Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, Other Documents

Frank, found.

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My first question: why have I just found this 1940 census entry today?

My second: Cousin Ardeanur married a Jamaican????

Her age is way off — Ardeanur was 37, not 47 — but this is definitely my great-great-aunt Minnie McNeely, my grandmother’s first cousin Ardeanur Smith Hart, and Ardeanur’s mysterious husband Frank living right in Jersey City, the city next door to Bayonne (where Martha Miller McNeely and most of her children lived for greater or lesser stretches of time.) The address was 359 Pacific Avenue. A family of McKoys rented one apartment in the building, and the Harts, Aunt Minnie, and a William Macklin shared another, splitting the $30/month rent. Frank Hart, a naturalized citizen, worked as a butler in a private home and reported earning $500 in 1939. Ardeanur and Minnie were housekeepers in private homes earning $400 and $360 respectively. Macklin, an insurance agent, earned more than everybody else in the flat combined — $1700.

I still don’t know when Ardeanur married Frank Hart, but they reported that they’d been living at the same address five years before. This suggests they were married before 1935.

I don’t see Frank in earlier census records, but is this his arrival in the U.S. in 1922?

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If so, did he leave his first wife back in Jamaica, or maybe Cuba?

This World War II draft registration card is definitely Ardeanur’s Frank:

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The back of the card, dated 27 April 1942, described him as Negro, 5’8″ and 165 lbs., with a light brown complexion, brown eyes and black hair. It’s the last record I’ve found for Frank W. Hart.

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359 Pacific Avenue, Jersey City, as seen from Google Street View. Per Zillow, the building was built in 1901.

Births Deaths Marriages, Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Rights

Murdock v. Deal, 208 N.C. 754, 182 S.E. 466 (1935).

In case you’re interested, here’s the text of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Bertha Hart Murdock’s land. Property law is not my strong suit, especially as it applies to inheritance, so I will not attempt an explication.


This is an action for a declaratory judgment construing the last will and testament of T. L. Hart, deceased, and adjudging that by virtue of said last will and testament the feme plaintiff is the owner of an indefeasible estate in fee simple in certain lands described in the complaint, and has the power, with the joinder of her husband, to convey the same in accordance with her contract with the defendant.

The facts admitted in the pleadings are as follows:

T. L. Hart died in Iredell county, N. C., during the year 1930, having first made and published his last will and testament, which was duly probated by the clerk of the superior court of Iredell county, and recorded in the office of said clerk on June 4, 1930.

By his last will and testament, the said T. L. Hart devised his home place in Iredell county “to my daughter, Bertha May Hart and her bodily heirs, forever, never to be sold, and if she dies without bodily heirs, then it must be in trust for my sisters’ heirs, to hold but never to sell the same.”

By a codicil to his said last will and testament, the said T. L. Hart devised to his daughter, Bertha Mae Hart, a tract of land in Iredell county, containing forty-five acres, and described in the complaint by metes and bounds.

At his death, T. L. Hart left surviving as his only heir at law his daughter, Bertha Mae Hart, who has since intermarried with the plaintiff W. J. Murdock. He also left surviving five sisters, three of whom are married. Each of these sisters has children. Neither of his two unmarried sisters has children. Both are now over fifty years of age.

On April 1, 1935, the plaintiffs and the defendant entered into a contract in writing, by which the plaintiffs agreed to convey to the defendant a fee-simple estate, free and clear of all liens or incumbrances, in two tracts of land, one tract containing twelve acres, and being a part of the home place of T. L. Hart, deceased, which was devised to the feme plaintiff by the said T. L. Hart in his last will and testament, and the other tract containing forty-five acres and being the tract which was devised to the feme plaintiff by T. L. Hart, deceased, by the codicil to his last will and testament. By said contract, the defendant agreed to pay to the plaintiffs the sum of $1,000, upon the execution and delivery to him by the plaintiffs of a deed conveying both said tracts of land to the defendant, in fee simple, in accordance with said contract.

