Business, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

C.D. Sauls, influential colored man of Snow Hill, invests.

In 1897, cousin Cain D. Sauls was one of two African-American members of a five-man delegation that traveled eastern North Carolina advocating for the “Snow Hill Railroad.”

Goldsboro_Weekly_Argus__4_15_1897_CD_Sauls_Snow_Hill_RR (1)

Goldsboro Weekly Argus, 15 April 1897.

A little over a year later, North Carolina’s secretary of state approved the incorporation of the Great Eastern Railway Company, which planned to build and operate a 130+ mile railroad passing through Johnston, Wayne, Greene, Pitt, Beaufort and Hyde Counties. Among the 25 stockholders incorporating the railroad? C.D. Sauls!


Raleigh Morning Post, 15 October 1898.

Education, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

We, the colored people, are going to run a school.


The Great Sunny South (Snow Hill), 25 February 1898. 

Cain D. Sauls revealed his civic commitment in this edition of his newspaper column. I need to research whether the efforts to fund and establish a ten-month school were successful.

(By the way, C.D.’s guests were primarily his relatives: first cousin Henry Artis Jr. and his sisters and first cousin Hannah Artis Randolph.)

Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Best of all.

Cain D. Sauls, grocer, banker, farmer, also wrote a society column — “News Among the Colored People” — for a short-lived newspaper in Snow Hill, Greene County, North Carolina. The piece that ran on 11 February 1898 reveals some of Sauls’ additional interests — an investment in Coleman Mills in Concord, North Carolina,


The Great Sunny South (Snow Hill NC), 11 February 1898.

and a position as justice of the peace, in which presided over the marriages of neighbors and friends.

Education, Enslaved People, Land, North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Meeting the Saulses.

All week, I was pressed. Wave after wave of thunderstorms had been crashing over eastern North Carolina, tornadoes swirling in their wake. The rain didn’t stop until the night before I flew in, and I knew that Contentnea Creek floods early and often. Friday dawned bright and blue though. I headed down Highway 58, excitement brimming like the sheets of water standing in fields on both sides of the pavement. Though several roads around Stantonsburg were still closed, my path was clear, and I pulled into the Saulses’ driveway at the stroke of 10 A.M.

Cousin Andrew Sauls is a reserved man, but welcoming and friendly, and he and his wife, Cousin Jannettie, put me quickly at ease. They were curious about my connection to Daniel Artis and the Saulses, and as I began to explain about Vicey and Sylvania and Adam T., we realized that he had known many of “my” Artises as a young man. In addition to farming hundreds of acres northwest of Snow Hill, his father, Isaac Sauls Jr., bought, rehabbed and sold farms, was a skilled carpenter, and operated several businesses. In 1947, after a short-lived stint operating a funeral home in Snow Hill, Isaac bought a saw mill, refurbished it, and began cutting lumber the following year. Cousin Andrew started working there as a ten year-old and recalled that the factory made good money for more than 20 years because there was a high demand for raw lumber. In those days, he said, “I didn’t know nair black person had a brick house in Greene County. Nor hardly any white ones.” People needed lumber for home repairs and to build tobacco barns and other out buildings. Though most of the Saulses’ customers were white, they also sold to many black farmers in Greene and surrounding counties, including Les, William and Walter Artis in Wayne County. Brothers William and Walter were sons of Adam T. and Frances Seaberry Artis, and Leslie, son of Napoleon Artis, was their nephew. (William, Walter and Napoleon were brothers of my great-great-grandmother, Louvicey Artis Aldridge. All were grandchildren of Vicey Artis Williams, who was Daniel Artis’ sister.)  Cousin Isaac recalled Les as one of the richest black men in Wayne County, and the first he knew of to own a Cadillac. He laughed as he recounted hauling a load of lumber to Walter Artis as a 17 year-old and being offered some liquor. Isaac Sauls Jr. also operated a “stick mill” that cut tobacco sticks for farmers during the summer months.

