Agriculture, Business, Land, North Carolina

“I told anybody that it was my land”; or, “Why don’t you stir it while it’s hot?”

The ninth in an occasional series excerpting testimony from the transcript of the trial in J.F. Coley v. Tom Artis, Wayne County Superior Court, November 1908.

(Tom Pig Artis’ testimony continued from here.)

CROSS EXAMINED.

I have been claiming this land all the time. I have not been listing it for taxes. Before the mortgage was given I was listing it. I have not listed it ever since 1892, ’till this last year. I listed my other property, but don’t know that listed this land. I have been mortgaging the crops on this land. I mortgaged it one year in 1893. I guess I did. To Mr. Minshew. I don’t know that I described the land in the Minshew mortgage as the land belonging to Napoleon Hagans. I don’t say I didn’t. I can’t tell the date, but I have rented some land from Hagans. Two or three years. That mortgage to Minshew was intended to cover the crops to be made on the 30 acre piece. (Defendant objects to all about mortgage.) I don’t know that I made another crop lien on that same land in 1895. I don’t remember that I made one then. I made a mortgage to Mr. Peacock in Fremont on the same land. I described the land as mine. I don’t know that I said it was known as the Hagans land. I made a crop lien to Peele & Copeland in 1906. That was to cover crops on the 30 acre piece I guess. I described it as the land known as Will Hagans land. I guess, I don’t know. I might have described it as mine. I made Peele & Copeland another crop lien in 1907 on the same land. I described it as the land known as the Will Hagans land, if its there, I expect I did. I didn’t say in that mortgage that it was my land. On April 16th 1908 I made Peele & Copeland another crop lien. I don’t know that I gave them a mortgage this year. I may have. I guess I did. If it shows it, I did. I described it as my own land. First time that I ever put a statement in a paper or that made reference to crop on this 30 acre piece, that they would be grown on my own land. On March 23rd 1908, I made a real estate mortgage on this land to Peele & Copeland for $420.00. This crop lien I made this year, and also this mortgage on this land was made after the action was made to recover the land. I rented some other land from Hagans beside the 30 acre piece. I didn’t have any of the Hagans land under rent beside the 30 acre tract last year in 1907. I had land rented off, but not the Hagans land. (This action was brought March 18th 1908.) The real estate mortgage to Peele & Copeland was given Mar. 23rd, 1908. Was served Mar. 27th 1908, and the crop lien Apr. 16th 1908.) Last year I didn’t have any of W.S. Hagans’ land rented. I cultivated only the 30 acre tract, and lived in the house on the other side. (Summons introduced by Plaintiff.) At the time Mr. Cook was negotiating about buying this land from Hagans I was cultivating the 30 acre tract, and was living across the line on the 24 acre piece. I knew that Cook was trying to buy the Calv place. I didn’t know that he was trying to buy both places then. Not until I heard from other people that he was trying to buy both places. I heard that a few days before he came up here to get the papers fixed. When I heard this news, I didn’t go see Mr. Coley. I happened to see him. I was just passing and saw him. He spoke to me first about it. He said he understood Mr. Cook was about to buy all the land about there, and mine too. He said why didn’t I let him know. He said if he had known it he would have bought some. I told him I understood they were going to fix the papers the next day. I said if he is, I am going to Goldsboro, and he said if you go, and he and Cook don’t trade, tell Hagans to send me a note. I went the next day, and I told him exactly what he told me. I carried it to him. The rumor was that he Cook was buying both places. I told Coley that if anybody got it I would rather him get it, for I didn’t think that I could get along with Mr. Cook. I didn’t have any reference to my place. I didn’t tell Coley that I didn’t mean the 30 acre piece. I told him myself. I told him I understood Mr. Cook was trying to but all the land down there, trying to buy the 30 acre piece and the 24 acre piece. I told him I was coming to Goldsboro, he asked me to speak to Hagans. I told him if anybody had to have it, I had rather for him to