This clean-lined little newsletter arrived in my email box a few days ago, chock-full of the latest news of the city’s historic African-American cemetery, developments made possible by inspirational public-private partnerships. Here are highlights, and the full issue can be found here.
In the 1880 census of Salisbury, Rowan County: tanner Robert Lord, 48; wife Rosetta, 40; and children Robert, 19, tobacco factory worker, Nora, 15, Irene, 12, Alonzo, 8, and Elizabeth, 21.
In the 1900 census of Statesville, Iredell County: on Garfield Street, Alonzo Lord, 28, physician; wife Lula, 24; and sister Nora B., 31.
Alonzo Richardson Lord was born 26 April 1904 in Cabarrus County, N.C., to Lula Hart and Alonzo David Lord.
In the 1930 census of Statesville, Iredell County: A. Loid, 54, physician, and wife Lula, 52.
In the 1930 census of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, N.C.: Alonzo Hart, 25, teacher, lodger in the household of W.F.G. Moore.
Alonzo D. Lord died 15 April 1934 in Statesville, Iredell County. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 October 1874 in Salisbury to Robert and Rosetta Lord; was married to Lula Lord; and was a physician.
In the 1938 Hill’s Rocky Mount, N.C., city directory: Lord Alonzo R (c) prin Booker T Washington Sch h 232 Atlantic av
In the 1940 census of Statesville, Iredell County: on Adams Road, Lula Lord, 63, widow, and Henrietta Thomas, 49, widow, private nurse.
In the 1940 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County, N.C.: Alonzo Hart, 35, principal and teacher, lodger in the household of Marion Hood, 35.
In 1942, Alonzo Richardson Lord registered for the World War II draft in Edgecombe County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 April 1904 in Concord, N.C.; lived 232 Atlantic Avenue, Rocky Mount, N.C.; his contact was Lula H. Lord; and he worked for Rocky Mount City Schools at Booker T. Washington High School.
On 1 October 1943, Alonzo R. Lord, 39, of Statesville, N.C., son of Alonzo and Lula Hart, married Mae McKoy, 36, of Mebane, N.C., daughter of David and Alice Murray, in Wilson. Dr. B.O. Barnes applied for the license, and Presbyterian minister J.W. Barnette performed the ceremony. [Per Beverly A. Henderson, Dr. Barnes and Alonzo Lord were close friends from their college days at Johnson C. Smith University.]
The 1962 Elizabeth City State College Catalogue lists A.R. Lord as principal and M.M. Lord as a teacher at Fourth Street Elementary School, Plymouth, N.C.
Alonzo R. Lord died 3 June 1986 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Alonzo R. Lord, Bertha Hart, a Murphy (first name not known), Minnie McNeely, Ardeanur Smith, Statesville, N.C., mid-1920s.
Photo in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.
Thus ends the week. Who will pick up the blogging mantle to create a one-place study chronicling the lives and history of Iredell County African-Americans?
In the 1870 census of Eagle Mills township, Iredell County: in the household of S. Blackburn, 62, white, cook Fannie Blackburn, 47, and her children (and possibly grandchild) Andy, 26, Armsted, 20, Tempy, 20, Wiley, 14, Alfred, 10, and John, 1.
On 6 October 1880, Alfred Blackburn married Lucy Blackburn in Iredell County. T.A. Nicholson performed the ceremony. In the 1900 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County, N.C.: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 40; wife Lucy, 40; and children Rubin, 18, Mary K., 17, Obie A., 15, mail carrier, Amand B., 13, Henry H., 12, Magie I., 8, and Walter R., 6.
This 1898 document, signed on its reverse by A. Blackburn, was recently offered for sale at auction. The pre-printed form from the U.S. Post Office Department is notification of a failure to complete a route. On the back, Blackburn’s handwritten note to his brother Wiley Blackburn about a deduction to Wiley’s salary related to the shortened route. worthpoint.com.
In the 1910 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 52; wife Lucy A., 54; and children Reuben C., 28, Mary, 26, Oby, 24, Amanda, 22, Majie, 18, Walter ,16, and Hugh, 9.
On 19 January 1919, Oby Alexander Blackburn died in Hamptonville, Deep Creek township, Yadkin County. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 July 1884 in Hamptonville to Alfred Blackburn and Lucy Carson, both of Iredell County; was single; was farming for himself; and was buried in Carson Town.
In the 1920 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Teen Blackburn, 63; wife Lucy, 62; and children Mary, 34, Maggie, 28, and Henry, 17.
