The families of William and Nancy Rose Hawley illustrate the fluidity of identity along the color line and the complexity of Southern race relations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their families lived among a cluster of families in the Lucama area — Hawleys, Roses, Ayerses and Taylors — whose members’ racial classifications shifted back and forth over time. Both William and Nancy were regarded as mixed-race for much of their lives, but died white.
In the 1850 census of District 9, Johnston County: John Sillivant, 53, farmer; Sally Hawley, 60; and Martha Hawley, 35, and her children Nancy, 12, William, 9, Mary, and Elizabeth, 3. All were described as white.
Also in the 1850 census of District 9, Johnston County: Sarah Rose, 44, and children Piety, 22, William 11, Nancy, 3, and James, 0. All were described as white.
Piety Rose married Noah Lynch on 2 March 1853 in Edgecombe County. [Lynch was probably a brother of Wyatt Lynch.]
In the 1860 census of Kirbys district, Wilson County: Sallie Hawley, 75; daughter Patsey [nickname for Martha], 35; and grandchildren William, 17, Mary, 14, Cerenia, 10, Willey, 4, Saffira, 4, and John D., 1. Patsey, Cerenia and John were described as mulatto; the others, white. [Kirby’s district had been the north-most part of Johnston County before Wilson County was created in 1855.]
Also in the 1860 census of Kirbys district, Wilson County: Sarah Rose, 50; Richard Odom, 21, cooper; Willis Taylor, 45, turpentine worker; Nancy Rose, 11, and Alice Rose, 7. Taylor and the Rose girls were described as mulatto. Sarah reported owning $500 real estate and $300 personal.
In the 1860 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: plasterer Noah Lynch, 30; wife Piety, 33, washerwoman; domestic Julia Higgins, 20; John James, 10; and Martha Taylor, 7; all mulatto. Noah reported owning $700 in real property.
On 26 June 1867, William Hawley, son of Joseph Hair and Patsey Hawley, married Nancy Rose, daughter of Sarah Rose, at Sarah Rose’s house in Wilson County.
In the 1870 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer William Hawley, 28, wife Nancy, 20, son Joseph, 1, and Aquilla Hawley, 17. William, Joseph and Aquilla were classified as mulatto; Nancy, as white.
In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Patsey Hawley, 40; and children Betsey, 18, Rena, 17, Willie, 16, Quilly, 16, and John D., 10; all white. Next door: Sarah Rose, 59, and daughter Alice, 15, both described as white. Next door to them: Willis Taylor, 51, farm laborer, white.
On 26 February 1874, Piety Lynch, 40, and Raiford Edwards, 52, both colored, both of Smithfield, were married in Johnston County. The ceremony was performed at J.B. Alford’s in the presence of Daniel Alford, Bettie Alford, and Daniel Freeman.
In the 1880 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer William Hawley, 39, wife Nancy, 32, and children Joseph, 10, Sally An, 7, and John, 3; all described as mulatto.
In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Patsey Hawley, 60, and grandson Charles Anderson Hawley, 11, both mulatto. Willis Taylor, 70, farmer, mulatto — who had lived with the Roses in 1860 — lived next door. Next door to him: farmer Leonidas Adams, 38, his wife Alice, 25, and children Willis, 8, Junius, 7, Mary Ann, 5, and John, 2; plus Piety Lynch, 54, and John E. Denson, 30, a fruit tree seller. All were mulatto except Denson, who was white. (Alice Adams and Piety Lynch were Nancy Rose Hawley’s sisters.) Also in Cross Roads, widow Sarah Rose, 72, living alone, described as white.
[Also in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, this cluster of families: #162. Sylvia Hawley, 22, with children Paul, 3, and Minnie, 2; #163. Martha Ann Hawley, 25, with children Chalmus, 5, and Maud, 2 months; #164. Quillie Hawley, 25, with children William, 5, and Victoria, 2; #165. Patrick Hawley, 35, wife Polly, 29, and children Mary Jane, 9, and Penelope, 5; and #166. John Dancy Adams, 54, Martha Ann Hawley, 45, Pharo Rowe, 30, and Dudley Hawley, 22. All were classified mulatto except John D. Adams and Pharo Rowe. Quillie appears to be Patsey Hawley’s daughter Aquilla. Dudley was Patsey’s son John Dudley Hawley. John D. Adams was the father of Alice Rose Adams’ husband Oleander Adams. In the 1860 census of Kirby’s, Patrick Hawley and the elder Martha Ann Hawley were listed as Patrick and Martha Taylor in John D. Adams’ household, and Sylvia Hawley and the younger Martha Ann Hawley were Taylors in the household of William Taylor, 22, and Sallie Taylor, 30 (who were probably siblings.) All were mulatto in this census, but race-fluid as demonstrated in other records. Who were these people? Were they related to Sally and Patsey Hawley? To the Roses? To Willis Taylor?]