The defendant has refused to accept the deed tendered to him by the plaintiffs, and has declined to pay the plaintiffs the sum of $1,000, in accordance with said contract, on the ground that the feme plaintiff is not the owner of an indefeasible estate in fee simple in said tracts of land, and for that reason the plaintiffs cannot convey to him such an estate in said lands, in accordance with their contract.

On these facts the court was of opinion and so held that the feme plaintiff is the owner of an indefeasible estate in fee simple in the forty-five-acre tract, but that she is not the owner of such an estate in the twelve-acre tract.

It was accordingly ordered, considered, and adjudged that plaintiffs are not entitled to the specific performance by the defendant of the contract set up in the complaint, and that the defendant recover of the plaintiffs the costs of the action. The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court, assigning as error the holding of the court that the feme plaintiff is not the owner of an indefeasible estate in fee simple in the twelve-acre tract described in the complaint.


CONNOR, Justice.

There is no error in the judgment in this action. By virtue of the last will and testament of her father, T. L. Hart, deceased, and under the statute, C. S. § 1734, the feme plaintiff is the owner of an estate in fee simple in the twelve-acre tract described in the complaint. This estate, however, is defeasible upon the death of the feme plaintiff without bodily heirs. Whitfield v. Garris, 131 N. C. 148, 42 S. E. 568, and Id., 134 N. C. 24, 45 S. E. 904. It is clear that the words “bodily heirs,” used by the testator, must be construed as meaning children or issue; otherwise the limitation over to the heirs of the sisters of the testator would be meaningless. Rollins v. Keel, 115 N. C. 68, 20 S. E. 209. See Pugh v. Allen, 179 N. C. 307, 102 S. E. 394.

The limitation over to the heirs of the sisters of the testator, upon the death of the feme plaintiff, without bodily heirs or issue, is not void. The provision in the will that the home place of the testator, which includes the twelve-acre tract described in the complaint, shall not be sold by either the feme plaintiff or the remaindermen is void as against public policy. This provision, however, does not affect the validity of the devise either to the plaintiff or to the remaindermen. See Lee v. Oates, 171 N. C. 717, 88 S. E. 889, Ann. Cas. 1917A, 514.

There is nothing in the codicil which affects the estate in the home place of the testator devised in the will to the feme plaintiff.

The judgment is affirmed.

Births Deaths Marriages, Land, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Oral History

Bert’s estate.

She wanted a baby badly.

My grandmother:  … that nephew, Dr. Lord’s son, that was Mr. Hart’s nephew.  He got what Bert had. Yes, indeed. ‘Cause, see, it was heir property. And see that’s why Bert tried so hard to have a child.  Because if she didn’t have a child, it was going to whoever had had a child.  You know. And I guess Alonzo did, you know, he was a nephew.  When Bert died, it went to him. See, all this property and everything that Mr. Hart owned there was his family’s stuff.  Wasn’t Grandma Hart’s.

And in 1941, when she nearly 40 years old, Bertha Hart Murdock had one:


Statesville Landmark, 2 April 1941.

But little William Alonzo Murdock died the day after he was born.

Still, the situation for Bert and her property was not as critical as my grandmother had believed. In Alonzo Hart’s original will, made 15 October 1928 in Statesville, he devised “the home place to my daughter Bertha Mae Hart and her bodily heirs, for ever, never to be sold and if she dies without bodilies heirs. Then it must be in trust for my sisters heirs to hold but never sell same.” The remainder of his property went to his sisters’ heirs.

Thirteen months later, as he languished in the state sanitorium in Quewhiffle, dying of tuberculosis, Hart dictated a codicil.  In somewhat opaque and ungrammatical phrasing, Hart “hereby enlarge[d] the privilege to and use at her own and released to her. In stead of one parcel or tract of land I do bequeath and devise to her following described lands, In Iredell North Carolina, 45 acres in Concord Township (Deatonsville) Also 2 lots with one house Statesville Township also 47 acres in Shiloh township and Crawford near Sumters place 22 acres in above township near home belong to the home resdue. I am in my right presence of mind and know what is best for my only and legal heir Bertha Mae Hart.”

