Migration

They will tell the true story when they get home.

Northern Neck (Va.) News, 20 February 1880.

Who were the anonymous informants who “would rather live one year in North Carolina than to live to be as old as giants” in Indiana?

Not Joseph Ellis, whose testimony before Congress about Black migration from North Carolina to Indiana  declared that he was “well pleased with [his] situation.” On the other hand, Green Ruffin, who testified on 16 February 1880, was adamant that he never going back to Indiana if he could get home. Peter Dew and Julia Daniels shared similar sentiments in letters to the editor of the Wilson Advance.

Voter registration in Beaufort County.

James H. Barnes, Gatlin Barnes, and David Barnes registered to vote in 1896 in Beaufort County, North Carolina. Gatlin was father to James and David, and all lived in the Tranters Creek community.

  • Gatlin Barnes reported that he was 54 years old, worked as a farmer, and was born in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Gatlin Barnes, 31, wife Jane, 22, and children Henry, 4, and Bud, 1, Sabra Ward, 70, and Sarah Barnes, 34.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Gallin Barnes, 36; wife Jane, 36; and sons Henry, 13, and Bud, 8.

In the 1900 census of Washington township, Beaufort County: farmer Gatlin Barnes, 54; wife Jane, 45; and widowed sister Sarah, 75.

In the 1910 census of Washington township, Beaufort County: farmer Gatlin Barnes, 62; wife Jane, 50; divorced son David, 23; and widowed sister-in-law Sarah, 75.

  • James H[enry]. Barnes reported that he was 27 years old, worked as a laborer, and was born in Wilson County.
  • David Barnes reported that he was 22 years old, worked as a laborer, and was born in Wilson County.

Tranters Creek, Beaufort County, 1896, North Carolina Voter Registers and Certificates of Registration, http://www.familysearch.org.

The obituary of Nathan McGowan, railroad employee.

Indianapolis Star, 22 March 1914.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Setta Whitfield, 37, domestic servant; Gross Conner, 18, a white news dealer; Tillman McGown, 35, farm laborer, wife Charity, 36, and children Amy, 17, Lucinda, 15, Aaron, 20, Ira, 5, Delia A., 7, Nathan, 3, and Courtney, 1.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Tilman McGown, 43, wife Charity, 49,  and children Delia A., 18, Ira R., 15, and Nathan, 13.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1021 South West Street, day laborer, William Hester, 55; wife Louisa, 53; daughter Clasia McGown, 23; son-in-law Nathan McGown, 25, poster on railroad car; and their children Harreld, 5, and Babe McGown, 2 months.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: train cook Ned McGowan, 36; wife Clara, 36; children Harold, 15, and Abbie, 11; William, 62, and Louisa Hester, 58.

Order for publication for non-resident defendants, heirs of Willis Jones.

A notice in the matter of P.B. Deans vs. Shade Jones et al. ran for a month in the summer of 1883. The matter was an action for the partition of land, land that apparently was part of the estate of Willis Jones. Willis and Sarah K. Jones‘ children included Josiah Jones, Charity Jones Taylor (ca. 1827-1891), Jacob Jones (ca. 1828), Shade Jones (ca. 1832), Henry Jones (ca. 1840), Alexander Jones (ca. 1841), Noel Jones (1843), Willis Kingsberry Jones (ca. 1847), Payton A. Jones (ca. 1849), and Bethany Jones Barnes (ca. 1852). Two of Willis Jones’ children resided out of state, and the court ordered the notice commanding them to answer the complaint in the case. Charity Jones Taylor and her husband, Kingsberry Taylor, were believed to be in Indiana; Josiah Jones, in South Carolina.

Wilson Advance, 13 July 1883.

In fact, by 1883, Charity Taylor had been living in western Michigan for decades.

Kingsberry Taylor married Charity Jones on 4 July 1846 in Nash County, North Carolina. Both were free people of color. Jones for certain and Taylor likely lived in a section of Nash County that became Wilson County in 1855.

The couple immediately migrated to Indiana. In the 1850 census of Madison township, Jefferson County, Indiana: laborer Kingsberry Taylor, 29, owner of $100 real estate, born in N.C.; wife Charity, 20, born in N.C.; and daughter Sarah A., 3, born in Indiana. All were classified as mulatto.

