Ellis

The obituary of Dorothy H. Ellis, 100.

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July 3, 1919 — Dec. 15, 2019

Dorothy Geneva Hammond Ellis, 100, of Wilson, died Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, at the UNC Hillsborough Hospital campus in Hillsborough.

“Dorothy was a beloved retired schoolteacher who taught eighth grade at Darden High School starting in 1942. She and her husband, Coach [James C.] “Shank” Ellis, went on to teach at Coon Junior High School until they retired early in 1979. While teaching at Darden, she was asked to use her basketball skills to coach the basketball team while the men went off to fight in World War II.

“The funeral will be held at noon on Monday, Dec. 23, at Calvary Presbyterian Church, 209 Pender St. N., Wilson. The Rev. Rogers E. Randall Jr. will officiate. Burial will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery, 1717 Lane St. SE, Wilson.

“A public viewing will be 2-7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, in the Chapel of Edwards Funeral Home with the family visitation from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

“Dorothy was born July 3, 1919, in Cheraw, South Carolina.

“Arrangements are by Edwards Funeral Home.”

The Ellis family’s community of enslaved people.

William and Unity Dixon Ellis and their descendants claimed ownership of many dozens of enslaved African Americans. Undoubtedly, these men and women constituted generations of many families, and I have listed them below (in family groups where known) with their identified owners in parentheses. I have had little success in tracing them forward into freedom, but have inserted that information that I am reasonably sure is accurate.

First, an Ellis family genealogy. William Ellis left a wife, Unity, and eight children at his death in 1812 — William, Gray, Coffield, Dixon, John, Jonathan, Willie and Spicey Ellis. Several were minors — which made for a lengthy estate administration — and Gray and Spicey died within months of their father. Without wills. Spicey died possessed of an unnamed “negro woman and three children,” and her administrator petitioned for their sale, with distribution of the proceeds between her mother and siblings. Widow Unity Dixon died 1817. Dixon Ellis died in 1818, leaving a wife Jemima (who pretty quickly married Hardy F. Barnes) and five children Willie, Unity, Gray, Hickman and Cynthia Ann Ellis. His estate included 17 to 18 unnamed enslaved people. William Ellis (Jr.) died in 1831 and Willie in 1836. Willie left a wife, Queen Esther Sharpe Ellis, and daughter Martha Ann, who later married Jonathan Dew. Esther Ellis then married her husband’s cousin Hickman Ellis, Martha Ann’s guardian. In 1854, Jonathan Dew sued to recover his wife’s assets from Hickman. Coffield Ellis, the last remaining child, died in 1854. Jonathan Ellis died about 1857, and his wife Elizabeth Ward Ellis about 1858. Their heirs were their granddaughters Susan Bynum Bynum, Louisa Bynum Best, Elizabeth Bynum, Sarah Bynum and Virginia Bynum, whose mother Spicy Ellis had married Reuben Bynum. Dixon Ellis’ son Hickman Ellis Sr. died about 1860, leaving children Spicey, Unity and Hickman Ellis Jr.

The Ellis estate files are difficult to decipher, with multiple petitions to divide unnamed groups of slaves, but often no reports filed after the divisions. Conflicts between guardians (often close family members) and minor heirs were common, with intervenors claiming that guardians had held and hired out enslaved people for years without benefit to their underage owners. Inventories of enslaved people occasionally list small children with their mothers, but more often do not. No married couples are identified as such.

Nonetheless, here is what I’ve gleaned. Each person’s name is followed by parentheses containing the names of Ellis family members to whom they are linked in wills or estate records. [Where possible, I have distinguished individuals bearing the same first names. Where not possible, I have listed them as if they are different people, though they not be in fact. It is likely that this multi-generational community of enslaved people passed down names within family lines, but the record is too thin to make absolute identifications.]

  • Aaron (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Alley (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Amanda (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Annah (Coffield Ellis)
  • Anthony (William Ellis > Willie Ellis)
  • Amos (Elizabeth Ellis)

Amos was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see below.

Amos Ellis and Mary Edmundson registered their 18-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace on 2 July 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: next door to Isom and Patience Ellis, farm laborer Amos P. Ellis, 47; wife Mary 40; and children Adeline, 23, Authur, 19, Learh, 17, Mary, 15, Jane, 11, and Lewis, 10; plus Authur, 65, and Betsey Barnes, 60.

