A suit alleging seduction claimed a tort action under the law. Here, Nathan Blackwell, acting in the place of deceased Edwin Blackwell, filed to recover damages for the seduction by Walter Kersey of his niece (or cousin?) Mary Ella Blackwell, a minor. (I do not know if their “relationship” was consensual or forced, but it likely resulted in a pregnancy.) Kersey, like the Blackwells, was a migrant to Indianapolis from Wilson County and was about twenty years Mary Ella’s senior.
A year later, Mary Ella married a man three times her age. On 27 January 1897, Mary Ella Blackwell, 17, born in North Carolina to Edwin and H. Blackwell, married Thomas Parsons, 50, born in North Carolina to Jefferson Parsons and Zilphia Burns, in Indianapolis.
But the relationship did not last: in the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: Hattie Blackwell, 43, widowed laundress, and children Mary, 29, divorced laundress, and John, 23, coal yards worker, single. All were born in North Carolina.
In 1917, Avery Johnson registered for the World War I draft in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Per his registration card, he was born 25 June 1891 in Marietta, N.C.; lived at 636 Green, Wilson; worked as a laborer for Worth Bros., Coatesville, Pennsylvania; and had a wife and one child.
In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Avery Johnson, 27; wife Carrie, 24; and children Evaline, 2, and John L., two months.
The child who died in the oil can explosion was a son, John Elry Johnson, not a daughter. He was two weeks past his second birthday.
Avery Johnson’s wife Carrie Wingate Johnson also succumbed to her injuries, after four days of suffering.
From the chapter concerning Wilson County in the 1890 edition of Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory:
Bass, Joseph — in the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Ruffus Bass, 48; wife Caroline, 35; and children Joseph, 16, Annie W., 14, Rufus, 12, Francis, 10, Simon, 7, Isadora, 5, James H., 3, and John W., 1.
An anonymous writer submitted this tribute to Henrietta Hill for publication in the 27 April 1928 Wilson Daily Times. It contains a rare detail of Hill’s early life — that she “escaped” to Wilson with her unnamed owners during the Civil War when the Union army captured Washington, N.C. The daughter mentioned was Cecilia Hill Norwood, and the A.C.L. railroad station was the precursor to the 1924 Flemish-style building that stands today.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Henry Hill, 35, blacksmith; wife Henrietta, 29; and children Celicia [Cecilia], 9, Robert, 4, and James H., 1.
On 28 February 1895, Celia A. Hill, 22, daughter of H. and H. Hill, married Richard Norwood, 21, son of B. Norwood of Chatham County, in Wilson. Episcopal minister J.W. Perry performed the ceremony at Saint Marks in the presence of John H. Clark, B.R. Winstead and S.A. Smith.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: odd jobs laborer Richard Norward, 36; wife Celia, 34, public school teacher; Robert T., 14, Richard V., 15, Christine, 11, and Henry E., 8; mother Henry E. [Henrietta] Hill, 65, depot janitoress; Mack Peacock, 17, doctor’s office servant; and Joe Burnett, 17, hotel servant.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 134 Pender Street, Heneretta Hill, 70, A.C.L. railroad matron; Celia W. Hill, 40, teacher; Cora A. Hill, 27, teacher; Hazell Hill, 16; Christina Hill, 19; Barlee Hill, 22, laborer; Rosa Hicks, 22; and Archer Martin, 14.
On 19 July 1922, Hill drafted a will in which she passed all her property to her daughter Ceciia Norwood after payment of debts for “drugs and medical attention” and other expenses.
Henrietta Hill died 21 April 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 78 years old; was a widow; lived at 205 Pender; was a retired maid for A.C.L. station; and was born in Washington, N.C., to Robert Cherry and Martha Goodyear of Washington, N.C. Cecilia Norwood was informant.
Thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for sharing the clipping.
Daisy Unas, nee Battle, applied to the United States District Court in Boston to take an oath of allegiance to the United States on 28 March 1942. Per her application, she was born 12 April 1888 in Wilson, North Carolina; lived at 144 Worcester Street, Roxbury; had a dark complexion, brown eyes, and black/gray hair; was 5’7″, 180 pounds; married Henry Unas on 27 November 1908 in Boston; and believed she had lost her citizenship by marrying a subject of Great Britain. Daisy Unas took the oath of renunciation and allegiance on 6 April 1942.
In the 1900 census of Portsmouth, Virginia: Lizzie Battle, 40, laundress, born in Virginia; children Charlie, 18, teamster, Lee J., 13, day laborer, Daisy, 11, and Sylvester, 8; and boarder Ross George, 32, day laborer. Sylvester was born in Virginia; the other children in North Carolina.
