color line

Detroit Drewry.

Overwhelmingly, the residents counted in 1870 in Wilson County’s first post-Civil War were North Carolina natives. African-Americans were even more likely than whites to have been born in-state. A handful reported birthplaces in Virginia and South Carolina, but only one, George Drewry, was born outside the South. The 1870 census of Saratoga township lists Drewry, 21, with wife Rixy, 22, and son Frank, 7 months, both born in North Carolina.

Drewry apparently lived in Wilson County only briefly, as he married Rixie Tayborn in Nash County in 1869, and the family is listed in Nash in 1880. I have found nothing to explain how or why Drewry migrated to Wilson County.

Here are the available facts:

In the 1850 census of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan: Hannah Drury, 49, born in England; with Henry Luker, 11, Frances Drury, 9, Louisa Drury, 8 and George Drury, 2, all born in Michigan.  All were described as white. [After Henry Luce Luker, first husband of Hannah Carlton, died in Detroit in early 1838, a probate court judge granted letters of administration to John Drury [Drewry], who had become her second husband on 11 July 1838. It appears, however, that John Drewry died before 1850.]

In the 1860 census of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan:  Hannah Drewry, 50, Henry Luker, 21, and George Drewer, 11, all described as white.

On 15 February 1869, George Drewry, son of Hannah Drewry, married Rixey Taybron, daughter of Allen and Elizabeth Taybron, in Nash County. Both were described as colored. [Which begs the question of whether George Drewry passed for “colored” in order to marry in North Carolina.]

In the 1870 census of Saratoga, Wilson County, as above, all described as mulatto.

In the 1880 census of Ferrell township, Nash County: farmer Geo. Drewry, 30, farmer, born in Michigan; wife Abi Rixie, 35, described as “bilious”; and children Virginia, 8, Morris, 2, Denniss, 3 months, and Alcy, 4, all described as mulatto.

On 15 March 1885, George D. Drewry, 36, married Amanda Tayborn, 34, daughter of Allen Tayborn, in Wilson County. [Mandy Taybron was the sister of Drewry’s first wife, Rixie Tabron.]

In the 1900 census of Farrells township, Nash County: George Drury, 52; wife Mandy, 49; and children Virginia, 27, Octavia, 19, Nora, 17, Granville, 15, Qinly, 13, Charlie, 11, and Belinda, 2.

In the 1910 census of Mannings township, Nash County: George Drury, 62, born in Michigan; wife Mandy, 39; and children Octavia, 28, Belinda, 13, and Charles, 20, plus grandchildren Ida, 5, and Maggie, 2, all mulatto.

In the 1920 census of Ferrells township, Nash County: Dewit J. Levy, 34; wife Octavia, 37; step-daughters Ida, 14, and Maggie Wiggins, 12; father-in-law Geo. W. Drewry,72, widower; sister-in-law Jennie Drewry, 46; and step-daughter [niece?] Blonnie Drewry.

George Drewry died 20 March 1921 in Ferrells township, Nash County.  Per his death certificate, he was the widower of Rixie Drewry; colored, about 80 years old; and born in Canada to an unknown father and Mary Ann Drewry, both of Canada. He was buried in the Pulley burying ground.  Informant was Morris Drewry.

 

Mary Jane Stancil and family.

As shown here and here and here, the interrelated Ayers, Hawley, Rose and Taylor families shifted back and forth across the color line for decades. Despite highly publicized legal challenges to their status, most were accepted as white by about 1920.


Mary Jane Taylor Stancil (1867-1921), upper left. The infant is her son Oscar Stancil, who died in 1904. This may be a death portrait, a type of memento mori. The women at right at are unknown.

In the 1880 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Sallie Taylor, about 45; and her children William, 19, Jacob, 17, Jane, 14, Robert L., 12, Thomas, 10, and Luretta, 8, all mulatto.

On 12 September 1899, J.H. Stancil, 23, white, of Wilson County, son of Andrew and Nancy Stancil, married Mary Jane Hawley, 28, white, of Johnston County, daughter of Sally Ann Hawley, in Johnston County.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James H. Stancill, 23, and wife Mary J., 20, both white.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Red Hill Road, farmer James H. Stansil, 32; wife Mary J., 41; and children Frederick, 9, and Viola, 8. James was described as white. The “W” beside Mary Jane and their children was marked through and replaced with “M” [mulatto]. [Similarly, on nearby Kenly Road, the racial designation of Elender F., 46, William M., 19, Mary L., 16, Maggie P., 13, Henry L., 11, Betsey P., 8, and Mamie G. Hawley, 4, were changed to match that of their husband and father John D. Hawley, 54, mulatto. John Hawley was Mary Jane Stancil’s brother.]

