#52Ancestors (2019-1) My First United States Colored Troops (USCT) Ancestor: Silas Lightfoot (1844-1884), Co. A, 2nd Inf. USCT

I had no family oral history of anyone serving during the Civil War. I had not found any names of any direct ancestors when searching databases for the Civil War, specifically, none of my ancestors of color, either in the regular military or in the USCT. However, when planning for a trip to Tallahassee, I looked up places of interest to visit. I was going to be visiting the Eaton Archives at Florida A & M, to donate some items that belonged to my grandmother, Lela Virginia Farnell Williams, who had been among the first students.[1]  I thought I might have time to see some other places before leaving town (I didn’t as it turned out). I found the website of the 2nd Infantry USCT Living History Association,[2] which had a muster roll of those in the units.[3] On it was Silas Lightfoot. I knew that the name of the husband of my great grandmother’s sister, Harriet Jacobs was Silas Lightfoot. I had a USCT ancestor, albeit a collateral in-law, but who’s quibbling? I began to research his background.

Silas Lightfoot was born on 25 December 1844,[4] in Southampton, Virginia.[5] He was my 2nd great uncle by marriage, being married to Harriett Jacobs,[6] sister of my great grandmother, Sallie Jacobs Farnell. On 23 June 1863, he enlisted in Company A, 2nd Regiment US Colored Volunteer Infantry, on Craney Island, Virginia,[7] located in the waters of the Elizabeth River where Hampton Roads, Portsmouth, Newport News and Norfolk converge. It was off the waters of Craney Island that the Merrimac was sunk in 1862. Craney Island was thus under Union control.[8]

craney island
Craney Island, Virginia

In 1863, General Benjamin Butler, at nearby Fort Monroe, the Old Point Comfort, was faced with the decision of whether to return fugitive slaves, since President Lincoln had said the war was not about slavery. Butler chose not to do that, resulting in over 1600 freed slaves, identified as “contraband,” seeking refuge on Craney Island.[9] Apparently, Silas was one of them.

Silas was described in his enlistment papers as 19 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches, dark skinned, with dark eyes, dark hair, and a farmer. He was enlisted by a Captain Wilder for three years and subsequently mustered in by Captain Cogswell. He was assigned to Fort Monroe,[10] where he would serve until February of 1865, when he was transferred to Fort Taylor on Key West, Florida, where he served as the Post baker.[11] His service records, however, indicate that he had several different occupations. In April 1864, he was assigned as a carpenter with the Quartermaster’s department.  In May 1864, he was assigned to the Medical Director. He served in that capacity until November, when he was assigned as a hospital attendant.

miusa1861m_089621-00566 (2)
Enlistment Record of Silas Lightfoot

Silas mustered out of the military 5 January 1866, in Tallahassee, according to the record of military service in the Bureau of Pensions file, for his widow, Harriet, dated 13 November 1890.[12] On 6 October 1868, he married Caledonia Hinton there.[13] They had two children, Robert and Frances (“Fanny”).[14] Caledonia died 28 May 1874, in Madison, Madison County, according to a neighbor, Sallie Garvin.[15] and the children went to live with relatives.[16] Subsequently, on 7 November1874, in Live Oak, Suwannee, Florida, Silas married Harriett Jacobs.[17]  They would go on to have three children: Silas Jr., Charlotte, and Willie Caledonia.[18] Charlotte was most likely named after Harriett’s mother, Charlotte Jacobs,[19] and Willie Caledonia appears to have been named for his first wife, Caledonia.

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Marriage License of Silas Lightfoot & Harriet Jacobs, 6 November 1874, Suwannee County, FL

By 1880, Silas was working for the railroad and was living in Orange County, in what would become Sanford, now in Seminole County.[20] However, on 25 March 1884, he died[21] intestate. Harriett petitioned the court to be named Administratrix of the estate and was so granted.[22] The following year, on 21 August 1885, she sold her property in Live Oak, Suwannee County, to her sister, Sallie Jacobs Farnell, with the contingency that, on her death, it be passed next to Sallie’s daughter, Lela Virginia Farnell, my grandmother.[23]

img_3528
Widow’s Pension of Harriet Lightfoot

In 1890, Harriett filed for a widow’s pension, which was granted.[24] In support of her application, her brother, Green Jacobs, submitted testimony that he was personally aware of the date of death for Silas Lightfoot.[25] In 1916, in support of an application for an increase in pension benefits, another of Harriet’s brothers, Richard Jacobs, provided a statement in support of her claim, commenting that their family members were dead, except a younger brother “Joe.”[26] It is assumed he meant other than her children. Also, as part of the request for increased benefits, friends John Morague and A. S. Stokes provided testimony wherein Harriet was described as a woman with,

“no property except a small lot and house thereon that she resides on in Sanford, Florida, and that said claimant … has to work to maintain herself and family and that she has no other means of support than her labor… derived from washing and cooking and that she has no other source of income whatever.”[27]

The increase was granted.

silas lightfoot tombstone (2)
Silas Lightfoot Tombstone, Page Jackson Cemetery, Sanford, Florida (Photo from Find a Grave).

