The Mike Taylor family.

Last week, I reported my excited discovery of the headstone of Rachel Barnes Taylor, my great-grandmother. Presumably, my great-grandfather Henry Michael “Mike” Taylor was a member of Hannibal Lodge No. 1552, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, but his marker has yet to be uncovered.

Mike Taylor was born enslaved in far northern Nash County, North Carolina, near the start of the Civil War. Here’s what I know of his family and their journey to Wilson County.

This document filed in Nash County in 1856 is an inventory of the 106 slaves belonging to the estate of Kinchen Taylor, deceased.

Number 32 is a man named Green. Number 88 is his wife Ferribee, and numbers 89, 90 and 91, Dallas, Peter and Henrietta, were their eldest children. These 106 people were divided into lots of equal value. Most of the lots were divided among Taylor’s children, but two lots of slaves were sold. Green and Ferribee and their children were included in one of those sold lots, and it is not clear to whom they went, or if they went together. 

Sometime between the dissolution of their former master’s estate in 1856 and early summer of 1870, Green and Fereby Taylor found their way to Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County, near present-day Pinetops. In that year, a census taker recorded their household as farm laborer Green Taylor, 52; wife Phebe, 55; and children Dallas, 19; Christiana, 14; Mckenzie, 13; Mike, 9; and Sally Taylor, 1. There is no sign of the older children – Peter and Henrietta – who had been listed with Fereby in the division of Kinchen Taylor’s slaves.  

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: laborer Green Taylor, 64; wife Phoebe, 55; daughters Christiana, 24, Kinsey, 20, and Sarah, 13, as well grandchildren Nannie, 5, Carrie, 1, Lizzie, 8, Louisa, 5, and Isaiah Taylor, 2. Dallas and Mike had left the household; Mike probably was in Wilson, but he is not listed in the census.

On 21 September 1882, Mike Taylor, 20, Wilson, married Rachel Barnes, 19, of Wilson, in Wilson. Baptist minister Louis Croom performed the ceremony in the presence of W.T. Battle and Edmon Pool.

On 7 Aug 1897, Jordan Taylor Jr., 21, and Eliza Taylor, 23, were married in Wilson. Baptist minister W.T.H. Woodard performed the ceremony in the presence of Prince Smith, Annie Barnes and Michiel Taylor.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Jordan Taylor, 24; wife Eliza, 25; and son Greemond, 3, shared a household with Sallie Taylor, 27, and her son Rufus Taylor, 4. Next door: Jordan’s father Jordan Taylor, 50, and his wife of 5 years, Matilda, 40.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Mike Taylor, 36, drayman; wife Rachel, 36; and children Roderick, 17, Maggie, 14, Mattie, 13, Maddie, 12, Bertha E., 8, and Hennie G., 6.  Rachel and daughters Maggie, Mattie and Maddie were occupied at washing.  Roderick and the youngest girls “go to school.”

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lee Street, drayman Mike Taylor, 52; wife Rachel, 51, laundress; daughters Mattie, 21, Bertha, 18, and Henny, 16, laundresses; and niece Louise, 12.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, odd jobs laborer Jordan Taylor Jr., 31; wife Eliza, 30, laundress; and son Greeman, 12, with Mary Parker, 69, widow, whose relationship to Jordan was described as “proctor.”

Jordan Taylor registered for the World War I draft on 12 September 1917. He reported his address as R.F.D. #6, Wilson, and his birthday as 15 December 1875. He worked as a ditcher for Sid Clark, his nearest relative was Eliza Taylor, and he signed his card with an X.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 114 Lee Street, Mike H. Taylor, 50, cook in cafe; wife Rachel, 58; son [actually, nephew] Tom Perry, 12; bricklayer Van Smith, 33, and his wife Mattie, 28.

In 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 304 Stantonsburg Street in Wilson, Jordan Taylor, 48, wife Eliza, 37, son Greeman, 22, and son(?) Dave, 13. Jordan worked as a warehouse tobacco worker, Eliza as a tobacco factory worker, and Greeman as a street boot black.

On 24 March 1922, Greeman Taylor of Stantonsburg Street, Wilson, died of consumption. He was born 2 June 1898 in Wilson to Jordan and Eliza Taylor and worked as a common laborer. He was single.

Mike Taylor died 8 January 1927 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was about 68 years old; was the widower of Rachel Taylor; worked as a day laborer; was born in Wilson County to Green Taylor and Ferby Taylor; and was buried in Wilson. Roddrick Taylor was informant.

Eliza Taylor died 25 May 1934 in Rose Hill, Duplin County, North Carolina. She was described as 47 years old (in fact, she was at least 10 years older), married to Jordan Taylor, and born in Wilson County to Green Taylor and Kenzie Taylor, both of Wilson County. [Her parent information is likely incorrect.]

File of Kinchen Taylor (1853), Nash County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979,, original, North Carolina State Archives.


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