migration to Indiana

An interesting heritage.

We have read here of Kingsberry and Charity Jones Taylor, who migrated to Indiana in the 1840s. The pages below are excerpted from “My Grandmother, Sarah Ann Taylor Maxwell,” a transcribed memoir by the Taylors’ great-granddaughter Bessie Chandler Van Dyke (1907-1994). As with many such recorded recollections, some of the details are off, but others provide incredibly rich insight into the lives of two free people of color with roots in what is now Wilson County.

Per Europe Ahmad Farmer, the principal historian and genealogist of the Locus/Lucas family and related free families of color of Nash and Wilson Counties, Kingsberry Taylor’s mother was Zelphia Taylor Brantley, who was white, and his father was a free man of color who was a Locus. Kingsberry was not enslaved, though he likely was indentured as an apprentice until he was 21. He did not live in Randolph County, but in Nash County, and he married Charity Jones (who lived in what is now Wilson County) prior to their migration to Indiana.

The Taylor family in the 1850 census of Madison County, Indiana.

Transcript courtesy of Ancestry.com user samjoyatk.

The obituary of Eugene Williams of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Indianapolis News, 11 August 1959.


In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1110-12th Street, janitoress Margaret Puryear, 38, widow; daughter Mary, 13; and cousin Eugene Williams, 25; all born in North Carolina.

Eugene Hummons Williams was born 24 February 1908 in Indianapolis to Eugene Williams, 23, foundry man, born in North Carolina, resides at 915 Paca Street, and Janie Isom, 33, born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, resides at 915 Paca Street.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 803 West Pratt, Eugene Williams, 35, steel works machinist; wife Jane, 25; son Eugene, 2; and sister-in-law Roberta Morse, 15.

Eugene Williams registered for the World War I draft in Indianapolis in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 9 May 1874; lived at 805 West Pratt; was a fireman for C. & A. Potts & Company; and his nearest relative was Janie Williams.

In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 805 West Pratt, Eugene Williams, 46, steel works machinist; wife Jane, 36; and children Eugene, 11, Don C., 4, and Harlan, 6 months.

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 918 Fayette Street, owned and valued at $4000, foundry laborer Eugene H. Williams, 53; wife Jane, 46; and sons Eugene Jr., 20, Don C., 14, and Harland D., 10.

In the 1940 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 918 Fayette Street, steel plant fireman Eugene Williams, 56; wife Jane, 54; and son Harlan, 20.

Eugene Williams registered for the World War II draft in Indianapolis in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 9 May 1878 in Wilson County, N.C.; lived at 918 Fayette Street, Indianapolis; his contact was Jannie Williams; and he worked for Heteren & Burner & Co., Indianapolis.

Eugene Williams died 9 August 1959 in Indianapolis. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 May 1876 in Wilson, North Carolina, to Moses Williams and Mary [last name unknown]; lived at 918 Fayette Street; was retired from Hetherington Steel Structure; and was married to Jane Williams.

Other suns: Nora Ward Goens of Wilson, Indianapolis, Denver and San Diego.

I recently happened upon the death certificate of Nora Goens, who died 3 November 1935 in Merrill, Newaygo County, Michigan, north of Grand Rapids. Per her death certificate, she was born in Wilson, North Carolina; lived in Denver, Colorado; and was buried in Danville, Illinois.

Though it’s still not clear why she died in Michigan, available digital records do shed some light on Goens’ peripatetic life and, surprisingly, link her to another Wilson migrant — Dr. Joseph H. Ward!

On 6 February 1894, Nora Ward, 21, daughter of B.H. Ward and Sallie Forbes, married Eugene Goins, 22, son of Lewis Goins and Edna Martin, in Indianapolis, Indiana. [Henry Ward (recorded elsewhere as B.H. and as Edwin H.), son of D.G.W. Ward and Sarah Darden, married Sarah Forbes, daughter of Henry Forbes, in 1870 in Wilson. Henry Ward was the brother of Joseph H. Ward’s mother Mittie R. Ward. Joseph Ward arrived in Indianapolis around 1890. Did he join or precede his uncle’s family?]

