Deed book 26, page 309, Edgecombe County Register of Deeds Office, Tarboro, North Carolina.
We’ve discussed Hardy Lassiter‘s estate here and here. Above, we see the 5 January 1854 deed transferring to his widow Obedience Lassiter her dower share of his real estate — “beginning at a small sweet gum in Henry Ruffin line then west to a small water oak on the run of Mill swamp then up the various courses of said swamp to the line of Simon Barnes heirs line then along said line to Nathan Rountree line then along said line to said Ruffins line again, then along said line to the beginning.” Lassiter’s will had not provided for his wife, and she sued for dower.
In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County: Hardy Laster, 73, wife Beady, 54, and children Mathew, 26, Silas, 26, Green, 25, Hardy, 21, and Rachel, 20; all described as mulatto. Hardy reported owning $650 of real property.
The “old man” was William Ayers, who appeared in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County, as a 46 year-old farmer. Though he was marked married, he is listed as the only person in his household.
William’s wife, Rose Ayers, quickly moved to open his estate in probate court, relinquishing her right to administer his estate to Thomas J. Rowe.
The court duly appointed Rowe, estimated the size of Ayers’ estate at $250, and named Rosa, Jesse and Joseph Ayers as his heirs. The latter two, presumably, were his sons (or descendants of deceased children.)
By late February, William Ayers’ personal property had been sold at auction, yielding a little more than $200. The account revealed that, in addition to carpenter’s tool, household furnishings and clothing, Ayers owned a fiddle and a single bottle of cologne.
On 22 November 1883, commissioners laid off Rose Ayers’ dower, granting her twenty acres of her late husband’s 80 acres in Cross Roads township, representing one-third value of the land. In December 1883, commissioner F.A. Woodard placed a series of notices in The Wilson Advance (Josephus Daniels’ first newspaper), presumably advertising the sale of Ayers’ land.
Estate records show that Edwin Barnes was the highest bidder at $430 for Ayers’ property on 7 January 1884. (The commissioners’ report also lists another heir, Council Ayers.)
Rose Ayers — Rose Ayers, 45, married Nash Horton, 50, on 5 December 1888 at Meeksville post office, Spring Hill township. James G., I., and Guilford Wilder were witnesses.
Jesse Ayers — probably, in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: 28 year-old farmer Jesse Ayers; wife Elizabeth, 28; and children Ida, 8; Harriet, 6; Howard, 5; and Hubbard, 2; all described as mulatto.
Joseph G. Ayers
Council Ayers — In the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: Council Ares, 52, wife Mary, 33, and William Smith, 3. However, this man was older than William and could not have been his son. (He died 1 December 1915 in Spring Hill township, and his death certificate lists his father as Sampson Ayers.) Similarly, the Council Ayers, age 21, who appears in the 1910 census of Spring Hill township with wife Beadie, 25, was born after William Ayers’ death.
After her husband Gray Farmer’s death in July 1893, Argent Farmer went to court to get what she felt was hers. She filed suit against Daniel Vick, asserting that he had claimed title to a parcel land that had rightfully belonged to Gray and from which she was entitled to dower.
Vick’s lawyer promptly responded, asserting, among other things, that:
Gray Farmer had indeed owned property as tenants in common with Charles Battle, Washington Sugg, William McGowan, and Wilson Barnes, but not at the time of his death.
That land, in fact, was east of the railroad, two acres on the northeast side of the alley running from Pettigrew to Pender Streets. (See the 1893 Sanborn map section below. The alley, marked “lane,” is now Church Street.)
On 13 February 1886, Gray and Argent Farmer conveyed all their title and interest to the property to J.T. McGraw.
On 7 May 1890, J.T. McGraw conveyed his interest to Charles Battle.
Pursuant to a judgement in a suit against Battle, Suggs and McGowan, the property was sold at public auction on 7 November 1892. Daniel Vick purchased it.
Wilson Advance, 13 October 1892.
Farmer gave up on her claim, and the Clerk of Superior Court entered a nonsuit.
Gray Farmer — Possibly, in the 1870 census of Wilson , Wilson County: Clay Farmer, 60, Gray W. Farmer, 13, and Jonas Gay, 14. Young Gray worked in a brickyard. On 15 March 1876, Gray Farmer, no age listed, married Argent Blount, 20, at Smith Knight‘s in Wilson. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house carpenter Gray Farmer, 27, wife Argent, and children Ellenor, 3, and Charlie Gray, 2.
William McGowan — William McGowan appears with five siblings in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County, in the household of their mother, Anna McGowan, 35, washerwoman. Widower William McCowan, 86, died 1 September 1940 in Wilson of myocarditis. He resided at 513 Church Street, in the middle of block he and his partners had lost to sheriff’s sale 60 years earlier.