freedmen

Lida Williamson, alias Atkinson, and her children.

As noted here, Hardy H. Williamson’s estate included a woman named “Liddy.”

I have not identified Liddy/Lida/Lydia in census records, but other documents indicate that at least two, and possibly four, of the others listed in H.H. Williamson’s estate inventory — Henry, Spencer, Silvia “Silvy,” and Angeline “Angy” — were her children.

Handy Atkinson, who appears to have been the father of all four children, was enslaved by a different owner.

On 7 August 1866, Hamlet [sic] Atkinson and Lida Atkinson registered their cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Handy Atkinson, 50; and children Nathan, 21, Spencer, 17, Simon, 15, Charity, 13, Sarah, 10, and John, 8.

Were these children also Lida Williamson’s? Was Spencer Atkinson the same person as Spencer Williamson? If so, where were Nathan and Charity in 1859 when H.H. Williamson’s estate was tallied?

On 16 December 1869, Randal Hinnant, son of Emsley Hinnant and Ally Hinnant, married Angaline Atkinson, daughter of Handa Atkinson and Lida Atkinson, at Handa Atkinson’s in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Randal Hinnant, 22, and wife Angelina, 17.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Randall Hinnant, 33, Angeline, 26, and children J. Thomas, 10, James H., 8, Lilly Ann, 6, and Roscoe F. Hinnant, 4.

In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: Randall Hinnant, 55, Angeline, 48, George W., 16, Sallie A., 14, Survayal, 5, and “hired girl” Susan Hinnant, 40.

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township: George Hinnant, 24, wife Elizabeth, 22, daughter Mary L., 1, mother Angeline, 58, and Percy Hinnant, 7.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields: George Hinnant, 35, Elizabeth, 30, Mary L., 11, James, 9, Mary Lee, 7, Martha May, 6, and Charlie T. Hinnant, 1, and mother Angeline Hinnant, 70.

Per her gravestone, Angeline Hinnant died in 1936. She is buried in New Vester cemetery.

  • Henry Williamson

On 17 February 1870, Henry Williamson, son of Hander Atkinson and Lida Williamson, married Cora Adams, daughter of Mary Adams, in Wilson County.

  • Silvia Atkinson Boykin

On 3 March 1870, Henry Boykin, son of Rear Boykin, married Silvia Atkinson, daughter of Handy Atkinson and Lida Atkinson, in Wilson County.

On 12 February 1893, Harriett Boykin, 20, daughter of Henry and Sylva Boykin, married Samuel Taylor, 26, son of Peter and Zilla Taylor, at Henry Boykin’s residence.

On 17 December 1897, James Boykin, 21, son of Henry and Silvy Boykin, married Mary Jane Kent, daughter of Ned and Liddie Kent.

In the 1910 census of Oneals township, Johnston County: farmer James Boykin, 30; wife Jane, 29; widowed mother Silva, 50; and children Grady, 10, Addie, 8, Fany, 6, Falston, 3, and Tincey, 8 months.

In the 1920 census of Micro township, Johnston County: farmer James H. Boykins, 44; wife Jane, 43; and children Grady, 19, Etta, 18, Fanny, 16, Foster, 12, Henry, 10, Jay, 9, Lillie, 6, John H., 4, and widowed mother Silver, age unknown.

James Henry Boykin died 14 May 1926 in Beulah township, Johnston County. Per his death certificate, he was 48 years old; was born in Wilson County to James H. Boykin and Silva Atkinson; was married Mary Jane Boykin; worked as a laborer at a steel plant in Pennsylvania; and was buried in the family burying ground.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Foster Boykin, 22, wife Ella, 18, and children James R., 2, and Alma, 1; sister-in-law Lily Whitley, 22; mother Silva Boykin, 81; and niece Eula M. Whitley, 3.

Sylvia Boykin died 12 January 1939 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 August 1848 in Wilson County to Henry Boykin [sic; in fact, Henry was her husband] and an unknown mother; was a widow; worked as a tenant farmer; and lived at 507 Warren Street, Wilson. Informant was Addie Boykin, 507 Warren Street.

