migration to Indiana

Willis Bryant of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Willis Bryant was among the scores of African Americans who left Wilson County for Indianapolis, Indiana, in the last quarter of the 19th century.

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Indianapolis Star, 20 March 1915.

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Probably, in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Louiza Bryant, 30; Cornelius Harriss, 23;  Catherine Harriss, 20; Cornelius Harriss, 1; Ann Bryant, 9; Willie Bryant, 8; and Alice Ellis, 15.

Bryant probably attended the Wilson Academy. Like Samuel H. Vick ’84 and Braswell R. Winstead ’85, he received a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Catalogue of Lincoln University, Chester County, Pennsylvania, for the Academical Year 1886-87 (1887).

On 4 May 1890, Willis Bryant, 26, son of Wiley Bryant and Louisa Branch, married Ida M. Webb, 22, in Marion County, Indiana.

As were many Lincoln alumni, Bryant was very active in the Presbyterian church and helped found Senate Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Indianapolis News, 20 June 1892.

In the 1900 census of Center township, Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 808 Wyoming Street, coal dealer Willis Bryant, 36; wife Ida, 32; and children Ralph, 6, and Edna May, 1.

In September 1900, Wilson native Daniel C. Suggs, then teaching at Georgia State College, visited the Bryants in Indianapolis. Suggs was also a Lincoln graduate.

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Indianapolis News, 7 September 1900.

Fifteen years after he graduated, Bryant and his wife returned to Pennsylvania to attend a Lincoln graduation, then made a round of East Coast cities.

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Indianapolis News, 25 May 1901.

In 1901, Lucy Gay visited her uncle Willis Bryant in Indianapolis. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Sam Gay, 54; wife Alice, 50; and children Charlie C., 23, Edgar B., 25, Lucy, 17, Samuel, 14, Albert and Beatrice, 10, and Lily, 4. [Alice Gay was the 15 year-old Alice Ellis listed in the 1870 census above. When she married Samuel Gay, she gave her maiden name as Bryant.]

Indianapolis News, 28 December 1901.

In October 1904, the Indiana Recorder reprinted “His Trip West,” an article by Harry S. Cummings originally posted in the Afro-American Ledger. In the chronicle of his tour of Indiana cities, Cummings mentioned Wilson native Dr. Joseph H. Ward and Willis Bryant and his father-in-law Charles A. Webb’s transportation and hauling businesses.

Indianapolis News, 22 October 1904.

In 1907, Willis Bryant and other black businessmen formed a committee to assist the city’s Juvenile Court with finding employment for “delinquent colored boys and girls.”

Indianapolis Star, 24 April 1907.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 808 Wyoming Street, Willis Bryant, 44; wife Ida M., 42; and children Ottis R., 16, Edna, 11, and Hulda M., 3.

Indianapolis Recorder, 13 March 1915.

Willis Bryant died 19 March 1915, barely a week after celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary.

Indianapolis Recorder, 18 March 1916.

His widow, Ida Webb Bryant, outlived him by decades, and was featured in this 1963 Indianapolis Recorder piece.

Indianapolis Recorder, 22 June 1963.

Ira R. McGowan of Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Indianapolis Star, 18 May 1939.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Setta Whitfield, 37, domestic servant; Gross Conner, 18, a white news dealer; Tillman McGown, 35, farm laborer, wife Charity, 36, and children Amy, 17, Lucinda, 15, Aaron, 20, Ira, 5, Delia A., 7, Nathan, 3, and Courtney, 1.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Tilman McGown, 43, wife Charity, 49,  and children Delia A., 18, Ira R., 15, and Nathan, 13.

Ira R. McGowan married Alice A. Stout on 2 December 1894 in Marion County, Indiana.

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Indianapolis Journal, 30 April 1895.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 928 Camp Street, Ira McGowan, 33, foundry day laborer; wife Alice S., 27; son Benjamin, 4; and two boarders Carrie Stout, 15, and Frank Stout, 13.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 928 Camp Street, market house salesman Ira McGowan, 45, born in North Carolina; his Kentucky-born wife Alice, 38; and Indiana-born son Benjamin T., 13.

