In researching Nora Ward Goens, I discovered her sister Mattie Ward Robinson, who spent her adult life as the wife of a coal miner in east-central Illinois.
Henry Ward, son of D.G.W. Ward and Sarah Darden, married Sarah Forbes, daughter of Henry Forbes, on 16 June 1870 in Wilson. Rev. L. Moye performed the ceremony at a M.E. Zion church.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Ward, 21, and wife Sallie, 19, next door to Henry Forbes, 48, domestic servant, wife Louise, 43, children Charles, 15, Georgiana, 21, and John, 21, and Patsey Forbes, 70. [The Forbes family migrated to Indianapolis before 1900. More about them later.]
I have not found the family in the 1880 census.
In the 1900 census of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee: at 527 High Street, minister Edwin Ward, 44; wife Sallie, 43; and daughters Adelia, 20, seamstress, and Mattie, 16. Edwin and Sallie were described as North Carolina-born; their daughters, Tennessee. [This, presumably, is the family. Nora Goens’ death certificate lists her father as “Rev. Ward.” Mattie’s age is right, though her birthplace is not. Had the family migrated to Nashville directly from Wilson, or did they detour in Indianapolis, where Nora married Eugene Goens in 1894?]
In the 1910 census of Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois: at 216 Clements, coal miner John W. Robinson, 29; wife Mattie, 26; and children Magdelene, 7, Adelia, 4, William, 2, and Eugene, newborn. [I have not found John and Mattie’s marriage license.]
In 1918, John William Robinson registered for the World War I draft in Vermilion County. Per his registration card, he was born 8 April 1886; lived at 216 Clements, Danville; worked as a coal miner at Peabody Coal Company #24, Catlin, Vermilion County; and his nearest relative was wife Mattie Robinson.
In the 1920 census of Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois: brickyard laborer John W. Robingson, 38; wife Mattie, 34; and children Magdeline, 14, servant at soldier’s home; Odelia, 12; Eugean, 10, Fay, 5, Dorothy, 3, and Walter, 1.
Mattie L. Robinson died 12 March 1921 in Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois. Per her death certificate, she was born 16 September 1884 in Wilson, N.C., to Henry Ward and Sallie Forbes; was married to J.W. Robinson; and was buried in Springhill Cemetery, Danville.
William Robinson, 23, son of J.W. Robinson and Mattie Ward, married Vivian Thurston, 19, daughter of William Thurston and Anna Logan, on 17 March 1930 in Danville, Illinois.
In the 1930 census of Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois: coal mine laborer John W. Robinson, 49, widower; children Eugene, 20, hotel porter, Fay, 15, Dorothy, 14, and John W., 22, coal miner; daughter-in-law Vivian, 19, restaurant waitress; and daughter Mae M. Rachold, 26, divorced, office building elevator girl.
I recently happened upon the death certificate of Nora Goens, who died 3 November 1935 in Merrill, Newaygo County, Michigan, north of Grand Rapids. Per her death certificate, she was born in Wilson, North Carolina; lived in Denver, Colorado; and was buried in Danville, Illinois.
Though it’s still not clear why she died in Michigan, available digital records do shed some light on Goens’ peripatetic life and, surprisingly, link her to another Wilson migrant — Dr. Joseph H. Ward!
On 6 February 1894, Nora Ward, 21, daughter of B.H. Ward and Sallie Forbes, married Eugene Goins, 22, son of Lewis Goins and Edna Martin, in Indianapolis, Indiana. [Henry Ward (recorded elsewhere as B.H. and as Edwin H.), son of D.G.W. Ward and Sarah Darden, married Sarah Forbes, daughter of Henry Forbes, in 1870 in Wilson. Henry Ward was the brother of Joseph H. Ward’s mother Mittie R. Ward. Joseph Ward arrived in Indianapolis around 1890. Did he join or precede his uncle’s family?]
In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1504 Arthur Street, janitor Eugene Goins, 27, and wife Nora, 27.
Within the next decade, the Goenses migrated further west to Colorado. In the 1910 census of Denver, Denver County: at 2230 Cal. Street, among other families, apartment janitor Eugene Goens, 36, and wife Nora, 36. Eugene reported that he was born in Ohio to parents from Virginia and Kentucky. Nora was born in North Carolina to North Carolina-born parents. The couple had been married 16 years, and Nora reported that she had had one child, who was dead. [Thirteen years later, after divorcing her first husband, Nora’s first cousin Minerva Ward Artis (Joseph Ward’s half-sister) married Jonas Biggins in Denver. Had Minerva come west to stay with the Goenses?]