In other words, Bertha’s inheritance was generous and unrestricted, and her cousin Alonzo Lord was not to receive anything at all. Things did not go smoothly, however. Hart’s unconventional wording opened the door to challenge, and Bertha was forced to defend her title.

A Hart Est Suit Landmark 11 21 1935

Statesville Landmark, 21 November 1935.

Incredibly, this case went to the North Carolina Supreme Court: Murdock v. Deal208 N.C. 754, 756, 182 S.E. 466, 467 (1935).

By time Bertha died in 1955, her estate seems to have been much reduced, but still comprised some of Alonzo Hart’s land. The bulk of her estate went to Odessa A. Williams, who may have been her cousin. Her half-brother H. Golar Tomlin inherited only a half-interest in a lot. His daughter Annie LaVaughn Tomlin Schuyler received the other half. Another niece, Mattie Johnson, received the negligible sum of one dollar, which raises questions: who in the world was she? I only know of Golda’s one child. Was this in fact Mattie James, oldest daughter of Bert’s other half-brother, Lon Colvert? Why bother with a dollar? And why not give the other nieces, Louise Colvert Renwick, Margaret Colvert Allen, and Launie Colvert Jones, their own dollars?

Murdock Will 8 Jun 1955 R and L

Statesville Landmark, 8 June 1955.

The drama did not end with Bert’s death. In what looks to be the family’s own Bleak House saga, City of Statesville v. Credit and Loan Company, a corporation of the State of North Carolina; W.S. Nicholson and spouse, if any, and if they be deceased, then their unknown heirs, and if any of said unknown heirs be deceased, then their respective heirs, devisees, assignees, and spouses, if any; and the unknown heirs of Minnie Brawley, Florence Camp, Mollie Alexander, and Lula H. Lord, Deceased, and if any of said unknown heirs be deceased, then their respective heirs, devisees, assignees, and spouses, if any; and all other persons, firms and corporations who now have, or may hereafter have, and right title, claim or interest, in the real estate described herein, whether sane or insane, adult or minor, in esse, or in ventre sa mere, active corporations or dissolved corporations, foreign or domestic, 294 S.E.2nd 405, was not decided in the North Carolina Court of Appeals until 1982.

The first sentence of the decision: “The sole issue is whether plaintiff has a valid avigation easement over land owned by defendant.” An avigation easement is a property right acquired from a landowner for the use of air space above a specified height.  Alonzo Hart’s home property was located a few miles west of Statesville, adjacent to land now home to Statesville Regional Airport. (Brawley, Camp, Alexander and Lord were his sisters.) The City of Statesville’s claim that it held prescriptive easements was rejected, and partial summary judgment entered for the defendants.


Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.

Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Photographs, Religion

Church home, no. 7: Center Street African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Statesville NC.

My grandmother:  She was a great Methodist. And she would come down occasionally to go to church, you know.  Have on all them taffeta skirts, and they were shirtwaisted skirts, you know.  And she was pretty, honey.  Have you ever seen any of her pictures?

And another time:

Where did they have that funeral?  They must have brought her down and had her in, at the Methodist Church in Statesville.  She belonged there.  She would come Saturday, get up Sunday morning, honey, and put on those taffeta skirts with those pretty blouses and lace all down the front and ‘round there. 


I had not planned to go to Sunday School. I was on my way home for Christmas and stopped in Statesville just to look for Harriet Nicholson Hart‘s church. I suspected that Center Street AME Zion Church was the same as Mount Pleasant AMEZ, which still meets, but my internet search was inconclusive.

