First-generation freedom, pt. 2.

The second in a series of annotated abstracts of Wilson County death certificates of African-Americans born before 1870, the cusp of slavery and freedom. The records are a trove of information about otherwise obscure family relationships among enslaved and free people of color and shed light on intra- and interstate migration patterns in the decades after Emancipation.


Armstrong, Alice. Born 26 April 1865, Wayne County. Died 26 January 1948, Elm City. Bowel obstruction. Father, Primers Mitchell. Mother, Caroline Mitchell, Wayne County. Widow. buried Elm City cemetery. Informant, Fred Armstrong, Elm City. [In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Primus Mitchell, 25, wife Caroline, 35, and children William, 12, Laurance, 1, and infant girl, 2.]  In the 1940 census of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: at 237 Cobb Avenue, Alice Armstrong, 73, daughter Maggie McFaden, 53, granddaughter Lucille McFaden, 26, and son Gray Armstrong, 28.]

Armstrong, Elnora. Born 1869, Halifax County. Died 22 October 1945, Wilson County. Father, Monroe Williams, Virginia. Mother, Susie Williams, Virginia. Widow. Resided 608 East Green Street, Wilson. Informant, Carrie Jones, Philadelphia. [In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Elnora Armstrong, 90, widow, a lodger in the household of N. Andrew and Ada W. Pierce at 415 East Green Street.]

Armstrong, Garry. Born 1846, Edgecombe county. Died 1 February 1928, Toisnot township. “No doctor within last 30 days.” Father, Abraham Armstrong, Edgecombe County. Mother Cherry Armstrong, Edgecombe County. Farmer. Wife, Henrietta Armstrong. Buried in family cemetery, Wilson County. Informant, John H. Armstrong, Elm City. [In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County, Gary Armstrong appears as a 20 year-old farm laborer sharing a household with 20 year-old George Batts. See also Nelson Armstrong, below.]

Armstrong, Guston. Born 1835, Edgecombe County. 30 November 1923, Toisnot township. Chronic nephritis. Father, Quinnie Braswell. Tenant farmer for F.R. Hall. Wife, Sillie Armstrong. Informant, Van Armstrong, Sharpsburg. [In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Augustus Armstrong, 30, wife Pricilla, 22, and children Sallie, 4, Stella, 2, and William, 4 months.]

Armstrong, Hatliss. Born 1851, Ashton, North Carolina. Died 3 March 1936, Wilson. “Probably chr. nephritis.” Father, Darry Armstrong, Ashton. Widower. Laborer. Resided 711 Sugg Street, Wilson. Informant, Oscar Armstrong, 711 Sugg Street.

Armstrong, Martha. Born 1835, Wilson County. Died 29 August 1931, Gardners township. “No doctor within last 30 days.” Father, Peter Williams, Wilson County. Mother, Winnie Williams, Wilson County. Widow of Lewis Armstrong. Informant, Rosa Ruffin, Elm City. [In the 1880 census of Gardners, Wilson County: Louis Armstrong, 38, Morthwy, 38, and children Charles, 11, Peter, 9, Deler, 7, Matty, 5, and Ida, 2.]

Armstrong, Mary. Born 1866, Edgecombe County. Died 25 September 1924, Toisnot township. Born 1866, Edgecombe County. Died 25 September 1924, Toisnot township. Father, Crumel Bullock. Mother, Rena Bulluck. Husband and informant, Nelson Armstrong, Sharpsburg (see below.)

Armstrong, Nelson. Born 1854, Edgecombe County. Died 8 December 1934, Toisnot township. Father, Abraham Armstrong, NC. Mother Cherry Armstrong, NC. Farmer. Widower. Informant, Henry Armstrong, Stantonsburg. [In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Abraham Armstrong, 52, wife Cherry, 32, and children Nancy, 16, Haywood, 14, Nelson, 12, Joshua, 11, and Burlee, 7.]

Arrington, Lillie. Born 12 March 1864, Enfield, North Carolina. Carcinoma stomach. Died 11 January 1942, Elm City. Father, Sisroe Thornton, Enfield. Mother, Roda Whitaker, Enfield. Widow of Henry Arrington. Buried Elm City cemetery. Informant, W.E. Arrington, Elm City. [Census records suggest that Cicero Thornton was born about 1855 and his daughter Lillie about 1880.]

