fornication

“What in the hell you doing hauling my woman around?”

State v. Thomas Coleman, Emma Coleman   }

Tom Wilson – Testified that on one occasion last year he was passing the house of the female def’t Emma Coleman and saw the two defendants lying on the floor on a quilt. One of them Emma jumped up. He did not see what they were doing. Did not see anyone else about the house at that time. Tom is a married man and had been for a number of years. Emma has been married but is a widow. They are not married to each other. That he had frequently seen Tom at Emmas house – in day time – at night and coming away from there in the early mornings – about day brake. He could not say that he saw Tom go there any night and come away the next morning. He had not seen that but there one night and coming away another morning.

Louis Strickland – Said that there was a party on old Xmas 1912 night. A number of negroes there including both defts. That they sat by the fire place and Tom felt Emma’s breasts. That he had heard Tom say that Emma was his woman; that he looked out for her and provided for her and that he did not want her wasting his time with any other man.

M.H. Lamm – Testified to the dealings in the store. About Tom paying for provisions for Emma and bills charged to Emma amounting to 3.00 or 4.00.

J.P. Vick – Testified to seeing Tom coming out of Emmas house in early morning on several occasions. That was during the tobacco curing & also tobacco selling season. That Tom told hom Emma was his woman & that he looked out for her &c.

Sim Batchelor – Testified that one day last year the female def’t asked to ride with him to town on some business and he took her to Wilson & took her home again. That soon after that the male deft asked him what in the h___ he was doing hauling his woman around.

For Def.

Mr. Edwards – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. [general character] good.

Mr. Briggs – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. good.

Thos. Coleman – Emma’s money bought the provisions. She did not understand making change. The path from my house runs right by Emma’s house which I would use in going to the tobacco pack-house. X’d [cross-examined]. The money which paid her bills at the store her own money. I never beat Emma in my life about anything. Emma bought the “Estime” herself & wore it.

For Def.

Mr. Edwards – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. [general character] good.

Mr. Briggs – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. good.

Thos. Coleman – Emma’s money bought the provisions. She did not understand making change. The path from my house runs right by Emma’s house which I would use in going to the tobacco pack-house. X’d [cross-examined]. The money which paid her bills at the store her own money. I never beat Emma in my life about anything. Emma bought the “Estime” herself & wore it.

Emma Coleman – Been the mother of 5 children. 3 living now. My husband was their father. Have never ridden with Mr. Sim Batchelor in my life. Have bought meat & bread from Mr. Lamm’s store. My money paid for it.

Lou Gay — Mother of Emma Coleman. Ed, her husband, died 3 miles from where Thos. Coleman lived. Afterwards I lived with her. We lived in the house that got burned. 2 rooms in house we lived in last year; only one bed room. Never saw Tom put his hands on Emma.

Mollie Coleman — Wife of male deft. Been married 22 years. Have 8 children. Louis Strickland came to my house in Feb, said do you know what they ketched all those peoples up & carried them off. He said it was about Tom [keeping?] Emma. My husband did not go away from home at night except in tobacco curing time and then not all of any one night.

Fannie Coleman — I was at that dance at old Xmas. Am 21 yrs. old. Not married. Have 2 children. Staid 5 weeks last year with my grandmother Wootten.

Alice Coleman — Daughter of male def. Remember that old Xmas night.

Alphonso Coleman — Present at old Xmas night party. Am Bro of the male def.

Justus Coleman — Def. is my uncle. Present old Xmas night.

Def’t Rests

For State

Lena Williams — Daughter of Dallas Williams.

Mr. Manner Lamm.

Mr. Vick — Recalled. Did Mollie Coleman make any statement to you as to the number of nights her husband had spent away from home during 1912? Def’s obj. over’d. Defts. except. (This evidence offered & allowed only against the male deft.) Mollie about Xmas was talking to me. Said Tom had been at home about 2 nights in the last month.  X’s. Ques. Who told you that Tom Coleman said your wife had been selling liquor? State obj. Sust’d. Def. except.Ques. Did not Tom Wilson a state’s witness give you that informantion? State obj. Sust’d. Defts. excepts. Same question as to Carley Holeman, M.H. Lamm, Louis Strickland, Sim Batchellor.

R.H. Braswell — Known Tom Coleman 18 years. Gen Char. Bad.

Walter Braswell — Same as above.

——

On 24 September 1890, Thomas Coleman, 21, of Oldfields, son of Squire Coleman and Nancy Farmer, married Mollie Woodard, 17, of Taylors, daughter of Ben and Clara Woodard, in Wilson township. Witnesses were J.W. Farmer, John Barnes and Annie Peacock.

