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

Zilpha’s will.

State of North Carolina, Wayne County    }   I, Zilphy Wilson, of the County and State, aforesaid begin of sound mind and memory, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence to make and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following, that is to say: — That my Executor hereinafter named shall provide for my body a decent burial, suitable to the wishes of my relations and friends, and pay all funeral expenses together with my just debts out of the first money that may come into his hands as a part or parcel of my estate.

Item 1. I give and bequeath to my daughter Bettie Reid 7 acres of land to be cut off the North East corner of the tract of land on which I now reside for and during her natural life, and after her death to be equally divided between all of her children that she may have now, or may have living at the time of her death, the said Bettie Reid not to have possession of said Land until the debts against my estate are paid.

Item 2. I give devise and bequeath to my son Adam Wilson and my daughter Vicey Wilson, share and share alike all of the tract of Land on which I now live, with the exception of the seven acres given away in Item first of this will, with all the priviledges and appertances thereunto belonging for and during their natural like, should they both have heirs, then they to have their mother & Father part, and should Adam or Vicey only one of them leave heirs, then and in that case I give said land to the surviving heirs of that one to them and their heirs in the fee simple forever.

Item 3. I give and devise unto my son Adam Wilson and Vicy Wilson, share and share alike, all of my Household and Kichen furniture of every description Farming implements of every description, Tools of Mechanics &c &c, Stocks of all kinds, and all the poultry of kind to them and their heirs in fee simple forever.

Item 4. It is my will and I so direct, that my son Adam Wilson to retain possession of the whole of my land at yearly rental of seven hundred lbs. of lint cotton which is to be applied to the payment of the debts against my estate, as soon as said debts are paid, I direct that Bettie Reid be put in possession of the seven acres of land given to her in a former Item of this Will. I also desire that my daughter Bettie Reed become an equal heir in my household and kitchen furniture with my son Adam and daughter Vicey.   Changes made in Zilphia Wilson’s Will Oct[?] 4, 1893

Item 5. I give and devise unto William and Jonah Wilson children of William Wilson Sixty dollars to be paid to them when they arrive at lawful age.

Item 6. I give and devise unto Johney, Lominary, Levy, Laronzo Locus, Children Louisa Locus Sixty dollars to be paid to them as they arrive at lawful age.

Item 7. It is my will and so direct that the Legacies mentioned in Items 5 & 6 of this Will be assessed by my son Adam and my Daughter Vicy Wilson, and I direct that they pay to each one of the above mentioned heirs, as they arrive of lawful age their proportionable part of said Legacies with interest on the same from the time the debts of the estate are settled.

Lastly, I hereby constitute and appoint my brother Jonah Williams and my son Adam Wilson Executors to this my last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all the Wills heretofore made by me.    Zilphy X Wilson

Signed and sealed in the presence of Fred I. Becton and Thomas Artis, who witnessed the same at her request.  /s/ Richard H. Battle, Fred I. Becton


Zilpha Artis Wilson was born about 1828, the first known child of Vicey Artis and Solomon Williams. About 1855, she married John “Jack” Wilson, a free man of color of completely unknown origins. That year, Jack bought 55 acres in Wayne County from Zilpha’s brother Adam Artis and settled his family close to the Artises.

Zilpha and Jack Wilson’s children were William Wilson (1856), Louisa Wilson Locus (1858), Elizabeth “Betty” Wilson Reid (1864-1947), John Adam Wilson (1865-1916) and Vicey Wilson (1869).

Zilpha Wilson’s will was proved 17 December 1902 and recorded at page 421 of Will Book 2, Wayne County Superior Court.

DNA, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

DNAnigma, no. 7: Locus, Eatmon, et al.

ImageMartin John Locus (1843-1926) and Delphia Taylor Locus (1850-1923). Martin was the son of Martin Locus and Eliza Brantley Locus of southeastern Nash and later western Wilson County. Delphia was the daughter of Dempsey Taylor and Eliza Pace Taylor of northern Nash County.


I knew Locuses (and Lucases, their later variant) growing up. There were a few who actually lived in Wilson, but most were from the western part of the county and Nash County.  There is no tradition of Locus ancestry in my family history, and nothing I’ve documented suggests it. However, DNA testing has revealed too many matches with descendants of the Locuses (and related families, like Brantley and Eatman) to ignore.  So far:

  • R.B.W. is my father’s estimated 2nd-4th cousin. They match on chromosomes 5, 18, 20, 21 and 22, and she lists Blackwell, Eatman, Hawkins and Lucas among her surnames.
  • M.F. is my father’s estimated 3rd to 5th cousin. She lists Locus/Lucas, Eatman, Brantley and Howard among her surnames.
  • E.F. is author of Free in a Slave Society:The Locus/Lucas Family of Virginia and North Carolina, Tri-Racial, Black-Identified, over 250 Years of History, a compendium of research notes, charts and photographs chronicling one of the largest free colored families in the antebellum United States. He notes that the Locus/Lucases intermarried with several free colored families, including Deans, Wiggins, Pulley, Taylor, Wells, Blackwell, Colston, Richardson, Brantley, Howard, High, Williams, Hagans, Evans, Tayborne, Eatman, Vaughn, Strickland, Jones, Pridgen and Allen. E.F. matches my father on a tiny stretch of chromosome 19 (which I did not inherit); 23andme estimates that they are 3rd to distant cousins.
  • my estimated 4th-6th cousin per Ancestry DNA. Her father was born in Wilson County and is descended from Locus/Lucases and Evanses (another free family of color).
  • T.J. is an adoptee whose birth mother is believed to be a Jones and Locus. She is an estimated 3rd to distant cousin to my father.

What’s the link? I know it’s on my father’s side. Common sense tells me that the most likely connections are:

  • Leasy Hagans. Leasy Hagans appears in a Nash County census and may have originally lived north and west of where she settled in Wayne. It is not clear whether Hagans is her maiden or married name.  Nor is the father of her children known. Was she, or he, a Locus? An Eatman? A Brantley?
  • Tony Eatman. Willis Barnes‘ death certificate lists his parents as Tony Eatman and Annie Eatmon. Tony was born free about 1795 and is listed as a farmer in the household of white Theophilus Eatman in the 1850 census of Nash County. (He also is listed as the groom’s father on the marriage license of Jack Williamson and Hester Williamson in 1868.) One potential problem with Tony as my Locus link, though, was explained here. If Willis Barnes were Rachel Taylor’s stepfather, I am not descended from Tony Eatman at all.
  • Green or Fereby Taylor. Delphia Taylor Locus was the daughter of Eliza Pace and Dempsey Taylor, a free man of color born circa 1820 in northern Nash County. His relationship to another Dempsey Taylor in the area is assumed, but has not been proven. One white Dempsey (there were several) was the son of Reuben Taylor and the brother of Kinchen Taylor, Green and Fereby’s owner. There is no tradition of white ancestry among the Taylors, but their Y-DNA haplogroup appears to be J2b1, which is European. Was Green — or Fereby, for that matter — descended from Kinchen Taylor or one of his relatives?

Photo courtesy of Europe Ahmad Farmer.