Civil War, Free People of Color, Military, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Daniel Artis, Union soldier?

Daniel Artis’ pension file arrived today, and I was puzzled. Was this either of “my” Daniels?

As detailed here, Daniel Artis, allegedly went to war as a body servant for Confederate officer Christopher C. Lane. There are two Daniel Artises. One was born about 1820 and would have been well into middle age when he trudged off to battle. On the other hand, his nephew Daniel Artis, Sylvania’s son, was born about 1843, and was in his prime when the Civil War erupted.

What does the file tell us? It’s a slim one, as pension application files go. Daniel’s request for assistance was rejected summarily, so there was no need to interview his neighbors and kin to corroborate his claims. Still, it is useful.

On 2 December 1901, the Board of Review received an application from DANIEL ARTIES, G 14 USCHA, and assigned it claim number 1277226. Milo B. Stevens & Company of Washington, D.C., a firm of attorneys specializing in pension claims, represented the old soldier. Daniel gave his address as P.O. Box 5, Greenville, Pitt Co., NC, and stated that he had enrolled in the Army in an unknown date in 1865 and been discharged on 11 December of the same year. Despite the Pitt County address, Artis granted Stevens power of attorney on a form sworn to in Wayne County — specifically, Eureka — in the presence of W.M. Exum and Philip Forte. I’m not clear on Exum’s identity, but Forte was a prominent African-American in the neighbor and himself a Union veteran.  Further, Forte’s daughter Hannah married Daniel’s cousin Walter S. Artis, son of Adam and Frances Seaberry Artis. Simon S. Strother, the notary public who stamped Daniel’s application, was executor of Adam T. Artis’ estate.) At some point, a commissioner requested “personal description and name of owner” from Artis, but the response — which would have included an assertion of his freeborn status — is not found.

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Daniel’s supporting declaration for invalid pension stated that he was 68 years old, that he had been discharged at Fort Macon, and that he was unable to support himself by manual labor due to “rheumatism in back and hip and piles and affected in the breast.” Daniel signed the document with an X.

And then the downer: “Rejection on the ground that the soldiers name is not borne on the rolls of Co G, 14th U.S.Col.H.A., as alleged, as shown by the report from the War Department.”

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So, which Daniel is this? Several clues help eliminate Daniel the elder. First, he was born circa 1820, well before Daniel the applicant. Second, Daniel the elder owned significant property in Greene County and is not known to have lived in either Wayne or Pitt Counties. Last, and this applies to either, if Daniel served Christopher C. Lane during his time as an officer in Company A, 3rd North Carolina Artillery from about 1861 till his death in 1864, is it likely that he would have trudged home from Georgia, turned around, gone to New Bern, and enlisted in the Colored Troops in 1865?

My money is on Daniel, son of Sylvania Artis and Guy Lane. Here’s the little I know about him:

In the 1850 census of Greene County, next to white farmer John Lane, Silvany Artess is listed with her children Daniel, Mitchell, Meriah, Gui, and Penny Artess. Ten years later, John Lane’s household included Dannel, Mike, Penney, Dyner, Juley, and Washington Artis, who probably were his apprentices.  Next door was 40 year-old Dannel Artis, the children’s uncle.  On the other side, their mother Sylvania Artis.

Around 1861, Daniel went to war with John Lane’s son Christopher and returned home in 1864.  Surely it is he, and not his 45 year-old uncle Daniel, that enlisted in the Union Army in 1865. His service was short-lived, and he apparently returned to Greene County after.

Guy Lane and Sylvania Artis formalized their marriage a year after he was emancipated, and by 1870 the family had moved several miles west into Nahunta district, Wayne County. There, Guy Lane and wife Silvania are shown in the census with children Daniel, Mike [Mitchell], Mariah, Guy, Penny, Dinah, Julie, Washington, and Alford.

