Free People of Color

Unlawful migration.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County   } Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions October Term 1859

The Jurors for the State aforesaid upon their oath present that Gray Powel a free negro late of the county of Wilson on the 1st day of June AD 1859 at & in the said county unlawfully did migrate into the State of North Carolina contrary to the provisions of the act of the general assembly in such cases made & provided & that the said Gray Powel afterwards to wit up to this time doth yet remain in said State & in the county aforesaid contrary to the form of the Statute in each case made & provided & against the peace & dignity of the State    /s/ B.B. Barnes Solicitor

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In the 1850 census of Stephen Powell, 47, wife Synthia, 36, and children Gray, 9, Queen Anne, 8, Dolly, 7, Crockett, 3, and Noab, 1. [If this is the same Gray Powell, it suggests that he left his birth state prior to 1859, then returned, an act considered an “unlawful migration.”]

Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

 

Snaps, no. 43: Mattie Taylor.

The genealogies of African-American families are often complex in ways that may surprise us. The fact that many African-Americans had white male ancestors in the 18th and 19th centuries does not raise eyebrows. That many also descend from white female ancestors who lived in that time period is less well-known. The descendants of Elizabeth Taylor are one such family.

Taylor was born about 1815, probably in southern Nash County, North Carolina. She had at least five children, some of whom were white and others mixed-race, including daughter Abi Taylor.

Mattie Taylor (ca. 1877-1971), daughter of Abi Taylor.

In the 1850 census of Nash County, North Carolina: Elizabeth Taylor, 35, and children Mary Ann, 14, Hilliard, 12, Abi, 6, Bryant, 4, and Harry, 1 month. Abi and Harry were described as mulatto; the others white.

In the 1860 census, Kirbys district, Wilson County: Elizabeth Taylor, 42, farm laborer, and children and grandchildren Abia, 18, Bryant, 14, Jackson, 12, Kinchen, 10, and McDaniel, 7.  All were described as white except Abia, Jackson and Kinchen, who were mulatto.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County:  Abi Taylor, 35, and children James, 20, Levi, 14, Mike, 12, Sallie, 7, Martha, 3, and Richard, 1.

John Sharpe married Sallie Taylor on 20 April 1889 in Wilson County.

Mike Taylor, 20, of Gardners township, Wilson County, married Estella Pender, 18, of Toisnot township, Wilson County, on 18 January 1890 at Amos Pender‘s.

In the 1900 census, Gardners township, Wilson County: John Sharpe, 32; wife Sallie, 26,  and children Lossie, 7, Suckie, 5John, 2,  and Jennie, 5 months, plus Sam Sharpe, 20.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on the Elm City Road, John Sharp, 43, wife Sallie, 37, and children Lossie, 16, Mathosie, 14, Johnnie Jr., 12, Geneva, 9, and George, 7.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road, Mattie Taylor, 36, and children Gray, 14, Benjamin F., 8, Lee R., 7, Mary, 6, Annie, 2, and Hilliard, 6 months.

In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County:  Mattie Taylor, 30, and children Levy, 14, Mary, 13, Annie, 12, Hilliard, 10, Archie, 7, Joseph, 5, and Marvin, 3, plus Abi Taylor, 75.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: on New Wilson and Raleigh Road, farmer John Sharp, 53; wife Sallie, 48; and children Sardie, 24, Johnie, 22, Eva, 19, and George, 16, and daughter-in-law Mollie, 26.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Mike Taylor, 46, wife Estella, 35, and son James, 20.

On 12 December 1928, Mike Taylor, 57, married Elizabeth Evans, 45, in Wilson.

On 5 December 1929, Lee Taylor, 26, of Saratoga township, son of Mattie Taylor, married Sallie Barnes, 22, daughter of Cornelius and Maggie Barnes, in Wilson.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: three households in a row on an “improved dirt road,” Emmit Taylor, 30, and wife Clauddie 27; Arthur Taylor, 21; Hillard Taylor, 53, wife Annie, 48, and children Walter, 24, and Moses, 14; Lee Taylor, 26, wife Sally, 23, widowed mother Mattie, 56, her children Archie, 16, Joe, 15, and Marvin, 12; and widowed grandmother Abbie Taylor, 91.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: John Taylor, 65, wife Sallie, 59, and boarder Monroe Whitley, 45.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Mike Taylor, 60, wife Elizabeth, 41, and son Carlie, 12.

