Family

He was gon get it, but he didn’t have the money.

Screen Shot 2020-07-21 at 3.32.01 PM

Death certificates are the official records of death, but often tell us very little about how the decedent’s family understood or experienced their loved one’s final illness and transition.

Jesse A. Jacobs died 6 July 1926 of apoplexy (or, as we would now call it, cerebral hemorrhage.)  “Hernia inguinal” was listed a contributing cause. “Papa Jesse” reared my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks. He died when she was 16; he was her great-aunt Sarah Henderson‘s husband. Though his hernia, which apparently had strangulated, did not directly kill him, his suffering and the blame cast within the family after his death deeply impacted her.

Here’s what she told me:

“[Papa] was ruptured from the time I can remember.

“… He was supposed to have an operation. He was ruptured, and [his daughter] Carrie [Jacobs Bradshaw], she claimed she didn’t know it. And I said, now, I was the youngest child was there, and I knowed that all that stuff that was down ‘tween his legs was something wrong with him. And I had sense enough to know not to ask no grown folks or nothing about it. And I didn’t ask Mama. I didn’t say nothing, but I was wondering, ‘What in the world was wrong with him?’

“… And Papa, he was a good person, and they want to accuse him of going with the nurse up there at Mercy Hospital. I don’t know whether she was married or not, I don’t think she was married, but she was real light-skinned lady, smaller lady, and he went up there for something, probably his rupture – I know he had to go to the hospital for treatments or something. Anyway, the last time, Carrie came down and she was fussing about if she’d known Papa had to have an operation, she’d have come down, and he’d have had it. Instead of waiting until it was too late. Now the last week they wasn’t expecting him to live. But, no bigger than I was, I knew he had it. And she was grown, old enough for my mother, and then she talking ‘bout she didn’t know he was ruptured? Well, all his tubes was, ah –  And he always had to wear a truss to hold hisself up. And when he’d be down, I’d be down there sweeping at the school, and he’d be out there plowing a field he rented out there, and he’d come up, lay down on the floor and take a chair and he’d put his legs up over the chair like that, and I’d wet the cloths from the bowl where was in the hall, some of the old dust cloths, and hand them to him, and he’d put them down on his side, and you could hear it ‘bluckup’ and that thing would go back there.

“But see it had got, his intestines, that tissue between there had bursted, and the doctor told him he needed an operation. So he was gon get it, but he didn’t have money enough to get it. Didn’t save up money enough to have the operation. So none of the children – all of them know, as large as his – but leastways he couldn’t hide himself, ‘cause even from a little child, I could see that for years, and I wondered what it was. ‘Cause I know everybody didn’t have it, at least didn’t have all that in their britches. [Pause.] And Carrie come down there, and she fuss Mama out about him not having the operation and this kind of stuff. And [Mama] said, ‘Well, we never had the money to get the operation. We tried to go and get it, and we’d pay on it by time.’ But, naw, he wanted, he was gon make something off the crop, and he’d pay. Pay it and have it then. But he never got the chance. So when they put him in the hospital and operated on him — say when they cut him, he had over a quart of pus in him. I think it was on a Thursday, and he lived ‘til that Tuesday.”

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, 1998; all rights reserved.

He was waylaid and shot to death.

Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 5.53.23 PM

Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 5.53.42 PM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 10 July 1923.

To compound tragedy, the 8 July 1923 homicide of Jim Guess was a family affair. Accused murderer Gray Reid was married to Mary Hagans, daughter of James and Hannah Hagans. (And Gray’s brother Elijah Reid was married to Mary’s sister Ida.) Jim Hagans was Jim Guess’ first cousin; his father Lawrence Hagans was brother to Margaret Hagans Guess.

  • Jim Hagans

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Laurence Hagans, 30, wife Mary, 24, and children James, 6, and Elizabeth, 3.

James Hagans, 20, of Gardners, son of Lawrence and Mary Hagans, married Hannah Bynum, 19, of Gardners, daughter of Joe and Hazel Bynum, on 20 November 1895 at Joe Bynum’s in Stantonsburg in the presence of Alber Bardin, Moses Woodard, and Joe Hagans.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Jim Haggans, 30; wife Hannah, 30; and children Ida, 13, Tom, 12, Mary, 8, James, 6, Alice, 5, Charles, 3, Etta, 2, and twins Jonas and Joe, 3 months.