In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 952 Camp Street, Ira McGowan, 54; wife Alice, 60; son Ben, 23; and daughter-in-law Helen, 27.

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 952 Camp Street, owned and valued at $6000, Ira R. McGowan, 61, public market salesman; wife Alice, 57; and cousin Lottie Freeman, 8.

Ira McGowan died 17 May 1939 at his home at 952 Camp, Indianapolis. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 January 1865 in North Carolina to unknown parents; worked as a laborer; and was married to Alice McGowan.

Benjamin McGowan died 20 October 1945 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 May 1899 in Indiana to Ira McGowan of North Carolina and Alice Stout of Paris, Kentucky; worked as a custodian at the “Income Tax Division”; and was married to Ruth McGowan.

Hannah Ellis Artis Farmer and family of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Xenia Daily Gazette, 11 April 1935.

Ardeaner (Mrs. Fred) Rountree Cosby and David, Helen and Charles P. Rountree Jr. were cousins, the children of Joseph and Adeline Artis Rountree and Charles and Alice Thorn Rountree, respectively. Their relationship to Hannah Ellis Artis Farmer is unclear. Were they related via her first husband, John Artis, son of Arch and Rose Farmer Artis? Via Charles and Joseph Rountree’s father (or grandfather) Jesse H. Artis? Was Ardeaner (who shared a first name with Hannah Farmer’s daughter) a double-cousin via her mother Adeline, daughter of Ned Artis? If so, how were Ned, Arch and Jesse H. Artis related?

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In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jackson Ellis, 45; wife Margaret, 36; children Hannah, 17, and Hewel, 11; and Hannah Ellis, 90.

On 29 February 1872, Hannah Ellis, daughter of Jack and Margaret Ellis, married John Artist, son of Arch and Rose Artist, at H. Dew’s.

In the 1894 Polk’s Indianapolis, Indiana, City Directory: Artist Hannah (wid John) h James (B[rightwood]). [Brightwood was a railroad settlement formed in the 1870s and is now a neighborhood in northeast Indianapolis.]

On 23 February 1897, Jason Farmer married Hannah Aretts in Marion County, Indiana.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2313 Oxford, day laborer Jason Farmer, 37; wife Hanna, 46; and step-daughters Maggie, 25, cook, Ardena, 14, and Pennie, 12. All were born in North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2325 Oxford, foundry laborer Jason Farmer, 46; wife Hanna, 56; and stepdaughter Penetta Artis, 22, hairdresser.

On 25 May 1918, Pennetta Artis, 29, of Wilson, N.C., daughter of John Artis and Hannah Ellis, married Osber Ballinger in Marion County, Indiana.

In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2325 Oxford, auto shop laborer Jason Farmer, 55; wife Hanna, 60; son-in-law Osborne Ballinger, 26, auto shop laborer, born in Kentucky; and daughter Pettie, 32, housekeeper.

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: odd jobs laborer Jason C. Farmer, 60, and wife Hanna, 75.

Hannah Farmer died 6 April 1935 in Center township, Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 April 1856 in North Carolina to Jack Ellis and Margaret [maiden name unknown]; was married to Jason C. Farmer; lived at 2329 North Oxford; and was buried in Crown Hill cemetery. Maggie Taylor, 441 West 25th, was informant.

Jason Cornelius Farmer applied for a Social Security number in September 1937. Per his application, he was born 6 May 1869 in Wilson, N.C., to Cornelius and Peggy Farmer.

Jason Cornelius Farmer died 12 August 1842 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 May 1853 in Wilson,N.C., in Wilson, N.C., to parents unknown; was a widower; and was a job laborer. Informant was Maggie Taylor.

