Family ties, no. 8: James Daniel brought up some corn one time.

Wilson’s emergence as a leading tobacco market town drew hundreds of migrants in the decades after the 1890s. Many left family behind in their home counties, perhaps never to be seen again. Others maintained ties the best way they could.

Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. left Dudley, in southern Wayne County, North Carolina, around 1905. They came to Wilson presumably for better opportunities off the farm. Each remained firmly linked, however, to parents and children and siblings back in Wayne County as well as those who had joined the Great Migration north. This post is the eighth in a series of excerpts from documents and interviews with my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001), Jesse and Sarah’s adoptive daughter (and Sarah’s great-niece), revealing the ways her Wilson family stayed connected to their far-flung kin. (Or didn’t.)

When Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. married Sarah Henderson in Wayne County in 1895, his children ranged in age from newborn to 14 years old. When Jesse and Sarah Jacobs moved 40 miles north to Wilson circa 1905, the youngest children, Doctor and Annie Bell, came with them, and even the eldest, James Daniel Jacobs, settled briefly in the Elba Street house.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1908).

“Jeem Daniel. Jeem Daniel Jacobs. He and Roxie lived down in Clinton down there, and he come to Wilson when they got married, before they had a family. I remember that. They talked about me coming to visit, but he used to come up to bring tobacco. I remember, ‘Why in the world he had to come all the way to Wilson – ‘

James D. and Roxie Simmons on their Sampson County farm, circa 1950.

“I just do remember him, by him – lots of times they would come by the house, see Papa, wanted to know how he was doing, and whatever. They didn’t stay no time, had to get back and see what time they was gon sell tobacco. So, I don’t know whatever became of him. Now, Mamie [Henderson Holt, her sister] went down when Jeem Daniel got married. He married Roxie, a girl named Roxie, and they was still down there in Clinton, wherever, somewhere down … Anyway, I know it wasn’t Mount Olive, and so Mama, when she got pregnant, Roxie got pregnant, then Jeem Daniel wanted Mamie to come down there and stay with his wife. He said, ‘I’ll pay for her to look after her, stay with her in the house,’ ‘cause he was working down in the field and needed someone to look after her. So Mamie went down there to stay. Didn’t stay, but I never did go down there. I never did see ‘em, after that, except Jeem Daniel brought up some corn one time to see Papa ‘cause he was sick.”  


In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jacobs James D lab h 106 Elba

In the 1910 census of Brogden township, Wayne County, N.C.: John Brewington, 27; wife Hattie, 25; children Lillie, 3, and Kirby, 1; and boarder James D. Jacobs, 30, farmer.

On 22 November 1916, James D. Jacobs, 35, married Roxie Simmons, 25, in Sampson County, N.C.

In 1918, James Daniel Jacobs registered for the World War I draft in Clinton, Sampson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 February 1881; worked as a farmer; and his nearest relative was Roxie Jacobs.

ln the 1920 census of South Clinton township, Sampson County: farmer Jimmie Simmons, 43; mother Pennie, 77, widow; brother-in-law James D. Jacobs, 37; sister Roxie, 33; and nephews Jessie W., 2, and Chacie, 1 month.

In the 1940 census of South Clinton township, Sampson County: farmer James D. Jacobs, 58; wife Roxie, 55; children Chasie, 20, Redick, 17, Macy, 16, Rillie, 14, Lifton, 10, and Jessie, 22; and granddaughter Glacinie, 2.

In the 1950 census of South Clinton township, Sampson County: farmer James D. Jacob, 68; wife Roxie, 64; son Jessie W., 33, widower; granddaughter Glacenia, 12; son Lifton, 20, and daughter-in-law Mary E., 18.

James Daniel Jacobs died 6 April 1952 in Fayetteville, Cumberland County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 February 1883 in Sampson County to Jesse Jacobs and Sallie Bridges; lived near Clinton, Sampson County; was married; and was a tenant farmer.

