mother and daughter

Snaps, no. 101: Ella Goff Ward and Fannie Ward Dixon.

Mother and daughter Ella Jane Goff Ward (1892-1939) and Fannie Ward Dixon (1914-1942).


In the 1900 census of Bayboro township, Horry County, South Carolina: farmer Alva G. Goff, 47, widower, and children Julius E., 18, Samuel D., 17, Wilbur C., 15, Isaiah S., 13, Ella J., 11, Lorenzo C., 9, Carrie A., 6, and McLaurin, 3.

In the 1910 census of Floyds township, Horry County: farmer Dave Ward, 25, and wife Ella, 23, farm laborer.

In the 1920 census of Tatums township, Columbus County, North Carolina: David, 29; wife Ella, 28; and children Mary F., 8, Fannie, 6, Willie, 4, Clarence H., 3, and Elloasar, 5 months.

In the 1930 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County, North Carolina : farmer Clarence D. Ward, 40; wife Ella, 35; children Mary, 18, Fannie, 16, Willie, 15, Clarence, 12, Ella J., 10, Goldie, 8, David V., 5; and nieces and nephew Ilene, 13, Hellen, 9, and James Lane, 6.

On 8 May 1933, Sylvester Dixon, 21, of Saratoga, son of Jodie Dixon, married Fannie Ward, 19, of Greene County, daughter of David and Ella J. Ward. A.M.E. Zion minister R.B. Taylor performed the ceremony at 536 East Nash Street, Wilson, in the presence of Joe H. Best, David Ward, and Ella Ward.

Ella J. Ward died 12 April 1939 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 47 years old; was born in South Carolina to Alsey Goff; was married to Clarence D. Ward; and lived at Route 3, Wilson.

Jene Arthur Ward died 29 January 1938 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 January 1938 to Sylvester Dixon and Fannie Ward; lived at Allen Webb’s farm; and was buried in Ellis cemetery.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Silvester Dixon, 26; wife Annie, 26; and children Beatrice, 6, Ardelia, 4, Sylvester Jr., 2, and Annie P., 8 months; brother-in-law Jona L. Ward, 15; and cousin Jack Lane, 17.

In 1940, Sylvester Dixon registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 17 August 1913 in Wilson County; lived on R.F.D. 3, Wilson; his contact was wife Fannie Dixon; and he was a farmer.

This lovely photo courtesy of user BlairGoff.

Rachel Lassiter provides for her daughter.

Deed Book 1, page 657. Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

This Indenture made this the 27th day of decr 1860 one thousand eight hundred & sixty between Rachel Lassiter of the county of Wilson & State of North Carolina of the first part & Matthew Lassiter of the county & state aforesaid of second part witnessed: That the said party of the first part for & in consideration of the sum of ten Dollars to her in hand paid by the said Matthew Lassiter for the [illegible] & [illegible] the trust, hereinafter mentioned at & before the sealing & delivery hereof the receipt whereof he does hereby acknowledge have given, granted, bargained & sold & by these presents doth grant, bargain sell & convey unto the said Matthew Lassiter his heirs & assigns forever all my personal property including her whole estate say 3 head of Cattle one bed & furniture household & Kitchen furniture & about eighty dollars in bonds or notes to have & to hold unto the said Matthew Lassiter his heirs & assigns & for the following & none other that is to say for the sole & separate use of my child Zelphia Lassiter & any other heirs I may hereafter have & the issues & profits thereof shall be for their use & benefit. In testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand & seal this 27th day of Dcr 1860    Rachel X Lassiter  Matthew X Lassiter


In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County: Hardy Laster, 73, wife Beady, 54, and children Mathew, 26, Silas, 26, Green, 25, Hardy, 21, and Rachel, 20; all described as mulatto. Hardy reported owning $650 of real property.

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Green Lassiter, 36; [his wife] Mary, 24; [and his siblings] Matthew, 37; and Rachel Lassiter, 30. [Where was Zilpha?]