In the 1920 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer James H. Stancil, 42, wife Mary J., 50, and daughter Viola, 17, all white.

Mary Jane Stancil died 5 July 1921 in Oldfields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 October 1867 in Wilson County to John Clark of Johnston County and an unknown mother; was married to John [sic] H. Stancil; and was white.

Josephus and Minnie Taylor Johnson and their oldest children Arthur, Fannie and Carl.

Josephus and Minnie Johnson took their fight to have their children admitted to white Wilson County schools to the North Carolina Supreme Court, and lost. Minnie T. Johnson was Mary Jane Stancil’s niece.

Viola Stancil Lucas (1902-1989).

Viola Stancil Lucas was the daughter of James H. and Mary Jane Taylor Stancil.

Many thanks to Linda Lucas Martin for sharing these family photographs.

 

A charge of “negro blood.”

In January 1915, members of the Wilson County School Board considered a petition signed by 24 (ostensibly) white men and one white woman. “We the undersigned,” they wrote, “wish to protest against the attendance of any child or children in our school with negro blood in their veins as the law directs and would further ask that this matter be attended to at once.”

This is not a new issue for the Board, having lost a battle in 1909 to keep James and Jane Carter Lamm‘s children out of white schools, but won an effort in late 1914 to bar Josephus and Minnie Taylor Johnson‘s offspring.

Charles L. Coon and the Board refused to hear the petition, but agreed to rule on specific charges against specific families accused of being too black to attend white schools. Immediately, several petitioners pointed fingers at Luke Tedder’s children. The Board directed counsel for the Tedders and for the petitioners to present their cases. Instead, Tedder sent word that he would withdraw his children from Renfrow School. The matter having resolved itself, the Board adjourned.

Tedder no doubt wished to spare his family the ordeal (and humiliation) of a public dissection of his wife’s genealogy. I have written here of the Hawleys, the family into which Sally Ann Hawley Tedder was born. They and the related Rose, Ayers and Taylor families of Springhill township moved back and forth across the color line in the late 1800s. By the turn of the century, most claimed and were accorded a white identity. However, memory was long, and not all in their community were willing to overlook their remote African ancestry.

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Renfrow School, circa 1920s.

——

On 26 June 1867, William Hawley, son of Joseph Hair and Patsey Hawley, married Nancy Rose, daughter of Sarah Rose, at Sarah Rose’s house in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer William Hawley, 28, wife Nancy, 20, son Joseph, 1, and Aquilla Hawley, 17. William, Joseph and Aquilla were classified as mulatto; Nancy, as white.

In the 1880 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer William Hawley, 39, wife Nancy, 32, and children Joseph, 10, Sally An, 7, and John, 3; all described as mulatto.

Luke Tedder, 23, son of Stephen and Betsy Tedder, married Sallie Hawley, 18, daughter of  William and Nancy Hawley, on Christmas Day 1888 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Both were classified as white. Their children were Joseph S., Victoria, William T., John H., Luke C. Jr., Lizzie, Minnie L., Eddie G., Nancy C., and James F. Tedder.

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Copies of minutes in “Education 1910-1919” folder of hanging files, Local History Room, Wilson County Public Library, Wilson; photo of school courtesy of Images of Historic Wilson County, Images of North Carolina, digitalnc.org.

The Hawleys, the Roses and the color line.

The families of William and Nancy Rose Hawley illustrate the fluidity of identity along the color line and the complexity of Southern race relations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their families lived among a cluster of families in the Lucama area — Hawleys, Roses, Ayerses and Taylors — whose members’ racial classifications shifted back and forth over time. Both William and Nancy were regarded as mixed-race for much of their lives, but died white.

In the 1850 census of District 9, Johnston County: John Sillivant, 53, farmer; Sally Hawley, 60; and Martha Hawley, 35, and her children Nancy, 12, William, 9, Mary, and Elizabeth, 3. All were described as white.

Also in the 1850 census of District 9, Johnston County: Sarah Rose, 44, and children Piety, 22, William 11, Nancy, 3, and James, 0. All were described as white.

Piety Rose married Noah Lynch on 2 March 1853 in Edgecombe County. [Lynch was probably a brother of Wyatt Lynch.]

In the 1860 census of Kirbys district, Wilson County: Sallie Hawley, 75; daughter Patsey [nickname for Martha], 35; and grandchildren William, 17, Mary, 14, Cerenia, 10, Willey, 4, Saffira, 4, and John D., 1. Patsey, Cerenia and John were described as mulatto; the others, white. [Kirby’s district had been the north-most part of Johnston County before Wilson County was created in 1855.]