Photo courtesy of Carla Carter Jacobs.

Research tip: the fallibility of records.

A caution: even “official records” may contain erroneous information. Late into the twentieth century, birthdates could be guesstimates; parentage c0uld reflect informal adoptions, rather biological fact; names, both first and last, could shift or change, and spellings fell to the whim or talents of the inscriber. Oral history can be helpful when sifting through competing versions of facts to arrive at (or get reasonably close to) truth.

Here’s an example:

The “true facts” — Jesse Henderson was the son of Loudie Henderson and Joseph Buckner Martin. He was born about 1893 near Dudley, in southern Wayne County, North Carolina, and moved to Wilson as a teenager. There, he was nicknamed “Jack” by Jefferson D. Farrior to distinguish him from Jesse A. Jacobs Jr., the uncle with whom he lived and worked at Farrior’s livery stable.

On 3 Dec 1914, Solomon Ward applied for a marriage license for Jesse Henderson of Wilson, age 21, colored, son of Jesse Jacobs and Sarah Jacobs, both dead, and Pauline Artis of Wilson, age 18, colored, daughter of Alice Artis.  They were married later that day.

Sarah Henderson Jacobs was Jesse Henderson’s maternal aunt. She and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. were Jesse Henderson’s foster parents and were very much alive in 1914.

In November 1936, Jesse Henderson, using the name Jack, applied for a Social Security number.

By reporting his first name as “Jack” rather than Jesse to the Social Security Administration, Jesse Henderson essentially effectuated a name change. (It was so effective that few of his descendants would remember the name he was given at birth. He was Jesse in the 1910 and 1920 censuses and when he registered for the World War I draft, but Jack in the 1930 census and thereafter.)

The names Jack provided for his parents on this application are both inaccurate and puzzling. Lewis Henderson was, in fact, his grandfather. “Ludy” (or Loudie) was his mother’s first name, but she was Loudie Henderson, not Jacobs. As noted above, Jacobs was the surname of the uncle and aunt who reared him after Loudie died in childbirth.

In a further inaccuracy, note Jack’s birthdate: 16 Sept 1892. The 1900 census lists Jack Henderson’s birth month and year as February 1892, and his draft registration card only as 1893, month and day unknown.

Finally, when Jack Henderson died in 1970, one of his daughters provided information for his death certificate, naming his parents as an unknown father and “Lucy (?) Henderson” (and his birthdate as 21 April 1898.)

“Lucy” certainly was Loudie. My grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks remembered her great-grandmother’s name variously as “Loudie” or “Lucy,” but a church record and a single census entry, in 1880, confirm that it was Loudie. God only knows Jack’s birthday, but the year was probably 1892 or 1893, as reflected in the 1900 census and on his Social Security application.

How the Hendersons came to Wilson.

My paternal grandmother’s family arrived in Wilson circa 1905 from southern Wayne County, North Carolina. Jesse and Sarah Henderson Jacobs came first, and Sarah’s teenaged nephew Jesse “Jack” Henderson arrived a few years later. My grandmother Hattie Mae Henderson was born in Dudley in June 1910. In six months or so, her 19 year-old mother Bessie Henderson was dead.

Said my grandmother:

“I thought of many times I wondered what my mama looked like. Bessie. And how old was she, or whatever. Looked at Jack, and I said, they say he was 17 years old when he come to Wilson. From down there in Dudley, down there in Wayne County.

“My mama was helping Grandpa, Grandpa Lewis [Henderson.]  The pig got out of the pasture and, instead of going all the way down to where the gate opened, she run him back in there, to try to coax him in there. They picked him up. They picked him up and put him over the fence. And when they picked him up, and put him over the fence, she had the heavy part, I reckon, or something, and she felt a pain, a sharp pain, and so then she started spitting blood. Down in the country, they ain’t had no doctor or nothing, they just thought she was gon be all right. And I don’t think they even took her to the doctor. Well, she would have had to go to Goldsboro or Mount Olive, one, and doctors was scarce at that time, too, even if it was where you had to go a long ways to get them. Or go to a hospital and stay. And so she died. She didn’t never get over it. You never know what you’ll come to.