Elijah Reid, 21, of Gardners township, son of Gray Reid, married Ida Hagans, 18, of Gardners, daughter of James and Hannah Hagans, on 13 January 1915 on the Old Whitehead farm. Witnesses were Robert Hilliard, Lawrence Hagans and J.B. Owens.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: James Hagans, 45; wife Annie, 40; and children James, 17, M. Allice, 13, Etta, 11, Joe and Jonah, 9, Nelia, 7, Haggar, 6, and Lawrence, 4; and cousin Will Coley, 25.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Hagans, 53; wife Nora, 50; sons John, 18, Joe, 18, and Laurence, 16; daughter Etta, 21; grandchildren Elizabeth, 15, Sudie M., 13, Leeoma, 10, David, 5, Bessie M., 3, Lillie M., 1, and Charlie Reid, 4; and daughter Ida Reid, 32.

James Hagans died 27 June 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in Wilson County to Lawrence Hagans and Mary Gray; was married to Nora Hagans; and was a farmer. Oscar Hagans, 1114 Atlantic Street, was informant.

  • Grey Read — Gray Reid.

In the 1900 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Gray Read, 47; wife Lucy, 37; and children Joseph R., 18, Nancy L., 7, Elija, 5, Mart Eva, 4, Jona, 3, and Lucy, 5 months. [Gray Reid Jr. is missing from this household.]

In the 1910 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: on Tarboro and Wilson Road, Amos Reid, 64; lodger Gray Reid, 57, widower, and his children Gray, 18, Eligh, 15, Margrett, 13, and John, 12.

On 14 February 1915, Gray Reed Jr., 23, of Gardners township, son of Gray Reed and Lucy [last name not given], married Mary Hagans, 18, of Gardners township, daughter of James and Hannah Hagans, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Primitive Baptist minister Ruffin Hyman performed the ceremony at John H. Morgan‘s in the presence of Morgan, Hilliard Reed of Wilson, and John Thomas Reed of Stantonsburg.

In 1917, Gray Reid registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born July 1891 in Edgecombe County; lived in Elm City; worked on the Wilson and Grantham farm near Wilson; had a wife and one child; and had an injured leg.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Ruff Reed, 28; wife Mary, 19; and daughters Enice, 3, Hannah, 1, and Runcie, 1 month.

In the 1940 census of Burgaw township, Pender County, North Carolina: at North Carolina State Prison Camp, Gray Reid, 48, inmate #29137, who lived in Macclesfield, Edgecombe County, in 1935. [This was evidently pursuant to crime subsequent to the murder of Jim Guest.]

Gray Reid died 11 March 1950 in Wilson, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 November 1891 in Edgecombe County to Gray Reid and Lucy Joyner; was a widower; and worked as a laborer. Elijah Reid, 300 South Reid Street, Wilson, was informant.

  • Jim Guess

On 23 April 1922, James Guess, 49, of Gardners township, married Allice Davis, 46, of Gardners township, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Ruffin Hyman, Primitive Baptist minister performed the ceremony in the presence of Emma Hyman, George Hagans, and Bennie Guess.

James Guess died 8 July 1923 in Saratoga township, Wilson County, of “Homicide by Gunshot wound. No doctor in attendance. He was waylaid & Shot to death.” Per his death certificate, he was born about 1879 in Edgecombe County to Luke Guess of Edgecombe County and Margarett Hagans of Wilson County; was a farmer for Albert Harrell; and was married. Alice Guess was informant.

“He was waylaid & Shot to death”

The Carters came to Wilson.

Jesse A. Jacobs and his second wife, Sarah Henderson Jacobs, arrived in Wilson from Dudley, in southern Wayne County, circa 1905. Several members of my extended family, including my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks (whom they adopted), arrived in their wake.

