Love in the time of white supremacy.

Mr. W.G. Britt, Goldsboro, N.C.

Dear Sir:-

Please send license by return mail for the marriage of Mingo Ward colored age 25 years son of Lam Ward living, Mother dead to Lizzie Smith Age 21 years daughter of Wright Smith Mother dead. All of Wayne County. These are n*ggers and are all right.

Enclose you will please find County order for $3.00 if any more due let me know.

Very truly yours, B.F. Aycock


I can only guess at the backstory, but my guess is not wild, and the thing practically speaks for itself. The young people wanted to get married; they had no way to get to Goldsboro and probably no time to go; they certainly had no money to pay for the license. Benjamin F. Aycock extended them credit or maybe even vouchsafed the three dollars; he put in a good word with the Register of Deeds; he slurred these young lovers; he felt himself generous.

To love oneself and to find love in such a world as this? Revolutionary.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County, North Carolina: Lem Ward, 40; wife Mariah, 35; and children Kater, 14, and twins Sarah and Sophia, 12, Susan, 8, Lam, 9, Lawrence, 5, Mingo, 3, and Junius, 2.

The marriage license issued in response to Aycock’s letter.

On 14 March 1907, Mingo Ward, 25, of Wayne County, son of Lam Ward, married Lizzie Smith, 21, of Wayne County, daughter of Wright Smith, in Great Swamp township, Wayne County, North Carolina. Free Will Baptist minister G.W. Davis performed the ceremony.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Mingle Ward, 28; wife Lizzie, 24; and son Junious, 7 months.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Meng[illegible] Ward, 42; wife Lizzie, 37; and daughters Bettie E., 9, and Gladies, 7.

In the 1930 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Ward, 46; wife Lizzie, 44; and children Bettie, 18, Gladys, 12, Christine, 8, and Sarah, 6.

In the 1940 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Ward, 60; wife Lizzie, 56; daughters Christine, 18, and Sarah, 16; daughter Gladys Thompson, 20, and son-in-law Edward Thompson, 21.

Mingo Ward died 27 January 1941. I have not found his death certificate, but he is buried in Daniel Quarters Cemetery, near Fremont, Wayne County.

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1317 Washington Street, Lizzie Ward, 65, “picking cotton”; daughter Sarah, 26, housecleaning; and grandchildren James Edward Thomas, 9, and Jean Elizabeth Thomas, 8.

Lizzie Ward died 30 October 1965 at her home at 1321 Atlantic Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 March 1885 in Wayne County to Wright and Lizzie Smith; was a widower; and was born in Daniel Quarters cemetery, Wayne County. Bettye Ingram, Washington, D.C., was informant.

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