2230 California Street, Denver. Courtesy of apartments.com.
Nora Goens’ mother-in-law Edna Martin Goens Wright died in Denver in 1919. Her body was taken to Castalia, Ohio, for burial. Norris Wright was Eugene Goens’ half-brother. Norris was born in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1888, and the Wrights moved to Indianapolis before 1900.
Sandusky Star Journal, 5 December 1919.
In the 1920 census of Denver, Colorado: at 2230 California Street, among other families, Eugene Goens, 46, apartment janitor, and wife Nora, 46, janitress.
Though I have not found record of Nora’s early life, she had at least one sister. Mattie L. Robinson died 12 March 1921 in Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois. Per her death certificate, Mattie Robinson was born 16 September 1884 in Wilson, N.C., to Henry Ward and Sallie Forbes; was married to J.W. Robinson; and was buried in Springhill Cemetery, Danville. [More about Mattie to come.]
The Goinses made a long, looping excursion in 1928, spending considerable time in Xenia, Ohio. Their weekend hosts Joseph T. and Addie Artis Rountree were natives of Wilson. Mrs. Fred Cosby — Ardeaner Rountree Cosby — was the Rountrees’ daughter and was also born in Wilson.
Xenia Evening Gazette, 7 July 1928.
Xenia Evening Gazette, 16 November 1928.
In the 1930 census of Denver, Colorado: at 609-26th Street, Eugene Goins, 39, and wife Nora, 37.
In February 1934, the Goinses were again back East and were honored guests at dinner hosted by the S.S. Club of Xenia.
Xenia Evening Gazette, 27 February 1934.
In the 1935 San Diego, California, city directory: Goens Eug (Nora) h2874d Franklin Av. [Nonetheless, Eugene Goens reported his and his wife’s residence as Denver on her death certificate.]
As noted above, Nora Ward Goens died 3 November 1935. She was buried near her sister in Block 26 of Vermilion County’s enormous Springhill Cemetery.
In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: James Forbes, 38; wife Sarah, 25; and children Garrot, 12, Joseph, 4, Bynum, 3, and William, 1.
In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: James Forbes, 48; wife Sarah, 31; and children Garrett, 21, Joseph, 15, Bynum, 14, Martheny, 10, Rose, 9, Mary, 8, Florence, 4, and Reddin, 1.
On 5 July 1888, Bynum Forbes, 22, of Wilson County, son of James and Sarah Forbes, married Mary Smith, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of James and Edney Smith in Gardners township, Wilson County. Harry Barnes and Abram Sharp were witnesses.
On 21 June 1899, Bynum Forbes, 55, of Edgecombe County, son of Jim and Sarah Forbes, married Ida Pleasant, 21, daughter of George Pleasant and Mary Smith, at S.T. Cherry’s farm in Cocoa or #13 Township, Edgecombe County.
In the 1900 census of Township #13, Edgecombe County: Bynum Forbs, 51; wife Ida, 21; children John, 5, Henry, 1, and Edney, 9; sister Florance, 25; niece Mattie, 3; and nephew Jef. B., 2 months.
In the 1910 census of Township #13, Edgecombe County: on Cokey Road, Bynum Forbes, 67; wife Ida, 31; children John, 16, Henry, 13, Mary, 8, William, 5, James W., 2, Bynum Jr., 1 month, and Edna, 18; and grandchildren Mack, 4, Joseph, 2, and Jackann, 1 month.
I have not located Bynum Forbes’ death certificate. His death was one of a string of tragedies for the Forbeses — daughter William Ann Winston was shot to death in Rocky Mount, N.C., in 1924, and son John Forbes, a cement mixer, was crushed to death in a sand cave-in in 1930 in Rocky Mount.
I, Hiram Forbes of the County of Wilson and the State of North Carolina, being of sound mind and memory, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existance, do make & declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say:
Item. I give and devise to my beloved wife the tract of Land on which I now live during the term of her natural life or widowhood and after her death or marriage to my son Romulus and also lend to my wife Two negro slaves, one woman named Mary Ann and man Jim. The above named negroes to remain on the land and work for the support of my wife and two younger children Romulus and Elizabeth, and if in case my wife should marry, my will is that the negroes above shall be equally divided between my three children – Randolph, Elizabeth and Romulus.