They did not stay long. Mid-decade, the family moved more than 300 miles due north in Allegan County, Michigan. Per the History of Allegan and Berry Counties, Michigan, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Their Men and Pioneers (1880), Kingsbury Taylor was one of ten men who bought land in Section 28 of Cheshire township between 1852 and 1858. “A considerable proportion of the population are of the colored race, who merit notice in a history of Cheshire [township]. As a class they stand well for both sobriety, and industry. Many of them have farms upon which comfortable houses are built, and the land of which is improved and well maintained. They also have two church organizations, to which a liberal support is accorded, and of which mention is made farther on. They are by no means the least influential of the citizens of the township, and have won much credit for the ambition they display in their farming pursuits and the good reputation they have established in all their social relations. The first colored men to settle in the township were C. Tomison and K. Taylor, who located on the southwest quarter of section 28. The land owned by the colored people was mostly bought of the Indians when they departed.”

In the 1860 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan: Kingsbury Taylor, 35, farmer, owned $400/real property, $250/personal property, born in N.C.; wife Charity, 30, born in N.C.; and daughter Sarah A., 13, born in Indiana.

In the 1870 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan: Kingsbury Taylor, 52, farmer, owned $2500/real estate, born in N.C.; wife Charity, 42, born in N.C.; and daughter Sarah A., 22, born in Indiana.

In the 1880 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan: Kingsbury Taylor, 61, farmer, born in N.C.; wife Charrita, 48, born in N.C.; and daughter Sarah A. Brown, 33, divorced, born in Indiana.

On 17 September 1880, Foster H. Maxwell, 42, mason, of Manger, Michigan, born in Ross County, Ohio, married Sarah A.J. Taylor, 33, divorced, of Cheshire, Michigan, born in Jefferson County, Indiana, in Bloomingdale, Michigan. The marriage entry noted that they were black. [Maxwell was a Civil War veteran, having served in Co. D, 102nd United States Colored Infantry.]

Charity Taylor died 16 April 1891 in Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan. Per her death certificate, she was 63 years old; was born in N.C. to Wilis Jones and Sarah Jones; and was a farmer.

Illustrated Atlas of Allegan County, Michigan (1895). (Would that these types of plat maps existed everywhere.)

In the 1900 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan: widower Kinbury Taylor, 82, farmer, and granddaughter Nina Maxwell, 19.

In the 1900 census of Springfield, Clark County, Ohio: Sarah Maxwell, 52, and daughters Dayette, 18, and Christina, 14. All were classified as white. Sarah was married, and three of her five children were living. 

On 5 June 1900, in Allegan County Circuit Court, Foster H. Maxwell, 59, was granted a divorce from Sarah A. Maxwell, 45, on the grounds of desertion.

Kingsbury Taylor died 3 November 1906 in Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan. Per his death certificate, 

The Hartford Day Spring (Hartford, Michigan), 14 November 1906.

In the 1910 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County: Sarah A. Maxwell, 62, “own income,” and daughter Dayetta, 27.

In the 1920 census of Allegan, Allegan County: at 634 Academy, widow Sarah A. Maxwell, 72.

In the 1930 census of Allegan, Allegan County: at 634 Academy, owned and valued at $1000, widow Sarah A. Maxwell, 82, and granddaughter Betty A., 6.

Sarah Ann Maxwell died 11 September 1938 in Allegan, Michigan. Per her death certificate, she was born 29 August 1847 in Madison, Indiana, to Kingsburg Taylor and Charity Jones, both of Wilson, N.C.; was the widow of Foster Maxwell; lived at 634 Academy Street; and was buried in Lindsley Cemetery, Allegan. Dayette Maxwell was informant.

Kingsberry and Charity Jones Taylor were also buried in Lindsley Cemetery. 

Christine Charity Maxwell Chandler (1885-1937), daughter of Foster H. and Sarah A. Taylor Maxwell.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user PatriciaPhillips212.

“I didn’t want red. … Well, you know why.”

The pandemic has shuttered Vanilla Powell Beane‘s millinery shop, but could not stop her from creating a hat especially for Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri. Now This Politics delivers the take:

Charles S. Darden’s groundbreaking legal work against segregation.

In 2018, the City of Los Angeles nominated the Cordary Family Residence and Pacific Ready-Cut Cottage at 1828 South Gramercy Place, Los Angeles, California, for historic-cultural monument designation. 