“But I don’t remember ever staying down there. ‘Cause they brought me up to Wilson to live with Mama and Papa [Sarah and Jesse Jacobs]. I stayed with them after Bessie died. I don’t remember Bessie. But my sister Mamie says she remembers her.”

At left, the only known photograph of Bessie Henderson (1891-1911). At right, a colorized version, which highlights surprising details of the backdrop. Does anyone recognize these trees and white ducks from an early twentieth-century Goldsboro or Mount Olive photography studio?

Adapted from interviews of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, 1996 and 1998, all rights reserved; photo in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

Braswell’s 19 children.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 November 1939.


In the 1910 census of Pikeville township, Wayne County, N.C.: Isaiah Braswell, 48, farmer; wife Belia, 47; children Thomas, 20, Lena, 14, Julia, 12, Mary, 10, and Blonie, 7; and brother Marcus, 23.

On 14 March 1912, Thomas Braswell and Minnie Cox were married at Billie Smith’s place in Pikeville, Wayne County.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Braswell, 30; wife Minnie, 26; and children Sadie, 10, Missie, 9, Aira, 7, Sallie, 1, Mary, newborn, Ira, 6, Kennon [Kennell], 5, and Roland, 3.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Braswell, 39; wife Minne, 37; and children Ira, 16, Kennen, 15, Roland, 14, Sallie, 12, Pennie, 10, Irene, 9, Hessie C., 7, Allen, 6, Hazel, 5, Bessie, 3, Leslie, 2, and William T., 10 months.

In the 1950 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Braswell, 60; wife Minnie C., 57; children Minnie, 19, Grant, 17, and Matthew, 14; and grandchildren Ira Jr., 12, Jean, 4, and Delois, 2.

Thomas Braswell died 30 March 1954 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 October 1888 in Wayne County to Isaac Braswell and Belia Ann Coley; was married to Minnie Braswell; and worked as a farmer.

We celebrate Dr. Joseph H. Ward this Veterans Day!

This past September, the Department of Veterans Affairs posthumously awarded an Exceptional Service Award to Wilson native Dr. Joseph H. Ward for his leadership of the V.A.’s first all-Black hospital “during an era of severe discrimination and racial hostility.”

To learn more about Dr. Ward and Tuskegee Veterans Administration Hospital, see this recent NPR piece, A Century Ago, Black WWI Vets Demanded Better Care. They Got Their Own Hospital, and this National Archives blogpost, The Trials and Triumphs of Dr. Joseph H. Ward.

Dr. Joseph H. Ward stands at center in the first row in the photograph taken of the V.A. Hospital’s ground-breaking all-Black medical staff.


The estate of Dr. Lewis J. Dortch (1854).

Tarborough Southerner, 4 November 1854.

The death of a slaveholder generally portended devastating disruption for the enslaved. The 650-page estate of Dr. Lewis J. Dortch provides more chilling evidence.

Nash County-born, University of Pennsylvania-trained Dortch married Nancy Jane Adams in Tarboro, Edgecombe County, in 1844. The couple settled in Stantonsburg, and Jane Dortch gave birth to three children — Sarah, Isaac, and Mary — before dying of tuberculosis in 1849. The children went to live with their maternal uncle, merchant Jesse H. Adams,   and his family, who were listed between Dr. Dortch and slave trader Wyatt Moye in the 1850 Edgecombe County census.

