Lassiter

Ruby Jane Lassiter comes home.

Ruby Jane Lassiter, born 19 August 1923 in Wilson, N.C., died 30 August 1943 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

On 30 August 1943, two months after she arrived in Indianapolis (and 11 days after her birthday), 20 year-old Ruby Jane Lassiter was dead. Her family entrusted her body to Jacobs Brothers Funeral Home, and the newly digitized records of that establishment detail the arrangements to bring her home.

Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 10.48.46 PM.png

(Plummer D. and Cary D. Jacobs, born in 1897 and 1901 in Dudley, Wayne County, North Carolina, were the nephews of Jesse A. Jacobs, Jr.)

——

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 709 Lipscomb Road, owned and valued at $1000, truck gardener Jesse C. Lassiter, 41, widower, and children Jesse C., Jr., 15, James D., 13, Ernest D., 12, Annie B., 10, Mildred P., 8, Ruby J., 7, Lesie D., 6, Harvey G., 5, and Wade, 2. [Mildred Lassiter Sherrod died six months prior to her sister Ruby, also of tuberculosis.]

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 709 Lipscomb Road, WPA laborer Jessie Lassiter, 50, and children Ruby, 16, Lessie L., 15, Harvey, 14, and Wade, 12.

Many thanks to Allen County (Ind.) Public Library’s Genealogy Center, the Indiana African American Genealogy Group, and the Indiana Genealogical Society for collaborating to digitize Jacobs Brothers Funeral Home’s records and to digitalblackhistory.com for bringing this database to my attention.

They are non-residents of this state.

Hardy Lassiter died about 1853 in a section of Edgecombe County that two years later became part of the newly created Wilson County. During the probate of his estate, the court ordered this ad placed in an attempt to locate his daughter Sally Lassiter Artis and her husband, Morrison Artis.

The Tarborough Southerner, 24 September 1853.

Where were the Artises?  Indiana.

Morrison Artis, son of Micajah and Bedie Powell Artis, was born about 1822 in or near what would become Wilson County. His father Micajah is listed as a head of household in the 1830 census of Taylor district, Nash County, and the 1840 census of Davis district, Wayne County. Morrison Artis married Sarah “Sally” Lassiter circa 1845. Born about 1827 in what was then Edgecombe County, she was the daughter of Hardy and Obedience Lassiter. Morrison and Sally’s first child, Benjamin F. Artis, was born in 1847, and within a year or so the family struck out for Indiana with Morrison’s family.

In the 1850 census of District 85, Parke County, Indiana: Morrison Artis, 24, farmer; wife Sarah, 21; and children Benjamin, 3, and Rachel, 6 months. All except Rachel were born in North Carolina.

In the 1850 census of District 85, Parke County, Indiana: Micajah Artis, 50, farmer; wife Bedy, 40; and children Arcada, 17, Eliza, 14, Burket, 4, and Henriette, 1. All but Henriette were born in North Carolina.

In the 1860 census of Reserve township, Parke County, Indiana: farmer Morrison Artis, 35; wife Sally, 33; and children Benjamin, 13, Rachel. 10, and Martha, 5. Morrison reported owning $1000 in real property and $465 in personal property.

In the 1860 census of Adam township, Parke County, Indiana: Micajah Artis, 58, farmer; wife Beda, 50; and children Birket, 16, Henrietta, 10, Elmeda, 8, and Benson, 7.

Per Early Black Settlements by County, indianahistory.org, “During the 1850s, the Bassett, Artis and Ellis families left Parke County, Indiana, and established a settlement in Ervin Township. (The Bassett and Artis families were free African Americans who came to Indiana from North Carolina.)  At least 11 families lived in this area that became a small farming community of blacks sometime known as the Bassett Settlement or the Bassett and Ellis Settlement.  They had a school, church, cemetery (located at 950 W.), general store, blacksmith shop and a post office.  Some of the other surnames associated with the settlement include Canady, Griggs, Jones, Kirby, Mosely, and Wilson.

“Zachariah and Richard Bassett served as ministers at the Free Union Baptist Church in Howard County.  The 1870 census list Bassetts, Artis, and Ellis as farmers.  Richard had land valued at $8,400 and Morrison Artis’s land was valued at $2,800.  In 1892, Richard Bassett became the third black person to be elected to the Indiana state legislature.”

