Ward

Mattie Ward Robinson of Wilson, N.C.; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Danville, Illinois.

In researching Nora Ward Goens, I discovered her sister Mattie Ward Robinson, who spent her adult life as the wife of a coal miner in east-central Illinois.

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Henry Ward, son of D.G.W. Ward and Sarah Darden, married Sarah Forbes, daughter of Henry Forbes, on 16 June 1870 in Wilson. Rev. L. Moye performed the ceremony at a M.E. Zion church.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Ward, 21, and wife Sallie, 19, next door to Henry Forbes, 48, domestic servant, wife Louise, 43, children Charles, 15, Georgiana, 21, and John, 21, and Patsey Forbes, 70. [The Forbes family migrated to Indianapolis before 1900. More about them later.]

I have not found the family in the 1880 census.

In the 1900 census of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee: at 527 High Street, minister Edwin Ward, 44; wife Sallie, 43; and daughters Adelia, 20, seamstress, and Mattie, 16. Edwin and Sallie were described as North Carolina-born; their daughters, Tennessee. [This, presumably, is the family. Nora Goens’ death certificate lists her father as “Rev. Ward.” Mattie’s age is right, though her birthplace is not. Had the family migrated to Nashville directly from Wilson, or did they detour in Indianapolis, where Nora married Eugene Goens in 1894?]

In the 1910 census of Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois: at 216 Clements, coal miner John W. Robinson, 29; wife Mattie, 26; and children Magdelene, 7, Adelia, 4, William, 2, and Eugene, newborn. [I have not found John and Mattie’s marriage license.]

In 1918, John William Robinson registered for the World War I draft in Vermilion County. Per his registration card, he was born 8 April 1886; lived at 216 Clements, Danville; worked as a coal miner at Peabody Coal Company #24, Catlin, Vermilion County; and his nearest relative was wife Mattie Robinson.

Undated photograph of Peabody Coal Mine #24, located between Catlin and Bunsenville, Illinois. Courtesy of Christopher Stratton, “Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Cultural Resource Management Program, Abandoned Mined Lands Reclamation, Cultural Resources Evaluation: U.S. Fuel Company, Bunsenville Mine, Bunsenville, Illinois” (2002).

In the 1920 census of Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois: brickyard laborer John W. Robingson, 38; wife Mattie, 34; and children Magdeline, 14, servant at soldier’s home; Odelia, 12; Eugean, 10, Fay, 5, Dorothy, 3, and Walter, 1.

Mattie L. Robinson died 12 March 1921 in Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois. Per her death certificate, she 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.

William Robinson, 23, son of J.W. Robinson and Mattie Ward, married Vivian Thurston, 19, daughter of William Thurston and Anna Logan, on 17 March 1930 in Danville, Illinois.

In the 1930 census of Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois: coal mine laborer John W. Robinson, 49, widower; children Eugene, 20, hotel porter, Fay, 15, Dorothy, 14, and John W., 22, coal miner; daughter-in-law Vivian, 19, restaurant waitress; and daughter Mae M. Rachold, 26, divorced, office building elevator girl.

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.

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.

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!

Proud he was born in Wilson.

Dr. Joseph H. Ward, circa World War I. Photo credit unknown.

In September 1926, Dr. Joseph H. Ward sent a note of thanks to Daily Times editor John D. Gold for a complimentary article the paper had published a few weeks before. The New York World had picked up and reprinted the piece, which had caught Dr. Ward’s attention. 

Dr. Ward noted the “generosity and goodwill” of Wilson’s citizens and proclaimed that he was “proud to have been touched by the benign influence of the men who laid the foundation of the Wilson of today — the Messrs. Barnes, Woodards, Ruffins, Rountrees, Golds, Daniels, Conners, Davises, Vicks and Prices, and their illustrious compatriots.” 

By populating his roll call with surnames only, Dr. Ward was able to place on an equal footing the African-American men who had positively impacted his youth — Samuel H. Vick and Joseph C. Price (and possibly, Rev. Fred M. Davis.) Notably, he did not name the family of his biological father, Dr. David G.W. Ward.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 September 1926.

I have not been able to find the August 19 article.

Many thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for the clipping.

Family poisoned.

Jesse and Mary Sherrod Ward‘s entire family was stricken with accidental arsenic poisoning in June 1923, perhaps from eating cabbage from their own garden. Jesse Ward died immediately and his four year-old daughter Virginia Dare Ward two days later. 

