will

The Ellis family’s community of enslaved people.

William and Unity Dixon Ellis and their descendants claimed ownership of many dozens of enslaved African Americans. Undoubtedly, these men and women constituted generations of many families, and I have listed them below (in family groups where known) with their identified owners in parentheses. I have had little success in tracing them forward into freedom, but have inserted that information that I am reasonably sure is accurate.

First, an Ellis family genealogy. William Ellis left a wife, Unity, and eight children at his death in 1812 — William, Gray, Coffield, Dixon, John, Jonathan, Willie and Spicey Ellis. Several were minors — which made for a lengthy estate administration — and Gray and Spicey died within months of their father. Without wills. Spicey died possessed of an unnamed “negro woman and three children,” and her administrator petitioned for their sale, with distribution of the proceeds between her mother and siblings. Widow Unity Dixon died 1817. Dixon Ellis died in 1818, leaving a wife Jemima (who pretty quickly married Hardy F. Barnes) and five children Willie, Unity, Gray, Hickman and Cynthia Ann Ellis. His estate included 17 to 18 unnamed enslaved people. William Ellis (Jr.) died in 1831 and Willie in 1836. Willie left a wife, Queen Esther Sharpe Ellis, and daughter Martha Ann, who later married Jonathan Dew. Esther Ellis then married her husband’s cousin Hickman Ellis, Martha Ann’s guardian. In 1854, Jonathan Dew sued to recover his wife’s assets from Hickman. Coffield Ellis, the last remaining child, died in 1854. Jonathan Ellis died about 1857, and his wife Elizabeth Ward Ellis about 1858. Their heirs were their granddaughters Susan Bynum Bynum, Louisa Bynum Best, Elizabeth Bynum, Sarah Bynum and Virginia Bynum, whose mother Spicy Ellis had married Reuben Bynum. Dixon Ellis’ son Hickman Ellis Sr. died about 1860, leaving children Spicey, Unity and Hickman Ellis Jr.

The Ellis estate files are difficult to decipher, with multiple petitions to divide unnamed groups of slaves, but often no reports filed after the divisions. Conflicts between guardians (often close family members) and minor heirs were common, with intervenors claiming that guardians had held and hired out enslaved people for years without benefit to their underage owners. Inventories of enslaved people occasionally list small children with their mothers, but more often do not. No married couples are identified as such.

Nonetheless, here is what I’ve gleaned. Each person’s name is followed by parentheses containing the names of Ellis family members to whom they are linked in wills or estate records. [Where possible, I have distinguished individuals bearing the same first names. Where not possible, I have listed them as if they are different people, though they not be in fact. It is likely that this multi-generational community of enslaved people passed down names within family lines, but the record is too thin to make absolute identifications.]

  • Aaron (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Alley (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Amanda (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Annah (Coffield Ellis)
  • Anthony (William Ellis > Willie Ellis)
  • Amos (Elizabeth Ellis)

Amos was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see below.

Amos Ellis and Mary Edmundson registered their 18-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace on 2 July 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: next door to Isom and Patience Ellis, farm laborer Amos P. Ellis, 47; wife Mary 40; and children Adeline, 23, Authur, 19, Learh, 17, Mary, 15, Jane, 11, and Lewis, 10; plus Authur, 65, and Betsey Barnes, 60.

  • Arthur (William Ellis > Unity Dixon Ellis > John Ellis)
  • Beckey (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Beedy (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Belfour (William Ellis > Coffield Ellis)
  • Ben (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Blount (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa Bynum Best)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Della Applewhite, 34, domestic servant; Haywood, 19, Sarah, 14, Alice, 2, Anna, 2, and Clara Applewhite, 7; Hyman Bynum, 21; Blount Best, 21; Abraham Bynum, 17; Moses Bynum, 20; and William Pittman, 21 (the last five all farm laborers.)

Blount Best married Sarah Applewhite on 29 July 1872 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Blunt J. Bess, 32, laborer; wife Sarah, 23; children William L., 9, Nellie J., 6, Joseph H., 4, and Ivory, 8 months; plus sister-in-law Annie Barnes, 11.

On 26 March 1914, Blount Best, 69, of Saratoga, married Hagar Bynum, 56, of Gardners, at Liberty Webb‘s in Saratoga township. Primitive Baptist minister Elder Robert Edwards performed the ceremony in the presence of Isaac Bynum, S.H. Best and John Farmer, and Jesse Artis applied for the license.

Blount Best died 28 March 1928 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 88 years old; was born in Greene County to Friday Best and Marie Best; was married to Haggar Best; and was a farmer for Mrs. Mattie Williams and preacher. Informant was Joe Henry Best. [Was Blount’s mother the Maria below?]

  • Bob (William Ellis > Gray Ellis) and Bob (Jonathan Ellis)

See Robert, below.

  • Bright (Coffield Ellis)

See Robbin, below.

  • Bryant (Coffield Ellis)
  • Byhuel (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Calvin (Coffield Ellis)

Calvin Ellis died 18 October 1933 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 80 years old; a widower formerly married to Mary Ellis; a farmer; and was born in Wilson County to Jacob Ellis and Charlotte Ellis. Informant was General Ellis.

  • Caroline (Coffield Ellis > Louisa E. Barnes)
  • Chaney (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis) and Chaney (Coffield Ellis)
  • Chaney and son Isaac (Hickman Ellis)
  • Old Chaney (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Charlotte (Coffield Ellis)

See Calvin, above.

  • Cherry (Coffield Ellis)
  • Clara (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew)
  • Ellen (Coffield Ellis) and Ellen (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Eliza [and two unnamed children] (Hickman Ellis)
  • Elvy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Ephraim (Jonathan Ellis)

Possibly, in the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County: Ephraim Ellis, 37, farmhand.