On 1 August 1926, Hugh C. Blackburn died in Hamptonville, Deep Creek township, Yadkin County. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 March 1901 in Hamptonville to Alfred and Lucy Blackburn; was single; was a farmer; and was buried in Pleasant Hill cemetery.
Lucy Ann Blackburn died 10 August 1929 in Deep Creek, Yadkin County. Per her death certificate, she was 74 years old; was married to Alfred Blackburn; was born in Iredell County to Milton Blackburn and Edie Carson; and was buried in Pleasant Hill cemetery. H.H. Blackburn was informant.
In the 1930 census of Hamptonville, Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 84; daughters Mary, 45, and Madgie, 35; and boarder Luther Revals, 18.
In the 1940 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 90, widower; daughters Mary, 48, and Madge, 42; and granddaughter Anne Love, 16.
Madge Blackburn died 11 August 1969 in Mocksville, Davie County, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1898 to Alfred and Lucy Blackburn; was never married [in fact, she married John Lindsay in Yadkin County on 14 January 1922]; and lived in Hamptonville, Yadkin County.
Henry Harold Blackburn died 3 March 1970 in Statesville, Iredell County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 May 1888 to Alfred “Teen” Blackburn and Lucy Blackburn; was married to Daisy Carson; lived in Hamptonville, Iredell County; and was a school teacher.
Reuben Cowles Blackburn Sr. died 9 November 1970 in North Wilkesboro, Wilkes County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 September 1881 to Alfred and Lucy Blackburn; was a widower; and was a retired rural mail carrier.
Mary Candis Blackburn died 10 August 1984 in Mocksville, Davie County. Per her death certificate, she was born 28 February 1883 to Alfred Blackburn and Lucy Carson; lived in Hamptonville, Yadkin County; was never married; and had been a school teacher.
Amanda Bell Carson died 4 May 1985 in Yadkinville, Yadkin County. Per her death certificate, she was born 22 July 1886 to Alfred and Lucy Carson Blackburn and was a widow.
“Reach in your pocket. There … find a dime & look at the face of it.” You will find the likeness of United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Who was the artist who fashioned the likeness the graces our national currency? Mooresville native, Dr. Selma H. Burke, a native of Mooresville, Iredell County, an American woman descended from slaves.
The daughter of an African Methodist Episcopal Zion minister, Burke was born 31 December 31 1900. Around 1907, playing in the mud in a creek near School Street, Burke realized that she had a fascination with and talent for sculpting. Her mother, knowing she needed more “practical” training, persuaded her to further her education at the school now known as Winston-Salem State University. Burke made her way to Harlem, New York City, as a nurse, but by the mid-1930s was the recipient of the grants that allowed her to study sculpting in the U.S. and Europe. In 1944 she won a competition, securing commissioned to sculpt a plaque portrait of Franklin Roosevelt. It was unveiled in 1945 and adapted for use on the dime, though credited to engraver John Sinnock.
Burke, wearing a smock, seated next to her portrait bust of Booker T. Washington, 1930s.
Burke’s portrait and an original bust she sculpted can be found in the Mooresville Public Library.
Margaret Colvert Allen, seated far right, third row, circa 1915.
Greensboro Daily News, 10 March 1916.
Margaret C. Allen, second from right, second row from top. Her sister Launie Mae Colvert Jones, at left, first row of middle section, circa 1916. Both photos, I believe depict students of Statesville’s Colored Free School. The second photo may show the school itself shortly before it burned or may depict one of the other buildings in which the school met before a replacement was built in 1921.
“I was contacted recently by someone at the library at UNC Chapel Hill concerning a question they had received from Joyce Busenbark of Statesville. Busenbark had discovered a 1935 patient discharge paper from the old Davis Hospital on West End Avenue. The names of the patient had been blacked out, meaning it had been discarded at some point, but she noticed something curious. Under the heading of ‘Discharged’ were the words ‘To Daisy’s.’ Not knowing what Daisy’s meant, she had contacted the library at UNC. When I first heard that a patient had been discharged to Daisy’s I drew a blank as well. Was some smart aleck saying this person had died and was now ‘pushing up daisies’?
