enslaved people

The last will and testament of Larry Dew.

On 31 October 1861 (the same day as his brother David Dew), Larry Dew of Wilson County penned a will whose provisions disposed of these 46 enslaved men, women and children:

  • to son John Dew as trustee for daughter Harriet Barbee, wife of Joseph Barbee (and to her outright after Joseph’s death), Milly, Sam and Cherry
  • to son John Dew, Laney and her children Juan, Minerva and Della, valued at $700
  • to son Arthur B. Dew, “boy Raiford,” valued at $600
  • to daughter Pennina Dew, wife of William Hooks, Milbry, Louisa, Jacob, and Venus and her children Letha, Jack and Amos
  • to son Jonathan T. Dew, Caroline, valued at $750
  • to son David Dew, Everitt, valued at $600; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to granddaughter Sally Harriet Hocutt, Henry, now with Daniel Hocutt in South Carolina
  • to daughter Mary Ann Peel, wife of Stephen J. Peel, Charlotte, Newry and Reuben
  • to son William L. Dew, “boy Woodard,” valued at $600; one gray horse Charley; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to son Moses Dew, Arch, valued at $1000; a sorrel horse Selim; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to son Willie Dew, Silvira, valued at $900; one mule Jack; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to son George W. Dew, Julia, valued at $900; a mule Gin; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to daughter Nancy Dew, Eveline, valued at $900; a feather bed and furniture; and $100
  • “the remainder of my negroes, to wit: Litha, Phereby, Amos, Stephen, Toby, Mourning, Isaac, Sylvester, Lucy, Gilbert, Aaron, Linnet, Gray, little Raiford, Winney, Pearcy, Van Buren, little Everitt, Virgil, and Eliza” to be divided equally among his sons and his daughter Nancy

Dew’s estate entered probate in Wilson County in April 1862. These documents from his estate file, submitted to the court in November 1862, chronicle the calculations behind distribution of his human property. Two and a half years later, the work of Dew’s executor was undone by freedom.

005277101_00398.jpg

005277101_00399.jpg

005277101_00416.jpg

005277101_00417.jpg

005277101_00418.jpg

005277101_00420.jpg

Estate of Larry Dew (1862), Wilson County, North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

An aged negro pays her respects.

201805211211028721.jpg

Wilson Daily Times, 23 August 1929.

I have not been able to locate Lucy Worthington in records.

Virginia “Jennie” Wise Boykin’s husband William Monroe Boykin was the son of Hilliard and Willie Flowers Boykin. In the 1850 census of Nash County, Hilliard Boykin reported $200 worth of real estate and, in the slave schedule, ownership of three enslaved people — a 35 year-old mulatto man, a 21 year-old mulatto man, and an 11 year-old black girl. With the creation of Wilson County in 1855, the 1860 census found Hilliard Boykin in Old Fields district of Wilson County (with son Monro, 15, in his household), claiming $3000 in real property and $7655 in personal property, which included women aged 33 and 22; girls aged 3, 2, and one month; and boys aged 7, 5 and 4. Presumably, Lucy Worthington was one of this group of enslaved people.

Studio shots, no. 88: Jack Armstrong, supercentenarian.

Among the dozens of families who migrated up to Wilson County from North Carolina’s southern Sandhills area were those of Dock Roberson and Margaret Armstrong McDougal Blue. After her husband Levi Blue died in Wilson County in 1919, Maggie Blue and Dock Roberson married, and Maggie’s parents John “Jack” and Annie Murphy Armstrong briefly came to live with their blended family in Taylors township. Likely during this time, Jack Armstrong traveled into Wilson to sit for a portrait in Picture-Taking George W. Barnes‘ studio. Jack’s descendants explained that his curled fingers were the result of an injury inflicted during slavery.

John “Jack” Armstrong (ca. 1820-1932), circa 1920.

——

In the 1870 census of Flea Hill township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farm laborer John Armstrong, 40; wife Anna, 38; and children Dublin, 14, Charles, 9, Penny, 8, Margrett, 7, Elizabeth, 5, Barbry, 4, William, 3, and David, 2; plus Amy Armstrong, 52.

In the 1880 census of Flea Hill township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farmer John Armstrong, 54; wife Annie J., 43; and children Charley, 18, Margret, 16, Barbra A., 12, William J., 10, David, 8, Joe, 6, Daniel R., 4, and Rebecca, 3; plus A. Murphy, 60, mother-in-law.