Possibly, in the 1880 census of Farmville township, Pitt County: Ephram Ellis, 35, farmhand, and wife Rildy, 30.

On 13 August 1885, Ephraim Ellis, 47, married Amanda Crudass, 26, in Wilson County at the courthouse.

On 20 February 1897, Ephraim Ellis, 52, married Mary Edmundson, 25, in Wilson County.

  • Faroby (Coffield Ellis)
  • Frances (Coffield Ellis)
  • Gideon (William Ellis > Dixon Ellis)
  • Gilford (William Ellis > Jonathan Ellis) and Guilford (Elizabeth Ellis > William and Louise E. Best)

Guilford was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see below.

Guilford Bynum and Pleasant Bynum registered their cohabitation in Wilson County on 7 April 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40, farm laborer; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4. [Note: per his death certificate (and a marriage license), Ned Ellis was born about 1855 to Gilford Ellis and Becky Riffin (Ruffin).]

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 55, common laborer; wife Penny, 55; and children Sarah E., 16, Mary E., 10, and Lafayette, 8.

See also Norfleet, below.

  • Gilly (Coffield Ellis > Sally E. Barnes)
  • George (Coffield Ellis)
  • Gray (Hickman Ellis)
  • Green (Coffield Ellis)
  • Hannah (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis) and Hannah (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Hannah (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Jackson Ellis, 45; wife Margaret, 36; and children Hannah, 17, and Hewell, 11; Hannah Ellis, 90; and Lucy, 2, and Mary Simms, 1.

Hannah Ellis, daughter of Jack and Margaret Ellis, married John Artist, son of Arch and Rose Artist, on 29 February 1872.

  • Hardy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Harriet and children Adeline, Lucy and Manerva (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Harriet (Elizabeth Ellis) and Harriet (Hickman Ellis)
  • Harry (William Ellis > Coffield Ellis)
  • Hester (William Ellis > Unity Ellis > William Ellis) and Hester (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Hewell (Elizabeth Ellis) and Hewell (Hickman Ellis)

See Hannah, above.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jack Ellis, 55, and son Hewel, 21.

  • Isaac (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Isham (Willie Ellis)
  • Isham (William Ellis > Willie Ellis), wife Patience (Jonathan Ellis) and Jacob (Jonathan Ellis)

Isham Bynum and Pacience Bynum registered their 40-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace on

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isom Ellis, 67; wife Patience, 62; and son (grandson?) Jacob, 18, farm laborer.

Jacob Ellis, 24, married Milly Forbes, 35, in Wilson County in 28 February 1874.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jacob Ellis, 27, farm laborer; wife Milly, 33; and sons Thaddus, 5, and Rufus, 2.

  • Jack (William Ellis > John Ellis)
  • Jack (Hickman Ellis) and wife Margaret (Hickman Ellis)

See Hannah and Hewell, above.

Jack Ellis and Margaret Ellis registered their 18-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866.

  • Jane (Coffield Ellis)
  • Jenny (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew)
  • Jesse (Elizabeth Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Jim (William Ellis > William Ellis), Jim (Elizabeth Ellis > Joseph and Susan Ellis Bynum), and Jim (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)

See Jim Ellis Dew.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer James Ellis, 48; wife Zana, 38; and children/grandchildren Eliza, 14, James, 5 months, Cora, 13, Macoid, 10, Oscar, 6, and Anna, 1.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: James Ellis, 59, farm laborer; wife Zany, 49; and children/grandchildren Mccoid, 18, Oscar, 17, Anna, 11, James, 10, Johnathan C., 8, and Benjiman S., 5.

  • Job (Jonathan Ellis)
  • John (Hickman Ellis)
  • Jonas (Dixon Ellis) and Jonas (Coffield Ellis)
  • Laurence (Coffield Ellis)
  • Lettice (Elizabeth Ellis) and Lettice (Elizabeth Ellis)

See Norfleet, below.

  • Lewis (Coffield Ellis > Penninah Ellis)

Lewis was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see above.

Lewis Bynum and Milly Thompson registered their cohabitation on 20 April 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Lewis Ellis, 36; wife Milly, 35; and children John, 17, Daniel, 10, Adeline, 5, Mary, 3, and Martha, 1.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Ellis, 49; wife Milly, 48; children Daniel, 20, Addie, 16, Mary, 14, Marthey, 12, Cora, 10, and James, 6; nephew Jackson, 9; mother Patience, 70; and Jacob Barnes, 32, farm laborer.

  • Littleton (Coffield Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Littleton Ellis, 30, wife Judah, 21, and children Bryant, 4, and Martha, 3.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis, 45; wife Judah, 30; and children Bryant, 14, Martha, 12, Patsey, 10, Mary, 8, Bud, 6, Thomas, 4, Rose, 2, and James, 1.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis, 73; wife Judy, 55; and children Lucy, 21, Littleton, 18, Sarah, 16, Maggie, 14, Nettie, 12, and Minnie, 10.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Wiggins Mill Road, farmer Littleton Ellis, 27; his mother Judie, 62; and sisters Lucy, 30, Sarah, 24, Maggie, 23, and Lettie, 21.

  • Lisle (William > Unity), died 1812-1818
  • Lucy (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew)
  • Mark (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Maria (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Mary (Coffield Ellis) and Mary (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Milbry (Hickman Ellis) and daughter Betsey (Hickman Ellis)
  • Mimah and daughters Sary and Clary (William Ellis > Jonathan Ellis)
  • Old Minny [Miney?] (Coffield Ellis)
  • Young Minny [Miney?] (Coffield Ellis)
  • Moll (William Ellis > Willie Ellis)
  • Nancy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Netty [and unnamed child] (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Norfleet (Jonathan Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Norfleet Ellis, 25; wife Charlotte, 22; and children Willie, 2, and Elizabeth, 2 months; Jordan Taylor, 19; and Albert Barnes, 21.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Norfleet Ellis, 33; wife Charlotte, 26; and children Mack, 12, Lizzie, 8, Redmond, 6, Floyd, 2, and Marion, 3 months.