“One clue was the fact that the patient was listed as ‘colored.’ After some research, I discovered that the patient had actually been discharged to the care and home of Daisy Conner Robinson. Daisy’s husband, Thomas Robinson, was deceased and she was known locally in Statesville by her maiden name of Daisy Conner. In the 1930 Statesville City Directory, she is shown living at 249 Garfield St., right at the Green Street intersection. The entry for 249 also says ‘Colored Branch Davis Hospital’ and below the listing for Davis Hospital is another entry that reads, ‘Davis Hospital, colored branch, 249 Garfield, Daisy Robinson nurse.’ Some of the older members of the black community in Statesville explained what was going on.
“Davis Hospital was opened in December 1925. Please note that I am referring to the old Davis Hospital, 709 W. End Ave., in 1930, and not the modern one on Old Mocksville Road. During those early years, Davis Hospital treated black patients in what locals called the ‘basement,’ separate from the white patients. Black patients were not allowed to stay overnight in the hospital and if they were seriously ill or injured and needed to be hospitalized, they were discharged to Daisy’s home on Garfield.
“Daisy was a black nurse who was born Dec. 4, 1892, in Catawba County. She cared for the black patients from the mid-’20s until the early ’40s. The unknown patient had received an appendectomy in 1935 and the discharge paper said ‘Going to Daisy’s tonight.’
“Daisy’s address at 249 Garfield placed her close to Dr. Robert S. Holliday at 241 Garfield. Holliday was a black physician in Statesville and could have helped with the patients under Daisy’s care. Holliday’s wife was Mary Charlton Holliday who was over the black schools in Iredell County from 1915 to 1956.
“Daisy died on Jan. 6, 1947, at age 54, from tuberculosis probably caught from a patient she cared for. Her funeral was held at First Baptist Church on Green Street. She is listed as being buried in the ‘colored cemetery,’ now known as the Green Street Cemetery, but there appears to be no headstone. The house is gone now and we have been unable to find a photograph of either Daisy or the house. Her daughter, Pheonia R. Smith, lived at 528 Falls St., with her husband, John R. Smith, until her death on June 11, 1965.”
Joel Reese, Statesville Recorder & Landmark, 11 March 2014.
In the 1930 census of Statesville, Iredell County: at 249 Garfield Street, rented for $20/month, widow Daisy Robinson, 39, hospital annex nurse; son Samuel Robinson, 19, grocery store delivery boy; cousin Henriettie Abernethy, 13; roomers Horace Locket, 21, motor company machinist, and widow Louise Sherrill, 45; grandson Lonnie Bernard, 5; and roomer Isabella Knox, 17, maid.
In the 1940 census of Statesville, Iredell County: at 249 Garfield Street, rented for $12/month, widow Daisy Robinson, 39, private hospital nurse; widow Janie Connor, 70, mother-in-law; grandson Lonnie Smith, 15; and nephew Odel Abernethy, 18.
Daisy Robinson died 6 January 1947 on Garfield Street, Statesville. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 December 1894 in Catawba County, North Carolina, to W.N. Connor and Janie Abernathy; was the widow of Thomas Robinson; and worked as a nurse.
Just months after Eugene B. Drake bought her in 1863, 23 year-old Rebecca was gone. Desperate to recoup his investment, Drake posted this remarkably detailed reward notice in newspapers well beyond Statesville. After precisely noting her physical features, Drake noted that Rebecca was “an excellent spinner” and “believed to be a good weaver, and said she was a good field hand.” (He had not had the chance to see for himself.) Rebecca may have helped herself to the products of her own labor, carrying away several dresses, as well as “new shoes.” Drake had purchased her from one of Richmond’s notorious slave dealers, but she was from Milton, in Caswell County, North Carolina, just below the Virginia line and southeast of Danville. There, Rebecca had been torn from her child and other relatives. Drake believed she was following the path of the newly opened North Carolina Railroad, which arced from Charlotte to Goldsboro, perhaps to seek shelter with acquaintances near Raleigh. He offered a $150 reward for her arrest and confinement.
Daily Progress (Raleigh, N.C.), 23 November 1863.
A year later, Drake was again paying for newspaper notices, this time for the return of his “slave man” Milledge, also called John, who had also absconded in new clothes and shoes. Drake again provided precise a physical description of the man, down to his slow, “parrot-toed” walk. Milledge/John had procured counterfeit free papers and a travel pass, and Drake believed he was aiming 200 miles south to Augusta, Georgia, probably on trains.
Carolina Watchman (Salisbury, N.C.), 28 December 1864.
I don’t know whether Drake recaptured either Rebecca or Milledge/John. If he did, the rewards he paid were money wasted. The Confederacy surrendered in April 1865, and thereafter he owned no one.
Me: How did she work that? How did Harriet get to be the first black woman to vote [in Statesville, North Carolina]?
