Artis

Her love drew her back.

I have written here and here of the children of Jonathan and Margaret Dew Artis, who migrated from Wilson County to Putnam County, Indiana, in the 1870s. The Artis family seems to have followed family there, as a sad newspaper story reveals Margaret’s cousin Esther Due in Indiana, too.

Esther Due was born about 1879 in Wilson County, North Carolina, to Edwin Due [Dew] and Adaline Barefoot (or Deans) Due. The family migrated to Indiana when Esther was an infant. On 2 July 1898, Esther gave birth in Putnam County to a son Raymond Due, whose father was white.

The boy was placed with an African-American foster family, who sought to adopt him.

Greencastle Banner, 28 April 1899.

They appear in the 1900 census of Greencastle, Putnam County, Indiana: Virginia-born gardener John T. Fox, 32; wife Luella, 31; and son Raymond F. Fox, 1.

Things did not go well though. In December 1899, newspapers ran articles with varying details, but telling one essential story — Esther Due had taken her son from the Foxes and gone to Indianapolis. They lodged briefly with her cousin Margaret Artis, but were not allowed to stay. Due then entered a rescue mission for unwed women, Door of Hope.

Indianapolis’ Door of Hope Mission. Undated photo courtesy of IUPUI University Library.

Seemingly dissatisfied with her situation at the mission, and unable otherwise to care for the boy, Due left him in a stranger’s front yard.

Indianapolis Sun, 22 December 1900.

Indianapolis Journal, 22 December 1900.

Greencastle Star Press, 29 December 1900.

I have found nothing further about Raymond Due, alias Fox. His mother died 10 November 1904 in Putnam County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 26 April 1879 in North Carolina to Edward Due and Ida Barefoot; was single; worked as a domestic; and was buried in Brick Chapel cemetery.

——

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: domestic servant Lucy Sanders, 45; farm laborers Ollen Womble, 19, Edwin Due, 15, and Tony Rountree, 23; and farm laborer Seth Deems, 22, (his wife?) Eliza, 20, and Dinah, 2.

Edwin Dew, 23, and Adaline Deans, 19, were married 10 September 1876 at Virgil Deans’ in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Jefferson township, Putnam County, Indiana: Edward Dew, 25, works on farm; wife Adaline, 20; and children James A., 2, and Easter A., 1.

In the 1900 census of Edwin Due, 48; wife Addie, 39; and children Arthur, 22, Easter, 21, Edwin Jr., 17, Ida A., 16, Lizza, 14, Mary E., 12, Edith, 11, John, 9, Joseph, 7, Eva, 4, and Marshal, 1. Addie reported 12 of 14 children living. The first two listed here were born in North Carolina; the remaining in Indiana.

Adeline Due died 2 November 1902 in Monroe township, Putnam County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 July 1860 in North Carolina to Nicodemus Taylor and Anna Barefoot and was married to Ed Due. She was buried in Brick Chapel cemetery.

In the 1910 census of : Edwin Due, 56, farmer; wife Tena, 55; children Johnnie, 18, Joseph, 16, Eva, 13, Marshal, 12, and Lorenzo, 10; and mother-in-law Olive Howell, 82.

Per his headstone in Brick Chapel cemetery, Edwin Due died in 1921.

 

Rest in peace, Grace Whitehead Artis.

I grew up in a forest of teachers — my parents, their friends, my aunts and uncles, our neighbors. Every Black teacher I had during my elementary years was a woman I already knew away from school, which was both comforting and a little uncomfortable. They cared, and they didn’t need to wait for parent-teacher conferences to voice their concerns.

Grace Whitehead Artis was my sixth-grade math teacher. She had a slightly gruff voice and a reputation for sternness, but her eyes twinkled beneath her crown of swept-back curls. I saw her wheeling her Cadillac through the neighborhood regularly and knew she and her husband S.P. Artis thought the world of my parents. Fairly soon after school began, she called my mother directly. “Get Lisa’s eyes checked,” she counseled. “She’s solving problems correctly, but they’re not the equations I’m writing on the blackboard.” Weeks later, I was peering at the world in trendy aviator frames, marveling at details like pine needles high up in the trees.