The heart of the Bassett Settlement as shown in this 1877 plat map. Two parcels are labeled M. Artis — one, perhaps, Micajah and the other Morrison. A small cross is visible at the center of the image in a parcel marked R. Bassett; it marks the community cemetery in which the older Artises were buried. [For an account of my visit to Bassett cemetery and a family connection to this place, see here and here.]

In the 1870 census of Ervin township, Howard County, Indiana: Morrison Artis, 46; wife Sarah, 40; and children Benjamin, 23, Martha, 16, and William, 1. Morrison reported owning $2800 in real property and $500 in personal property.

In the 1870 census of Ervin township, Howard County, Indiana: Macajah Artis, 65, farmer; wife Bedea, 65; and children Henrietta, 22, Almedia, 20, and Benson 17. Morrison reported owning $700 in real property and $100 in personal property.

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 1.18.45 PM.png

Indianapolis Leader, 30 August 1879.

In the 1880 census of Ervin township, Howard County, Indiana: farmer Morrison Artis, 57; wife Sarah, 55; children Benjamin, 33, Martha, 26, and William M., 11; and grandson Melvin, 8.

In 1891, Morrison Artis was nearly swindled from his life’s accumulation in a fraudulent land transaction.

Kokomo Saturday Tribune, 12 May 1891.

Morrison Artis died in April 1896 after terrible head injuries sustained when his spooked horse threw him, then fell on him.

Kokomo Daily Tribune, 9 April 1896.

Benjamin F. Artis died 8 September 1910 in Coopers Grove, Howard County, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1947 in North Carolina to Morrison Artis and Sarah Lassiter; was married to Caroline Artis; and was a retired laborer.

Melvina Bassett died 7 April 1917 in Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born April 1839 in North Carolina to Micajah Artis and Bedie Powell; was the widow of John Bassett; and was buried in Bassett cemetery. William Bassett was informant.

Benson Artis died 17 April 1919 in Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was 56 years old; was born in Indiana to M. Artis and an unknown mother; was single; lived at 145 Western Avenue, Kokomo.

William M. Artis died 27 August 1920 in Indianapolis. Per his death certificate, he was born 26 February 1869 in Indiana to Morrison Artis and an unknown mother; was married to Lula Artis; worked as a laborer; and was buried in Kokomo.

U.S. Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

In memory of my husband.

201902062010023371.jpg

Wilson Daily Times, 22 July 1960.

For at least 15 years, Mary Jane Bynum Lassiter placed an annual ad in the Daily Times to commemorate her husband Dempsey Lassiter‘s life.

——

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: lumber sawyer Charley Bynum, 41; wife Julia Ann, 43; and children Calvin, 21, Mary Jane, 18, Ameta, 16, Annie, 13, John C., 9, and Abraham, 1.

Dempsy Lester, 38, of Wilson, son of Green and Mary Lester, and Mary Jane Bynum, 28, of Wilson, daughter of Charlie and Julie Bynum. Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams performed the ceremony on 2 October 1912 at the bride’s residence. Witnesses were A.R. Phillips, Roscoe Barnes, and C.L. Coppedge.

Rufus Lassiter died 10 October 1914 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 11 July 1913 in Wilson to Dempsey Lassiter and Mary J. Bynum.

In 1918, Dempsey Lassiter registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he lived at 103 East Street; was born 28 October 1874; was a blacksmith for Hackney Wagon Company; and his nearest relative was Mary Jane Lassiter.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on East Street, wagon factory laborer Dempsey Lassiter, 35, and wife Mary, 25.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Lassiter Dempsey (c: Mary J) farmer h 106 S East

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 106 East Street, owned and valued at $1250, Dempsey Lassiter, 55, wife Mary J., 44; nephew Charles Bynum, 16; and nieces Katie Powell, 10, and Willie M. Leonard, 6.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Dempsey Lassiter, 65; county school teacher Mary, 55; and widowed sister-in-law Carrie Bynum, 30, a housekeeper.

