Artis

Snaps, no. 77: James W. Cooper.

Curating Black Wide-Awake brings innumerable rewards, among them making surprise connections between people I’ve known all my life and people who pop up in records. Even better, sometimes those connections hit home.

I made a startling discovery a couple of weeks ago when I was updating my family tree with information I found in cousin Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook. The material included several funeral programs, including one for Alberta Artis Cooper. This wasn’t new to me; I featured it here. But, looking for obituaries for Alberta Cooper’s children, I found that of her son, John Hardy Cooper. I studied the names of his children … Frances Cooper BynumChristine Cooper Barnes … Wait — what?

I’ve been friends with the children of these sisters since middle school — and we’re cousins!

… but not in the way I first thought.

Though she reared him as her own, John H. Cooper was actually Alberta Artis Cooper’s step-son, the son of James W. Cooper and his first wife, Susannah (or Susie Anna). But Susannah Cooper was also an Artis — the daughter of Richard Artis and Susannah Yelverton Artis. Richard Artis (1849-1923) was the youngest brother of Adam T. Artis, who was Alberta Artis Cooper’s father (and my great-great-great-grandfather.) Thus, James W. Cooper’s wives were first cousins, a not-uncommon phenomenon in small communities in that time.

So, having already featured Alberta Artis Cooper, here is James William Cooper:

James W. Cooper (1886-1967), who, as president of Tobacco Workers Union Local 270, worked to improve working conditions for leaf house workers.

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In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wilson County: farmer George Cooper, 46; wife Stellar, 40; and children Arrettor, 22, George B., 16, Juley, 14, James, 12, Mary, 10, Maggie, 7, Bessie, 4, and Royal, 3 months.

James Cooper, 21, of Wayne County, son of George and Stella Cooper, married Susie A. Artis, 19, of Wayne County, daughter of Richard and Susanna Artis, on 6 December 1905 at Richard Artis’ residence in Nahunta township, Wayne County.

James Cooper married Alberta Artis on 18 July 1918 in Kings County, New York.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Brick House and Moore School Road, James Cooper, 33, farmer; wife Alberta, 20; and son Albert Horton, 1.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: James Cooper, 39, farmer; wife Alberta, 26; and children Elija, 21, Albert, 10, Mollie A., 8, Willard M., 5, Lauzin, 3, Annie M., 7 months; sister Oretter Bailey, 45; and niece Irene Artis, 18.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Cooper, 54, farmer; wife Alberta, 40; and children Marilyn, 18, Willard, 15, Laurzene, 13, Annie, 11, George, 9, Alberta, 5, Chester, 3, and Lillie, 1.

James William Cooper died 12 February 1967 at his home at 110 Fourth Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 July 1887 in Wayne County to George Cooper and Estelle Smith; worked as a foreman for Jas.I. Miller Co.; and was a World War I veteran. Wife Alberta A. Cooper was informant.

Photo courtesy of George Cooper and Frances C. Bynum, via Vernette B. Roberson. Thank you!

Scrapbook chronicles: the matriarch Josephine A. Sherrod.

Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook contained two photos of her mother, Josephine Artis Sherrod (1887-1988). Though not taken on the same day, they were clearly taken within a short span of time and in the same place. They appear to date from the 1950s. (Was the occasion Mother’s Day? Her birthday? Both were in May.) I have not yet identified the two-story house in the background.

Handwritten in pencil on the back of this image: “To my baby, Love Mother.”

Ernest L. Artis Jr., Atlantic City ’45, Lincoln ’49.

The Herald, the yearbook of Atlantic City High School, Atlantic City, N.J., 1945.

Born in Wilson in 1928, Ernest Lee Artis Jr. and his parents Ernest and Louise Artis joined the Great Migration during the early years of the Depression.

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On 13 June 1923, Ernest Artis, 21, of Fountain, son of Joe and Ella Artis, married Louise McNair, 18, of Plymouth, N.C., daughter of Rufus and Louise McNair, at Louise McNair’s resident at Plymouth, Washington County, N.C.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Artis Ernest L (c; Louise) (Service Barber Shop), h 404 N Vick

In the 1940 census of Atlantic City, Atlantic County, New Jersey: at 700 Ohio Avenue, Ernest Artis, 36, barber; wife Louise, 35, storekeeper; and son Ernest, 12. All were born in North Carolina.

Ernest Lee Artis registered for the World War II draft in Atlantic City in 1946. Per his registration card, he was 27 September 1905 in Wilson County, N.C.; lived at 720 North Ohio Avenue, Atlantic City; his contact was wife Louise Artis; and he was self-employed at 135 North Penn, Atlantic City.