On 26 September 1891, Norfleet Ellis, 52, son of Guilford Ellis and Lettice Ellis, married Eva Rice, 18, daughter of John Rice and Laura Hudson, in Wilson County.

  • Pat (William Ellis > Unity Ellis > John Ellis)
  • Peter (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew) and Peter (Hickman Ellis)
  • Old Peter (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Rachael (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Reuben (Jonathan Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Reuben Ellis, 34, farm laborer; wife Clarkey, 22; and daughter Jane Grant, 1.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Rubin Ellis, 54; wife Clarky, 36; and children Jane, 10, Jonah, 8, Sherard, 7, William, 6, Rubin, 5, George, 4, and Cansy, 4 months.

  • Robbin (Coffield Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robbin Ellis, 23, farm laborer, and wife Hannah, 24, and children Emma, 5, Mahala, 2, and an infant girl, 1 month, plus Bright Ellis, 20, farm laborer.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Ellis, 34, farmer; wife Hannah, 35; children Emma, 15, Jane, 11, Alice, 8, Winnie, 6, and Cora, 3; and Mandy Barnes, 24, laborer, and William T.C. Barnes, 1.

  • Robert (Coffield Ellis)

Robert was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see above.

Robert Bynum and Caroline Barnes registered their cohabitation on 31 March 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 39, farm laborer; wife Caroline, 38; and children Amos, 9, Louisa, 3, and infant boy, 2 weeks.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 50, farmer; wife Caroline, 49; and children Amos, 19, Louisa, 12, William, 10, and Susan, 5.

However, also:

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 34, farmer; wife Hannah, 35; daughters Emma, 15, Jane, 11, Allice, 8, Winnie, 6, and Corah, 3; plus Quandie Barnes, 24, and her son William T.C. Barnes, 1.

And:

Robert Ellis and Anica Ellis registered their 8-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 45, farm laborer; wife Anaka, 50; and Mary Bynum, 12.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 55, laborer, and wife Anakey, 58.

And:

Robert Ellis, 54, of Saratoga, married Mima Mitchell, 30, of Saratoga, on 4 July 1892 in Saratoga township.

Robert Ellis died 25 January 1934 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 105 years old; was born in Wilson County to unknown parents; was married to Vester Ellis; and had been a farmer. Robert Barnes was informant.

  • Rose (Elizabeth Ellis > Joseph and Susan B. Bynum) and Rose (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Sam (William Ellis > Coffield Ellis) and Sam (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Tempy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Tiller (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Tom (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Treasy (William Ellis > Unity Ellis > William Ellis)
  • Turner (Coffield Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborers Turner Ellis, 27, and Aaron Bynum, 18.

On 26 July 1878, Turner Ellis, 31, married Jane Williamson, 35, at the residence of justice of the peace Elbert Felton in Wilson County.

  • Willie [or Wiley] (Cynthia Ann Ellis)

Willie/Wiley ran away in 1853 and 1856. Ads noted that his owner was Cynthia A. Ellis, that he was likely hiding near the farms of William Ellis or Jonathan Ellis, where he had relatives, and that he had a wife in Georgetown, South Carolina.

  • Violet (Jonathan Ellis)

 

The last will and testament of Coffield Ellis.

On 28 January 1854, Coffield Ellis of Edgecombe County penned a will that included these provisions:

  • to wife Penninah Ellis, enslaved people Minny, Lewis, Robbin, Jacob, Young Minny, Turner, Jane, Laurence, Bright, Chaney, Greene, Mary, Jonas, Charlott, Frances, Robert, Ellen, Annah, Calvin, Cherry, Faroby, Littleton, Bryant and George. After Penninah’s death, Robert and Charlotte were to go to son William Ellis.
  • if “at any time during her life [wife Penninah] became tired of keeping any of the said negroes she may call three disinterested men together and point out to them said such of said negroes as she wishes to get clear of,” to be divided between their daughters Sally, wife of William Barnes, and Louisa, wife of James Barnes.
  • to son William Ellis, the right to take any of Coffield Ellis’ slaves to use, when water level is low, to complete a canal in Toisnot Swamp
  • “if my faithful servant Old Miney shall survive my wife,” she shall be able to choose a master from his three children
  • to daughter Sally, wife of William Barnes, an enslaved woman named Gilly
  • to daughter Louisa, wife of James Barnes, an enslaved woman named Caroline

Coffield Ellis Will, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

The will and estates of William and Unity Ellis.

Per Powell and Powell, Wilson County Founding Families (2009), published by Wilson County Genealogical Society, William Ellis was born about 1740 in what was then Chowan County, North Carolina. He married Unity Dixon and settled in an area of Edgecombe County that is now Wilson County. His and Unity Ellis’ children were Willie, William, Coffield, Dixon, John, Gray, Jonathan and Spicy Ellis.