In the 1900 census of Geddies Gin township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farm laborer Jack Armstrong, 75; wife Annie, 68; daughter Janie, 15; and grandson George W. Murphy, 12.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Doc Robinson, 55; wife Maggie, 53; children Mary, 18, James C., 19, Virginia, 17, David, 14, Elijah, 12, and Jessie B., 3; Vangie, 32, Geneva, 17, and Addie McDoogle, 15; and Moses Robinson, 8, and lodgers Jack, 103, and Annie Armstrong, 101.

Annie Armstrong died 5 April 1920 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 103 years old; was born in Johnston County to Annie Murphy and an unknown father; worked as a farmer for George Piage; and was married to Jack Armstrong. William Jas. Armstrong was informant.

Maggie Roberson died 5 April 1928 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 55 years old; was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Jack and Annie Armstrong; was married to George Roberson; and farmed for Will Carr.

Jack Armstrong died 5 January 1932 in Mingo township, Sampson County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 11 February 1815 to John Wood and an unknown mother; was widowed; and was a farmer.

Newspapers across the state reported that Jack Armstrong had been “the oldest North Carolinian” at the time of his death.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 January 1932.

Photo courtesy of F. Cooper Jr., great-great-grandson of Jack Armstrong.

The obituary of Henry Rountree.

201805211318546215.jpg

201805211320329653.jpg

Wilson Daily Times, 14 September 1940.

Is this the same Henry Rountree who  spoke of Christmas-time serenades in an 1936 interview by a Federal Writers Project employee? Though it would seem so, the life details of the two Henrys do not seem to match.

Here is this Henry Rountree’s death certificate:

His parents are listed as Spencer and Julia Rountree, not Shark and Adell, as in the F.W.P. interview. The obituary reports his owners as the Tomlin family, but the narrative names Dock Rountree. The obituary centers around Henry Rountree’s work during the Civil War, which the narrative does not mention at all.

In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Simon Ricks, 34; wife Lula B., 29; children Mary E., 12, Alexander, 9, Etta, 6, Gertie, 4, and Roland, 2; mother-in-law Fannie Rountree, 58, widow; and uncle Henry Rountree, 74, widower.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: renting for $2/month, widowed farm laborer Nora Dew, 42; her children Lester, 15, and Etta, 11; uncle Henry Rountree, 85, farm laborer; and boarders Edna, 17, and Ella Lane, 14, and Elijah Terrell, 22.

Final rites for Aggie M. Williams.

201805211404325951.jpg

Wilson Daily Times, 24 March 1951.

The Daily Times‘ editorial policy, apparently, provided that the most remarkable fact of the lives of men and woman who had been enslaved was that they had been enslaved. However, as set forth in detail here, Aggie Mercer Williams died possessed of a house and two lots in Elm City and two farms outside of town, which suggests a lifetime of notable achievement.

He never set up a claim to them until recently.

We read earlier of Violet Blount‘s successful attempt to gain custody of her grandsons, Oscar and Marcus Blount, who were first cousins to Samuel H. Vick. Though that battle played out in the Goldsboro field office of the Freedmen’s Bureau, George W. Blount’s statement was filed in the Rocky Mount office. In it, he gave details about the relationship between the boys’ mother, Margaret Blount, and Samberry Battle.

——

record-image_3QS7-89ZP-RL85.jpg

Statement of G.W. Blount.

Margarett was the name of the mother of the children. Oscar & Marcus, two colored children bound to B.H. Blount their former master by Wilson County Court. The mother of these children is dead and has been for several years. Samberry Battle did have the mother of the children for a wife & by her begot one child who is now of age & whose name is William. After the birth of William the mother became intimate with another man, by name Hillman, by whom she had two children, James & [illegible]. After the birth of the first of these two Samberry left the mother on account of her infidelity and took another woman and never after had anything to do with the mother of these. Marcus has a different father from Oscar, and there is yet another child by a different father. It is notorious among negros & whites that Samberry is not the father of any of the children except William and never set up a claim to them, until recently. He has never mentioned the mother to B.H. Blount in whose custody the children have always been. The grandmother of the children is living under the protection of B.H. Blount who will not see her suffer and said Grandmother protests against the claim of Samberry Battle. The fathers of the two children referred to above if living are not in this country & if so could not claim them as they were both begotten illegitimately. Therefore the binding by the Court without Notice to them is valid. The binding was regular & in accordance to law.

