Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Photographs

Mr. & Mrs. Reeves.

I have written here of what I know of Fletcher and Angeline McConnaughey Reeves.  Angeline (1858-1953), daughter of Robert McConnaughey, a white man, and Caroline McConnaughey (who was owned by Robert’s kinsman), was a first cousin of my great-great-grandmother Martha Miller McNeely.

Angeline McConnaughey Reeves

And here, as best we know, is Fletcher Reeves. (Though, for a fact, this man looks older than 56, Fletcher’s age at death.)

Prob Fletcher Reeves

Many, many thanks to Peggy King Jorde, a relative of Angeline and Fletcher’s son-in-law William Kiner, for sharing these and other photos of Evelyn C. Kiner‘s family. Originals in Peggy King Jorde Archive.

Standard
Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

William emerges.

As I discussed here, my great-great-grandmother Harriet Nicholson Tomlin Hart had two half-brothers named William. I discovered her mother’s son, William H. Nicholson, in the 1900 census. The newly widowed Harriet and her young son Golar — the only one of her Tomlin children to see the 20th century — were living in her brother’s household in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. With this information, I found William’s 1909 death certificate. Harriet was the informant, and she listed his parents as Burwell Carson and Lucinda Nicholson. Other than a few city directory listings, this was the only documentation of William that I had until last night, when I found this:

42091_333002-01075

It’s hard to read, but it’s a Mecklenburg County marriage license for William H. Nicholson. On 3 April 1884, he married 38 year-old Lizzie King of Charlotte.

… William had a wife?

I went back to the 1900 census and examined it more closely. At 611 East Stonewall, William “Nickolson,” age 51, plasterer; Harriet Tomlin, 38, his sister; and Golda, 6, his niece. (Actually, his nephew.) Harriet was described as a widow, with only one child of ten living. (This is not quite right either, as her oldest child Lon was also alive, but 80% mortality versus 90% is meaningless.) William, in fact, is described as married, but there is no wife in the household. Where was Lizzie Nicholson?

I searched further. More city directories have been digitized since last I looked, and I quickly found several entries from the latter half of the first decade of the 1900s. Here’s one:

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.25.48 PMWalsh’s City Directory for Charlotte, North Carolina, 1907.

If there had been a rough patch around 1900, it was smoothed over within a few years. William’s 1909 death certificate describes him as married (though his sister came all the way from Statesville to provide information.) Lizzie died just a year later.

I went back further. I’d seen city directory listings for William Nicholson in Charlotte in 1890 and 1891, but last night I found a couple like this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.32.50 PMA Directory of the City of Charlotte, North Carolina for 1896 and 1897.

Same occupation, same address, same wife. This appears to be William using his middle name, Henry. I found others: in 1889, Henry Nicholson, brickmason, and Lizzie Nicholson, cook at the Central Hotel, living at 611 East Stonewall. In 1897, Henry H. Nicholson, laborer, and Lizzie Nicholson at the Stonewall address. The entry below: Nicholson & Allen (c) [for “colored”] (Lizzie Nicholson & Richard Allen), proprs Northern Rest, 220 East Trade.  In 1904: Henry Nicholson (Isabella), plasterer, 611 E Stonewall.

A Newspaper.com turned up nothing on William Henry, but there were several notices published in late 1910 and early 1911 regarding Lizzie Nicholson’s estate, and a delinquent property tax listing in 1894 that reveals that she was the owner of the Stonewall address. Levine Museum of the New South’s People of 1911 Charlotte project depicts the Sanborn drawing of this one-story house on an unpaved street and lists its owner at that time as Montgomery Caesar. The Second Ward street is no longer residential, and 611 is just a block from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. East Boundary Street, William and Lizzie’s other address, is gone. And 220 East Trade is now the Epicentre.

When Northern Restaurant was, though, a small but confident ad:

Charlotte_Observer_9_16_1896_Northern_Rest

Charlotte Observer, 16 September 1896.

Then, less charitably:

Charlotte_Observer_3_14_1897_Northern_Rest

Charlotte Observer, March , 1897.