have it than Cook. I came and saw Hagans. I didn’t ask Hagans not to sell it to Cook. I didn’t ask him to let Coley have it. I didn’t tell him I would get along better with Coley than Cook. I didn’t say that. I don’t remember that I told Hagans I could get along better with Coley than Cook. I don’t swear, but I never told him that. I told Coley. I told Hagans what Coley said, if he and Mr. Cook didn’t trade to send him a note. Hagans and Coley did trade. They went to my place. I got in the buggy with him. Rode over to Mr. Coleys. They were talking but I don’t know what they were talking about. They were around the house. I didn’t hear a word except that Hagans would see him later, maybe some other things were said, I don’t remember. I didn’t hear how much Coley was to give him for it, not until he had bought it. Mr. Coley came, but I don’t know if he came to see me. He just passed by. He didn’t say anything about renting it. He said he never knew where these lines were, and he said he wanted me to go around and show them to him. I don’t know whether he had any deed for it or not. I went all around and showed him the lines between his and mine too. There was a fence off the line a little. He told me to take the fence and put it around the pasture. He didn’t say he wanted me to. I didn’t move the rails of the fence, because Mr. Cook saw me with my cart. He said that fence was on the line of the 30 acre place, and told me not to move it. I didn’t because Cook said it was on the line. I went to move it. This fence was on the line between the 30 acre place and Cook’s line, not between the 30 and 24 acre pieces. Mr. Coley came back at another time, and talked about renting the land. Never reached any agreement. He said Uncle Tom aren’t you going to rent it. I said “No, I never rented my land.” I told him all the time it was my land, when I was showing him the corners etc. He was Now was the time to stir while it was hot. I told him I didn’t have to rent my own land. I told anybody that it was my land. I don’t know when I told Coley first it was my land. He knew I suppose that it was my land. I told him before I went to see Hagans that it was mine. I offered to buy from Hagans an acre along the 24 acre piece. He asked me if I couldn’t get somebody else to buy the rest of it. I told him I didn’t know. I never offered to buy the 30 acre piece, in presence of Reid or anybody else, nor offered to pay any on the mortgage, but I told him I could take up the mortgage. I told him that this year, and told him so last year. This last winter. I made a mortgage to H.J. Harrell in 1895. It was intended to cover crop on the 30 acre tract. I described it as the Hagans & Ward land. I tended some land on the Ward place, the other was on the 30 acre piece. That was on the 11th of May, 1908. (Book 18, Page 180) Reason I didn’t move the fence was because Cook stopped me. I didn’t go to see Coley and tell him what Cook said. I told him about about it. I don’t remember where I told him, but I told him. I said Mr. Coley Mr. Cook said you gave him these rails, and he said no he didn’t. Cook had done moved the rails. I was aiming to have the line run. I went to have the lines turned out. I knew the fence was off the line for maybe 25 years. I never have had it run. I didn’t advise Mr. Coley to have it run. I showed Mr. Coley lines and corners, because he asked me to go around with him. I told him at the time it was my land. I didn’t tell Coley he would get Cook’s tobacco barn. I told him the line would strike the tobacco barn. It was on my side. There had been a division since then. He had alreday told me that Hagans had sold him the land, he wanted to know the land between me and him. He said, “Let’s go all around and we went with two more men. I told him it was my land. He asked me why didn’t I stir it while it was hot. He said not to let it get cold, do it now. I gave Peele & Copeland a lien on this land for $420. for supplies etc. I owed for supplies last year and for now. I have a statement of how much I owed him. He had crop lien as security last year. I paid him some. I owed him about $300 together with the mule claim and cow, they amounted to about $200 or $300. I gave him a note for $420. I bought the mule from Mr. Pat Coley. He stood for me. That was put in the Peele & Copeland mortgage. They took up my claim for Mr. Pat Coley. I gave them a mortgage for $420.