I have written of Jesse Jacobs’ nephew, Milford E. Carter Sr., son of Marshall and Frances Jacobs Carter, who settled his family briefly in Wilson. My grandmother recollected that several of Milford Carter’s brothers regularly visited Wilson, and at least one, Harold V. Carter (1902-1969), remained long enough to work in town:

“The Carters looked ‘bout like white folks. I didn’t really know ‘em. I think it was nine of them boys.  The three I knew was Milford and Johnnie and Harold, I think.  They used to come to Wilson, but –the older one didn’t come up.  But Milford, Harold ….  the two youngest ones come over and stayed with Annie Bell. Johnnie –  and Freddie, too.  When I’d go to Uncle Lucian’s, they lived not too far from there. But I never went to their house. I think Harold was the youngest one.  ‘Cause that’s the one came to Wilson, and Albert, Annie Bell’s husband, got him a job down to the station driving a cab. And he got his own car, and he was down there for a long time. Harold. He’s the youngest one. Carter. All of them was great big.”

Five of the nine Carter brothers — John, Ammie, Wesley (a cousin), Richard, Granger, Richard Jr. (a nephew), and Harold Carter, 1950s.

“The Carter boys was always nice. They come up here, come to stay with Annie Bell, Papa’s youngest daughter. They wasn’t here at the same time. They was driving cabs. So they used to come over all the time. I went with Harold down to Dudley once ‘cause he was going and coming back that same day. See, Uncle Lucian was sick, so I went down with him and come back.”

A few notes on this recollection:

  • Harold Carter was the second youngest of nine Carter brothers (and one sister.)
  • Annie Bell Jacobs Gay was Jesse A. Jacobs’ daughter. Her husband Albert S. Gay, a porter at the Hotel Cherry, died in 1932. Their son, Albert S. Gay Jr., co-founded a taxi service, Veterans Cab Company, shortly after World War II, and I briefly wondered if Harold Carter drove for his cousin’s company. However, given the reference to Harold Carter driving my grandmother from Wilson to Dudley to visit her great-uncle, J. Lucian Henderson, who died in 1934, it is clear that it was in fact Albert Sr. who referred Harold for a job driving taxis. “The station” was probably the Atlantic Coast Line passenger rail station located across the street from the Cherry Hotel.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, copyright 1994. All rights reserved. Copy of original photo of the Carters in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

The Dunston twins turn 90.

Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 3.35.52 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 3.36.15 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 3.38.02 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 3.38.37 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 3.39.12 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 3.41.00 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 3.41.30 PM

Wilson Daily Times, 15 April 2006.

——

Harry Dunston married Mary Stancil on 28 December 1897 on Oneal township, Johnston County.

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Harry Dunston, 58, his wife of 6 years Livia A., 46, and children James, 10, Pearly, 7, Percy, 7, Alparada, 3, and Ollie, 1 1/2.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Harry Duncan [sic], 59; wife Livian, 39; and children Alparato, 11, Oliver W. 9, Bettie, 8, Clara, 7, Joseph, 6, Sidney, 5, Ruby and Ruth, 3, and Pearl and Percy, 15.

Livan Dunston died 29 April 1947 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 May 1885 in Wilson County to Best Taborn and Clara Locus; was married to Harry Dunston; and is buried at New Vester.

Harry Dunston died 10 August 1950 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born December 1859 in Wake County to Ben Dunston and Harriett Hester; was a widower; was a farmer; and was buried at New Vester. Eliza Dunstan Hayes was informant.

Ruby Dunston Jones passed away 6 March 2016, just before her 100th birthday.

 

On Mother’s Day.

The two children she birthed did not live to adulthood, but Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver nonetheless was mother to the Wilson County branch of my Henderson family. She reared my great-grandmother Bessie Henderson and great-great-uncle Jack Henderson alongside her step-children in Wayne County. Around 1907, she and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Sr. and his youngest children settled in Wilson in a little cottage on Elba Street, and Jack Henderson followed. When Bessie died, my eight-month-old grandmother Hattie Mae Henderson and later her sister Mamie came to live on Elba Street, too. And she lived long enough to help my grandmother raise her four children in their earliest years. Though she was the direct ancestor of none of us, I recognize and honor Mama Sarah as matriarch to us all.