Wilson Daily Times, 15 June 1923.

News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 June 1923.

Odd jobs, no. 1.

The occupation and industry columns in federal population schedules sometimes yield unusual results, even in an era in which most African-Americans in Wilson worked as farm laborers, tobacco factory hands, or domestic workers.

In the 1930 census, 22 year-old Alfonso Ward gave his occupation as:

I have not been able to find any additional information on Ward’s career as a roadshow comedian, though he likely played chitlin’ circuit venues.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 122 East Street, laborer John Ward, 28; wife Addie, 27; and children Alfonsa, 13, Edgar, 8, Oritta, 5, Thelma, 2 months, and Jos[illegible], 3. 

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 112 East Street, rented at $12/month, widow Addie Ward, 37, and children Alfonso, 22, Edgear, 17, Othena, 16, Jasper, 14, and Thelma, 10. 

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ward Alfonso (c) hlpr r 112 East

In 1940, Alfonso Ward registered for the World War II draft in Kings County, New York. Per his draft card, he was born 1 May 1908 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 3040 B 7th Street, [Brooklyn], Kings County; his contact was friend Flossie Barrington, 614 Ocean View Avenue; and he worked for Louis Super, 419 B[righton] B[each] Avenue, Kings County. Ward’s address was amended to 413 Bri[ghton] Beach Ave. on 15 February 1943. [Per his signature, Ward spelled his first name “Alfonza.”]

Bethel buys its acre.

In November 1877, steward Lawrence Ward, acting on behalf of Bethel A.M.E. [Zion] Church, purchased the acre of land on which its church stood on the road leading from Stantonsburg to Contentnea Creek near Ruffin’s Bridge. The church is now located about a mile north of Stantonsburg, but its cemetery remains on the original acre. Ruffin’s Bridge was originally known as Peacock’s Bridge, and Peacock’s Bridge Road runs east of present-day NC Highway 58. 

Deed Book 14, page 366.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County } This deed made this the 16th day of November 1877 by F.M. Moye of Wilson County and State of North Carolina to Lawrence Ward of said County & State holding the office of Steward in the A.M.E. church known as Bethel Witnesseth that the said F.M. Moye in consideration of Twenty Five Dollars to him paid by the said Lawrence Ward as the representative of said church the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged have bargained & sold by these presents do bargain & sell & convey to the said Lawrence Ward and his successors in office for the benefit & use of said Church a certain lot of land in said county, it being the land on which the building of the said church is situated on the North side of Big Contentnea creek near Ruffins bridge and on the east side of the road leading to said Bridge and is a part of the tract of land Known as the Davis land containing one acre To have and to hold the aforesaid lot of and all privileges thereto belonging to the said Lawrence Ward and his successors in office for the benefit & use of said church And the said F.M. Moye covenant that he is seized of said lot of land in fee and has the right to convey the same in fee simple and that he will warrant & defend the said title to the same against the claims of all persons whatsoever In testimony whereof the said F.M. Moye have hereunto set his hand & seal the say & year above written  /s/ F.M. Moye   Attest J.K. Peacock, J.S. Ellis 

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In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Lawrence Ward, 25, farmer, owned $1000 in real property; wife Mary, 20; and daughter Mary A., 3; Chloie, 14, Lydia, 11, Jennie, 10, and Patrick Pope, 7; and Sophia Ward, 48.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Lawrence Ward, 38; wife Mary, 29; daughter Mary, 14; mother Sophia, 58; and farm worker Henry Lane, 12. [Their proximity in 1870 and 1880 to the house and plantation of Dr. David G.W. Ward suggests that Lawrence and Sophia Ward had been owned by the doctor in slavery.]

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: Laurence Ward, 55, farmer; wife Mary, 43; mother Sophia, 84; and granddaughter Amie Yelverton, 13.

In the 1910 census of Pikeville township, Wayne County: Lawrence Ward, 66, farmer; mother Sophia, 98; wife Mary, 60; and granddaughter Amy Yelverton, 21.

Lawrence Ward died 29 August 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1831  in Wilson County to Sophia Ward; was married; was a retired farmer; and was buried in Wayne County.

Deed book 14, page 366, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial photo courtesy of Google Maps.