Battle

Confusion and trouble.

Here we examined the messy machinations of the administration of Weeks Parker’s estate, which entered probate in Edgecombe County in 1844. One of his legatees was daughter Margaret H. Battle, wife of Rev. Amos J. Battle and a Wilson resident by the mid-1850s.

Hugh B. Johnston transcribed this May 1861 letter to Rev. Battle from James Davis of Wilson, the court-appointed trustees of Margaret Battle’s share of estate. (The original letter does not appear to have preserved among the Battle papers.) The letter is difficult to decipher out of context but to seems to suggest that Davis felt significant pressure to bring in quick money by selling slaves rather than hiring them out and was protesting the interference in his management of Mrs. Battle’s affairs. Recall that Weeks Parker had purposefully drafted the terms of his will to hold in trust slaves Lucindy, Stephen, Turner, Lewis, George, Marina, Tony, Matilda, Caroline, William, Holly, Big Hardy, Ben, Cena, Moses, Syphax, Little Hardy, Jim, Lucy and Little Jim “for the sole and separate use and benefit of daughter Margaret H. Battle wife of Amos J. Battle during her natural life free from the management and control of her present or any future husband.”

Mr. Battle

My Dear Sir, I have striven in vain in the management as Trustee of Mrs. Battle’s affairs to act in such a way as would conduce to the interest of all concerned and at the same time to avoid giving occasion to those dissensions & wranglings in the family which I know are so harassing to you all. I have not in any arrangement which I have attempted to make been actuated by an motive of self interest of for my own security — but having been fully satisfied by the last years management of the farm & negroes that there could not upon any just ground be expected an adequate support for the family for the ensuing year from the farm, I advised the hireing out of the negroes & I was of the opinion & still am that it would have been best to have hired out every single man — According to an understanding had some 2 or 3 months ago I gave to Dr. Bullock the choice and the refusal of all the hands to be hired out; in pursuance of this arrangement I went to see Mrs. Battle & knew of her which of the negroes she had determined to keep & told her at the time that Dr. B. was to have such of the rest as he wanted, & this arrangement I shall most certainly adhere to as long I have any say-so in the matter, because I have made the promise to Dr. B. & I see no just reason why I should violate it.

In regard to the sale of the Women and Children and the appropriation of the proceeds of the sale to any other purpose than the buying of such other property as the Court may be satisfied is of equivalent value, I am satisfied upon an examination the will can not be done. I am however perfectly willing to appropriate every dollar of the hire of the negroes to the purchase of provisions & I will take the notes and advance the money (Provided the sureties to that notes agree to this arrangement) & I can not see why they should not in view of the condition in which you find yourself as to provisions.

If Mrs. Battle wishes the girl at Dr Harrel’s Exchanged, I will try and effect the Exchange as soon as I can conveniently do so, but I can not and will not do that with regard to this property which I am not authorized to do by the will. If I could have the absolute and undisturbed control of the negroes, I have not the shadow of a doubt I could realize from them a handsome support for your family, but as long as their whims and caprices are to consulted & there is no settled plan as to their management, there will inevitably be confusion and trouble.

I am writing plainly, not out of any feeling of vexation or resentment, but simply because you have written thus to me, and because the circumstances of the case demand plain and prompt action. I am now as I ever have been very willing to render through motives of friendship such service to your family as I may be able, & it is only by the exercise of the strictest economy that in the present arrangement of your force that you can get through this year, & instead of hireing either for the farm or for other purposes, it most certainly is the true policy to get clear of every one that can possibly be dispensed with.

I was from home from Tuesday last to Saturday evening or you would have heard from me sooner. You must be content as I and as many others have to, tho, to trust the future somewhat. I have not got corn enough on hand to last 2 months & but few have a year’s supply of corn or meat & if the Sureties to that note will as I have no doubt they will if the matter is properly represented to them consent to the appropriation of the negro hire to the purchase of provisions, it will place some 1200$ at your disposal & as soon as the notes are placed in my hands you can buy corn or meat & draw on me for the full amount of the notes & I will pay the orders.

This amt will surely relieve you till the next term of our Sup’r Court, when we can obtain (if necessary) in a legal manner such a decree as will enable us to get along for the bal. of the year, but as I have already said, I will not without proper authority violate the plain letter of that will — and I can but think that your threat to sell those negroes is made without due consideration. It is but too evident that there is a feeling of restlessness in regard to those negroes, a continual disposition to sell or exchange, which must result if persisted in to the detriment of the estate, & while I am always willing to do that which will promote the comfort or interest of Mrs. Battle or her family, I must see a good reason why a sale or exchange should be made before I proceed to make it. You need not send the Woman & children to me, but if you wish to dispose of her for the year, please come & let me know what kind of a negro she is, what incumbrance to her &c I will Endeavor to get her off your hands.

