By the early antebellum period, dozens of Artis families had drifted down from southern Virginia to form a large node in Wayne County. The 1840 census lists more than 40 Artis heads of household in that county. By contrast, there were never more than a handful of Artises recorded in neighboring Greene County in the antebellum era, and none at all before 1850. (This, of course, does not mean they were not there. Only that they did not qualify as heads of household.) Were the Greene County Artises an off-shoot of one of the many Wayne County Artis lines? Are they a single extended family? Were they all free prior to the Civil War? Or were some of them freedmen who adopted the surname of their free-born kin?
I’ve begun to pull together all sources of information about antebellum Artises in Greene County to try to find answers.
In 1850, clustered:
- at #429, Vicy Artess, 40, and her children Zilpha, 22, Louis, 8, Jonah, 7, Jethro, 5, and Richard, 1. Vicey Artis with her oldest daughter and youngest children.
- at #431, Sylvany Artess, 36, and children Daniel, 7, Mitchel, 5, Meriah, 4, Gui, 2, and Penny, 3 months. As detailed here, I believe Vicey and Sylvania Artis were sisters. White farmer John Lane, who likely apprenticed Sylvania’s children and enslaved their father Guy, was listed at #430.
In 1860, in Bull Head district:
- at #25, James, 16, and Jetherroe Artis, 14, farmhands, with Silas Bryant. These boys appear to be Vicey’s sons Jonah and Jethro and have followed their siblings into service as Bryant’s. Vicey herself is listed a few miles over the line in Wayne County with daughter Charity and Charity’s children, an unnamed one year-old “infant” and 8 year-old son Jethro.
- at #26, Dannel, 17, Mike, 13, Penney, 12, Dyner, 9, Juley, 7, and Washington Artis, 5, with John Lane. These children, of course, are Sylvania’s younger children. Sylvania (“Silvano”) herself is living next door to her sister Vicey in Wayne County with a one year-old boy named Hiram Artis.
- at #36, Mary Artis, 27, servant in the household of Richard Baker. Who is Mary Artis, and where was she in 1850?
And in Tyson’s Marsh district:
- Nancy, 17, Aron, 13, Richard, 11, Calvin, 9, and Rebecker Artes, 5, in the household of G.S. Peacock. Where had the oldest children been in 1850? In 1870, Calvin Artis, 20, is a farmhand in the household of Sarah Wooten, Snow Hill township, Green County. In 1880 Snow Hill township: Richard Artis, 29, Charlotte, 24, Hattie, 3, and Jessee Artis, 1. On 9 March 1876, Calvin Artis applied for a marriage license for Richard Artis, 24, son of Isom Heath and Matilda Artis, and Charlotte Ellis, 21. Matilda was said to be living at that time. Where was she in 1850 and 1860 then?
- at #161, servant Percy Artes, 25, and her children Henry C., 1, and Thomas, 5, in the household of Murrhyer Best. In 1850, Persey Artice and Rufus Artice, both 17, were listed in the household of Martin Sauls in North Side of the Neuse, Wayne County. In 1870, Snow Hill, Greene County, Prissy Artice, 35, and son Thomas, 14.
Margaret Artis. Died 4 March 1920, Carrs township, Greene County, North Carolina. Age 70. Widow of Ed Artis. Born Greene County to Penny Speight. Buried Carr’s Farm. Informant, Tom Speight. Not found in census or other records.
Thomas Artis. Died 30 July 1941, Bullhead township, Greene County, North Carolina. Widower of Mary Artis. Born 21 December 1853 in Wayne County to John and Leathy Artis. Buried family cemetery, by C.E. Artis. Informant, F[illegible] Exum. In the 1860 census of Davis district, Wayne County: John Artis, 39, wife Lethy, 40, and children Sarah J., 13, Zachary, 11, Millie, 9, Wm. T., 7, and Betsey Artis, 4. He was the grandson of Celia Artis.
Fillis Artis. Died 28 October 1916, Ormondsville township, Greene County, North Carolina. Married. Born 1853 in Greene County to Charity Edwards. Informant, W.H. Phillips. Phyllis Artis was not free-born, but married a man whose parents were. Phyllis Lee, age 35, daughter of Jerry Edwards and Charity Coward, married Rom Artis, 27, son of Jordan Artis and Arley [Olive] Artis, in Greene County on 11 January 1897. (Romilus was born about 1868, perhaps in Lenoir County. Census records show that his father lived in Wayne.) In the 1900 census of Contentnea township, Pitt County: Rom Artis (born 1868); wife Filliss (born 1860); four sons-in-law [stepsons?] John (1885), Allen (1886), Milton (1889) and Charley Leary (1891); son-in-law(?) William Artis (1893); daughter-in-law(?) Mande Artis (1895); and mother Ollie Artis (1840.)
Henry Artis. Died 10 January 1935 in Paris, Edgar County, Illinois. Barber. Resided 437 East Court. Born 21 March 1835, Snow Hill [Greene County], North Carolina to Louis Artis and Elizabeth Bass. Widower of Gabreil Artis. In the 1870 census of Otter Creek, Vigo County, Indiana: Lewis Artis, 39, Elizabeth, 38, Lucy A., 33, Elie, 20, Peggy, 14, Thomas, 8, John, 5, and William Artis, 4 months; the first three born in North Carolina. In the 1880 census of Charleston, Coles County, Indiana: North Carolina-born Henry Artis, 41, Ohio-born Ellen Artis, 43, and others.
Olive Artis. 1832-22 May 1904, Artis cemetery, Artis Cemetery Road, Greene County.
Phillis Artis. Wife of Rom Artis. 12 March 1861-28 October 1916, Artis cemetery, Artis Cemetery Road, Greene County. See Fillis Artis, above.