Births Deaths Marriages

The Goldsboro Smiths.

As mentioned, Nancy Henderson Smith was my great-great-great-grandfather Lewis Henderson‘s half-sister, but she was closer in age to his children. She and her sisters Mollie Henderson Hall Holt and Louella Henderson King Wilson Best Laws were particularly close to Lewis’ daughter Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver, who reared my grandmother (her sister Loudie‘s grandchild) after she was effectively orphaned.

In 1881, Nancy married Isham Smith. They settled in the Harrell Town section of Goldsboro, where Isham worked as a wagon driver, occasional blacksmith, and then an undertaker. Their children were: Annie Smith Guess (1883-1953), Oscar Smith (1884), Furney Smith (1886), Ernest Smith (1888-1918), Elouise Marie Smith (1890), Johnnie Smith (1891), Mary E. Smith Southerland (1894), James Smith (1896), Willie Smith (1899-1912), Effie May Smith Stanfield (1904), and possibly Bessie Lee Smith (1911). (Was Bessie really a daughter? Nancy was born about 1864! A granddaughter maybe?) Isham died in 1914, and Nancy married Patrick Diggs four years later. After Patrick’s death, Nancy restored her first husband’s surname. She died in Goldsboro in 1944.

Here’s what marriage licenses reveal about this family:

Smith-Guess

  • Another example of official laziness — though both Annie’s parents were living, only one is named.
  • What Methodist church in Goldsboro? A Google doesn’t turn up much, but revealed that a Rev. J.J. McIntire was an African Methodist Episcopal minister in the South Wilmington (North Carolina) circuit in 1916.
  • James Guess was a multi-faceted businessman, to say the least, with interests in barber shops, pool halls, real estate and a flourishing undertaking operation. He died in 1957 at a hospital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • Annie and James had two children, Elma (1905) and James Jr. (1923-1950). (That is interesting spacing, definitely.)
  • Annie Smith Guess died of heart disease 8 August 1953 at her home in Goldsboro.

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  • This was a short-lived marriage. In 1910, the census of Goldsboro showed Carrie Smith living at home with her parents, Furney and Clara Wooten, her siblings, and her not quite two-year-old daughter Pauline Smith.  In the 1920 census, Carrie Smith is described as a widow, and she and Pauline remain in Clara Wooten’s home.

Smith-Kornegay

  • And again, Isham is named, Nancy is not, though both were living.
  • This time, the Methodist Episcopal church. A search for John H. Isham doesn’t yield anything.
  • Alberta Paschall was soon to be the wife of Johnnie’s brother Ernest Smith, see below.
  • Elma Guess was the 12-year-old daughter of James and Annie Smith Guess. (Or was there another Elma Guess? Twelve seems awfully young to be an official witness.)
  • Five months after he married, Johnnie registered for the World War I draft. His draft card stated that he resided at 100 Smith Street in Goldsboro (his parents’ house); was 22 years old; worked as a laborer for Isaac Cohnes of Goldsboro; was married; and was of short height and medium build with brown eyes and black hair.
  • Sylvia Kornegay Smith gave birth to a stillborn son in 1920, then to a son Herbert in September 1922 who died at age six moths.  Son Russell Smith was born in 1925 and appears to have been Johnnie’s only living child. The family appears together in the 1930 census of Goldsboro, at which time Johnnie worked as a carpenter and Sylvia as a laundress. They split before long, however, as the 1940 census of Goldsboro showed Johnnie and his siblings Bessie and Jimmy living with their mother Nancy Smith. I have not found Johnnie’s death certificate.
  • As late as 1959, Johnny Smith is listed in the Goldsboro city directory living at the Smith “home house,” 309 Smith Street. However, I have not found his death certificate.

Smith-Paschall

  • Nancy, as here, was sometimes called “Nannie.”
  • A Missionary Baptist minister performed this ceremony. Alberta’s church, perhaps?
  • Ernest’s sisters Effie Mae and Annie were witnesses.
  • Ernest and Alberta had had a child together, a stillborn girl, born 1914 in Goldsboro, Wayne County. They had no others.
  • Ernest, a barber, died 5 October 1918 of lobar pneumonia in Goldsboro — five months after he married.