Dortch married Martha Forbes in 1853, but died intestate in October 1854. Lawyer and politician William T. Dortch of Goldsboro, North Carolina, his close kinsman, was appointed administrator of his estate, which was heavily in debt. Shortly after, Robert S. Adams — also a slave trader and Dortch’s brother-in-law — was appointed the Dortch children’s guardian and moved them to Aberdeen, Monroe County, Mississippi. (When the children petitioned for their share of their father’s 2200 acres in Wilson County, the court asked for assurances that their guardian had sufficient assets to secure the estate. Testimony established that Adams was worth a modest $30,000, but was backed by Wyatt Moye, whose estimated net worth was no less than $250,000, and W.R. Cunningham, worth no less than $100,000.)

William Dortch’s first inventory report on 11 November 1854 revealed both the complexity of L.J. Dortch’s slaveholdings and the movement of his enslaved people into short-term hires in Stantonsburg and over the county line in Nahunta district, Wayne County.

  • Boy John was hired till 1 January 1855 to W.J. Exum [of northwest Wayne County] for $4.55
  • Rody and child Rosa were hired to Jno. Wilkinson [of Stantonsburg] for the same period for $2.25
  • Sarah was hired to W.J. Exum for the same period for $2.75
  • Frank and Allen to Jesse H. Adams “to keep” for $5.45
  • “in addition to the above slaves the deceased owned the following, viz.: Wash, Beedy, Warren, George, Ned, Tom, Anderson, Gray, Primus
  • “and one half of nine slaves in the possession of Wm. T. Dortch, & owned jointly by them — whose names are Diza, Jinney, Louisa, Jim, Mary, Charles, Fanny, Nancy & Josephine.” [This appears to be the nine enslaved children and grandchildren of Wayne County free man of color Adam Winn, who were sold at auction in March 1852 to satisfy Winn’s creditors. A contemporary news account cites “Dr. Dortch” of Stantonsburg as the purchaser.]
  • “The deceased has an unsettled partnership between himself & John T. Barnes, in South Carolina, in the turpentine business — the firm own the following slaves, viz. Dance, Mintus, George and Anthony

Further inventories reflected the first sales of enslaved people, as well as the instability created by movement each year pursuant to new hire agreements:

  • “Received for equality of division in wife’s negroes on the 29th day of January 1856, one hundred & fifty-six dollars 25/100 — the following negroes formerly belonging to intestate’s wife, & received in division viz., Pompey, Fox & Judah & two children, in Jany 1856″ [Martha Forbes Dortch had been a minor when her father Alfred Forbes died in Pitt County, N.C., and only 20 years old when she married Dr. Dortch.]
  • The hires from 1 January 1855 to 29 April 1855 of Sarah to Ollin C. Sasser for $8; Beedy and child Rosetta to Orpha Applewhite for $6; George to Jonathan Bullock for $7.50; Frank and Allen to Jesse H. Adams for $2.62; and Rody and Rosa to John Wilkinson for $6 [Sasser lived in or near Goldsboro, Wayne County; Applewhite and Wilkinson in Stantonsburg; and Bullock further north in Edgecombe County.]
  • An account of the 2 April 1855 sale of 14 enslaved people: John to Drue Daniel for $1000; Frank to Ollin Coor for $390; Warren to Robert Bynum for $705; Rody to John Wilkinson for $211; Rosa to Washington Barnes for $380; Beedy and child Rosetta to Orpha Applewhite for $535; Sarah to Drue Daniel for $841; Diza to John B. Griswold for $900; Jinney, Jim, Charles, and Mary to William B. Fields for $1507; George to Josiah Howell for $491 [I have not identified Drue Daniel. Wayne County sheriff Ollin Coor lived in Goldsboro, as did John B. Griswold, William B. Fields, and Josiah Howell. (As estate administrator, William T. Dortch likely steered hires toward his Goldsboro associates.) Washington Barnes lived in Saratoga district of what is now Wilson County, and Robert Bynum in what is now Gardners township.]
  • The hire of Wash to W.K. Lane from 1 January 1855 to 1 January 1856 for $202 [Lane lived in Nahunta district, Wayne County.]
  • The hires of Ned, Primus, Tom, Anderson and Gray to John T. Barnes for that period for $1050 [John T. Barnes was soon to be sheriff of Wilson County.]
  • The sale of Primus on 1 January 1856 to John T. Barnes for $1250.25
  • On 29 January 1856, the sales of Pompey to Stephen Page for $700; Fox to Joshua Barnes for $400; and Judah and two children to Redding Moore for $1200 [Probably Stephenton Page, who was a slave trader with Robert S. Adams and Wyatt Moye; Joshua Barnes of Wilson, who dabbled in the trade. Redding Moore’s identity is not clear.]
  • The hires from 1 January 1856 to 1 January 1857 of Wash, Ned, Tom, Anderson, and Gray to George W. Barefoot for $950 and Allen to William T. Dortch for $36.50 [George and A.J. Barefoot promised to provide each with two new suits of clothes, two pairs of shoes, a hat, and a blanket, feed them well, and return them to Goldsboro at the end of the term.]
  • The hires from 1 January 1857 to 1 January 1858 of Wash, Ned, Tom, Anderson, and Gray to B.F. Arrington for $950 and Allen to William T. Dortch for $30 [Arrington was a Goldsboro dentist.]
  • The hires from 1 January 1858 to 1 January 1859 of Wash, Ned, Tom, Anderson, and Gray to S.D. Barnhill & Company for $950 and Allen to William T. Dortch for $30 [Pitt County native Stanley D. Barnhill migrated to Horry County, South Carolina, about 1850 and established S.D. Barnhill & Company, a turpentine, rosin, and timber firm. Per E.S. Barnhill, The Beatys of Kingston (1923), the company heavily supplemented its own enslaved labor with hired slaves.]
  • The hires from 1 January 1859 to 1 January 1860 of Wash, Ned, Tom, and Anderson to B.F. Arrington for $800; Allen to William T. Dortch for $30; and Gray (“badly shot, & disabled”) to Dortch for $0 [Shot?? What happened to Gray down in South Carolina?]
  • The sale on 2 January 1860 of Wash to W.T. Dortch for $1750; Tom to S.D. Barnhill for $1725; Anderson to E.S. Valentine for $1000; Allen to J.H. Adams for $1166; Ned to S.D. Barnhill for $795; and Gray (disabled) to W.T. Dortch for $265 disposed of the last of Dr. Dortch’s 34 enslaved people — except the four in South Carolina in the Barnes turpentine partnership. [I have not identified Valentine.]

Receipt for advertisement of “Adrmr’s sale of Dr. Dortch’s Negroes, (twice)”

The file contains innumerable promissory notes from Dr. Dortch’s patients such as this consolidated bill for care for Vincent Artis and his daughter, who were members of small interrelated community of free people of color in what is now the Eureka area of Wayne County:

And this one for John Artis, Vincent Artis’ neighbor and kinsman:

And a bill to William Barnes for care of an enslaved man named Napoleon:

Probate dragged on for years as the minor heirs grew up. Not uncommonly for wealthy landowners, Dr. Dortch was entangled in a web of promissory notes, and more than William T. Dortch fought more than 30 lawsuits for and against the estate, even as parties charged that he was too busy with his other affairs to handle it effectively.


There were no African-American Dortches in Wilson County in 1870, but I have been able to trace forward a handful of the people Lewis J. Dortch held in bondage:

  • John (sold to Drue Daniel)
  • Rhoda and daughter Rosa (the mother sold to John Wilkinson, the daughter to Washington Barnes)
  • Sarah (sold to Drue Daniel)
  • Frank (sold to Ollin Coor)
  • Allen (sold to Jesse H. Adams)
  • Wash, born about 1830 (sold to William T. Dortch)

Probably: Washington Dortch married Winnifred Barron on 15 April 1866 in Edgecombe County.

In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: cooper Washington Dortch, 39; wife Winifred, 23; children Marsilla, 5, Hetty, 2, and Charley, 5 months; and Briney Barnes, 28.