Charlotte_Observer_10_8_1897_Northern_Rest

Charlotte Observer, 8 October 1897.

So, to update what I know about Harriet’s brother:

William Henry Nicholson was born between 1842 and 1848 to Lucinda Nicholson and Burwell Carson. His whereabouts in 1870 and 1880 are unknown. He was trained as a brickmason and plasterer and plied both trades in Charlotte. In 1884, he married Lizzie King (whose first name was possibly Isabella). It was at least her second marriage. (Her parents’ names on the license are nearly illegible, but they are not “King,” and she is referred to as Mrs. in the document.) Lizzie worked as a cook at a hotel, and then at her own establishment, Northern Restaurant, which she co-owned with Richard Allen. Perhaps before her marriage to William, Lizzie bought or inherited a house at 611 East Stonewall in Charlotte. For a brief period around 1900, William’s half-sister Harriet lived at the Stonewall house. By 1907, William and Lizzie had moved to 200 East Boundary, and each of them died in the house there. William died in December 1909, and Lizzie not quite two months later in February 1019.

Standard
Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

Angeline McConnaughey Reeves; or, Charlotte and beyond.

Angeline McConnaughey‘s mother Caroline may have lived long enough to breathe the sweet air of freedom, but not deeply. By 1870, she was gone, and her only child is listed in the census that year with Caroline’s mother, Margaret McConnaughey. By 1875, Angeline had left the Mount Ulla countryside for the town of Salisbury and in February of that year she married Fletcher Reeves, the 21 year-old son of Henry and Phrina (or Fina) Overman Reeves. With unusual candor, Angeline named her father on her marriage license. He was Robert L. McConnaughey of Morganton, white and a relative of Angeline’s former owner, James M. McConnaughey.

Angeline Reeves gave birth to her first two children, Caroline R. (1875) and M. Ada (1878), in Salisbury. The Reeves had plans bigger than that town could hold, however, and shortly after 1880 the family settled at 409 East Eighth Street in Charlotte’s First Ward, a racially integrated, largely working-class neighborhood in the city’s center. Fletcher Reeves went to work as a hostler for John W. Wadsworth, who climbed to millionaire status with his livery stables even as Charlotte’s first electric streetcars were poised to dramatically transform the city’s landscape. In short order, three more children — Frank Charles (1882), Edna (1884) and John Henry (1888) — joined the household, and Angeline took in washing to supplement the family’s income.

Fletcher and Angeline’s combined incomes created a comfortable cushion for their children. On 1 March 1894, in an article snarkily titled “A Fashionable Wedding in Colored High Life,” the Charlotte Observer identified Carrie Reeves, accompanied by Cowan Graham, as a bridal attendant at the marriage of Hattie L. Henderson and Richard C. Graham, “one of the best and most popular waiters at the Buford Hotel.” The ceremony was held at Seventh Street Presbyterian Church and “‘owing to the prominence of the contracting parties,’ a number of white people were present.” Carrie herself was a bride eight months later when she married James Rufus Williams. Her sister Ada’s nuptials, in March 1895, were announced in the March 14 edition of the Observer: “Frank Eccles and Ada Reeves, colored, were married Tuesday night. The groom is Farrior’s man ‘Friday.’ He is a good citizen and deserves happiness and prosperity.”

By 1900, the Reeveses were renting a house at 413 East Eighth. Fletcher continued his work as a “horseler,” but Angeline reported no occupation, apparently having withdrawn from public work. Eighteen year-old son Frank worked as a porter, and youngest children Edna (15) and John (11) were at school. On 21 August 1902, Frank made an ill-starred marriage to Kate Smith. Two and a half years later, his sister Edna married William H. Kiner of Boston, Massachusetts.

When the censustaker returned in 1910, he found Fletcher and Angeline still living in the 400 block of East Eighth. All of their children had left the nest, and in their place was 7 year-old grandson Wilbur Reeves, who was probably Frank and Kate Reeves’ child. If the boy found comfort and stability in his grandparents’ home, however, it was not to last. On 4 September 1910, Fletcher succumbed to kidney disease. He was buried in Pinewood Cemetery, and Angeline went to live with her oldest daughter’s family.