  • Spencer Williamson

Perhaps, in the 1900 census of Lower Conetoe township, Edgecombe County: farmer Spencer Williamson, 43; wife Mollie, 29; children Spencer, 6, David, 1; plus in-laws Morning, 21, Peggy, 18, and Joseph Rogers, 24.

Perhaps, in the 1910 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: Spencer Williamson, 56; wife Mollie, 40; and children Spencer Jr., 15, David, 11, Jessie, 8, Alexander, 5, and Mary, 4.

Spencer Williamson died 22 August 1926 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 56 years old, was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and an unknown mother; was married to P. Williamson; and lived at 112 North Pine Street, Rocky Mount.

The last will and testament of Trial Williamson.

Trial Williamson, born about 1805, is likely the “Trion” mentioned in the 1829 will of Hardy Williamson and is certainly the “Trial” mentioned in the 1858 estate records of Hardy H. Williamson. His blood relationship to other enslaved people held by the Williamsons is unknown.

Trial Williamson dictated his will in April 1878 and died the next month.

——

In the name of God Amen! I Tryal Williamson do make and declare this my last will and testament as follows:

Item 1 I give and devise to my wife Rosetta the lands whereon I now live during her natural life or widowhood and at her death or marriage to be equally divided between my daughter Mary wife of John Boykin and my daughter Cherry wife of Daniel Hocutt during their lives and at their deaths to be equally divided between the children of each; that is the children of Mary to have one half and the children of Cherry to have the other half the said lands to be free from the control of their respective husbands John Boykin and Daniel Hocutt.

Item 2 I give and bequeath to my said wife my mare one ox all the hogs bacon and corn & fodder of which I may die possessed. Also all my kitchen and household furniture and farming implements.

Item 3 It is further my will and desire that my cattle one mule colt bees and any other property that my wife does not want be sold and the proceeds of said sale with whatever money I may have at my death be used by my wife for her sole benefit and use the interest to be used by here whenever she needs it.

Item 4 I hereby constitute and appoint my wife Rosetta executrix to this my last will and testament

Signed and declared my last will and testament This 6 day of April 1878    Tryal (X) Williamson

Witness J.M. Taylor, A.S.J. Taylor

——

In 1866, Trial Williams [sic] and Roseta Williams registered their 17-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Trial Williamson, 65; wife Rose, 60; and daughters Mary, 21, and Cherry, 19.

On 18 September 1874, Cherry Williamson, 19, married Danl. Hocutt, 24, in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer John Boykin, 42; wife Mary, 29; and children Dock, 19, and Dick, 15 (both sick with whooping cough), Turner, 7, Troy, 5, Betty, 3, and John, 1. [Per the 1870 census, Zadoc and Richard — Dock and Dick — were John’s children.] Next door, widowed farmer Rose Williamson, 68.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Daniel Hocutt, 30; wife Cherry, 29; and children Jiney, 4, James T., 3, and Tilda An, 1.

Rose Williamson died in 1891. Ishmael Wilder was appointed administrator of her estate. Her meager household goods, purchased by friends and family, netted less than nine dollars.


Handy Atkinson, John Boykin, and Spencer Shaw were among the purchasers at Rosetta Williamson’s estate sale.

Per the terms of Trial Williamson’s will, at Rosetta Williamson’s death, the family farm passed in equal shares to their daughters Mary Williamson Boykin and Cherry Williamson Hocutt.