In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: laborer Washington Dortch, 50; wife Winifred, 35; children Frances, 15, Hettie, 13, Charles, 10, and Bill, 7.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Washington Dortch, 68; wife Winiford, 51; children Edward, 20, Luckey T., 17, Lucresy, 15, and Andrew G., 9; and granddaughter Emma, 16.

Tom Dortch died 7 November 1939 in Yale, Sussex County, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 September 1882 in Wilson County, N.C., to Washington Dortch and Winifred [maiden name not known]; was married to Clara Dortch; and worked as a farmer. He was buried in Sharpsburg, N.C.

  • Beedy, born about 1830, and child Rosetta, born about 1852 (sold to Orpha Applewhite)

Orpha Pike Applewhite was the recent widow of Henry Applewhite. I have found no record of her ownership of Beedy or Rosetta. However, a Bedie is recorded in the estate of her brother-in-law Council Applewhite. This Bedie, who was born about 1807, was the mother of grown children who were also enslaved by Council Applewhite. She was alive as late as 1880, when she appears in her son’s household in Goldsboro, Wayne County, as Obedience Applewhite.

However, on 31 August 1866, Wilson Hagans and Obedience Applewhite (who was not the same woman as above) registered their 19-year marriage with a Wilson County register of deeds. Wilson Hagans, who was a free man of color, was also known as Wilson Artis, and Obedience took that surname.

On 21 September 1869, Henry Peacock, son of Haywood Edmundson and Ulrsa Peacock, married Rosetta Artice, daughter of Wilson Artice and Bidy Artice, in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Peacock, 18; wife Rosetta, 18; and children Henry, 2, and John W., 2 months.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Obedience Artis, 40, and daughter Sarah J., 9.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Bety Artis, 60; daughter Sarah, 20; and grandchildren Willie, 2, and Mamie Hall, 6.

On 29 December 1892, Henry Dortch, 52, of Wilson, son of Isaac Thorne and Bedie Artis, married Eliza Darden, 42, at Crawford Darden‘s in Wilson County. Free Will Baptist minister Daniel Blount performed, and Frank Woodard, Warren Darden, and Isom Sutton witnessed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Sarah J. Artis, 39; children Mamie Hall, 20; Tommie, 16, Emma, 14, Henry, 12, Hallie, 11, Eddie, 9, Mary S., 5, and Nursie E. Artis, 4 months; and mother Bedie Artis, 77.

Sarah Jane Artis died 23 April 1930 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 23 December 1872 in Wilson County to Wilson Artis and Beedie Artis, both of Wilson County; she was single; and she was buried in Stantonsburg township.

  • Warren, born about 1840 (sold to Robert Bynum)

Probably: on 11 March 1869, Warren Bynum, son of Dick Rogers and Mary Rogers, married Elizabeth Applewhite, daughter of Theophilus Applewhite and Rancy Applewhite, in California township, Pitt County.

In the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County: farmhand Warren Bynum, 30; wife Bettie, 29; daughter Fanie, 1; and [mother] Raney, 60.

In the 1880 census of Farmville township, Pitt County: Warren Bynum, 38, farmer; wife Betsy, 32; and daughters Mary, 10, Fancy, 8, Marenda, 7, and Nellie, 5.

In the 1900 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farmer Warren Bynum, 55; wife Sarah, 35; and daughters Elsie, 12, and Lizzie, 8.

On 7 October 1908, Warren Bynum, 65, of Greene County, married Ellen Bynum, 55, of Saratoga township, Wilson County, in Saratoga township, Wilson County.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Warren Bynum, 66; wife Ellen, 55; and niece Appie, 38. (Warren reported having been married four times.)

Warren Bynum died 16 February 1918 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1854 to Dick Rodgers and Mary Ellis and worked as a farmer. George Bynum was informant.

