Nina and Kenneth Speight, probably near Stantonsburg, Wilson County, perhaps 1940s.
Nina Darden Speight was born in 1901 in Black Creek township, Wilson County, to Crawford F. and Mattie Woodard Darden. Her father, born about 1869 in Black Creek, was the youngest of several children born to Howell Darden and Esther (or Easter) Bass, and their only child born free. (Esther’s maiden name also appears as “Jordan” on the marriage license of one of her children.)
Crawford and Mattie Darden and children, including Nina at upper left, circa 1910.
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. Crawford Darden died 3 August 1934.
Evidence that Howell Darden and Esther Bass were both owned by James A. Barnes may be found in 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 enslaved people — Mary, Esther and Charles — whose ownership would revert to nephew Theophilus Bass upon her death. To McKinley Darden, Barnes bequeathed “Negro Howell.”