After a while, Cousin Andrew’s only surviving sibling, sister Hattie, who lives nearby in the “home house,” joined us and chimed in as Andrew talked about their father’s and grandfather’s achievements. He has an astounding memory and reeled off the dates and details of land purchases dating back ninety years to his father’s first acquisition of 57 acres for $400 in 1924. Today the family owns about 440 acres, which it leases to another farmer. When I mentioned his great-uncle Cain “C.D.” Sauls‘ involvement with an African-American bank in Wilson, he astonished me by exclaiming, “I remember my daddy talking about that! It went under. I think he said it was Stanback and Reid.” [And sure enough, J.D. Reid and H.S. Stanback were the bank officers convicted of the fraud that led to the bank’s failure.]

According to Cousin Andrew, in 1929, Isaac Sauls Jr. leased land to the state for the erection of a Rosenwald school. That school served African-American students in the area from 1930 until 1959. When it closed, Cousin Isaac bought the building and converted it into a house in which his son William lived until his death. The structure now stands a few hundred feet north of Cousin Andrew’s house. [Here for National Register of Historic Places nomination form for another Rosenwald school in Greene County.]


Cousin Hattie spoke of C.D. Sauls’ ownership of several businesses in Snow Hill, including a hotel and a funeral home. She was not sure if he was a formally educated man, but he appeared to be. He was on personal terms with Booker T. Washington and traveled to Tuskegee Institute to speak on occasion. He also owned shares in a cotton mill in Concord, North Carolina. (This would have been the ill-fated Coleman Manufacturing Company.) He apparently occasionally contibuted a column to a newspaper in Kinston, and she promised to send me a copy of an article.  Later, when I mentioned that my mother had taught at North Greene Elementary School for a few years when she first came to North Carolina, Cousin Hattie asked if she knew Annie Edwards Moye, who’d taught there for 45 years. (Annie Moye was a descendant of Clara Artis Edwards, daughter of Daniel Artis.) I didn’t know the answer at the time, but soon learned that my mother in fact had commuted to Greene County with Mrs. Moye and other teachers who lived in Wilson!

Neither his father nor his grandfather had much education, said Cousin Andrew, but they were smart and shrewd and skilled and able to form strong business relationships on the strength of their word. Isaac Sr., born at the start of the Civil War to the enslaved daughter of a free-born, land-owning man and his enslaved wife, was a master carpenter who began to accumulate land at an early age and passed his drive and determination on to his children. One hundred and fifty years later, his gift shines in his grandson Andrew.

me and AS

Cousin Andrew and me at Artis Town cemetery, 2 May 2014.

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

Family cemeteries, no. 13: Artis Town.

We passed Edwards cemetery on the left, rounded the curve, and there, just where I suspected, was the turn-off onto a farm road leading to Artis Town cemetery. The graveyard is a rectangle of green amid bare spring fields, neatly mowed. A row of weedy trees bristles down one side, broken limbs scattered from recent storms. The oldest stones tilt sideways or sprawl toppled on their backs, but the cemetery is obviously cared for. It lies at the heart of what was once known as Artis Town, a hundred or more acres between Highway 58 and Speights Bridge Road on which lived and farmed Artises and Edwardses in every direction, descendants of Daniel Artis, who bought the land in the 1800s. There was even a racetrack here, said my cousin, where men would line up horses and buggies for weekend contests. As time went by, however, the land got “swindled down.”

Daniel Artis’ headstone stands in a shadowy pocket underneath a chinaberry tree, the grave itself sprinkled with wrinkled yellow fruit. The small white marble obelisk is a testament to Daniel’s prosperity and the esteem in which his offspring held him.


I did not locate stones for any of Daniel’s children in the graveyard, though surely some are buried there. (Daughter Clara Artis Edwards is buried in the nearby Edwards cemetery.) Many markers memorialize the deaths of descendants of Loderick Artis and Prior Ann Artis Sauls Thompson, including Loderick’s daughter Sarah Artis Speight:


and son, Manceson Artis:


and daughter Hannah Artis Mitchell, as well as Prior Ann’s daughter Mariah Sauls Edwards:


and a host of other Saulses, Forbeses, Artises, Speights and Mitchells descended from Daniel Artis.

Photos taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, 2 May 2014.

Births Deaths Marriages, Civil War, Military, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

I know they were married by law.

