The last will and testament of James Artis.

James Artis‘ February 1930 will was devoted primarily to paying his debts to those who cared for or helped him during his final illness.

He directed that Dr. Matthew S. Gilliam be paid from insurance proceeds for “rendering me medical service, furnishing me medicine, paying my room rent, boarding me and furnishing me what ever I need as long as I live.”

Artis then directed that Julia Johnson‘s bill for “cooking, washing and looking after me” be paid, but only after his burial expenses were paid and lawyer Glenn S. McBrayer was paid $50 for handling his affairs.

If there was any money left, he directed that his unnamed daughter receive two dollars, and anything after that was to go to his unnamed wife.


In the 1870 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: Louisa Artis, 21; husband James, 25, works on street; and children Adeline, 5, and James, 1 month.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: James Artice, 39, laborer; wife Louzah, 26; and children Adeline, 13, James, 10, Isadora, 8, Effie, 2, and Minnie, 1.

On 10 October 1902, James Artis, 29, of Wilson County, son of James and Louisa Artis, married Armelia Speight, 30, of Wilson County, daughter of Rufus Speight and Tempsy Speight [she, alive and living in Peterburg, Virginia]. Richard Renfrow applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister F.M. Davis performed the ceremony at Jane Branch’s residence in Wilson in the presence of C.R. Cannon, H.S. Phillips, and Jane Branch.

Blount Artis died 24 April 1916 in Boon Hill township, Johnston County. Per his death certificate, he was about 16 years old; was born in Wilson County to Jim Artis and Amelia Artis; was single; and worked as a clerk in a drugstore. Charles Gay was informant.

Amelia Artis appears in the 1912, 1916, 1928, and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory. James Artis is listed in none. Amelia Artis worked variously as a laundress, cook, factory hand, and domestic, and lived at 121 Ash Street, 512 South Street, 117 North East Street, and 810 East Nash Street. [The couple seems to have separated early in the marriage, though they reunited long enough to appear in the same household in 1920.]

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 121 Ash Street, barber Jim Ardis, 30; wife Amelia, 28; and daughter Amelia, 14. [Jim and Amelia’s ages are off by twenty years.]

James Artis died 5 March 1930 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 50 years old; was born in Wilson to James Artis of Wilson County and Louise Faison of Duplin County, N.C; was married to Amelia Artis; and lived at 210 Manchester. He was buried in Rountree [Odd Fellows] cemetery. Amelia Artis, 112 East Street, was informant.

Amelia Speight Artis’ broken grave marker in Odd Fellows Cemetery.

I found the headstones of Amelia Artis, Blount Artis (also known as Rufus Artis), and Amelia’s mother Tempsy Speight in a pile with two dozen other headstones in Odd Fellows cemetery. The locations of their graves are unknown. I have not found a marker for James Artis, though he is surely buried there.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, March 2022.

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