Dempsey Lassiter died 16 July 1946 at his home at 106 South East Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he he was married; was 68 years old; was born in Wilson County to Green Lassiter and Mary Powell; was a farmer; and his informant was Mary J. Lassiter. He was buried in Rountree cemetery.

Mary Jane Lassiter died 21 August 1966 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 84 years old; was born in Wilson County to Charles Bynum and Julia Ann Davis; was a school teacher; and was a widow. James Bynum was informant.

Another history of London Woodard and his church.

img-6.jpeg

img-7.jpeg

Rocky Mount Telegram, 29 January 1960.

The take-away:

  • London’s Primitive Baptist is possibly the oldest African-American church in Wilson County.
  • London Woodard was born in 1808. In 1827, James Bullock Woodard purchased him for $500 from the estate of Julan Woodard.
  • In 1828, London Woodard was baptized at Toisnot Primitive Baptist.
  • In 1866, he sought permission to preach among his people.
  • In 1870, he was “dismissed” from Toisnot so that he could pastor the church he founded. He died lass than a month later.
  • London Church appears to have become disorganized after Woodard’s death, but in 1895, Toisnot P.B. dismissed several “colored brethren and sisters” who wanted to reestablish worship at London’s. The same year Union (now Upper Town Creek) P.B. released Haywood Pender, George Braswell, Dublin Barnes, and couple Charles and Rebeckah Barnes for the same purpose.
  • London Woodard married Pennie Lassiter, born free about 1810 and possessed of considerable property, including 29 acres purchased from James B. Woodard in 1859. [Penelope Lassiter was his second wife. His first, Venus, was enslaved.]
  • London and Pennie Woodard’s children were Priscilla (1846), Theresa (1848), Hardy (1850), Haywood (1852), William (1854), and Penina (1858). “Another child was probably named Elba, born in 1844; she was working for the John Batts family in 1860.” [London and Venus Woodard had nine children; Elba was not among either set.]
  • Many “old-time colored Christians” remained members of the churches they attended during slavery. Their children and grandchildren, however, gradually formed separate congregations.

——

  • Haywood Pender — in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Haywood Pender, 50, farmer; wife Feraby, 45; children Mollie, 39, and Ann, 8; and grandchildren Gold, 5, Nancy, 3, and Willie, 16. Haywood Pender died 15 July 1942 in Elm City, Toisnot township. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 October 1852 in Wilson County to Abram Sharp and Sookie Pender; was a farmer; was a widower; and was buried in Piney Grove cemetery, Elm City.
  • Dublin Barnes — in the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Doublin Barnes, 25; wife Eliza, 21; daughter Sattena, 2; and Jane Thomas, 12, farmhand.
  • Charles and Rebecca Barnes — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmhand Charley Barnes, 50; wife Rebecca, 57; and children John, 26, William, 23, Annie, 17, Tom, 18, and Corah, 12.
  • George Braswell

Received of Penny Lassiter.

James B. Woodard registered the receipt he issued to free woman of color Penny Lassiter for the $150 she paid to purchase her husband London Woodard in 1855. Though not legally manumitted, London lived essentially as a free man for the next ten years until Emancipation.

Deed book 1, page 155, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Studio shots, no. 78: Penninah Lassiter Woodard Barnes.

penina-woodard-per-rogerbarron52

Penninah Lassiter Woodard Barnes (1858-1919) was the youngest child of London and Penelope Lassiter Woodard.

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Penny Lassiter, 50, and children Priscilla, 14, Theresa, 12, Hardy, 10, Haywood, 8, William, 6, and Penina, 2. Penny claimed $600 in real estate and $300 in personal property.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer London Woodard, 79; wife Penelope, 59; and children Trecy, 20, Hardy, 19, Haywood, 18, William, 15, and Peninah, 12.

On 1 January 1877, Simon Barnes, 38, married Pennina Woodard, 17, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Simon Barnes, 30; wife Penniney, 21; and children Rosetta, 2, and James, 11 months.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Simon Barnes, 51; wife Penina, 40; and children Rosetta, 22, James W., 20, Hardy, 18, Charly, 16, Penny, 14, London, 12, Silas, 11, Prisa, 8, Simon, 5, and Marylisa, 2.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Simon Barnes, 65; wife Pennie, 55; and children Pennie S., 22, Sillas, 17, Mary L., 12, Lucie, 8, Ama, 6, and Simon, 14.