William Ellis made out his will on Christmas Eve 1812 in Edgecombe County:

  • to wife Unity Ellis, a life interest in the plantation on which lived lying at the fork of Mill or Panthers Branch and Toisnot Swamp, to revert to son Willie Ellis at her death. Also, Unity received life interests in enslaved people Arthur, Jonas, Isham, Belford, Lisle, Pat, Mimah, Treasy and Hester.
  • to son Coffield Ellis, a grist mill and land lying on the south side of Mill Branch, as well as slaves Sam and Harry, who were available to Unity Ellis during her lifetime or until Coffield turned 21
  • to son Dixon Ellis, the plantation on which William formerly lived on White Oak Swamp and a second parcel of land, as well as slave Giddeon
  • to son John Ellis, the plantation on which John lived on the main road from Tarboro to Stanton’s Bridge [roughly modern N.C. Highways 111 and 222], containing 149 acres, as well as a second one-hundred-acre tract and an enslaved man named Jack
  • to son Gray Ellis, if he had heirs, a plantation near Tarboro containing 125 acres (to go to son Jonathan Ellis if Gray had no lawful children) and an enslaved man named Bob
  • to son Jonathan Ellis, a plantation on the south side of the main road from Tarboro to Greenville, containing 100 acres, and an enslaved man named Guilford
  • to daughter Spicey Ellis, a plantation on the south side of Toisnot Swamp on the main road from Stanton’s Bridge to Tarboro, containing 100 acres, and slaves Hannah, Byhuel, Chaney and Beedy
  • to son William, an enslaved man named Jim; and
  • to son Willie, slaves Anthony and Mol, who were available to Unity Ellis during her lifetime or until Willie turned 21

Unity Ellis died in 1817, before the settlement of William Ellis’ estate. Her share of William’s enslaved estate was divided thus: to son John, Arthur ($525) and Pat ($5); to son Dixon, Jonas ($712); to son Coffield, Belfour ($712); for son Willie, Isham ($636); for son Jonathan, Mima, Sary and Clary ($888); and to son William, Trease ($600) and Hester ($350). Lisle, presumably, died between 1812 and 1818, and Sarah and Clara were born to Mima during the same period.

——

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isom Ellis, 67; wife Patience, 62; and son (grandson?) Jacob, 18, farm laborer.

Perhaps, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40, farm laborer; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4.

Will of William Ellis (1812); Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The will and estate of William H. Skinner.

William H. Skinner made out his will in Wilson County on 8 September 1860. Among other things, he left his wife Rebecca Skinner 423 acres “on both sides of the swamp,” “also the following Slaves [blank] & two children Randal & Judy a boy Peter a slave, a boy a slave Jo ….” [The phrasing and lack of punctuation make it difficult to determine how many people are included in this list.]

Skinner also directed “a Negro Girl Matilda & all the balance of my Property … be divided among” several named heirs and, at his wife’s death, all slaves were to be sold and the proceeds divided among his remaining heirs.

On 11 January 1861, executor Thomas H. Skinner held a public sale of William H. Skinner’s personal property. The very last item listed, accounting for more than a quarter of the proceeds brought in, is this unnamed woman. Presumably, she was Matilda:

Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 4.04.12 PM.png

——

In 1866, Peter Skinner and Cherry Sharp registered their cohabitation in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Peter Skinner, 24; wife Cherry, 24; and children Van, 7, and Fate, 3.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Rosa Skinner, 30; and children Randal, 13, farm laborer, and John, 8, Judea, 7, Dennis, 3, and Amos, 3 months.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer Peter Skinner, 35; wife Sarah, 35; and children Van Buren, 14, and Lafayette, 13.

Will of W.H. Skinner (1860); Estate Records of W.H. Skinner (1860); Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Arch Artis, a free man of color.

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In the 30 August 1952 edition of his Daily Times column “Looking Backward,” Hugh B. Johnston transcribed a will executed in 1849 by Arch Artice, a free man of color. The will is not included in Ancestry.com or Familysearch.org databases, and I have found no evidence that it ever entered probate. Artis (the more common spelling) is not to be confused with Archibald Artis Sr. (or Jr.) of Johnston County, who was his rough contemporary, and here’s what we know of him:

In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County, Arch Artis is listed as a 55 year-old “mulatto free” and described as blind. Elisha Vick, a 48 year-old white laborer, and Elizabeth Woodard, 46, who witnessed his will, were Artis’ close neighbors.

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.19.31 PM.png

1850 federal census of Edgecombe County, N.C.

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County, Arch Artis, 65, blind, is listed in the household of white farmer Calvin Woodard, a 32 year-old white farmer who reported owning $17,225 in personal property (which would have been mostly in the form of enslaved people. Calvin Woodard was the son of Elizabeth Simms Woodard, above, and William Woodard Sr., who died about 1850.)

On 31 October 1869, Puss Artice, daughter of Arch and Rosa Artice, married George Bynum, son of Thos. Drake and Eliza Bynum, at Arch Artice’s. [“Puss” was the nickname of Tamar Artis Bynum.]

On 6 January 1870, Jessie Woodard, son of Arch and Rosa Artice, married Pennie Bess, daughter of Harry Ellis and Selvey Bess, in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Archabald Artis, 70; wife Rosa, 34; Tamer Bynum, 23, and [her husband] George, 25. Though they did not register their cohabitation, the record strongly suggests that Arch Artis had a relationship spanning several decades with a woman named Rosa, who was enslaved. She, with her and Arch’s children, had belonged to members of  William Woodard Sr.’s family. (Details to come in a later post.)

Arch Artis seems to have died between 1870 and 1880.

John Artist, son of Arch and Rosa Artis, married Hannah Ellis, daughter of Jack and Margaret Ellis, on 29 February 1872 in Wilson County. (This was his second marriage. On 9 April 1867, John Artice married Pricilla Woodard in Wilson County.)

Ned Artis died 21 October 1917 in Falkland township, Pitt County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 1831 in Wilson County to Arch Artis and Rose Artis; was single; was buried in Wilson County; undertaker was Jesse Artis; and informant was Joe Artis, Falkland, N.C.

Gray Artis, 72, of Chicod township, Pitt County, son of Arch and Rosa Artis, married Caroline Howard, 66, of Chicod township, daughter of Emily Nobles, on 22 April 1918 in Chicod township, Pitt County.

Tamar Bynum died 25 February 1923 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was born in Wilson County to Arch and Rosa Artis; was the widow of George Bynum; and had farmed. Rosa Bynum was informant.

The last will and testament of Trial Williamson.