  • Arthur (William Ellis > Unity Dixon Ellis > John Ellis)
  • Beckey (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Beedy (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Belfour (William Ellis > Coffield Ellis)
  • Ben (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Blount (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa Bynum Best)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Della Applewhite, 34, domestic servant; Haywood, 19, Sarah, 14, Alice, 2, Anna, 2, and Clara Applewhite, 7; Hyman Bynum, 21; Blount Best, 21; Abraham Bynum, 17; Moses Bynum, 20; and William Pittman, 21 (the last five all farm laborers.)

Blount Best married Sarah Applewhite on 29 July 1872 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Blunt J. Bess, 32, laborer; wife Sarah, 23; children William L., 9, Nellie J., 6, Joseph H., 4, and Ivory, 8 months; plus sister-in-law Annie Barnes, 11.

On 26 March 1914, Blount Best, 69, of Saratoga, married Hagar Bynum, 56, of Gardners, at Liberty Webb‘s in Saratoga township. Primitive Baptist minister Elder Robert Edwards performed the ceremony in the presence of Isaac Bynum, S.H. Best and John Farmer, and Jesse Artis applied for the license.

Blount Best died 28 March 1928 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 88 years old; was born in Greene County to Friday Best and Marie Best; was married to Haggar Best; and was a farmer for Mrs. Mattie Williams and preacher. Informant was Joe Henry Best. [Was Blount’s mother the Maria below?]

  • Bob (William Ellis > Gray Ellis) and Bob (Jonathan Ellis)

See Robert, below.

  • Bright (Coffield Ellis)

See Robbin, below.

  • Bryant (Coffield Ellis)
  • Byhuel (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Calvin (Coffield Ellis)

Calvin Ellis died 18 October 1933 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 80 years old; a widower formerly married to Mary Ellis; a farmer; and was born in Wilson County to Jacob Ellis and Charlotte Ellis. Informant was General Ellis.

  • Caroline (Coffield Ellis > Louisa E. Barnes)
  • Chaney (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis) and Chaney (Coffield Ellis)
  • Chaney and son Isaac (Hickman Ellis)
  • Old Chaney (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Charlotte (Coffield Ellis)

See Calvin, above.

  • Cherry (Coffield Ellis)
  • Clara (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew)
  • Ellen (Coffield Ellis) and Ellen (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Eliza [and two unnamed children] (Hickman Ellis)
  • Elvy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Ephraim (Jonathan Ellis)

Possibly, in the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County: Ephraim Ellis, 37, farmhand.

Possibly, in the 1880 census of Farmville township, Pitt County: Ephram Ellis, 35, farmhand, and wife Rildy, 30.

On 13 August 1885, Ephraim Ellis, 47, married Amanda Crudass, 26, in Wilson County at the courthouse.

On 20 February 1897, Ephraim Ellis, 52, married Mary Edmundson, 25, in Wilson County.

  • Faroby (Coffield Ellis)
  • Frances (Coffield Ellis)
  • Gideon (William Ellis > Dixon Ellis)
  • Gilford (William Ellis > Jonathan Ellis) and Guilford (Elizabeth Ellis > William and Louise E. Best)

Guilford was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see below.

Guilford Bynum and Pleasant Bynum registered their cohabitation in Wilson County on 7 April 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40, farm laborer; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4. [Note: per his death certificate (and a marriage license), Ned Ellis was born about 1855 to Gilford Ellis and Becky Riffin (Ruffin).]

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 55, common laborer; wife Penny, 55; and children Sarah E., 16, Mary E., 10, and Lafayette, 8.

See also Norfleet, below.

  • Gilly (Coffield Ellis > Sally E. Barnes)
  • George (Coffield Ellis)
  • Gray (Hickman Ellis)
  • Green (Coffield Ellis)
  • Hannah (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis) and Hannah (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Hannah (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Jackson Ellis, 45; wife Margaret, 36; and children Hannah, 17, and Hewell, 11; Hannah Ellis, 90; and Lucy, 2, and Mary Simms, 1.

Hannah Ellis, daughter of Jack and Margaret Ellis, married John Artist, son of Arch and Rose Artist, on 29 February 1872.