Edwin Coleman, 20, son of Gray and Harriet Coleman, married Emma Gay, 19, daughter of Henry and Louisa Gay, on 11 October 1899 in Wilson township.

In the 1900 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Eddie Coleman, 24, and wife Emma, 22.

In the 1900 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Coleman, 34; wife Mollie, 24; and children Fannie, 10, Delany, 5, Allis, 4, and Nancy, 1 month.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Toad Town Path, widow Louisa Gay, 51, farm laborer; son Henry, 25, farm laborer; daughter Emma Coleman, 21, also a widow; and grandchildren Rosa, 7, Bertha, 5, and Frances Coleman, 4, and Lenord Williams, 10.

in the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on the Mill Path, farmer Thomas Coleman, 39; wife Mollie, 34; and children Fannie, 19, Lonnie, 14, Alace, 12, Nancy, 9, Johnnie, 8, Esquire, 5, Connie, 2, Neva and Eva, 1. Next door, Dallas Williams, 69; wife Sarah, 61; and children Minnie, 18, Lena, 16, and Henry, 24. [Also nearby, Ed Coleman’s parents and several other Coleman families. Though the file does not mention it, Thomas Coleman was, in fact, Edwin Coleman’s paternal uncle.]

Thomas Coleman died 1 December 1933 in Oldfields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born December 1862 in Wilson County to Squire J. and Nancy Roundtree Coleman; was married to Mollie Coleman; and worked as a farmer. Fannie Coleman of 115 West Walnut Street, Wilson, was informant.

Adultery Records, Miscellaneous Records, Records of Wilson County, North Carolina State Archives.

They are not married to each other.

In the summer of 1892, a Wilson County Superior Court grand jury took up the case in State vs. Henry Crutchfield and Dianna Simms, a matter alleging charges of fornication and adultery. Several prominent African-American townsmen were issued subpoenas commanding them to appear as witnesses at the next term of court.

The case file contains this summary of testimony:

State vs. Henry Crutchfield & Dianna Simms   }

Chas. Barber – I know deft. They are not married to each other. A man claims Dianna as his wife. They lived together up to the time. I have seen Crutchfield at Simms almost every night I heard Simms & Crutchfield quarreling & Simms told C. to stay away from his house. Crutchfield lived only a short distance from Simms’s on same Street & Dianna would go to his house almost every day. I would see her when I was passing. They were fussing nearly all the time. One Sunday morning I came by Crutchfield’s house; Simms was standing at the door & was saying to Crutchfield you have my wife in your house & then say I can’t some in there or you will kill me. I looked in at the door & saw Crutchfield & Simms’s wife on a pallet together before the fire. This was in open day light on Sunday morning. Sims & his wife moved away from there & I did not see Crutchfield after that time.

G.W. Sugg – I know Crutchfield. He passed for a colored man. I also know Dianna. I saw them together in the woods together last April. I saw them having sexual intercourse with each other. I saw Crutchfield at her house frequently. Her husband was gone at that time. She rented house from Calvin Blount. Dianna is Frank Sims’s wife.

Edmond Pool – Know defts. Dianna is wife of Frank Sims. I have seen Sims order Crutchfield from his house. Sims & wife are not living together now.

Joseph Sims – I passed where Dianna lived about 9 o’clock & she & Crutchfield had a pallet made down on floor & were on it together. Have heard Frank Sims & Crutchfield quarreling about this woman.

Henry Crutchfield – I got this woman to work for me a year or so off & on & I went back & forth from my house to her house to get my clothes. Cross Ex.

Dianna Simms – I went in Crutchfield’s to see about some clothes.

——

  • Henry Crutchfield — Crutchfield is not found in Wilson County records. However, he was likely the Virginia-born shoemaker named Henry Crutchfield, 53, found 25 miles away in the 1900 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, North Carolina, and in the 1910 census of Goldsboro as Henry Crutchfield, 58, shoemaker. [The censuses note that Crutchfield’s mother was born in Scotland. In 1900, he was described as white. In 1910, as mulatto. His racial ambiguity is likely the basis of Suggs’ comment that he “passed for a colored man.”]
  • Dianna Simms Simms — on 19 June 1879, Deana Simms, 18, married Frank Simms, 22, at A. Farmer’s in Wilson. Jerry Barnes and Mike Barnes witnessed. In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmhand Frank Simms, 23; wife Diannah, 20; and son Frank, 7 months.
  • Frank Simms
  • Charles Barber — Barber, a mechanic, was soon embroiled in his own marital drama.
  • G. Washington Suggs
  • Calvin Blount
  • Edmund Poole
  • Joseph Simms
  • Redden S. Wilkins — Though subpoenaed, Wilkins apparently did not testify.

Adultery Records, Miscellaneous Records, Records of Wilson County, North Carolina State Archives.