Trial Williamson, born about 1805, is likely the “Trion” mentioned in the 1829 will of Hardy Williamson and is certainly the “Trial” mentioned in the 1858 estate records of Hardy H. Williamson. His blood relationship to other enslaved people held by the Williamsons is unknown.

Trial Williamson dictated his will in April 1878 and died the next month.

——

In the name of God Amen! I Tryal Williamson do make and declare this my last will and testament as follows:

Item 1 I give and devise to my wife Rosetta the lands whereon I now live during her natural life or widowhood and at her death or marriage to be equally divided between my daughter Mary wife of John Boykin and my daughter Cherry wife of Daniel Hocutt during their lives and at their deaths to be equally divided between the children of each; that is the children of Mary to have one half and the children of Cherry to have the other half the said lands to be free from the control of their respective husbands John Boykin and Daniel Hocutt.

Item 2 I give and bequeath to my said wife my mare one ox all the hogs bacon and corn & fodder of which I may die possessed. Also all my kitchen and household furniture and farming implements.

Item 3 It is further my will and desire that my cattle one mule colt bees and any other property that my wife does not want be sold and the proceeds of said sale with whatever money I may have at my death be used by my wife for her sole benefit and use the interest to be used by here whenever she needs it.

Item 4 I hereby constitute and appoint my wife Rosetta executrix to this my last will and testament

Signed and declared my last will and testament This 6 day of April 1878    Tryal (X) Williamson

Witness J.M. Taylor, A.S.J. Taylor

——

In 1866, Trial Williams [sic] and Roseta Williams registered their 17-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Trial Williamson, 65; wife Rose, 60; and daughters Mary, 21, and Cherry, 19.

On 18 September 1874, Cherry Williamson, 19, married Danl. Hocutt, 24, in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer John Boykin, 42; wife Mary, 29; and children Dock, 19, and Dick, 15 (both sick with whooping cough), Turner, 7, Troy, 5, Betty, 3, and John, 1. [Per the 1870 census, Zadoc and Richard — Dock and Dick — were John’s children.] Next door, widowed farmer Rose Williamson, 68.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Daniel Hocutt, 30; wife Cherry, 29; and children Jiney, 4, James T., 3, and Tilda An, 1.

Rose Williamson died in 1891. Ishmael Wilder was appointed administrator of her estate. Her meager household goods, purchased by friends and family, netted less than nine dollars.


Handy Atkinson, John Boykin, and Spencer Shaw were among the purchasers at Rosetta Williamson’s estate sale.

Per the terms of Trial Williamson’s will, at Rosetta Williamson’s death, the family farm passed in equal shares to their daughters Mary Williamson Boykin and Cherry Williamson Hocutt.

In 1902, by their attorney W.A. Finch, Cherry Hocutt and her heirs filed a Petition to Sell Real Estate for Division, Including Infants Interest. In a nutshell: (1) Trial Williamson died in 1878 and left a will with the above provision; (2) before Trial died, his land was divided, and the halves were allotted to his daughters; (3) after Rosetta Williamson died about 1891, Cherry Hocutt took full possession of her half; (4) Cherry Hocutt is now 49 years old and has these living children — J.A. Hocutt, age 27, J.T. Hocutt, age 25, M.A. Hocutt, age 22, Ben Hocutt, age 20, Settles Hocutt, age 17, Ida E. Hocutt, age 15, Willie J. Hocutt, age 14, and Lenore Savannah Hocutt, age 12 — and no grandchildren; (5) B.A. Scott has been appointed to represent the interests of the minor children; (6) the Hocutts are tenants in common on their half of Trial Williamson’s 23 1/2 acres in Spring Hill township; (7) in 1889, Daniel and Cherry Hocutt and their children migrated to [Cotton Plant,] Tippah County, Mississippi; (8) the Hocutts wish to sell their half because they “derive no benefit whatever” from it, are too far away to look after it, derive no net income from renting it out, and “the land is hilly and badly washed” and getting worse; and (9) the land is too small to divide among them.

The Superior Court approved the sale, it was advertised, and J.T. Rentfrow was high bidder at $500. Rentfrow promptly filed to partition his property from the half held by Mary Boykin and her heirs — Turner Boykin and wife; Laura Boykin; William Boykin and wife; Cora BoykinBettie Boykin; John Connor Boykin; Minerva Boykin; Sarah BoykinJames Boykin and wife; Ella Boykin; Buck Boykin; and Lizzie Boykin. Turner, Laura and John Connor Boykin no longer lived in North Carolina.

The court ordered this survey, then approved the partition as platted:

Estate Records of Trial Williamson, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; Estate File of Rose Williamson, Estate File of Trial Williamson, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

The last will and testament of Hardy Williamson.

I had the great fortune recently of reuniting — after more than 20 years — with Gregory D. Cosby, who descends from and has extensively researched the Williamson and Shaw families of the Lucama area. Flipping through Cosby’s Eight Generations: The Williamson Family of Lucama, North Carolina, An African-American Legacy (1998) has spurred me to take a closer look at documents related to these families.

There were a number of white Williamson families living in the areas of Wilson County that were once parts of Johnston and Nash Counties in the early 19th century. For now, I am looking at records documenting the enslaved men and women — which included members of Gregory Cosby’s family — of the family of Hardy Williamson (1761-1833), son of Joseph and Ann Williamson. (See here for details of Ann Williamson’s estate.) The children of Hardy Williamson and his wife Sarah (Nichols, or Newsome, researchers disagree) were Martha, Joseph, John, James E., Patience, Stephen, Nancy, Raiford, Elizabeth, Hardy H., Zilpha, and Bethana Williamson.

Hardy Williamson wrote out his will in Johnston County in 1829. The will entered probate in 1833, but I have not found a copy of the estate file.