The morning was dreary and chilly when I pulled into a space across from the church. I had snapped a couple of shots with my phone when I saw a woman step from an SUV in the parking lot. “Excuse me,” I called. “I’m looking for Center Street AMEZ.” She tilted her head toward the church behind me. “This is it,” she said. “It’s called Mount Pleasant now.” I explained that my family had been members of the church a hundred years before and my great-great-grandmother had been funeralized there in 1924. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and after asking if I might peek inside, I followed her through a side door — straight into Sunday School.

A junior pastor was addressing a small gathering of adults, and I — acutely conscious of my jeans and hoodie — took a seat just inside the door. As he spoke on the necessity to reach out to youth, I discreetly glanced around. In the nave, dully gleaming brass organ pipes stretched nearly wall-to-wall. At the back of the sanctuary, a large arched tripartite stained glass window brightened the pews. At an opportune time, I introduced myself and expressed my joy at joining in a service at a church that had been so important to my family at one time. “What were their names?” “Nicholson and Colvert and Hart,” I said, “and other family lived in the neighborhood. My great-aunt was Louise Colvert Renwick.” There were nods of familiarity and expressions of welcome.

I slipped out before too long and paused again as I reached my car to gaze back at the building. A woman hurried around the side of the church, calling out for me to wait. She was the pastor’s wife and she had a small gift — a card and a CD of hymns. “Thank you for visiting,” she said. “We’re so glad you found us.”


IMG_4579Mount Pleasant AMEZ Church today, corner of South Center and Garfield Streets.


Center Street AMEZ Church, Sanborn map of Statesville, 1918.


Interviews of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Oral History

Aunt Bert, as reported.

So, the conversation started with talk of Bill Bailey’s barbecue joint. Which was also a dance hall.  Which, though it was right up the road, was, as my grandmother put it, “strictly off-limits” to her and her sisters. “We couldn’t stand him,” she said, because “he did everything illegal and got away with it.” He had a great big stomach and was “trashy,” but his steaks pulled the best of Iredell County’s partying white folks.  And he was married to my grandmother’s Aunt Bert.

Me:  Now, she wound up … She shot somebody, or something, didn’t she?

My grandmother:  Yeah, she shot somebody.  She shot a white man.

My mother’s first cousin, N.:  What he do?  Slap her?  What did he do?  He did something to her.

My grandmother:  I don’t know what he did to her.  But maybe … seems like to me he kicked her.

N:  And she shot him.

My grandmother:  And she shot him.

N.: They had to take his leg off.


Me:  Oh.  Well, good for Bert.

When I wrote about this before, I was looking for newspaper coverage of the incident, thinking that a black woman shooting a white man in North Carolina in 1944 had to have galvanized the public. Well, sure enough, the Statesville Record & Landmark covered every step of ensuing criminal trial, though in a considerably less salacious manner than I might have expected.  The headlines pretty much tell the tale:

James Warren, Merchant Marine Home on Leave, Seriously Shot. Mae Bailey, Colored, Held in County Jail Charged with Shooting. 29 March.

Warren Shot 3 29 44Warren shot contd

Warren Holding Own, But Will Not Be Out of Danger For Week.  30 March.

James Warren’s Leg Amputated.  3 April.

James L. Warren Is Better But Not Yet Out of Danger.  6 Apr.

Mae Bailey Freed from Jail Today, Hearing May 8th.  11 April.

May Postpone Murdock Trial.  29 April.

Warren Removed to the Naval Hospital at Portsmouth, Va.  1 May.

M. Murdock Trial Postponed Until Monday, June 12.  8 May.

James Warren Starts Civil Action Against Murdocks for $25,000.  11 May.

Murdock Civil Action 11 May 44 R and L

Mae Murdock Case Continued to August.  25 May.

Judge Bobbitt to Superior Court Preside August, Case of Mae (Bailey) Murdock Will Not Be Tried At This Term.  29 July 1944.

Murdock Trial Definitely Set For November 6, Warren is Able to Leave Hospital.  6 September.