On 29 December 1860, Rachael Lassiter married Daniell [actually, David] Read in Wilson County.

This marriage surely precipitated the transfer of Rachel Lassiter’s assets to her brother Matthew Lassiter three days prior. David Reid was a widower with children. When Rachel Lassiter married, her personal property would in effect become her husband’s property. In order to preserve her assets for her own daughter’s benefit, Rachel Lassiter sold everything she had to Matthew Lassiter in trust for Zelphia Lassiter. 

In the 1870 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County, N.C.: farm laborer David Reid, 58; wife Rachel, 40; and children Gustin E., 18, Nancy A., 16, and Zylpha, 17.

I have not found anything further about Rachel Lassiter Reid or Zelphia Lassiter, alias Reid, but note that David Reid’s 1910 estate papers do not list either of them.

[Update, 16 March 2022: Bernard Patterson, a descendant of Rachel Lassiter’s sister Penelope Lassiter Woodard, immediately went looking for Zilphia Lassiter and found this: on 23 March 1876, Amandiburt Mills, 30, married Sylphy Lassiter, 22, in No. 9 township, Edgecombe County. 

With that information, I found: in the 1880 census of Roxabel township, Bertie County, N.C.: Mandaburt Mills, 35; wife Zilpha A., 25; and son Thadius, 12; plus servant Francis Clark, 18.

in the Death Register of Greensville County, Virginia: Zilphia Mills died 15 March 1892 of dropsy She was reported as 25 years of age; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Rachel Lussiter; and was married to M.B. Mills. In the 1900 census of Belfield township, Greensville County: Mandyburt Mills, 53, widower, farmer.] 

Wilson County, North Carolina County Marriages 1762-1979,

Silah and her daughter Lucinda mortgaged to pay the debts of James Viverette.

On 20 February 1855, James Viverett of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, conveyed to trustee James Wiggins “two Slaves one woman by the name of Silah & child name Lucinda three head of houses five head of cattle twenty five head hogs three goats all my featherbeds & furniture together with the whole of my house hold & kitchen furniture all my corn & blade fodder peas &c” as security for debts owed to six entities, most of which appear to have been mercantile outfits. If Viverett were to default, all the listed property would be sold at public auction to pay off his debt. Viverett and his creditors appear to have lived on either side of the Wilson County-Edgecombe County border in the Town Creek-Temperance Hall area.

One of the creditors, William J. Armstrong, a merchant in what is now Elm City, died two years later. His estate records show that “Scilla” and her unnamed children were among Armstrong’s enslaved property. Scilla and one unnamed child (presumably an infant born after the conveyance above) were given to Armstrong’s son-in-law Willie G. Barnes and Barnes’ wife (unnamed in the document, but Mary E. Armstrong Barnes.) A Lucinda, who may have been Scilla’s older child above, went to W.J. Armstrong’s son-in-law John H. Winstead and wife (who was Crissie Armstrong Winstead.) (Children over about age eight were listed individually in inventories and freely separated from their mothers.) Thus, in the space of two years, Scilla changed hands twice and was separated from a daughter who was probably no more than about age eight or nine.

The transaction is recorded in Deed Book 1, page 21, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

Happy Mother’s Day!

My mother is not a native of Wilson, but has lived here most of her life — and much longer than I have. My mother taught in rural and city schools before and after integration, was for decades a member of Saint Luke A.M.E., and participates in social and service organizations in the East Wilson community. She is my first go-to for questions about people and places of the Wilson she knows, especially the community she found when she arrived in 1961.

This, of course, is the least of the reasons I treasure her. She sparked (and my father fed) my boundless curiosity, my love of reading, my wanderlust, my appreciation for the road less traveled. I aspire to her kindness and generosity. I credit her with the best in me. I am grateful for her buoyant love. I love her endlessly.

Beverly Allen Henderson, fresh from Wilson Memorial Hospital with my sister Karla, and me, looking a little dazed by it all, 1401 Carolina Street, 1967.