As we’ve seen here, here, here, here, here and here, “race” in the 19th century could be an expansive construct, even within a family. Some people classified as “mulatto” into the turn of the 20th century transitioned to full whiteness within a few decades. Others, classified as white, but having mixed-race children, became mulatto, though nothing had changed about their physical presentation.
The Evans and Taylor families of Taylor township, connected by marriage, are another example. The Evanses were descended from Elizabeth Evans, a white woman, whose children were mixed-race. This Taylor family descended from Sally Taylor via her daughter Harriet Taylor, both white.
In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County: Elizabeth Evans, 45, white, with Ivey, 16, and Elizabeth Evans, 13, both mulatto; plus Temperance Perry, 35, and Margaret Perry, 7, both white. Also, E. Evans, 50; Edith Evans, 19, both white, and Ivy, 14, and E. Evans Jr., 12, both mulatto.
On 27 August 1851, Elizabeth Evans married Richard Locus in Edgecombe County. [This is the younger Elizabeth Evans.]
On 18 May 1855, Ivy Evans and Sarah Brantley received a license to marry in Nash County, but never returned it to the courthouse.
In the 1860 census of Mannings township, Nash County: Ivey Evans, 23, farm laborer, and wife Sally, 28, with farm laborer Gilbert Howard, 20, all mulatto. Next door: Richard Locus, 35, farm laborer, wife Elizabeth, 26, and children William J., 7, Frances E., 4, Julia A., 3, and John E., 1, all mulatto; plus Elizabeth Evans, 50, white.
In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Ivey Evans, 37, and wife Sallie, 39, both mulatto. Next door: Betsey Evans, 65, white. Next door to her: Telitha Driver, 53, Harriet Taylor, 21, and Margrett Taylor, 2, all white.
In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Richard Locust, 48, farm laborer; wife Betsey, 36; children William, 17, Francis, 15, Julia, 13, John, 10, Elizabeth, 8, Robert, 5, James, 3, and Henriettie, 1.
In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Elisha Driver, 60, white, “stays with niece”; Harriett Taylor, 35, white; her children Margrett, 12, Ellen, 9, John H., 6, and Dora Taylor, 4, all mulatto. Next door: Ivory Evans, 50, and wife Sally, 45, both mulatto. Ivey Evans was the father of at least some of Harriett Taylor’s children.
On 18 November 1888, Ellen Taylor, 18, of Wilson County, son of Harriett Taylor, married Dora Locus, 18, of Wilson County, daughter of John and Delphia Locus, in Taylors township, Wilson County. [Delphia Taylor Locus was the daughter of Dempsey Taylor and Eliza (or Louisa) Pace and was Harriett and Ellen Taylor’s cousin.]
On 10 May 1890, Ivy Evans, 56, son of Betsey Evans, married Harriett Taylor, 47, daughter of Sally Taylor, in Taylors township, Wilson County. Though Harriett was white in 1880, both are described as colored.
On 7 April 1900, John Davis, 50, of Wilson County, married Dora Taylor, 21, of Wilson County, daughter of Iva Evans and Harriette Taylor, in Old Fields township, Wilson County. John A. Jones, James E. Jones, and Deal Howard were witnesses.
In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Iva Eavins, 68; wife Hattie, 50; children John H., 23, Margret, 17, Manuell, 15, Bettie, 13, and Francis, 10; grandson Leavy, 3; and boarder Willie Blackwell, 23, all black.
In the 1900 census of Coopers township, Nash County: farmer John Pulley, 44; wife Margarett, 33; children Jesse, 10, Tabitha, 11, Martha, 7, Minnie, 5, and Fed, 3; widowed mother Harriett, 77; and brother-in-law Ellen Taylor, 28, day laborer, widower, and his children Sallie A., 10, and Thomas, 7.
In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: day laborer Richard Locus, 85; wife Betsy, 68, cook; and grandson Wiley, 6.
On 19 November 1902, John Blackwell, 22, colored, of Wilson County, son of Albert and Classie Blackwell, married Bettie Liles, 18, colored, of Wilson County, daughter of Ivy Evans and Sis Liles, in Isaac Ivens’ residence in Taylors township, Wilson County. Ellen Taylor applied for the license, and George Taylor, Dock High and Hence Brantley were witnesses.
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Ellen [sic] Evans, 39; wife Eliza, 25; son Thomas, 18; mother Harriet, 68, cook; widowed sister Dora Davis, 28; and nieces and nephews Levi, 14, Ivy, 12, Lillie, 10, Mamie, 5, and Margaret Davis, 2.
Eliza Evans died 19 November 1921 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was about 40 years old; was married to Allen Evans; was engaged in tenant farming for John Griffin; was born in Nash County to Elija Joyner and Mary Taylor. Allen Taylor was informant.
Margaret Pulley died 13 December 1935 in Sturgeon district, Brunswick County, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1876 in Wilson County, N.C., to Ivey Evans and Harriet Taylor; and was a widow. Monnie Pulley was informant.
Dora Strickland died 6 August 1949 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 22 July 1899 [actually, circa 1886] in Wilson County to Ivory Evans and Harriet Taylor; was married; worked as a farmer; and was colored. Isaac Strickland was informant.