Abie Taylor died 24 October 1930 in Saratoga township, Wilson County.  Per her death certificate, she was 94 years old; was born in Nash County to unknown parents; and was the widow of Rutherd Taylor. Informant was Hilliard Taylor. [There is no evidence that Abie Taylor ever married, though she is sometimes listed as a widow in census records.]

Mike Taylor died 6 March 1932 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 May 1870 to Archie Taylor and Abie Taylor and was married to Elizabeth Taylor.  Informant was Mazie Taylor.

Hilliard Taylor died 24 August 1944 in Saratoga township, Wilson County.  Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was born in Wilson County to Wash Powell and Avie Taylor, both of Wilson County; and was married to Gussie Taylor. Informant was Walter Taylor.

Sallie Sharpe died 4 March 1955 at her residence at 314 South Goldsboro Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 May 1874 in Wilson County to Cage Archey and Abby Taylor and was buried at New Vester cemetery, Wilson County. Informant was Mrs. Lossie Mitchell, Lucama, N.C.

Mattie Taylor died 11 October 1971 at 129 Narroway Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was a widow; was born 15 August 1876 to an unknown father and Abbie Taylor, and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery.  Informant was Mrs. Mary T. Bynum.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user ________.

Mary Jane Stancil and family.

As shown here and here and here, the interrelated Ayers, Hawley, Rose and Taylor families shifted back and forth across the color line for decades. Despite highly publicized legal challenges to their status, most were accepted as white by about 1920.


Mary Jane Taylor Stancil (1867-1921), upper left. The infant is her son Oscar Stancil, who died in 1904. This may be a death portrait, a type of memento mori. The women at right at are unknown.

In the 1880 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Sallie Taylor, about 45; and her children William, 19, Jacob, 17, Jane, 14, Robert L., 12, Thomas, 10, and Luretta, 8, all mulatto.

On 12 September 1899, J.H. Stancil, 23, white, of Wilson County, son of Andrew and Nancy Stancil, married Mary Jane Hawley, 28, white, of Johnston County, daughter of Sally Ann Hawley, in Johnston County.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James H. Stancill, 23, and wife Mary J., 20, both white.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Red Hill Road, farmer James H. Stansil, 32; wife Mary J., 41; and children Frederick, 9, and Viola, 8. James was described as white. The “W” beside Mary Jane and their children was marked through and replaced with “M” [mulatto]. [Similarly, on nearby Kenly Road, the racial designation of Elender F., 46, William M., 19, Mary L., 16, Maggie P., 13, Henry L., 11, Betsey P., 8, and Mamie G. Hawley, 4, were changed to match that of their husband and father John D. Hawley, 54, mulatto. John Hawley was Mary Jane Stancil’s brother.]

In the 1920 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer James H. Stancil, 42, wife Mary J., 50, and daughter Viola, 17, all white.

Mary Jane Stancil died 5 July 1921 in Oldfields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 October 1867 in Wilson County to John Clark of Johnston County and an unknown mother; was married to John [sic] H. Stancil; and was white.

Josephus and Minnie Taylor Johnson and their oldest children Arthur, Fannie and Carl.

Josephus and Minnie Johnson took their fight to have their children admitted to white Wilson County schools to the North Carolina Supreme Court, and lost. Minnie T. Johnson was Mary Jane Stancil’s niece.

Viola Stancil Lucas (1902-1989).

Viola Stancil Lucas was the daughter of James H. and Mary Jane Taylor Stancil.

Many thanks to Linda Lucas Martin for sharing these family photographs.

 

Received of Penny Lassiter.

James B. Woodard registered the receipt he issued to free woman of color Penny Lassiter for the $150 she paid to purchase her husband London Woodard in 1855. Though not legally manumitted, London lived essentially as a free man for the next ten years until Emancipation.

Deed book 1, page 155, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

London Woodard, Penny Lassiter Woodard and the London Church.

On 14 February 1970, the Wilson Daily Times published a full-page article detailing the life of London Woodard, founder of London’s Primitive Baptist Church.

London Woodard was born enslaved in 1792. He was recorded in the estates of Asa Woodard in 1816 and Julan Woodard in 1826 (in which he was recognized as a distiller of fine fruit brandies.) In 1827, James B. Woodard bought London at auction for $500. The same year, London married Venus, a woman enslaved by Woodard. In 1828, London was baptized and appears as a member in the minutes of Tosneot Baptist Church. Venus was baptized in 1838 and died in 1845.