Artis, Benjamin. Born 1856, Wilson County. Died 18 July 1936, Wilson County. Cause of death not determined. Father, Richard Artis, Wilson County. Mother, Eliza Artis, Wilson County. Widower. Farmer. Resided at County Home. Informant, David Ruffin. [In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: Richard Artis, 28, wife Eliza, 40, and children Ben, 12, Henry, 11, Richard, 3, and Jane, 2.]

Artis, Cain. Born March 1851, Wayne County. Died 23 March 1917, Wilson township. Pulmonary tuberculosis. Father, Adam T. Artis, Wayne County. Mother, Winnie Coley, Wayne County. Farmer. Married. Buried Wilson County. Informant, W.M. Coley.  [In the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County: Cain Artis, 25, wife Anie, 25, and children Ivey C., 2, and Appie, 1. Cain’s father was a free man of color, and Cain, his mother and sister were enslaved. See here.]

Artis, Edd. Born 1861, Wayne County. Died 10 June 1936, Wilson township. Father, Alford Artis, Wayne County. Mother, Eliza Artis, Wayne County. Farmer. Wife, Zilpha Artis. Buried Rest Haven cemetery. Informant, Clarence Artis.

Artis, Eliza. Born 1842, Wilson County. Died 4 December 1920, Wilson township. “Old age stated as no doctor.” Father, Harry Cobit, North Carolina. Mother, Nicy Barnes, North Carolina. Widow. Tenant farmer for E.B. Baines; informant, Watts Barnes.

Artis, Fabie. Born 1864, Wilson County. Died 30 March 1930, Wilson. Paralysis. Father, Silas Barnes, Wilson County. Mother, Rosetta Farmer, Wilson County. Widow. Resided 1213 Washington Street, Wilson.  Buried Rountree cemetery. Informant, John T. Artis, Wilson. [In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Silas Barnes, 49, wife Rosa, 45, and children Wade, 23, and Feribee, 20.]

Artis, Henry. Born 1864. Died 22 October 1918, Stantonsburg township. Father, Richard Artis, North Carolina. Mother, Liazza Artis, North Carolina. Farmer for Chester Jordan. Married to Anna Artis. Buried at Billy Barnes’ place, Stantonsburg. Informant, Chester Jordan. [See Benjamin Artis, above.]

Artis, John. Born 1862, Wayne County. Died 16 September 1927, Wilson. Valvular heart disease. Father, Joe Artis, Wayne County. Married to Sarah Artis. Resided on Stantonsburg Street, Wilson. Informant, James Ward, Stantonsburg.

Artis, Lucinda. Born 1847, Wayne County. Died 23 June 1931, Wilson County. Cerebral hemorrhage. Father, Henry Hobbs. Mother, Elizabeth Hobbs, Wayne County. Widow of Jessie Artis. Resided 310 Reid Street, Wilson. Buried Wayne County. Informant, Cora Artis, Wilson. [In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse, Wayne County: farm laborer Henry Hobbs, 26, wife Eliza, 27, children Lucinda, 2, and John, 1 month, and Mary Hobbs, 54.]

Artis, Luvennia. Born 1854, Wilson County. Died 11 May 1924, Wilson. Father, Haywood Moye, North Carolina. Mother, Eliza Stanton, Wilson County. Laundress. Widow. Resided 177 Narroway. Informant, Emma Artis.

Artis, Noah. Born 14 September 1856, Wilson County. Died 16 May 1952, Wilson County. Father, Adam Artis. Widower. Resided 312 Finch Street, Wilson. Buried family cemetery, Wilson County [actually, Wayne County]. Informant, Pauline Harris. [In the 1860 census of Davis district, Wayne County: Adam Artis, 30, children Kerney, 4, Noah, 2, and Mary Jane, 1, plus Jane Artis, 26, and infant, 1 month. Sidenote: Cain Artis and Lucinda Artis, above, were Noah’s half-brother and aunt by marriage.]

Artis, Patsy Ann. Born 1869, Edgecombe County. Died 3 April 1922, Wilson township. Cerebral paralysis. “Patient had small-pox at time of death.” Father, Charly Hines, Edgecombe County. Tenant farmer for Judge Fleming. Married to Jessie Artis.

Artis, Winnie. Born 1832, Wayne County. Died 25 November 1922, Spring Hill township. “No doctor in attendance. Died of general infirmities of old age.” Father, Reuben Reaves, Wayne County. “Invalid for Years.” Servant. Widowed. Buried Wayne County near Pikeville. Informant, Dock Brown, Kenly.


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