Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):
The house as photographed for Ohno’s book.
“Cofield Ellis was the son of William Ellis and Unity Dixon. He was born in 1797 and married Pennina Bartee before 1821. In 1813 William Ellis and Cofield inherited a grist mill and land on Toisnot Swamp. It may be that it was on this property that he built his house in 1839. Ellis died in 1854, and the plantation house passed to his son, William Cofield Ellis, William C. Ellis was born in 1821 and in 1853 married Sallie M. Peacock. Sallie Peacock Ellis died in 1865 and Ellis married Rebecca Frances Bridgers. … [T]he Ellis family has maintained continuous ownership of the plantation to date. The house is a substantial two-story structure with a gable roof, engaged porch and rear ell. Double should chimneys with tumbling [sic] are located in the gable ends. The interior has been altered.”
In 1817, Cofield Ellis inherited an enslaved man named Belfour, valued at $712, from the estate of his father William Ellis.
In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County, North Carolina: farmer Coffield Ellis, 53, and wife Penelope, 52, with daughter Unity Ellis, 16; Cintha Ellis, 30; Muroe Cobb, 14; Thos. Evans, 16; Penny Johnson, 16; and Jno. Pittman, 16.
In the 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County, Coffield Ellis reported owning 20 enslaved people — 12 men and boys aged 2 to 29, and 8 women and girls aged 2 to 60.
In the 1860 census of Saratoga district, Wilson County: farmer William C. Ellis, 38, and wife Sallie, 25. William reported owning $20,900 in personal property, which would have consisted primarily of enslaved people. [Note: Dempsey Ethridge, 47, and family were listed next door. Ethridge’s occupation was “manager of farm.” Was he William C. Ellis’ overseer?]
In the 1860 slave schedule of Saratoga district, Wilson County, William C. Ellis reported owning 13 enslaved people — six men and boys aged 4 to 29, and seven women and girls aged 9 to 38.
In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: William Ellis, 48, farmer; wife Rebecca F., 33; and three young children; plus farmer’s apprentice John Ellis, 14.
The extended Ellis family were prolific slaveowners whose holdings will be examined in detail elsewhere in this blog.