DNA, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

DNA Definites, no. 14: Artis.

Well, I’ll be….

Several months ago, I sent a share request to N.S. on 23andme because he listed Kinston NC as a family location. N.S. is a match to my cousin K.H. Though K.H. and I don’t have ancestors from Lenoir County, it’s close enough to Dudley that I thought it worthwhile to establish contact.

I was skimming through K.H.’s matches yesterday and stopped short at N.S. … Hmmm … Kinston? Speight? Could he …?

I sent a message, “Are you descended from Lemmon Speight?,” and he quickly responded that he is indeed, that Lemmon was his grandfather.

If you remember, I discovered Lemmon Speight a few weeks ago in the Civil War pension application file of Bailham Speight. Speight’s widow Hannah Sauls Speight, several friends and relatives, and Lemmon himself testified that Lemmon, Hannah’s first child, had been fathered by Loderick Artis, whom she had never married. Loderick Artis was the son of Daniel Artis, who was brother of my great-great-great-great-grandmother Vicey Artis Williams.

N.S. and K.H. share .46%, and 23andme estimated their relationship as 3rd-5th cousins. They are, in fact, 4th cousins.

[UPDATE: I was at the North Carolina State Archives last week when my phone rang with an unfamiliar number from area code 202. I stepped out to answer it and found myself talking to N.S.’ brother-in-law, the family historian. We talked in depth later that night, and he told me that the family had long known the identity of Lemmon Speight’s father, that several descendants migrated to Georgia and are holding a reunion here next year, that he himself is also a Greene County Speight, and did I know D.S.? “Are you kidding??? He lives two doors down from my parents! I’ve known him all my life!” They are both descended from Stephen and Fereby Speight and are somehow related to Mr. Kenny!  — LYH, 6 May 2014]

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

They would not have taken them in church.

Part II of Bailham and Hannah Sauls Speight’s pension application file arrived today, and here are some extracts from witnesses deposed 4 June 1904:

  • Hannah Speight – “I claim pension as the widow of Bailham Speight but who served during the Civil War in the U.S. Army under the name of Bailham Edwards.” His brother Lafayette Edwards “lives at Bull Head which is eight miles from Goldsboro.” “I was born on Appletree Swamp near the town of Stauntonberg, Greene County. N.C. and was a slave; was owned by Lawrence Brown. I am the daughter of Rosetta Sauls. My father was Sheppard Sauls. I was known as Hannah Sauls prior to my marriage to Bailham Speight. … [A]fter our marriage we lived as husband and wife till he died December the 21st 1902.” “My husband was born and raised in Greene County. He was about six years older than I was still I knew him before he was grown….” “After his discharge he went to Georgia and was there just twelve months I do not know in what part of Georgia he was. No, I guess it was South Carolina where he went for he went away with Capt. Bill Taylor to work turpentine. … I married my husband about four years after the close of the war and we were married in the month of November in Snow Hill….” Married at Rebecca Bess’ house. She is deceased, as are witnesses Martha Sheppard, Luke Sheppard, and Charles Moseley. Maria Lofton did not witness, but could testify to marriage. She lives on Dr. Parrott’s plantation near Falling Creek. Amos Ellis, Lafayette Edwards, and Violet Edwards would have heard of the marriage, as would Isaac Lynch. … “My husband was raised five miles from Snow Hill on the Betsey Edwards place.” “My husband had a woman before the war. She might be called a slave wife and her name was Jennie. My husband told me she died in Newbern about the close of the war.” “At date of death of my husband I had one child under 16, viz., George Speight and he was fourteen on the 26th of last September. I never had George’s age set down by I remembered it all the same and I have always celebrated the twenty sixth of September as being his birthday and I am absolutely sure that he is now fourteen going on fifteen.” Midwife Mariah Moore lived one mile from Kinston in Harveytown. “After my marriage I lived for twelve months on the place of Dr. John Harvey and then I moved down here; moved here in the Fall of 1870 and have been here ever since. Everybody both white and black know me around here.” Deposition A.
  • Hannah Speight — Sixty-one years of age and lives four miles from Kinston. “I have had eleven children – ten by Bailham Speight and one by Loderick Artist. I never lived with Loderick Artist for during the time he came to see me I was living in the house with my mother and father. We were engaged to be married but after he got me in trouble he went and married another woman. He married her before I married Bailham Speight. He married a woman named Mandy and lived with her till he died ten years ago. He died in the neighborhood of Speights Bridge. No, I never went under the name of Artist nor was I ever known as his wife and never lived with him a day. Our relations were all of a secret nature.” Deposition B.
  • Rosetta Sauls – “I think I am 85; I can do no work and live with my grandson.” “Hannah Speight is my daughter.” … “I did not see her married because she married in Snow Hill and I was living in the country but Bailham come and got her from her my house and took her to Snow Hill where they were married and then they came right back to my house where they lived some three or four months and then they moved in a house to themselves.” “No, my daughter was never married to Loderick Artist and they never did live together but he was the father of her oldest child. He deceived my daughter and got a child by her and then went and married Mandy. All the time he was keeping company with my daughter she was living with me. My daughter never went under the name of Artist nor did she ever go under any name except Sauls and Speight. …” “Bailham Speight and Hannah were both members of the Baptist Church and had they been living improperly and not regularly married they would not have taken them in church.”
  • Lemon Speight – “On the 27th of last April I was 37 years of age.” Farmer four miles from Kinston. “Hannah Speight is my mother. I am the son of Loderick Artist who died ten years go. He never married my mother and I am the only child she ever had except those belonging to Bailham Speight. My father had a wife and her name was Mandy.” “I was married December the 12th 1889 and my brother George was born September the 26th 1889.”