Marenda Barrett died 18 July 1919 in Farmville, Pitt County. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 July 1873 in Pitt County to Warren Bynum and Betsy Ward and worked in farming. Garfield Shirley was informant.

Mary J. Shirley died 14 September 1931 in Farmville, Pitt County. Per her death certificate, she was born 25 May 1870 in Pitt County to Warren Bynum of Wilson County and Mynie Bynum of Wilson County and was married to Buck Shirley.

  • George (sold to Josiah Howell)
  • Ned, born about 1810 (sold to Stanley T. Barnhill)

Perhaps: in the 1870 census of Conway township, Horry County, S.C.: day laborer Edward Dorch, 60, and wife Mary, 58.

  • Tom (sold to Stanley T. Barnhill)
  • Anderson (sold to E.S. Valentine)
  • Gray (sold to William T. Dortch)
  • Primus (sold to John T. Barnes)
  • Diza (sold to John B. Griswold)
  • Jinney (sold to William B. Fields)
  • Louisa, born about 1850 (remained with William T. Dortch)

Perhaps: in the 1870 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: Louiza Dortch, 20, “h. servant,” in the household of W.T. Dortch, 46 year-old lawyer.

On 18 July 1878, Louisa Dortch married Needham Smith in Wayne County.

In the 1880 census of Little Washington, Goldsboro, Wayne County: Needham Smith, 63; wife Louisa, 30; children Henry, 9, Hattie, 6, and Julia, 4; and stepchildren Lizzie, 11, and Adam Dortch, 9.

  • Jim (sold to William B. Fields)
  • Mary (sold to William B. Fields)
  • Charles (sold to William B. Fields)
  • Fanny (remained with William T. Dortch)

Perhaps: on 17 January 1867, Fannie Dortch married Grandison Dawson in Wayne County.

  • Nancy, born about 1852 (remained with William T. Dortch)

Perhaps: on 28 March 1874, Nancy Dortch married Joseph Adams in Wayne County.

In the 1880 census of Little Washington, Goldsboro, Wayne County: cook Nancy Adams, 28, and children Georgianna, 11, David, 8, Edward, 4, and Rowena, 2.

In the 1900 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: widow Nancy Adams, 48, and children Roena, 22, Fannie, 19, Woodley, 16, drayman, and Elijah, 13, day laborer.

Nancy Adams died 27 November 1911 in Goldsboro, Wayne County. Per her death certificate, she was 57 years old [born circa 1854]; was born in N.C. to [no first name] Dortch and Lula Winn; was married; and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery. Elijah Adams was informant.

  • Josephine (remained with William T. Dortch)
  • Dance
  • Mintus
  • George
  • Anthony
  • Pompey (sold to Stephenton Page)
  • Fox (sold to Joshua Barnes)
  • Judah and two children (sold to Redding Moore)

L.J. Dortch Estate Record (1854), Wilson County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979,

In memoriam: her daddy, Willie Taylor.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 November 1939.

What a lovely tribute by ten year-old Fannie Beatrice Taylor to her father. (It’s a fading practice, by the way, but until recently “Daddy” was unselfconsciously used by Southerners of any and every age to call their fathers.)


In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Joe Taylor, 42; wife Hattie, 28; and children Emmit, 10, Rosetta, 8, Willie, 6, and Daisey, 5.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Joe Taylor, 51; wife Hattie, 57; and children Willie Robert, 16, and Hattie Lee, 14.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Willie Taylor, 24; father Joe, 62; mother Hattie, 51; sister Daisy, 23; and niece Hattie M., 10.

Willie Taylor died 6 November 1938 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 October 1903 in Wilson County to Joseph Taylor and Hattie Lucas; was married to Maybelle Taylor; worked as a farmer; and was buried in Wilson [his headstone stands in Rest Haven Cemetery.]

On 11 March 1948, Fannie B. Taylor, 19, of Saratoga, daughter of Willie Taylor and Mable Best Taylor, married Wright Horne, 20, of Saratoga, son of Osborn Horne and Annie Lane Horne, in Wilson, Wilson County.