Roll 56, Miscellaneous Records, Rocky Mount Assistant Superintendent’s Records, North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, National Archives and Records Administration images, www.familysearch.org

 

Jane Mobley, a remarkable woman.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 June 1931. 

——

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Henry Rountree, 35, farm laborer; wife Patsey, 30; and children Jane, 15, Amos, 10, George, 8, Hannah, 6, Bettie, 4, and Margaret, 1.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm worker John Mobley, 35; wife Jane, 28; and children Rhoda, 9, Henrietta, 6, Jane, 5, Isaac, 4, and John H., 1.

On 9 March 1898, John Mobley Jr., 21, son of John and Jane Mobley, married Miss Julia Penn, 20, daughter of Lou Penn, in Wilson. Columbus Gay applied for the license, and Baptist minister W.T.H. Woodward performed the ceremony in the presence of W.H. Neal, Sallie Neal, and Lesley Mobley.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Mobley, 50, teamster; wife Jane, 46; and children Fannie, 12, Charlie, 13, farm laborer; Patience, 10; Henry, 9; Mary, 7; and James, 23, day laborer.

On 28 December 1904, Fannie Mobley, 19, daughter of John and Jane Mobley, married James M. Moses, 21, son of Carson and Alice Moses, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Jeremiah Scarborough performed the ceremony at F.A. Woodard’s residence. [United States Congressman Frederick A. Woodard was the husband of Fannie Rountree Woodard, whose family had owned Jane Mobley’s.]

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Road, odd jobs laborer John Mobley, 53; wife Jane, 56, nurse; and nieces in law Mary Rountree, 16, nurse, and Patsy Whitehead, 7.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 120 Vance Street, farmer John Mobley, 64; wife Jane, 65; daughter Fannie Mobley, 23; and grandchildren Mary Jane, 7, and Alexander Mobley, 13.

Fannie Mobley, 29, daughter of John and Jane Mobley, married John Faulkland, 28, son of Philipp and Rachel Faulkland, on 2 December 1922. Free Will Baptist minister E.S. Hargrave performed the ceremony in the presence of J.W. Rite, Joseph Faulklin, and Boston Witingham.

John Mobley died 13 June 1923. Per his death certificate, he was about 60 years old; was born in Washington, North Carolina, to Javis and Harriet Mobley; was married to Jane Mobley; resided at West Lee Street; and had done masonry work. Informant was Fannie Faulkland, 200 West Lee Street.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1001 Gold Street, Lamar H. Winstead, 38, book merchant; wife Anabel, 37; son William, 13; and servant Jane Mobly, 85.

Jane Mobley died 31 May 1931 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was about 92 years old; was born in Wilson County to Henry and Martha Rountree; was the widow of John Mobley; and lived at 320 Hackney Street. Informant was Fannie Mobley. [Based on her age in early census records, Jane Mobley was likely no older than her late 70s when she died. Also, contrary to her obituary, it is unlikely that she was born to an enslaved mother, but not herself enslaved.]

 

 

I do like they done.

Martha Ann Tyson Dixon of DeValls Bluff, Arkansas, sat for an interview with a Federal Writers Project worker in the late 1930s. Dixon had spent her childhood enslaved near Saratoga, Wilson County, and she and her husband Luke D. Dixon had migrated west in the late 1880s. More than 50 years after Emancipation, she vividly described the hardships of life during and after slavery.

“I am eighty-one years old. I was born close to Saratoga, North Carolina. My mother died before I can recollect and my grandmother raised me. They said my father was a white man. They said Jim Beckton [Becton]. I don’t recollect him. My mother was named Mariah Tyson.

“I recollect how things was. My grandmother was Miss Nancy Tyson’s cook. She had one son named Mr. Seth Tyson. He run her farm. They et in the dining room, we et in the kitchen. Clothes and somethng to eat was scarce. I worked at whatever I was told to do. Grandma told me things to do and Miss Nancy told me what to do. I went to the field when I was pretty little. Once my uncle left the mule standing out in the field and went off to do something else. It come up a hard shower. I crawled under the mule. If I had been still it would have been all right but my hair stood up and tickled the mule’s stomach. The mule jumped and the plough hit me in my hip here at the side. It is a wonder I didn’t get killed.

“After the Civil War was times like now. Money scarce and prices high, and you had to start all over new. Pigs was hard to start, mules and horses was mighty scarce. Seed was scarce. Everything had to be started from the stump. Something to eat was mighty plain and scarce and one or two dresses a year had to do. Folks didn’t study about going so much.”