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Transfer of title to “a negroe man by the name of Lonon” from Nathan Woodard to James B. Woodard, 1928.

J.B. Woodard’s second wife in 1837, and he hired Penelope Lassiter, a free woman of color, as a housekeeper and surrogate mother to his children. Lassiter, born 1814, was the daughter of Hardy Lassiter, who owned a small farm south of Wilson. She met London, who was working as overseer, at Woodard’s. In 1852, Penny Lassiter bought 106 acres for $242 about five miles east of Wilson on the Tarboro Road.

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In 1854, Penny Lassiter purchased her husband London, then about 62 or 63, from J.B. Woodard for $150. In 1858 Lassiter bought another 53 acres near her first tract and purchased 21 acres in 1859. The same year, she sold a small parcel to Jordan Thomas, a free man of color [who was married to her step-daughter Rose Woodard.] In 1866, the years after he was emancipated, London Woodard bought, subject to mortgage, a 200-acre parcel.

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In 1866, London Woodard was granted authority to preach “only among his acquaintances,” i.e. African-Americans. A member of Tosneot Baptist donated an acre of land to build a black church, regarded as the first in Wilson County. London Woodard was licensed to preach in 1870.

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London Woodard preached his last sermon on 13 November 1870. The next day, he suffered a stroke and fell into an open fireplace. Despite severe burns, he was able to dictate a will before his death.

The history of London Church for the 25 years after Woodard’s death is murky. In 1895, white churches Tosneot and Upper Town Creek dismissed several African-American members in order that they might establish an independent congregation at London’s. [London Church reorganized under the umbrella of the Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Association in 1897.]

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By the terms of his will, London Woodard provided for his wife Penelope; sons William, Hardy, Haywood, Howell, Elvin, Amos and London; and daughters Treasy, Rose, Pharibee, Sarah, Harriet and Penninah. (Deceased son John’s daughter was apparently inadvertently omitted.)  “A few facts” about Woodard’s children follows.

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Receipts for payments for taxes and accounts for Penny Lassiter and London Woodard.

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This building was moved around the corner to London Church Road. It has long been abandoned and collapsed in 2017 after suffering serious storm damage the year before.

Jordan Thomas.

Hugh B. Johnston Jr., “Looking Backward,” Wilson Daily Times, 4 December 1954.

This piece on Jordan Thomas is not entirely accurate. Franklin County native Jordan Thomas’ first wife was Charity Locus, a free woman of color. His second, Eliza, also seems to have been free. His third was Rosa Woodard, the enslaved daughter of London Woodard, who bore him a son, Peter.

——

In the 1810 census of Franklin County, North Carolina, were free colored heads of household Lettice Thomas and Eliza Thomas. One, perhaps Eliza, may have been Jordan Thomas’s mother.

Jordan Thomas married Charity Locus in 9 February 1837 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.

In the 1840 census of District 17, Edgecombe County: Jerdan Thomas headed a household that comprised one male aged 24-35 and two females under 10. Nearby, Hearty Thomas, head of a household that included one male under 10; three females aged 10-24; one female 24-26; and one female 36-45. [Who was Hearty Thomas? Jordan Thomas named a daughter Harty.]

In the 1850 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: in the household of white farmer J.B. Woodard, farmer Jordon Thomas, 35, “free.” [Where were his wife and children?]

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: turpentine laborer Jordon Thomas, 50; daughters Henrietta, 21, Eliza, 20, and Harty, 18; and grandson John, 1.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County; farmer Jordan Thomas, 52, who reported owning $175 in real property and $100 in personal. Next door: Eliza Thomas, 52, Henriet, 35, Hariet, 30, Alfred, 9, Jordan, 7, John, 11, Charity, 10, and Henry, 6.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jordan Thomas, 68; daughters Henyeter, 42, and Harty, 40; and grandchildren John, 21, Charity, 18, Henry, 15, Jordan, 17, and Alfread, 18.

On 5 January 1881, Charity Thomas, 18, daughter of Warren Rountree and Henrietta Thomas, married Charley Hagans, 20, son of Richd. and Alley Hagans, at Jordan Thomas’ in Gardners township. London Woodard, Ed Hoskins and John Thomas were witnesses.  [Charity Thomas’ father Warren Rountree was enslaved at the time of her birth.]