Harriett died 24 August 1945, in Sanford, Florida.[28] There is no headstone for Harriet, but it is assumed she is buried next to Silas in Page Jackson Cemetery, in Sanford, Florida.[29]

References

[1] #52Ancestors—Heirloom: The Autograph Book (Blogpost). Personal Prologue: Family Roots and Personal Branches. Retrieved from: margoleewilliamsbooks.com

[2] 2nd Infantry Regiment United States Colored Troops Living History Association. Retrieved from: the2ndusctlha.org

[3] Silas Lightfoot (#716), Company A, Private In/Private Out. In Muster Roll of the Officers and Soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Regiment United States Colored Troops. Retrieved from: Muster Roll–2nd Infantry USCT

[4] Silas Lightfoot (25 December 1844-25 March 1884). Find A Grave. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com

[5] U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [Database on-line]. Silas Lightfoot. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[6] Florida, County Marriages, 1823-1982 [Database on-line]. Silas Lightfoot and Harriet Jacobs, 7 Nov 1874, Suwannee County, Florida. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[7] U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [Database on-line]. Silas Lightfoot. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[8] Craney Island – Virginia Places. Retrieved from: Virginiaplaces.org

[9] Craney Island – Virginia Places. Retrieved from: Virginiaplaces.org

[10] U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [Database on-line]. Silas Lightfoot. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[11] U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [Database on-line]. Silas Lightfoot. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[12] Military Service: Silas Lightfoot in Pension Application # 447.541 (13 Nov 1890). War Department Record and Pension Division. Veterans Administration Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[13] Florida, County Marriages, 1823-1982 [Database on-line]. Silas Lightfoot and Caledonia Hinton, 6 October 1868, Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[14] Declaration for Original Pension of a Widow, Child or Children under Sixteen Years of Age Surviving: Harriet Lightfoot. “His by a former marriage: Robert, born 1870; Frances, born 1873.”  Veterans Administration Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[15] General Affidavit of Sallie Garvin18 April 1892. Veterans Administration Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[16] 1880 US Federal Census Place: Precinct 1 and 2, Putnam, Florida; Nathaniel Hinton, head; Fanny Lightfoot, niece. NARA Roll: 131; Family History Film: #1254131; Page: 37A; Enumeration District: 130. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

And, Florida, State Census, 1867-1945 [Database on-line]. Edith Austin, head; Robert C. Lightfoot, great nephew. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[17] Florida, County Marriages, 1823-1982 [Database on-line]. Silas Lightfoot and Harriet Jacobs, 7 Nov 1874, Suwannee County, Florida. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[18] Widow’s Pension: Harriet Lightfoot, 447541. Silas, born 16 Dec 1879; Charlotte, born 18 September 1881; Willie Caledonia, born 18 July 1883.  Veterans Administration Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[19] 1870 US Federal Census, Place: Subdivision 9, Suwannee, Florida; William Jacobs, head; Charlotte Jacobs, Harriet Jacobs. NARA Roll: M593-133; Page: 686A; Image: 507; Family History Library Film: #545632. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[20]  1880 US Federal Census, Place: Precinct 2, Orange, Florida; Silas Lightfoot, head. NARA Roll: 131; Family History Film: #1254131; Page: 429B; Enumeration District: 126; Image: 0501. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[21] Declaration for Original Pension of a Widow, Child or Children under Sixteen Years of Age Surviving: Harriet LightfootVeterans Administration Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[22] Florida, Wills and Probate Records, 1810-1974 [Database on-line]. Silas Lightfoot, Deceased; Hattie Lightfoot, Administratrix. Probate Packet 91, Orange County, Florida. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[23] Suwannee County Deed Book I:431-432. Harriett Lightfoot to Sallie Farnell and Lela Virginia Farnell, 21 August 1885. Family History Library Film #008584052. Retrieved from: Familysearch.org

[24] Widow’s Pension: Harriet Lightfoot, 447541. Veterans Administration Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[25] General Affidavit, Green Jacobs, 9 February 1892 and 18 April 1892, Sanford, Florida, in support of Claim for Pension by Harriet Lightfoot. Veterans Administration Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[26] Notarized Statement of Richard Jacobs, 22 December 1916, Sanford, Florida, in support of Claim for Increase in Benefits by Harriet Lightfoot. Veterans Administration Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[27] General Affidavit, John Morague and A. S. Stokes, Sanford, Florida, in support of increase of pension benefits, Harriet Lightfoot. Veterans Application Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[28] Death Compensation or Pension Award Account Card, Payee: Harriet Lightfoot, Died 8-24-45. Veterans Administration Claim File XC2666685. Copy in possession of author.

