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

They know of their own certain knowledge.


In June 1923, my grandfather Roderick Taylor vouched for his first cousin Howard Willis Barnes when Barnes applied for a license to marry Elmer Pentecost Wright in Greensboro, North Carolina. Taylor was still spelling his first name with two D’s and no E at the time. His mother, Rachel Barnes Taylor, and Howard’s father, Ned Barnes, were siblings.

Handwritten on the rear: “To Jas. Battle from Roddrick Taylor.” The photo likely dates from about 1905.

Agriculture, Enslaved People, Land, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Kinchen’s Kinchen’s Kinchen’s Kinchen ….

“I found your blog posts on line,” he said. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to you some more about them. Kinchen Taylor was my ancestor.”

It took a little while, but we finally caught up as I sat waiting for a flight to Philadelphia. I’ll call him “Cal.” He goes by a different nickname, but he bears — with pride, but some chagrin — the same name as his forebear. It’s been passed down generation after generation after generation and, in spite of himself, he passed it on, too.

Cal grew up within shouting distance of the Kinchen C. Taylor house that I wrote about, and his father and uncle are among the last of Kinchen Taylor’s descendants holding property passed down from him. He’s a few years younger than I am, and he thinks Kinchen Senior’s house was already in shambles during his childhood. He was aware that Kinchen had accumulated vast tracts of farm and woodland in northern Nash County, but dismayed that he had owned so many slaves. That he had owned any at all, really. Without them, of course, his great-great-great-grandfather’s thousands of acres would have been a wilderness of swamp and impenetrable forest. Cal also wondered if we were perhaps related, but I have no reason to believe that we are.

Many thanks to “Cal” for reaching out and for sharing his connection to Taylor Crossroads.

Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Blog blessings.

  • On October 23, I blogged about connecting with D.J., a descendant of my great-great-great-grandparents Adam T. Artis and Robert and Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge via Lillie Bell Artis Thompson McDaniel Pridgen (1891-1935). A month and a half later, quite separately, I heard from P.M. via this blog. P.M. is also descended from Lillie Bell, though from her marriage to Celebus Thompson. (D.J. is from her second marriage, to McDaniel Whitley.) To my surprise, P.M.’s great-grandmother, Lillie Bell’s daughter Genetta Thompson, married Phillip Elmer Coley, a grandson of Winnie Coley. In her short life, Lillie Belle had twelve or so children. Many migrated north to New York and New Jersey, though, and I had not been able to trace them forward. So glad Scuffalong is bridging that gap!

Genetta Thompson Coley

Genetta Thompson Coley.

  • Just after Christmas, P.P. commented on “All of my possessions to have and to hold,” which featured by great-great-great-grandfather Walker Colvert‘s will. She identified Daniel Mullis, one of the witnesses to the document, as her ancestor. P.P. not only lives in the Eagle Mills area, she’s an avid genealogist and local history buff, she’s my cousin! Her great-grandmother Rebecca Ann Nicholson Barnard was a sister of my great-great-great-grandfather James Lee Nicholson. P.P. has a lifetime of knowledge about northeastern Iredell County and has volunteered to help me in any way possible. Two things she’s already shared: (1) The Welch-Nicholson house didn’t just fall down from age and neglect. It was torched by hooligans out on arson spree. This was back, probably, in the 1980s, not very long after the house achieved historic register status. (2) “Cowles” is pronounced COLES.
  • Around the same time I heard from P.P., I received a message from P.W. She’d been talking to her grandmother about family history, jotted down some names, Googled them, and immediately found “Where we lived: 114 West Lee Street.” To my amazement, she is a descendant of Madie Taylor Barnes, who migrated to New York City during the Great Depression and lost touch with her North Carolina family. I’m looking forward to talking to P.W.’s grandmother soon.
  • And then today: M.S. left a comment noting that her great-great-great-grandfather baptized my great-great-great-grandfather James L. Nicholson in 1842, and she’s a descendant of John A. Colvert, an owner of my great-great-great-grandfather Walker Colvert!

Photo courtesy of Patricia Smith Muhammad.

North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Eureka! … Not.

