Family

The Clarks and Taylors: reconnecting an enslaved family.

While researching for the Henry Flowers estate piece, I noticed that John H. Clark was informant on the death certificates of Isabel Taylor and Alex Taylor, children of Annis Taylor and Henry (last name uncertain). What was Clark’s connection to this family?

Detail from death certificate of Isabel Taylor, who died 26 October 1929 in Wilson. 

The crucial clue: Katherine Elks mentioned that Henry Flowers’ youngest daughters married brothers John P. Clark and Sidney P. Clark. Their father, Phineas P. Clark, had brought his family from Connecticut to Nash County to set up as a buggy maker. (His employee Willis N. Hackney went on to found the carriage-making company that became Hackney Brothers Body Company.)

P.P. Clark does not appear to have been a slaveholder. However, John P. Clark is listed in the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County as the owner of five enslaved people. One was a 19 year-old male, the correct age and sex to have been Harry Clark, John H. Clark’s father. John P. Clark was a 21 year-old newlywed at the time of the census. Where he had obtained five slaves? Had his wife Nancy Flowers brought them into the marriage?

Detail from the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson district, Wilson County.

Recall the distribution of Henry Flowers’ enslaved property. In 1850, the group was divided into three lots. Lot number 3 included a boy named Harry. Though existing estate records do not specify, it’s reasonable to assume that Lot 3 went to Nancy Flowers when she achieved majority some years later. When Nancy married John P. Clark, he assumed legal control over her property, which included Harry. (The 25 year-old woman was likely Peggy, who was also in Lot 3, and the children were probably hers. They were born after the 1850 division of Henry’s property and thus were not named.)

Harry was one of the children of Annis, as were Isabel and Alex. Harry adopted the surname Clark after Emancipation, while his siblings adopted Taylor, the surname of their last owners, William and Charity Flowers Taylor. So, what was John H. Clark’s connection to Isabel and Alex Taylor? He was their nephew.

Many thanks to Katherine Elks.

The family is doing well.

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Bureau R.F. & A.L., Sub. Dist. Goldsboro, Goldsboro, N.C. Novr. 9th 1866

Bvt.Col. A.G. Brady, Supt. Central Dist. N.C., Raleigh N.C. 

Col., I had the honor about ten (10) days since to receive through you a communication from a man in Boston inquiring about a family of freedmen in Wilson Co. which I sent to Mr. J.J. Lutts in Wilson and he replied that the family was then doing well etc. but I mislaid the communication so I cannot find it or it may have been taken or dropped from my pocket, or I fear most torn up and swep out with waste paper and you will much oblige by sending a copy of the breif with endorsements. The family inquire about was Taylor and Barnes. Your kind attention and early reply is respectfully solicited. Very respectfully, yr obt. Svt., Jas.W.H. Stickney [illegible]

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Bureau of Refugees Freedmen &c., Hd.Qrs. Asst. Commissioners, Raleigh N.C. Dec 14th 1866

Bell Jas B., Boston Mass

Sir, In answer to your communication of Oct 19th [illegible] in relation to whereabout of certain colored people. I quote language of Asst Supt at Goldsboro N.C.

“This family inquired for are living in the town of Wilson Wilson County N.C. are doing well and any communications for them can be addressed to Mr Benjamin Woods or to his care at Wilson”

Your communication having been mislaid the names of the family cannot be given.

Very respectfully, Your Obdt Servant, Jacob F. Ohm, Bt.Lt.Col. & A.A.A.G.

North Carolina, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, http://FamilySearch.org.