  • Hardy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Harriet and children Adeline, Lucy and Manerva (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Harriet (Elizabeth Ellis) and Harriet (Hickman Ellis)
  • Harry (William Ellis > Coffield Ellis)
  • Hester (William Ellis > Unity Ellis > William Ellis) and Hester (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Hewell (Elizabeth Ellis) and Hewell (Hickman Ellis)

See Hannah, above.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jack Ellis, 55, and son Hewel, 21.

  • Isaac (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Isham (Willie Ellis)
  • Isham (William Ellis > Willie Ellis), wife Patience (Jonathan Ellis) and Jacob (Jonathan Ellis)

Isham Bynum and Pacience Bynum registered their 40-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace on

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isom Ellis, 67; wife Patience, 62; and son (grandson?) Jacob, 18, farm laborer.

Jacob Ellis, 24, married Milly Forbes, 35, in Wilson County in 28 February 1874.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jacob Ellis, 27, farm laborer; wife Milly, 33; and sons Thaddus, 5, and Rufus, 2.

  • Jack (William Ellis > John Ellis)
  • Jack (Hickman Ellis) and wife Margaret (Hickman Ellis)

See Hannah and Hewell, above.

Jack Ellis and Margaret Ellis registered their 18-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866.

  • Jane (Coffield Ellis)
  • Jenny (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew)
  • Jesse (Elizabeth Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Jim (William Ellis > William Ellis), Jim (Elizabeth Ellis > Joseph and Susan Ellis Bynum), and Jim (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)

See Jim Ellis Dew.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer James Ellis, 48; wife Zana, 38; and children/grandchildren Eliza, 14, James, 5 months, Cora, 13, Macoid, 10, Oscar, 6, and Anna, 1.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: James Ellis, 59, farm laborer; wife Zany, 49; and children/grandchildren Mccoid, 18, Oscar, 17, Anna, 11, James, 10, Johnathan C., 8, and Benjiman S., 5.

  • Job (Jonathan Ellis)
  • John (Hickman Ellis)
  • Jonas (Dixon Ellis) and Jonas (Coffield Ellis)
  • Laurence (Coffield Ellis)
  • Lettice (Elizabeth Ellis) and Lettice (Elizabeth Ellis)

See Norfleet, below.

  • Lewis (Coffield Ellis > Penninah Ellis)

Lewis was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see above.

Lewis Bynum and Milly Thompson registered their cohabitation on 20 April 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Lewis Ellis, 36; wife Milly, 35; and children John, 17, Daniel, 10, Adeline, 5, Mary, 3, and Martha, 1.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Ellis, 49; wife Milly, 48; children Daniel, 20, Addie, 16, Mary, 14, Marthey, 12, Cora, 10, and James, 6; nephew Jackson, 9; mother Patience, 70; and Jacob Barnes, 32, farm laborer.

  • Littleton (Coffield Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Littleton Ellis, 30, wife Judah, 21, and children Bryant, 4, and Martha, 3.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis, 45; wife Judah, 30; and children Bryant, 14, Martha, 12, Patsey, 10, Mary, 8, Bud, 6, Thomas, 4, Rose, 2, and James, 1.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis, 73; wife Judy, 55; and children Lucy, 21, Littleton, 18, Sarah, 16, Maggie, 14, Nettie, 12, and Minnie, 10.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Wiggins Mill Road, farmer Littleton Ellis, 27; his mother Judie, 62; and sisters Lucy, 30, Sarah, 24, Maggie, 23, and Lettie, 21.

  • Lisle (William > Unity), died 1812-1818
  • Lucy (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew)
  • Mark (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Maria (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Mary (Coffield Ellis) and Mary (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Milbry (Hickman Ellis) and daughter Betsey (Hickman Ellis)
  • Mimah and daughters Sary and Clary (William Ellis > Jonathan Ellis)
  • Old Minny [Miney?] (Coffield Ellis)
  • Young Minny [Miney?] (Coffield Ellis)
  • Moll (William Ellis > Willie Ellis)
  • Nancy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Netty [and unnamed child] (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Norfleet (Jonathan Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Norfleet Ellis, 25; wife Charlotte, 22; and children Willie, 2, and Elizabeth, 2 months; Jordan Taylor, 19; and Albert Barnes, 21.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Norfleet Ellis, 33; wife Charlotte, 26; and children Mack, 12, Lizzie, 8, Redmond, 6, Floyd, 2, and Marion, 3 months.