I was flipping through an old notebook and came across this abstract of entries in the 1912-1913 city directory of Wilson, North Carolina:

Taylor, Bertha, laundress, h 114 w Lee

Taylor, Greenman, h Stantonsburg rd nr Rountree av

Taylor, Hennie, dom, h 114 w Lee

Taylor, Jordan, lab, h Stantonsburg rd nr Rountree av

Taylor, Mack, driver, h 114 w Lee

Taylor, Mattie, laundress, h 114 w Lee

Taylor, Robert, barber, h 114 w Lee

Taylor, Roderick, barber Paragon Shaving Parlor, h 114 w Lee

The house at 114 West Lee Street belonged to my great-grandfather Michael (“Mike,” not “Mack”) Taylor. Bertha, Hennie, and Mattie were his younger daughters. Roderick was his only son. Jordan and Greeman, over on Stantonsburg Road, were Mike’s niece Eliza’s husband and son. But who in the world was Robert Taylor?

Robert … Robert … An epiphany! Of course! This was Robert Perry, son of Mike’s wife Rachel‘s sister Centha Barnes Perry! The boy grew up in Mike and Rachel’s household and quite naturally he was sometimes known as Robert Taylor! … Right?

Well, perhaps, but this is not him. Robert Perry was only 9 years old in 1912. Not only would a child not have been plying a trade at that age, he would not be counted among the adults included in a city directory. (Even Rachel was omitted, as “dependent” homemakers did not make the cut either.)

So, who was this Robert Taylor who both lived in Mike Taylor’s house and worked in the same trade as Mike’s son Roderick?

Census records do not show an African-American Robert Taylor in all of Wilson County in the 1900 or 1910 censuses. In 1920, however, there is Robert Taylor, age 36, a laborer, with wife Mary G., age 29, living at 611 Green Street. Now this is really puzzling.

Two years earlier, when Roderick Taylor registered for the World War I draft, he stated his birth year as 1883, his occupation as barber, and his address as 611 East Green Street. There is no “Roderick Taylor” listed in the 1920 census, but in 1930, at 610 [sic, house numbers shifted in the early 1920s] Green Street, there is barber Roderick Taylor, 45, wife Mary J., 39, and three children.

While it is conceivable that there were both a Robert Taylor and Roderick Taylor of the same age, living in the same houses, with wives of the same name and age, and working in the same profession, it seems unlikely. Rather, in an era in which “Roderick” was rare name, an inattentive census taker or canvasser might easily have heard “Robert” when making his inquiries. Absent further independent evidence that a Robert Taylor existed, I conclude that Roderick’s doppelgänger is a figment of error.

Enslaved People, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

My Barneses.

Last night, I happened upon a fascinating newspaper source of information about Ned Barnes, brother (half-brother?) of my paternal great-grandmother, Rachel Barnes (or Battle) Taylor. Before I lay it out, though, a deeper introduction to the Barneses is in order.*

Willis Barnes and Cherry Battle registered their six-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866. The 1870 census found the family in Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Willis Barnes, 30, wife Cherry, 25, and children Rachul, 7, West, 5, Jesse, 2, and Ned, 5 months. They remained in North Wilson township in the 1880 census: Willis Barnes, 42, wife Cherey, 40, “step-daughter” Rachel Battle, 17, Wesley, 15, Jesse, 13, Ned, 11, Eddie, 7, Mary, 4, and Willey Barnes, 1, plus niece Ellen Battle, 1.  [Very nearby were Hardy Battle, 58, and wife America Battle, 50. Relatives of Cherry?]

Cherry Battle Barnes died after 1880. In 1897, Willis married Fereby Barnes Artis, widow of Benjamin Artis. In the Wilson NC city directory of 1908-09, Willis is listed as a laborer living at 500 South Lodge. Two years later, he was living with his youngest daughter and her family. Willis Barnes died 15 September 1914 in Wilson, Wilson County. His death certificate notes that he was 73 years old, married and a farmer, and that he had been born in Nash County to Tony Eatman and Annie Eatman. Son Jesse Barnes was informant.