In the 1880 census in Bull Doze [Bull Head] township, Greene County, Daniel Artis appears with his wife Eliza and children Emma D. and James W. I cannot find him in any census thereafter. However, if he is the Daniel Artis who applied for a Civil War pension, he was living in Wayne or Pitt County from 1900 until at least 1904. The notice below also seems to indicate that he was alive as late as 1905, when Dunk Lane and “Miss Dickerson” used his house as a place of assignation. This is the last evidence I have of Daniel Artis’ life.

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Goldsboro Weekly Argus, 1 August 1907.

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Civil War, Free People of Color, Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Map, in color.

Last time I was at the North Carolina State Archives, I went looking for the original of this Confederate field map. I didn’t find it, but Trisha Blount Hewitt did.

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Dr. David G.W. Ward’s plantation is just below Stantonsburg at the top, and Silas Bryant and John Lane’s farms — where the Artises were apprenticed — are bottom left. X marks the approximate spot of the Artis Town cemetery.

More thanks to Trisha.

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Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Best of all.

Cain D. Sauls, grocer, banker, farmer, also wrote a society column — “News Among the Colored People” — for a short-lived newspaper in Snow Hill, Greene County, North Carolina. The piece that ran on 11 February 1898 reveals some of Sauls’ additional interests — an investment in Coleman Mills in Concord, North Carolina,

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The Great Sunny South (Snow Hill NC), 11 February 1898.

and a position as justice of the peace, in which presided over the marriages of neighbors and friends.

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Education, Enslaved People, Land, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Meeting the Saulses.

All week, I was pressed. Wave after wave of thunderstorms had been crashing over eastern North Carolina, tornadoes swirling in their wake. The rain didn’t stop until the night before I flew in, and I knew that Contentnea Creek floods early and often. Friday dawned bright and blue though. I headed down Highway 58, excitement brimming like the sheets of water standing in fields on both sides of the pavement. Though several roads around Stantonsburg were still closed, my path was clear, and I pulled into the Saulses’ driveway at the stroke of 10 A.M.

Cousin Andrew Sauls is a reserved man, but welcoming and friendly, and he and his wife, Cousin Jannettie, put me quickly at ease. They were curious about my connection to Daniel Artis and the Saulses, and as I began to explain about Vicey and Sylvania and Adam T., we realized that he had known many of “my” Artises as a young man. In addition to farming hundreds of acres northwest of Snow Hill, his father, Isaac Sauls Jr., bought, rehabbed and sold farms, was a skilled carpenter, and operated several businesses. In 1947, after a short-lived stint operating a funeral home in Snow Hill, Isaac bought a saw mill, refurbished it, and began cutting lumber the following year. Cousin Andrew started working there as a ten year-old and recalled that the factory made good money for more than 20 years because there was a high demand for raw lumber. In those days, he said, “I didn’t know nair black person had a brick house in Greene County. Nor hardly any white ones.” People needed lumber for home repairs and to build tobacco barns and other out buildings. Though most of the Saulses’ customers were white, they also sold to many black farmers in Greene and surrounding counties, including Les, William and Walter Artis in Wayne County. Brothers William and Walter were sons of Adam T. and Frances Seaberry Artis, and Leslie, son of Napoleon Artis, was their nephew. (William, Walter and Napoleon were brothers of my great-great-grandmother, Louvicey Artis Aldridge. All were grandchildren of Vicey Artis Williams, who was Daniel Artis’ sister.)  Cousin Isaac recalled Les as one of the richest black men in Wayne County, and the first he knew of to own a Cadillac. He laughed as he recounted hauling a load of lumber to Walter Artis as a 17 year-old and being offered some liquor. Isaac Sauls Jr. also operated a “stick mill” that cut tobacco sticks for farmers during the summer months.