P.S. I have just seen Dr B. he gives up Hardy & keeps Stephen, Hilliard, & Turner — says further that he is willing to the appropriation of the negro hire Except his own to be applied as above proposed & I have no doubt will willingly agree to his own hire going in the same way if I solicit it, which I will if Mrs. Battle signifies her assent to the arrangement. It may be proper for me here to say in order to give Mrs. Battle time to select another that I shall be compelled upon the first opportunity (which will be at the June Court) to resign my Trusteeship because I see probability of my being able to so manage her affairs as to secure her best interest & retain the good will of others concerned

——

Turner, Hilliard, Hardy, and Stephen were among the group of enslaved people Margaret P. Battle inherited from her father.

Letter transcribed in The Past Speaks from Old Letters, “a copy of the working papers found in the files of Hugh B. Johnston, Jr., acquired in the course of his lifelong avocation as a professional genealogist and local historian,”republished by Wilson County Genealogical Society, March 2003.

Marble competition.

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Wilson Daily Times, 2 July 1940.

Parker Reuben Battle was born in Wilson on 21 July 1928 to John Battle and Gladys O’kelly Battle. [His aunt, Roberta Battle Johnson, was one of the teachers who resigned en masse to protest the mistreatment of teacher Mary C. Euell by a white superintendent.]

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 322 South Spring Street, owned and valued at $8000, cooper John Battle, 39; wife Gladis, 26; and children Grace G., 3, and Parker, 1; also, blacksmith Timothy Black, 23; wife Grace, 30; relative Olga L. [Battle], 22, public school teacher.

In the 1940 census of New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York: at 154 Crosby Place, garage helper Arthur Johnson, 30, wife Cora, 30, boarding house keeper, and son Arthur W., 9; brother-in-law Jack Willis, 33, chauffeur, and [Johnson’s] sister Pricie, 24, and children Albert, 3, Anna, 2, and Joan Arlene, 3 months; porter Herman Murphy, 28, and cook Vernon Murphy, 28; lodgers Grace Jean Battle, 13, and Parker Battle, 11; and lodger David Johnson, 21, waxer. The Battle children were reported as born in North Carolina and living in Wilson in 1935.

Cards of thanks.

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Wilson Daily Times, 30 April 1943.

  • Lizzie Battle — Lizzie Battle died 14 April 1942 at 709 East Green Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 September 1913 in Wayne County,N.C., to unknown parents; was married to Willie Battle; resided at 908 East Nash; and was buried in Greenleaf cemetery, Wayne County.
  • Willie Battle
  • Annie Elizabeth Weeks
  • Marie Weeks

In the  1910 census of New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina: at 176 George Street, pastor Alfred L. Weeks, 34; wife Annie, 34, a teacher; daughter Marie E., 4; and sister Bessie, 20.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: Alfred Weeks, 44, a minister; wife Annie, 44; daughter Marie, 14, and sister Bessie, 26.

In the 1940 census of Salisbury, Rowan County, N.C., public school teacher Marie Weeks, 34, is listed as a lodger in the household of Isaac and Hattie A. Miller at 1008 West Monroe Street.

Annie Elizabeth Marie Weeks died 3 March 1962 in Salisbury, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 July 1905 in New Bern, N.C., to A.L.E. Weeks and Annie E. Cook; was never married; and worked as a teacher.

Annie E. Cook Weeks, Alfred L.E. Weeks, and A.E. Marie Weeks. A.B. Caldwell, ed., History of the American Negro and His Institutions, North Carolina Edition (1921).

Employees of Wainwright Foundry.

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On 18 May 1985, the Wilson Daily Times printed this remarkable photograph with the caption: “The employees of Wainwright Foundry, located on the north side of Pine Street between Broad and Kenan streets, posed for this photograph in 1894. From left are Jack Williamson, Frank Perry, George Rowland, Ad Holland, proprietor George H. Wainwright, William D. Thomas, Parker Battle and Smith Bennett. (Photo contributed by Hugh B. Johnston, restoration by Claude Anthony.”

Hat tip to Jim Skinner.

Sarah Artist Battle of Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Indianapolis Recorder, 1 October 1938.