[29] Silas Lightfoot (25 December 1844-25 March 1884). Find A Grave. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com

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1891, the Year of the African American Woman Postmaster: Elinora Wilhelmina Farmer Walden of Strieby, Randolph County, North Carolina

Recently, I saw a Fb post noting that Minnie Cox, of Indianola, Mississippi, was the first African American woman postmaster. In searching for information on her, I learned that she was appointed by Benjamin Harrison in January 1891,[1] however, the town of Indianola made her life difficult, complete with death threats. Despite these difficulties, Cox was reappointed by McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt. During her third term, as anti-black attitudes increased and her situation became increasingly dangerous, Cox attempted to resign. Teddy Roosevelt, who was now the President, refused her resignation, preferring to close the post office and reroute the mail to a different town rather than cave to the bigotry of Indianola.  Cox left town for her own safety. When the post office reopened, Cox did not return as the postmaster. She did return to Indianola, but never again as postmaster.[2] The story was compelling, but I was certain she was not the only African American woman postmaster from the time period. I had to check, but I knew that Elinora W. (Farmer) Walden had been postmaster in Strieby, Randolph County, North Carolina, in the same time period. I quickly looked it up.

I was right. Elinora Walden had been appointed in the same time period. In fact, she was appointed in May 1891, the same year as Minnie Cox.[3] Minnie may have been the first, but clearly President Harrison was willing to appoint others, like Elinora.

Elinora Wilhelmina Farmer Walden

Elinora Wilhelmina Farmer was born in New Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey 28 November 1857,[4] to John A. and Catherine Farmer.[5] Elinora was the oldest of seven siblings; she had one brother and five sisters. At this time, nothing is known about the specifics of her education, however, she went to Randolph County (NC) as a teacher indicating she probably had some formal training. In addition, she had been involved in a school program in New Brunswick.

1870 census john farmer family new brunswick nj
1870 Census, John Farmer Family, including daughters, Elinora and Phoebe Farmer, Newark, New Jersey

Elinora and her family were very likely members at historic Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in New Brunswick in 1827.[6] It was here that she probably met New Brunswick Theological Seminarian, (Alfred) Islay Walden.[7] Walden preached at the church at least occasionally, including just before his graduation at the end of June 1879.[8] Also, Elinora and her sister, Phoebe,[9] were involved apparently at the Students’ Mission, that Islay ran during his years at the seminary (1877-1879). They were most likely the E. Farmer and P. Farmer mentioned in an article about the mission that appeared in the New Brunswick Daily Times.[10]

The relationship with Walden very likely included writing letters (none of which are known to still exist) after he returned to southwestern Randolph County, in 1879, as a missionary with the American Missionary Association (AMA).[11] In 1880, Walden established the First Congregational Church of Randolph County and started a school in an area of the Uwharrie Mountains, called Hill Town because of the large number of Hill families living there, including Walden’s sister. He was also charged with leading a church called Salem, about eight miles away.[12] Having a partner for his life and mission must certainly have seemed appealing, because Walden returned to New Jersey in 1881 and married Elinora.[13] Elinora returned with Walden to Randolph County, becoming the Principal and primary teacher of the school. In addition to the typical academic subjects, Elinora worked with the youth, helping to develop their spiritual and prayer life.

old strieby church w people
Original Strieby Church Building, Randolph County, North Carolina

In late 1882, or early 1883, Walden petitioned the federal government for a new post office to be placed in the community of Hill Town, which by then also had a general store. The post office would eliminate the long trip to the Lassiter’s Mill Post Office that had been serving the community. He also proposed that the new post office be known as “Strieby,” after the Rev. Dr. Strieby, Corresponding Secretary of the AMA, whom Walden admired.[14] The Post Office was established in 1883; Walden was the first Postmaster, appointed 31 May 1883. No longer known as Hill Town, the community would henceforth be known as Strieby, including the church and school, which became Strieby Congregational Church and School.

Walden’s tenure was short. The following 2 February 1884, he died from acute Bronchiteis (more likely pneumonia).[15] Elinora was widowed, in charge of the school, but the Rev. Zachariah Simmons came from Salem Church to be the pastor. Also coming to help her with the teaching was Henry Ruffin Walden, a cousin from neighboring Moore County and a student at Hampton College in the Normal program.[16] Though several years her junior, Elinora and Henry would marry on 13 December 1888.[17]  Henry would finish his studies at Hampton and return to Strieby to help Elinora with the teaching.