Also in the 1860 census of Kirbys district, Wilson County: Sarah Rose, 50; Richard Odom, 21, cooper; Willis Taylor, 45, turpentine worker; Nancy Rose, 11, and Alice Rose, 7. Taylor and the Rose girls were described as mulatto. Sarah reported owning $500 real estate and $300 personal.

In the 1860 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: plasterer Noah Lynch, 30; wife Piety, 33, washerwoman; domestic Julia Higgins, 20; John James, 10; and Martha Taylor, 7; all mulatto. Noah reported owning $700 in real property.

On 26 June 1867, William Hawley, son of Joseph Hair and Patsey Hawley, married Nancy Rose, daughter of Sarah Rose, at Sarah Rose’s house in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer William Hawley, 28, wife Nancy, 20, son Joseph, 1, and Aquilla Hawley, 17. William, Joseph and Aquilla were classified as mulatto; Nancy, as white.

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Patsey Hawley, 40; and children Betsey, 18, Rena, 17, Willie, 16, Quilly, 16, and John D., 10; all white. Next door: Sarah Rose, 59, and daughter Alice, 15, both described as white. Next door to them: Willis Taylor, 51, farm laborer, white.

On 26 February 1874, Piety Lynch, 40, and Raiford Edwards, 52, both colored, both of Smithfield, were married in Johnston County. The ceremony was performed at J.B. Alford’s in the presence of Daniel Alford, Bettie Alford, and Daniel Freeman.

In the 1880 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer William Hawley, 39, wife Nancy, 32, and children Joseph, 10, Sally An, 7, and John, 3; all described as mulatto.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Patsey Hawley, 60, and grandson Charles Anderson Hawley, 11, both mulatto. Willis Taylor, 70, farmer, mulatto — who had lived with the Roses in 1860 — lived next door. Next door to him: farmer Leonidas Adams, 38, his wife Alice, 25, and children Willis, 8, Junius, 7, Mary Ann, 5, and John, 2; plus Piety Lynch, 54, and John E. Denson, 30, a fruit tree seller. All were mulatto except Denson, who was white. (Alice Adams and Piety Lynch were Nancy Rose Hawley’s sisters.) Also in Cross Roads, widow Sarah Rose, 72, living alone, described as white.

[Also in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, this cluster of families: #162. Sylvia Hawley, 22, with children Paul, 3, and Minnie, 2; #163. Martha Ann Hawley, 25, with children Chalmus, 5, and Maud, 2 months; #164. Quillie Hawley, 25, with children William, 5, and Victoria, 2; #165. Patrick Hawley, 35, wife Polly, 29, and children Mary Jane, 9, and Penelope, 5; and #166. John Dancy Adams, 54, Martha Ann Hawley, 45, Pharo Rowe, 30, and Dudley Hawley, 22. All were classified mulatto except John D. Adams and Pharo Rowe. Quillie appears to be Patsey Hawley’s daughter Aquilla. Dudley was Patsey’s son John Dudley Hawley. John D. Adams was the father of Alice Rose Adams’ husband Oleander Adams. In the 1860 census of Kirby’s, Patrick Hawley and the elder Martha Ann Hawley were listed as Patrick and Martha Taylor in John D. Adams’ household, and Sylvia Hawley and the younger Martha Ann Hawley were Taylors in the household of William Taylor, 22, and Sallie Taylor, 30 (who were probably siblings.) All were mulatto in this census, but race-fluid as demonstrated in other records. Who were these people? Were they related to Sally and Patsey Hawley? To the Roses? To Willis Taylor?]

Sarah Rose executed her will in early 1888:

I Sarah Rose of the County of Wilson and state of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence, do make and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say: —

First – That my executor (hereinafter named) shall provide for my body a decent burial, suitable to the wishes of my relations and friend, and pay all funeral expenses together with my just debts howsoever and to whomsoever owing out of the moneys that may first come in to his hands as a part or parcel of my estate.

Second I want my land sold to the highest bidder for cash and pay the same to my last will & testament here after mentioned. Also my personal property All that may be found at my death sold as above written and apply the same to all my heirs.

3rd I give to my son John Rose twenty dollars to be paied to him and his personal representative for ever. 4th I give to my Daughter Pity Linch five dollars to be paied to her. My daughter Allice Adams I want to give her twenty five dollars to be paied to her or her personal representative.

After those above mention received what I have given them my will is to equally divide the balance among William Rose, Mary Alford, and Nancy Holley.

And lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my trusty son in law William Holley my lawful executor to all intents and purposes, to execute this my last Will and Testament according to the true intent and meaning of the same and every part and clause thereof hereby revoking and declaring utterly void all others wills and testaments by me heretofore made in witness whereof I the said Sarah Rose do hereunto set my hand and seal. This the 14th day of March A.D. 1888  Sarah (X) Rose

Signed sealed published and declared by the saied Sarah Rose to be her last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at her request and in her presence do subscribe our names as witness thereunto  /s/ J.T Renfrow, A.G. Price

In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: William R. Hawley Sr., 60, wife Nancy, 52, and children Willie, 15, and Patience, 13. All were described as black.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Leander Adams, 46, and wife Alice, 46, both black.

In the 1900 census of Smithfield, Johnston County: widow Piety Lynch, 72, black, living alone.

In the 1910 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: on Lucama Branch Road, William M. Hawley, 69, wife Nancy, 62, and daughter Patience, 22; all described as mulatto.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: railroad laborer Arnold Adams, 67, wife Alice, 57, and widower son John, 35, a brickyard laborer; all mulatto.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Ainley Adams, 711, and wife Alice R. Adams, both white.

William Hawley executed his will in 1913:

In the name of God, Amen, I, William Hawley of the county of Wilson and state of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory do hereby make, publish and declare this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made, and as to my worldly estate and all the property real or personal which I may die seized and possessed I devise, bequeath and dispose thereof in the following manner, that is to say –

First – My will is that all of my just debts and funeral expenses shall be paid out of my estate by my executor hereinafter named as soon after my decease as by him shall be found convenient.

Item 1st. I give devise and bequeath to my beloved wife Nancy Hawley all of my real estate for and during her lifetime or widowhood, the said lands being situated in the county and state aforesaid in two tracts – the first tract being the land whereon I now low bounded on the west by the lands of Luke Tedder, on the north by Arch Atkinson and M.B. Hinnant, on the east by the lands of B.A. Scott and on the south by Jethro Moore containing Eighty Eight acres more or less, also one other tract of land adjoining the lands of J.T. Rentfrow, Seth W. Scott, B.A. Scott and others containing Seventy five acres more of less and known as the Sarah Rose tract – all of which I hereby give to my said wife Nancy Hawley for and during her lifetime or widowhood as aforesaid. I also give devise and bequeath to her all of my person al property not otherwise herein disposed of to-wit – all of my household and kitchen furniture, all of my live stock and all farming tools and all other personal property except such personal property as I may herein dispose of otherwise. 

Item 2. I give, devise, and bequeath to my beloved daughter Sallie Tedder all of the following land by and after the decease of my said wife Nancy Hawley, bounded as follows: Beginning at a stake at the crook of the ditch in Bull Pond Branch and runs north to a corner to be made in Arch Atkinson’s line, thence southwesterly with Atkinson’s line to Luke Tedder and Jethro Moore’s corner, thence easterly with Jethro Moore’s line to the head of the ditch in Bull Pond branch thence north with the ditch about 100 yeards to the beginning, containing thirty acres more or less, to her the said Sallie Tedder and her heirs by and after the decease of the said Nancy Hawley as aforesaid, provided however that one eight of an acre of this land be reserved to my family as a Graveyard for myself and family.

Item 3rd. I give, devise, and bequeath unto my son J.G. Hawley one hundred and fifty Dollars in money to be paid to him by my executor hereinafter named out of my estate. I also give to him the said J.G. Hawley one feather bed, bedstead and furniture.

Item 4th. I give, devise, and bequeath unto my son John Hawley One Hundred and fifty Dollars in money to be paid to him by my executor hereinafter named out of my estate. I also give to him one feather bed, bedstead and furniture.

Item 5th. I give, devise, and bequeath unto my son Willie Hawley the following described tract of land by and after the decease of his mother the said Nancy Hawley, bounded on the West by the lands of Benajah Scott, and on the north by Isaac W. Lamm and on the East by the lands of Haywood Lamm and on the south by J.T. Rentfrow containing Seventy five acres more or less, the same being known as the Sarah Rose place, to him the said Willie Hawley and his heirs in fee simple forever. I also give to him the said Willie Hawley one feather bed, Bedstead and furniture.