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In the 1880 census of Greencastle township, Putnam County, Indiana: farmhand Jonathan Artis, 47; wife Margret, 39; and children Evert, 19, Gray, 16, Sarah, 14, Tamer, 12, Minnie, 10, Rose, 8, John, 6, Jonathan, 4, and Willie, 2.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 2419 North Oxford, Margaret Artist, 57, and children John, 24, day laborer, Jonathan, 22, grocery deliveryman, Willie, 22, railroad section laborer, and Sarrah, 34.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: Margaret Artist, 67, with family members John, 30, Emma, 34, and Damon Artis, 8; Ralph, 13, and Mona McWilliams, 8; and Rose, 29, and Sarah Artist, 40.

In the 1930 census of Greencastle, Putnam County, Indiana: in a house owned and valued at $300, Anthony Battle, 70, farmer, and wife Sarah, 70, both of North Carolina.

Sarah Artist Battle died 27 September 1938 in Evansville, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was about 72 years old; was born in North Carolina to Jonathan Artist and Margaret Woodard; was married; and resided in Greencastle, Indiana.

He has received less care and attention than his years demanded.

In 1877, Abram Farmer petitioned Probate Court to apprentice his grandson to him, charging that the boy was being neglected by his stepfather:

Before H.C. Moss, Judge of Probate for Wilson County

The Petition of Abraham Farmer of Wilson County North Carolina, respectfully shows with your Honor that his grandson, Gray Pender a boy of color, aged about Sixteen years, is an orphan, his father Richmond Pender having died about six years ago, and his mother, Sarah Pender died about two years ago. That the said orphan has been living with this step father, Stephen Battle since the death of his mother, & by him hired out for wages, & has received less care & attention than his tender years demanded &c &c

Your petitioner respectfully makes application before your Honorable Court that the said orphan may be summoned to appear before the [illegible] & show cause why he may not be apprenticed to him or to some other good master who will educate & provide for said orphan as the law directs

Jan’y 22nd 1877     J.S. Woodard Atty for Petitioner

The said orphan is now at the house of your petitioner on the premises of Isaac B. Farmer.

——

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Rich’d Pender, 28, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 25; and sons Gray, 9, and George, 1.

On 7 June 1871, at Anthony Barnes’, Stephen Battle, son of Hundy and Lucinda Battle, married Sarah Pender.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer Abram Farmer, 63; wife Rhoda, 45; step-children Charlotte, 16, Kenneth, 15, Fannie, 11, and Martha, 10; and grandchildren Gray Pender, 17, Gray Farmer, 19; and Thad, 13, and John Armstrong, 10.

In the 1910 census to Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Pender, 47; wife Lillie, 35; and Eliza, 18 months, and Aniky, 4 months.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Grey Pender, 58; wife Lily, 44; and children Elijah, 11, Annie, 10, Herman, 8, Rosetta, 9, Furney, 6, Dennis, 4, and Victoria, 2.

Grey Pender died 22 August 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 67 years old; was born in Wilson County to Richmond and Sarah Pender; was married to Lillie Pender; and was a tenant farmer for Mrs. Mattie Williams.

Apprentice Records 1877, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.

 

 

Co-workers sale.

In late 1927, Oettinger’s (“The Dependable Store”) held a “co-worker’s sale,” in which employees received commissions on the sales of items they vouched for. A full page ad set out the names of dozens of employees, from corsetiere to bookkeeper to wrapper girl, touting store goods. Miss Eula Cram, for example, of the Millinery Department stood to gain from the sale of “a table of new hats.” Mr. G.H. Sullivan, the Floor Manager, noted that “Children’s jersey and silk dresses are most attractively reduced.” In the sixth and last column of the page, at the bottom, without honorifics, appear three final names. These were Oettinger’s African American employees.

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Wilson Daily Times, 29 November 1927.

The passing of Old Joe.

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The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 March 1920.

It’s hard to know what to say about this racist tribute other than “wow, Charlie Chaplin came to Wilson?”

Joe Mercer was also known as Joseph Battle. In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Battle, 40; wife Rose, 35; and children Joe, 15, Frank, 13, John H., 10, Amie, 8, Mattie, 6, and Lou T., 8 months. Thomas and Rose reported having been married 5 years, and Rose as the mother of one child (presumably, the baby Lou.) [Marriage records show that Tom Battle married Rose Mercer on 23 May 1896 in Wilson County.]