In 1890, Elinora’s sister Phoebe married Harris Dunson,[18] who lived in the nearby Lassiter Mill community, about three miles away, situated along the Uwharrie River. It seems likely that Phoebe helped with the school, which may have been the reason she came to Randolph County. She probably came to help her sister after the death of Islay Walden.

appointment of elinora w. walden as postmaster
Appointment of Elinora W. Walden as Postmaster, Strieby, Randolph County, North Carolina, 7 May 1891

On 7 May 1891, Elinora was appointed Postmaster at Strieby.[19] In a strange replay of the tenure of Islay Walden, Elinora died in February of 1892.[20] Having no children, Henry, as Administrator of her estate, distributed $400 to her sister, Phoebe Dunson.[21] She was buried in Strieby Church Cemetery alongside her first husband, Islay Walden.

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Gravemarker of Elinora W. Walden, Strieby Church Cemetery, Randolph County, North Carolina. Photo by Margo Lee Williams

Elinora’s death was considered a terrible loss to the community, especially because a secondary school at Strieby, called Garfield Academy, with Elinora as Headmistress, seems to have been abandoned. The academy would have eliminated the necessity for students to leave home to attend boarding schools in order to further their education.  With Elinora’s death the secondary school was discontinued. There’s no written record this researcher has found to date that explains why.[22]

Henry Ruffin Walden who was teaching at Salem School, returned to Strieby to take over the School. Eventually, he would remarry. He married a teacher, Theodosia Hargraves,[23] who did not come from Randolph County. Henry and Theodosia would leave Strieby after a few years. Like his cousin, Islay, Henry would go on to become a Congregational minister, serving churches in Charlotte and High Point,[24] before dying in Winston Salem.[25]

A Final Thought

It Is remarkable that at a time when Jim Crow laws were becoming more prominent, when women and people of color could not vote, at least these two women, Minnie Cox and Elinora Walden were trusted with the authority of being Postmaster of their local post offices. I can’t help but suspect there were others whose names have been lost to history, but whose stories need to be told.

References

[1] U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 [database on-line]. Minnie M. Cox, appointed 16 Jan 1891, Indianola, Sunflower, Mississippi. Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-1971 Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[2] Boyd, D. and Chen, K. (2014). Minnie M Cox: A Postmaster’s Story. The History and Experience of African Americans in America’s Postal Service. Retrieved from: Smithsonian National Postal Museum

[3] U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 [database on-line]. Elinora W. Walden, appointed 7 May 1891, Strieby, Randolph, North Carolina. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[4] New Jersey, Births and Christenings Index, 1660-1931 [Database on-line]. Name: Farmer, Gender: Female; Father: John Farmer. Date: 28 Nov 1857, New Brunswick, Middlesex Co., New Jersey. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[5] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: Newark Ward 2, Essex, New Jersey; John Farmer, head; Elenora Farmer, age 11 [sic]. NARA Roll: M593-879; Page: 167B; Image: 339; Family History Library Film: 552378. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[6] Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church. (2015). Our History: About Us. Retrieved from: Mount Zion AME Church

[7] NBTS Anti-Racism Transformation Team. (25 February 2016). Slavery, Justice, and New Brunswick Theological Seminary: First African American Graduates. New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Retrieved from: New Brunswick Theological Seminary

[8] The Daily Times. (30 June 1879). City Matters. (New Brunswick, NJ), 3. Retrieved from:New Brunswick Free Public Library

[9] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: Newark Ward 2, Essex, New Jersey; John A. Farmer, head; Phebe A. Farmer, age 4. NARA Roll: M593-879; Page: 167B; Image: 339; Family History Library Film: 552378. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[10] The Daily Times. (3 January 1879 & 4 January 1879). Shoes for the Poor. (New Brunswick, NJ), 3. Retrieved from: New Brunswick Free Public Library

[11] 1880 US Federal Census; Census Place: Union, Randolph, North Carolina; Islay Walden, Boarder. NARA Roll: 978; Family History Film: 1254978; Page: 196C; Enumeration District: 224; Image: 0683. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[12] Williams, M. L. (2016). Return to Hill Town. From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina (Crofton, KY: Backintyme Publishing) pp. 81-88.

[13] New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965 [Database on-line]. Alfred I. Walden and Elenor W. Farmer, married: 18 May 1881, New Brunswick, Middlesex, New Jersey. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[14] Williams, M. L. (2016). Return to Hill Town. From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina (Crofton, KY: Backintyme Publishing) pp. 90-91.

[15] National Council. (1885). Vital Statistics.  The Congregational Yearbook, 1885. (Boston: Congregational Publishing Society) Volume 7:37. Retrieved from: Google Books

[16] Williams, M. L. (2016). A Widow Carries On. From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina (Crofton, KY: Backintyme Publishing) pp. 93-94.