Item. I give for the support of my wife & her family, fifteen hundred pounds of Pork and thirty barrels of corn, eight stacks of fodder first choice, Three sacks flour and I also give to my wife and two children, Elizabeth and Hannah, three sows and six shoats. I also desire that my wife should take care of a negro child Hannah until it arrives to the age of ten years.
Item. I give and devise to my children Randolph, Elizabeth and Romulus, three negroes Tony Mace and Hannah to be equally divided between them, and if any one of the other should die without issue, the negroes to be equally divided between the other two and if one of the two should die without issue the one thats living should be his.
Item. I give and bequeath to my daughter Sally, wife of Thomas Baker, 1 negro girl named Silvey to have and to hold to her and her lawful children forever.
Item. I give and devise to my son Rufus Webb and my daughter Cinthia Webb, children of Tempa Webb, one negro woman named Gatsy, to be equally divided between them.
Item. I give and devise to my six children, Vesta Ann, Walter, Barney, Lipsicomb, Tempa and Amanda, one tract of land known as the Felton Land, beginning at the Mill and running to the road so as to include all the tract of land above named and adjoining the land formerly belonging to Tempa Webb to have and to hold to them and their heirs forever. Also two negroes named Tobey and Minna to them and their heirs forever. It is my will and desire that the last named negroes, Tobey and Minna shall remain on the land that I give to my six children … and work to support the said children, until they arrive to the age of twentyone years, and I also give to the said children, one black horse male, one cow & yearling. The cow is red and white color. One pair of cart wheels, wooden axle, one plow, ten barrels corn, two blade stacks fodder, three hundred pound pork.
Item. My will and desire is that the Mill shall be kept up by my four sons … for the benefit of all my children. My will and desire is that if I have enough owe me after selling my property to pay my debts that my negroes hereafter named, to be hired out until they hire for enough to pay — Tony, Mace, Gatsy.
And lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my trusty friend James Barnesmy lawful executor of all intent and purposes to execute this my last will and testament according to the true intent and meaning of the same and every part and clause-thereby revoking and declaring all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made. In witness whereof I, the said Hyrum Forbes, do hereunto set my hand and seal the 18th day of December, 1861. /s/ Hyrum Forbes
WITNESS: Wm. Ellis, John Carter Jr.
In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Hiram Forbes, 55; wife Milly, 45; and children Martha, 21, Rufus, 18, Randal, 17, Bettie, 8, and Romulus, 4. Forbes reported owing $8800 in personal property, which would have consisted largely of enslaved people. Next door was [the mother of the other set of his children] Temperance Webb, 55, and her children Susan, 20, and Sintha, 15.
In 1866, Tony Forbes and Cherry Barnes appeared before a Wilson County justice of the peace to register their seven-year cohabitation. James Forbes and Sarah Barnes registered their ten-year cohabitation.
On 2 August 1867, Toby Forbes, son of Abraham Webb and Masin [Mace] Forbes, married Patience Mercer, daughter of CilaMercer, at Henry Winston’s in Wilson County.
In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Toby Forbes, 25, farm laborer.
In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Tony Forbes, 25; wife Cherry, 23; and children Willie, 6, George, 5, Harriet, 2, and Bud, 2 months, plus Alfred Bynum, 25. Sharing the same household: James Forbes, 38, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 25; and children Garrot, 12, Joseph, 4, Bynum, 3, and William, 1.
In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: James Forbes, 48; wife Sarah, 37; and children Garrett, 20, Joseph, 15, Bynum, 14, Murtheny, 10, Rose, 9, Movy, 8, Florence, 4, and Reddic, 6 months.
In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Toney Forbs, 39; wife Cherry, 30; and children Wiley, 17, George, 16, Harrett, 12, Buddie, 10, Elizebeth, 8, Elishea F., 4, and Mary L., 3 months.
In the 1900 census of Ellis township, Pulaski County, Arkansas: farmer Wiley Forbes, 37; wife Penny, 27; daughter Lula, 6; siblings Johnnie, 18, Mary B., 16, Martha J., 15, and Tinsey, 12; and father Toney Forbes, 70. All were born in North Carolina, except Lula, who was born in Arkansas.