“I had to rake up leaves and fetch em to the barn to make beds for the little pigs in cold weather. The rake was made out of wood. It had hickory wood teeth and about a foot long. It was heavy. I put my leaves in a basket bout so high [three or four feet high.] I couldn’t tote it — I drug it. I had to get leaves in to do a long time and wait till the snow got off before I could get more. It seem like it snowed a lot. The pigs rooted the leaves all about in day and back up in the corners at night. It was ditched all around. It didn’t get very muddy. Rattle snakes was bad in the mountains. I used to tote water — one bucketful on my head and one bucketful in each hand. We used wooden buckets. It was a lot of fun to hunt guinea nests and turkey nests. When other little children come visiting that is what we would do. We didn’t set around and listen at the grown folks. We toted up rocks and then they made rows [terraces] and rock fences about the yard and garden. They looked so pretty. Some of them would be white, some gray, sometimes it would be mixed. They walled wells with rocks too. All we done or knowed was work. When we got tired there was places to set and rest. The men made plough stocks and hoe handles and worked at the blacksmith shop in snowy weather. I used to pick up literd [lightwood] knots and pile them in piles along the road so they could take them to the house to burn. They made a good light and kindling wood.

“They didn’t whoop Grandma but she whooped me a plenty.

“After the war some white folks would tell Grandma one thing and some others tell her something else.  She kept me and”

“cooked right on. I didn’t know what freedom was. Seemed like most of them I knowed didn’t know what to do. Most of the slaves left the white folks where I was raised. It took a long time to ever get fixed. Some of them died, some went to the cities, some up North, some come to the country. I married and come to Fredonia, Arkansas in 1889. I had been married since I was a young girl. But as I was saying the slaves still hunting a better place and more freedom. Grandma learnt me to set down and be content. We have done better out here than we could done in North Carolina but I don’t believe in so much rambling.

“We come on the passenger train and paid our own way to Arkansas. It was a wild and sickly country and has changed. Not like living in the same country. I try to live like the white folks and Grandma raised me. I do like they done. I think is the reason we have saved and have good a living as we got. We do on as little as we can and save a little for the rainy day.”

——

In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Nancy Scarborough, 47; Victoria, 10, Susan, 6, and Laurina Scarborough, 3; farm manager Seth Tyson, 23; and Julia, 18, Nancy, 17, Aaron, 15, and Abner Tyson, 13.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Mary Tyson, 62, with Edith, 23, John, 21, Abraham, 16, and Martha Tyson, 11.

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Martha Tyson, 20, was a cook in the household of white marchant/farmer Mark Atkinson.

Martha Tyson, 26, married Luke Dixon, 26, in Wilson County on 12 February 1885. Minister E.H. Ward performed the ceremony in the presence of Charles Batts, Tempey Cotton and Green Taylor.

In the 1910 census of Watensaw township, Prairie County, Arkansas: Luke Dixon, 49, saw filer at Bar factory, and wife Martha M., 52.

In the 1920 census of DeValls Bluff, Prairie County, Arkansas: on Cedar Street, farmer Luke Dixon, 58; wife Martha, 59; and cousins Margaret Tyson, 14, and Oleo McClarin, 9.

In the 1930 census of DeValls Bluff, Prairie County, Arkansas: on Cypress Street, owned and valued at $2000, Luke D. Dixon, 70, born in Virginia, and wife Martha, 70, born in North Carolina, with cousin Allen Reaves, 8.

In the 1940 census of DeValls Bluff, Prairie County, Arkansas: on Cypress Street, owned and valued at $2000, Luke Dixon, 84, born in Virginia, and wife Martha A., 84, born in North Carolina.

Federal Writers’ Project: Slave Narrative Project, Vol. 2, Arkansas, Part 2, Cannon-Evans, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mesn.022.

Spicie Eatman dies.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 January 1944.

In the 1940 census of Bailey township, Nash County: on Finch Perry Road, farmer James Terrel, 60; wife Della, 58; children Luther, 26, Jessie D., 24, and Millard, 15; grandson Robert, 14; and lodge Spicy Eatmon, 99, an old age pensioner.

Spicie Eatman died in the Wilson County Home and was buried at New Vester. Her death certificate identified her mother as Gracie Flowers.

[Sidenote: I know nothing more about Spicie Eatman. I can say unequivocally, however, that the twenty years she spent enslaved were not the sum total of her long life.]