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1504 Arthur Street, janitor Eugene Goins, 27, and wife Nora, 27.

Within the next decade, the Goenses migrated further west to Colorado. In the 1910 census of Denver, Denver County: at 2230 Cal. Street, among other families, apartment janitor Eugene Goens, 36, and wife Nora, 36. Eugene reported that he was born in Ohio to parents from Virginia and Kentucky. Nora was born in North Carolina to North Carolina-born parents. The couple had been married 16 years, and Nora reported that she had had one child, who was dead. [Thirteen years later, after divorcing her first husband, Nora’s first cousin Minerva Ward Artis (Joseph Ward’s half-sister) married Jonas Biggins in Denver. Had Minerva come west to stay with the Goenses?]

2230 California Street, Denver. Courtesy of apartments.com.

Nora Goens’ mother-in-law Edna Martin Goens Wright died in Denver in 1919. Her body was taken to Castalia, Ohio, for burial. Norris Wright was Eugene Goens’ half-brother. Norris was born in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1888, and the Wrights moved to Indianapolis before 1900.

Sandusky Star Journal, 5 December 1919.

In the 1920 census of Denver, Colorado: at 2230 California Street, among other families, Eugene Goens, 46, apartment janitor, and wife Nora, 46, janitress.

Though I have not found record of Nora’s early life, she had at least one sister. Mattie L. Robinson died 12 March 1921 in Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois. Per her death certificate, Mattie Robinson was born 16 September 1884 in Wilson, N.C., to Henry Ward and Sallie Forbes; was married to J.W. Robinson; and was buried in Springhill Cemetery, Danville. [More about Mattie to come.]

The Goinses made a long, looping excursion in 1928, spending considerable time in Xenia, Ohio. Their weekend hosts Joseph T. and Addie Artis Rountree were natives of Wilson. Mrs. Fred Cosby — Ardeaner Rountree Cosby — was the Rountrees’ daughter and was also born in Wilson.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 7 July 1928.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 16 November 1928.

In the 1930 census of Denver, Colorado: at 609-26th Street, Eugene Goins, 39, and wife Nora, 37.

In February 1934, the Goinses were again back East and were honored guests at dinner hosted by the S.S. Club of Xenia.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 27 February 1934.

In the 1935 San Diego, California, city directory: Goens Eug (Nora) h2874d Franklin Av. [Nonetheless, Eugene Goens reported his and his wife’s residence as Denver on her death certificate.]

As noted above, Nora Ward Goens died 3 November 1935. She was buried near her sister in Block 26 of Vermilion County’s enormous Springhill Cemetery.

The obituary of Mary Thorpe of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Indianapolis News, 6 November 1956.


Mary L. Sims married Henry Thorpe on 4 October 1893 in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Journal, 5 October 1893.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: day laborer Henry Thorpe, 33; wife Mary, 30; and children Eugene, 6, Nellie, 4, and Henry Jr., 1; all born in North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2601 Baltimore Avenue, street laborer Henry Thorpe, 43; wife Mary, 40; children Eugene, 16, Nellie, 14, Henry, 10, Elvia, 8, and Robert, 6; and niece Blanch Sims, 15. All the children were described as Indiana-born.

John Henry Thorpe died 6 June 1912 at 2557 Caroline, Indianapolis. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 June 1871 in Indiana to Robert Thorpe and Francis Bunn of North Carolina; was a laborer; and was married to Mary L. Thorpe. [In fact, he was born in Nash County, N.C., and migrated with his family to Putnam County, Indiana, before 1880, and then to Indianapolis.]

John Henry Thorpe died 17 January 1927 at City Hospital, Indianapolis. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 August 1898 in Indianapolis to John Henry Thorpe and Mary Sims, both of North Carolina and worked as a laborer.

