Nina Hardy, circa early 1960s.
Nina Frances Faison Kornegay Hardy was born March 15, 1882, probably in northern Duplin County to John Henry Aldridge and Addie Faison, who did not marry until 1885. She seems to have been married briefly to Joe Kornegay in 1899 in Wayne County, but is not in the 1900 census. By 1910, she had made her way 40 or so miles north to Wilson and was listed as “Nina Facin,” boarding on Elba Street in the household of Jesse and Sarah Henderson Jacobs. The census also shows a “Nina Facon” living and working as a servant in the household of Jefferson D. Farrior in Wilson. Though described as white, this is almost surely Nina Faison, who cooked and cleaned for the Farriors most of her working life.
In an interview I conducted, my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) said:
Aint Nina lived up over the Farrior house on Herring Avenue. Herring’s Crossroads, whatever you call it. And that’s where she come up there to live. Well, the maid, as far as the help, or whoever, they stayed on the lot, where they’d have somewhere to sleep. So Aint Nina was living on Nash Road, way down there, and when we went to see her, me and Mamie would run down there five miles. She was working for Old Man Farrior then. When she was living out in the country, she was working for white people, and so she went up to their house and cooked for them. And when we’d go down to her house, she’d have to come from up there and cook when she get home. So we would go and spend a day, but it would be more than likely be on her day off. But when we had the horse and buggy, Mama drove out there once, and we went, I went with Papa with the wagon to where you grind corn to make meal, down to Silver Lake or whatever that place was down there. Lord, them were the good old days.
The Farriors, their back porch was closed in. It had windows. And had a marble floor in the back, and that stairway was on, where it was closed in on the back porch, you could go upstairs, and there was a room up there. You couldn’t go from out of that room into the other part of the house. You had to come back down them steps then go in the house. And that’s where Aint Nina stayed. I said, Lord, I wouldn’t want to have stayed up there. And then something happen … She had to come down and go down the steps, go upstairs, I mean, and come out of the kitchen, and then go up them steps out on this porch in her room. So she stayed up there. Lord, I wouldn’t want to stay up there. She get sick out there, she couldn’t get nobody. I didn’t see no – I was up in there one time, and I went up there just to look around. Well, she had a nice room, nice bed and chair and dresser and everything. There was a whole set in the room where she was. That was the only time I was up there. But I wouldn’t want to stay up there.
In 1917, Nina married Julius Hardy in Wilson township.
It is likely their house that my grandmother and great-aunt visited out on Nash Road:
They had guinea chickens. A car run over a chicken and killed it, and it kept going. And we, me and Mamie, was going out there, and we picked up the chicken and carried it ‘round there. And Aint Nina poured water and scald the chicken and picked it and cooked it, and we had the best time eating it. Wont thinking ‘bout we was going out there to eat. And so we come walking in there with that chicken, and she wanted to know, “Well, where’d you get that?” “A car run over it, and we picked it up and brought it on over so you could cook it.” And she said, “Yeah, it’s good. A car just killed it?” And it wasn’t too far from the house. And I reckon it was one of her chickens anyhow. Honey, she cooked that old stewed chicken, had to put pastry and vegetables in it. Lord, we stayed out all that time, then had to come home from way out there. But we was full.
And her brother, his name was James Faison, lived across the street from her, and his wife, and I think the lady had been married before because they wasn’t his children. It was two girls. And he worked at the express, at the station. The place was on that side, Nash Street station was over on this side. Baggage used to come over there. The baggage place where’d you take off the train. That’s where you put it over on that side at that time. And he was working over there.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, Nina Hardy is listed as a maid in the household of lawyer William D.P. Sharpe Jr., next door to Annie V. Farrior and her brother Marvin Applewhite. Did the families share her services?
In 2004, a Farrior descendant sent me copies of several photos of Nina Hardy. They were likely taken in the early 1950s, a few years before Annie V. Farrior’s death. The Farriors’ grand home, with its immense columned portico, was demolished in the 1960s.
Undated photograph of the J.D. Farrior house found at Images of North Carolina, http://www.ncdigital.org. Color photo in possession of Lisa Y. Henderson. Many thanks to J.M. Brock for sharing his family photos.