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  • Nancy’s second marriage, which ended with Patrick Diggs’s death before 1930.
  • The family appears in the 1920 census, Goldsboro, Wayne County: on Smith Street, Patrick Diggs, tinned at W.A. Works; wife Nancy; stepdaughter Bessie Lee Smith; and widowed “stepdaughter-in-law” Alberta Smith, a cook.

Smith-Stanfield

  • Surprise, surprise. My great-aunt Mamie was not the only relative to follow Mollie Henderson Holt to Greensboro.
  • Nancy is listed with her second husband’s name.
  • This is my last sighting of Effie Mae. I have not found death certificates for her or her husband, but neither seems to appear in subsequent census records. And in the 1930 census, their seven-year-old daughter Vivian Stanfield was living with her grandmother “Nannie” in Goldsboro.

nannie smith 1930

And what of Nancy’s remaining children?

  • Furney Smith is elusive. He appears in exactly one census record with his parents (1900) and seemingly none on his own. Perhaps because:

F SMith

Goldsboro News Argus, 27 January 1906.

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Goldsboro News Argus, 23 February 1907.

  • Elouise Marie Smith is listed as “Alerwese” Smith in the 1900 census in her parents’ household. I have no trace of her after. A “Mrs. E. Hall” of the home, 309 Smith Street, was the informant on Nancy Smith’s death certificate. Was that Elouise? (Or maybe Effie?)
  • Mary E. Smith Southerland is listed as an informant on the delayed birth certificate of her sister Effie Mae Smith. I have not found a record of her marriage to a Southerland.
  • James “Jimmy” Smith was born 18 April 1896. When he registered for the World War I draft in 1917, he reported that he resided at 100 Smith Street in Goldsboro NC; that he was born in Goldsboro; that he worked as a bottler as a bottling company; that was single; that he was of medium height and weight; and that he had black eyes and hair. He likely was not the James Smith that married Lou Pearl Moses on 15 November 1916 in Goldsboro. He is last seen in his mother’s household in the 1940 census of Goldsboro.
  • Twelve year-old Willie Smith died of kidney disease (“nephritis”) on 29 June 1912.
  • Bessie Lee was born about 1911. If Nancy were her mother, she’d have been in her late 40s when Bessie was born. Not impossible, but perhaps unlikely. Still, she is consistently referred to as daughter, rather than granddaughter, so I’ll leave it there for now. I have no record of any marriage for her, and she and two brothers appear in their mother’s household in the 1940 census.
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Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

United in matrimony: Barnes.

Willis and Cherry Barnes had seven children (or six, if oldest daughter Rachel was actually Wesley’s stepchild.)   What do  their marriage licenses reveal?
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  • I’ve long had a copy of this license. Jesse Barnes, born about 1868, was the second of Willis and Cherry’s sons. His elder brother Wesley married his sister-in-law, Ella Mercer.
  • Jesse and Mary Mag married in a Missionary Baptist church. (The spelling here is an accurate reflection of local pronunciation.)
  • The official witnesses were Jesse’s brothers Wesley and Ned Barnes.

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  • Early in life, Edward Barnes went by his formal first name, but by 1900 he is inevitably referred to as “Ned.” He passed this name on to his son, who in turn begat three more generations of Ned Barneses, the youngest of whom is still living.
  • Louisa Gay was the daughter of Samuel and Alice Bryant Gay. Her brother Albert Gay married Jesse A. Jacobs Jr.’s daughter Annie Bell.
  • Samuel H. Vick was a heavy hitter in black Wilson.
  • Was Spencer Barnes a relative? He does not appear near these Barneses in early census records, and those records and his marriage license seem to indicate that he was orphaned.