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2557 Caroline, owned and valued at $1800, widow Mary L. Thorpe, 70; son Eugene, 46, private chauffeur; daughter-in-law Anna, 45; and granddaughter Alma L., 13.

In the 1940 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2557 Caroline, widow Mary L. Thorpe, 60; son Eugene, 36; daughter-in-law Anna, 34; and granddaughter Alma L., 3.

Mary Thorpe died 4 November 1945 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her death certificate, as digitized, is largely illegible.

Southern chivalry?

This short bit appears in a Cleveland Gazette column reporting Cincinnati, Ohio, happenings:

Cleveland Gazette, 4 August 1894.

What happened here?

Joe Ward of Indianapolis is Dr. Joseph H. Ward, though he was not yet a doctor in 1894. In fact, he was newly graduated from high school and just about to commence his medical studies. This passage from an 1899 Indianapolis Freeman feature mentions Ward’s return to North Carolina after graduation.

I am surprised that Mittie Ward Vaughn was in Wilson as late as 1894 — I’d assumed she was in Washington, D.C., with her daughter Sarah Ward Moody‘s family. I’m more intrigued, not to say perplexed, by the reference to an incident involving his wife.

First, Joseph Ward had a wife in 1894? His first marriage of which I am aware was to Mamie Brown in Indianapolis in 1897. It ended in divorce. Then, in 1904, he married Zella Locklear.

Let’s assume there was an earlier wife, though, and the incident happened to her. (In other words, the encounter was personal, not a third-party incident to which Ward was reacting.) Mrs. Ward sassed a white woman for whom she was working (in Wilson?), the white woman’s husband “smacked down” Mrs. Ward, and Mrs. Ward was arrested and fined $12.50 for her impertinence???

I have not found any references to Ward’s visit in Wilson newspapers, but will continue to search for further details.

Her love drew her back.

I have written here and here of the children of Jonathan and Margaret Dew Artis, who migrated from Wilson County to Putnam County, Indiana, in the 1870s. The Artis family seems to have followed family there, as a sad newspaper story reveals Margaret’s cousin Esther Due in Indiana, too.

Esther Due was born about 1879 in Wilson County, North Carolina, to Edwin Due [Dew] and Adaline Barefoot (or Deans) Due. The family migrated to Indiana when Esther was an infant. On 2 July 1898, Esther gave birth in Putnam County to a son Raymond Due, whose father was white.

The boy was placed with an African-American foster family, who sought to adopt him.

Greencastle Banner, 28 April 1899.

They appear in the 1900 census of Greencastle, Putnam County, Indiana: Virginia-born gardener John T. Fox, 32; wife Luella, 31; and son Raymond F. Fox, 1.

Things did not go well though. In December 1899, newspapers ran articles with varying details, but telling one essential story — Esther Due had taken her son from the Foxes and gone to Indianapolis. They lodged briefly with her cousin Margaret Artis, but were not allowed to stay. Due then entered a rescue mission for unwed women, Door of Hope.

Indianapolis’ Door of Hope Mission. Undated photo courtesy of IUPUI University Library.

Seemingly dissatisfied with her situation at the mission, and unable otherwise to care for the boy, Due left him in a stranger’s front yard.

Indianapolis Sun, 22 December 1900.

Indianapolis Journal, 22 December 1900.

Greencastle Star Press, 29 December 1900.

I have found nothing further about Raymond Due, alias Fox. His mother died 10 November 1904 in Putnam County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 26 April 1879 in North Carolina to Edward Due and Ida Barefoot; was single; worked as a domestic; and was buried in Brick Chapel cemetery.


In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: domestic servant Lucy Sanders, 45; farm laborers Ollen Womble, 19, Edwin Due, 15, and Tony Rountree, 23; and farm laborer Seth Deems, 22, (his wife?) Eliza, 20, and Dinah, 2.

Edwin Dew, 23, and Adaline Deans, 19, were married 10 September 1876 at Virgil Deans’ in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Jefferson township, Putnam County, Indiana: Edward Dew, 25, works on farm; wife Adaline, 20; and children James A., 2, and Easter A., 1.