On 26 September 1891, Norfleet Ellis, 52, son of Guilford Ellis and Lettice Ellis, married Eva Rice, 18, daughter of John Rice and Laura Hudson, in Wilson County.

  • Pat (William Ellis > Unity Ellis > John Ellis)
  • Peter (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew) and Peter (Hickman Ellis)
  • Old Peter (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Rachael (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Reuben (Jonathan Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Reuben Ellis, 34, farm laborer; wife Clarkey, 22; and daughter Jane Grant, 1.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Rubin Ellis, 54; wife Clarky, 36; and children Jane, 10, Jonah, 8, Sherard, 7, William, 6, Rubin, 5, George, 4, and Cansy, 4 months.

  • Robbin (Coffield Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robbin Ellis, 23, farm laborer, and wife Hannah, 24, and children Emma, 5, Mahala, 2, and an infant girl, 1 month, plus Bright Ellis, 20, farm laborer.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Ellis, 34, farmer; wife Hannah, 35; children Emma, 15, Jane, 11, Alice, 8, Winnie, 6, and Cora, 3; and Mandy Barnes, 24, laborer, and William T.C. Barnes, 1.

  • Robert (Coffield Ellis)

Robert was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see above.

Robert Bynum and Caroline Barnes registered their cohabitation on 31 March 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 39, farm laborer; wife Caroline, 38; and children Amos, 9, Louisa, 3, and infant boy, 2 weeks.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 50, farmer; wife Caroline, 49; and children Amos, 19, Louisa, 12, William, 10, and Susan, 5.

However, also:

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 34, farmer; wife Hannah, 35; daughters Emma, 15, Jane, 11, Allice, 8, Winnie, 6, and Corah, 3; plus Quandie Barnes, 24, and her son William T.C. Barnes, 1.

And:

Robert Ellis and Anica Ellis registered their 8-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 45, farm laborer; wife Anaka, 50; and Mary Bynum, 12.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 55, laborer, and wife Anakey, 58.

And:

Robert Ellis, 54, of Saratoga, married Mima Mitchell, 30, of Saratoga, on 4 July 1892 in Saratoga township.

Robert Ellis died 25 January 1934 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 105 years old; was born in Wilson County to unknown parents; was married to Vester Ellis; and had been a farmer. Robert Barnes was informant.

  • Rose (Elizabeth Ellis > Joseph and Susan B. Bynum) and Rose (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Sam (William Ellis > Coffield Ellis) and Sam (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Tempy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Tiller (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Tom (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Treasy (William Ellis > Unity Ellis > William Ellis)
  • Turner (Coffield Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborers Turner Ellis, 27, and Aaron Bynum, 18.

On 26 July 1878, Turner Ellis, 31, married Jane Williamson, 35, at the residence of justice of the peace Elbert Felton in Wilson County.

  • Willie [or Wiley] (Cynthia Ann Ellis)

Willie/Wiley ran away in 1853 and 1856. Ads noted that his owner was Cynthia A. Ellis, that he was likely hiding near the farms of William Ellis or Jonathan Ellis, where he had relatives, and that he had a wife in Georgetown, South Carolina.

  • Violet (Jonathan Ellis)

 

The estate of Hickman Ellis, Sr.

James Barnes was administrator of Hickman Ellis‘ estate. Among his duties in 1861, he secured a doctor’s visit for an unnamed enslaved woman staying at John Owens’ farm:

Barnes hired out Ellis’ slaves to assorted kin and neighbors in 1861. J.R.P. Ellis leased Peter and Chana for $9.00; Jonathan T. Dew, Jack for $10.00; Lorenzo Felton, Margaret and an unnamed child for $3.00; D.S. Richardson, Liza and two children for $1.00 and Tempe and one child for $3.50; John Carter, Netty and one child for $1.75; John I. Sharpe, Rose for 25 cents; and Jackson Lassiter, Hannah for free. The estate paid Barnes $5.00 to care for Harriet and two children.

He also obtained “docttrin” for “negar Jack,” “Aren when was burnt,” Milbry and Netty’s fellow in October 1861.