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  • Mary Barnes was Willis and Cherry’s younger daughter.  Assuming it’s accurate, her marriage license helps narrow the range of Cherry Barnes’ death from 1880-1897 (the latter is the year Willis remarried) to 1893-1897.
  • Whoa!!! Is this verification of Hugh B. Johnston’s hunch that Willis Barnes belonged to General Joshua Barnes? Did Willis’ family remain on the general’s former plantation, perhaps as tenant farmers, more than 30 years after Emancipation? If not, why marry there?
  • Small world moment: Duplin County-born barber and brickmason George Gaston, who lived north of Wilson in Elm City, was the great-grandfather of M.R.L., one of my childhood friends.

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  • This marriage was reported in the Wilson Daily Times. Prior to finding the article, I had not known of Willis and Cherry’s youngest child.
  • A slight clarification for Cherry’s possible death date — 1893-1899.

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  • I do not at all understand why I haven’t seen this license before. William “Willie” Barnes was the youngest of Willis and Cherry’s sons.
  • Hattie Best’s family had roots in Greene County, but were well-known in Wilson.
  • This wedding took place at Orren Best’s home, but was conducted by the pastor of the A.M.E. Zion church at which Cintha Barnes married.
  • Witness Charles B. Gay was the brother-in-law of Willie’s brother Ned Barnes.

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  • At last, a mystery solved. In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, Willis Barnes’ household includes wife Cherry, step-daughter Rachel Battle, children Wesley, Jesse, Ned, Eddie, Mary and Willey, and niece Ellen Battle (whom I have not been able to identify further.) That Ned and Eddie had always confused me, as I knew that Ned’s real name was Edward. Was this a recording error? Well, no. Eddie was Edgar Barnes, whom I have never identified as a child of Willis and Cherry. (Also, note below how closely Willis Barnes and family lived to Joshua Barnes.)

1880 Barnes

  • Edgar and Mary Hill Barnes were also married at Saint John A.M.E. Zion.
  • The couple is recorded in the household of Mary’s parents in the 1910 census of the town of Wilson, Wilson County.
  • They were not married long. In 1917, Edgar registered for the World War I draft in Greenville, North Carolina. He described himself as single.
  • In 1921, he married Delia Hawkins in Greenville. They appear as a childless couple in the 1930 census of Greenville, North Carolina. Edgar reported working as a plasterer and Delia as a presser at Carolina Pressing Club.In 1940, they are in the same house at 1311 West 4th Street, owned and valued at $2000. I have not found North Carolina death certificates for them.

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Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Aldridge marriages.

The first in a series* of posts mining the data found in North Carolina marriage licenses:

Aldridge Ashford Marr

  • Reka Aldridge‘s father George W. Aldridge was the brother of my great-great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge.
  • Wayne County clerks sometimes listed mothers by maiden name, but more often didn’t. Dora was a Greene.
  • I don’t know what black Methodist churches were in Fremont in 1912, but R.R. Grant possibly served Salisbury AME Zion Church. The church is still active, but recently suffered a devastating fire. (Five minutes later: Or not. R.R. Grant appears regularly in the Journal of the North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the 1912 city directory for Fremont lists him as Methodist minister. In other words, he and his church were white. Were the Aldridges members? Did they sit in a designated pew? How did that work?)
  • Witness Eva Aldridge was the bride’s sister. William J. Boswell appears in the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County, as a married, 30 year-old house carpenter. Ezekiel B. Bailey, 23, white, appeared in his mother’s household in the same township.

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  • Robert and Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge‘s youngest sons, Robert Jr. and Joseph, married relatively late. Joseph Aldridge was 16 years older than his first wife, Lou Berta Manley.
  • Holiness Church.
  • Witness Johnnie Aldridge was Joseph’s nephew, son of John W. and Louvicey Artis Aldridge. W.M. Manley was Lou Berta’s father. “Robert Hob” was possibly Robert Hobbs, who appears in the 1910 census of Grantham township, Wayne County, as a 24 year-old farmer.