And a letter dictated by Bailham Speight himself:

February 11th 1896, Kinston N.C.

Mr. I.S. Kurtz       Dear Sir, Relative to my age and the way that my name has been spelled. Now I wished to informs you that I used to belong to the old man names Edwards before the war (white) Therefore I enlisted in the Military Services of the United states. I enlisted by the name of Bailham Edwards and I answered at roll call. Bailham Edwards. But the Yankees, they called the name some what like this. Balum Edwards. But however you is speaking to the same man after all. …” [The letter is written in a very florid hand, and the signature does not show his “X.” However, other documents reveal that Bailham Speight could not, in fact, read or write.]

Standard
Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Photographs

Miss Speight & Mister Kenny.

My earliest memory: I am wrapped in a red blanket, slightly faded, edged in satin. The air is chilly. The light, low and pink-gold. It is morning, and I am being carried across the street to Miss Speight and Mr. Kenny’s house. They lived at 1400, and we lived at 1401, and I cannot be more than two years old.

My mother says that I cannot remember this. It must be an implanted recollection. I don’t think so, but perhaps. There is no question, though, that I retain other vignettes from the brief time that Nina Speight kept me: a canister of Morton salt on a kitchen table; a bag of wooden blocks on a shelf; a Maxwell House can brimming with snuff juice; a thin chenille spread over a four-poster bed; the dimness of the back room shared by the Speights’ teenaged grandsons. We left Carolina Street when I was nine, but my memories of my years at the edge of East Wilson are warm and tinged with gold.  Miss Speight and Mister Kenny loved and nurtured me early and rooted me firmly in the traditions of a Southern community in transition. They passed away within months of each other in 1982 — ironically, the year that I, too, left Wilson, for college.

Kenneth___Nina_Speight

Nina and Kenneth Speight.

——

Nina Darden Speight was born in 1901 in Black Creek township, Wilson County, to Crawford F. and Mattie Woodard Darden. Her family names indicate deep roots in southeastern Wilson County, which was part of Edgecombe before 1855. Her father, born about 1869, was the youngest of several children born to Howell Darden and Esther (or Easter) Bass, and the only child born free. (Esther’s maiden name also appears as “Jordan” on the marriage license of one of her children.)  On 11 August 1866, Howell and Easter registered their cohabitation with a county justice of the peace and thereby legalized their 18-year marriage. Their older children included Warren (born circa 1849, married Louisa Dew), Eliza (born circa 1852, married Henry Dortch), Martin (born circa 1853, married Jane Dew) and Toby Darden (born circa 1858.) Esther Darden died 1870-1880, and Howell Darden between 1880 and 1900.