Mama Sarah and my uncle Lucian, circa 1931.

The Clarks and Taylors: reconnecting an enslaved family.

While researching for the Henry Flowers estate piece, I noticed that John H. Clark was informant on the death certificates of Isabel Taylor and Alex Taylor, children of Annis Taylor and Henry (last name uncertain). What was Clark’s connection to this family?

Detail from death certificate of Isabel Taylor, who died 26 October 1929 in Wilson. 

The crucial clue: Katherine Elks mentioned that Henry Flowers’ youngest daughters married brothers John P. Clark and Sidney P. Clark. Their father, Phineas P. Clark, had brought his family from Connecticut to Nash County to set up as a buggy maker. (His employee Willis N. Hackney went on to found the carriage-making company that became Hackney Brothers Body Company.)

P.P. Clark does not appear to have been a slaveholder. However, John P. Clark is listed in the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County as the owner of five enslaved people. One was a 19 year-old male, the correct age and sex to have been Harry Clark, John H. Clark’s father. John P. Clark was a 21 year-old newlywed at the time of the census. Where he had obtained five slaves? Had his wife Nancy Flowers brought them into the marriage?

Detail from the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson district, Wilson County.

Recall the distribution of Henry Flowers’ enslaved property. In 1850, the group was divided into three lots. Lot number 3 included a boy named Harry. Though existing estate records do not specify, it’s reasonable to assume that Lot 3 went to Nancy Flowers when she achieved majority some years later. When Nancy married John P. Clark, he assumed legal control over her property, which included Harry. (The 25 year-old woman was likely Peggy, who was also in Lot 3, and the children were probably hers. They were born after the 1850 division of Henry’s property and thus were not named.)

Harry was one of the children of Annis, as were Isabel and Alex. Harry adopted the surname Clark after Emancipation, while his siblings adopted Taylor, the surname of their last owners, William and Charity Flowers Taylor. So, what was John H. Clark’s connection to Isabel and Alex Taylor? He was their nephew.

Many thanks to Katherine Elks.

Snaps, no. 63: Penny Mills Dancy and family.

This remarkable photograph of what appears to be a family gathered for a funeral, probably in the 1940s. Penny Mills Dancy stands fifth from the left, hatless in a dark dress with two large buttons. The girl at far left, looking out of the frame, may be her daughter Lovie Dancy (later Tabron.)

The stamp on the back of the photograph is equally remarkable, revealing as it does another African-American photographer operating in Wilson: “Portraits Made In Your Home. R.J. Dancy. 704 Suggs St. Phone 2092. Wilson, N.C.” Ray J. Dancy wasPenny Mills Dancy’s son.

——

In the 1910 census of Chicod township, Pitt County: Arnold Mills, 61, farmer; wife Lovie, 42; and children Nasby R., 21, Arnold, 20, Carrie T., 18, Gatsey D., 15, Goldman, 11, Lovie E., 13, Pennie, 9, Vanie L., 6, Jeruth, 5, and Abram C., 3.

On 9 December 1917, John C. Dancy, 20, of Greene County, son of John and Elizabeth Dancy, married Pennia Mills, 18, of Greene County, daughter of Ormond and Lovie Mills of Pitt County, at Maury Chapel Church in Greene County, North Carolina.

In the 1920 census of Contentnea Neck township, Lenoir County, North Carolina: farm laborer John C. Dancy, 24; wife Penny E., 19; and daughter Enlishel V., 2 months.

On 9 May 1924, John Allen Dancy, age 18 months, died in Ormonds township, Greene County. Per his death certificate, he was born to John Dancy of Ayden, N.C., and Pennie Mills of Pitt County, and was buried in Mills cemetery, Pitt County.

In the 1930 census of Township 9, Craven County, North Carolina: farmer Johnie C. Dancy, 34; wife Pennie, 29; and children Evangeline, 10, Lovie, 8, R.J., 5, and Aribell, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Dancy, 44, city of Wilson laborer; wife Pennie, 39, tobacco factory laborer; and children Evangline, 20, tobacco factory laborer, Lovie, 18, R.J., 15, Olie Bell, 11, Mildred, 8, and Leo, 5.

