Births Deaths Marriages, Land, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

A glimpse of Uncle Sloan.

David Sloan Aldridge is the mystery brother. Born about 1858, he was Robert and Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge‘s fourth son and fifth child and appears with them in the Wayne County censuses of 1860, 1870 and 1880. By 1896, David, also called Sloan, had married Lillie Uzzell, though no license has been found. The couple filed three deeds for real estate purchases in Goldsboro and Grantham township in the late 1890s.  In 1900, David and Lillie (called Dilley in the census) are listed in Goldsboro, and he received his share of his father’s estate in 1902. And then he disappeared.


Goldsboro Weekly Argus, 1 September 1904.

I have not found David S. Aldridge in the 1910 census or after. Until I found this article last night, I had no record of him beyond Robert Aldridge’s estate settlement. The lots offered at auction were jointly purchased by David and his wife. In 1904, after his wife’s death, David sold his share in the property to Lillie Uzzell’s sole heir, her adult son, and, after this notice was published, disappears from the record again.

Free People of Color, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Politics

Alderman and poll holder.

Despite the collapse of Reconstruction, African-Americans continued to participate in Wayne County’s political life through the end of the 19th century. Mathew W. Aldridge, in particular, was active in local governance, as announced in eastern North Carolina newspapers:

Wilm Msgr 4 27 1889

Wilmington Messenger, 27 April 1889.


Goldsboro Headlight, 1 May 1889.


Goldsboro Headlight, 8 May 1889.

Wilm Msgr 5 8 1889

Wilmington Messenger, 8 May 1889.


Goldsboro Headlight, 8 October 1890.

Other notables: C[larence] Dillard (Presbyterian minister who arrived in Goldsboro in 1884, later principal of “colored school”); Bizzell Stevens (also a minister; like William S. Hagans, married into the Burnett family, a prominent free family of color in the antebellum era; later a postal clerk at Goldsboro post office); John Frank “J.F.” Baker (postmaster at the Dudley post office; married Mary Ann Aldridge, daughter of J. Matthew Aldridge; murdered); James Winn; and Henry S. “H.S.” Reid (son of Washington and Penninah Reid; member of large prominent free family of color.)

Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Vocation

The splendid side-wheeler Rough and Ready.

Needham KennedyMathew W. Aldridge‘s father-in-law — just gets more and more interesting.


New Berne Weekly Journal, 17 January 1884.


Daily journal new bern 4 9 1884

New Bern Daily Journal, 9 April 1884.

How did this man, enslaved until 1865, own a steamer plying the Neuse River from Goldsboro down to New Bern??? And why has he left so little trace in the record? I’m on the hunt.

Here’s an article from a Raleigh newspaper announcing the Rough and Ready‘s arrival in North Carolina:

12 8 1847 NC Star Raleigh

Star, 8 December 1847.

Stay tuned.

Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

A lot in Negro Town.

This convoluted case involves a dispute between two parties claiming title to a lot that once belonged to Needham Kennedy, Mathew W. Aldridge’s father-in-law. The ins and outs of the lawsuit are difficult to extract from the decision and, in any case, are not the most interesting aspects of the matter for me. Rather, my focus is on the evidence of relationships among Kennedy’s children (and their spouses) and the light shed on the affairs of a family that had quickly accumulated property post-slavery.

There is astoundingly little in conventional records about Needham Kennedy. I assume he was native to Wayne County, perhaps the former slave of one of several Kennedy families in the area. However, to my confusion and dismay, I have found neither him nor his family in any census records prior to 1900. Where were these landowners???

All the more important, then, is the personal information that can be gleaned from the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision in Bradford v. Bank of Warsaw, 182 N.C. 225 (1921). The main opinion in the case gives some information, but the fullest, clearest details are set forth in a dissenting opinion. A distillation of it all:

Needham Kennedy bought a lot measuring 42 feet by 210 feet in “’Negro Town,’ a suburb of Goldsboro,” on 12 January 1870 and registered his deed six years later.  He also owned other property. Needham died intestate about 1898, leaving five children – Fannie Kennedy Aldridge, Ida Kennedy Darden, Bryant Kennedy, William Kennedy, and Levi Kennedy  – and a wife, the children’s stepmother, who died in 1908. (Their birth mother was named Patience, maiden name possibly Kennedy.)  After the stepmother’s death, the children arranged to divide the property so that William and Bryant, who lived in New Jersey, would receive cash and their sisters and Levi would divide the land. Ida was to get the contested lot (A); Fannie, lot B; and Levi, lot C.

In 1909 and 1910, William, Bryant and Levi conveyed their interest in A to Ida. The deeds from William and Bryant were not recorded until 1921, and Levi’s was lost and never recorded. On 21 March 1910, at lawyer A.C. Davis’ office, Fannie Aldridge and husband Mathew conveyed her interest in A to Ida and her interest in C to Levi.  Levi and wife and Ida Darden and her husband John conveyed their interest in B to Mathew Aldridge. These deeds were immediately probated, and Fannie, Ida and Levi took possession of their respective lots.  (Levi later sold his.)