Joe Mercer, 24, married Ida Colley, 22, on 7 December 1908 in Wilson County.

Joe Mercer registered for the World War I draft in Wilson in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born April 1881; lived at 136 Roberson; worked as a janitor. His nearest relative was Rose Battle, and he was described as “rheumatic & apparently paralytic.”

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 613 Robinson Street, bank janitor Joe Mercer, 39, and wife Ida, 40.

Joe Mercer died 11 March 1920 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 37 years old; was married; lived on Roberson Street; was engaged in butler service; and was born in Black Creek to Thomas Battle and Rosa Battle. F.F. Battle was informant.

705 and 707 East Nash Street.

The ninety-fourth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, these houses are: “ca. 1908; 1 story; saddlebag house with hip-roofed porch and updated veneers built about 1908.”

The 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map shows that these houses began life as duplexes. They were probably built as rental housing for laborers drawn to Wilson’s tobacco economy. 705 East Nash was numbered 630 and 632 East Nash; 707 was numbered 634 and 636.

705

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Battle Frank (c; Delphia) firemn h 705 E Nash

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Dunston Chas (c; Eveline) wtchman h 705 E Nash

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 705 East Nash, rented for $4/month, Lonnie Hall, 52, janitor, and children Deloris, 13, Rogers, 18, Rex’s Shoe Shop delivery boy, and Kattie, private housekeeper; plus lodgers widow Evylene Dunston, 33; Lenora Whitfield, 24; Alonza Jones, 29; and Jasper Hillard, 10.

In 1942, Rogers Nathaniel Hall registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C. Per his registration card, he was born 22 March 1922 in Wilson; resided at 1522 – 5th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.; his nearest relative was father Lonnie Hall, 705 East Nash Street, Wilson; and he worked for Amos Hill, 812 – 13th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

Lonnie Hall died 23 December 1955 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 March 1895 in Pender County; lived at 705 East Nash; was married; and worked as a laborer. Informant was Deloris Hall.

707

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hussey Florence (c) laundress h 634 E Nash

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 634 Nash, widow Florence Hussey, 34, and daughters Rosa, 13, and Elizabeth, 11.

Elizabeth Hussey died 12 June 1924 at her home at 707 East Nash. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 November 1908 in Wilson to Willie Hussey of Mount Olive, N.C., and Florence Hooks of Goldsboro, N.C.; was a single; and was a student. Of her death, Dr. A.F. Williams wrote: “On June 12th was sitting on porch & dropped dead, from some heart condition. She had lobar pneumonia in April when I treated her to complete recovery.”

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 East Nash, widow Florence Hussy, 46, laundry worker, and daughter Rosa, 23.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 East Nash, widow Florence Hussey, 58, laundress at Carolina Laundry, and daughter Rosa, 33.

Florence Hussey died 20 December 1946 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 December 1877 in Goldsboro, Wayne County, North Carolinal was a widow; resided at 707 East Nash; and had worked as a domestic. She was buried at Rountree Cemetery; Rosa Hussey was informant.

Rosa Hussey died six months later — 13 June 1947. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 July 1904 in Wilson to Willie Hussey and Florence Hooks, both of Mount Olive, North Carolina; was single; and worked as a tobacco factory laborer. She died of natural causes and was buried in Rountree Cemetery. Frances Wynn Lane of Mount Olive was informant.

Rosa Hussey’s 1947 will.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Snaps, no. 38: James Battle and friends?

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These are two of 19 images from “[t]wo small souvenir albums from PhC.196, Raines & Cox Studio Photo Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC. The negatives were sent to the Raines & Cox Studio in Wilson, NC, to be printed by a James Battle, likely from Wilson, and the resulting little albums were for some reason never delivered to Mr. Battle. The photos in the smaller album depict various scenes and unidentified men and women in unidentified locations in what looks like eastern Europe, and those in the slightly larger one show an unidentified African American woman and various scenes in Atlantic City, NJ. Based on the scant information available in these albums and on the envelope in which they were originally housed, it appears that James Battle was probably a soldier in the US Army and the pictures in both albums were probably shot by him in the mid to late 1940s.

“Please help us identify James Battle and his Army buddies and lady friends depicted in these photos.”

The albums may be found at the Flickr account of the State Archives of North Carolina.

——

At least eight James Battles born in Wilson registered for the World War II draft, but only one — James Carter Battle — was still living in Wilson at the time. (The others lived in nearby towns and Norfolk, Virginia.) Was this the James Battle who ordered these albums?

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