In 1902, by their attorney W.A. Finch, Cherry Hocutt and her heirs filed a Petition to Sell Real Estate for Division, Including Infants Interest. In a nutshell: (1) Trial Williamson died in 1878 and left a will with the above provision; (2) before Trial died, his land was divided, and the halves were allotted to his daughters; (3) after Rosetta Williamson died about 1891, Cherry Hocutt took full possession of her half; (4) Cherry Hocutt is now 49 years old and has these living children — J.A. Hocutt, age 27, J.T. Hocutt, age 25, M.A. Hocutt, age 22, Ben Hocutt, age 20, Settles Hocutt, age 17, Ida E. Hocutt, age 15, Willie J. Hocutt, age 14, and Lenore Savannah Hocutt, age 12 — and no grandchildren; (5) B.A. Scott has been appointed to represent the interests of the minor children; (6) the Hocutts are tenants in common on their half of Trial Williamson’s 23 1/2 acres in Spring Hill township; (7) in 1889, Daniel and Cherry Hocutt and their children migrated to [Cotton Plant,] Tippah County, Mississippi; (8) the Hocutts wish to sell their half because they “derive no benefit whatever” from it, are too far away to look after it, derive no net income from renting it out, and “the land is hilly and badly washed” and getting worse; and (9) the land is too small to divide among them.

The Superior Court approved the sale, it was advertised, and J.T. Rentfrow was high bidder at $500. Rentfrow promptly filed to partition his property from the half held by Mary Boykin and her heirs — Turner Boykin and wife; Laura Boykin; William Boykin and wife; Cora BoykinBettie Boykin; John Connor Boykin; Minerva Boykin; Sarah BoykinJames Boykin and wife; Ella Boykin; Buck Boykin; and Lizzie Boykin. Turner, Laura and John Connor Boykin no longer lived in North Carolina.

The court ordered this survey, then approved the partition as platted:

Estate Records of Trial Williamson, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; Estate File of Rose Williamson, Estate File of Trial Williamson, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

The mother does not wish him to have them.

A man named Abram sought the Freedman’s Bureau’s help in removing his children from John Bailey Batts’ indenture, and Batts wanted to set the record straight. With hubris typical of the times, Batts claimed to have raised the children (by virtue of having held them in slavery from their birth). Abram had once been married to an unnamed woman, but he had left her for Penny. Several children later, Abram left Penny, but was now claiming custody of their children. According to Batts, neither he nor Penny wanted the father to have them.

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Joyners N.C. Jany 12th 1866

Agent of Freedmen Goldsborough N.C.

Sir, I write to inform you of the condition of colored children born with and so far raised by me the man Abram that claims them had wife and she is still living but he left her and took up with Penny at my home she has several children by him but he has left her (Penny) but now claims her children the mother does not wish him to have them and those you bound to me I wish to retain. Penny can give her statement and I wish to hear from you please write to me and send by the woman Penny or by mail to Joyners Depot N.C. Your favorable consideration will much oblige

Yours verry truly, John B. Batts

——

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer John B. Batts, 32; wife Margaret, 23; children Mary A.F., 4, and Nancy H., 1; Eveline Morris, 21; and farm laborer Elba Lassiter, 16. [Lassiter was a free person of color who probably had been apprenticed to Batts.] Batts reported $1600 in real property and $7740 in personal property [which would mostly have been in the form of enslaved people.]

Batts is not listed in the 1870 census, though he likely remained in Wilson or Nash Counties. I have not been able to identify Abram or Penny.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

I have no men to send for them.

Though Wilson is a few miles closer to Rocky Mount, Wilson County was under the jurisdiction of the Goldsboro field office of the Freedmen’s Bureau. The people of northeastern Wilson County — the area around Elm City — were closely tied to southeastern Nash and southwestern Edgecombe Counties, and many families moved frequently across county lines for work and family.

In this letter, William Cox, the assistant superintendent at the Rocky Mount field office referred a matter to Goldsboro. In a nutshell: father and son Spencer and Churchwell Bullock signed a labor contract with James J. Taylor of Joyners Depot (now Elm City) in Wilson County. However, the Bullocks had left Taylor’s employ to work for E. Ferrell in “this county” (either Edgecombe or Nash County, Rocky Mount straddles the county line and Joyners Depot was close to both). Cox had no staff to spare to go out and round up the Bullocks and, in any case, because Taylor’s farm was in Wilson County and the contract therefore was approved by the Goldsboro F.O., the problem was not his.

Freedmen’s Bureau, Rocky Mount April 25th, 1866.