Sarah Rose executed her will in early 1888:
I Sarah Rose of the County of Wilson and state of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence, do make and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say: —
First – That my executor (hereinafter named) shall provide for my body a decent burial, suitable to the wishes of my relations and friend, and pay all funeral expenses together with my just debts howsoever and to whomsoever owing out of the moneys that may first come in to his hands as a part or parcel of my estate.
Second I want my land sold to the highest bidder for cash and pay the same to my last will & testament here after mentioned. Also my personal property All that may be found at my death sold as above written and apply the same to all my heirs.
3rd I give to my son John Rose twenty dollars to be paied to him and his personal representative for ever. 4th I give to my Daughter Pity Linch five dollars to be paied to her. My daughter Allice Adams I want to give her twenty five dollars to be paied to her or her personal representative.
After those above mention received what I have given them my will is to equally divide the balance among William Rose, Mary Alford, and Nancy Holley.
And lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my trusty son in law William Holley my lawful executor to all intents and purposes, to execute this my last Will and Testament according to the true intent and meaning of the same and every part and clause thereof hereby revoking and declaring utterly void all others wills and testaments by me heretofore made in witness whereof I the said Sarah Rose do hereunto set my hand and seal. This the 14th day of March A.D. 1888 Sarah (X) Rose
Signed sealed published and declared by the saied Sarah Rose to be her last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at her request and in her presence do subscribe our names as witness thereunto /s/ J.T Renfrow, A.G. Price
In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: William R. Hawley Sr., 60, wife Nancy, 52, and children Willie, 15, and Patience, 13. All were described as black.
In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Leander Adams, 46, and wife Alice, 46, both black.
In the 1900 census of Smithfield, Johnston County: widow Piety Lynch, 72, black, living alone.
In the 1910 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: on Lucama Branch Road, William M. Hawley, 69, wife Nancy, 62, and daughter Patience, 22; all described as mulatto.
In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: railroad laborer Arnold Adams, 67, wife Alice, 57, and widower son John, 35, a brickyard laborer; all mulatto.
In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Ainley Adams, 711, and wife Alice R. Adams, both white.
William Hawley executed his will in 1913:
In the name of God, Amen, I, William Hawley of the county of Wilson and state of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory do hereby make, publish and declare this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made, and as to my worldly estate and all the property real or personal which I may die seized and possessed I devise, bequeath and dispose thereof in the following manner, that is to say –
First – My will is that all of my just debts and funeral expenses shall be paid out of my estate by my executor hereinafter named as soon after my decease as by him shall be found convenient.
Item 1st. I give devise and bequeath to my beloved wife Nancy Hawley all of my real estate for and during her lifetime or widowhood, the said lands being situated in the county and state aforesaid in two tracts – the first tract being the land whereon I now low bounded on the west by the lands of Luke Tedder, on the north by Arch Atkinson and M.B. Hinnant, on the east by the lands of B.A. Scott and on the south by Jethro Moore containing Eighty Eight acres more or less, also one other tract of land adjoining the lands of J.T. Rentfrow, Seth W. Scott, B.A. Scott and others containing Seventy five acres more of less and known as the Sarah Rose tract – all of which I hereby give to my said wife Nancy Hawley for and during her lifetime or widowhood as aforesaid. I also give devise and bequeath to her all of my person al property not otherwise herein disposed of to-wit – all of my household and kitchen furniture, all of my live stock and all farming tools and all other personal property except such personal property as I may herein dispose of otherwise.
Item 2. I give, devise, and bequeath to my beloved daughter Sallie Tedder all of the following land by and after the decease of my said wife Nancy Hawley, bounded as follows: Beginning at a stake at the crook of the ditch in Bull Pond Branch and runs north to a corner to be made in Arch Atkinson’s line, thence southwesterly with Atkinson’s line to Luke Tedder and Jethro Moore’s corner, thence easterly with Jethro Moore’s line to the head of the ditch in Bull Pond branch thence north with the ditch about 100 yeards to the beginning, containing thirty acres more or less, to her the said Sallie Tedder and her heirs by and after the decease of the said Nancy Hawley as aforesaid, provided however that one eight of an acre of this land be reserved to my family as a Graveyard for myself and family.
Item 3rd. I give, devise, and bequeath unto my son J.G. Hawley one hundred and fifty Dollars in money to be paid to him by my executor hereinafter named out of my estate. I also give to him the said J.G. Hawley one feather bed, bedstead and furniture.
Item 4th. I give, devise, and bequeath unto my son John Hawley One Hundred and fifty Dollars in money to be paid to him by my executor hereinafter named out of my estate. I also give to him one feather bed, bedstead and furniture.
Item 5th. I give, devise, and bequeath unto my son Willie Hawley the following described tract of land by and after the decease of his mother the said Nancy Hawley, bounded on the West by the lands of Benajah Scott, and on the north by Isaac W. Lamm and on the East by the lands of Haywood Lamm and on the south by J.T. Rentfrow containing Seventy five acres more or less, the same being known as the Sarah Rose place, to him the said Willie Hawley and his heirs in fee simple forever. I also give to him the said Willie Hawley one feather bed, Bedstead and furniture.