In 1862, these individuals and several others were hired out again, along with several fields and the “low grounds”:

A court-appointed committee charged with dividing Hickman Ellis’ enslaved property filed its report at Wilson County Court on October Term 1863. Ellis’ daughter Spicey received Jim, Netty, Aaron, Rose, Mary, Hannah, Old Peter and Old Chaney, valued at $11,050. The remaining enslaved people — Jack, Margaret, Elvy, Hewel, Tempy, Peter, Harriet, Gray, Hardy, Chaney and child Isaac, Eliza, John, Milbry and child Betsy, and Nancy — were held in common by Unity Ellis and Hickman Ellis (Jr.)

 

Hickman Ellis Estate (1860), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estates of Jonathan and Elizabeth Ward Ellis.

Jonathan Ellis, son of William and Unity Ellis, died intestate in Wilson County about 1857, and his wife Elizabeth Ward Ellis about 1858. Their heirs were their granddaughters Susan Bynum Bynum, Louisa Bynum Best, Elizabeth Bynum, Sarah Bynum and Virginia Bynum, whose mother Spicy Ellis had married Reuben Bynum.

In the 1859 Fall Term of Wilson County Superior Court, the clerk issued an order directing William Barnes Jr., Washington Barnes and Edwin Barnes to divide Jonathan Ellis’ enslaved people Ruben, Jacob, Ephraim, Tom, Hannah, Hester, Adeline, Bob, Lamm, Blount, Lucy, Gilford, Norfleet, Isaac, Patience, Maria, Violet, Job, Mark, Harriet, Tiller and Alley into one-fourth shares. Son-in-law Joseph J. Bynum was administrator of Ellis’ estate, and his foot-dragging led to a petition for division by his sisters-in-law. (It is not clear to me why Susan Bynum was not entitled to a share.) The commissioners reported allotting to William and Louisa Best enslaved people Blount, Mark, Tom and Harriet and her three children Adeline, Lucy and Manervy, valued at $4100. The remaining men, women and children were held as “common stock” for minors Elizabeth, Sarah and Virginia Bynum.

Meanwhile, also during the 1859 Fall Term of Wilson County Superior Court, the clerk issued an order directing the same men to divide Elizabeth Ellis’ enslaved people Guilford, Amos, Beckey, Jim, Jesse, Ben, “2 Lettuces,” Ellen, Rose, Rachael, Hewell, Isham, Sam, Amanda and Harriet into one-fifth shares.

005277100_01232.jpg

The Barneses filed a report on the division as directed. They allotted Jim and Rose, valued at $1900, to Susan and her husband Joseph Bynum; Jesse, Lettice, Lettice and Gilford, valued at $2050, to Louisa and her husband William Best; and the remainder were held in common for minor heirs Betsey, Sally and Virginia.

005277100_01247.jpg

Elizabeth Ellis Estate Records, Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

 

 

The last will and testament of Coffield Ellis.

On 28 January 1854, Coffield Ellis of Edgecombe County penned a will that included these provisions:

  • to wife Penninah Ellis, enslaved people Minny, Lewis, Robbin, Jacob, Young Minny, Turner, Jane, Laurence, Bright, Chaney, Greene, Mary, Jonas, Charlott, Frances, Robert, Ellen, Annah, Calvin, Cherry, Faroby, Littleton, Bryant and George. After Penninah’s death, Robert and Charlotte were to go to son William Ellis.
  • if “at any time during her life [wife Penninah] became tired of keeping any of the said negroes she may call three disinterested men together and point out to them said such of said negroes as she wishes to get clear of,” to be divided between their daughters Sally, wife of William Barnes, and Louisa, wife of James Barnes.
  • to son William Ellis, the right to take any of Coffield Ellis’ slaves to use, when water level is low, to complete a canal in Toisnot Swamp
  • “if my faithful servant Old Miney shall survive my wife,” she shall be able to choose a master from his three children
  • to daughter Sally, wife of William Barnes, an enslaved woman named Gilly
  • to daughter Louisa, wife of James Barnes, an enslaved woman named Caroline

Coffield Ellis Will, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

The will and estates of William and Unity Ellis.

Per Powell and Powell, Wilson County Founding Families (2009), published by Wilson County Genealogical Society, William Ellis was born about 1740 in what was then Chowan County, North Carolina. He married Unity Dixon and settled in an area of Edgecombe County that is now Wilson County. His and Unity Ellis’ children were Willie, William, Coffield, Dixon, John, Gray, Jonathan and Spicy Ellis.