——

In the Name of God Amen I Hardy Williamson of the County of Johnston and State of North Carolina being in Pefect mind and memory thanks be given unto God Calling to mind the mortality of my body and Knowing that it is appointed for all men once to Die Do make and ordain this my Last will and Testament that is to say Principally and first of all I give and Recommend my soul unto the Almighty God who gave it and my Body I recommend to the Earth to be Buried in Decent and Christian manner at the Descretion of my Executors and as Touching such Worldly Estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this Life I give Demise and Despose of the same in the manner following that is to say I Lend unto Sarah William[son] my beloved wife all my Land Lying in Johnston County during her natural Life and after her Decease I give and Bequeath all the said Land unto my beloved son Hardy H. Williamson to him and his heirs forever I likewise Lend unto my wife Six Negroes Jane Silvy Sampson trion Aid Daniel During her natural Life after her Decease I give and bequeath Jane and Sampson to my beloved Daughter Martha Peelle to her and her heirs forever Likewise after my wife Decease I give to my beloved son Joseph Williamson trion I Likewise give him one Negro girl by the name of Fonne and all her increase to him and all his heirs forever Likewise after my wife Decease I give and bequeath unto my beloved son Hardy H. Williamson three Negroes viz Silvy aid and Daniel they and there increase to him and his heirs forever I Likewise give and bequeath unto my beloved son Raford Williamson two negros viz Cater and Simon I Likwis give to him one hundread and twenty Acres of Land Lying in Nash County one horse and one feather bed and furniture to him and his heirs forever I Likwis give and bequeath unto my beloved son James Williamson two Negroes Viz Jacob and Nice one horse one feather bed and furniture to him and his heirs forever I Likewise give and bqueath unto my beloved Daughter bethhana Williamson two negro girls Viz mary & Chany Likewise one bed and furniture to her and her heirs forever I have given to my son Stephen williamson the part of my Property alotted for him So I give him Nothing in this will I Likewise have given to my son John Williamson and Patience Watson the Parts of my Property alotted for them so I give them Nothing in their will I likewise give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Nancy Barnes two negroes viz Rhode and Sherod they and there increase to her and her heirs forever I Likewise Give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Elizabeth Whitley two negroes Viz tabitha and Simon to her and her heirs forever I likewise give unto my Beloved Daughter Zilpha Whitley one Negro Girl Named Selah to her and her heirs forever I Likewise give unto my wife Sarah Williamson all the Property belonging to me which is not mentioned in this will to Do as She thinks best for her children I Do Likewise Constitute make and ordain Matthew Peelle and Raford Williamson the Sole Executors of this my Last will and Testament Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my Last will and Testament in Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand this 12th Day of November one thousand Eight hundred and twentynine    /s/ Hardy Williamson

Signed sealed and Delivered in Presence of us John Peelle, William Peelle, James Williamson

——

The enslaved people named in Hardy Williamson’s will, whose lives, if possible, will be explored in detail elsewhere:

  • Jane
  • Silvey
  • Sampson
  • Trion — Probably, Trial Williamson.
  • Aid
  • Daniel — This is possibly Daniel Williamson, but if so, he was a young boy at the time.
  • Fonne
  • Cater
  • Simon
  • Jacob
  • Nice
  • Mary
  • Chany
  • Rhode
  • Sherod
  • Tabitha
  • Simon
  • Selah

Will of Hardy Williamson, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

 

 

 

The last will and testament of Elias Barnes.

Every once in a while, antebellum Wilson County estate records will offer details about enslaved people that allow you to identify nuclear families and to trace their movements in the tumultuous period after a slaveholder died and a community was broken up. The probate of the undated will of Elias Barnes of Edgecombe County [later the Saratoga area of Wilson County], drafted prior to 1855, is a rich example.

Elias Barnes, son of Jesse and Edith Jordan Barnes, was the brother of prominent farmer, politician and slaveholder Joshua Barnes, often dubbed “Father of Wilson County” for his efforts to establish the county. He married Mahala F. Sharpe, daughter of Benjamin and Anna Farmer Sharpe, in Edgecombe County in 1830.

Barnes’ will included these provisions:

  • to wife Mahala Barnes and children Joshua Barnes, Elias Barnes and Willis Barnes $3584 “worth of my negro slaves” each (unnamed), and
  • to children Benjamin B. Barnes, John S. Barnes, Jesse Barnes, Edith Barnes, and William Barnes $2500 “worth of my negro slaves” each

Elias Barnes was fatally stuck by lightning in June 1856, when most of his children were minors. The inventory of his estate, taken 27 October 1856, included these 55 enslaved people:

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List of Slaves: Jack, Celia, Jim Sr., Elva, Ann, Reddick, Spice, Exy, Mary, Green, Scinda, Siller, Gincey, Daniel, Jim Jr., George, Rachel, Zany, Pleasant, Gilbert, Harry, Charles, Cad, Cooper, Spence, Winny, Brister, Eliza, Minters, Willie, Susan, Albert, Chany, Sarah, Abel, Austin, Adeline, Henry, Hardy, Sampson, Morrison, Liberty, Cary, Lewis, Judith, Jolly, Warren, Hilliard, Edward, Bob Sr., Bob Jr., Clark, Winsor, Gray, Bunny.

Here’s a partial list that includes alternate spellings or full names of some of the people listed above, such as Scinda/Cindy, Cad/Cadmus, Minters/Mentus, and Siller/Priscilla.

Mahala Barnes administered her husband’s estate. At the first of the year following his death, she hired out most of his slaves to family members, like her brother-in-law Joshua Barnes, daughter Anna S. Thompson, and son John P. Barnes. Note these family groups hired out together: Redick, Spice and four children; Gray, Bonny and three children, Sillah and child; and Ax and three children. (And possibly, Clark and Abel and Ann and Sampson.)