Item 6. I lend to my daughter Patience Taylor for and during her lifetime only the following described tract of land. Beginning at a stake in the Bull Pond Branch in Joseph Tedder and Adolph Taylor’s line and runs thence westerly to Sallie Tedder’s corner, thence northerly with her line to Arch Atkinson line thence a northeasterly course with Atkinson’s line to Mary Ann Hinnant’s deed line thence with said Hinnant’s line easterly to the Road thence south with the Road to creak below the Tobacco Barn thence a south line to the beginning containing twenty-five acres more or less to her the said Patience Taylor for and during her lifetime only and after her decease I hereby give the same to such children as she may have born of her body if any living and if no children living then to her Brothers and sisters then living. I also give to her the said Patience Taylor, one feather Bed, Bedstead and furniture.
Item 7. All of the property which I may die seized and possessed not herein disposed of or any personal property herein bequeathed to my wife Nancy Hawley, and not disposed of by her during her lifetime, I desire the same to be sold by my executor hereinafter named, and after my said sons J.G. Hawley and John Hawley receive the sums of one hundred and fifty Dollars each as herein provided in the third and fourth Items of this my last will, I desire that the remainder of the proceeds of said sale be equally divided between my daughter Sallie Tedder and my daughter Patience Hawley and my son Willie Hawley share and share alike, and lastly I do hereby nominate and appoint my friend John T. Revell to be sole executor to this my last will and testament to all intents and purposes thereof. In testimony whereof I the said William Hawley have hereunto set my hand and seal this 13th day of January 1913. /s/ Wm. Hawley.
Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said William Hawley to be his last will and testament in the presence of us as witnesses hereto. /s/ John T. Revell, Sarah Revell
In the 1920 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: on Aycocks Crossing Road, William M. Hawley, 77, and wife Nancy, 73, both mulatto.
William Hawley died 22 March 1920 in Spring Hill township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in Wilson County to unnamed parents; was married to Nancy Hawley; was a farmer; was buried at the home place; and was declared white. J.S. Tedder was informant. [Per Findagrave.com, he was buried in the J.D. Hawley cemetery near Rock Ridge, North Carolina. Others buried there are Nancy Rose Hawley, William A. Hawley, Sarah Rose and Sally Hawley Tedder.]
Alice Adams died 1 June 1927 in Cross Roads township. Per her death certificate, she was about 70 years old; was born in Wilson County to Sarah Rose and Willis Taylor; was married to Onley Adams; and worked for Ambrose Loucas. She was colored. Informant was John Adams, Lucama. [Alice Adams’ death record reveals the relationship between Sarah Rose and her close neighbor, Willis Taylor, who presumably was also the father of Rose’s other mixed-race children.]
Nancy Hawley died 14 February 1935 in Spring Hill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of the late W.M. Hawley, was born 8 December 1837 in Wilson County to an unknown father and Sarah Rose, and was white. J.S. Tedder was informant.
John Dudley Hawley [brother of William Hawley] died 27 September 1948 at his home at 407 Factory Street in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was a widower; was born in Wilson County to unnamed parents; and was white. Informant was Miss Maggie Hawley.
In death, William and Nancy Rose Hawley’s children, like their parents, achieved the permanent crossing of the color line that had eluded them in life:
Sally Ann Hawley Tedder died 11 June 1945 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 November 1872 in Wilson County to William Hawley and Nancy Rose and was a resident of Lucama. Informant Mrs. Berry Lewis certified that Sally Ann was white.
William A. Hawley died 14 March 1948 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was a 64 year-old barber; resided in Lucama; was born in Wilson County to William Hawley and Nancy Rose; and was white. J.S. Tedder was informant, and William was buried in Hawley cemetery.
Pattie Hawley Taylor died 14 May 1972 in Monroe, Union County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 85 years old, white, widowed, and the daughter of William Wilson Hawley and Nancy Rose. Informant was Grace Sasser, Monroe.
On the other hand, Alice Rose Adams’ children died classified as “colored,” like their mother:
Junious Adams died 25 September 1926 in Wilson township, Wilson County. His address was a rural route near Lucama. Per his death certificate, he was born about 1871 in Wilson County to Leander Adams and Alice Rose; worked as a tenant farmer for Josiah Hinnant; was married to Susan Adams; and was colored. Informant was Willis Adams, Black Creek.
Willis D. Adams died 4 July 1942 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 68 years old; was born in Wilson County to Leander Adams and Alice Rose; was a farmer; was married to Eva Adams; and was colored. Informant was Eva Adams.
John Q. Adams died 23 September 1964 at Dew’s Rest Home in Wilson. Per his death certificate, his regular residence was Lucama; he was born 20 May 1879 in Wilson County to Onley Adams and Alice Rose; had worked as a farmer; was a widower; and was Negro. Informant was Ollie Adams Sr., Norfolk, Virginia.