[17] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. H. R. Walden and Eleanor W. Walden, married: 13 Dec 1888, Randolph County, North Carolina. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[18] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Harris Dunson and Phoebe Farmer, married 3 Apr 1890, Randolph County, North Carolina. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[19] U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 [database on-line]. Elinora W. Walden, appointed 7 May 1891, Strieby, Randolph, North Carolina. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[20] American Missionary Association (AMA). (1892). Obituary: Mrs. Henry R. Walden. The American Missionary, 46(3):91. Retrieved from: Google Books

[21] North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [Database on-line]. Administrators Bonds, Henry R. Walden, Administrator; Estate of Elinora W. Walden. Probate date: 17 Feb 1892, Randolph County Court. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[22] Williams, M. L. (2016). A Widow Carries On. From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina (Crofton, KY: Backintyme Publishing) pp. 96.

[23] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Henry R. Walden and Theodosia E. Hargrave, married:11 Sep 1898, Randolph County. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[24] Williams, M. L. (2016). A Widow Carries On. From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina (Crofton, KY: Backintyme Publishing) pp. 96-98.

[25] North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [Database on-line]. Rev. Henry Ruffin Walden, date of death: 20 Jan 1951. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

 

Lindsey Ingraham’s Trail of Tears

Recently, I had the good fortune to speak with a family elder, Carlotta, with whom I had never spoken previously. In fact, I had only learned of her existence about a year before. She is in her eighties, with a mind that is sharp and she has family memories of which I had no knowledge. She is descended from my 2nd great grandmother’s sister, Mary Adelaide Dunson, who was married to a man named Solomon Kearns.[1] While talking to Carlotta during the Christmas holiday season, she began to tell me a story about Solomon’s father, whom she identified as “Lin Ingram.” I had seen his name before, but had not heard anything about him, nor could I find him in the 1870 census in Randolph County, North Carolina or after. Solomon’s mother Lydia or “Lettie” Kearns had children with another man, Noah Carter beginning around 1860, so I had assumed Lin had died. Carlotta told a different story.

Marriage License of Solomon Kearns and Fannie Brite

Marriage License of Solomon Kearns and Fannie Brite

Carlotta explained that Lin had been enslaved. He heard that he and others were going to be sold away from Randolph County. He was determined that it would not come to pass. Carlotta said he fought back when they tried to take him away. She said he fought hard. At some point his owner supposedly said that he had fought hard and he could see he was tired. The owner said that Lin should take a rest, it would be alright. Carlotta said that when Lin laid down to rest, the owner sent his men in to overcome Len, shackling him and leading him away. According to Carlotta, young Solomon watched as his father was led away. He reportedly told his children later that Lin kept trying to look back, as though to try to capture the memory of his family, understanding he might never see them again in life.

Lin was transported to Louisiana. He was part of what is now being called “Slavery’s Trail of Tears.”[2] It would have been a difficult and arduous journey on foot from the North Carolina Piedmont, through the Appalachians, south to Louisiana. Carlotta said that he did come home to Randolph County after the end of the Civil War and Emancipation. However, he didn’t stay. He went back to Louisiana, never to be heard from again. I wondered what happened to him.

Lindsey Ingraham, 1870 Census, LaFourche, Louisiana
Lindsey Ingraham, 1870 Census, LaFourche, Louisiana

It didn’t take long to locate Lin in Louisiana, under the name of Lindsay Ingraham, from North Carolina. That was the name found on a marriage record for Solomon and his first wife, Fanny Brite (Bright).[3] In 1870, Lin was living in a town called Raceland, in LaFourche County.[4] He was married to a woman named Mary. They had three children, Thomas, Clementine, and Randolph Ingraham. Unlike his children in North Carolina (Clarkson, Solomon, Sarah, Vinis, and Mariam), who went by the surname Kearns, their mother’s maiden name, Lin’s children in Louisiana used the Ingraham name. By looking at the birthdate of his presumed youngest daughter in North Carolina, Mariam,[5] the oldest of his children, Thomas, in Louisiana, it appears that he was transported to Louisiana between 1850 and 1854. Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate the family in the 1880 census. Since Lin and Mary cannot be found on the 1900 census either, it appears both may have died before 1900. Additionally, neither Thomas nor Randolph has been found in the census after 1870.  On the other hand, daughter Clementine has been identified from 1900[6] until her death in 1934.[7]

Clementine married Alfred Mack in 1894.[8] However, it appears their relationship had begun years before. Their first child is recorded as born in 1879.[9] There is no evidence that Alfred Mack had been married before Clementine. Together, Alfred and Clementine had ten children: Albert, Louis, Rebecca, Clara, Horace, Morris, Ressie, Lawles, Yulus, and Muriel.[10] Clementine died in 1934;[11] Alfred died in 1957.[12]

References

[1] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Solomon Kearns and Adelaide Dunson, 17 Apr 1890, Randolph County, North Carolina. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[2] Ball, Edward. (2018). Retracing Slavery’s Trail of Tears. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from: Smithsonian Magazine on-line.