Again in January 1858, the enslaved people of Elias Barnes’ estate were hired out. This time, Mahala Barnes was ready to assume control of her husband’s farm operations and hired many herself. Note that Reddick and Spice had had another child together; Bonny/Bunny had had another child; and Elva and Eliza now had two children. (Together? Separately?)

In October of 1858, for just over $2500, administrator Mahala Barnes sold Axey and her two children and Rachel and her child to her brother-in-law Joshua Barnes in his capacity as administrator of the estate of his father Jesse Barnes Sr.

The partition of Elias Barnes’ enslaved property, valued at $32,076.00, was made 1 January 1859:

  • to Benjamin B. Barnes — Gilbert, Jim, Anna, Sampson, valued at $2451.00
  • to John P. Barnes — Bob, Cilla, Spicy and child Ida, and Jolly, valued at $2400.00
  • to Jesse Barnes — Hardy, Clarky and child Celia, and Cooper, valued at $2425.00
  • to Edith Barnes — Cinda, Gray, Bunny and child Violet, and Hilliard, valued at $2550.00
  • to William Barnes — Willie, Winnie and Reddick, valued at $2350.00
  • to Mahala Barnes, widow — Harry, Green, Mary, Elva, Eliza, Austin and Jack (“invalid”), $4175.00 (with a credit of $150 for Jack)
  • the balance in common to minor children Joshua, Elias, Willis and Mahala J. Barnes, valued at $16,725.00

For more on the lives (and deaths) of Elias and Mahala Sharpe Barnes and their children, see Katharina Schichtherle’s article in the Autumn 2015 edition of Military Images, an on-line magazine.

—–

Barnes is far and away the most common surname in Wilson County, black or white. And the universe of given names was far smaller in the mid-1800s than it is now. Further, many freedmen did not adopt the surname of their enslaver at Emancipation, especially women and children whose husbands and fathers had had a different owner. These facts complicate the identification in the postbellum period of the men and women who once lived on Elias Barnes’ plantation.

Nonetheless:

  • “Ann & Sampson”

The pair listed in the 1857 hire list may have been a couple. Harriet Barnes, daughter of Sampson Farmer and Ann Barnes, married Robert Barnes, son of Tony Flowers and Hanah Bass, on 20 July 1867 in Wilson County. (Though if so, where was Harriet in the 1856 inventory?)

  • Austin Barnes

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Austin Barnes, 45; wife Cintha, 33; and children Fonser, 12, and Etna, 7. (The 1870 mortality schedule of Saratoga township lists five deaths in April 1870 in this household, all of pertussis: Mourning, 5, Austin, 4, Loyd, 2, Richard, 3, and Mary, 9 months.)

Austin Barnes, 45, married Ferbe Barnes, 36, on 21 September 1873 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Austin Barnes, 56, farmer; wife Pharby, 44, farmworker; and children Zilla, 6, Thomas, 4, and Pet, 1.

  • Axey Barnes

Axey Barnes and Washington Sims registered their 30-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Washington Simms, 57; wife Exy, 47; and children and likely grandchildren Henry, 32, Catsey [Gatsey], 27, Nathan, 10, Grant, 4, and Harret Simms, 5, Waity Nelson, 18, Joseph, 14, Samuel, 12, Mary, 10, and Della Simms, 8, and Ella Barden, 1; plus William Nelson, 26.

  • Bill Barnes

Possibly, the Bill Barnes who registered his cohabitation with Harriet Ellis on 18 April 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Bill Barnes, 47, farm laborer; wife Harriet, 36; and children Amanda, 15, Bettie, 13, Ellen, 12, Caroline, 9, John, 6, Dinah, 5, Jason, 2, and Lettuce, 7 months.

  • Brister Barnes

Bristor Barnes and Catherine Barnes registered their three-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

  • Cadmus Barnes

Cad Barnes and [Rose] Bearfoot registered their cohabitation on 31 August 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Cadmus Barnes, 23; wife Rose, 27; and children Elly, 3, Fanny, 2, and an infant, 1 month. (The 1870 mortality schedule of Saratoga township lists the death of Baldwin Barnes, 70, in January 1870 in this household.)

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Cadmus Barnes, 45; wife Rose, 28; and children Elvy, 12, Fanny, 9, William Thos., 7, Edwin, 4, and Julia Ann, 2.

  • Charles Barnes and Chaney Barnes

Perhaps, the Charles Barnes and Chaney Barnes who registered their three-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

  • Gray and Bonny Barnes and their children Hilliard, Violet and others.

Gray Barnes and Bunny Barnes registered their 44-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

Hilliard Barnes, 30, married Nancy Baker, 25, on 16 February 1880 in Wilson County. In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Hilliard Barnes, 30; wife Nancy, 28; and Edmund Taborne, 3.

Hilliard Barnes died 6 January 1944 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 100 years old; was born in Wilson County to Gray Barnes and Bernie Barnes; lived at 705 Woodard Line; and was married to Fannie Barnes, age, 70.

  • Green Barnes

Perhaps, Green Barnes who married Sarah Barnes on 17 November 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Greene Barnes, 46; wife Sarah, 26; children Lindy, 12, Mary, 10, Ora, 7, Joseph, 5, Henrietta, 3, and Cinda, 1; and father-in-law James Sharp, 76.

In the 1900 census of Olds township, Greene County: Green Farmer, 65; wife Sarah, 45; and children Joseph, 23, [his wife] Florence, 18; John, 18; Ada, 15; Ivy C., 12; Eddie, 9; Allanora, 7; and Jenette, 5.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Fountain Road, Greene Barnes, 70; wife Sarah, 65; and daughter Mary J., 20. Green reported that he had been married three times.

Lindsey Joyner died 18 March 1924 in Speights Bridge, Greene County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 March 1864 in Pitt County to Green Barnes and Sarah Barnes, both of Wayne County; was married to Charles Joyner; and was buried in Red Hill cemetery [Stantonsburg.] Jesse Joyner was informant.

