Edgecombe County NC

Forbes killed by train.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 December 1920.

  • Bynum Forbes

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: James Forbes, 38; wife Sarah, 25; and children Garrot, 12, Joseph, 4, Bynum, 3, and William, 1.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: James Forbes, 48; wife Sarah, 31; and children Garrett, 21, Joseph, 15, Bynum, 14, Martheny, 10, Rose, 9, Mary, 8, Florence, 4, and Reddin, 1.

On 5 July 1888, Bynum Forbes, 22, of Wilson County, son of James and Sarah Forbes, married Mary Smith, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of James and Edney Smith in Gardners township, Wilson County. Harry Barnes and Abram Sharp were witnesses.

On 21 June 1899, Bynum Forbes, 55, of Edgecombe County, son of Jim and Sarah Forbes, married Ida Pleasant, 21, daughter of George Pleasant and Mary Smith, at S.T. Cherry’s farm in Cocoa or #13 Township, Edgecombe County.

In the 1900 census of Township #13, Edgecombe County: Bynum Forbs, 51; wife Ida, 21; children John, 5, Henry, 1, and Edney, 9; sister Florance, 25; niece Mattie, 3; and nephew Jef. B., 2 months.

In the 1910 census of Township #13, Edgecombe County: on Cokey Road, Bynum Forbes, 67; wife Ida, 31; children John, 16, Henry, 13, Mary, 8, William, 5, James W., 2, Bynum Jr., 1 month, and Edna, 18; and grandchildren Mack, 4, Joseph, 2, and Jackann, 1 month.

I have not located Bynum Forbes’ death certificate. His death was one of a string of tragedies for the Forbeses — daughter William Ann Winston was shot to death in Rocky Mount, N.C., in 1924, and son John Forbes, a cement mixer, was crushed to death in a sand cave-in in 1930 in Rocky Mount.

Update: identifying the Hines-Sharpe-Batts family.

One of the great benefits of blogging is the insight and information contributed by readers. In October 2019, I wrote of an 1866 custody dispute referred to the Freedmen’s Bureau by John B. Batts, former owner of a woman named Penny and her children. (The 1860 slave schedule of Gardners township, Wilson County, lists John B. Batts with seven slaves — a 55 year-old man; a 21 year-old woman; boys aged 9, 8, 7, and 6; and a 2 year-old girl.) The children’s father, Abram, was seeking to take them, and Batts and Penny contested his claim. Batts did not name the children in his petition, nor did he give surnames for Penny and Abram.

Isabelle Martin cracked the mystery on the basis of information provided in Nash County marriage license applications filed in the 1870s. Penny Hines was the mother, Abram Sharpe was the father, and the children were Alexander, Adline, Amanda, Gandy, Joshua, and Peter Batts (and maybe others.) That the children adopted J.B. Batts’ surname, rather than that of their mother or father suggests (but does not prove) that they remained with him well after slavery, and demonstrates the folly of making assumptions about relationships among freedmen on the basis of their last names.

Here’s what I now know about the family:

  • Abram Sharpe

We’ve already met Abram Sharpe here. He was enslaved by Benjamin W. Sharpe and named in Sharpe’s will. Abram Sharpe, son of Church Bynum and Thana Sharp, married Caroline Hines, daughter of Allen Hines and Harriet Hines, on 12 January 1869 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Abram Sharp, 30, wife Caroline, 19, and son John, 9 months.

In the 1900 census of No. 13 Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farmer Abram Sharp, 64; wife Caroline, 62; children Willie, 15, Mamy, 14, and Richard, 8; grandchildren Fred, 7, Nathan, 4, and Liza, 2; and widowed mother-in-law Harriett Hines, 77.  But also, in the 1900 census of No. 10 township, Edgecombe County: farmer Abrom Sharp, 55; wife Caline, 50; and children Mamie, 8, Willie, 7, and Hattie, 30.

  • Penny Hines

In the 1880 census of Cooper township, Nash County: Penny Hines, 40, hireling. [On either side, son Red Batts and daughter Amanda Batts Hargrove. All appear to have been working for white farmer Wiilis Eason.]

On 31 December 1883, Alice Batts, 19, daughter of Penny Hines, married Daniel Parker, 21, at Redman Hines’ in Nash County. [Is this another of Abram and Penny’s children? Or just Penny’s?]