In the 1910 census of Union township, Pulaski County, Arkansas: farm manager Jacob C. Gay, 28; wife Mary, 25; children William, 3, and Mattie S.A., 8 months; and father-in-law Tony Forbes, 80.
Estate of Hiram Forbes, images available atNorth Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: blacksmith Isaac Thorne, 58; Edith Thorne, 55; and David Thorne, 11.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Henry Forbes, 48, domestic servant; wife Louisa, 43; and children Charles, 15, farm laborer, and Georgiana, 9; plus John Forbes, 21, selling tobacco, and Patsey Forbes, 70.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: blacksmith Isaac Thorn, 72; wife Luzana, 70; and roomers Tony Barnes, 52, laborer, and Hannah Barnes, 80, pauper.
The forty-fifth in a series of posts highlighting buildings inEast Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1913; 1 story; L-plan cottage with front-facing gable in side wing; cutaway bay; turned porch posts; perhaps built by carpenter John Reid.”
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: 307 Reid Street, rented for $20/month, hospital orderly Henry A. Best, 38, wife Anney C., 40, laundress, and children Thelma, 13, Dubulte, 8, and Reatha, 6; and lodgers Leslie, 23, taxi driver, and Beulah Exam, 20.
In the 1930 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Best Henry A (c) (Annie C) orderly Carolina Genl Hosp Inc h 307 N Reid
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 307 Reid Street, rented for $14/month, Joe McCoy, 40, barber at Barnes Barber Shop, and wife Mittie, 40, laundress; and, renting at $4/month, Willie Forbs, 22, truck driver for Boykin Grocery Company, wife Goldie, 21, cook, and son Jimmie, 3; daughter Erma G. McCoy, 16; and roomer Thomas Elton, 17.
In the 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory: McCoy Jos (c; Mittie) barber John B Barnes h 307 N Reid.
In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ricks John C (c; Ella) h 307 N Reid [This was actually Jonah Ricks.]
Ella Mae [sic] Ricks died 4 February 1956 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 February 1885 in Nash County to Patrick Henry Bailey and Gatsey Finch; lived at 307 North Reid; and was widowed. Informant was Jonah Ricks, 307 North Reid. [Jonah Ricks, in fact, was her husband.]
Jonah Lewis Ricks died 22 April 1960 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 March 1885 in Wilson County to Joseph Ricks and Nancy Jones; resided at 307 North Reid; and was a laborer. Fannie T. Reid, 307 North Reid, was informant. [For a photograph of Jonah Ricks seated on the porch of 307 North Reid, see here.]
“The first cafe owned by a black in Stantonsburg was opened in 1947 and was owned by June Scott Artis and his wife, Ethel. They were assisted in the business by their son Edgar Artis. The white frame building was located at the corner of Macon and Greenwood Avenues. The inside was highlighted by the pot belly stove that was located in the middle of the floor. Soft drinks, hot dogs (5¢), peanuts and other snacks were sold. 1965 marked the closing of the business.
“James and Mary Ham owned the first black beauty shop in Stantonsburg and it was located on North Main Street. Hettie M. Forbes was the first licensed black beautician to operate in Stantonsburg. The shop operated from 1946 to 1956.
“In 1940 Toney Woodard opened the first black-owned grocery store in Stantonsburg. The business operated until Mr. Woodard’s death in 1959.
“Oscar Ellis, Jr., opened a combination barber shop, pool room and cafe on Greenwood Avenue in 1960. The business is still in partial operation with the cafe being operated by Annie Mae Barnes and the barber shop operated by RanThompson.
“The first black-ownwed and operated business in Stantonsburg was probably the blacksmith shop that was owned by John Whitley. The business was opened in 1918 and operated until 1950. It was located in the building owned by William and Walter Artis, which was situated on the south side of Yelverton Street about twenty yards from the railroad track.”
Stantonsburg Historical Society, A History of Stantonsburg (1981).
June Scott and Ethel Becton Artis
In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: Adam Artice, 68, a widowed farmer, with children Louetta, 18, Robert, 16, Columbus, 14, Josephfene, 13, Jun S., 10, Lillie B., 9, Henry B., 6, Annie, 3, Walter, 26, and William Artis, 24.
In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Columbus Artis, 24, grocery storekeeper, with brothers June Scott, 20, and Henry J., 16, box factory laborers,plus two lodgers, John Newsome, 30, and Eliza Diggs, 24 (who were relatives of their brother William’s wife Etta Diggs Artis.) [Clearly, there was an African-American grocer in Stantonsburg well before 1940.]
