bastardy action

State vs. Felix Godwin.

In January 1867, a Wilson County justice of the peace examined Linda Barnes (colored), who was unmarried, and determined that she had delivered a child whose father was Felix Godwin of Johnston County.

I have not found Linda Barnes in Wilson County records.

However, on 23 January 1867 — 11 days after this warrant issued — Phelix Godwin married Aurelia Smith in Boon Hill township, Johnston County. In the 1880 census of Boon Hill township, Johnston County: farmer Felix Godwin, 52; wife Arena, 28; and children Jane E., 11, and Preston, 8.

Bastardy Bonds-1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

State v. Nathan Locus.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County }

The examination of Georgiana Simpson (Colored), in the said county, single woman, taken on oath before me, Wm.G. Jordan a justice of the peace in and for said county, this 18th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1866, who saith that she is the mother of a child now fifteen months old, and that the said child was born a bastard and likely to become chargeable to the county aforesaid and that Nathan Locus a free man of color , is a father of the said child    Georgiana (X) Simpson

Taken before me and signed the day and year above before written   Wm.G. Jordan J.P.

Both of the above parties were free born


In the 1850 census, Nash County, North Carolina: Delany Locust, 28; Lucy, 25; and Nathan, 12, Henry, 8, Goodson, 6, Nelly, 4, and Mary A., 3.

In the 1860 census of Winstead township, Nash County: housekeeper Delany Locus, 43, and Nathan, 22.

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Ellic Taylor, 34, farm laborer, and wife Lainy, 45; Nathanel Locust, 33, and children Malvina, 11, and Duncan Locust, 4. [Delaney Locus married Alexander Taylor between 1860 and 1870. Duncan Locust may be the son of Georgiana Simpson and Nathan Locus. Simpson does not appear in Wilson or Nash County census record.]

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Nathan Locust, 40, hireling “working about.”

On 13 February 1883, Nathan Lucus, 40, married Sarah Williams, 40, at the Wilson Court House.

Branch Flowers died 27 August 1938 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 65; was born in Wilson County to Nathan Locus and Delsa [Delphia] Flowers, both of Wilson County; was a farmer; and was married to Mary Flowers.

Bastardy Records-1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

State v. Calvin Barnes.

In December 1866, Eliza Barnes was hauled before two justices of the peace to answer some sharp questions. In response, she admitted that she had delivered a baby boy in about July; that she was not married to his father, who was Calvin Barnes; and that she was poor.

The justices issued a warrant for Calvin Barnes:

Calvin Barnes appeared with John Q. Thigpen, a white farmer, to post a two hundred dollar bond for Barnes’ appearance at January term.


Possibly, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: George, 24, Dempsey, 23, Calvin, 22, Esther, 44, Alice, 18, Anna, 19, Robert, 20, and Jane Barnes, 19, all farm laborers.

Also possibly, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Frank Barnes, 55; wife Nicy, 51, and children Edwin, 12, Catharine, 7, and Watson Barnes, 12; with Weltha, 13, and Richard Artis, 21, and Eliza Barnes, 26, and her son Benjamin, 5. [Benjamin possibly the child sworn to in the proceeding above.]

Bastardy Bonds-1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

The once moral man is the father of the bastard child.

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News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 2 November 1909.

Rev. Owen L.W. Smith had, of course, been a Presiding Elder of the A.M.E. Zion Church and United States minister to Liberia. The News & Observer‘s restraint in covering his downfall is especially remarkable when earlier coverage of the affair is considered. The Smith-Moye affair had scandalized black Wilson. Moye not only worked for the church, she was married, and her husband had been driven off by Smith’s peremptory claims to her time. Just as shocking — the magistrate’s dismissal of Smith’s suit!

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News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 27 August 1908. 

“Delia R. Moye” was Delia A. Moye, listed in the 1908 city directory as a teacher residing at Goldsboro near Bank. Also at that address, her teenaged son, porter Albert Moye. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 459 Goldsboro Street, widowed laundress Della Moye, 31, with her children Albert, 17, twins Hattie and Mattie, 9, and Ethel, 2, who was Smith’s child. (In subsequent city directories, too, Delia Moye was described as a laundress. She lost her teaching job as a result of her pregnancy. She also likely was not actually a widow.)

On 18 August 1944, Ethel Mae Moye, 35, daughter of O.L.W. Smith and Della Smith [sic], married David H. Coley, 49, son of W.H. and Luanna Coley, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister W.A. Hilliard performed the ceremony in the presence of C.L. Darden, Norma Darden and Mrs. Ambrose Floyd.

Delia Ann Moye died 19 April 1955 at her home at 1207 East Washington Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 March 1882 in Greene County to Sandy Malone and Mattie [maiden name unknown; was widowed; and was a retired school teacher. Informant was Ethel M. Coley, 1207 East Washington.