[Was Penny a Hines because she remarried? Was her next husband Redman (or Reddin) Hines, called “Red”? Red Hines hosted or witnessed the marriages of three of the Batts children. In the 1880 census of Stony Creek township, Wilson County: ditcher Reddin Hines, 40; wife Penny, 40; and children Alice Ann, 15, Margaret, 12, Jno., 7, Calford O., 6, Charles B., 4, and Joe and Ida, 1.]

  • Alexander Batts

On 20 December 1874, Alex Batts, 19, married Mariah Daniel, 24, at Red Hines’ house in Nash County.

In the 1880 census of Stony Creek township, Nash County: ox driver Alex’r Batts, 23; wife Mariah, 26; and children Bettie, 4, Jno. Rich’d, 1, and Mary, 3 months.

In the 1900 census of Rocky Mount township, Nash County: farmer Alex Batts, 46; wife Maria, 45; and children Johnnie, 22, Joseph, 14, Laurence, 12, Mancy, 11, Lula B., 9, Rosco, 8, and Roy, 4.

  • Adline Batts

On 26 December 1871, Adline Batts, daughter of Abram Sharp and Penny Batts, married Jerry Davis, son of Doctor O. Bunn and Harriet Davis, at Red Hines’ in Nash County.

  • Amanda Batts

On 4 November 1875, Charles Hargroves, 35, of Nash County, married Amanda Batts, 18, of Nash County, daughter of Abram Sharpe and Penny Hines, in Cooper township, Nash County.

In the 1880 census of Cooper township, Nash County: next to Red Batts, 23, hireling, and Penny Hines, 40, hireling, hireling Charles Hardgrove, 46, and wife Amanda, 18, hireling.

In the 1900 census of Township No. 14 Upper Town Creek, Edgecombe County: farmer Charles Hargroves, 63; wife Amanda, 38; and children John C., 16, Mance H., 13, Maggie, 11, Cora, 10, Bessie, 8, Ether, 5, and Ella, 1.

Manda Lane died 10 June 1914 in Township #12, Edgecombe County. Per her death certificate, she was about 53 years old; was married; and was the daughter of Abram Sharp and Pennie Forehand. Mance Hargrove was informant.

Ether Bryan died 11 June 1916 in Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County. Per her death certificate, she was born August 1894 to Charles Hargrove and Amanda Hines; and was married. Flora Hargrove was informant.

Mance Hargrove died 5 May 1945 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 June 1886 in Nash County to Charles Hargrove and Manda Batts; was married to Florida Hargrove; lived in Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County; was a merchant in a grocery store; and was buried in Unity cemetery, Rocky Mount.

Lillie Williams died 26 December 1947 in Sharpsburg, Rocky Mount township, Edgecombe County. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 March 1907 in Nash County to Charles Hargrove and Mandy Lewis; was married to Mandonia Williams; and was buried in Unity cemetery, Rocky Mount.

  • Gandy Batts

On 23 May 1878, Gandy Batts, 24, of Nash County, son of Abram Sharp and Penny Hinds, married Emily Whitley, 18, daughter of John and Crensy Whitley, in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Red Hines was a witness.

In the 1880 census of Stony Creek township, Nash County: farm laborer Gandy Batts, 26; wife Emily, 21, and son Balaam, 1.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Gandy Batts, 48; wife Emma, 40; sons Bailey [Balaam], 21, and Allen, 15; and cousin Charley Hines, 24.

Gandy Batts is buried in Elm City Colored Cemetery. His broken headstone, made in the anchor-and-ivy style, states: Gandy Batts died Sept. 22, 1908 Age 53 Yrs. Gone to a brighter home Where grief can not [come.]

Ballam Batts died 25 March 1952 at his home at 1000 Roberson Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 October 1886 to Gandy Batts and Emily Whitley; was married to Clara Batts; worked as a farmer; and was buried in Elm City [Colored] Cemetery.

  • Joshua Batts

On 10 May 1873, Joshua Batts, 20, of Nash County, son of Abram Sharp and Penny Hines, married Silvia Whitaker, 25, of Nash County, daughter of Gray Whitley, at John Joyner’s plantation in Coopers township, Nash County. Peter R. Batts applied for the license and was a witness.

In the 1880 census of Stony Creek township, Nash County: farmer Joshua Batts, 26, farm laborer; wife Sylvia, 28; and children William, 15, Fountain, 10, Ella, 6, Helen, 5, Ella, 2, and Mindy Ann, 1 week.