William Ellis made out his will on Christmas Eve 1812 in Edgecombe County:

  • to wife Unity Ellis, a life interest in the plantation on which lived lying at the fork of Mill or Panthers Branch and Toisnot Swamp, to revert to son Willie Ellis at her death. Also, Unity received life interests in enslaved people Arthur, Jonas, Isham, Belford, Lisle, Pat, Mimah, Treasy and Hester.
  • to son Coffield Ellis, a grist mill and land lying on the south side of Mill Branch, as well as slaves Sam and Harry, who were available to Unity Ellis during her lifetime or until Coffield turned 21
  • to son Dixon Ellis, the plantation on which William formerly lived on White Oak Swamp and a second parcel of land, as well as slave Giddeon
  • to son John Ellis, the plantation on which John lived on the main road from Tarboro to Stanton’s Bridge [roughly modern N.C. Highways 111 and 222], containing 149 acres, as well as a second one-hundred-acre tract and an enslaved man named Jack
  • to son Gray Ellis, if he had heirs, a plantation near Tarboro containing 125 acres (to go to son Jonathan Ellis if Gray had no lawful children) and an enslaved man named Bob
  • to son Jonathan Ellis, a plantation on the south side of the main road from Tarboro to Greenville, containing 100 acres, and an enslaved man named Guilford
  • to daughter Spicey Ellis, a plantation on the south side of Toisnot Swamp on the main road from Stanton’s Bridge to Tarboro, containing 100 acres, and slaves Hannah, Byhuel, Chaney and Beedy
  • to son William, an enslaved man named Jim; and
  • to son Willie, slaves Anthony and Mol, who were available to Unity Ellis during her lifetime or until Willie turned 21

Unity Ellis died in 1817, before the settlement of William Ellis’ estate. Her share of William’s enslaved estate was divided thus: to son John, Arthur ($525) and Pat ($5); to son Dixon, Jonas ($712); to son Coffield, Belfour ($712); for son Willie, Isham ($636); for son Jonathan, Mima, Sary and Clary ($888); and to son William, Trease ($600) and Hester ($350). Lisle, presumably, died between 1812 and 1818, and Sarah and Clara were born to Mima during the same period.

——

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isom Ellis, 67; wife Patience, 62; and son (grandson?) Jacob, 18, farm laborer.

Perhaps, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40, farm laborer; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4.

Will of William Ellis (1812); Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Coffield Ellis house.

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

The house as photographed for Ohno’s book.

“Cofield Ellis was the son of William Ellis and Unity Dixon. He was born in 1797 and married Pennina Bartee before 1821. In 1813 William Ellis and Cofield inherited a grist mill and land on Toisnot Swamp. It may be that it was on this property that he built his house in 1839. Ellis died in 1854, and the plantation house passed to his son, William Cofield Ellis, William C. Ellis was born in 1821 and in 1853 married Sallie M. Peacock. Sallie Peacock Ellis died in 1865 and Ellis married Rebecca Frances Bridgers. … [T]he Ellis family has maintained continuous ownership of the plantation to date. The house is a substantial two-story structure with a gable roof, engaged porch and rear ell. Double should chimneys with tumbling [sic] are located in the gable ends. The interior has been altered.”

In 1817, Cofield Ellis inherited an enslaved man named Belfour, valued at $712, from the estate of his father William Ellis.

In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County, North Carolina: farmer Coffield Ellis, 53, and wife Penelope, 52, with daughter Unity Ellis, 16; Cintha Ellis, 30; Muroe Cobb, 14; Thos. Evans, 16; Penny Johnson, 16; and Jno. Pittman, 16.

In the 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County, Coffield Ellis reported owning 20 enslaved people — 12 men and boys aged 2 to 29, and 8 women and girls aged 2 to 60.

In the 1860 census of Saratoga district, Wilson County: farmer William C. Ellis, 38, and wife Sallie, 25. William reported owning $20,900 in personal property, which would have consisted primarily of enslaved people. [Note: Dempsey Ethridge, 47, and family were listed next door. Ethridge’s occupation was “manager of farm.” Was he William C. Ellis’ overseer?]