Captain Geo. O Glavis, U.S.A., Asst. Supt. Bureau of R.F. and A.L., Goldsboro, N.C.

Captain:

I have the honor to request that two freedmen, Spencer Bullock, and Church Bullock, his son, who have entered into a written contract with Mr. Jas. J. Taylor of Wilson County, and who have left him, The contract is approved by You, The freedmen are now living in this County, on the plantation of E. Ferrell Near Joiners Depot in this County, I have no men to send for them, and as the contract was drawn up in Your County, and as Mr. Taylor lives in Wilson County, I have referred the case to you,

I am, Captain,

Very respectfully, William F. Cox, 2d Lieut. and Asst. Supt.

P.S. I suppose the reason why Mr. Taylor did not go to you is that freedmen are in this county. W.F. Cox

——

In the 1870 census of Tarboro township, Wilson County: farm laborer Spencer Bullock, 56; wife Mathilda, 53; and children Georgewell [Churchwell], 17, Emeline, 9, Leda, 8, and Louisia, 3.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

Clara and Emeline are working for me.

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Stantonsburg, N.C., April 3rd, 1867

Major N.D. Norton, Dear Sir:

Your favor of April 2nd is to hand and contents noted. In reply I have to state that the two girls, named Clara Ann and Emeline are in my employment, they having hired themselves to me, and having entered into a written contract to work with me on my farm for the balance of the year. The contracts, which I hold, were drawn up by a Notary Public, and signed by the girls. The girls agreed to work with me of their own accord, and part of their wages have been paid them.

I will be in Goldsboro on Saturday next, and will call and see you, and bring the contracts.

Yours truly  Jno. B. Carrow

P.S. If I fail to come up on Saturday I will try and come on Monday next if possible.  J.B.C.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters received, Jan 1867-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org 

They are my grandchildren.

In response to John J. Pender’s claim to three African-American children, Jenny Robbins sent a sworn statement to the Freedmen’s Bureau. Reading between the lines suggests that Pender’s bald claim that Toney Robbins was not the children’s grandfather split hairs. They were, it seems, Jenny Robbins’ grandchildren by blood and Toney Robbins’ by marriage. Note that Robbins gives their surname as Turner, not Pender as set forth in the 1870 census and in J.J. Pender’s claim.

I Jenny Robbins wife of Toney Robbins do certify on oath that Dellah Ann Sylva Ann and Jacob Turner three infant children now in the possession of J.J. Pender of the county of Wilson state of North Carolina are my grand children and do further swear that my daughter Amy the mother of the said three children is and was dead when they were set free that I am the nearest kin now living to the said infants and wish to have the management control and raising of the same which he the said J.J. Pender haves and will not allow me to take or have anything to do with them     Jenny (X) Robbins

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 21st day of August 1867 James Wiggins J.P.

Witness D.W. Weaver, Moses (X) Morris Col., Haywood (X) Batts

Plece let me hear from you soon

——

Former policeman James Wiggins also weighed in in support of Ginny Pender/Jenny Robbins’ claim for custody of her children. (The date of his letter is puzzling, as it more than a year and a half before Robbins’ above. It gives a sense, however, of the protracted fight Toney and Jenny Robbins waged for her grandchildren.)

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters Received Jan 1867-Feb 1868; North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Unregistered Letters Received Aug 1865-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org 

 

A sharecropping contract.

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This is a copy of the contract between Virgil Bridges W.L. Quarles      State of North Carolina Wilson County

Articles of agreement concluded between Virgil Bridges of the one part and W L Quarles of the other part both of the state and county above written. The said Virgil Bridges for the consideration hereinafter mentioned doth hereby covenent and agree to wit