On 27 November 1908, Henry Unas, 22, resident of 1 East Lenox Street, seaman, born Barbuda, West Indies, to Thomas Unas and Frances Webber, married Daisy Battle, 23, resident of same, cook, born in Durham, N.C., to William Battle and and Sarah James.
In the 1910 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: widow Elizabeth Battle, 38, born in Virginia, washing; daughter Daisey E. Eunice, 20, born in North Carolina, domestic; son-in-law Henry Eunice, 24, Spanish West Indies, collard laborer; and granddaughter Marion, 3.
In 1918, Henry Alfred Unas registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 24 September 1884 in “Great Britain, West Indies;” lived at 69 Ruggles Street, Roxbury; worked as a longshoreman for United Fruits Company; and his wife was Dasie Unas.
In the 1920 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: at 24 Westminster Avenue, Henry A. Unis, 36, furniture expressman, born in British West Indies; wife Daisy A., 33; and children Marion U., 12, and Alice G., 5.
In the 1930 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: at 24 Westminster Avenue, owned and valued at $3000, Henry Alfred Unas, 43, born in Barbuda, West Indies, employed as “expressing-moving”; wife Daisy U., 43, born in North Carolina; and children Alice S., 14, and Doris P., 3; and nephew Paul C. Galloway, 8. Unas immigrated in 1908.
In the 1940 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: at 31 Eustis, Dasey Unes, 52; nephew Paul Galloway, 18; and daughter Doris Unes, 13.
In the 1942 Boston, Massachusetts, city directory: Unas Daisy A Mrs dom h 31 Eustis Rox[bury]
Henry Alfred Unas petitioned for naturalization on 1 October 1945. Per his petition, he was born 24 September 1889 in Barbuda, British West Indies; lived at 23 Westminster Street, Roxbury; had a dark complexion, brown eyes, and black hair; was 6’1″, 175 pounds; married Daisy on 27 November 1908; had two children, both born in Boston, Alice, 12 May 1916, and Doris, 12 November 1967; and migrated into the United States from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, on 15 October 1906.
On 10 January 1899, Lumas Cotton, 21, of Nash County, son of John and Puss Cotton, married Annie Finch, 19, of Nash County, daughter of Z.D. and Minnie Finch, in Oldfields township, Wilson County.
In the 1900 census of Bailey township, Nash County: farmer Lumis Cotton, 20, and wife Annie, 19.
In the 1910 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Lumis Cotton, 31; wife Annie, 30; and children Chester A., 10, Onnie, 8, Claudie, 7, Lillie M., 5, George W., 3, and John G., 9 months.
In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Raleigh Road, farmer Lumas Cotton, 39; wife Annie, 39; and children Arthur, 19, Ormie, 18, Claud, 16, Lillie May, 14, George W., 11, John S., 10, Joe Brandice, 8, Velmer, 6, Thelmer, 4, Maggie Lee, 3, and Minnie Ann, 1 month.
Loomis Cotton died 19 March 1924 in Bailey township, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 March 1881 in Nash County to John Cotton of Wilson County and Charity Taylor of Johnston County; was married to Annie Cotton; and was a farmer.
In the 1930 census of Bailey township, Nash County: farmer John Z. Cotton, 21; widowed mother Annie, 52; and siblings Joe B., 19, Thelma, 16, Maggie, 13, Menda, 11, and Dosie M., 8.
In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: laundry presser Richard Tarbor, 26; wife Doshie, 24; sister-in-law Maggie Perry, 24, widow; niece Mary Harris, 6; and mother-in-law Annie Ricks, 59, widow. The women all worked as housekeepers.
Annie Finch Cotton Ricks died 6 March 1977 in Baltimore, Maryland.
“I was contacted recently by someone at the library at UNC Chapel Hill concerning a question they had received from Joyce Busenbark of Statesville. Busenbark had discovered a 1935 patient discharge paper from the old Davis Hospital on West End Avenue. The names of the patient had been blacked out, meaning it had been discarded at some point, but she noticed something curious. Under the heading of ‘Discharged’ were the words ‘To Daisy’s.’ Not knowing what Daisy’s meant, she had contacted the library at UNC. When I first heard that a patient had been discharged to Daisy’s I drew a blank as well. Was some smart aleck saying this person had died and was now ‘pushing up daisies’?
“One clue was the fact that the patient was listed as ‘colored.’ After some research, I discovered that the patient had actually been discharged to the care and home of Daisy Conner Robinson. Daisy’s husband, Thomas Robinson, was deceased and she was known locally in Statesville by her maiden name of Daisy Conner. In the 1930 Statesville City Directory, she is shown living at 249 Garfield St., right at the Green Street intersection. The entry for 249 also says ‘Colored Branch Davis Hospital’ and below the listing for Davis Hospital is another entry that reads, ‘Davis Hospital, colored branch, 249 Garfield, Daisy Robinson nurse.’ Some of the older members of the black community in Statesville explained what was going on.