[3] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Solomon Kearns and Fanny Brite, 10 Apr 1886, Cabarrus County, North Carolina; Father: Lindsy Ingram; Mother: Lydia Kearns. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[4] 1870 US Federal Census; Ward 4, Lafourche County, Louisiana; Lindsay Ingraham, head; born: North Carolina. NARA Roll: M593-516; Page: 469B; Family History Library Film: 552015. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[5] 1880 US Federal Census, Tabernacle, Randolph County, North Carolina; Calvin Luther, head; Mary A. [sic], wife. NARA Roll: 978; Family History Film: 1254978; Page: 67D; Enumeration District: 214. Mariam “Emma” Kearns Luther died before death certificates were mandated in North Carolina. There is also no information about parents on her marriage records. However, she names at least two of her children after siblings who can be identified as the children of Lydia Kearns, including Solomon, before Lindsay is presumed to have been sold. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[6] 1900 US Federal Census, Police Jury Ward 10, Lafourche County, Louisiana; Page 3. Alfred Mack, head; Clementine Mack, wife. Enumeration District: 0036; NARA T623; FHL microfilm: 1240567. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[7] Louisiana, Statewide Death Index, 1819-1964 [database on-line]. Clementine I. Mack, died 25 Oct 1934, LaFourche County, Louisiana. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[8] Louisiana, Compiled Marriage Index, 1718-1925 [Database on-line]. Clementine Ingraham and Alfred Mack, married 10 Sep 1894, LaFourche County, Louisiana. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[9] 1900 US Federal Census, Police Jury Ward 10, Lafourche County, Louisiana; Page 3. Alfred Mack, head; Albert Mack, son, born Jul 1879. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[10] 1900 US Federal Census, Police Jury Ward 10, Lafourche County, Louisiana; Page 3. Alfred Mack, head. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com 

See also: 1910 US Federal Census, Police Jury Ward 10, Lafourche County, Louisiana; Albert Mack, head. NARA Roll: T624-517; Page: 32A; Enumeration District: 0048; FHL microfilm: 1374530. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[11] Louisiana, Statewide Death Index, 1819-1964 [database on-line].  Clementine I. Mack, died 25 Oct 1934, LaFourche County, Louisiana. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[12] Louisiana, Statewide Death Index, 1819-1964 [database on-line]. Ancestry.com. Alfred Mack, died 27 Jan 1957, LaFourche County, Louisiana. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

#52Ancestors – (35) Back to School: Uharie Freedmen’s School

Uharie District Payment - Freedmen's Bureau
Freedmen’s Bureau record of payment for a school.

Not too long ago, a friend and supporter, Marvin T. Jones (Chowan Discovery Group, Inc.), was researching Freedmen’s Education records in an effort to identify the involvement of members of his community of Winton Triangle in Hertford County, North Carolina. He was reviewing receipts for monies received for rent or other supplies that were signed by Winton Triangle residents when he began to notice receipts referencing both Asheboro and “Uharie.” He downloaded copies and forwarded them to me. I noticed that receipts referencing “Uharie,” were signed by “A. O. Hill.”  I was not surprised to learn there was a school in Asheboro, but the school in Uharie (as it was spelled on the receipts) I did not know about. That school was of great interest to me.

Uharie School Receipt
Uharie District School Receipt signed by A. O. Hill

Uharie

While researching reports of the American Missionary Association (AMA) for my book, From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Associaion in the Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina (Backintyme Publishing, Inc., 2016), I came across a reference to a school already existing in the Uwharrie area when the Rev. Islay Walden returned to the area after graduation from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersey. I knew from my research that the nearby Quaker community had run a school in the area. I thought the reference in the American Missionary was to that school, but that school was further up the road, closer to the old Uwharrie Friends Meeting House. On the other hand, this Freedmen’s school seems to have been in the Uwharrie, possibly in the area called Hill Town. It may have been the basis of a public school referenced in the article.[1]

Priscilla Mahockley Hill
Priscilla Mahockley Hill, 1792-1911

Hill Town was said to be called such because of the large number of Hill family members that lived there. Most people have believed that it referred to the descendants of Ned Hill and his wife, Priscilla Mahockley Hill. However, there were also white Hills who lived in the area and A. O. Hill was one of them. Was there a connection between A. O. Hill and those people of color who lived in the Hill Town area of the Uwharrie that would have predisposed him to take responsibility for the school?

