Franklin County

Jordan Thomas.

Hugh B. Johnston Jr., “Looking Backward,” Wilson Daily Times, 4 December 1954.

This piece on Jordan Thomas is not entirely accurate. Franklin County native Jordan Thomas’ first wife was Charity Locus, a free woman of color. His second, Eliza, also seems to have been free. His third was Rosa Woodard, the enslaved daughter of London Woodard, who bore him a son, Peter.


In the 1810 census of Franklin County, North Carolina, were free colored heads of household Lettice Thomas and Eliza Thomas. One, perhaps Eliza, may have been Jordan Thomas’s mother.

Jordan Thomas married Charity Locus in 9 February 1837 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.

In the 1840 census of District 17, Edgecombe County: Jerdan Thomas headed a household that comprised one male aged 24-35 and two females under 10. Nearby, Hearty Thomas, head of a household that included one male under 10; three females aged 10-24; one female 24-26; and one female 36-45. [Who was Hearty Thomas? Jordan Thomas named a daughter Harty.]

In the 1850 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: in the household of white farmer J.B. Woodard, farmer Jordon Thomas, 35, “free.” [Where were his wife and children?]

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: turpentine laborer Jordon Thomas, 50; daughters Henrietta, 21, Eliza, 20, and Harty, 18; and grandson John, 1.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County; farmer Jordan Thomas, 52, who reported owning $175 in real property and $100 in personal. Next door: Eliza Thomas, 52, Henriet, 35, Hariet, 30, Alfred, 9, Jordan, 7, John, 11, Charity, 10, and Henry, 6.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jordan Thomas, 68; daughters Henyeter, 42, and Harty, 40; and grandchildren John, 21, Charity, 18, Henry, 15, Jordan, 17, and Alfread, 18.

On 5 January 1881, Charity Thomas, 18, daughter of Warren Rountree and Henrietta Thomas, married Charley Hagans, 20, son of Richd. and Alley Hagans, at Jordan Thomas’ in Gardners township. London Woodard, Ed Hoskins and John Thomas were witnesses. ¬†[Charity Thomas’ father Warren Rountree was enslaved at the time of her birth.]

On 5 July 1899, Jordan Thomas made his mark on his last will and testament. Under its terms, “beloved daughters” Harty and Henretta Thomas received a life interest in the 11 acres upon which he lived in Gardners township adjoining the lands of Benjamin Finch, Benjamin Artis and T.W Barnes. After their deaths, the property was to go to grandchildren Jordan Thomas, Alfred Thomas and Charity Hagans. The will entered probate on 21 March 1901 in Wilson, presumably shortly after Thomas’ death.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jordan Thomas, 88, widower, and daughters Henrietta, 60, and Adline, 57.

Adline Thomas died 20 May 1926 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 91 years old; unmarried; was born in Edgecombe County to Jerdon Thomas of Franklin County and Chattie Thomas; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Informant was Anderson Thomas. [“Adeline” was Harty Thomas.]

Peter Thomas died 7 July 1929 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was 78 years old; married to Maggie Thomas; was a farmer; was born in Wilson County to Jordan Thomas and Rosa Thomas; and was buried in Penders family cemetery, Wilson County. Sudie Barnes was informant.

On 19 December 1932, Jordon Thomas died in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 70 years old; was born in Wilson County to Henrietta Thomas; and was a farmer. Informant was J.T. Barnes.

Studio shots, no. 59: James Thomas Clifton.

James T Clifton ths1369

James Thomas Clifton (1857-1932).

James Clifton, 32, married Susan Clifton, 21, on 26 November 1889 in Franklin County at J.T. Clifton’s. Jackson Hunt and Bet Clifton witnessed.

In the 1900 census of Harris township, Franklin County: farmer Jim Clifton, 45; wife Susan, 31; and children Grant, 20, Matilda, 18, Susan, 16, John L., 14, Genievieve, 8, Tommie, 6, Mary, 4, Martha, 2, and Myrtle, 3 months.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Edmunson Road, farmer James T. Clifton, 52; wife Susan, 40; and children Genevieve, 18, Thomas, 16, Mary, 14, Mattie, 12, Myrtle M., 10, Eula P., 8, Minnie B., 6, Wesley, 3, and Leona, 2, plus lodger Arthur Bunn, 21. James reported that he had been married twice.

Susan Clifton died 25 August 1915 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 44 years old; married; and the daughter of Stiff and Ellen Clifton. James Clifton was informant.

Between 1916 and 1920, three licenses for marriages of a James Clifton were filed at Wilson County Register of Deeds office. It is not clear if any or all are this James Clifton. (If all, he endured extraordinary grief in a very short time span.) On 6 February 1916, James Clifton, 54, of Wilson, married Mary Barnes, 40, of Wilson. Primitive Baptist minister John S. May performed the ceremony in Wilson win the presence of James Bass, Henry Meak and Melvis Jones. On 8 July 1917, James Clifton, 52, of Taylor township, married Emma Grady, 41, of Wilson, in Wilson. Otis Wright applied for the license and Elder J.R. Pitt, Disciples of Christ, performed the ceremony in the presence of Willie Godwin, Lillian Hawkins and James Lewis. On 23 May 1920, James Clifton, 57, of Wilson married Martha J. Coffield, 50, of Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister William Baker performed the ceremony in the presence of Susie Barnes, Lena Newsome and Beatrice Cofield.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 500 Spring Street alley, widower James Clifton, 53, lumber company laborer, and son Thomas, 25, lumber company laborer; daughter-in-law Ethel, 20; daughters Mattie, 22, Myrtle, 20, and Ella, 14, all tobacco factory laborers; and boarders Ella Mitchell, 22, a widowed tobacco factory laborer, and her children Dorothy, 4, Y.C., 2, and James, 3 months.

James Clifton died 14 July 1932 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 74 years old; married to Jannie Clifton; worked as a common laborer; and was born in Franklin County to James Reid and Lizzie Clifton. Bennie Bass was informant, and C.E. Artis was undertaker.

Photograph courtesy of user ths1369.