In 1942, Ray Joel Dancey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 5 December 1924 in Pitt County; lived at 704 Suggs Street; has contact was Penny Dancey of the same address; and he was a student at Darden High School.

In 1946, Ollie Bell Dancey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 4 June 1928 in Greene County; lived at 704 Suggs Street; has contact was mother Penny Dancey of the same address; and he was a student at Darden High School.

Penny Ethel Dancy died 13 April 1984 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 January 1901 in Pitt County to Arnold Mills and Lovie Shepherd; was widowed; had worked as a factory worker for Watson; and lived at 702 Suggs Street. Lovie Tabron was informant.

Many, many thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for a copy of this photograph.

O.L. and Emma Freeman family portrait.

Bottom: Emma, “Little Emma” and Oliver Lovett Freeman. Top: Irma, Percy and Hazel Freeman.

——

Lovett Freeman, 24, of Wilson County, son of J.F. Freeman and Eliza Freeman, married Emma Pender, 23, daughter of Amos Pender, on 25 October 1899 in Amos Pender’s house in Wilson County. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio: blacksmith Oliver L. Freeman, 25; wife Emma C., 24, school teacher; sister Olive, 8; and roomer Henry Bruce, 20, barber. All the Freemans were born in North Carolina; Bruce, in Tennessee.

In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: blacksmith in buggy shop Oliver Freeman, 36; wife Emma, 34; and children Percy, 10, Hazel, 8, Irma, 6, and Emma, 3.

In the 1920 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: blacksmith O.L. Freeman, 44; wife Emma, 43; and children Percy, 29 [sic], Hazel,18, Erma, 16, and Emma, 12.

In the 1930 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: at 1113 West Thomas, Oliver L. Freeman, 55, blacksmith; wife Emma C., 53; and Emma Freeman, Percy Freeman and Harold L. Freeman.

In November 1938, Oliver Lovett Freeman applied for Social Security benefits. His application noted that he was born 12 November 1869 in Wilson, N.C., to Julious Freeman and Eliza Daniel.

In the 1940 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: at 1113 West Thomas, Oliver Freeman, 64, blacksmith shoeing horses; wife Emma, 63; and daughter Emma, 31.

In 1942, Cornelius Pitt registered for the World War II draft in Nash County. Per his registration card, he was born 6 October 1921 in Rocky Mount; lived at 1110 West Thomas; his contact was Oliver Freeman, 1113 West Thomas; and he worked for Emerson Shops, A.C.L. [Railroad], Rocky Mount.

Oliver L. Freeman made out his will on 5 June 1954 in Nash County. Per its terms, daughter Irma F. Rudd was to receive the homeplace at 1113 West Thomas Street, Rocky Mount; daughter Hazel F. Whisonant, the tenant houses at 1123-1125 Gay Street, Rocky Mount; son Percy Freeman, the tenant house at 1119-1120 Gay Street; and daughter Emma Freeman, the tenant house at 1121-1122 Gay Street. His remaining property was to be divided among his children in equal shares.

Per Findagrave.com, Freeman died 26 June 1955 and is buried in Northeastern Cemetery, Rocky Mount.

Photo courtesy of Mary Freeman Ellis, The Way We Were.

Cohabitation register, part 1.

In March 1866, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an act establishing a means for formerly enslaved people to ratify their marriages.  Such persons were to appear before justices of the peace, who would collect certain details of their cohabitation during slavery and record them in the County Clerk’s office. Freedmen faced misdemeanor charges if they failed to record their marriage by September, 1866, a deadline later extended to January 1, 1868.

Wilson County’s original cohabitation register is said to be held in the Register of Deeds office, but I have not found it there. Brooke Bissette, Director of Exhibits at Wilson’s Imagination Station, recently found that East Carolina University’s Joyner Library has a copy of the cohabitation register on microfilm and is creating a print volume to be shelved in the Local History and Genealogy Room at Wilson County Public Library’s main branch.

I present the register in series, with transcription:

record-image_.jpg