Snaps, no. 108: Joyce Henderson Boyd.

Joyce Lorine Henderson Boyd (1922-2004).


In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 318 Pender Street, Jack Henderson, truck driver, 38; wife Pauline, 31, and children Bessie, 12, Alic, 10, Joice, 8, Mildred, 6, and Archy, 4, listed in the household of mother-in-law Alic Artis, 49, private cook, paying $18/month rent.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 309 Pender Street, Alice Artis, 56; daughter Pauline Henderson, 39, household servant; granddaughters Bessie L., 23, hotel elevator girl, Alice, 20, household servant, Joyce, 18, household servant, Mildred, 16, and Doris, 10; and grandson Robert [Bobby], 4.

In the 1950 census of Washington, D.C.: at 1864 California Street, Joyce L. Henderson, 27, apartment building elevator operator, born in North Carolina, was a lodger in the home of Eunice M. Moore, a beautician, also born in N.C.

Photo courtesy of R.B.T. 

The toll.

The Spanish flu pandemic decimated families within days.

Between October 23 and 28, 1918, Daniel and Celia Lewis Ellis lost sons Sam, 20, Jackson, 17, and Orran Ellis, 8. 

Sam Ellis died 23 October 1918.

His brother Jackson Ellis had passed three hours earlier. 

Their little brother Orran Ellis died five days later on 28 October 1918. Will Artis buried all three on the E.C. Exum place in Wayne County.

Austin and Clara Lawrence Dawes lost sons Rosevelt, 8, Handy, 1, and Thomas Dawes, 4, over a four-day span.

Rosevelt Handy died 19 October 1918.

Handy Dawes died the next day. 

Thomas Dawes died on the 23rd. 

And then their father Austin died.

Austin Dawes, 49, tenant farmer. 


In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Daniel Ellis, 50; wife Celia, 35; and children Maeliza, 13, Willie, 14, Samson, 11, Harry, 10, Robert, 7, and Jackson, 8.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Austin Daws, 37; wife Clara, 26; and children Hazel M., 9, Annah M., 4, Lara L., 2, and Theodore R., newborn.

Snaps, no. 107: the widow Argie Croom Savage and her loves.

There is no contest, but this is surely the most heartbreaking photograph I’ve encountered in my Black Wide-Awake research. Jesse Savage and Argie Croom married in 1913 and quickly had two daughters together. In the spring of 1916, however, Jesse Savage succumbed to tuberculosis. Shortly after, his widow balanced their babies on her lap and leaned his large, framed portrait against her knees for a family photo.


In the 1900 census of Great Swamp township, Wayne County, N.C.: farmer John Crooms, 38; wife Priscilla, 30; and children Marthey A., 11, Sam R., 10, Hannah J., 8, Maggie L., 5, Augine, and Loyd, 1.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Priscilla Crooms, 45, and children Annie, 21, Samuel, 20, Hannah, 18, Maggie, 14, Argen, 11, Loyd, 9, and James W., 3.

Jesse Savage, 23, of Toisnot township, son of Bill and Hannah Savage, married Argy Croom, 18, of Toisnot township, daughter of John and Pricilla Croom, on 22 October 1913 in Toisnot township, Wilson County.

A Wilson County index of delayed births lists Minnie B. Savage, daughter of Jesse Savage and Artie Croom, born in 1914.

Jesse Savage died 15 April 1916 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 March 1891 in Wilson County to William Savage of Martin County, N.C., and Hannah Sanders of Wilson County; was married; and worked as a farm tenant.

On 28 October 1937, Minnie B. Savage, 23, of Wilson County, daughter of Jesse and Argie Savage, married Willie B. Baines, 24, of Wilson County, son of Mattie Baines, in Nashville, Nash County, N.C.

Photo courtesy of user Jonathan Artis.