Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia

Freedom’s faces.

Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of Congress’ passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States. On Facebook, several friends posted links to sites featuring “never-before-seen” photographs of formerly enslaved Americans, most taken in the 1930s. As I clicked through these images, struck by the strength and endurance embodied, I had a sudden thought — I’ve got a few photos of former slaves, too. And they’re my own people.

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McNEELY -- Martha M McNeely in blue dress

Martha Margaret Miller McNeely. Born about 1855 in Rowan County, North Carolina, to Margaret McConnaughey and Edward Miller. Enslaved by John M. McConnaughey. My matrilineal great-great-grandmother.

 NICHOLSON -- Harriet Nicholson 2

Harriet Nicholson Tomlin Hart. Born in 1861 in Iredell County, North Carolina, to Lucinda Cowles and James Lee Nicholson. Enslaved by Thomas A. Nicholson, her grandfather. My maternal great-great-grandmother.

Mary Brown Allen

Mary Brown Allen. Born about 1849 in Amelia County, Virginia, to Catherine Booker and James Brown. Owner unknown. Maternal great-great-grandmother.

Aspilla Ward Hagans

Apsilla “Appie” Ward Hagans. Born 1849 in Greene County, North Carolina, to Sarah Ward and Dr. David G.W. Ward, her owner. Wife of my great-great-great-great-uncle Napoleon Hagans.

Mittie_Ward

Mittie Ward Vaughn. Born 1849 in Greene County, North Carolina, to Sarah Ward and Dr. David G.W. Ward, her owner. Twin of Appie, above. Mother of son of my great-great-great-great uncle Napoleon Hagans.

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In tribute to these and countless others, known and unknown, who walked through this country’s darkest days.

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

Richard Artis.

There had been a photograph of Adam Artis, cousin Daisy told me, but it was stored with other things in an old barn, and rain ruined it. She recalled an image of a tall, brown-skinned man — or the suggestion of brown skin, anyway, in the soft sepia and charcoal tones of portraits of that day — but not what he actually looked like.

If no photograph of Adam exists, however, there is one of his youngest brother. This image, in fact, is the only one known of any of Vicey Artis and Solomon Williams‘ children.

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Richard Artis was born in 1850 in Greene County, very near Wayne. He spent his youth out of sight of censustakers, but in 1873, he married Susanna Yelverton (also known as Susanna Hall,) the daughter of free woman of color Nicey (or Caroline) Hall and a white Yelverton. Their children included: Lucinda Artis Shearod, Emma Artis Reid, Ivory L. Artis, Loumiza Artis Grantham, Richard Artis Jr., Susan Artis Cooper, Jonah Artis, Charity Artis Coley, Frances Artis Newsome, John Henry Artis and Walter Clinton Artis.

Richard Artis farmed in northern Wayne County all his life. He died of apoplexy on 12 February 1923 in Great Swamp township and was buried the next day by his sister’s son, Adam Wilson.

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Photo courtesy of Teresa C. Artis.

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