In the 1900 census of Morehouse Parish, Louisana: farmer Josh Batts, 54; wife Silvie, 52; and daughter Elvie, 15.

  • Peter Reddick “Red” Batts

On 27 July 1878, Peter Reddick Batts, 22, of Nash County, son of Abram Sharp and Penny Hines, both of Wilson County, married Harriet Whitaker, 20, of Nash County, daughter of Jacob Whitaker, at Charlie Hargro’s in Cooper township, Nash County. Joshua Batts was a witness.

In the 1880 census of Cooper township, Nash County: Red Batts, 23, hireling, and Penny Hines, 40, hireling.

Peter R. Batts died between 1880 and 1885. On 5 January 1885, his widow Harriett Batts married Charles Farmer at the Wilson County Courthouse. Farmer adopted her and Red Batts’ infant son, Edward, and the family migrated to Arkansas.

In the 1900 census of Ellis township, Pulaski County, Arkansas: farmer Charles Farmer, 53; wife Harriett, 48; and son Claudis, 13, all born in North Carolina.

Edward Berry Farmer died 13 July 1938 in Brodie County, Arkansas. Per his death certificate, he was 62 years old; was born in North Carolina to Red Bats and Hattie Whitaker; and lived near Little Rock. Ida Taylor was informant.

Ida Taylor Parker died 17 January 1962 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 March 1880 in North Carolina to Red Bats and Harriette [maiden name not given]; was a widow; and was buried in Mount Zion cemetery. Bernice Joyner, Oakland, California, was informant. [Taylor and Parker were married names. Presumably, Ida’s maiden name was Batts.]

The Mike Taylor family.

Last week, I reported my excited discovery of the headstone of Rachel Barnes Taylor, my great-grandmother. Presumably, my great-grandfather Henry Michael “Mike” Taylor was a member of Hannibal Lodge No. 1552, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, but his marker has yet to be uncovered.

Mike Taylor was born enslaved in far northern Nash County, North Carolina, near the start of the Civil War. Here’s what I know of his family and their journey to Wilson County.

This document filed in Nash County in 1856 is an inventory of the 106 slaves belonging to the estate of Kinchen Taylor, deceased.

Number 32 is a man named Green. Number 88 is his wife Ferribee, and numbers 89, 90 and 91, Dallas, Peter and Henrietta, were their eldest children. These 106 people were divided into lots of equal value. Most of the lots were divided among Taylor’s children, but two lots of slaves were sold. Green and Ferribee and their children were included in one of those sold lots, and it is not clear to whom they went, or if they went together. 

Sometime between the dissolution of their former master’s estate in 1856 and early summer of 1870, Green and Fereby Taylor found their way to Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County, near present-day Pinetops. In that year, a census taker recorded their household as farm laborer Green Taylor, 52; wife Phebe, 55; and children Dallas, 19; Christiana, 14; Mckenzie, 13; Mike, 9; and Sally Taylor, 1. There is no sign of the older children – Peter and Henrietta – who had been listed with Fereby in the division of Kinchen Taylor’s slaves.  

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: laborer Green Taylor, 64; wife Phoebe, 55; daughters Christiana, 24, Kinsey, 20, and Sarah, 13, as well grandchildren Nannie, 5, Carrie, 1, Lizzie, 8, Louisa, 5, and Isaiah Taylor, 2. Dallas and Mike had left the household; Mike probably was in Wilson, but he is not listed in the census.

On 21 September 1882, Mike Taylor, 20, Wilson, married Rachel Barnes, 19, of Wilson, in Wilson. Baptist minister Louis Croom performed the ceremony in the presence of W.T. Battle and Edmon Pool.

On 7 Aug 1897, Jordan Taylor Jr., 21, and Eliza Taylor, 23, were married in Wilson. Baptist minister W.T.H. Woodard performed the ceremony in the presence of Prince Smith, Annie Barnes and Michiel Taylor.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Jordan Taylor, 24; wife Eliza, 25; and son Greemond, 3, shared a household with Sallie Taylor, 27, and her son Rufus Taylor, 4. Next door: Jordan’s father Jordan Taylor, 50, and his wife of 5 years, Matilda, 40.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Mike Taylor, 36, drayman; wife Rachel, 36; and children Roderick, 17, Maggie, 14, Mattie, 13, Maddie, 12, Bertha E., 8, and Hennie G., 6.  Rachel and daughters Maggie, Mattie and Maddie were occupied at washing.  Roderick and the youngest girls “go to school.”