Prosecuting Witness May Not Visit Scene of Shooting. 9 October.

Mae Murdock is Bound to Court Under $5000 Bond. 16 October.

Case Hinges on Warren’s Action Before Shooting, Testimony Rapidly Nearing Completion.  9 November.

Murdock Woman is Convicted. 13 November.

Conviction 13 Nov 1944

Murdock Case to Go to State Supreme Court.  14 November.

$25,000 Law Suit Against Murdock Woman Continued.  14 November.

Aunt Bert served her time at the state women’s prison in Raleigh and returned to Statesville after to pass her few remaining years.  She had  possessed considerable wealth after her father’s death in 1929, but lost much of it while she was away. My family maintains that William “Bill Bailey” Murdock had entrusted whites to help hide his shady assets, and they betrayed him after Bert shot one of their own.

Bert died in 1955. The Landmark ran her death notice without comment or reference to the incident for which she had been infamous just ten years earlier.

Bert Murdock Obit 26 May 1955 Record and Landmark


Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.


Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Other Documents

A colored man of rare powers of mind.

Harriet pursued him, my grandmother said. Relentlessly. Followed him to Ohio to make her case for marriage. Certainly, that she, a widow in her early 40s, found (or allowed herself to become) pregnant suggests an impetus for her plans. Still, Thomas Alonzo “T.L.” Hart was not easily swayed. Their only child Bertha Mae was born in 1902 and not until December 1904 did he apply for a marriage license at the Iredell County Courthouse.

Alonzo was born about 1866 to Ephraim and Caroline Hart. Little is known about the years before he married Harriet Nicholson Tomlin. My grandmother asserted that he was a non-practicing lawyer, but no record has been found of his education or training.  In the late 1890s, he moved briefly to Ohio; a visit home was nearly disastrous:


Alonzo Hart, colored, who formerly lived here but has recently been in residence in Toledo, Ohio, was arrested yesterday on a warrant sworn out by Mr. O.P. Sowers, the latter charging him with having his purse and $90 in cash which he lost on Monday, December 26th.  Hart deposited $100 in cash with Justice White for his appearance at the trial which is set for to-morrow.  The defendant is represented by Mr. H.P. Owen and the plaintiff by Mr. L.C. Caldwell.  Mr. Sowers is positive that he lost his purse on the sidewalk in front of the Cooper block on Center Street.  It is said that Hart was present at the time and as he has been pretty flush with cash since then he is suspected of having picked it up.  — Statesville Landmark, 6 Jan 1899.



At Alonzo Hart’s trial for theft, the witness testified that Hart was not the man, “and as there was no other evidence against him, [Hart] was discharged, Mr. Sowers paying the costs.” — Statesville Landmark, 11 Jan 1899.

Despite his ignominious arrest, Hart remained in Iredell County, farming in Shiloh township while his sister Etta kept house. A couple of years after marrying Harriet, he again made the local newspaper:

Alonzo Hart, colored, was severely injured Sunday night by Will Stevenson, colored, in a fight in the Poplar Branch neighborhood.  Hart received several severe cuts about the body and one on the neck.  The cause of the trouble is unknown.  A warrant for Stevenson is in the hands of the police. — Statesville Landmark, 18 Sep 1906.


Fifteen years later, Hart helped prevent a lynching by negotiating the surrender of a black man wanted for killing a white man:


“Slayer of Robert Dishman Surrenders to Alonzo Hart, Colored, and Sends for the Sheriff — Others Capture Benson Before the Sheriff Arrives on the Scene and Take Him to Lincolnton — Now in the Mecklenburg Jail”

Working on clues set forth by Alonzo Hart, colored, Bob Benson was captured late yesterday evening by Messrs George Ayers, Fred Claywell, Pam Morrow, Vance Jenkins and Everett Wilkinson.