That he the said Virgil have bound him self and three of his children viz. Siah Rachel and Bunny to serve the said W L Quarles the present year (1867) commencing the 1st day of Jany and ending the 31st day of December (inclusive) the said Virgil are to board him self and children to furnish seed to plant of any and every description such as are usually planted in this section of country. The said are to do all manner of work usually done on farms such as fencing putting the fences in good repair raising manures ditching cleaning out ditches clearing of lands &c &c. In consideration of the said Virgil faithfully discharging us duty (and having his children to do same as set forth in this agreement the said Quarles do agree to give unto the said Virgil two thirds of the crop that he may make and save. The said Quarles also agrees to furnish the said Virgil with two plow nags for which the said Virgil do agree to give him for the use of same (that is the two horses, twelve (12) barrels of corn and 2500 lbs of fodder for each horse or mule he the said Virgil shall pay trict attention to the wellfare of the animals that may be placed under his charge the animals are to be used on

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the farm only without first obtaining permission from the said Quarles to do otherwise. The said Quarles also agrees to furnish such agricultural implements as may be necessary to carry on the farm for which the said Virgil Bridges are to pay the said Quarles the sum of Ten (10) dollars he the said Virgil further binds him self and the above named children to be governed by the orders and instructions that may be given by the said Quarles the said Virgil also hires unto the said Quarles two other of his children viz Easter & Turner for Easter the said Quarles is to pay at the rate of four (4) dollars per month until the 1st day of Jany next half of which going to the hireling and half to the said Virgil and for Turner five (5) bunches of cotton yarn board and clothes until Jan next.

Now should it appear that from any neglect that either party fails to do his duty as setforth in this agreement he or they shall forfeit the sum of Ten dollars in every instance for such neglect. Given under our hands and seals this the 15th day of May 1867

Witness Z. Johnson           Virgil (X) Bridges   W.L. Quarles

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Wilson NC Septr 5th 1867

Lieut Allison Sir

[Illegible] I herewith transmit you a copy of contract between myself and Virgil Bridges [illegible]. I hope the instructions you gave to impart to him will have a very desirable effect he has gone to work though the crop is badly damaged from his neglect I am yet willing to over look it in a great measure provided he will stick up to his contract for the balance of the year accept my thanks for what you have done in the matter and oblige Yrs very respectfully W.L. Quarles

——

In the 1870 census of Lower Town Creek, Edgecombe County: farmer Virgil Bridgers, 66; wife Frances, 51; and children Josiah, 22, Turner, 15, Easter, 21, Bunny, 13, Harriet, 11, and Manda, 6.

On 18 July 1872, Simon Pope, 21, of Edgecombe County, married Ester Bridgers, 22, of Edgecombe County, in Wilson County.

On 12 March 1876, Turner Bridgers, 23, of Edgecombe County, married Nelly Horn, 23, of Edgecombe, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek, Edgecombe County: laborer Virgil Bridgers, 74 laborer; wife Francis, 74; daughters Hannah, 23 and Amanda, 17; and grandchildren Laura, 4, Esther, 3, and Richmond, 12.

On 7 January 1886, Hilliard Barron, 43, married Rachel Bridgers, 35, at Wilson County Courthouse.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Hilliard Barron, 56; wife Rachel 49; and son Hilliard, 19.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Turner Bridgers, 52; wife Nellie, 50; sons General, 17, and Isaac, 14; mother-in-law Lany Horne, 97; and boarder Nelson Williams, 40.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Hilliard Barron, 67, and wife Racheal, 60.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: odd jobs farm laborer Turner B. Bridgers, 55; wife Nellie, 60; and son Isaac, 17.

Rachel Barron died 31 March 1917 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was married; was about 60 years old; was born in Wilson County to Virgin Bridger and an unknown mother; and worked as a tenant farmer.

In the 1920 Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, Turner Bridgers, 72, farmer; Nellie, 74; grandchildren Willie, 16, Georgeanna, 12, and Nathan, 7; and adopted daughter Hattie Stokes, 13.

Turner Bridges died 16 October 1921 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1850 in Saratoga; was a farmer; and was married to Nellie Bridgers.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (assistant subassistant commissioner) > Roll 17, Letters received, Jul-Sep 1867, http://www.familysearch.org 

The three orphan children are in my possession.