Ardena A. Hamm died 10 December 1942 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 January 1890 in Wilson, N.C. to John Artis and Hannah Ellis; was married to John H. Hamm; resided at 1038 Roache Street; and worked as a maid. She was buried in Crown Hill cemetery.

Maggie A. Taylor died 30 May 1943 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 30 April 1882 in North Carolina to John Artis and Hannah Ellis; was married to John Taylor; resided at 441 West 25th; and was buried in Crown Hill cemetery.

Snaps, no. 53: Joseph T. Rountree of Xenia, Ohio.

Joseph T. Rountree (1871-1932).

Joseph and Adeline Artis Rountree migrated to Xenia, Ohio, about 1889. They joined and were very active in Middle Run Baptist Church, and their lives were richly chronicled in regular columns of the Xenia Evening Gazette devoted to the city’s East End and “colored society.”

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In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Rebecca Rountree, 50, and children and grandchildren Henry, 20, butcher, John, 23, barber, Dempsy, 26, farm laborer, Charles, 15, Benjamin, 24, butcher, Mary, 30, domestic servant, Joseph, 9, Willie, 8, Lucy, 20, domestic servant, Worden, 2, and Charles, 1.

On 6 November 1879, Joseph Rountree, 21, married Adeline Artice, 19, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 272 Northwest Street, Joseph Rountree, 23, laborer, and wife Adeline, 19, both born in North Carolina. [It appears that the Rountrees joined the Exoduster movement to Indiana, though they quickly returned to North Carolina. (To leave again for Ohio later.)]

Xenia Daily Gazette, 26 August 1897. Quinsy, now known as a peritonsillar abscess, is a rare and potentially serious complication of tonsillitis.

In the 1900 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 902 East Third Street, Joseph Rountree, 40, clerk; wife Addie, 38; and daughters Ardeaner L., 17, and Ezza M.A., 15, all born in North Carolina.

On 27 June 1901, Ardeaner Rountree, 19, of Xenia, born in Wilson, North Carolina, to Joseph Rountree and Addie Artist, married Fredrick Cosby, 19, of Xenia, laborer, son of William Cosby and Fannie Blass, in Xenia, Ohio.

On 9 December 1902, John G. Simpson, 22, laborer, of Xenia, born in Perry County, Ohio, to S.L. Simpson and Mildred Lett, married Ezzie M. Rountree, 18, of Xenia, born in North Carolina to Joseph T. Rountree and Addie Artis, in Xenia, Ohio.

Xenia Daily Gazette, 22 November 1906. Adeline Artis Rountree’s mother was Jane Bynum Artis. In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Ned Artis, 44; wife Jane, 42; and children Polian, 14, Mary J., 13, Dora, 12, Walter, 9, Joseph, 7, Corinna, 6, James, 4, and Charles, 6 months.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 26 February 1910. Founded in 1822 by a formerly enslaved man, Middle Run Baptist church is the oldest black Baptist church in Ohio and was an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

In the 1910 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 902 East Third Street, Joseph Roundtree, 50, odd jobs laborer; wife Addie, 48; and daughter Ezzie May, 24, who was listed as born in Ohio.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 2 September 1913.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 9 September 1913.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 9 December 1914. The Order of Calanthe (O.O.C.), established in 1883, is an auxiliary of the African-American Knights of Pythias of North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Here. J.T. Rountree was elected Worthy Protector and his daughter Ardena Cosby “R. of D.”

Xenia Evening Gazette, 7 February 1916. The obituary of J.T. Rountree’s mother, Mary Bynum Rountree.

In 1918, Fred Cosby registered for the World War I draft in Xenia, Ohio, Per his registration card, he was born 1 January 1882; worked for Pennsylvania Rail Road; lived at 900 East Third, Xenia; and was married to Ardenia Coley.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 5 August 1918.

On 3 September 1918, Ezzie M. Rountree, 27, daughter of J.G Rountree and Addie Artis, married Chester Davis, son of Tom Davis and Jennie Oaks, in Franklin County, Ohio.