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lee Street, drayman Mike Taylor, 52; wife Rachel, 51, laundress; daughters Mattie, 21, Bertha, 18, and Henny, 16, laundresses; and niece Louise, 12.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, odd jobs laborer Jordan Taylor Jr., 31; wife Eliza, 30, laundress; and son Greeman, 12, with Mary Parker, 69, widow, whose relationship to Jordan was described as “proctor.”

Jordan Taylor registered for the World War I draft on 12 September 1917. He reported his address as R.F.D. #6, Wilson, and his birthday as 15 December 1875. He worked as a ditcher for Sid Clark, his nearest relative was Eliza Taylor, and he signed his card with an X.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 114 Lee Street, Mike H. Taylor, 50, cook in cafe; wife Rachel, 58; son [actually, nephew] Tom Perry, 12; bricklayer Van Smith, 33, and his wife Mattie, 28.

In 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 304 Stantonsburg Street in Wilson, Jordan Taylor, 48, wife Eliza, 37, son Greeman, 22, and son(?) Dave, 13. Jordan worked as a warehouse tobacco worker, Eliza as a tobacco factory worker, and Greeman as a street boot black.

On 24 March 1922, Greeman Taylor of Stantonsburg Street, Wilson, died of consumption. He was born 2 June 1898 in Wilson to Jordan and Eliza Taylor and worked as a common laborer. He was single.

Mike Taylor died 8 January 1927 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was about 68 years old; was the widower of Rachel Taylor; worked as a day laborer; was born in Wilson County to Green Taylor and Ferby Taylor; and was buried in Wilson. Roddrick Taylor was informant.

Eliza Taylor died 25 May 1934 in Rose Hill, Duplin County, North Carolina. She was described as 47 years old (in fact, she was at least 10 years older), married to Jordan Taylor, and born in Wilson County to Green Taylor and Kenzie Taylor, both of Wilson County. [Her parent information is likely incorrect.]

File of Kinchen Taylor (1853), Nash County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, https://familysearch.org, original, North Carolina State Archives.

The Armstrong family calendar.

Lydia Bledsoe Hunter continues to share gems from her family, which migrated from the area of northeastern Wilson County and southwestern Edgecombe County. Haywood Armstrong was born enslaved to Abraham and Cherry Armstrong, most likely around the present-day Town Creek community east of Elm City.

Around 1889, Haywood and his wife Agnes Bullock Armstrong, who was born just across the county line in Edgecombe County, following hundreds of Black North Carolinians, moved their family more than 900 miles to central Arkansas. 

Haywood and Agnes Armstrong’s descendants created this commemorative calendar to raise funds for the upkeep of the family’s cemetery. It features photos and mini-bios of each of the Armstrongs’ children set against backdrops of rural Lonoke County.

Caroline Lee Armstrong Moore.

Charlie Armstrong Sr.

Mollie Armstrong Daniel.

William H. Armstrong.

 

Joshua Armstrong.

Benjamin H. Armstrong.

Cherry Armstrong Meadows, the first child born in Arkansas.

Anna Armstrong Parker and Frank J. Armstrong.

Minnie Armstrong Johnson.

Agnes Armstrong Mitchell and Hayward A. Armstrong.

Edward Armstrong.

Lollie Armstrong Nicks.

Many thanks to Lydia for sharing the Armstrong family commemorative calendar.

In memory of Aaron Lancaster.

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On 4 November 1978, the family of Aaron Lancaster placed a memorial advertisement in the Wilson Daily Times marking the one-year anniversary of his death.

——

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson Tarboro Road, farmer Dempsy Lancaster, 45; wife Sallie, 34; and children Frank, 12, Dempsy, 10, Mark, 8, Viola, 4, and Aaron, 3; plus boarder Shote Hinton, 40.

In the 1930 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farmer Dempsey Lancaster, 55; wife Sallie, 47; and children Dempsey, 20, Mark, 19, Viola, 14, Aaron, 13, Robert, 10, Margaret, 5, and John, 4; and granddaughter Mary L., 1.

In the 1940 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: farmer Dempsey Lancaster, 65; wife Sallie, 53; and children Aaron, 23, Margaret, 17, Johnny, 15, Mark, 28; son’s wife Roberta, 24, and daughter Mary Lee, 12; and wife’s sister Fannie, 72.