In August 1867, white farmer John J. Pender posted a letter to the Goldsboro field office of the Freedmen’s Bureau, disputing Toney Robbins‘ claim to three orphaned children, Della, Sylvia and Jacob Pender, whom Pender likely had claimed as property just a few years before:

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Joyners Depot NC August 10th 1867

Lieut J F Allison

Sir

Your note was received last evening ordering me to furnish you with all the facts concerning three grand children belonging to Tony Robbins cold [colored]. I must say the report is entirely false. Tony Robbins has no grand children and he had none of his own nor he never has had any children. I can if necessary furnish you with all the evidence you may desire. I have three orphan children in my possession named Dellar, Sylva & Jacob apprenticed and bound to me on the 2nd January 1866 by Capt Glavis post Commander at Goldsboro, and also my Lawyer instructed me to have said children bound to me by Wilson Court and I did so. So have had them bound to me at Goldsboro by Capt Glavis and by Wilson County. Said Tony Robbins has given me considerable trouble abot said children and I am getting tired. Said Tony Robins has made application to every Commander in reach concerning Said Children and further more the Children is not related to Said (Robins) in no shape nor manner. He has run me to a great deal of expense. Said Tony Rbbins and Mr (Totten) at Joyners Dept have been troubling me badly during this year Concerning said Children

I am glad to Say the Children are in fine health and get a plenty to eat and are sheltered under my own roof and well clothed &c &c.

Very Respectfully yours truly

J.J. Pender

To Lieut. J.F. Allison

Post Commander

Goldsboro NC

——

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Joseph Pender, 63, and wife Lucretia, 49; daughter Lucretia, 5; and farmer’s apprentices Jacob, 8, and Selvia Pender, 5, both black.

In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Toney Robbins, 51, farm laborer, and wife Jinny, 48. [Sidenote: Joseph J. Pender’s mother was Elizabeth Robbins Pender. Was Toney Robbins linked to her family?]

On 18 April 1878, Haywood Braswell, 23, married Sylva Pender, 19, in Township No. 14, Edgecombe County, in the presence of Toney Robbins, Charles Daws and Tom Petway.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Haward Braswell, 25; wife Silvy, 22; and daughter Lucy, 3.

Sylvia Pender Braswell died 12 April 1952 at her home at 510 South Spring Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 January 1842 [sic] in North Carolina to unknown parents and was a widow. Connie Bynum was informant.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (assistant subassistant commissioner) > Roll 17, Letters Received, Jul-Sep 1867, http://www.familysearch.org 

 

Studio shots, no. 122: Hilliard Ellis Sr.

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Hilliard Ellis Sr. (1827-1900).

For posts on Hilliard Ellis, see here and here and here and here and elsewhere.

——

In 1866, Hilliard Ellis and Farrebee Ellis registered their 16-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Taylor, 43; wife Feribee, 40; and children Caroline, 16, William, 14, George, 11, Emily, 9, Hilliard, 6, Mary H., 4, and Warren, 8 months.

In 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Hilliard Ellis, 53; wife Fereby, 50; and children Hilliard Jr., 17; Mary A., 13; Warren, 12; Phillis, 10; and Milby, 6.

In late 1895, a newspaper editorial offered testimony from Hilliard Ellis Sr. as evidence that Henry P. Cheatham did not enjoy widespread support among voters in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District:

The North Carolinian (Raleigh, N.C.), 28 December 2019.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Ellis, 73; wife Pharbey, 72; daughter Millie, 22; and grandchildren Walter, 8, Lizza, 10, Treasy, 7, and Arthur, 3,

Hilliard Ellis died 22 June 1900.

Hillard Ellis [Jr.] died 20 March 1924 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 September 1865 in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Fabriby Rountree; was a farmer working for Furney High; and was married to Cora Ellis.

Louise Rowe died 7 May 1924 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was about 62 years old; was born in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Feriba Roundtree; worked as a domestic for Charley Mercer; and was the widow of Samuel Rowe. Lula Toney was informant.

Adline Mitchell died 15 August 1936 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was 84 years old; was born in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Farby Roundtree; and was the widow of Gray Mitchell. Farby Kates was informant.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user tishbaldez.