In the 1860 slave schedule of Saratoga district, Wilson County, William C. Ellis reported owning 13 enslaved people — six men and boys aged 4 to 29, and seven women and girls aged 9 to 38.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: William Ellis, 48, farmer; wife Rebecca F., 33; and three young children; plus farmer’s apprentice John Ellis, 14.

The extended Ellis family were prolific slaveowners whose holdings will be examined in detail elsewhere in this blog.

The Benjamin and Tinner Howard Ellis family.

Benjamin Ellis, Mollie Brantley Howard Brown and Tinner Howard Ellis. Mollie Brown’s first husband, Kenyon Howard, son of Deal and Nancy Blackwell Howard, was Tinner Ellis’ uncle.

“As far back as my husband, Benjamin Ellis, and I can trace our family, it leads us to Wilson County. My great-grandfather Nelson Eatman was born issue-free about the year 1800. Fortunately, from that point on there was no slavery on my side of the family. He had a daughter named Roady who married Deal Howard. From that marriage was born a son, also named Deal Howard who married my mother, Nancy Blackwell. My grandmother on my mother’s side was named Nancy Blackwell. During the early part of the 19th century there were still many Indians in and around the eastern North Carolina region. One tribe known as the Cherokees still have a reservation in western North Carolina. It is through that tribe that I trace my mother’s heritage.

“My husband’s grandfather Hillard Ellis was born here in 1825, on the Roundtree Plantation. His mother and father were Africans who had been brought to America and sold in the slave market to the Roundtree family. Hillard Ellis had a brother named Warren Roundtree who took the slave name, and as a result, many Ellis’ and Roundtree’s are related. Hillard Ellis married Fairiby Roundtree who was also a slave on the Roundtree farm. To that union were born fourteen children — one of which was my husband’s father named Hillard who was born in 1865. Around the turn of the century and for many years thereafter he was one of only two blacksmiths in the Town of Wilson. Hillard married Cora Williams. Cora’s parents were Nellie Locust and Austin Williams. Austin was a slave on the McWilliams farm and Nellie was issue-free. My husband’s Uncle Warren’s son, Henry Ellis was the first black in Wilson County killed while serving his country in the first world war. His name is found in the Wilson County courthouse among those honored for serving their country.

“Both my husband and I are from very large families. I had four sisters and nine brothers and my husband had several brothers and one sister. We were raised as children in Wilson County and went to Howard elementary school. My husband also attended “graded” school in Wilson. We were married in 1921 and from our union were born seven children: Raleigh, Ezamae, Emma Lee, Tiner Mae, Mabel, Beulah and Benjamin. We have twenty-one grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We still maintain the Ellis cemetery on a piece of land formerly owned by Hillard Ellis, Sr. Also the Ellis Chapel Church off Route 58 was named after Hillard Ellis, Sr., who donated the land to the church around the turn of the century.”

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  • For more on the Hilliard Ellis family, see here and here.
  • For more on the Nelson Eatmon family, see here.
  • For more on the Zealous “Deal” Howard family, see here.
  • Re the Blackwells:

Asberry Blackwell married Nancy Taylor on 2 October 1845 in Nash County.

In the 1850 census of Nash County: Asberry Blackwell, 25 [listed alone.]

In the 1860 census of Kirby’s district, Wilson County: Asberry Blackwell, 45, turpentine laborer, Nancy, 30, farm laborer, Charity, 14, Drucilla, 9, Albert, 7, Appy, 7, Zilpha, 4, Obedience, 3, and Asberry, 2 months.

On 10 April 1882, Deal Howard, 21, married Nancy Blackwell, 24, in Taylors township, Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Deal Howard, 38; wife Nancy, 39; and children John, 16, Christian, 14, Oscar, 11, Ettie, 10, Albert, 7, Thomas, 5, Alvin, 3, Herman, 1, and Tiner, 0.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Horne’s Road, farmer Zelius Howard Jr., 49; wife Nancy, 49; and children Albert, 17, Thomas, 15, Alvin, 13, Herman, 11, Tina, 9, Florence, 7, and Ella, 5.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Deal Howard, 58; wife Nancy, 60; and Albert, 28, Herman, 22, Tiner, 19, and Florence, 17.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Albert Howard, 35, farmer; mother Nancy, 75; and James, 11, and Tommie Howard, 9.

