Fourteen year-old Lessie Manor, described as “colored,” died of heart disease in April 1927. She was a student living in Saratoga township, and her parents were listed as M.E. Manor and Minnie Henderson. Of Australia and Arizona. … What?

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Lessie’s birthplace was also listed as Arizona, though the person completing the form had begun to write “California” in the field. It is not impossible that Australians and Arizonans were living in Saratoga in the 1920s, but it’s unlikely. Did “colored” mean Aborigine? Native American? What is the story here?

A little digging turns up Lessie’s sister’s death certificate.

Lena Mainor died 16 October 1923 at the Colored Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was Negro and was born 17 August 1908 in North Carolina to M.E. Mainor of Milburn, Australia, and Minnie Henderson of Arizona.

Lessie and Lena’s mother’s death certificate yields important answers. Minnie Maynard, colored, died in March 1920 in Wilson township. Her birthplace? Troy, Alabama. Her parents were described as Alabama-born as well. M.E. Maynard was informant. The Arizona attribution, then, began after Minnie Maynard’s death.

M.E. Mainor remarried quickly. On 10 October 1920, in Black Creek, M.E. Mainor, 31, colored, of Wilson, son of Charles and Julia Mainor of Alabama, married Rebecca Blackman, 19, colored, of Black Creek, daughter of Green and Lizzie Blackman. A.M.E. Zion minister B.J. Kornegay performed the ceremony in the presence of John Ellis, Lira Clay, and Joseph Clay. (Per the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Blackman was a Georgia native and was black.)

Rebecker Maynard died 7 June 1928 in Black Creek township. Per her death certificate, she was colored; was born 13 May 1903 in Wilson County to Green Blackwell of Caseda, Georgia, and Lizzie Burk of Steward County, Georgia; was married to M.E. Maynard; and farmer for Wade Brooks.

Evilla Rebecca Brown died in 1973 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Her death certificate, with information provided by sister Lucille Speight of Stantonsburg, identified her parents as Moyed Efford Maynor and Rebecca Blackmon. And she was Negro.

Evidence of Lessie and Lena Maynor’s death certificates notwithstanding, it appears that the family was African-American and its roots were in Alabama.

He was converted and taken into full connection at Wilson.


T. F. H. Blackman was born in Goldsboro, N. C., March 9, 1852. He received his early training in the Freedmen’s School maintained at that place partly by Northern aid. He entered St. Augustine Normal School, at Raleigh, but failed to finish the course by reason of having to work to care for his father. He has finished the course in the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, also a course in Hebrew. He was baptized when about thirteen or fourteen years old; was converted and taken into full connection May 30, 1869, at Wilson, N. C., where he was engaged in teaching school. He received a local preacher’s license at Mosley Hall, March 4, 1871. He was received into the Annual Conference and ordained deacon at Lincolnton, N. C., December 1, 1871, and was ordained elder at Concord November 30, 1875. His first appointment was to the Evergreen Circuit, Brunswick County, N. C.; here he served for two years. His next appointment was Mount Pleasant, Columbus County, for three years. He was then sent to Lincoln, where he remained for four years. During these nine years in the pastoral work he had uninterrupted success. He built up the church spiritually, improved the church property, and paid off debts. The church at Lincolnton has never since been in as good condition as it was when he had charge. In 1880 he was appointed Presiding Elder of the Statesville District, which position he filled with credit for one year, during which time he succeeded in establishing the church at Morganton, where we had long labored in vain to get a start. He then filled a missionary appointment in South Carolina for one year in the interest of the church in Columbia, and raised ninety dollars above his salary and expenses. He then had a very successful year as pastor of the church at Lancaster, S. C. His seventh appointment was to Opelika, Ala. This was among his most pleasant charges, and he had very great success.

From this point he was transferred to the Tennessee Conference and appointed to Chattanooga, where his usual success attended him; he paid more than one thousand dollars on the debt. At the end of two years’ service he was appointed to Maryville, Tenn.; here he improved the church both spiritually and temporally, leaving it in excellent condition. He was then appointed to the Shiloh Circuit in Buncombe County, N. C.; but Presiding Elder White, of the Bristol District, having resigned, Rev. Blackman was appointed to fill the vacancy for the balance of the year. He filled that position to the great satisfaction of both bishop and pastors for two years. He is now serving the second year as Presiding Elder of the Asheville District.

Brother Blackman has had a very quiet but successful ministry. While Presiding Elder of the Statesville District he secured the first lot for a church in Winston. He has been a painstaking and industrious member of several General Conferences. He was married in 1881 to Miss Lillian M. Carson, who has been a faithful helpmate.

From J.W. Hood, One Hundred Years of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; or, The Centennial of African Methodism (1895).