Exoduster

They will tell the true story when they get home.

Northern Neck (Va.) News, 20 February 1880.

Who were the anonymous informants who “would rather live one year in North Carolina than to live to be as old as giants” in Indiana?

Not Joseph Ellis, whose testimony before Congress about Black migration from North Carolina to Indiana  declared that he was “well pleased with [his] situation.” On the other hand, Green Ruffin, who testified on 16 February 1880, was adamant that he never going back to Indiana if he could get home. Peter Dew and Julia Daniels shared similar sentiments in letters to the editor of the Wilson Advance.

Armstrong cemetery, Scott, Arkansas.

Wilson County native Haywood Armstrong, son of Abraham and Cherry Armstrong, lead his family to Lonoke County, Arkansas, in the 1890s. Armstrong and his wife, Agnes Bullock Armstrong, reared 14 children and are buried in Hickory Grove cemetery near Scott, Arkansas. In the fall of 2020, their descendants came together for a cemetery clean-up. Lydia Bledsoe Hunter shared these images of the family’s work, as well as a commemorative family calendar developed to raise funds for ongoing upkeep. 

 

Other suns: Indiana.

Indiana was an early destination for African-Americans leaving North Carolina for perceived greener pastures. Several hundred free people of color migrated to Indiana in the 1830s and 1840s, but only two families have been definitively linked to the area that is now Wilson County. Another large migration circa 1880 was the subject of a Congressional inquiry. During the Great Migration, Indianapolis was a popular focus of migration.

Other suns: Arkansas.

Arkansas was not a Great Migration destination. Rather, it was a state from which thousands of African-Americans streamed North to cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit. However, no doubt, many such families had come to eastern and central Arkansas from Wilson County in the 1880s and ’90s.