In 1940, Aaron Lancaster registered for the World War II draft in Nash County. Per his registration card, he was born 31 August 1916 in Edgecombe County; lived on R.F.D. #2, Elm City, Nash County; his contact was father Dempsey Lancaster; and he worked for Irvin Crumpler.

On 30 August 1941, Aaron Lancaster, 24, of Elm City, born in Edgecombe County to Dempsey Lancaster and Sallie Williams, married Lilly Mae Neal, 26, of Elm City, born in Nash County to John Neal and Maggie Taylor, in Emporia, Greensville County, Virginia.

Aaron Lancaster died 4 November 1977 in Wilson, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 31 August 1916 to Dempsey Lancaster and Sallie Williams; was married to Lillie Mae Farmer; lived in Stantonsburg, Wilson County; and was a farmer. He was buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Studio shots, no. 154: Cromwell and Charity Farmer Bullock.

[A reader has identified the woman and man in the photo originally posted here as her great-grandparents, Thomas and Frances Applewhite Artis, not Cromwell and Charity Bullock. I have removed the photo for this reason. — L.Y.H., 21 January 2021.]

——

In 1866, Cromwell Bullock and Charity Farmer registered their 17-year marriage with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Crummell Bullock, 49; wife Charity, 45, farm laborer; and children Nathaniel, 14, Crummell, 12, Caroline, 9, Milly, 6, Peter, 4, and Harry, 2.

In the 1880 census of Auters Creek township, Edgecombe County: Crumell Bullock, 62, farmer; wife Charity, 49; and children Crumell Jr., 22, Carolina, 19, Milly, 17, Peter, 13, Harry, 11, Jessie, 9, Dempsy, 7, and Leer, 5.

Per her grave marker, Charity Bullock was born 12 January 1833 and died 26 December 1893. She was buried in Bullock family cemetery in Edgecombe County.

In the 1900 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Cromwell Bullock, 70; wife Fanner, 57; and stepchildren Priscilla, 19, and Benny, 17.

On 3 June 1903, Crummel Bullock, 70, of Edgecombe County, married Polly Wootten, 55, of Saratoga township, daughter of Reuben [illegible] and Gatsey Moore, in Saratoga township, Wilson County.

Cromwell Bullock made out his will in Edgecombe County on 29 October 1907. Per its terms: (1) to wife Pollie, the cleared land of the Pollie Edwards tract and permission to use all the wood and lightwood off that tract; ten barrels of corn; a cart and gear; a set of farming tools; a horse and buggy; 1000 pounds of fodder; 200 pounds of wheat; a sow and pigs; three still chairs; kitchen furniture; tubs, buckets, wash and dinner pots; (2) to children Cromwell Bullock, Millie Scarborough, John Bullock, Nathan Bullock, and Lea Moore, $50 each; to granddaughter Charity Edwards, $25; to children Peter Bullock, Jesse Bullock, Dempsey Bullock and Caroline James, all his real estate, and son Harry Bullock to have the house in which Henry and Lea Moore were living; (3) all moneys for minor heirs to be deposited in Wilson Savings Bank until child reaches age twenty.

In the 1910 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: on Fountain Road, Cromwell Bullock, 84, and wife Poly, 54. Cromwell reported that he had been married three times.

On 9 February 1910, Harry C. Bullock, 43, of Edgecombe County, son of Cromwell and Charity Bullock, married Ida Vines, 24, of Edgecombe County, daughter of Jesse and Matilda Carney, at the Edgecombe County Courthouse.

On 6 October 1919, in Pitt County, Cromwell Bullock prepared a codicil to his will to note that his children had already been deeded the tracts of land set forth in the earlier document.

In the 1920 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: Crumwell Bullock, 105, and wife Pollie, 88.

Cromwell Bullock died 26 January 1920 in Township No. 9, Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1815; was married to Polly Bullock; and was born in Plymouth, N.C. Peter Bullock was informant.

Polly Bullock died 2 February 1920 in Township No. 9, Edgecombe County. Per her death certificate, she was about 80 years old; was married to Crumwell Bullock; was a farmer’s wife; and was born in Edgecombe County to Howell and Gatsey Moore. Dempsey Bullock was informant.

Peter Bullock died 30 April 1938 in Township No. 9, Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1874 in Wilson County to Cromwell Bullock and Charity Farmer, both born in Wilson County [the Bullocks lived in the area where Wilson, Edgecombe and Pitt Counties meet near the town of Fountain, and their various birth places and residences are attributed to all three counties]; was married to Fannie Bullock; was a farmer; and was buried in Bullock cemetery.