Lacking only a few hours of being a fugitive from justice a week, Bob Benson, who assaulted and killed Robert Dishman is today resting behind bars in the Mecklenburg county jail, where was taken to escape possible violence.  Thus ended one of the most thrilling searches for a criminal in the history of the county.

Friday during the search on Third creek, near Morrison’s store, Alonzo Hart came to Sheriff Alexander and asked the sheriff if he should find Benson and turn him over to the sheriff would there be any violence.  Upon receiving the sheriff’s promise that he would keep Benson from violence and see that he received justice, Hart said he would do all in his power to get in touch with Benson and have him give him up to the sheriff.

Early Sunday morning between 6 and 7 o’clock Benson came to the home of Hart, which is south of Hoyt Morrison’s store, wearing only a shirt and an old sack tied around his loins, and begged Hart for something to eat and a chance to rest.  According to Hart, Benson said he had been lying in a thicket near Third creek during the search Friday night and Saturday, and had more than one time heard searching parties passing near him so close that he could plainly understand their conversation.

Throughout the day, Sunday, Hart persuaded Benson that it was best for him to give up to the officers, which Benson agreed to do provided he was turned over to the officers, who would take care of him.  About 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon Hart came to town after the sheriff and was seen by some of the party who captured Benson, who surmised Hart was in town on business concerning Benson, and went immediately to Hart’s home, where they captured Benson in one of the rooms of the house.

Benson was carried by his captors to the Lincoln county jail last night.  Early this morning Sheriff Alexander had Benson moved to the Mecklenburg County jail at Charlotte, so as to be doubly sure of his safety.

It was just one week ago yesterday evening, about 8 o’clock, on the Chipley Ford road, six miles north of Statesville, that Bob Benson, a negro, dealt Robert Dishman, white, a blow, or blows, on his head with a stick or other weapon, that resulted in Dishman’s death about 30 hours later at the Carpenter-Davis hospital.  It was a week ago today that the searchers for Benson assumed the proportion of a posse.  A few officers and others had begun the search soon after the killing.

Probably the search for a criminal in no other case in Iredell county has attracted more interest than has been evidenced in the Benson case.  Reports which came to the officers and the posse kept this interest alive.

After the crime he is alleged to have committed Benson lost himself in the neighborhood of his home and in the neighborhood of his victim for the first night of his get-away.  The earlier hours of the day following the crime brought some reports of his having been seen.  Late the same afternoon came the report that up to that time had had the semblance of assurance — someone had seen him making his way from woods to woods in the country around the pump station.  It was then that the crowd assumed the proportion of a posse and it was on this clue that the bloodhounds were introduced and initiated.  They struck a trail and followed it to the right house but the wrong person.  The search continued that night, dissipating other reports of Benson’s whereabouts.  The same program was gone over day after day and night after night.

The all night man hunt was without reward Thursday.  Benson had not been seen since he was shot at about 4:30 o’clock that afternoon, near the home of Mr. D.L. Raymer.

The bloodhounds were brought from Salisbury about 7 o’clock that night and were placed where Benson was last seen, but did not hit a trail durng the night.  — Statesville Landmark, 26 Sep 1921.



Attorney Z.V. Long Will Share Burden of a Decision in This Matter to Iredell Superior Court.

No decision yet has been reached in paying the reward of $300 [illegible] by the County and $200 by the [illegible] for the apprehension of Bob Benson, colored, who killed Robert Dishman and who has been convicted and sentenced to electrocution.

Two claims are offered for the reward, one by Alonzo Hart, colored, whose home Benson went and [illegible] until a number of white men went and got him and took him to the Lincolnton jail, while Hart was in town looking for Sheriff Alexander to report Benson’s presence at his house.

The matter of determining proper disposition of the reward was left to County Attorney Z.V. Long.  Since it has become apparent that an amicable settlement can not be made this way, the matter will be left to Iredell Superior court to say how and to whom the reward shall be paid.  — Statesville Landmark, 5 December 1921.