Aldridge Faircloth Marr

  • William Aldridge was the son of J. Matthew and Catherine Boseman (or Simmons?) Aldridge. His father died in 1868.
  • The ceremony took place at Edward Simmons, whose identity is not clear to me.
  • Richard Boseman was the son of James and Tempsey Locus Boseman. James Boseman appeared in the household of J. Matthew and Catherine Aldridge in the 1860 census of Buck Swamp, Wayne County. (James may have been Catherine’s brother.) Richard married Lillie Mae Aldridge, Matthew and Catherine’s daughter. Eddie Budd was the son of Haywood and Phereby Simmons Budd. There were several Bryant Simmonses, but this was likely the son (1831-1890) of James and Winnie Medlin Simmons.

Aldridge Green Marr

  • Of course, George Aldridge knew full well who his mother and father were, and both were living when he married Dora Greene in 1884. I see this omission a lot. Laziness or “who cares?” by the Register of Deeds?
  • Benjamin F. Aycock was later elected as Republican state senator.
  • It’s difficult to read the names of the witnesses, but neither appears to be a known relative of George.

Aldridge Handly MArr

  • This is Robert Aldridge Jr.‘s second marriage. His first, to Ransy Pearsall, was in 1903.
  • Frank “F.B.” Daniels appears in the 1910 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, as a 20 year-old white lawyer. George F. Vann appears in the 1910 census of Stony Creek township, Wayne County, as a white, 20 year-old farmer.

*Actually, this languished in the Draft queue for a few weeks, so it’s not first anymore.

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Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Small world.

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In midwinter of 1911, Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams made his way to the home of Stanford Holmes to preside over the marriage of Peter Barnes and Sinthia Pate.  Jonah was the brother of my great-great-great-grandfather, Adam T. Artis. Thirty-three year-old Peter was the son of Calvin and Celia Barnes. Thirteen years previously, Peter’s brother Redmond Barnes had married Jennette Best in Wilson County. Redmond and Jennette Barnes‘ daughter Edith Bell married Theodore Roosevelt Ellis in 1933, and their first son was Theodore Jr., who married my father’s sister in 1960.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

John McNeely vs. John McNeely.

Okay, now I am genuinely perplexed. A couple of months ago, I wrote about finding my great-great-uncle John McNeely’s first wife, whom he married in 1899. I had just found a marriage license for John Alexander McNeely, colored, son of Henry and Martha McNeely of Iredell County, and Carry Armstrong. Prior to this, I had only known wife Laura Nesbit, whom he married in Statesville in 1912.

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I have not found John and Laura McNeely in the 1920 census, but in 1930 they and Laura’s daughter Marie shared a house with John’s sister and brother-in-law, Emma and Irving Houser, in Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1940, John and Laura and Marie and her husband James Watkins were living on West 19th Street in Bayonne. And when John died in 1947, his obituary noted that he was the beloved husband of Laura (Nesbitt.)

So yesterday when I found yet another marriage for John A. McNeely, son of Henry and Martha McNeely of Iredell County, I was flummoxed.

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Did John marry Laura, divorce (or otherwise leave) her, marry Jane Nichols, divorce her, then remarry Laura Nesbit? If so, where is the second marriage license for Laura? If not, who is this John McNeely? And who are the other Henry and Martha McNeely?

The only Henry and Martha McNeely in the 1900 census of North Carolina are my John’s parents, living in Statesville township. In 1880, they’re in Rowan County, and still the only couple with those names in the state. Henry died in 1906, before death certificates were kept, and Martha died in New Jersey. I have not found death certificates for any other Henry or Martha McNeely in Iredell.

As for John: John and Jane McNeely appear in the 1900 census of Statesville, my John McNeely does not. In the first decade of the century, a John McNeely pops up in the pages of the local paper for various misdeeds — shooting at a rival, having smallpox, fighting, slicing a man with a knife, shooting at a dog. I’d like to think that this is not my John, but there’s no clear way to know. And there’s no John McNeely at all in Iredell County in the 1910 census.

I’ll have to leave it here for now. I don’t have enough to know for certain whether John McNeely and John Alexander McNeely were the same man.

UPDATE, 19 June 2015: Is this a clue to the identity of John A. McNeely?