J.S. Artis married Ethel Becton on 29 January 1912 in Wayne County.
June Scott registered for the World War I draft in Wayne County. He reported that he had been born 23 November 1889 near Eureka, Wayne County and resided on RFD 1, Fremont. He farmed for himself near Eureka and was described as being tall and slender with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his name “June Cott Artis” on 5 June 1917.
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg & Wilson Road, farm manager June S. Artis, 30, wife Ethel, 26, and children James, 7, Edgar, 7, Manda Bell, 3, and farm laborer Edgar Exum.
In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer June S. Artis, 40, wife Ethel P., 34, and children James B., 17, Edgar J., 15, Amanda B., 14, and Gladys L. Artis, 5.
In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer June S. Artis, 50, wife Ethel, 46, and children James Brodie, 25, Edger, 23, and Gladys, 16.
June Scott Artis died 2 June 1973 in Stantonsburg of chronic myocarditis, secondary to chronic nephritis. His death certificate reports that he was married to Ethel Becton and was born 23 November 1895 to Adam Artis and Mandy Aldridge. He was buried 7 June 1973 at Artis Cemetery in Wayne County.
Ethel Becton Artis died 14 October 1994, days after her 102nd birthday.
James and Mary Frances Hamm, Hettie Hamm Forbes
In the 1910 census of Shine township, Greene County: farmer William Ham, 38; wife Jennie, 34; and children Jacob E., 13, Lucy J., 11, Pearl A., 10, William H., 7, Manor, 6, Lindsey, 4, and James L., 1; and mother-in-law Lucy Best, 70.
In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: farmer William H. Ham, 54; wife Janie, 51; and children Manor, 23, Linsey, 21, James L., 19, Hettie B., 17, and Mary E., 4.
Frank Toney Woodard
In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isaac Woodard, 32; wife Arner, 26; and children Fannie, 12, Nellie, 10, James, 9, Frank, 6, Isaac, 3, and Sis, 1.
In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Tony Woodard, 25, wife Eliza, 24; son Marcelous, 5; and mother-in-law Easter Davis, 64.
On 12 September 1918, Toney Woodard registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 1 February 1874; resided on R.F.D. 1, Stantonsburg, Greene County; works a tenant farmer; and his nearest relative was Eliza Woodard.
In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Tonie Woodard, 45; wife Eliza, 42; sons Johnie, 14, and Frank, 7.
In the 1930 census of Eureka, Nahunta township, Wayne County: Tony Woodard, 60; wife Liza, 45; and sons Johnnie, 21, and Frank, 18.
In the 1940 census of Bull Head township, Greene County: farmer Toney Woodard, 65, and wife Liza, 60.
Toney Woodard, 75, married Hattie Belle Lane, 41, both of Stantonsburg, on 13 October 1954 in Wilson County. Witnesses were James Ham, Mary F. Ham, and James Isler.
Tony Woodard died 17 May 1959 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 February 1879 in Wilson County to Isaac and Arner Woodard; worked as a merchant; and was married to Nettie Woodard. Mr. Heattie Woodard was informant.
Oscar Mathew Ellis Jr.
Per A History of Stantonsburg, Oscar M. Ellis Jr. was born on the J.L. Yelverton farm on 2 May 1913. A truck driver and farmer, Ellis was active in Bethel A.M.E. Zion, the Masonic Lodge, the Elk’s Club, Future Farmers of America, 4-H, the local school board, the county Farm Bureau, and the Agricultural Conservation and Stabilization Service. He worked to “upgrade the black section of town” and as a volunteer with the Stantonsburg Fire Department.
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg and Black Creek Road, tenant farmer Oscar Ellis, 34; wife Mammie, 29; and children Oscar M., 6, William H., 4, Estell, 3, A.J., 1, and Charlie, 4 months; plus John, 16, and Mathew Robinson, 14.
In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: Oscar Ellis, 39; wife Mamie, 39; and children Oscar Jr., 16, William, 14, Estelle, 12, Ejay, 11, Colen, 10, James, 9, Bessie M., 8, Hubert L., 6, Leroy, 2, and Dorothy, 1 month.