After a while, Cousin Andrew’s only surviving sibling, sister Hattie, who lives nearby in the “home house,” joined us and chimed in as Andrew talked about their father’s and grandfather’s achievements. He has an astounding memory and reeled off the dates and details of land purchases dating back ninety years to his father’s first acquisition of 57 acres for $400 in 1924. Today the family owns about 440 acres, which it leases to another farmer. When I mentioned his great-uncle Cain “C.D.” Sauls‘ involvement with an African-American bank in Wilson, he astonished me by exclaiming, “I remember my daddy talking about that! It went under. I think he said it was Stanback and Reid.” [And sure enough, J.D. Reid and H.S. Stanback were the bank officers convicted of the fraud that led to the bank’s failure.]

According to Cousin Andrew, in 1929, Isaac Sauls Jr. leased land to the state for the erection of a Rosenwald school. That school served African-American students in the area from 1930 until 1959. When it closed, Cousin Isaac bought the building and converted it into a house in which his son William lived until his death. The structure now stands a few hundred feet north of Cousin Andrew’s house. [Here for National Register of Historic Places nomination form for another Rosenwald school in Greene County.]

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Cousin Hattie spoke of C.D. Sauls’ ownership of several businesses in Snow Hill, including a hotel and a funeral home. She was not sure if he was a formally educated man, but he appeared to be. He was on personal terms with Booker T. Washington and traveled to Tuskegee Institute to speak on occasion. He also owned shares in a cotton mill in Concord, North Carolina. (This would have been the ill-fated Coleman Manufacturing Company.) He apparently occasionally contibuted a column to a newspaper in Kinston, and she promised to send me a copy of an article.  Later, when I mentioned that my mother had taught at North Greene Elementary School for a few years when she first came to North Carolina, Cousin Hattie asked if she knew Annie Edwards Moye, who’d taught there for 45 years. (Annie Moye was a descendant of Clara Artis Edwards, daughter of Daniel Artis.) I didn’t know the answer at the time, but soon learned that my mother in fact had commuted to Greene County with Mrs. Moye and other teachers who lived in Wilson!

Neither his father nor his grandfather had much education, said Cousin Andrew, but they were smart and shrewd and skilled and able to form strong business relationships on the strength of their word. Isaac Sr., born at the start of the Civil War to the enslaved daughter of a free-born, land-owning man and his enslaved wife, was a master carpenter who began to accumulate land at an early age and passed his drive and determination on to his children. One hundred and fifty years later, his gift shines in his grandson Andrew.

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Cousin Andrew and me at Artis Town cemetery, 2 May 2014.

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

Family cemeteries, no. 13: Artis Town.

We passed Edwards cemetery on the left, rounded the curve, and there, just where I suspected, was the turn-off onto a farm road leading to Artis Town cemetery. The graveyard is a rectangle of green amid bare spring fields, neatly mowed. A row of weedy trees bristles down one side, broken limbs scattered from recent storms. The oldest stones tilt sideways or sprawl toppled on their backs, but the cemetery is obviously cared for. It lies at the heart of what was once known as Artis Town, a hundred or more acres between Highway 58 and Speights Bridge Road on which lived and farmed Artises and Edwardses in every direction, descendants of Daniel Artis, who bought the land in the 1800s. There was even a racetrack here, said my cousin, where men would line up horses and buggies for weekend contests. As time went by, however, the land got “swindled down.”

Daniel Artis’ headstone stands in a shadowy pocket underneath a chinaberry tree, the grave itself sprinkled with wrinkled yellow fruit. The small white marble obelisk is a testament to Daniel’s prosperity and the esteem in which his offspring held him.

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I did not locate stones for any of Daniel’s children in the graveyard, though surely some are buried there. (Daughter Clara Artis Edwards is buried in the nearby Edwards cemetery.) Many markers memorialize the deaths of descendants of Loderick Artis and Prior Ann Artis Sauls Thompson, including Loderick’s daughter Sarah Artis Speight:

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and son, Manceson Artis:

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and daughter Hannah Artis Mitchell, as well as Prior Ann’s daughter Mariah Sauls Edwards:

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and a host of other Saulses, Forbeses, Artises, Speights and Mitchells descended from Daniel Artis.

Photos taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, 2 May 2014.

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