Mrs. Artis passed away early this month at age 104. She had moved to Detroit a few years ago to be near a niece, so it had been a while since my father had stopped by to deliver the ice-cold cans of Pepsi-Cola she loved. My mother had been embraced by Mrs. Artis when she arrived in Wilson as a young bride, and she helped celebrate Mrs. Artis’ last birthday via Zoom.

I’ve blogged about Mrs. Artis and her family here and here and here and here and here and here. May she rest in peace, legacy assured.

 

Negroes punish white man.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 December 1920.

The Baltimore Afro-American‘s rather more detailed version of this incident is here. The “negro woman” was Melissa Wilkins. I have not been able to identify her father, who allegedly owned a blind tiger.

  • James Dickerson
  • Henry Elons
  • Bill Artis
  • Edgar Artis

Snaps, no. 82: Artis cousins.

Beulah Artis Exum Best (1909-1972), Helen Carter Greenfield (1916-1994), Margaret Artis Thompson (1910-1981), circa late 1930s.

Beulah and Margaret Artis were daughters of William M. and Etta Diggs Artis, and Helen was the granddaughter of their father’s sister Louvicey Artis Aldridge. Though William M. Artis and family lived primarily just south of Eureka in Wayne County, he owned property a few miles away in Stantonsburg, Wilson County.

Beulah Artis and her first husband, Leslie “Jake” Exum, lived in Wilson from the time they were married in December 1929 until he was killed in July 1934.

Helen Carter Greenfield‘s paternal great-uncle, Jesse A. Jacobs, lived in Wilson, and she and her family lived briefly on Green and Vance Streets in the early 1920s.

Copy of original photo in the collection of the late Helen C. Greenfield.

Artis’ miracle.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 May 1939.

——

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg and Wilson Road, tenant farmer Willie Artis, 43; wife Francis, 43; children Alexander, 21, Harvie, 20, Willie Jr., 16, Nora E., 14, Marion, 11, Rosel, 9, Jessie, 8, Elcy, 5, and Johnie, 18; laborer Miles Warren, 40; and boarder Albert Thompson, 19.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg and Wilson Road, farmer Willie Artis, 53; wife Francis, 42; children Roselle, 19, Jesse, 18, and Elsie M., 15; lodger Myrs Warren, 50; and sister Beatrice Sauls, 19.

On 1 December 1934, Rozell Artis, 23, of Wilson County, son of Will and Frances Artis, married Rencie Bynum, 16, of Wilson County, daughter of William and Rosa Bynum, in Nashville, Nash County, North Carolina. Will Artis, William Bynum, and Frank Williams were witnesses.

Helen Jean Artis died 10 June 1939 in Wilson township [12 days after her father survived his lightning strike.] Per her death certificate, she was born 24 February 1939 in Wilson County to Rosell Artis and Rencie Bynum.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Old Wilson Road, farmer Roselle Artis, 27; wife Rencie, 20; son Milton, 4; mother Frances, 60, widow; nephews Marion Jr., 10, and Thomas S., 9;  lodgers Jimmie D. Barnes, 21, and Miles Warren, 60.

Roselle Artis registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 5 April 1911 in Wilson County; lived at Route 3, Wilson; his nearest contact was his wife Rencie Bynum Artis; and he worked for W.J. Davis, Wilson.

Jimmie Dee Barnes registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 6 January 1918 in Wilson County; lived at Route 3, Wilson; and his nearest contact was his employer Roselle Artis, Route 3, Wilson.

Black businesses, 1913, no. 6: the 200 block of South Goldsboro Street.

Cross-referencing the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Here’s a closer look at the 200 block of South Goldsboro Street, which was dominated by wholesale groceries and small restaurants.

In 1913, before he founded a funeral home, Columbus E. Artis operated a small eatery in a narrow brick building on South Goldsboro Street. Alexander D. Dawson, having closed his fish and oyster stall in the city market, ran a rival eating house across the street. 

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.

——

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.

——

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.