“Davis Hospital was opened in December 1925. Please note that I am referring to the old Davis Hospital, 709 W. End Ave., in 1930, and not the modern one on Old Mocksville Road. During those early years, Davis Hospital treated black patients in what locals called the ‘basement,’ separate from the white patients. Black patients were not allowed to stay overnight in the hospital and if they were seriously ill or injured and needed to be hospitalized, they were discharged to Daisy’s home on Garfield.
“Daisy was a black nurse who was born Dec. 4, 1892, in Catawba County. She cared for the black patients from the mid-’20s until the early ’40s. The unknown patient had received an appendectomy in 1935 and the discharge paper said ‘Going to Daisy’s tonight.’
“Daisy’s address at 249 Garfield placed her close to Dr. Robert S. Holliday at 241 Garfield. Holliday was a black physician in Statesville and could have helped with the patients under Daisy’s care. Holliday’s wife was Mary Charlton Holliday who was over the black schools in Iredell County from 1915 to 1956.
“Daisy died on Jan. 6, 1947, at age 54, from tuberculosis probably caught from a patient she cared for. Her funeral was held at First Baptist Church on Green Street. She is listed as being buried in the ‘colored cemetery,’ now known as the Green Street Cemetery, but there appears to be no headstone. The house is gone now and we have been unable to find a photograph of either Daisy or the house. Her daughter, Pheonia R. Smith, lived at 528 Falls St., with her husband, John R. Smith, until her death on June 11, 1965.”
Joel Reese, Statesville Recorder & Landmark, 11 March 2014.
In the 1930 census of Statesville, Iredell County: at 249 Garfield Street, rented for $20/month, widow Daisy Robinson, 39, hospital annex nurse; son Samuel Robinson, 19, grocery store delivery boy; cousin Henriettie Abernethy, 13; roomers Horace Locket, 21, motor company machinist, and widow Louise Sherrill, 45; grandson Lonnie Bernard, 5; and roomer Isabella Knox, 17, maid.
In the 1940 census of Statesville, Iredell County: at 249 Garfield Street, rented for $12/month, widow Daisy Robinson, 39, private hospital nurse; widow Janie Connor, 70, mother-in-law; grandson Lonnie Smith, 15; and nephew Odel Abernethy, 18.
Daisy Robinson died 6 January 1947 on Garfield Street, Statesville. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 December 1894 in Catawba County, North Carolina, to W.N. Connor and Janie Abernathy; was the widow of Thomas Robinson; and worked as a nurse.
In the 1900 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farmer Ben Tillery, 60; wife Charity, 55; and children James, 26, Jacob, 23, Prissilla, 18, William, 16, George, 14, and Claud, 12.
In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilbanks and Elm City Road, odd jobs laborer Benjamin Tilery, 70; wife Chary, 68; and children Pricilla, 33, and Claudius, 21, farm laborer.
Pricilla Tillery died 13 March 1929 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, he was 52 years old; single; born in Edgecombe County to Ben Tillery of Halifax County and Cherry Williams of Wilson County; buried in Elm City. Jane Ruffin, Elm City was informant.
I have not identified the school at which Priscilla Tillery worked.
Just months after Eugene B. Drake bought her in 1863, 23 year-old Rebecca was gone. Desperate to recoup his investment, Drake posted this remarkably detailed reward notice in newspapers well beyond Statesville. After precisely noting her physical features, Drake noted that Rebecca was “an excellent spinner” and “believed to be a good weaver, and said she was a good field hand.” (He had not had the chance to see for himself.) Rebecca may have helped herself to the products of her own labor, carrying away several dresses, as well as “new shoes.” Drake had purchased her from one of Richmond’s notorious slave dealers, but she was from Milton, in Caswell County, North Carolina, just below the Virginia line and southeast of Danville. There, Rebecca had been torn from her child and other relatives. Drake believed she was following the path of the newly opened North Carolina Railroad, which arced from Charlotte to Goldsboro, perhaps to seek shelter with acquaintances near Raleigh. He offered a $150 reward for her arrest and confinement.
Daily Progress (Raleigh, N.C.), 23 November 1863.
A year later, Drake was again paying for newspaper notices, this time for the return of his “slave man” Milledge, also called John, who had also absconded in new clothes and shoes. Drake again provided precise a physical description of the man, down to his slow, “parrot-toed” walk. Milledge/John had procured counterfeit free papers and a travel pass, and Drake believed he was aiming 200 miles south to Augusta, Georgia, probably on trains.
Carolina Watchman (Salisbury, N.C.), 28 December 1864.
I don’t know whether Drake recaptured either Rebecca or Milledge/John. If he did, the rewards he paid were money wasted. The Confederacy surrendered in April 1865, and thereafter he owned no one.