Uharie School receipt 2
Receipt signed by A. O. Hill for Uharie School District

“A. O. Hill” was Aaron Orlando Hill, born about 1840, son of Aaron Orlando Hill, Sr. and Miriam Thornburg, Aaron Sr.’s second wife. Aaron Sr. can be found on the 1840,[2] 1850,[3] and 1860[4] censuses. He died in 1863. Ned Hill was a free person of color also known to be living in the area. However, he could not be found any further back than 1850. Since the 1840 census only lists heads of families and enumerates others in the household, including any free people of color and slaves, it was very likely that Ned and his family were living in someone else’s household. The most likely places to look were the homes of any Hill families living in the area. They could have been living in some other family’s home, but the logical place to start was with Hill family members. After researching each of the families, it turned out that the only Hill family with free people of color living with them was Aaron Orlando Hill Sr.[5]

Uharie School receipt 3
Uharie District School Receipt signed by A. O. Hill

The Aaron Hill family were Quakers. It seems reasonable that he would have free people of color living with him. Ned’s family originally may have been slaves of Aaron’s parents, before Quakers condemned slavery and began freeing their slaves as well as helping slaves of non-Quakers to gain their freedom.  There were six free people of color living in Aaron’s household. Ned and Priscilla had four known children living at the time of the 1840 census (Nathan, Charity, Calvin, and Emsley),[6] which would equal six individuals. As stated above, Aaron’s was the only Hill household with any free people of color. While currently not proven beyond any doubt, the evidence supports the probability that these six people were Ned and his family. Certainly, such a close relationship and his Quaker background could have predisposed the younger Aaron to be willing to take responsibility for the Freedmen’s school that served the Uwharrie community.

Uharie School receipt 4
Signed Receipt by A. O. Hill for Uharie School District

By the time the Rev. Islay Walden had returned to the community in 1880, to begin his missionary work and start a school under the auspices of the American Missionary Association (AMA), Hill Town and the neighboring Lassiter Mill community were already primed to want a school and the educational opportunities it would bring. It was a logical next step to build their own school with the help of the AMA. Thus, Hill Town, which would later become Strieby, apparently already had a strong tradition of education by the time Walden returned, making them eager to have a school over which they could exercise leadership and direction for the first time. The Uwharrie Friends School and the Freedmen’s School had prepared them for this.

Aaron O Hill Tombstone-2
Aaron Orlando Hill Tombstone Retrieved from Find a Grave.

Aaron Hill did not remain in Randolph County. By the time Islay Walden was actively building the church and school in Hill Town, Aaron had moved to Carthage, in Rush County, Indiana, where many other Quakers, including several of his old neighbors from Randolph County, had moved. He died there in 1926.[7]

 Endnotes

[1] Roy, J. E. (1879). The Freedmen. The American Missionary, 33(11), 334-335. Retrieved from: Project Gutenberg

[2] 1840 US Federal Census, South Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Aaron Hill, head. NARA Roll: 369; Page: 77; Image: 160; Family History Library Film: 0018097.  Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[3] 1850 US Federal Census, Southern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Aaron Hill, head, Dwelling 895, Family 814. NARA Roll: M432-641; Page: 135A; Line 19; Image: 276. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[4] 1860 US Federal Census; Western Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Aaron Hill, head. Dwelling, 1230; Family 1214. NARA Roll: M653-910; Page: 221; Line 11; Image: 446; Family History Library Film: 803910. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[5] 1840 US Federal Census, South Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Aaron Hill, head. NARA Roll: 369; Page: 77; Image: 160; Family History Library Film: 0018097.  Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[6] Williams, M. L. (2016). Descendants of Edward and Priscilla Hill: Generation 1 (pp. 163-172). From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina (Crofton, KY: Backintyme Publishing Inc.).

[7] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011 [Database on-line], Aaron Orlando Hill, died: 27 Mar 1926, as cited in Indiana Archives and Records Administration; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Death Certificates; Year: 1926 – 1927; Roll: 05. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

 

#52Ancestors – (30) The very colorful Harvey

Harvey Scott Williams
Harvey Scott Williams (1927-1987), Courtesy of Keith Williams

Harvey was an artist, and colorful. He loved to have a good time. “Party Hardy” could easily have been his personal motto. He was also my brother. We were half siblings. He was the younger of two sons of our father from his first marriage, I was the only child of our father’s second marriage. Thus, there was a twenty-year difference between Harvey and me.

L-R_ Robert Arthur Williams, Harvey Scott Williams (2)

Harvey was born in September 1927, in New Jersey, to Herbert Randell Williams and Emma (Scott) Williams. He was their second son. An older child, Robert Arthur Williams was born to them in 1925.[1] By the time he was ready to go to High School, his parents were divorced, and our father had remarried.[2] All lived in New York City.

Harvey showed early interest and talent in art.  Harvey’s talents were sufficient for him to be accepted at New York’s High School of Music and Art. Unfortunately, graduation did not see him launched into a career in art. By that time, the United States was involved in World War II. He and his brother both joined the military; Harvey joined the army.[3]

Towards the end of the war, Harvey married a young woman, Elizabeth “Betty” Butler, whose father ran a successful funeral home business in Harlem.[4] By 1946, they welcomed their only son together, Keith Van Williams.[5] However, the marriage didn’t last long.