Penina Barnes died 24 February 1919 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 30 January 1859 to London Woodard and Pennie Lassiter; was married to Simon Barnes; and was a farmer. Informant was Hardy Barnes.

Pricilla Hardy died 24 October 1919 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was 28 years old; born in Wilson County to Simon Barnes and Penninah Woodard; was a tenant farmer; and was married. James Walter Barnes was informant.

Leonard Barnes died 19 November 1952 at his home at 1312 Carolina Street. Per his death certificate, he was born 26 June 1888 in Wilson to Simon Barnes and Pennina Woodard; and was a World War I veteran. Informant was Pennie Barnes.

Treasy Barnes Atkinson died 23 December 1964 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 June 1900 to Simon Barnes and Pennia Woodard and was widowed. Informant was Mrs. Inez Lucas, Wilson.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user rogerbarron52.

London Woodard, Penny Lassiter Woodard and the London Church.

On 14 February 1970, the Wilson Daily Times published a full-page article detailing the life of London Woodard, founder of London’s Primitive Baptist Church.

London Woodard was born enslaved in 1792. He was recorded in the estates of Asa Woodard in 1816 and Julan Woodard in 1826 (in which he was recognized as a distiller of fine fruit brandies.) In 1827, James B. Woodard bought London at auction for $500. The same year, London married Venus, a woman enslaved by Woodard. In 1828, London was baptized and appears as a member in the minutes of Tosneot Baptist Church. Venus was baptized in 1838 and died in 1845.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 6.57.21 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.02.17 PM.png

Transfer of title to “a negroe man by the name of Lonon” from Nathan Woodard to James B. Woodard, 1928.

J.B. Woodard’s second wife died in 1837, and he hired Penelope Lassiter, a free woman of color, as a housekeeper and surrogate mother to his children. Lassiter, born 1814, was the daughter of Hardy Lassiter, who owned a small farm south of Wilson. She met London, who was working as overseer, at Woodard’s. In 1852, Penny Lassiter bought 106 acres for $242 about five miles east of Wilson on the Tarboro Road.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.07.30 PM.png

In 1854, Penny Lassiter purchased her husband London, then about 62 or 63, from J.B. Woodard for $150. In 1858 Lassiter bought another 53 acres near her first tract and purchased 21 acres in 1859. The same year, she sold a small parcel to Jordan Thomas, a free man of color [who was married to her step-daughter Rose Woodard.] In 1866, the years after he was emancipated, London Woodard bought, subject to mortgage, a 200-acre parcel.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.08.58 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.09.45 PM.png

In 1866, London Woodard was granted authority to preach “only among his acquaintances,” i.e. African-Americans. A member of Tosneot Baptist donated an acre of land to build a black church, regarded as the first in Wilson County. London Woodard was licensed to preach in 1870.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.12.18 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.16.21 PM.png

London Woodard preached his last sermon on 13 November 1870. The next day, he suffered a stroke and fell into an open fireplace. Despite severe burns, he was able to dictate a will before his death.

The history of London Church for the 25 years after Woodard’s death is murky. In 1895, white churches Tosneot and Upper Town Creek dismissed several African-American members in order that they might establish an independent congregation at London’s. [London Church reorganized under the umbrella of the Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Association in 1897.]

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.17.29 PM.png

By the terms of his will, London Woodard provided for his wife Penelope; sons William, Hardy, Haywood, Howell, Elvin, Amos and London; and daughters Treasy, Rose, Pharibee, Sarah, Harriet and Penninah. (Deceased son John’s daughter was apparently inadvertently omitted.)  “A few facts” about Woodard’s children follows.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.20.03 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.20.37 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.22.27 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.23.29 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.24.18 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.25.39 PM.png

Receipts for payments for taxes and accounts for Penny Lassiter and London Woodard.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 7.26.14 PM.png

This building was moved around the corner to London Church Road. It has long been abandoned and collapsed in 2017 after suffering serious storm damage the year before.