Evidence that Howell Darden and Esther Bass were both owned by James A. Barnes may be found in the abstract of his will, dated October 14, 1848 and probated at February Court, 1849 in Edgecombe County. Among other property real and personal, Barnes’ wife Sarah received a life interest in several slaves — Mary, Esther and Charles — whose ownership would revert to nephew Theophilus Bass upon her death. To McKinley Darden, Barnes bequeathed “Negro Howell.” [Other enslaved people mentioned in Barnes’ will included Tom, Amos, Babe, Silvia, Ransom, Rose, Dinah, Jack, Jordan, Randy, Abraham, Rody, Alexander, Bob and Gatsey (the only slave to be sold.) Their relationships to Esther and Howell may never be known.]

Nina Speight’s mother Mattie Woodard Darden was born about 1873 in Wayne County to William and Vicey Woodard. She died 7 May 1935 in Wilson County. Crawford Darden died 3 August 1934.

Kenneth Speight was born about 1891 in Speight Bridge township, Greene County, North Carolina, to Callie and Holland Speight. (Some records show a 1899 or 1900 birth year, but he appears in the 1900 census as an 8 year-old.) His father Callie was born about 1855; his mother Holland, about 1860. Callie was the son of Callie (1825) and Allie Speight (1827). In the 1870 census of Greene County, the Callie and Allie Speight’s family is listed next to a wealthy white farmer named Abner Speight, who may have been their former owner.

In 1902, the Charlotte Observer ran an article by C.S. Wooten of LaGrange, North Carolina, “Old Southern Families: Farmers of Wayne and Greene,” a reminiscence about the “old plantations” and “typical Southern gentlemen” of those parts, including Abner Speight:

James Speight, a nephew of Jesse Speight, was Senator for Lenoir and Greene counties for ten years before the war. He married a niece of my father, Maj. Wooten. He was a splendid stump speaker, and I have seen him debate with lawyers on the stump and get the best of the discussion, indeed in those days the best politicians were farmers. His house was a nice place to visit. He always had a special brand of apple brandy made by Col. C.W. Stanton who could make as good brandy as was ever made. Edwin G. Speight, his cousin, was also Senator from Greene and Lenoir counties from 1842-1852. I was a small boy when he was a public man, but I have heard my father say he was a fine speaker and was a natural orator. His second wife was a daughter of Hon. Jake H. Bryan, of Raleigh, and he removed to Alabama where he died a few years ago. Abner Speight, a cousin of the above, was a large farmer, was a noble man and as good a citizen as the State ever had. He had two boys killed in the army, both bright, gallant young men. I have sometimes thought, suppose the South had not been checked in her onward march of prosperity and greatness what would we have been today. I have also thought that the gallant men, the flower of Southern chivalry that were sacrificed in that unhappy struggle were in vain, but I reckon not, for they by their gallantry and valor, have shed unfading justice upon Southern arms and have given her a name that will never be surpassed in the annals of mankind.

Callie and Holland Speight married about 1878, but little else is known of her. After Holland’s death just after 1900, Callie married Minnie Speight (1894-1947), daughter of Stephen and Dillie Woodard Speight, also of Greene County. In addition to Kenneth, Callie Speight’s children included Martha, Mary, Clara, Irwin, Charlie, Callie, Addie, Claud, Mary, Nancy, Flossie, Lewis, Clarence, Effie, Bessie, Pauline, George, Adell, Joe, James and Junius. Callie died after 1940.

——

Postscript: After I posted this piece, the Speights’ grandson, whom I played with on his childhood visits from New York City, sent me another photograph. Nina Darden is standing at top left, holding a flower. Thanks, Tyrone, for both images!

Nina Darden

Standard
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.

Standard