Feverish with malaria, friends and family at his side, Baalam Speight closed his eyes a final time on 21 December 1902, free of the pain that had wracked him for years. He left a widow, Hannah Sauls Speight, and nine children, but little otherwise to show for a lifetime of hard work. Hannah and youngest son, George Speight, just 13, faced uncertain times.

Baalam Speight was born about 1840 in Greene County. In the waning days of the Civil War, he and his brother Lafayette Edwards slipped away from their plantations to make their way to Morehead City, North Carolina. There, in March 1865, they enlisted in Company H, 14th United Stated States Colored Heavy Artillery. Baalam had not yet adopted his father’s surname and joined the army as “Baalam Edwards.” He and his company served garrison duty at Fort Macon until mustered out on 11 December 1865. In 1890 and again in 1892, 1895 and 1896, Baalam applied to the U.S. government for a veteran’s pension. Though he once been a “well developed, powerful built man,” he complained of “fluttering of the heart,” muscle pains, eye disease as a result of measles, rheumatism, lumbago, deafness and “misery in the head” attributable to exposure during his military service. Several doctor’s examinations concluded, however, that Baalam’s troubles were primarily attributable to old age, and his claims were rejected.

Despite Baalam’s failed attempts, Hannah Speight squared her shoulders and filed a widow’s claim in June 1903. It was assigned No. 786,944. Her burden? To prove that she and Baalam were legally married and never divorced. What might have been a straightforward task was complicated by the fact that Greene County’s courthouse had burned down with everything in it and the magistrate who had performed the ceremony was overworked and often drunk. Hannah turned to neighbors and friends to make her case, and nearly a dozen were deposed over the course of several days in August 1904. In addition to corroborating Hannah’s account of her marriage, they present a trove of personal information about the lives of Hannah and Baalam’s circle:

  • Mariah Moore – midwife; 78 years old in 1904;  lives near Kinston, Lenoir County; delivered Baalam and Hannah’s youngest son George Speight; her unnamed husband died in July 14 years ago.
  • Maria Loftin — about 62 years old, wife of Cornelius Loftin; lives near Kinston; lived on Harvey plantation at same time as Balaam Speight and recalled his marriage. “I used to patch his clothes before he was married … I was freed by Lincoln and staid on Bear Creek four years then I went to near Snow Hill on Harvey place where I met Baalam and I staid there two years.”
  • Cain D. Sauls – Lives in Snow Hill, Greene County NC. “I am 40 years of age … merchant. I am second cousin of the claimant Hannah Speight. Her maiden name was Hannah Sauls. I have known her all my life ….[She and Balham] lived in this county but I don’t know where they lived as I saw them only when they visited my people.” [Only witness who signed his own name. All others signed with X.]
  • Viola Edwards – Lives in Bull Head, Greene County. “I don’t know my age, am 50 or more. … Wife of LaFayette Edwards. … I lived just across the creek from [Hanna Sauls] when she married Baalam Speight. … I recollect that they were on the plantation next to the one I lived on at that time. It was the Rawls plantation …. I did not know Jennie the slave wife of Baalam Edwards ….”
  • Grace Harper – about 62 years old, wife of Lewis Harper, lives in Snow Hill. “I knew Balham Speight as a boy before he went away to go into the army. … I had known Hannah Sauls as a girl and lived in two miles of her before she married Balham Speight. … I think they had one child before they lived at Kinston … Yes Hannah had a child by Loderick Artist before her marriage to Balham Speight, but she did not marry or live with him or any other man until she married Balham. …”
  • Mary Shepard – About 70 years old, lives near Snow Hill. Widow of Marcus Shepard. “I knew [Hannah’s] aunt Becca [Best.] … They lived around here about two years after they were married and then moved away to Lenoir Co. … Baalam Speight was a brother of Fate Edwards. He was always called Baalam Speight. I think he was owned by Jim Edwards and that his father was Reddin Speight. … It seems to me that Hannah had a boy by Loderick Artist before her marriage to Baalam Speight …”
  • Lewis Harper – Lives in Snow Hill. “I am about 65 years of age … laborer…. I was born and raised in Greene County and knew Balham Speight as a boy. We lived about 3 miles apart and were right often together before he went away to go into the army. … I knew when Balham Speight was married to Hannah Sauls, it was not mighty long after the war. It may have been two or three years after. … They did not remain near Snow Hill very long until they moved to Kinston where they remained afterwards up to his death. … Hannah had a child by the man Loderick Artist a year and a half before she married Balham while she was living with her parents. … Loderick Artist was my brother and is dead.
  • LaFayette Edwards – 63 years of age, lives in Bull Head, Greene County. “I served as a corporal of Co. H, 14 U.S.C.H.A. and knew Baalam Edwards of that company; he was my brother and our father was Reddin Speight. In slave time I belonged to Ap. Edwards and he belonged to his brother Orfa Edwards. We were raised and enlisted, served and discharged together. After he came out of the army he worked in turpentine one year or so in S.C. or Georgia. … After that he came back and lived on Hill place near Kinston. But for two or three years after he came from the South he lived out near Snow Hill. He was married close to Jno. Harvey plantation to Hannah Sauls daughter of Shepard Sauls. … I know they were married by law as there was no taking up with each other in those days. … Before he married Hannah Baalam had lived with a woman named Jennie Suggs in slave time. She died while we were in the service. I did not go to the burial, but we were at Morehead City not far away when she died and heard of her death at the time.”
  • Peter Hood – 64 years old, farmer and pensioner, lives near Kinston. “I was a pvt. in Co H, 14 U.S.C.H.A. and knew Baalam Edwards. He was in my company and I was witness for him when he was trying to get pension. … He was a sort light complected spare somewhat tall man. I don’t know his height. I reckon he was about as tall as you (about 5 ft. 10 in.)”
  • Isaac Edwards alias Eddis — 67 year-old farmer. “I am not a pensioner but I served as a pvt. in Co. H, 14 U.S.C.H.A from Mch. 8, 1865 to Dec. 11, 1865. I knew a man named Baalam Edwards in my company. I had known him before we went into the army and we had both belonged to Betsy Edwards in slave time and lived not far apart. His father was Reddin Speight. He used the name of his mistress in the army and after he came out of the army he went by the name of his father Speight. … [H]e was married to a woman named Hannah Sauls. This was the first wife of Baalam Edwards except that he had a slave wife named Jennie.” “Baalam Edwards was not sick and did not get hurt in the army, except that he had mumps at Ft. Macon. He was a long slim, not very dark, dark hair and eyes. I am six feet high, he was not quite as tall as I am.”
  • Francis Williams — 70 year-old pensioner. “I was a corporal in Co. I, 14 U.S.C.H.A. and I knew Balham Speight. He was a member of my regiment.” [C.D. Sauls signed as witness.]

The testimony was satisfactory, and Hannah was granted a pension of $10/month.

A document in this pension file lists Baalam’s children as Charles, born 12 April 1870; Nancy Susan, 19 February 1872; Lizzie, 8 March 1874; Claiborn, 30 March 1876; Major, 27 September 1879; James, 8 April 1882; Franklin, 19 June 1885; Luvenia, 5 April 1887; and George Meade Speight, 26 September 1889. Census records reveal a tenth child, who was oldest. Lemon Speight’s Lenoir County death certificate lists his birthdate as 27 April 1867 — about a year-and-a-half before Baalam and Hannah married in late 1869. The certificate also names Baalam as Lemon’s father, but, as several witnesses testified, he was in fact the son of Loderick Artis.

The file reveals other tantalizing tidbits, in italics, related to my family. How were Loderick Artis and Lewis Harper brothers? On their mother’s side? Or through Loderick’s father Daniel Artis? Cain Sauls, who was Loderick’s nephew, testified that he was Hannah’s second cousin. Her parents were Rosetta Best and Sheppard Sauls. Who was Sheppard to Cain?

ARTIS -- CD Sauls Deposition_Page_1

ARTIS -- CD Sauls Deposition_Page_2

Deposition of Cain D. Sauls, 8 August 1904.

File #786944, Application of Hannah Speight for Widow’s Pension, National Archives and Records Administration. Hat tip to Trisha Blount Hewitt for pointing out the mention of Loderick Artis in Baalam Speight’s file, #988961, which is included in Hannah’s file.