In the 1900 census, Rufus and Carrie Williams and sons Worth (5) and Hugh J. (2) shared a house at 419 Caldwell Street with Frank and Ada Eccles and their son Harry. Rufus, who owned the house, worked as a hotel waiter and Frank as a day laborer. In 1906, Carrie posted a series of ads in the Charlotte News seeking customers for her sewing business.

pl_004272014_1452_35024_301.pdf_U_LP`

Charlotte News, 5 September 1900.

Rufus seems to have spent his free team pitching for a top local baseball team:

Char Obs 8 13 00 Quicksteps

Charlotte News, 13 August 1900.

Charl Obs 9 4 00 RWms Baseball

Charlotte News, 4 September 1900.

In the 1910 census, the family is listed at 212 West First Street. Rufus worked as a porter at a club and Carrie as a seamstress. Sons Worth (14) and Jennings (12) were students. Ada Eccles, already a widow, had migrated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is listed at 8 Rockwell Street with brother-in-law William H. Kiner, sister Edna E. and their children Addison F. (4) and Carroll M. (2), plus brother John H. Reeves. William worked as a clothes presser in a tailor shop, Ada as a servant, and John as a hotel waiter.  William was born in Virginia, all the others except Carroll in NC. (The Kiners also spent time in Oak Bluffs, on Martha’s Vineyard. Son Carroll Milton was born there in 1907; the birth register gave William’s occupation as theological student.) Frank is not found in the 1910, but the state of his marriage can be inferred from a newspaper article about his wife, passing for white in Hollywood.

 Charl News 5 15 10 schools J Wms

Charlotte News, 15 May 1910.

Hugh Jennings Williams died after a battle with tuberculosis in 1913, during his final year in Biddle University‘s preparatory division. (His older brother, Worth Armstead Williams, also attended Biddle for high school and college.) Jennings’ obituary paints a charming picture of the boy and makes clear his parents’ status in the eyes of white Charlotte. HJW obit

Charlotte News, 20 November 1913.

Just months later, more than 800 miles away in Cambridge, Jennings’ uncle John H. Reeves also contracted TB. He was dead by April 1915.

By 1920, the Williamses had moved a little ways out of the heart of the city to 826 South Church Street in the Ninth Ward. Widow Angeline Reeves was listed in the household with Rufus, Carrie, and 24 year-old Worth Williams.  Rufus was a porter at a club, Carrie was a dressmaker, and Worth a student at a dental college.  (Worth was only at home temporarily. He was enrolled at Howard University’s dental school.)Meanwhile, up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the censustaker found William H. Kiner (a chipper at a shipyard), wife Edna E., and children Addison F., Carroll M. and Evelyn C. living at 8 Rockwell Street, and Ada Eccles and her son Harry at 65 Grigg Street.

Charl Obs 3 4 1917 R Williams

Rufus Williams continued to enjoy the esteem of his employer and patrons at the Southern Manufacturers Club — at what personal cost unknown. Waiting on the cream of the Queen City’s burgeoning manufacturing magnates was a path to economic security, but that path was strewn with daily indignity, both casual and intentional. Rufus, and his father before him, were what some fondly called “white man’s niggers,” but to acknowledge this is not to indict them. In a 1924 news article, note that Rufus’ speech honoring his benefactor, John C. McNeill, also shines a light on the fruit of his years as a servant — his “son, W.A. Williams, who is a surgeon dentist at New Bern.”

rufus Wms deskCharlotte News, 1 June 1924.

James Rufus Williams died 24 May 1947 in Charlotte. Six years later, on 25 March 1953, his mother-in-law Angeline McConnaughey Reeves passed away at the age of 94. Her mother and husband gone, Carrie Reeves Williams lived just six months more and died 28 September 1953. I have not found record of Frank Reeves’ death. His sisters Edna Reeves Kiner died in New York City in 1969 and Ada Reeves Eccles in Cambridge in 1979.

Standard