Harriet Nicholson Tomlin Hart died in 1924. When Alonzo Hart’s sister died four years later, the Landmark breathlessly reported every detail of the disposition of her sizeable estate, worth about $81,000 in 2013 dollars.

Margaret Richardson Leaves Will Disposing of $6,000 Estate

The will of the late Margaret Richardson, colored, which has been filed with the Clerk of Superior Court John L. Milholland for probate, provides for the distribution of the estate, estimated to have a value of $6,000, as follows:

The farm, one mile north of Statesville, is given to a sister, Lula Loyd; two acres laid off the northern end of the farm, adjoining the lands of J.C. Duke, and the city pump station, to Gilmer Walker; all the rest of the land and personal property to be sold and the cash distributed as follows: $10 to Mollie Alexander of Wilkes County; $10 each to Florence Camp and Minnie Brawley, both of Toledo, Ohio; $100 to Alonzo Hart of Iredell county; $25 to Zion Methodist church, colored, on South Center street; $25 to Broad Street Presbyterian church, colored; $25 to John Adkins, of Winston-Salem; $300 to Lula Loyd; $100 to Preston Smith of Virginia; $200 to Alonzo Loyd and the rest of the property to be divided equally among Lula Loyd, Bertha May Hart, Mollie Alexander, Florence Camp, Minnie Brawley, Earl Smith, and Rebecca Bailey.  Mr. John A. Scott, Jr., is designated as executor of the will. — Statesville Landmark, 19 Mar 1928.


At the end of the following year, Thomas Alonzo Hart succumbed to tuberculosis at a Hoke County sanatorium. His final appearance in the Landmark was a respectful and laudatory one:


Will Be Held Sunday Afternoon from Centre Presbyterian Church — Was Respected Colored Citizen

Funeral services for Alonzo Hart, 63, well known colored man, whose death occurred Tuesday at State Sanatorium, where he had been a patient for a short time, will be held from Center presbyterian church Sunday, December 22, at 2:30 o’clock in the afternoon.  Interment will follow in the cemetery there.  The surviving members of the family are one daughter, two step-sons and four sisters.

Alonzo Hart, by his extraordinary habits of frugality and industry, had accumulated a considerable estate.  Although living in an age of speedy travel, he held on to an older and slower method of transportation, his regular visits to town having been made in his buggy, drawn by his faithful, dependable mule.  He was a colored man of rare powers of mind, having a valuable library and keeping fully informed on the events of the day by reading newspapers and periodicals.  A unique Iredell citizen has passed to his reward. — Statesville Landmark, 19 Dec 1929.

His will confirms Hart’s prosperity and reveals as well his deep ties to his family:

TL Hart Will

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Oral History, Photographs

It was our aunt, screaming and crying.


Hattie Hart Dead.

Hattie Hart, colored, wife of Alonzo Hart, died Thursday night at 9:30 o’clock at her home, death occurring at the age of 63 and resulting from a stroke of apoplexy.  The funeral took place at the Center Methodist Church at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  — The Landmark, Statesville NC, 2 Jun 1924.


This is how my grandmother recalled the death noted above:

“She was subject to high blood pressure, and she had this attack on this day, and we all had to go out there.  It was me — Louise was in Jersey — and it was Launie Mae, Mama and Papa.  And I think Golar went, too.  Anyway, I know we all went out there, and she was sick for a few days and then she died.  But the day that she died, we had gone to the store.  Some old country store, and we had to go a long ways, but we could see down the road, you know. So we went on down the road and when we came back, there were some people who lived across the pasture in some houses that belonged to Mr. Hart.  (That was the step-grandfather — stepfather of Papa.) He owned all these houses, and we saw these people running across the street, and Launie Mae said, “Lord, there’s something happening!” and I said, “There sure is.”  And the closer we got, the more we kept hearing this noise, you know?  And it was our aunt, screaming and crying, you know, ‘cause Grandma had passed.”


Photo of Harriet Nicholson Tomlin Hart in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.