Births Deaths Marriages, Land, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

Dr. Ward’s empire.

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Wilson Advance, 22 August 1889.

The Civil War set Dr. David G.W. Ward back, but not for long. When he died in 1887, he stood possessed of more than 1900 acres in Wilson and Greene Counties.

[As an aside, Ward’s administrator, Frederick A. Woodard, was elected Democratic Congressman to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1892. He lost his bid for re-election to George H. White, a visionary African-American who was the last black Southerner elected to Congress until the post-Civil Rights era. I attended a middle school named for Woodard.]

[As another aside — literally — I think it’s safe to say that Sarah Ward’s children received nothing from the doctor’s estate.]

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

I never heard anything but “rent.”

The third 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. Paragraph breaks inserted for better readability.

Plaintiff introduces Jonah Reid who being duly sworn, testifies as follows:

I have heard Tom Artis say that he was going soon to pay his rent with cotton to [William S.] Hagans. I don’t know how often I have heard him speak of that, I have heard him say something about it several times when rent was due. I didn’t hear him say what lands. Some times he was cultivating the three pieces, sometimes the 30 acre piece. I am his son-in-law. I never lived with him. Live back of his house. Never heard him call it anything but rent cotton, not interest cotton. (Defendant objects.)

CROSS EXAMINED.

I told Hagans that I heard the old man say he was going to pay his rent, that was along in September, I think this past September. The only reason I told him was he asked me. He came by where I was working on the road. He asked me how long I had been in the family. I told him 16 years. He asked if I had ever heard anything but rent. I told him no. That’s why I told him. That’s all he asked me. Tom worked the three pieces, then afterwards the 30 acre piece. That’s all I remember Hagans said. I didn’t know there had been a suit about the land. Hadn’t had the suit yet. I said I didn’t like to say anything about my father-in-law. Hagans didn’t tell me that he Artis was claiming that he was paying interest. I just answered what he asked me. I told him I had never heard any thing but “Rents”.

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Jonah Reid was married to Magnolia Artis (1871-1939), daughter of Thomas and Loumiza Artis Artis. Loumiza Artis was a sister of my great-great-great-grandfather Adam T. Artis. One of Adam Artis’ wives, Frances Seaberry, was William Hagans’ paternal aunt.

 

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

Our colored friend has grown richer.

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ImageGoldsboro Messenger, 21 October 1880.

These propaganda pieces are part of a single article published to demonstrate that the rising tide of Democratic rule had floated all boats as land values increased while taxes fell. (In other words, the end of Republican rule meant more money in the pocket, as well as a foot on the neck of African-Americans.)

Two of the “colored friends” noted were my kin — my great-great-great-grandfather Robert Aldridge and Napoleon Hagans, the brother of my great-great-great-grandmother Frances Seaberry Artis. (And Washington Reid’s nephews William and Henry Reid, sons of John Reid, married Adam Artis’ niece Elizabeth Wilson and daughter Cora Artis, respectively.) Aldridge, Hagans and Reid (as well as Artis, Frances’ father Aaron Seaberry and Betty’s father John Wilson) were all prosperous free-born farmers.

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Enslaved People, Land, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Where we lived: north of Wilson, near the railroad.

Thanks to Marion “Monk” Moore and Joan Howell Waddell, I’ve been able to identify the approximate locations of several of the white farmer-landowners listed near Willis and Cherry Battle Barnes in the 1870 census.  If the family remained in the general area in which they had been enslaved, Hugh B. Johnston’s speculation is correct.

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Toisnot Reservoir, a dammed stretch of Toisnot Swamp, today lies on the northern edge of the city of Wilson.  Joshua Barnes, Alpheus Branch, Ceborn Farmer, Isaac Farmer and Jesse Farmer’s farms all lay north of the swamp and south of present-day Elm City in a corridor now defined by London Church Road, the CSX Railroad (then the Wilmington & Weldon) and US Highway 301. The Barneses lived somewhere in this area. In the photo above, the diagonal running top to bottom is the railroad, London Church Road bows to the left, and numbers mark the approximate locations of farms and modern landmarks: (1) Isaac Farmer land; (2) Seborn Farmer land; (3) Alpheus Branch land; (4) Joshua Barnes land; (5) Toisnot Reservoir; and (6) the Bridgestone-Firestone tire plant.

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In a letter dated 11 January 2007, Waddell included a map of Wilson County with the above properties marked. Many thanks to her and Monk Moore.

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Update, 23 June 2015: Joshua Barnes’ house is not only still standing, it’s been continuously occupied since the 1840s and was on the market just a few years ago. It’s located at 3415 London Church Road.

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Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Oral History

Land along the railroad.

Me: What did, why did Grandpa Henry come to Statesville? Was he a farmer? What did he do?

My grandmother: I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Me: He was from Rowan County.

My grandmother: He certainly didn’t have no farm in Statesville. It seems to me he had a big, big lot  of land where they had this house. Where they built this house. But it was near a railroad, and trains — cinders from the trains fell on the house and burnt it.

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On 21 Dec 1903, G.M. Austin and wife J.A. Austin sold H.W. McNeely of Iredell County a parcel bounded as follows: “Beginning at a stake 300 feet from Bettie Van Pelts S.E. corner and 50 feet from the center of Rail Road, and running N. 10 degrees E. 200 feet to a stake then S. 11 W. 200 feet to a stake 50 feet N of the center of the Rail Road, then N 79 degrees W. 100 feet to the beginning also 1/2 acres adjoining the above lot, and known as the J.V. Houston land it being same land sold for taxes by M.A. White by deed from T.Y. Cowper.” McNeely paid $164.

Extract from interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.

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