The obituary of Charles Diggs.

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Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 2 May 1919.

Charles Diggs left Wilson County shortly after Emancipation, and I have found no record of him there. He is remarkably elusive in federal census records as well, but newspaper clippings and other records offer glimpses of his family and the rich life he led in Brooklyn, New York. (Why was he called “Colonel,” though? Was he a veteran of the United States Colored Troops?0

——

On 25 April 1872, in Brooklyn, New York, Charles Diggs, 25, of Wadesborough, Virginia [sic], son of James Diggs and Lydia Harris, married Carter Corlea Jones, 25, of Lynchburgh, Virginia, daughter of Riley Carter and Polly Reed.

In the 1874 Brooklyn, N.Y., city directory: Diggs Charles well sinker 1191 Atlantic av

A female child was born 14 October 1874 in Brooklyn to Charles Diggs and Carter Carlea Jones.

A male child was born 4 April 1878 in Brooklyn to Charles Diggs and Carter Jones.

Florence R. Diggs was born 20 October 1878 in Brooklyn to Charles Diggs and Carter C. Jones.

A male child was born 2 December 1880 in Brooklyn to Charles Diggs and Carter C. Jones.

In the 1889 Brooklyn, N.Y., city directory: Diggs Charles welldriver 289 Franklin av

Carter Diggs died 25 March 1890 in Brooklyn, New York. Per her death certificate, she was 46 years old, was born in Virginia, and was married.

In 1890, Diggs was initiated into the Brooklyn Literary Union, organized in 1886, and where he would rub elbows with journalist T. Thomas Fortune:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 8 May 1890.

In the 1892 state census of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: Chas. Diggs, 45, well digger, and children Rosa, 19, [illegible], 15, Horace, 10, and Florence, 12.

In the 1895 Brooklyn, N.Y., city directory: Diggs Chas welldigger 485 Waverly av

Horace L. Diggs, age 16, died 9 June 1898 in New York, New York.

A 1901 article noted that Diggs was one of a few Brooklyn residents to have been born into slavery:

From “Brooklyn’s Colored Population: It Is Believed to Number Eighteen Thousand — Progress in Prosperity and In Intellectual Advancement — Paying Taxes on Property Amounting to About One Million Dollars. The Brooklyn Citizen, 8 December 1901.

In the 1905 state census of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: at 111 DeKalb Avenue, Louis Paultry, 42, laborer; wife Harriett Paultry, 38; well digger Charles Diggs, 59; porter James Teamer, 32; stable man Edward Scoot, 46; and laborer John Harry, 27.

“Colonel” Charles Diggs helped plan the Garnet Republican Club’s Lincoln Dinner in February 1908. During the event, he delivered a speech on “Organization and Unity.”

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 13 February 1908.

Diggs helped plan the Garnet Republican Club’s observance of the 100th anniversary:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 28 November 1908.

In 1911, the Society of the Sons of North Carolina, to which Diggs belonged, planned a “monster mass meeting” and published an appeal for support of its efforts to address “the condition of immorality existing among the young girls of our race in certain sections ….”

New York Age, 6 July 1911.

Of more personal concern, in late 1911, widow Rosa Hardnut signaled her intent to sue Bristol Meyers Chemical Company, where her husband was buried alive while working on a dig for Charles Diggs.

Brooklyn Daily Times, 9 December 1911.

Charles Diggs died 29 April 1919 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. Per his death certificate, he was born 1848 to James and Lydia Diggs; was a well digger; was a widower; and was buried in Mount Olivet cemetery.

Florence Varner died 28 April 1928 in Manhattan. Per her death certificate, she was 61 years old; was widowed; was born in 1886 in New York City to Charles Diggs of North Carolina and Carter Jones of North Carolina.

Mae Wilson died 23 July 1941 in the Bronx. Per her death certificate, she was 42 years old; was widowed; and was born 24 October 1880 to Charles Diggs of North Carolina and Carter Jones.

[What was the Society of the Sons of North Carolina?

The Bystander (Des Moines, Iowa), 26 May 1911.