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This Henry McNeely is not my great-great-grandfather Henry McNeely. He’s his nephew. Henry’s father John Rufus McNeely was, I believe, the half-brother of my Henry. Unfortunately, this Henry was born about 1863, and John A. McNeely was born about 1870. I don’t believe this Henry and Martha were the couple named on John A. McNeely’s marriage licenses.

UPDATE, 21 June 2015: Then there’s this.

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This is from the marriage license of my John McNeely’s brother, William Luther McNeely, who married Mary Belle Woods in 1906 at Statesville’s Associate Reform Presbyterian Church. My great-grandparents Lon and Carrie McNeely Colvert wed there the same year. Is it just coincidence that John Alexander McNeely was also married by Rev. J.H. Pressly in this church?

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Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Nuptials discovered. (And a little Misinformation Monday, no. 11.)

My grandmother’s birthday was Saturday, June 6. It would have been her 105th. My cousin D.D., her sister’s great-granddaughter, sent me a photo of a photo via text message — Mother Dear and her husband, Jonah Ricks, my step-grandfather. I’d never seen this particular image, but I recognized it as having been taken in Greensboro, North Carolina, at her niece L.’s wedding in 1963.

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… Or was it?

I found their marriage license today. So, first, I had to pick my jaw up. I knew they’d wed in August 1958, but had never been able to find a record in Wilson. Because they married in Guilford County. In Greensboro. I immediately thought about this little snapshot. This wasn’t taken in 1963! Mother Dear and Granddaddy Ricks had traveled to her sister’s for the ceremony, and this photo was taken on their wedding day. Why hadn’t I registered the boutonniere, the corsage, the beringed left hand held high?

Then I got around to looking at the rest of the license.

Ricks Henderson

First, there’s the matter of my grandmother’s name. In that era, legal names were somewhat fluid, and changing them did not necessarily involve legal drama. Bessie Henderson bore my grandmother before North Carolina required birth certificates. Bessie named the baby Hattie Mae and gave her her last name. Bessie died less than a year later, and little Hattie went to live with her great-aunt and Uncle, Sarah and Jesse Jacobs. She called them Mama and Papa and became known as Hattie Jacobs. Only after Sarah’s death in 1938 did my grandmother learn that she had never been formally adopted. (And as a consequence, she was forced out of the house on Elba Street by Jesse Jacobs’ children.) She immediately changed her name to Hattie Mae Henderson. I was surprised then to see her name listed as “Hattie Jacobs Henderson” some 20 years after she dropped the appellation.

Mother Dear also listed Jesse and Sarah Jacobs as her parents on the license. Here is an example of the way documents may reflect social and familial realities, rather than legal or genetic ones. Curiously, though, there is a hint to Mother Dear’s paternity in the license, though inexplicably placed. Mama Sarah was born Sarah Daisy Henderson. Her first husband was Jesse Jacobs and her second Joseph Silver. She was not an Aldridge. But my grandmother’s birth father was. Why did my grandmother report Sarah’s name this way? Maybe Mr. Ricks gave the information and got his facts twisted?

Last, the witnesses. I recognize James Beasley — he married my cousin Doris Holt — but who were the others? Friends of my great-aunt Mamie Henderson Holt, perhaps?

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Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Evidence of the rites of matrimony.

More revelations from Ancestry.com’s updated North Carolina marriages database:

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No mystery why I didn’t find this earlier. Jonah Wiggins? No, actually, Jonah Williams, brother of my great-great-great-grandfather Adam Artis. And though I knew Pleasant Battle was from the Battleboro area, I don’t think I’d ever searched Edgecombe records for their marriage license.

Here’s the marriage bond:

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I don’t know who George Terrell was to Jonah. He and his wife Martha Lindsey, who married a few days before Jonah and Pleasant, appear in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County.

And here’s the marriage license. I am a little surprised that Jonah was married by a Justice of the Peace, rather than a minister of the gospel, but perhaps he was not yet the man he would become:

42091_331683-00714

 

 

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