In the 1920 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 902 East Third Street, Joseph Rountree, 55, tobacco factory laborer, and wife Addie, 54. (Next door at 900: Fred Cosby, 34, railroad section hand, born in Ohio, and wife Ardena, 32, born in North Carolina.

In the 1922 Xenia, Ohio, City Directory: Rountree Jos T c[olored] (Addie) janitor Commercial & Savings Bank r 902 E 3rd

Xenia Evening Gazette, 19 June 1926.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 26 December 1928.

In the 1930 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 902 East Third Street, Joseph Rountree, 40, clerk; wife Addie, 38; and daughters Ardeaner L., 17, and Ezza M.A., 15, all born in North Carolina.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 18 January 1930.

Joseph T. Roundtree died 12 May 1932 in Xenia. Per the application for letters of administration of his estate, he was survived by wife Addie Roundtree (for nine days only — she died May 21) and daughters Ardeanner Roundtree Cosby, 900 East Third Street, Xenia, and Ezzie M. Davis, 749 Edwards Street, Columbus, Ohio. Ardeanner Cosby was appointed administratrice.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 13 May 1932. The photo of Rountree above was printed with his obituary.

Joseph T. Rountree’s death certificate identifies his parents as Henry Rountree and Mary Gill.

Addie Artis Rountree’s death certificate.

There was something unusual in that green-looking country boy.

In which the Indianapolis Freeman enlightens us regarding Joseph H. Ward‘s journey from Wilson to Naptown:

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Indianapolis Freeman, 22 July 1899.

A few notes:

  • Joseph Ward’s mother was Mittie Ward Vaughn. His father Napoleon Hagans was a prosperous free-born farmer in Wayne County near Fremont.
  • The school in LaGrange at which Ward worked was most likely Davis Military Academy:  “By 1880 a second school for boys … Davis Military Academy, was founded by Colonel Adam C. Davis. “School Town” became La Grange’s nickname as the military school would eventually have an enrollment of 300 students from every state and even some foreign countries. The school also had a band, the only cadet orchestra in the country during that time. The school prospered, but an outbreak of meningitis closed it in 1889.”
  • Dr. George Hasty was a founder of the Physio-Medical College of Indianapolis, which Joseph Ward later attended.

Physio-Medical College of Indiana, undated. IUPUI Image Collection.

The obituary of Sarah Jane Gregory.

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Indianapolis Recorder, 14 January 1967.

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Sarah Baker, born 1892, daughter of Benny Baker and Nancy Newsom, married Joseph Gregory on 25 November 1912 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1564 Park Avenue, rear, rented for $20/month, Kentucky-born Joe Gregory, 48, laborer, and wife Sarah, 45, servant, born in Tennessee [sic].

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1564 Park Avenue, rear, rented for $20/month, Kentucky-born Joe Gregory, 59, gardener, and wife Sarah, 31, maid, born in North Carolina.

Wilsonian Ward appointed Chief Surgeon at Tuskegee.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 January 1924.

More than 40 years after he left, the link between Dr. Joseph H. Ward and Wilson was well-enough known that the Daily Times printed an article about his appointment as Chief Surgeon at Tuskegee’s veterans hospital.

As different as chalk and cheese.

WILLIAM CROOM.

The man is working for Daniel Evans, near Russellville, Putnam County. He has a nice brick house to live in, has a nice garden spot, fire-wood, and a team to haul it, a milch-cow and food to feed her, and $15 in cash each month; in all, equivalent to about $24 a month. He is delighted with Indiana, and urges that all his people come to our State as soon as they can get there. In an interview with me, he said: “Neither you nor any other Republican in Greencastle ever said a word to me about voting, nor asked me how I was gaining to vote; nor have I known of your asking any of our people how they were going to vote. All that has been said to us was about finding us homes and work, and taking care of us. They have done all for us they could, and our people are grateful to them for it. None of us want to go back to North Carolina; neither does any man who is honest and has sound judgment. I would take my oath on that. Most of our people who have come here are religious. I belong to the Missionary Baptist church, and am a licensed preacher. I came here to better the condition of myself and family, and to raise them respectably. I have found it better than I expected. Indeed, I don’t think that I hardly deserve as good treatment as I have received and am still receiving. From my own experience, I know that my people in North Carolina could greatly better their condition by coming here, and if they knew the facts they would come.