On 21 Sep 1882, H.G. Whitehead applied for a marriage license for Mike Taylor of Wilson, aged 20, colored, son of John [sic, his name was Green] Taylor and unknown mother, both living. [This makes no sense — mother is living, but unknown?] and Rachel Barnes of Wilson, age 19, colored, parents unknown, father dead, mother’s status not given. [No sense either, her parents were certainly known. The takeaway — the registrar was not very interested in the facts.]  On the same day, Louis Croom, Baptist minister, married Taylor and Barnes in Wilson before W.T. Battle and Edman Pool.  [Was W.T. Battle related to Rachel?  Is he the W. Turner Battle who married Louvina Knight in Wilson on 24 May 1875?]

Rachel and Mike Taylor had six children. Their first, and only son, Roderick, was born in 1883, followed by the improbably named Maggie (1885), Mattie (1887), and Madie (1888), then Bertha E. (1892) and Henrietta G. Taylor (1893). More about Rachel’s family elsewhere.

Wesley “West” Barnes married Ella Mercer on 4 June 1885 at her father Dempsey Mercer’s house in Wilson County. (The marriage license refers to him as “Sylvester” Barnes.) Wesley worked as a driver or drayman, and though he and Ella had at least seven children, I know the names only of five: Joseph Barnes (1885), Lucy Barnes Watson (1889-1959), Sylvester Barnes (1893-1936), Viola Barnes (1894-1943), and Charley Barnes (1896-??) West died of apoplexy in 1919.

Jesse Barnes married Ella Mercer’s sister Mary Mag Mercer on 1 April 1889. His brothers Wesley and Ned witnessed the ceremony. They had at least three children, Jesse Jr. (1890), Marnie (1892-1943), and Nettie (1895-1917). He died in 1916.

On 27 Oct 1891, J.T. Dean applied for a marriage license for Edward Barnes, 22, of Wilson, son of Willis and Cherry Barnes, and Louisa Gay, daughter of Samuel and Alice Gay.  The ceremony took place 29 Oct 1891 before J.W. Levy, AMEZ Church minister, at Samuel Gay’s.  Witnesses were S.H. Vick, Spencer Barnes, Thomas Davis. [This “Edward” is very definitely Ned Barnes, but the entry is confusing because the 1880 census shows Willis and Cherry with children Ned and Eddie (born about 1873). If there was an “Eddie,” he appears in no other records.] Ned worked as a coachman and around 1901 moved his family to Raleigh for better opportunities. Ned and Louisa Gay Barnes’ children included Mattie Radcliffe Barnes Hines (1895-1923), Alice Ida Barnes (1897-1969), Ned Barnes Jr. (1900), Howard Barnes (1902), Blonnie Barnes Zachary (1908-1932) and Jerrel Randolph Barnes (1909-1929). Ned died in Raleigh in 1912.

Mary Barnes is an enigmatic figure. She married first in Wilson County in 1893 to Pierce Barnes, son of Robert and Hannah Barnes, and then a man named Jones. She never had children of her own, but adopted her nephew, Robert Perry. She died almost 11 months to the day after her brother Wesley in 1919.

William “Willie” Barnes died of tuberculosis in 1917. It is not clear if he ever married or had children.

As detailed here, I believe Cherry Battle had one more child, daughter Lucinda “Cintha” Barnes. Cintha also died young, and her children were reared by her sisters.

 *Barnes is by far the most common surname in Wilson County. My cousin A.B. is descended from at least four separate Barnes lines, and any two given Barneses are more likely to be unrelated than not.

Enslaved People, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

$100 reward for Lewis.


Tarboro’ Press, 1 March 1845.

I first thought that the Kinchen Taylor in this ad was one of other Kinchen Taylors in Nash County in the antebellum period. However, a bit of research revealed that Kinchen Taylor of Fishing Creek had a son, Josiah, who died in late 1846 or early 1847. Josiah Taylor’s modest estate, administered by his brother-in-law Benjamin D. Mann, included no slaves. Nonetheless, it appears here that Josiah sold at least one slave who actually belonged to his father. Was this Lewis related to the “Big Lewis” listed in Kinchen’s estate in 1853? Was he ever captured? How many other Lewises were sold away from Kinchen’s plantation, their links to their families permanently sundered? (And their perplexed descendants, known to each other only via mysterious DNA matches, left to ponder lost connections.)