In the 1900 census of Edwin Due, 48; wife Addie, 39; and children Arthur, 22, Easter, 21, Edwin Jr., 17, Ida A., 16, Lizza, 14, Mary E., 12, Edith, 11, John, 9, Joseph, 7, Eva, 4, and Marshal, 1. Addie reported 12 of 14 children living. The first two listed here were born in North Carolina; the remaining in Indiana.

Adeline Due died 2 November 1902 in Monroe township, Putnam County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 July 1860 in North Carolina to Nicodemus Taylor and Anna Barefoot and was married to Ed Due. She was buried in Brick Chapel cemetery.

In the 1910 census of : Edwin Due, 56, farmer; wife Tena, 55; children Johnnie, 18, Joseph, 16, Eva, 13, Marshal, 12, and Lorenzo, 10; and mother-in-law Olive Howell, 82.

Per his headstone in Brick Chapel cemetery, Edwin Due died in 1921.


Usher in Juneteenth with Black Wide-Awake and Zella Palmer!

I find myself with an unexpected day off, so what better way to kick off the real holiday than chopping it up with Zella Palmer about family, Black history, and Wide-Awake Wilson?

Zella is chair and director of Dillard University’s Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture and renowned for her innovative work to preserve African-American food culture. Find out what she and I have in common — besides everything Black — this afternoon at 3:00 PM Eastern in our Instagram Live conversation @maisonzella!

The obituary of Edwin Joyner.

Indianapolis News, 25 October 1950.


On 26 May 1886, Henry Joyner, 30, and Annie Conner, 20, both of Wilson County were married at the A.M.E. Zion church in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister J.N. Rasberry performed the ceremony in the presence of S.H. Vick, E.C. Simms, and H. Haywood.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 949 King Avenue, Henry Joyner, 49, laborer; wife Anna, 35; and children Edwin, 13, Stella, 11, Lama, 9, George, 7, Thomas, 4, and Cora, 2; plus boarder Bennet Beachem, 71, laborer. Henry, Anna, and Edwin were born in North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 117 North Tremont Avenue, Henry Joyner, 55; wife Annie, 44; and children Edwin, 23, Lama, 19, George, 16, Thomas, 14, Cora, 11, Cecil, 9, and Henry , 7.

In 1917, Edwin H. Joyner registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 6 March 1887 in North Carolina; lived at 881 West Pratt Street, Indianapolis; worked as a chauffeur for Hulett Law Motor Car Company, 333 North Pennsylvania Street; and was married. He signed his name [in a neat, upright hand]: Edwin H. Joyner.

In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 512 West Saint Clair, Edwin Joyner, ; wife Florin, 32; and daughter Edwina, 1.

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 518 Saint Clair Street, rented for $14/month, Edwin H. Joyner, 41, truck driver; wife Floriene, 34, hairdresser; children Edwina, 12, and Henry E., 8; and “daughter?” Jacquelin Fahl, 7.

Edwina La Verne Joyner died 15 February 1937 in Indianapolis. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 January 1918 to Henry Joyner of North Carolina and Florida Thurman of Indianapolis; was single; and lived at 2345 North Capitol Avenue.

In the 1940 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at

Edwin H. Joyner died 24 October 1950 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 March 1887 in North Carolina to Henry Joyner and Anna Connes; lived at 2858 Highland Place; was divorced; and worked as an oil truck driver. Brother E. George Joyner was informant.

They will tell the true story when they get home.

Northern Neck (Va.) News, 20 February 1880.

Who were the anonymous informants who “would rather live one year in North Carolina than to live to be as old as giants” in Indiana?

Not Joseph Ellis, whose testimony before Congress about Black migration from North Carolina to Indiana  declared that he was “well pleased with [his] situation.” On the other hand, Green Ruffin, who testified on 16 February 1880, was adamant that he never going back to Indiana if he could get home. Peter Dew and Julia Daniels shared similar sentiments in letters to the editor of the Wilson Advance.