To be continued.

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Agriculture, Business, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

“They call me Tom Pig.”

The eighth in an occasional series excerpting testimony from the transcript of the trial in J.F. Coley v. Tom Artis, Wayne County Superior Court, November 1908.

Defendant introduces TOM ARTIS, who being duly sworn, testifies:

My name is Tom Artis. They call me Tom Pig. I own some land, 30 acres. (Plaintiff objects.) I have been living on the 30 acre tract of land 25 years, except one year. I mortgaged this land to Mr. Exum. (Plaintiff objects.) I don’t know about how long it was. About 25 or 30 years. (Plaintiff objects.) I don’t know what became of that mortgage. I got Hagans to take it up. (Plaintiff objects.) I don’t know who was present when I got Hagans to take it up. When Hagans agreed to take it up, Mrs. Exum, Hagans and myself were present. I own the 30 acre tract and lived on the the tract adjoining. After Hagans took up the papers, he told me that I could build on that place, or on the 24 acre piece. He said he thought it best for me to build on mine, he might die sometime, and there might be some trouble about me holding the house. I did so. He furnished the lumber, and I did the work. I decided to build on his side. After I built there I had been paying the 800 lb. of lint cotton year in and year out. (Plaintiff objects to each and every statement of the foregoing evidence.) The 800 lb. of cotton was to keep up the taxes and the interest of the money. (Plaintiff objects.) I have been paying this 800 lb. of cotton all the time. (Plaintiff objects.) I left that place one year. I left because my house got in such a bad fix, and I couldn’t stay there, and run my business like I wanted to, and I went over to Mr. Jones’. I rented the land. I rented it to Simon Exum. He gave me 950 lb. for the 30 acre place. I rented the Calv Place and the Adam Artis place. I moved back after one year at Mr. Jones’ place. I built on the Hagans place. Since then I built the piaza and shed room, to my own expense. Borrowed money from Hagans. I paid him back. He didn’t pay for the repairing of it. He furnished some shingles. Got 1/4 covered. I never asked W.S. Hagans to sell the 30 acre tract of land. I never said to Hagans in the presence of Reid or anybody else that I wanted im to sell it. I never asked anybody to buy the 30 acre tract of Hagans. Not the 30 acre tract. I had a conversation with Mr. Coley with reference to buying that land. I was talking about the Calv place. My land wasn’t brought in. The Calv place is the place I rented and lived on. That’s the land I spoke to Mr. Coley about buying from Hagans. He said if Mr. Cook and Hagans didn’t trade to send him a note. I told Hagans, he said tell him Coley, if his hands were not tied. I remember going over to Mr. Coley’s mill with Hagans. I didn’t hear any conversation bwteen Hagans and Coley with reference to buying this tract of land. They were off from me. I didn’t know what they were talking about. I heard them say when they came back to the buggy, Hagans said that he would see him again shortly. I don’t know if he said what day. Next I heard after that was that Hagans had sold it all to Mr. Coley, mine and all. I never rented the 30 acre tract of land. I know Jno. Rountree. I never asked him to go to Will Hagans and ask him to give me an opportunity of buying the 30 acre piece of land. I never said to Will Hgans, Jno. Rountree or Henry Reid, or anybody that I wanted Hagans to give me the opportunity of seeing my boys in Norfolk, so I could buy the 30 acrea piece. I asked Hagans what he would take for the acre back of my huose, of the Calv place. I told him I would buy that. His answer was, “Can you find a buyer for the other part of the Calv place.” I told him I didn’t know. He walked about his buggy house door. He said, “Uncle Tom” I can’t take what that mortgage calls for for your land, land is so much more valuable now than it was when yours was given. It passed off at that. Next I heard he had sold it to Coley.

To be continued.

——

N.B. Calvin “Calv Pig” Artis was Tom Pig Artis’ brother. He sold the Calv Pig place to Napoleon Hagans in 1879. (Tom and Calvin apparently derived their nicknames from their father Simon Pig Artis, who had been an enslaved man.)

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Free People of Color, Migration, Newspaper Articles

Rubbing a little too close.

1 9 03 Logansport Pharos Times

Logansport Pharos Times, 8 January 1903.

Montraville (or Montreville) Simmons was, of course, the irascible husband of Anna J. Henderson Simmons. After many years in Ontario, the family settled in rural Cass County, Indiana, near the community of Kenneth. Not far away was an African-American settlement dating back to the mid-1800s, when southern free people of color began migrating to the Midwest. The Bassett family, originally from North Carolina, anchored that community, and two of Annie and Montraville’s daughters married into the family.

Montraville, occasionally his sons Dock and Edward, Annie (once), and Montraville’s second wife Eliza (often and dramatically) popped up in the pages of nearby Logansport’s newspaper much more regularly than one might expect. He had a penchant for clashing with his neighbors, for lawsuits, and for violence, and local reporters gleefully recounted his mayhem and mishaps.

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