  • Hardy Barnes

Perhaps, the Hardy Barnes registered his 25-year cohabitation with Mary Barnes with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

Or, in the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Watson Stanton, 65, farm laborer, born in Virginia; wife Rosa, 53; and children Richard, 15, Adeline, 13, Feribee, 8, and Louisa, 21; Cherry Rogers, 80, midwife; and Hardy Barnes, 20, carpenter’s apprentice.

  • Harry Barnes

There were three adult African-American men named Harry Barnes listed in the 1870 census of Wilson County, aged 47, 44 and 26.

  • Lewis Barnes

Perhaps, the Louis Barnes who registered his eight-year cohabitation with Alley Whitley with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Lewis Barnes, 54; wife Harriet, 35; children Gray, 12, Julia, 4, and Louisa, 5 months; and Amanda Barnes, 24, and [her son] Warren Hardy, 2.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, Lewis Barnes, 43, farmer; wife Harriette, 45; children Julia A., 14, and Anarchy, 8; C. Applewhite, 25, servant, and Anna Applewhite, 5.

  • Mintus Barnes

Mintus Barnes, son of Reddic Barnes, married Frances Stanton, daughter of Watt Stanton and Rose Stanton, on 23 December 1873 at Watt Stanton’s.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Mentus Barnes, 23, farm laborer, and wife Frances, 18.

  • Pleasant Barnes

Perhaps, the Pleasant Barnes who registered her cohabitation with Guilford Bynum with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4. [Guilford Ellis and several of his relatives changed their surname from Bynum to Ellis between 1866 and 1870.]

  • Priscilla Barnes

Perhaps, the Precilla Barnes who registered her nine-year cohabitation with Henry Applewhite with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Applewhite, 30; wife Priscilla, 32; and children Cherry, 7, Amanda, 11, and Love, 6; George Lindsey, 21; and Abram Applewhite, 69.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Henry Applewhite, 43; wife Pricilla, 44; and daughter Cherry, 17.

  • Reddick and Spicy Barnes and their children Jolly, Ida, Harry and others

Reddic Barnes and Spicy Barnes registered their ten-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Reddick Barnes; wife Spicy, 54; and children Jolly, 16, Ida, 15, and Harry, 11. [Recall that this family had been divided. Spicy and children Ida and Jolly were passed to John P. Barnes; Reddick to William Barnes; and Harry to Mahala Barnes.]

On 6 February 1876, Jolly Barnes, 21, married Alice Barnes, 18, at E. Felton’s.

  • Zany Barnes

Zany Barnes and Henry Rodgers registered their ten-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Henry Rogers, 34, farm laborer; wife Zana, 33; and son Thomas, 11; Mary F. Barnes, 2; and Feribee Ellis, 40.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Henry Rodgers, 50, laborer; wife Zanie, 35; and children Tiny, 7, Leelie, 5, Callie A., 4, and Sarah, 2.

Will and Estate Records of Elias Barnes, images available at North Carolina Wills and Estates 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The Haynes’ estates.

In an undated will, dated perhaps in the early 1860s, William Haynes Sr. of Wilson County penned a will that included a bequest to his wife Nancy Haynes of “one Negro girl Caroline and increase if any.”

On 22 June 1863, P.W. Barnes made an inventory of the estate of Haynes’ son Bythel Haynes. Among the hogs, cows and calves, barrels of corn, fodder, sweet potatoes, bacon, Irish potatoes, hoes, axes, plows, augers, knives, beds, chests, tables, chairs, dishes, pots and skiers, bowls, cups and saucers.saddles, bridles, and baskets was “1 negro girl.

Will of William Haynes, Estate Records of Bythel Haynes, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], ancestry.com.

The blind Williamson singers.

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Wilson N.C.  May 6. 1887

H.D. Norton/  Capt. &c

D Sir

Enclosed herewith you have a partial report of the condition of the unfortunates among the coloured population of the County, owing to the pressures of other duties. I have not been able to give the matter that attention necessary to give a full & correct report. If a longer time can be given I will give it further attention & report again — I would say that the case of the blind chidlren herein reported is one that calls loudly for sympathy & assistance, five in one family from their birth.

Yours Very Respy &c, J.W. Davis Shff Wilson Co

record-image_undefined-13.jpg

Table Showing the Number, Sex & Age of the class of ‘Unfortunates’ among the colored people of Wilson County, State of North Carolina

  • Sarah Selby, age 54
  • Wm. Williamson, age 8
  • Edward Williamson, age 12
  • Allice Williamson, age 4
  • Pauline Williamson, age 5
  • Aquilla Williamson, age 7
  • Jno. Bailey
  • Robt. Hinnant

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Edmund Williamson, 50; wife Thany, 44; and children William, 25, Nicie, 23, Eliza, 22, Eddie, 21, Ally, 19, Pollina, 17, Dolly Ann, 15, Isaac, 12, and Raiford, 7. The six hashmarks at right are in the column marked “Blind,” and the occupation of William, Eddie, Alice and Pauline was listed as “gives concerts.”

As described here, the Williamson siblings were educated at the state’s School for the Blind and earned a good living touring to showcase their remarkable voices.

On 12 October 1903, Edmund Williamson drafted his last will and testament. Per his wishes, his “two blind sons William Williamson and Edmund Williamson” and his “blind daughter Leany Williamson” were to equally divide a life estate in all his real estate and then to successive heirs “to remain in the Williamson family forever.” Daughter Dollie Ann Brownricks was to receive a life estate in all Williamson’s personal property, money, stock and crops, with her children Timothy, Bethania and Lizzie Seabury to receive the remainder.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 16, Unregistered Letters Received Aug 1865-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org