Page 13 of the nomination form contains this arresting statement: “Until recently the case of Benjamin Jones and Fanny Guatier, Plaintiffs v. Berlin Realty Company, a corporation, Defendant, has been an obscure footnote to history. But observers are now not just rediscovering the case itself, but also reminding us that the legal arguments against racial covenants used by Plaintiffs’ attorney Charles S. Darden in this case — and adopted by the Los Angeles Superior Court judge in ruling favorably for the Plaintiffs — preceded and foresaw what became the notable winning argument of later precedent-setting “Sugar Hill” case that took place in Los Angeles in 1945.” That case, involving actors Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers‘ fight against racially restrictive covenants, is credited with being the first to cite the 14th Amendment as justification for overturning such covenants. That recognition, however, more properly belongs to Jones and Gautier — and the arguing attorney, Wilson’s own Charles S. Darden — which has been overlooked because it did not rise to California’s Court of Appeals. Read more about Darden’s innovative arguments below.

Studio shots, no. 170: the William D. Lucas family.

William D. and Neppie Ann Woods Lucas and children. Ettrick Marion Lucas is at right in white collar. This photo was likely taken in the late 1890s in Arkansas, a few years after the family migrated from North Carolina.

William D. Lucas, grandson of William and Neppie W. Lucas, and wife Henrietta Lucas.

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In the 1860 census of Coopers township, Nash County: farm laborer Chordy Locus, 26; wife Jinsey, 24; and children William, 2, and John, 1 month.

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Cordie Lucas, 35; wife Quincy, 35; and children William, 10, Arnold, 9, Lahary, 7, Sidney, 5, Willie, 3, and Olivia, 1 month.

In the 1880 census of Coopers township, Nash County: Corda Lucus, 46; wife Jincy Jane, 45; and children William, 21, Arnold. Jno., 20, L.A. Jane, 17, Sidney E., 14, J. Wiley, 12, Livy A., 10, Martha A., 4, and Moning, 1.

On 3 February 1886, W.D. Lucas, 27, of Nash County, and Neppie Ann Wood, 21, of Franklin County, were married at Read Wood’s residence in Franklin County.

In the 1900 census of Madison township, Saint Francis County, Arkansas: farmer William D. Lucas, 42; wife Neffie, 35; and children William, 13, John, 12, Ettric, 9, Askew, 6, Peter, 5, and Emma, 2; and adopted daughter Della Short, 16. All but the youngest four children were born in North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Telico township, Saint Francis County, Arkansas: farmer William D. Lucas, 43; wife Neppie A., 40; sons Askew W., 16, Ettrick M., 18, and Peter W., 13; adopted sister Dellar Short, 30; and Lula Wood, 17. 

In 1918, William Lucas registered for the World War I draft in Saint Francis County, Arkansas. Per his registration card, he was born 30 November 1883; Lived in Forrest City, Arkansas; worked as an express driver for Wells-Fargo Express Company; and his contact was Anna Lucas.

In the 1920 census of Telico township, Saint Francis County, Arkansas: farmer Wm. Lucas, 60; wife Neppie, 53; son Ettrick, 28; grandchildren Susie, 7, Leonard, 6, William D., 4, and Linda, 3; cousin Leo Tabron, 8; and boarders Della Short, 45, Roy Allen, 19, and Louis Jones, 23.

Neppie A. Lucas died 13 September 1928 in Caldwell, Telico township, Saint Francis County, Arkansas. Per her death certificate, she was 63 years old; was born in North Carolina to Bill and Amanda Ritch; and was married to William D. Lucas. She was buried in Goodlow cemetery.

In the 1930 census of Telico township, Saint Francis County, Arkansas: on Shiloh Dirt Road, cotton farmer William D. Lucas, 62; wife Lucy, 54; grandchildren Sussie, 15, Leonard, 15, Annie L., 13, William D., Jr., 14, and Lenda, 12; and adopted daughter Della, 45. 

On 8 January 1934, Saint Francis Chancery Court granted William D. Lucas a divorce from Lucy Lucas on the grounds of desertion. They had married in 1929.

On 6 August 1935, William D. Lucas, 76, of Forrest City, Saint Francis County, married Martha Grady, 52, also of Forrest City, in Clay County, Arkansas.