  • Ellis, Littleton, and Julia Barnes Ellis and children, unnamed location, ca. 1886
  • Dixon, Luke, and Martha Tyson Dixon, DeValls Bluffs, 1889
  • Armstrong, Haywood, and Agnes Bullock Armstrong, and children Charlie, Mollie, William, Joshua, and Herman, Lonoke County, ca. 1890
  • Parker, Caesar, and Cinda Parker and children Mattie, Willis, Daniel, and Louvenia, Keo, Lonoke County, 1890
  • Barnes, Nathan, and Lucy Barnes, and children Marson, Mary Jane, Claudie, and Elroy, Saint Francis County, ca. 1890
  • Ruffin, Thomas, and Martha Farmer Ruffin, and children Wiley, Marina, and James, Brodie, Pulaski County, ca. 1891
  • Scarborough, George, and Millie Armstrong Scarborough and children Walter, George, Martin J., and Charity, Lonoke County, ca. 1892
  • Scarborough, George, and children Martin, Cromwell, Arie, Jesse, Fannie, Joseph, and Leon, Lonoke County, betw. 1893 and 1900
  • Forbes, Wiley, and Penny Forbes and siblings Johnnie, Mary B., Martha J., and Tinsey, 12; and father Toney Forbes, bef. 1894
  • Bynum, Isaac, and Martha Bynum and children, Lonoke County, ca. 1895
  • Daniels, Henry, and Elizabeth Daniels, and children William H., Matilda A., and Mary J., Pine Bluff, bef. 1896
  • Lucas, Ephraim, and Annie Lucas, and son Luther, Cross County, betw. 1896 and 1900
  • Bullock, Harriet, county unknown, bef. 1897
  • Taylor, George W., Pulaski County, ca. 1898
  • Barnes, Smithy, and sons George, Sidney and Bruce Cooper, Pine Bluff, bef. 1900
  • Farmer, Peter, and Mariah Farmer, and children John, Margaret, Isaac, Eli, and Louisa, Cross County, bef. 1900
  • Armstrong, Isaac, and Laura Armstrong and children William, David L., Mary B., and James G., Ashley County, bef. 1900
  • Jones, George D., Little Rock, bef. 1900
  • High, Joseph W., Lafayette County, bef. 1900
  • Farmer, Peter, and Mariah Lofton Farmer, and children Hardy and Essie, Cross County, bef. 1900
  • Hines, Cherry Ward, Lonoke County, bef. 1900
  • Barron, Mark, Ashley County, bef. 1900
  • Aycock, Green, and Janie Aycock, and children Robert, Larry, and Peter, and mother Faine Aycock, Jefferson County, bef. 1900
  • Davis, Paul, and Annie Davis and Louvinia, Sadie, Emma and Claud, Cross County, bef. 1900
  • Armstrong, Burton, and Clara Armstrong, Ashley County, bef. 1900
  • Barnes, Haywood, and Tena Barnes, and sons James and Clayton, Lonoke County, bef. 1900
  • Wesley, Hayward, Columbia County and Pine Bluffs, bef. 1900
  • Woodard, John H., Pope County, bef. 1900
  • Lewis, Kinchen, and children Cora, John, William and Arthur, Marianna, Lee County, bef. 1900
  • Adams, Abram, and Millie Adams, and Fannie Adams Owens, Union County, bef. 1900
  • Hooks, Thomas, Pulaski County, bef. 1904
  • Baker, James, Lonoke County, bef. 1910
  • Harp, Adeline, Lee County, bef. 1910
  • Brown, Rhoda Tabron Taylor, Saint Francis County, bef. 1910
  • Thomas, Hattie Sharpe, Lonoke County, bef. 1910
  • Griffin, Josh, Little Rock, bef. 1910
  • Barnes, Clayton, and Jennie Barnes and sister-in-law Lucille Jones, Lonoke County, bef. 1910
  • Smith, Jesse A., Crossett, Ashley County, ca. 1911
  • Joyner, Ada Barnes, Pine Bluffs, bef. 1916
  • Davis, Drew, Jefferson County, bef. 1926
  • Barnes, Fred, Saint Francis County, bef. 1930
  • Connor, Thomas F., Mississippi County, bef. 1930 (prior, in Mississippi)
  • Horn, Gray, Desha County, bef. 1939 (prior, in Louisiana)
  • Barnes, Richard B., Little Rock, bef. 1930
  • Scarborough, Jesse, Pulaski County, bef. 1930
  • Tabron, Elzie Jones, Cross County, bef. 1930
  • Bynum, Lawrence, and Edna Bynum, and James C., Mary, Charlie, and Hattie, Lonoke, bef. 1930
  • Bines, Lillie Ricks, North Little Rock, bef. 1931
  • Robinson, Alvanie Sharp, Desha County, bef. 1937
  • Jones, Andrew J., Bradley, Lafayette County, bef. 1940
  • Bullock, Eliza Barnes, Chicot County, bef. 1940
  • Langston, George W., Lewisville, Lafayette County, bef. 1940
  • Horn, Henry, Dermott, Chicot County, bef. 1942
  • Hooks, Elijah W., West Helena, Phillips County, bef. 1942
  • Lassiter, Hardy, Pine Bluff, bef. 1942
  • McDowell, Charlie, Bradley County, bef. 1942 
  • Aycock, Jethro, Scott County, bef. 1942
  • Gay, Charlie, Blytheville, Mississippi County, bef. 1942
  • Adams, Edward, Prattsville, Grant County, bef. 1942
  • Hines, Paul, Sebastian County, bef. 1942
  • Dillard, Mary Simms, Crittenden County, bef. 1951
  • Phillips, Martha Farmer, Little Rock, bef. 1955

Death certificate of Hayward Wesley, who died 23 July 1924 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The merchant had been born in Wilson, North Carolina.

As different as chalk and cheese.

WILLIAM CROOM.

The man is working for Daniel Evans, near Russellville, Putnam County. He has a nice brick house to live in, has a nice garden spot, fire-wood, and a team to haul it, a milch-cow and food to feed her, and $15 in cash each month; in all, equivalent to about $24 a month. He is delighted with Indiana, and urges that all his people come to our State as soon as they can get there. In an interview with me, he said: “Neither you nor any other Republican in Greencastle ever said a word to me about voting, nor asked me how I was gaining to vote; nor have I known of your asking any of our people how they were going to vote. All that has been said to us was about finding us homes and work, and taking care of us. They have done all for us they could, and our people are grateful to them for it. None of us want to go back to North Carolina; neither does any man who is honest and has sound judgment. I would take my oath on that. Most of our people who have come here are religious. I belong to the Missionary Baptist church, and am a licensed preacher. I came here to better the condition of myself and family, and to raise them respectably. I have found it better than I expected. Indeed, I don’t think that I hardly deserve as good treatment as I have received and am still receiving. From my own experience, I know that my people in North Carolina could greatly better their condition by coming here, and if they knew the facts they would come.