On 5 July 1899, Jordan Thomas made his mark on his last will and testament. Under its terms, “beloved daughters” Harty and Henretta Thomas received a life interest in the 11 acres upon which he lived in Gardners township adjoining the lands of Benjamin Finch, Benjamin Artis and T.W Barnes. After their deaths, the property was to go to grandchildren Jordan Thomas, Alfred Thomas and Charity Hagans. The will entered probate on 21 March 1901 in Wilson, presumably shortly after Thomas’ death.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jordan Thomas, 88, widower, and daughters Henrietta, 60, and Adline, 57.

Adline Thomas died 20 May 1926 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 91 years old; unmarried; was born in Edgecombe County to Jerdon Thomas of Franklin County and Chattie Thomas; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Informant was Anderson Thomas. [“Adeline” was Harty Thomas.]

Peter Thomas died 7 July 1929 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was 78 years old; married to Maggie Thomas; was a farmer; was born in Wilson County to Jordan Thomas and Rosa Thomas; and was buried in Penders family cemetery, Wilson County. Sudie Barnes was informant.

On 19 December 1932, Jordon Thomas died in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 70 years old; was born in Wilson County to Henrietta Thomas; and was a farmer. Informant was J.T. Barnes.

Please come if you can, no. 1.

Goldsboro’s not Wilson, but it’s right down the road, and many of Wilson’s African-American families have roots in antebellum Wayne County. On 6 February 2018, I’ll be giving a talk about Wayne County’s free communities of color as part of the Wayne County Public Library’s Black History Month observation. I welcome your support!

A true representative.

Wilson Advance, 12 November 1891.

Richard Hagans married Ann Faithful 1 May 1849 in Edgecombe County. Lemon S. Dunn was bondsman, and John Norfleet, witness.

In the 1860 census of Edgecombe County: Richd. Hagans, 33, wife Alley, 31, and children Lawrence, 10, Laura, 8, Margaret, 6, Richard, 5, Neely, 3, and Charles Hagans, 3 months.

The family is not found in the 1870 census.

On 30 December 1874, Lawrence Hagan, 25, married Mollie Pender, 20, at the residence of William Woodard in Wilson County. Witnesses were R. Hagan, Dobson Powell and Anderson White.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Laurence Hagans, 30, wife Mary, 24, and children James, 6, and Elizabeth, 3. Next door, Lawrence’s father Richard Hagans, 52, mother Alley, 51, and brothers Charley, 20, Julus, 16, Bisco, 14, Thomas, 11, and Joe, 1.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Larnce Haggan, 49, wife Etha, 44, and children Joe, 21, Augustus, 19, Oscar, 18, Charlie, 16, Annie, 13, Connie, 10, Lena, 8, Mollie, 7, William L., 4, Minnie, 3, and Pattie, 1, and Lawrence’s widowed mother Alice, 70.

[I have found no evidence that Richard Hagans served the Confederacy, either as a body servant (or in the less likely role of soldier throughout.) I will continue to search.]

Noah Lynch, Civil War veteran.

In the 1850 census of the north side of the Neuse district, Wayne County, North Carolina: C.M. Richardson, 32, brickmason; wife Sarah, 24; and their children Jacob, 7, Joseph and Benjamin, 3, and Cisara, 1; plus, Julia Walton, 21, apprentices Green Bryant, 20, and Noah Linch, 20, and brickmason Thomas Piloot, 23.

Noah Lynch married Piety Rose on 2 March 1853 in Edgecombe County.

In the 1860 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: plasterer Noah Lynch, 30; wife Piety, 33, washerwoman; domestic Julia Higgins, 20; John James, 10; and Martha Taylor, 7; all mulatto. Noah reported owning $700 in real property.

Noah and Piety Lynch apparently divorced or otherwise separated in the early 1860s.

Noah Lynch, 34, colored, waiter, married, born in North Carolina, appears in a consolidated list of men who registered for the Union draft in June 1863 in New York City. Also in the list, Shered Lynch, 32, seaman, married, born in North Carolina. (Sherod Lynch married Harriet Moore at Gatlin Lynch’s in Wayne County on 12 July 1855.) Both resided on East Houston Street.

On 4 May 1868, Noah Lynch, 29, black, son of Lary Lynch and Nancy Wilkins, married Mary Sweeny, 25, white, daughter of Patrick Sweeny and Bridget Bilon, in Manhattan.