Harry Bullock died 4 November 1942 in Township No., 9, Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 April 1873 in Wilson County to Cromrall Bullock and Charity Farmer, both born in Edgecombe County; was single; and was buried in Bullock cemetery.

Dempsey Bullock died 18 November 1946 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 April 1873 in Pitt County to Cromwell Bullock and Chariety [last name unknown], both born in Pitt County; was married to Marina McNair Bullock; was a farmer; and was buried in Bullock cemetery near Fountain, N.C. Informant was Carlas Bullock, Stantonsburg.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user algorham1.

William J. Armstrong house.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“Captain William James Armstrong, the original owner of this house, was born in 1810, and was the son of Gray Armstrong. Armstrong was appointed constable of Edgecombe County in 1828, and by 1834 he had punched a mercantile business near Upper Town Creek Church. Armstrong’s military rank was acquired through his service in the Edgecombe County militia. He was prominent in both the religious and political activities if Edgecombe County, serving as justice of the peace as early as 1845 and as clerk of the Falls of the Tar Primitive Baptist Church (in Rocky Mount) between 1854 and 1856. Armstrong married Elizabeth Braswell in 1832 and after her death he was married to Catherine Williams. By the time of his death in 1856 Armstrong was the principal in a mercantile firm, consisting of Willie Gray Barnes and Baker B. Armstrong, which operated a store at Joyner’s Depot. … The house probably dates circa 1830, about the time of Armstrongs first marriage and consists of a one-story Greek Revival cottage with a hipped roof and two interior chimneys. The board-and-batten siding, possibly dating from the mid-nineteenth century is an unusual survival in Wilson County. Although the fenestration and floor plan have been altered and one chimney removed, the original trabeated door remains intact, as do some of the mantels. The carport was added by the present owner. A charming early twentieth-century latticed well house is located to the east of the house.”

——

For more on the more than two dozen men and women William J. Armstrong enslaved, see here.

Was Edith Jordan under the control of her negroes?

Edith Jordan, widow of Joshua Jordan, lived north of present-day Wilson in what was then Edgecombe County. Her 1835 estate file contains a remarkable set of depositions attesting to Jordan’s state of mind at the time she wrote her will. Specifically, had enslaved people influenced her decisions?

The file does not reflect the determination in Bartley Deans Executor of Edith Jordan vs. Joshua Jordan et al. Nor does an examination of Jordan’s will reveal any obvious cause for alarm. To grandson Josiah Jordan, she left Rachel and her two children Milley and Offey, plus Daniel; to grandson David Jordan, Sarah, Joseph and Morning; to grandson Jesse Jordan, Isaac and Mary; and to great-granddaughter Sarah Deans, Mary Ann and Julia.

  • The deposition of Harris Horn

Persuant to the annexed commission at the House of John Horn in Sumter County Ala. We caused Harris Horn to come before us on the 7th of October 1835, to give evidence agreable to said Commision after being Sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God Deposeth and Saith as followeth

Interogatories

Q. 1st Do you know the parties in this case

Ans. I know Bartlet Deans & Joshua Jorden

2nd Did you Ever know the Said Edith Jorden in her Life time and if you did Where Did She Lived and what was her Situation and property and how many negroes She posses’d.

Ans. I knew Edith Jorden She lived in Edgecombe County She had negroes but I don’t know how many

3rd Whether She was a person of able or firm mind to protect hersef or property or Whether She was not entirely at the Disposal of or under the controle of Some person for Ten or twelve years before her Death

Ans. I think She hardly was able to protect herself or property and could be controlled by her neighbors

4th Was it not your opinion that the Said Edith Jorden should have had a Guardian Several years before She Died.

Ans. I think She would have done better if She had of had a guardian

5th Did you ever know the Said Edith Jorden to Do any business in ten years prior to her Death Without Some person telling her What to Do or how to conduct the Same

Ans. What ever Trading She had Done of my knowledge was Don by Some Other person

6th Did not you think the Said Edith Jorden was under the controle of her negroes

Ans. I think She was.