Ernest Artis Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Atlantic City in 1946. Per his registration card, he was born 2 January 1928 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 720 North Ohio Avenue; his contact was friend Anna Butler, 705 North Ohio; and he was a student at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania.

The Lion, the yearbook of Lincoln University, 1949.

Corporal Artis arrives at hospital.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 September 1944.

Columbus Esdella Artis registered for the World War II draft in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1940. Per his draft registration card, he was born 9 June 1918 in Black Creek, North Carolina; lived at 859 Landing Street, Norfolk (updated to Rt. 2 Box 335, Stantonsburg, N.C., then 1423 R Street N.W., Washington, D.C.); his contact was mother Laurine Artis, Stantonsburg; and he worked for Mr. Ferbee, Dependable Company, 617 Boush Street, Norfolk.

[SIdenote: Artis was named for his paternal uncle, undertaker Columbus E. Artis.]

Struck by a falling tree.

William Artis was killed by a falling tree while working “on the roads” somewhere near the current intersection of Lamm Road and Raleigh Road/U.S. Highway 264 Alternate between Wilson and Sims. After an inquest held at Charles H. Darden‘s funeral parlor, a coroner’s jury pronounced Artis’ death accidental. I have not found his death certificate.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 February 1931.

The obituary of Cora Artis.

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Wilson Times, 20 November 1925.

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In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 34; wife Patsey, 35; and children Adeline, 15, Dora, 12, Lornce, 7, Barney, 4, Jane, 2, and Corah, 2 months.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 55; wife Patsie, 58; and children Larnce, 27, Bonnie, 24, James, 22, Cora, 20, and Emma, 17.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 55; wife Patsie, 58; and children Larnce, 27, Bonnie, 24, James, 22, Cora, 20, and Emma, 17.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 69; wife A. Patsy, 64; and daughter Cora, 30.

Cora Artis died 17 November 1925. Her death certificate belied the newspaper’s claim of the heroic efforts of four physicians to save her life, noting her cause of death as “pneumonia stated to us no Doctor.”

The estate of William L. Farmer.

William L. Farmer’s hefty estate file contains multiple references to both enslaved people and free people of color.

From an inventory of assets, a list of enslaved people hired out in 1857 and 1858 — Samson, Blunt, Joshua, Jane and Clarkey.

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A 25 November 1856 inventory of the debts owed to William L. Farmer highlights the web of financial relationships that characterized the largely bankless antebellum South. For many, after land and slaves, their greatest assets consisted of I.O.U.’s.

Green Lassiter (and his sister Rachel Lassiter?) seems to have been one of the largest debtors.

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Terrell Parker‘s $11.32 debt to Farmer was declared “bad,” i.e. uncollectible.

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As were those of many others, including Gray Boseman …

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… another of Green Lassiter’s …

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… the $1.25 Silas Lassiter owed …

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… the $7.50 John R. Locus owed …

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…  the $3.25 Warren Artis owed …

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… debts by Timothy Howard, Lawrence Hagans, Zealous Howard, and James Howard …

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… and another $5.57 owed by Warren Artis.

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Benjamin Thorn hired out Joshua for a year. Jane went to Archibald Roes, and Sampson to Henry Armstrong. The estate paid Evins Baker five dollars to care for Clarky.

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“They are to have 3 soots of Cloths & three pair of shoes one of woolen one hat & one Blanket” Henry Crumpley hired out Daniel for the year, and W.G. Sharp hired Ben. Though both were described as “boys,” their hire prices suggest they were young men in their prime.

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On 6 April 1860, “negro Ben” required a visit to Dr. James G. Armstrong.

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This remarkable document, the only one of its kind I’ve seen, is a receipt for the late fall purchase of goods for Farmer’s slaves — seven blankets, seven pairs of shoes, five wool hats, 18 and-a-half yards of osnaburg, five yards of linsey, one pair of coarse boots, and 29 years of kersey. Osnaburg was a coarse, stiff fabric woven from flax or jute and commonly used to make garments for enslaved people. Linsey (or linsey-woolsey) was another coarse cotton and wool fabric. Kersey was a dense woolen fabric.

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In 27 August 1856, shortly before he died, Farmer gave Rachel Lassiter a note for $15.59, which could have represented money borrowed or more likely services rendered or goods sold.

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On 14 July 1857, Farmer’s administrator, Augustin Farmer, paid Green Lassiter $16.42 to settle a debt.

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William L. Farmer Estate File (1856), Wilson County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.