Margaret Colvert Allen, my maternal grandmother: Well, because her husband [Thomas Alonzo Hart] was a lawyer.
Grandma: He was a, whatchacall – a real estate lawyer. And he taught her how to read and write and do everything after he married her. Or while he was marrying her. Or something. And when time came for women to vote, she was the first black – he carried her down to the polls, and she was the first black woman to vote. And then at that time, you know, they gave you a quiz.
Me: Right. Right. Right. For black people to vote. Yeah. ‘Cause did your parents – well, did your father [Lon W. Colvert] vote?
Lon Walker Colvert (1875-1930).
Grandma: Oh, yeah. Papa voted. He voted. And the people in my home, Lisa, fought in the streets. It was dange – I mean, we could not go outside the house on election night. The people — “Who’d you vote for?” “I’m a Democrat.” “I’m a Republican.” Pam-a-lam-a-lam! [Swings fists, and I break into laughter.] People acted like they were crazy! Papa didn’t allow us out the house. “You better be getting on home!” ‘Cause they were terrible.
Me: And now you got to drag people out to vote. And then you hear people going: “I’m not gon vote now. What’s the point? I blah-blah-blah.”
Grandma: Yeah. When I came here [Newport News, Virginia] you had to pay poll tax.
Grandma: It wasn’t a whole lot, but it was ridiculous.
[Harriet Hart was my great-great-grandmother. My grandmother cast her last ballot for Barack Obama in 2008 — at age 100.]
Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.
A few weeks ago, I promised to go a teeny way toward carrying out my original plan for several one-place studies by turning the focus of Black Wide-Awake briefly to other beloved Black communities. This week I’ll be guest-blogging (though in my own space) from time to time about Iredell County, North Carolina, my maternal grandmother’s birthplace, two hundred miles west of Wilson on the western edge of North Carolina’s Piedmont.
I’ll start with an introduction to my great-great-great-grandfather Walker Colvert, who was born enslaved about 1819 in Culpeper County, Virginia. When Samuel W. Colvert died in 1823, Walker passed to his son John Alpheus Colvert, who had migrated to Iredell County and bought land on Rocky Creek, a South Yadkin River tributary.
Only four years later, John A. Colvert died. This excerpt from his estate records shows “Negroes hired for one year,” that is, enslaved people leased to neighbors to earn money for Colvert’s estate and the support of his widow and children. “Boy Walker” was about eight years old. That he was listed without his mother may suggest that he was an orphan, though he was about the age to be separated from her and put to work on his own. Walker’s kinship to Jerry, Amy, Joe, Ellen, Meel, Anda, Charlotte, and Lett is unknown.
Inventory of the estate of John Alpheus Colvert, Iredell County, North Carolina, 1827.
When he reached adulthood in 1851, John’s son William Isaac Colvert inherited Walker and held him until Emancipation on his farm in Eagle Mill township. The same year, Walker Colvert fathered a son, John Walker Colvert, by Elvira Gray. The boy and his mother were likely enslaved on a nearby plantation, perhaps that of William I. Colvert’s sister, Susan Colvert Gray. Around 1853, Walker married Rebecca Parks, a relationship that was not legalized until they registered their cohabitation as freed people in 1866. Their registration notes three children — John (Rebecca’s stepson), Elvira, and Lovenia. Rebecca also had a son Lewis Colvert, born about 1860, whom Walker reared but apparently did not father.
Iredell County Cohabitation Records, Register of Deeds Office, Statesville, N.C.
Walker Colvert and his son John Walker worked for decades after slavery for William I. Colvert, likely both on his farm and at his cotton manufacturing enterprise, Eagle Mills. Walker eventually bought a small farm in nearby Union Grove township, though he did not record a deed for it. On 16 March 1901, with the help of his neighbors he drafted a short will leaving all his property to his widow Rebecca Colvert, and then to his son John Colvert. Four years later, he died.
The Landmark (Statesville, N.C.), 10 February 1905.
In the 1870 census of Union Grove township, Iredell County: farm worker Walker Colvert, 50; wife Rebecca, 25; and Lewis, 10.
In the 1880 census of Union Grove township, Iredell County: farm worker Walker Colvert, 62; wife Rebecca, 37; grandson Alonzo, 5; and niece Bitha Albea, 3.
In the 1900 census of Union Grove township, Iredell County: farmer Walker Colvert, 84, and wife Rebecca, 60. Both reported having been born in Virginia.