Nancy Howard died 30 June 1931 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 61 years old; was born in Wilson County to Nancy Blackwell and a father unknown to the informant; was married to Deal Howard; lived at Route 2, Wilson; and worked as a laundress. Informant was Thomas Howard, 318 Finch Street, Wilson.

  • Re the Williamses:

Austin Williams, son of Ben and Merica Williams, married Cornelia Taylor, daughter of Isaac Taylor and Lena Locus, on 10 May 1868 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Austen Williams, 34, farm laborer; wife Cornelius, 24; and daughter Cora Lee, 1.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Austin Williams, 41, farmer; wife Nobly, 30; and children Cora L., 11, Charley A., 8, Benjamin and Isaac, 4, and Minnie, 8 months.

  • Re Warren Rountree:

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Warren Rountree, 40, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 32; and children Florence, 18, Rhebecca, 17, Mary, 11, Howell, 7, Sallie, 5, Lou, 2, and Warren Jr., 20.

Warren Rountree died in late fall 1871. In November of that year, R.J. Taylor was appointed administrator of his estate.

Text and photo courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).

Studio shots, no. 123: Hilliard Ellis Jr.

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Hilliard Ellis Jr. (1865-1924).

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In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Ellis, 43; wife Feribee, 40; and children Caroline, 16, William, 14, George, 11, Emily, 9, Hilliard, 6, Mary H., 4, and Warren, 8 months.

In 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Hilliard Ellis, 53; wife Fereby, 50; and children Hilliard Jr., 17; Mary A., 13; Warren, 12; Phillis, 10; and Milby, 6.

On 29 November 1887, Hilliard Ellis Jr., 22, son of Hilliard Ellis and Feraby Ellis, married Cora Williams, 21, daughter of Austin Williams and Nelly Williams, in Wilson County. Samuel Rowe applied for their license, and Warren Ellis witnessed the application.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: blacksmith Hillard Ellis, 34; wife Cora, 31; and children Willie, 11, Floyd, 6, and Ben, 2.

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Ellis, 44; wife Cora, 42; and children Floid, 17, Benjamin, 13, Hilliard D., 9, and Cora L., 9.

Cora Lee Howard died 13 October 1918 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 18 years old; married; and was the daughter of Hilliard Ellis and Cora Williams. M.S. Gilliam was the attending physician.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Hillard Ellis, 53; wife Cora, 52; and children Floyd, 24, Bennie, 21, Hillard, 19, and Walter M., 5.

Hillard Ellis died 20 March 1924 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 September 1865 in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Fabriby Rountree; was farmer working for Furney High; and was married to Cora Ellis.

Wilson Daily Times, 5 February 1948.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user tishbaldez.

Studio shots, no. 122: Hilliard Ellis Sr.

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Hilliard Ellis Sr. (1827-1900).

For posts on Hilliard Ellis, see here and here and here and here and elsewhere.

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In 1866, Hilliard Ellis and Farrebee Ellis registered their 16-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Taylor, 43; wife Feribee, 40; and children Caroline, 16, William, 14, George, 11, Emily, 9, Hilliard, 6, Mary H., 4, and Warren, 8 months.

In 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Hilliard Ellis, 53; wife Fereby, 50; and children Hilliard Jr., 17; Mary A., 13; Warren, 12; Phillis, 10; and Milby, 6.

In late 1895, a newspaper editorial offered testimony from Hilliard Ellis Sr. as evidence that Henry P. Cheatham did not enjoy widespread support among voters in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District:

The North Carolinian (Raleigh, N.C.), 28 December 2019.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Ellis, 73; wife Pharbey, 72; daughter Millie, 22; and grandchildren Walter, 8, Lizza, 10, Treasy, 7, and Arthur, 3,

Hilliard Ellis died 22 June 1900.

Hillard Ellis [Jr.] died 20 March 1924 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 September 1865 in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Fabriby Rountree; was a farmer working for Furney High; and was married to Cora Ellis.

Louise Rowe died 7 May 1924 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was about 62 years old; was born in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Feriba Roundtree; worked as a domestic for Charley Mercer; and was the widow of Samuel Rowe. Lula Toney was informant.

Adline Mitchell died 15 August 1936 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was 84 years old; was born in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Farby Roundtree; and was the widow of Gray Mitchell. Farby Kates was informant.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user tishbaldez.