On 12 January 1934, Oscar Ellis, 20, of Black Creek, son of Oscar and Mamie Ellis, married Lucille Barnes, 19, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Andrew and Stella Barnes, in Wilson. C.E. [Columbus E.] Artis and Stella Barnes applied for the license.
In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, laborer Oscar Ellis, 26, and wife Lucille, 25.
Oscar M. Ellis Jr. died 5 December 1984.
Annie Mae Barnes
On 26 December 1910, John Whitley, 30, of Wilson County, son of Titus and Ida Whitley, married Mollie Locust, 18, of Wayne County, daughter of Wiley and Amy Locust, near Eureka, Nahunta township, Wayne County.
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Delaware Street, tenant farmer John Whitley, 37; wife Mollie, 23; and children Artillie, 8, Irene, 5, Madison D., 3, and John W., 7 months.
In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Delaware Line, blacksmith John Whitley, 49; wife Mollie, 25; and children Artillia, 18, Irene, 15, D.H., 13, John W., 10, Mary F., 8, Marjorie, 3, and Clavon, 1 month; and father-in-law Wiley Locus, 70.
In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Delaware Street, odd jobs worker John Whitley, 59; wife Molly, 39; and children Artelia, 22, Irene, 20, Maddison D.H., 19; John Wiley, 17; Mary Frances, 14; and Marjorie, 12. Artelia and Irene were teachers.
[William and Walter Artis, who owned the building in which John Whitley operated a smithy, were brothers of June Scott Artis and Columbus E. Artis. They lived a few miles west of Stantonsburg, across the county line near Eureka, Wayne County.]
Stantonsburg’s black community is centered on a few blocks on the eastern side of the railroad tracks bisecting the town.
Personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace of said County, John Thigpen who being duly sworn complains and says that on the 5th day of March 1899 Irvin Forbes died in said County, it is generally believed from being poisoned by his wife Lucy Forbes. /s/ John Thigpen
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 7th day of March 1899 } J.W. Lancaster J.P.
State of North Carolina, Wilson Co
Be it remembered that on this the 7th day of March 1899 I, John K. Ruffin, Coroner of the County of Wilson, attended by a jury of good and lawful men viz J.C. Ellis, Robt. Bynum, J.R. Dildy, Stephen Craft, W.J. Mercer, and Eli Felton, by me summoned for that purpose, according to law, after being by me duly sworn and empaneled, at Saratoga in the County aforesaid, did hold an inquest over the dead body of Irvin Forbes (Col); and after examination into the facts & circumstances of the death of the deceased, from a view of the corpse, and all the testimony to be procured, the said jury finds as follows, that is to say, that the said Irvin Forbes came to his death by causes unknown to the Jury. /s/ J.C. Ellis, Robt. Bynum, Jno. R. Dildy, Stephen Craft, W.J. Mercer Jr., Eli Felton.
Inquest had and signed and sealed in the presence of John K. Ruffin, Coroner of Wilson Co.
Lucy Forbes being duly sworn testifies as follows, I was the wife of the deceased Irvin Forbes my husband came home between nine and ten o’clock on Saturday morning complaining of being sick saying that his foot and crippled leg pained him staid in bed all day, and Sunday morning before day I became alarmed and sent for some of the neighbors, he died that morning not speaking or recognizing any of the neighbors who were present I got a box of Rough on Rats Thursday night I intended to use on my bedsteads to kill bed bugs. I put bed bug poison away in a certain box at my home never having opened it I can go and get it and show it to the jury now.