In the 1940 census of Telico township, Saint Francis County, Arkansas: farmer W.D. Lucas, 81; son Ettric Marion Lucas, 48; grandson William, 25, granddaughter-in-law Henrietta, 17, and great-grandchildren James Earl, 2, and Leon Lucas, 1; Della Short, 59, adopted daughter; and Arnold Lucas, 7, great-grandson.

William D. Lucas died 7 September 1951 in Caldwell, Saint Francis County, Arkansas. Per his death certificate, he was born 26 January 1880 [actually, about 1858] in North Carolina to Corda Lucas and an unknown mother; was a widower; and a farmer. E.M. Lucas was informant.

Photos courtesy of Europe Ahmad Farmer.

Cornelia Bass Reddick of Richmond, Virginia.

I wrote in October about Richmond’s Friends of East End, the all-volunteer non-profit which, until recently, was working to reclaim historic East End Cemetery and transform it into “a public site of memory, contemplation, and beauty that honors Richmond’s black community and history.”

F.O.E.E. has turned its attention to neglected corners of Woodland Cemetery, another historic Black cemetery in Richmond, and dedicated yesterday’s find — the gravestone of Wilson County native Cornelia Reddick — to Lane Street Project!

Cornelia Reddick Died Aug. 23, 1928 Heliotrope Lodge 12 I.O. King David

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In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Bass, 41.

On 16 January 1880, Charles Bass, 51, married Rhoda A. Jordan, 23, at C. Bass’ [probably Charles Bass] residence. Justice of the Peace David G.W. Ward performed the ceremony.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Charles Bass, 51; wife Rhoda, 23; and an unnamed four month-old infant daughter. [This child was Cornelia Bass Reddick.]

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Bass, 71, widower, and son James, 10. 

Cornelia Bass’ life has proved exceptionally difficult to track. We know, however, that sometime prior to 1928, she married equally elusive tobacco worker Henry Reddick. They appear together in the 1928 Richmond, Virginia, city directory: Reddick Henry (c; Cornelia) lab 506-A E Clay

Cornelia Reddick died 23 August 1928 at her home in Richmond, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 51 years old; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Charles and Roda Bass; was married to Henry Reddick; and lived at 506 East Clay, Richmond. 

UPDATED: Reddick’s gravestone indicates affiliation with Heliotrope Lodge Number 12, Imperial Order of King David. Friends of East End corrected my guess at the name of this fraternal organization, founded in Richmond in 1908.

Richmond Planet, 15 November 1930.

Georgia Burke cheered on Broadway.

Jet magazine, 10 April 1952.

Though a native of Georgia, Georgia Burke spent at least ten years in Wilson, teaching third and fourth grade (and coaching basketball and tennis) to the children of the Colored Graded School and the Wilson Normal and Industrial Institute. She was one of the eleven teachers who walked off the job in support of Mary C. Euell in 1918 and, in 1921, was involved in another incident in which “a race riot was narrowly averted.” Burke auditioned for a Broadway on a lark in 1928, got the role, and never returned to teaching.

Other suns: Connecticut.

Connecticut drew a share of the Great Migration, with Wilson County migrants settling mostly in greater Hartford or in cities along the Long Island Sound coastline.

  • Artis, Silas A., New Haven, bef. 1917
  • Dyson, Jake and Catherine Dyson and son James A., New Britain, ca. 1917
  • Batts, Frank, and Jennie Jones Batts, and children James, Ernest, and John, Portland, Middlesex and New Haven, bef. 1924
  • McDaniel, Fred A., Stratford, bef. 1930 (prior, in New York)
  • Coley, George, New Haven, bef. 1935
  • Artis, John L., Albert Artis and Isaac L. Sellars, brothers, Greenwich, bef. 1940
  • Gaston, John L., New Haven, bef. 1942
  • Norfleet, Samuel, Kensington, bef. 1942
  • Norfleet, James, New Britain, bef. 1942
  • Carter, M. Elmer, Hartford, bef. 1942 (prior, in Penna. and N.Y.)
  • Williams, Willie, Fairfield, bef. 1942
  • Jones, Raymond, New Haven, bef. 1942
  • Jones, John, New Haven, bef. 1942
  • Jones, Joseph G., New Haven, bef. 1942
  • Smith, James W., New London, bef. 1944
  • Hodge, James L., New Haven, bef. 1947