In the 1870 census of New York, New York County, New York: mason Noah Lynch, 40, and wife Mary, 30. Noah was a native of North Carolina; Mary, of Ireland. Both were described as white. In a duplicate entry in the 1870 census of New York City: on Houston Street, Noah Lynch, 42, machinist, born in North Carolina; wife Mary, 25, born in Ireland; and John Lynch, 30, waiter, also born in Ireland. All were described as white.

On 8 January 1875, Noah Lynch, 40, son of Larry Lynch and Nancy Wilkins, married Anne Carey, 30, daughter of Luke Carey and Catharine Sweeney, in Manhattan.

In the 1880 census of New York, New York County, New York: plasterer Noah Lynch, 50, and wife Annie, 34, both described as white.

In the New York, New York, city directory of 1883: Noah Lynch, mason, 153 Second.

In the 1905 New York state census: at 153-2nd Street, Noah Linch, 75, painter, white.

In the 1910 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York; at 14 Avenue A, widower Noah W. Lynch, 80, and adopted daughter Matilda M. Roth, 37, a stage actress. Noah was described as white and born in North Carolina to German parents. Matilda was born in New York to German parents.

Noah W. Lynch died 23 November 1913 in Manhattan. Per his death certificate, he was 84 years old; born in North Carolina to Larry and Nancy Lynch; was a pensioned mason; and was olive brown (colored). He was buried in Calvary Cemetery.

On 1 December 1913, Matilda Roth of 14 Avenue A testified in Surrogates’ Court to prove Noah Lynch’s will. She averred that she had known Lynch about 33 years, that she had witnessed him sign his will on 23 November 1913 [the day he died] at his residence at 14 Avenue A and that Johanna Kuhnel and Valentine A. Schulz were also present. Johanna Kuhnel testified similarly, noting that she had known Lynch for about 25 years.

Noah Lynch achieved a significant degree of prosperity in the Lower East Side, though he never bought a house or apartment or spent much on material possessions, as his will reveals:

I, Noah Lynch of the City, County and State of New York, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, and considering the uncertainty of this life, do make, publish and declare this to be my last Will and Testament as follows, hereby revoking all other and former Wills by me at any time made.

1st First, after my lawful debts are paid, I give to my beloved half-sister, Mary Tillman (widow) residing at Bergen Street near 3rd Avenue in the Borough of Brooklyn, New York City the sum of Eight Hundred Dollars, the same to be held in trust in the name of my executor, and the same to be deposited in the Bank, during her life. I direct my Executor to pay her from time to time the amount necessary to defray the expenses for her maintenance, that he may see fit after her death, my executor shall see that she has a proper burial and whatever moneys he may have on hand or the balance of the above named sum shall be used in erecting a monument or Tombstone, over her last resting place.

2nd. I give to Mary Sands of 2472 Marion Avenue, Borough of Bronx, New York City, the sums of Five Hundred Dollars, that is to say if there is so much on hand to pay her the same, if there is not so much on hand, she shall receive Two Hundred Dollars.

3rd. I give my (gold watch) to my friend John Sands of 2472 Marion Avenue, Borough of the Bronx, New York City.

4th. I give to Ellen Dwyer, for her good services rendered in my sickness and my last moments and for her kindness, the sum of Five hundred Dollars, that is to say if there is so much on hand to pay her the same, if there is not so much on hand, she shall receive Two Hundred Dollars.

5th. I give to my Executor Val. A. Schulz of 214 East 4th Street New York City, for the faithfull performance of his duty or extra compensation for the amount of Labor he will have in attending to matters of my estate he is to have Two hundred and Fifty Dollars, besides his legal allowance.

6th. I hereby direct my executor to give me a decent funeral and a Requiem High Mass at the Church of the Nativity, 2nd Avenue, bet 2nd and 3rd street, New York City.

7th. I hereby direct my executor to pay one hundred dollars to the Most Reverend Father Reilly, the Rector of the Church of the Nativity, at 2nd Avenue bet 2nd-3rd Street New York City, the same is to be used for reading Masses after my death.

I hereby direct my Executor to use the balance of my estate if there be any balance to erect a suitable Monument over my last Resting place.

8th. I hereby direct that my Executor Valentine A. Schulz of 214 East 4th Street, shall serve as my Executor without filing any bonds as I have confidence in his honesty, faithful performance of his duty and I am sure he will carry out my last wishes.