Having been sent home for the Rough on Rats by the jury of inquest she returned and made the following statement To wit I cannot find the box of Rough on Rats somebody has moved it from where I put it. I searched in the box where I put it and several others but could not find it anywhere. Lucy (X) Forbes
I, J. Ellis being duly sworn testifies as follows I saw the deceased on Friday and he seemed to be in good health. I bought Rough on Rats for the deceased’s wife on Thursday in Wilson at her request, and she was in store in Saratoga to receive it Thursday afternoon. She told my wife she intended to use it to kill bed bugs but her husband objected to her using it for fear of accident. /s/ J. Ellis
George Bynum being duly sworn testifies as follows On being sent for I went to the house of Irvin Forbes and found the deceased dead I told his wife he was out of the way and she seemed in much distress. George (X) Bynum
Stephen Barnes (Col) being duly sworn testifies as follows Between Four and five o’clock Sunday morning Lucy Forbes sent for me I went found the deceased Irvin Forbes in bed unconscious. I don’t know he was dead at that time or not before I got to his house I found his wife Lucy outside of the house appearing to be in much trouble and anxious for me to get in the house. Stephen (X) Barnes
J.F. Thigpen being introduced and sworn says Irvin Forbes lived on my place and died Sunday morning March 5/99. Did not know he was sick Saturday. Day before his death was able to do his regular work up till Saturday. He had told me more than one time that his wife and he did not live on good terms, and that she was worthless to him as a wife told me she had threatened to take his life two or three weeks ago, and that she thought more of other men than she did of him told me more than once he thought she was too intimate with other men /s/ John Thigpen
W.R. Jones being duly sworn testifies as follows about two weeks ago the deceased Irvin Forbes told me his wife had killed his dog and she said she was going to kill me told me she was no service to him as a wife and was a drawback. Told me about months ago his wife thought more of and did more for other men than she did for him. /s/ W.R. Jones
Jerry Eason (col) being duly sworn testifies as follows The deceased told me about two weeks ago he loved his wife but she did not love him told me she had said if she knew of anything that would kill him she would kill him stone-dead Deceased Irvin Forbes was my half brother. The deceased and wife had been married about six or eight years and had four children /s/ Jerry Eason
Jack Evans (Col) being duly sworn testifies as follows The deceased and myself were first cousins and the first day of this year like deceased wife told me she wished her husband was dead have seen the deceased several times lately and he was in good health as far as I knew. Jack (X) Evans
Wilson Mirror, 25 July 1888.
Irvin Forbes — on 20 February 1890, Irvin Forbes, 23, of Saratoga township, son of Wash Forbes, married Lucy Ruffin, 22, of Saratoga township, daughter of LizzieRuffin. Witnesses were Nelly Jane Best, Jane Bynum and Andrew Eason.
George Bynum — perhaps, in the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: George Bynum, 65, wife Ally, 63, and son Joshua, 23. See also Jerry Eason entry below.
Jerry Eason — Jerry Eason, 23, son of Wash Forbes and Agie Eason, married Mary Bynum, 23, daughter of George and Feriby Bynum, on 3 January 1889 in Saratoga township. Witnesses were Abraham Bynum, Gray Bynum and Robt. E. Bynum. In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Jerry Eason, 36; wife Mary, 35; and children Hattie, 10, Ad, 9, Georgianna, 8, Fairbee, 7, Lou, 3, and Charley, 3 months.
Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
Sir, Yours of July 1 has been received for several days. I have delayed answering it to get all the particulars concerning Lenard Forbs & Serena‘s his wife case. I have inquired of both white and colored persons living on the farm and from the information that I can gather She left Lenard. I understand that she has been threatening leaving him for some time & she has not cooked or washed for him in some time although she lived in the same house with him. Lenard has been sick for a month & I understand that she would neither cook nor wash for him during his illness. I understand that she goes off at any time & stay sometime for a week without his knowledge or consent & the last time she went off & returned she swore that would never cook or wash for him again. Although Lenard tried to persuade her to go home and chore herself. I am personally acquainted with the dispositions of Lenard & Serena. Lenard is a good natured fellow & is willing to get along in any way without a fuss but Serina is a lazy indolent viragocompoundedwithsaltpeter & brimstones. She has not earnt ten dollars since she became free. Lenard has her clothes to perchase from store & Lenard has carried to his house this year 200 lbs N[illegible] Mess Pork 174 lbs G[illegible] pork & he raised a hog weighing 102 lbs & I understand that she has made way with all except one p[illegible] weighing (20 lbs) twenty pounds. She has been suspicious of caring his provisions off to other parties. I think Lenard would live with her again provided he could make her stay at home and attend to his domestic affairs & if you wish any more information conserning the case I will furnish you with all that I can or you can find out all about them from the Col men living on the farm which I will give you any information you may want &c. Hoping that this will give you the necessary information concerning this I remain yours truly J.B. Stallings
To Luit J.F. Allison, Goldsboro N.Car.
Junius B. Stallings, 39, farmer/physician, appears in the 1870 census in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Neither Lenard nor Serena Forte appears in the county.
Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 [database online], http://www.ancestry.com. Original documents in Records of Field Offices, State of North Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands 1865-1872 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1909, Record Group 105, National Archives, Washington, D.C.)