In a subsequent interview Croom said:

“I came from Wilson County, North Carolina. Have been here several weeks. I came because I had heard that colored men could do better here than in North Carolina, and I find that it was a true statement. There is as much difference between there and here as there is between chalk and cheese. It is altogether different. Here we are men just like the whites, get good wages, have good homes, and there are good schools for our children. The climate is no worse for us here than there. I have not yet seen as cold weather in Indiana as I have seen in North Carolina. And then the people are so different. They are just as kind to us as they can be. It seems as though they can’t do enough for us.”

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Possibly: William Croom died 17 July 1910 in Indianapolis, Center township, Marion County, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was 57 years old; was born in North Carolina to Sam Croom and Cherry Latta; was married to Diana Croom; and was a farmer. He was buried in Mount Jackson cemetery.

Cora Allen died 9 November 1925 at Provident Sanitarium in Indianapolis, Center township, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 May 1884 in Indiana to William Croom and Diana Ellis, both of North Carolina and was married to James Allen. She was buried in Floral Park cemetery.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

This is the cause of the exodus.

THOMAS BYNUM.

I lived in Wilson County, North Carolina. I have a wife and eight children. It cost me one hundred and twenty-three dollars to get here. I never heard any thing about politics until I got to Indianapolis; then I was asked by a Democrat if some Republican did not go South and make fine promises to me, and did they not bring me here to vote? I told him, no, that I brought myself; I came on my own money; and that I came because I could not get any pay for my work, nor could I educate my children there; and now that I have seen the difference between the North and South I would not go back to North Carolina for anything, and I never expect to go back in life nor after death, except the buzzards carry me back. Mr. Turnbull, of Toisenot, N.C., a white Democrat, told me that I was coming out here to perish, but so far from perishing I am faring better than I ever fared before in my life. I wish to say that cases like the following is what brought about the exodus: A colored man rented a farm, for which he was to pay three bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each; he raised on that farm eleven bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each, and 25 barrels of corn, which left to the tenant eight bales of cotton, and 25 barrels of corn, pease, &c. The tenant bought nothing but a very small amount of very coarse food and clothing, using all the economy during the crop season to make no large account, thinking thereby to have something coming to him at settling day; but when settling day came the landlord had so enlarged his account as to cover everything — the eight bales of cotton, the 25 barrels of corn, pease, and all, and then said that the tenant lacked a little of paying out, although cotton sold at ten cents per pound. This and numerous other things is the cause of the exodus.

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Probably, in the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Thomas Bynum, 32; wife Bethana, 28; and children James, 11, Oliver, 8, Mary, 6, Lavinia, 4, and “no name,” 2; and Lucy Pitt, 53. “Ages of this family are in doubt.”

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: merchant P.J. Turnbull, 29, and family.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Howard County, Indiana: at 1622 Guffin Street, street laborer Albert Whitley, 36; Polly, 32; children Cicero, 13, Mamie, 12, Albert, 9, Leonard, 6, and Wilber, 3; and grandfather Thomas Bynum, 65. All the adults were born in North Carolina.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

Snaps, no. 5: Wilbert T. Moore.

Research on the will of Esther McGowan lead to the discovery of the migration of her daughter Alice McGowan Moore to Indianapolis in the first decade of the twentieth century. Alice’s Wilson-born children Charles, Hester and Wilbert settled in Indiana with her. After I published the McGowan post, I was contacted by a descendant of the family. Today, Damon Moore shared with me photographs of Alice M. Moore’s youngest son Wilbert. Many thanks, Damon!

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Wilbert T. Moore (1896-1963).