Fourteen year-old Lessie Manor, described as “colored,” died of heart disease in April 1927. She was a student living in Saratoga township, and her parents were listed as M.E. Manor and Minnie Henderson. Of Australia and Arizona. … What?

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 9.29.50 PM.png

Lessie’s birthplace was also listed as Arizona, though the person completing the form had begun to write “California” in the field. It is not impossible that Australians and Arizonans were living in Saratoga in the 1920s, but it’s unlikely. Did “colored” mean Aborigine? Native American? What is the story here?

A little digging turns up Lessie’s sister’s death certificate.

Lena Mainor died 16 October 1923 at the Colored Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was Negro and was born 17 August 1908 in North Carolina to M.E. Mainor of Milburn, Australia, and Minnie Henderson of Arizona.

Lessie and Lena’s mother’s death certificate yields important answers. Minnie Maynard, colored, died in March 1920 in Wilson township. Her birthplace? Troy, Alabama. Her parents were described as Alabama-born as well. M.E. Maynard was informant. The Arizona attribution, then, began after Minnie Maynard’s death.

M.E. Mainor remarried quickly. On 10 October 1920, in Black Creek, M.E. Mainor, 31, colored, of Wilson, son of Charles and Julia Mainor of Alabama, married Rebecca Blackman, 19, colored, of Black Creek, daughter of Green and Lizzie Blackman. A.M.E. Zion minister B.J. Kornegay performed the ceremony in the presence of John Ellis, Lira Clay, and Joseph Clay. (Per the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Blackman was a Georgia native and was black.)

Rebecker Maynard died 7 June 1928 in Black Creek township. Per her death certificate, she was colored; was born 13 May 1903 in Wilson County to Green Blackwell of Caseda, Georgia, and Lizzie Burk of Steward County, Georgia; was married to M.E. Maynard; and farmer for Wade Brooks.

Evilla Rebecca Brown died in 1973 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Her death certificate, with information provided by sister Lucille Speight of Stantonsburg, identified her parents as Moyed Efford Maynor and Rebecca Blackmon. And she was Negro.

Evidence of Lessie and Lena Maynor’s death certificates notwithstanding, it appears that the family was African-American and its roots were in Alabama.

Leave a Reply