In a subsequent interview Croom said:

“I came from Wilson County, North Carolina. Have been here several weeks. I came because I had heard that colored men could do better here than in North Carolina, and I find that it was a true statement. There is as much difference between there and here as there is between chalk and cheese. It is altogether different. Here we are men just like the whites, get good wages, have good homes, and there are good schools for our children. The climate is no worse for us here than there. I have not yet seen as cold weather in Indiana as I have seen in North Carolina. And then the people are so different. They are just as kind to us as they can be. It seems as though they can’t do enough for us.”

——

Possibly: William Croom died 17 July 1910 in Indianapolis, Center township, Marion County, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was 57 years old; was born in North Carolina to Sam Croom and Cherry Latta; was married to Diana Croom; and was a farmer. He was buried in Mount Jackson cemetery.

Cora Allen died 9 November 1925 at Provident Sanitarium in Indianapolis, Center township, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 May 1884 in Indiana to William Croom and Diana Ellis, both of North Carolina and was married to James Allen. She was buried in Floral Park cemetery.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

This is the cause of the exodus.

THOMAS BYNUM.

I lived in Wilson County, North Carolina. I have a wife and eight children. It cost me one hundred and twenty-three dollars to get here. I never heard any thing about politics until I got to Indianapolis; then I was asked by a Democrat if some Republican did not go South and make fine promises to me, and did they not bring me here to vote? I told him, no, that I brought myself; I came on my own money; and that I came because I could not get any pay for my work, nor could I educate my children there; and now that I have seen the difference between the North and South I would not go back to North Carolina for anything, and I never expect to go back in life nor after death, except the buzzards carry me back. Mr. Turnbull, of Toisenot, N.C., a white Democrat, told me that I was coming out here to perish, but so far from perishing I am faring better than I ever fared before in my life. I wish to say that cases like the following is what brought about the exodus: A colored man rented a farm, for which he was to pay three bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each; he raised on that farm eleven bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each, and 25 barrels of corn, which left to the tenant eight bales of cotton, and 25 barrels of corn, pease, &c. The tenant bought nothing but a very small amount of very coarse food and clothing, using all the economy during the crop season to make no large account, thinking thereby to have something coming to him at settling day; but when settling day came the landlord had so enlarged his account as to cover everything — the eight bales of cotton, the 25 barrels of corn, pease, and all, and then said that the tenant lacked a little of paying out, although cotton sold at ten cents per pound. This and numerous other things is the cause of the exodus.

——

Probably, in the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Thomas Bynum, 32; wife Bethana, 28; and children James, 11, Oliver, 8, Mary, 6, Lavinia, 4, and “no name,” 2; and Lucy Pitt, 53. “Ages of this family are in doubt.”

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: merchant P.J. Turnbull, 29, and family.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Howard County, Indiana: at 1622 Guffin Street, street laborer Albert Whitley, 36; Polly, 32; children Cicero, 13, Mamie, 12, Albert, 9, Leonard, 6, and Wilber, 3; and grandfather Thomas Bynum, 65. All the adults were born in North Carolina.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

I would not go back to North Carolina for any consideration.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.14.59 PM

In the 1880 census of Russell township, Putnam County, Indiana: laborer Joseph Ellis, 27, and wife Prissa, 23, both born in North Carolina.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: widowed day laborer Joseph Ellis, 48; son Theodore, 16, and daughters Margaret, 10, and Vera, 8.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

 

I want to come back right away.

Wilson_Advance_2_6_1880_Julia_Daniel_exoduster (1)

Wilson Advance, 6 February 1880.

Forty-seven year-old white farmer Kinsey Hyman “K.H.” Winstead headed a household in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County. Farmer Kinchen H. Watson, 29, is listed in his mother’s household in Wilson township, south of the Plank Road.  I have not found Julia Daniels. However, in the 1880 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana, 32 year-old Peter Dew, his wife Ellen, 29, and their children William, 9, Georgeanna, 6, and Jennie, 3, all North Carolina-born, appear at 352 West North Street, the address that Julia used.

Wilson County marriage records show that Peter, son of H. Ellis and Jinny Dew, and Ellen, daughter of Raford and Emily Daniel, married 15 August 1869.