th Street, New York City.

Freddie, Freddie was the one that went to Atlanta for a year and day. Moonshine. And Johnnie was fat. And rosy. Like, you know, like if somebody say like, seeing a baby and say that it was “oh so fat, look like you pinch they cheek the blood pop out?” And just fair, and just that red look.

Johnnie Carter was also the brother that cared for my grandmother’s great-uncle, J. Lucian Henderson, and his wife Susan Henderson in their final infirmity. In June 1934, John W. Carter was named administrator and sole legatee of Lucian’s estate. Johnnie and his family lived near Lucian just west of Dudley, but I am not sure of the genesis of their close relationship.

The Carter boys was always nice. They come up here, come to stay with Annie Bell, Papa’s youngest daughter. They wasn’t here at the same time. They was driving cabs. So they used to come over all the time. I went with Harold down to Dudley once ‘cause he was going and coming back that same day. See, Uncle Lucian was sick, so I went down with him and come back.

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Top: John, Ammie, Wesley (a cousin), Richard, Granger, Richard Jr. and Harold Carter; bottom: Milford, John and Harold Carter; both 1955. Copies of photos courtesy of Dorothy Carter Blackman and Daniel M. Carter.

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

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