Studio shots, no. 64: Mildred Pearl Lassiter Sherrod.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 709 Lipscomb, truck gardener Jesse C. Lassiter, 41, a widower; and children Jesse C. Jr., 15, James D., 13, Ernest D., 12, Annie B., 10, Mildred P., 8, Ruby J., 7, Lesie D., 6, Harvey G., 5, and Wade, 2.

Solomon Sherrod Jr., 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Solomon and Josephine Sherrod, married Mildred Lassiter, 18, of Edgecombe County, daughter of Jesse and Lessie Lassiter, on 18 February 1939 in Tarboro. Witnesses included Solomon’s brother Leonard Sherrod.

In 1942, Solomon Shearard Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 3 June 1918 in Fremont, N.C.; resided at 802 East Viola, Wilson; his contact person was Mrs. Mildred Pearl Shearard; and worked for Export Tobacco Company, Mercer Street, Wilson.

Mildred Shearard died 3 February 1943 at North Carolina Sanatorium, Quewhiffle, Hoke County. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 April 1922 in Wilson County to Jessie Lassiter and Lessie Dew; was married to Solmon Shearard; resided at 802 East Viola, Wilson; and was buried in Rountree cemetery.

Photograph courtesy of A. Sherrod.

The funeral of Odd Fellow Lassiter.

Wilson Daily Times, 19 July 1946.

——

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Green Lassiter, 55; wife Mary Ann, 42;and children Henry, 19, Sally Ann, 17, Hardy, 15, John Green, 10, Dempsey S., 5, and Mary C., 2.

In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Liza Dawson, 40, and boarder Dempsey Lassiter, 26, sawmill engineer.

In the 1908 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Lassiter Dempsey lab h 623 e Vance

In 1918, Dempsey Lassiter registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he lived at 103 East Street; was born 28 October 1874; was a blacksmith for Hackney Wagon Company; and his nearest relative was Mary Jane Lassiter.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on East Street, wagon factory laborer Dempsey Lassiter, 35, and wife Mary, 25.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 106 East Street, owned and valued at $1250, Demsey Lassiter, 55, wife Mary J., 44; nephew Charles Bynum, 16; and nieces Katie Powell, 10, and Willie M. Leonard, 6.

In 1940, Charles Lee Powell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he resided at 114 South East Street; was born 10 June 1918 in Nash County, North Carolina; his contact was his uncle, Dempsey Lassiter, 110 South East Street;  and he worked for G.S. Tucker & Company, South Goldsboro Street.

Isaac T. Lassiter was born in 1940 to Dempsey Lassiter and Mary Jane Bynum.

Dempsey Lassiter died 16 July 1946 at his home at 106 South East Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he he was married; was 68 years old; was born in Wilson County to Green Lassiter and Mary Powell; was a farmer; and his informant was Mary J. Lassiter. He was buried in Rountree cemetery.

  • Walter Hardy — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: W.P.A. laborer Walter Hardy, 55; wife Mary, 48, tobacco factory stemmer; and children William, 26, tobacco factory floor hand, Robert, 19, Mary Elizabeth, 17, and Roy, 14.
  • S.C. Sherrod — Solomon Conton Sherrod was a native of Wayne County. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 802 Viola Street, Solomon Shearard, 60; wife Josephine, 52; and children Flora, 15, Beulah, 13, Elmer, 11, and Solomon, 21; plus “son’s wife” Mildred, 18, and grandson Ernest E., 8 months.
  • Ben Mincey, Sr.
  • Fred M. Davis
  • Charlie Jones — In the 1940 census of Wilson, WIlson County: at 412 Viola, owned and valued at $2000; Charles Jones, 61, janitor at Vick School; wife Gertrude, 59, a tobacco factory stemmer; daughter Ruth Plater, 35, divorced, teacher; grandsons Torrey S., 12, and Charles S. Plater, 11; son-in-law Ruel Bullock, 35; daughter Louise, 30; grandsons Jacobia, 7, Robert, 6, Harold, 4, and Rudolph, 7 months; and granddaughter Barbara Jones, 6.
  • Hannibal Lodge No. 1552, Grand United Odd Fellows