Q. 7th State all you know about the contested will

Ans. I Did not know She had made a will               /s/ Harris Horn

  • The deposition of John Grice

Persuant to the annexed commission at the House of John Horn in Sumter County Ala. We cause John Grice to come before us on the 7th of October 1835 to give evidence agreable to said commission after being Sworn on the holy Evangelist of  Almity God Deposeth and Saith as followeth

Interogatories

Q. 1st by Pltff.

Were you ever cal’d on to witness a will of Edith Jorden if So State by Whome and all the circumstances attending it

Ans. I was and I think it was by the said Edith Jorden

2nd Whoo was present and Whoo was the Other Subscribing Witness

Ans. Myself Bartlet Deans and William Haynes the other witness

3rd Whoo Wrote the Will

Ans. Bartlet Deans

4th Was the Will red over in the presents of the Old Lady your Self and Haynes before assignd

Ans. It was

5th Did you and the other Witness assign in the presents of the Old Lady

Ans. We did

6th Did She assign in your presents

Ans. She Did

7th Whoo Did She Desire to keep the Will till her death and What reason Did She assign for it

Ans. Bartlet Deans asked her what he should do with the Will and She told him to carriet home and take care of it and She Said She Wanted us to keep it a Secret for She had a will before and She could See no peace until it was Destroyed and that She thought She ought to have a right to Do as She pleased with her property

8th how Long have you been acquainted with her and how fare did you live from her

Ans. I have known the Old Lady for fifteen or Sixteen Years and Lived Within about half mile of her nine or ten years

9th Did the Old Lady appear to be in her Sound Mind and Disposible memory at the time She assigned the Will

Ans. I think She was as much So as ever I Saw her

10th Did She have reason Enough to know what She was about and to express her wishes in giving her property away or not

Ans. She appeared at that time to have it I thought

11th Did you ever witness any other will for the Old Lady Except the one you witnessed with William Haynes

Ans. I Did not

12th if you recollect State how She Directed the Legacies Given in the will that you witnessed and whome to

Ans. I think She gave Josiah Jorden one negroe man by the name of Daniel one negro woman named Rachel and Two negro children and to David Jorden & Jesse Jorden She gave one of them three negroes and the other Two and to Bartlet Deans Jun’r child she gave Two Negroes

Interogatories

Q. 1st by Deft.

If you do not know at the time of the Subscribing of this Will by the Said Decd. That it was entirely by persuasion that it was made and that in reality that it was not her will but the wish of those that She could be controled by

Ans. I Do not.

2nd you can State beyond contradiction in your mind this Will is or was the Will of Some of her negroes

Ans. I Do not know that it was the will of her negroes

3rd Do you not believe that at the time of makeing this Will and long before that She was not competent to make a will

Ans. I think She was capable of makeing a will and ought to give her property to Whome She please

4th Did you not think She ought to have had a guardian years before her Death

Ans. I Did not

  • The deposition of Isaac F. Wood

State of Indiana, Randolph County  }  Suit pending before the honorable Court in Tarborough, Edgecombe County North Carolina, on the fourth Monday of November AD 1835 – Wharein Bartley Deans Executor of Edith Jordan dec’d is plaintiff and Joshua Jordan & others defendants

Deposition of Isaac F. Wood of Greenford Township, County of Randolph above said, sworn and examined on this the 12th day of October in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and thirty five, between the hours of Ten oclock in the morning and four in the afternoon and taken at the office of and before James C. Bowen a Justice of the peace of Greenfork Township, in the County of Randolph and State of Indiana, pursuant to the inclosed notice to be read as evidence in the above cause on the part and the half of the defendants, Joshua Jordan & others as follows to wit:  Isaac F. Wood of the Township of Greenfork, in the County of Randolph and State of Indiana of Lawful age being duly sworn to testify the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and being diligently examined, doth depose and say, that he has been acquainted with the said Edith Jordan for about fifteen years before he left Carolina, which was in date AD 1832, and that he wrote a deed of Gift, which the said Edith Jordan executed to her granddaughter Orpha Jordan which included all or nearly all the negroes she possessed at that time. He further states he does not recollect the date, but it was a year or two before the death of the said Orpah Jordan. He further states that he was the subscribing witness to said deed and believes that the said Mrs. Edith Jordan requested him the said Wood to take said Deed and have it recorded and he the said neglected to do it, because he thought the said Edith acted under the influence of her negroes. He further states the said Edith said the reason for giving nearly all her blacks to the one grand child was because the negroes wished it so and she did not want to part them. He further states he has written several other instruments wharin she conveyed her property, but does not recollect the dates or particulars relative therto. He further states that he does not believe the said Edith Jordan was capable of conveying her property, and that he thinks her negroes influenced her as they wished. He further states that he thinks she should have had a guardian many years before he left Carolina; And further this deponent sayeth not       /s/ Isaac F. Wood

Edith Jordan Will (1833), Edith Jordan Estate File (1835), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Moses Farmer Sr.