To secure a sum of money that Ida owed Mathew, Ida gave him a mortgage on A dated 22 March 1910, which was recorded that day. Ida had received rents from A since her stepmother’s death and continued to do so until 20 May 1912. On that day, Mathew Aldridge sold the mortgaged property to Captain A.J. Brown, who recorded the deed on 11 June 1912.

Captain Brown, and later his heirs, received rents from A from the date of purchase until 27 March 1915. On that day, the heirs sold the lot to defendant Bank of Warsaw, which recorded its deed on 1 May 1916. The bank then began to receive rents.

In the meantime, on 14 July 1916, William, Bryant and Levi Kennedy conveyed their undivided 3/5 interest in lot A to J.J. Ham. The deeds were registered 24 August 1916. On 17 October 1917, Ham conveyed his interest in the lot to N.E. Bradford, who registered the deed 24 October 1917. Thus, both Bradford and the Bank claimed interests in the title to A on the basis of deeds executed by various heirs of Needham Kennedy.

My year of property law class is far behind me, and I won’t attempt to untangle the dense reasoning set forth in the majority opinion in this matter.  Suffice it to say, the Bank of Warsaw lost its appeal.


Fannie’s husband Mathew W. Aldridge, brother of my great-great-grandfather John, died in 1920. Seven months later, Fannie married W.D. Farmer.  (What’s the story there?) I have not found her death certificate.


Eliza Balkcum Aldridge and her daughter-in-law, Fannie Kennedy Aldridge, circa 1920.

Levi Kennedy died 6 February 1940 in Goldsboro. His death certificate notes that he lived at 310 W. Pine Street, that he was a clothing merchant, and that he was married to Anna Kennedy.  He was born in 1875 in Goldsboro, and his parents were listed as Needham and Patience Kennedy. He is buried in Elmwood cemetery.

Ida Kennedy Darden Lamb died 18 December 1954 in Goldsboro. She was a widow and resided at 305 West Elm Street. She was born 18 March 1874 to “Needman” and Patience Kennedy.

I’ve been unable to trace William and Bryant Kennedy in New Jersey.

Free People of Color, Land, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Rights

A win for Uncle Mathew.


Goldsboro Headlight, 5 March 1890.

I don’t know why Matthew W. Aldridge sued Calvin Foy, but I’ll try to find out next time I’m in Raleigh. “Little Washington” was a black neighborhood south of Pine Street and west of Virginia Street, just outside Goldsboro city limits. The community was largely lost to urban renewal projects.

Births Deaths Marriages, Migration, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Funeral Program Friday: Fannie Aldridge Randolph.

FP Fannie Randolph Phila PA 1_Page_1

FP Fannie Randolph Phila PA 1_Page_2

For reasons that aren’t clear to me, the Aldridges that my grandmother was closest to in her adult life were two of her father’s first cousins, daughters of  Matthew W. Aldridge, Fannie Aldridge Randolph and Mamie Aldridge Abrams Rochelle. They grew up in Goldsboro, not Dudley, and both migrated North before 1930, so I am guessing that she met them after she moved to Philadelphia in 1958.

I wish I’d probed these relationships more. Mother Dear and Cousin Fannie lived a short bus ride apart in West Philadelphia and saw each often enough that I recall visiting her house on Filbert Street and seeing her at my grandmother’s on Wyalusing during our short summer stays. I never met Cousin Mamie, but know that my grandmother visited her in Union, South Carolina, and took at least one sightseeing trip (“excursion,” as she called them) with her.

Fannie B. Aldridge left Goldsboro for Philadelphia shortly after the 1910 census was recorded. In 1913, she married Virginia-born Elisha Randolph (1875-1940) and, by 1917, when he registered for the draft, had settled into the rowhouse in the 5800 block of Filbert Street in which she would remain the rest of her life.

Here is a bad partial copy of a photograph of Matthew Aldridge’s daughters. Fannie is at right, standing behind one of her nieces.  The boy in the middle, I believe, was Elijah Randolph, her only child. Her sisters Daisy Aldridge Williams and Mamie are left and center.

Daisy Mamie Fannie Aldridge & children

And here’s Cousin Fannie as I vaguely remember her. This Polaroid dates from about 1973 and was taken in my grandmother’s kitchen. (That’s Mother Dear at right.)

Fannie Aldridge Randolph & Hattie Ricks

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Photographs

Family cemeteries, no. 1: Matthew Aldridge family.

A low brick wall, crumbling on its back edge, outlines the plot in Elmwood cemetery that holds the remains of Matthew W. Aldridge and his family. Elmwood, Goldsboro’s African-American cemetery, is easily overlooked by cars whizzing down US 117 Bypass South.  A tree-shrouded branch divides a newer section from an older one behind, and it is in the latter that the Aldridge graves can be found.


Matthew W. Aldridge is here, and perhaps his wife, Fannie Kennedy Aldridge, though no stone for her is apparent. His marker is at the bottom right corner of the photo above.


Few other graves in the enclosure are marked, though one memorializes one of the eight of Matthew and Fannie Aldridge’s children that died in childhood. Only three daughters — Daisy Aldridge Williams, Fannie Aldridge Randolph, and Mamie Aldridge Abrams Rochelle — reached adulthood.  Daisy, her husband Clarence and daughter Daszelle Williams are buried elsewhere in Elmwood.

Photos taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, March 2013.