State v. Jack Privett.

Documents related to State vs. Jack Privett, a bastardy action arising in Wilson County:

State of North Carolina, Wilson County} On this the 15th day of october 1866 the undersigned a Justis of the peace in and for Said Countey prceed to take examanation of Eliser Smith whereupon she Declars upon her oath that She is with Child which Child when bornd will be a bastard and liable to become charble to Said Countey She futher declars that Jack Privett is the father of her Said child     Eliser (X) Smith

Taken and subscribed before me  /s/ D.A. Scott J.P.


State of North Carolina, Wilson County}    To eney lawful to execute and return within thirtey days Sundays excepted where as Pearcy & Elizer Smith hath this day personally apeard before me and made oath in due form of law that they hath reason to beleave and just cause to fear and dose beleave and fear that Jack Privett (col’d) of your County will burn there house or do them a corporal ingury by killing imprisoning or beating them or that he will procure others so to do and that he is thereby and by reason of the said Jack Privetts threats and menaces and attempts or having lain in wait for them actually under fear of death or bodley harm and where as the said Percy and Elizer Smith complainants hath further make oath that they do not require such surety out of malice or for mere vexation

These are therefore in name of the State to command you to arrest the body of the said Jack Privett and bring him before me or some other justice of the Peace within this County immediately to the end that he may find sureties that he will keep the peace of the state towards the said complainants and all other persons untill the next Term of the Court of Please and Quarter sessions of said County or be commited to Jail in default thereof. Herein fail not Witness my hand and seal this 15th day Oct AD 1866  /s/ D.A. Scott, J.P.

Witness for the State: Ned Smith, Pearcy Smith, Eliza Smith


Privett was arrested the day after this warrant issued. On the back of the warrant, Justice of the Peace William G. Jordan noted that “it is found that the defendant Jack Privett (collored) is guilt of menaces and threats to shoot” Pearcy and Eliza Smith. Privett was unable to post a two hundred dollar bond and was committed to jail until the paternity hearing.

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: South Carolina-born farm laborer Jack Privett, 40; wife Quincy, 32; and daughter Malvinia, 4; plus Adeler Privett, 18, and her likely children Jane, 3, and Eli, 9 months.

Eliza Smith, age 65, died 14 July 1915 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Her death certificate lists her parents as Henry Smith and Percy Horne. In the 1870 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: Henry Smith, 41, wife Pearcy, 38, and daughter Eliza, 18, with other children (including a three year-old, James H. Smith, who may have been Eliza’s baby.)

Bastardy Records, Miscellaneous Records, Records of Wilson County, North Carolina State Archives.


State vs. Nathan A. Blackwell.

BLACKWELL -- Nathan Blackwell Bastardy Action_Page_1

State of North Carolina, Wilson County  }

On this the 24 day of April 1866 the undersigned a Justice of the peace in and for said County proceeded to take examination of Delpha Locus whereupon she declares upon her oath that she has bin deliverd of a Child which child is a bastard and liable to become chargeable to said County her child Edwin is a male bastard of the age of two years and eight month old being less than three years old,

She further declares that Nathan A. Blackwell is the father of her said child.   Delpha (X) Locus

Taken and subscribed before me     Jos. F. Mercer {seal}


It appears that Edwin was reared by his father. In the 1870 census of Black Creek, Wilson County: 31 year-old farm laborer Nathan Blackwell, 42 year-old Mary Blackwell, and 6 year-old Edwin Blackwell. Ten years later, however: Nathan Blackwell, 40; his wife Mary Blackwell, 55; 36 year-old servant Delpha Lassiter; Harriet Lassiter, 14, and Nathan Lassiter, 4; Charlotte Baker, 70; and Edwin Blackwell, 17.

Delpha Lassiter and Delpha Locus were the same person. She was also known as Delpha Simpson, daughter of Orpah Simpson Lassiter, and married Matthew Lassiter (brother of her stepfather Silas Lassiter) on 7 December 1866 in Wilson County. They appear in the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Mathew Lassiter, 47, Delphy, 24, Harret, 3, infant, 1 month, and Thomas Lassiter, 2.

On 12 May 1889 in Gardners township, Wilson County, Ed Blackwell, 27, son of Axum [sic] Blackwell and Delpha Locus, married Cherry Farmer, 24, daughter of Rhoda Bynum.

Nathan Blackwell and Delphia Lassiter married 30 January 1890 in Wilson County. In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: 59 year-old day laborer Nathan Blackwell; wife Delpha, 53; daughter-in-law [stepdaughter?] Harriet, 33; and Harriet’s children James, 16, Jonas, 13, Martha, 11, and Peter, 10. Delpha Blackwell died 2 April 1902 in Indianapolis.

Adultery 1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.