Coley v. Artis, pt. 7: A home for his lifetime.

The seventh in a series excerpting testimony from the transcript of the trial in J.F. Coley v. Tom Artis, Wayne County Superior Court, November 1908. The dispute centered on 30 acres of land. Thomas “Tom Pig” Artis began renting the property in 1881 from William J. Exum, a wealthy white farmer. In 1892, Exum’s widow Mary sold the land to Napoleon Hagans. Hagans died in 1896, and the land passed to his sons Henry and William S. Hagans. In 1899, Henry sold his interest to his brother William, who sold the 30 acres in 1908 to J. Frank Coley, a young white farmer. Tom Artis laid claim to the property, arguing that Napoleon Hagans had sold it to him. Coley filed suit and, after hearing the testimony of more than a dozen witnesses, the court decided in his favor. (Paragraph breaks and some punctuation have been inserted for better readability.)

Defendant introduces JESSE ARTIS who being duly sworn, testified:

I had a conversation with Tom Artis and [Napoleon] Hagans about this land. I was working there for Hagans (Plaintiff objects) as carpenter. Tom Artis was working with me. The old man Hagans was talking to Tom about the claim which Mrs. Exum had on his land, and was telling him that he had some money at that time, and was would take it up if he wanted to, and give him a home for his lifetime. He left us, and Tom talked to me. I told him he did not know whether he would have a home all his life or not. I advised Tom to let Hagans take up the papers, and Tom did so. Hagans told me next day that if Tom should pay him 800 lb. of cotton he should stay there his life time. When he paid him his money back, the place was his. I don’t know that Tom and I are any kin. Just by marriage. We are not a member of the same Church.

CROSS EXAMINED.

When I was a carpenter ‘Pole told me all about this on his place. He took me into his confidence. I don’t know whether he told me all. He told me a good deal.

——

Jesse Artis was a brother of Adam T. Artis, Jonah Williams, and Tom Artis’ wife Loumiza Artis Artis.

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