Moses Farmer Sr. of Edgecombe County [near Toisnot Swamp, later Wilson County] made out his will in 1844. Among its very specific provisions were these:

  • Other then a few items mentioned, all his perishable estate was to be sold “except my negroes,” and the tract of land on which his brother Samuel Farmer lived was to be sold privately if it would bring $250. Otherwise it was to be sold at auction.

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  • If the sale of the perishables and the Samuel Farmer tract did not raise enough cash to settle Moses Farmer’s debts, Farmer directed his executor to sell “enough of my negroes either at public or private sale to the best advantage such as he thinks most suitable”

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  • Farmer’s wife or eldest son Larry D. Farmer were to hire”Negro woman called big Chainny” from the estate “as long as she is hired out at a reasonable price for each year.”

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  • As Samuel Farmer was “verry much indebted” to Moses Farmer, and possibly unable to pay his debts, Moses let his executor decide whether to sell Samuel’s “negroes at private sale if they can agree on the price if not to have them sold at public sale.” Either way, the executor was to buy Samuel’s “negro woman Mariny” for Moses’ estate and hire her out to Samuel for $10 per year as long as he remained in-state. At Samuel’s death, Mariny was “to be disposed of as” Moses’ property. If Samuel tried to move Mariny out of state, however, she was to be sold. [Who was Mariny to Samuel? Why did not Moses take some measures to keep her with Samuel even as he gave permission for the people enslaved with her to be sold off?]

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Moses Farmer Sr. died in 1848. His estate file does not appear to contain an inventory of his enslaved people. However, it does contain the petition filed by Farmer’s heirs at the November 1848 session of court seeking to sell “a certain slave named Rina or Marina” in order to divide her value among them. The petition was granted. On 1 January 1949, Joshua Barnes purchased Marina for $325.

Will of Moses Farmer (1844), North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; Moses Farmer (1844), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

 

Totten defrauds veteran freedmen.

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In September 1867, Major William A. Cutler passed a report up the chain to his superior in the Freedmen’s Bureau.”… J.E. Totten at Joyners N.C. [Elm City] has been defrauding Freedmen by obtaining from them their “Discharges” from the U.S. Army by false representations …”

Bureau R.F.&A.L., Office Asst.Sub.Asst.Com., Rocky Mount, N.C., Sept. 6th, 1867.

Maj. C.E. Compton, Sub. Asst. Com., Goldsboro, N.C.

Major:

Howell Vine (colored) gave me the enclosed receipt, & I feel it my duty to send it to you, as he is anxious to obtain his discharge papers again.

From his statement it seems that he was deceived at the time he gave them into the hands of J.E. Totten and thought that Totten was sent by the Bureau to look after the interest of the freed people.

You will learn by the note written by Cd. Frank H. Bennett (register) that this not the only case of the kind.

I sent a note to the county clerk of Wilson county to find whether Totten had obtained the county seal to the certificate on the back of the claim.

I enclose the letter which I received in reply to the note.

I have the honor to be, Very Respectfully Your Obdt. svt, Wm. A. Cutler, Maj. & A.S.A.C.

——

Though his encounter with J.E. Totten apparently took place in Wilson County, and the Bureau made inquiries with the Wilson County clerk, it is not clear whether Howell Vines ever actually lived in the county. Joseph Totten, 29, is listed as a store clerk in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County, living in the household of Joseph Conte, 52, “g & gd march retl” [grocery and dry goods merchant retail].

Per muster records, Howell Vine (or Vines) enlisted in Company B, 14th Regiment, U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 21 March 1864 in Washington, North Carolina. He was described as 32 years of age; five feet nine inches tall; with black complexion, black eyes and wooly hair. He reported being born in Edgecombe County.

In the 1870 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: farmer Howell Vines, 36; wife Priscilla, 35; and children James and Jenny, 14, Lucy, 12, Sarah, 2, and  Charlie, 1.

In the 1880 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: farmer Howell Vines, 52; wife Cillar, 42; and children James and Jennie, 24, Lucy, 21, Sarah, 13, and Charlie, 10.

Lucilla Vines applied for a widow’s pension on 20 July 1891.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters sent, vols. 1-2, February 1867-February 1868, http://www.familysearch.org; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.