9th. My entire estate consists of 1 Bank account on Bank Book number 658,003 on the Bowery Savings Bank, and another Bank book number 1,015 832 on the 4th Ave Bank at 200 4th Avenue, New York City, and other small articles of no value.

10th. I give to Matilda Roth of 14 Ave A, New York City, who I have raised and who has done so much for me, and for services rendered to me during my lifetime and during my sickness, I hereby give her eight hundred Dollars and I direct my Executor to pay her the same as soon as the law permits. I also give her a ring of plain type.

11th. I hereby direct my executor to pay any attention to those claiming relationship. I have no relatives living accepting my half sister Mary Tillman of Brooklyn, New York City.

12th. And I further direct my Executor not to pay any one who will cause him any trouble, that is to say of those named in this my last will and testament, by trouble I mean any one contesting this my last will and Testament.

I hereby appoint Valentine A. Schulz, 214 East 4th Street, New York City, to be Executor of this my last Will and Testament.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name, and affixed my seal, the 23rd day of November in the year one thousand nine hundred and thirteen.    Noah (X) Lynch

Witnesses: Matilda Roth, Valentine A. Schulz, Johanna Kuhnel

I have no record of Mary Tillman in North Carolina. However, in the 1894 Brooklyn, New York, city directory: Tillman, Mary, wid. Thos., h 263 Bergen. In the 1900 census of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: at 263 Bergen, widowed North Carolina-born laundress Marie Tillman, 74, with boarder Alexander Moore, 27, and his wife Julia, 26, and three other families. In the 1910 census of Brooklyn: at 263 Bergen, Virginia-born Susan Brown, 34, laundress, and her Florida-born boarder Joseph Robertson, 28, a hotel waiter, and North Carolina-born Mary Tillman, 87, and her lodger Benjamin Simmons, 70, a carpenter.

Executor Schulz quickly advanced Mary Tillman money to purchase a burial plot and grave marker, but she complained to the court that she needed $40/month for support. She averred that Schulz had agreed to pay that sum, but had not remitted any money to date. It is not at all clear why this minor demand warranted the attention of two New York City newspapers, but:

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The Sun, 10 March 1914.

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New York Times, 10 March 1914.

Ayers found dead in his yard.

WA 2 2 1883

Wilson Advance, 2 February 1883.

The “old man” was William Ayers, who appeared in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County, as a 46 year-old farmer. Though he was marked married, he is listed as the only person in his household.

William’s wife, Rose Ayers, quickly moved to open his estate in probate court, relinquishing her right to administer his estate to Thomas J. Rowe.

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The court duly appointed Rowe, estimated the size of Ayers’ estate at $250, and named Rosa, Jesse and Joseph Ayers as his heirs. The latter two, presumably, were his sons (or descendants of deceased children.)

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By late February, William Ayers’ personal property had been sold at auction, yielding a little more than $200. The account revealed that, in addition to carpenter’s tool, household furnishings and clothing, Ayers owned a fiddle and a single bottle of cologne.

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On 22 November 1883, commissioners laid off Rose Ayers’ dower, granting her twenty acres of her late husband’s 80 acres in Cross Roads township, representing one-third value of the land. In December 1883, commissioner F.A. Woodard placed a series of notices in The Wilson Advance (Josephus Daniels’ first newspaper), presumably advertising the sale of Ayers’ land.

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Estate records show that Edwin Barnes was the highest bidder at $430 for Ayers’ property on 7 January 1884. (The commissioners’ report also lists another heir, Council Ayers.)

——

  • Rose Ayers — Rose Ayers, 45, married Nash Horton, 50, on 5 December 1888 at Meeksville post office, Spring Hill township. James G., I., and Guilford Wilder were witnesses.
  • Jesse Ayers — probably,  in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: 28 year-old farmer Jesse Ayers; wife Elizabeth, 28; and children Ida, 8; Harriet, 6; Howard, 5; and Hubbard, 2; all described as mulatto.
  • Joseph G. Ayers
  • Council Ayers — In the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: Council Ares, 52, wife Mary, 33, and William Smith, 3. However, this man was older than William and could not have been his son. (He died 1 December 1915 in Spring Hill township, and his death certificate lists his father as Sampson Ayers.) Similarly, the Council Ayers, age 21, who appears in the 1910 census of Spring Hill township with wife Beadie, 25, was born after William Ayers’ death.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.