Item 6. I lend to my daughter Patience Taylor for and during her lifetime only the following described tract of land. Beginning at a stake in the Bull Pond Branch in Joseph Tedder and Adolph Taylor’s line and runs thence westerly to Sallie Tedder’s corner, thence northerly with her line to Arch Atkinson line thence a northeasterly course with Atkinson’s line to Mary Ann Hinnant’s deed line thence with said Hinnant’s line easterly to the Road thence south with the Road to creak below the Tobacco Barn thence a south line to the beginning containing twenty-five acres more or less to her the said Patience Taylor for and during her lifetime only and after her decease I hereby give  the same to such children as she may have born of her body if any living and if no children living then to her Brothers and sisters then living. I also give to her the said Patience Taylor, one feather Bed, Bedstead and furniture.

Item 7. All of the property which I may die seized and possessed not herein disposed of or any personal property herein bequeathed to my wife Nancy Hawley, and not disposed of by her during her lifetime, I desire the same to be sold by my executor hereinafter named, and after my said sons J.G. Hawley and John Hawley receive the sums of one hundred and fifty Dollars each as herein provided in the third and fourth Items of this my last will, I desire that the remainder of the proceeds of said sale be equally divided between my daughter Sallie Tedder and my daughter Patience Hawley and my son Willie Hawley share and share alike, and lastly I do hereby nominate and appoint my friend John T. Revell to be sole executor to this my last will and testament to all intents and purposes thereof. In testimony whereof I the said William Hawley have hereunto set my hand and seal this 13th day of January 1913.  /s/ Wm. Hawley.

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said William Hawley to be his last will and testament in the presence of us as witnesses hereto.  /s/  John T. Revell, Sarah Revell

In the 1920 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: on Aycocks Crossing Road, William M. Hawley, 77, and wife Nancy, 73, both mulatto.

William Hawley died 22 March 1920 in Spring Hill township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in Wilson County to unnamed parents; was married to Nancy Hawley; was a farmer; was buried at the home place; and was declared white. J.S. Tedder was informant. [Per Findagrave.com, he was buried in the J.D. Hawley cemetery near Rock Ridge, North Carolina. Others buried there are Nancy Rose Hawley, William A. Hawley, Sarah Rose and Sally Hawley Tedder.]

Alice Adams died 1 June 1927 in Cross Roads township. Per her death certificate, she was about 70 years old; was born in Wilson County to Sarah Rose and Willis Taylor; was married to Onley Adams; and worked for Ambrose Loucas. She was colored. Informant was John Adams, Lucama. [Alice Adams’ death record reveals the relationship between Sarah Rose and her close neighbor, Willis Taylor, who presumably was also the father of Rose’s other mixed-race children.]

Nancy Hawley died 14 February 1935 in Spring Hill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of the late W.M. Hawley, was born 8 December 1837 in Wilson County to an unknown father and Sarah Rose, and was white. J.S. Tedder was informant.

John Dudley Hawley [brother of William Hawley] died 27 September 1948 at his home at 407 Factory Street in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was a widower; was born in Wilson County to unnamed parents; and was white. Informant was Miss Maggie Hawley.

In death, William and Nancy Rose Hawley’s children, like their parents, achieved the permanent crossing of the color line that had eluded them in life:

Sally Ann Hawley Tedder died 11 June 1945 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 November 1872 in Wilson County to William Hawley and Nancy Rose and was a resident of Lucama. Informant Mrs. Berry Lewis certified that Sally Ann was white.

William A. Hawley died 14 March 1948 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was a 64 year-old barber; resided in Lucama; was born in Wilson County to William Hawley and Nancy Rose; and was white. J.S. Tedder was informant, and William was buried in Hawley cemetery.

Pattie Hawley Taylor died 14 May 1972 in Monroe, Union County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 85 years old, white, widowed, and the daughter of William Wilson Hawley and Nancy Rose. Informant was Grace Sasser, Monroe.

On the other hand, Alice Rose Adams’ children died classified as “colored,” like their mother:

Junious Adams died 25 September 1926 in Wilson township, Wilson County. His address was a rural route near Lucama. Per his death certificate, he was born about 1871 in Wilson County to Leander Adams and Alice Rose; worked as a tenant farmer for Josiah Hinnant; was married to Susan Adams; and was colored. Informant was Willis Adams, Black Creek.

Willis D. Adams died 4 July 1942 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 68 years old; was born in Wilson County to Leander Adams and Alice Rose; was a farmer; was married to Eva Adams; and was colored. Informant was Eva Adams.

John Q. Adams died 23 September 1964 at Dew’s Rest Home in Wilson. Per his death certificate, his regular residence was Lucama; he was born 20 May 1879 in Wilson County to Onley Adams and Alice Rose; had worked as a farmer; was a widower; and was Negro. Informant was Ollie Adams Sr., Norfolk, Virginia.