Surprisingly few of Adam Artis‘ 25+ children migrated out of North Carolina, perhaps because the family’s relative farming wealth and good standing in their community made life in North Carolina — even in the 19th century — attractive. Two who did strike out went West. Sort of. They went to Arkansas.
Augustus Kerney “Gus” Artis was born about 1857 to Adam and his wife Lucinda Jones. He was a mere toddler when his mother died, and he was reared primarily by Frances Seaberry Artis, whom Adam married in 1861. Gus inherited one-third of his mother’s share of the estate of her father Jacob Ing, a small nest egg that may nonetheless have represented the pinnacle of his wealth. In 1879, Gus married Rebecca Morgan in Wayne County. Though a 13 year-old girl is implausibly described as their daughter in the 1880 census, there is convincing evidence of a daughter Lena, born in 1882. What Gus did or where he was over the years after her birth is a mystery, for in 1893 he suddenly appears in the city directory of Little Rock, Arkansas, living at the corner of Allen and Elm in North Little Rock. (Which, by all accounts, was a swampy outpost known as Argenta at that time.) In 1898, Lena Artis married Charlie Hill in Pulaski County. By 1900, however, she was back in her parents’ house on Washington Avenue in North Little Rock. Farm laborer Gustice Artis and wife Mary R. (presumably Rebecca), married 19 years, are listed with Lena, 18, born in North Carolina, and Mary, 13, an adopted daughter born in Arkansas. By 1910, both daughters had left the household, though Mary reported them living. Augustus, then in his early 50s, worked as a laborer in a greenhouse. Lena, described as a widow, was living and working as a “dining room girl” in a Scott Street boarding house. I’ve found none of the Artises in the 1920 census, though Gus and Mary were still alive. Gus didn’t last much longer though. He died of heart disease 2 June 1921 in Brandie township, Pulaski County, and was buried in the “fraternal cemetery.” His death certificate lists his final occupation as “scavenger.”
Twenty-five miles east of North Little Rock, Gus’ younger sister Eliza Artis Everett also built a life far from her home. She was the twin of my great-great-grandmother Louvicey Artis Aldridge; the girls were born in 1865 to Adam Artis and his second wife Frances. I have not found their marriage license, but around 1890, Eliza married Haywood Everett. By 1900, they had migrated to Williams township, Lonoke County, Arkansas, and joined a veritable colony of Wayne County migrants, including Haywood’s elderly parents. Families listed near them in the census carried such familiar surnames as Barnes, Best and Coley. In 1910, the Everetts appear in the Richwoods section of the county. In 1920 and 1930, they are in Walls township. They never had children. On 10 October, 1936, Eliza Everett died of pancreatic cancer. Her husband remarried before she was cold in her grave.
Did Gus and Mary Rebecca Artis and Haywood and Eliza Everett migrate together in the late 1880s/early 1890s? Why Arkansas? Did Gus and family originally settle among other Wayne County families in Williams township, Lonoke County, before moving closer to Little Rock? And then there’s this — the Lonoke County Race War of 1897-1898?!?!