Keith Williams, Renee Williams, Margo Williams
Keith Williams, the late Renee Williams (daughter of Robert), & Margo Williams

By 1951, Harvey began taking classes at the Art Students League in New York. Since he had to work a regular job and he was now a single parent, he took classes on Saturdays. It appears from his records that his formal classes focused on painting the human figure.  I remember him taking me (sometimes along with our father) to visit his classes. Both he and our brother loved to see if they could elicit some level of shock; they especially liked to upset my mother (she was an easy mark). In this case, he took a certain pleasure in taking us to see his classes devoted to the human figure by drawing and painting nudes. Of course, once you visited a classroom of nudes, it was done. I’m sure I was fascinated the first time, after all, there was an entire room of nude individuals, but after that, it was not new and no longer novel. It was just a room full of nude individuals who all had to sit still so that the students could create their paintings. I suspect my mother wasn’t thrilled that he took me there, but my father was there, which I’m sure ultimately was the key. Although I’m sure there were interesting discussions behind closed doors. What I do remember about visiting the classroom on several occasions is that some of the students weren’t very good.

Harvey felt that mastering the human figure, especially hands, was important to overall perfection of technique as an artist regardless of chosen artistic style of preference.  I remember from conversations we had when he visited that he made a point of learning about the anatomy of the human body, particularly the musculo-skeletal details. Although portrait painting was not his preference, he understood that it could bring income, and I note that his subjects always seemed to be painted with depth, color, and dimension that remind me of Renaissance painters, but they are not in true Renaissance style .

Keith Williams by Harvey 1957
Keith Williams by Harvey, 1957

Two portraits that would have special meaning for our family were painted in 1957 and 1958. In 1957, he painted a portrait of his son, dressed in Native American regalia (not authentic) designed from his imagination (and created by his then wife), on an imaginary background.

In 1958, he painted a portrait of me, seated on the piano bench in front of my piano, in our living room. It was intended as a birthday gift for our father and was arranged between Harvey and my mother. Since I got out of school at noon on Fridays, he came Friday afternoons for about seven or eight weeks to work on the painting. I have no recollection what he did with the wet canvas each week while it dried. It obviously couldn’t stay at our house lest our father see it. The portrait was unveiled at a family birthday celebration. I don’t think it was the same day, but shortly thereafter that he brought the portrait of his son, Keith, and gave it to our father. They  hung in our living room until I sold our home after my mother’s death. What I remember most about these and most of his paintings were the rich, vivid colors that he chose. However, it was not those paintings or that style of art that would bring him fame.

Margo Williams painted by Harvey 1958.JPG
Margo Williams by Harvey, 1958

Although his student records show that Harvey focused on the human figure,  His principal instructor was an artist who had other interests and undoubtedly had a strong influence on Harvey’s favorite style of painting, surrealism. His instructor was the internationally known Ernest Feine (1894-1965). Feine was considered a graphic artist primarily, producing prints and lithographs. As far as I know, Harvey produced exclusively oil paintings. Feine’s style of art was decidedly modern and at least one biography states that “Ernest Feine’s artwork often focused on bringing out the humanity of a space while simultaneously deconstructing it into abstract shapes.”[6] Harvey relied more on the symbolism of shapes. It seems to me that he pointed his viewer in a direction, but the sparseness of his symbols invited the viewer to ultimately make the journey his/her own. Thus, I see Feine’s influence, but ultimately, they were very different artists.

Harvey student records Art Students League
Harvey’s student records at Art Students League, 1951-1963, courtesy of Robert Rogers, Baylor University

Around 1961, Harvey began a relationship with someone who would help bring him fame. Although the economy was different then, it cannot be said that Harvey received any truly significant remuneration for his work. He would receive $25 per painting to create works that could be produced as record album covers, specifically, gospel record album covers. The company that contracted with him was Savoy Records (and affiliates), headed by Herman Lubinsky, whose grandson, T. J. Lubinsky, is well known for his “My Music” shows on public television, featuring virtually every era of music.

Elete Jubilee Singers - Regent 6107 - eBay
Gospel Album Cover by Harvey, as seen on Ebay. Courtesy of John Glassburner.

Harvey’s cover art was so successful and, I know now, so different from anything that had been seen on gospel album covers previously that his covers became important components of the albums.[7] Notably, these covers in his surrealist style, used vivid colors and sparse but strong religious symbolism. I once asked his son whether Harvey was a gospel music fan, because I did not remember him being particularly religious. Keith said, no, he was a classical music fan, and no, he was not religious. I find it interesting that someone who never discussed religion and wasn’t a fan of gospel music could produce such spiritually evocative artwork. Clearly, there was a side of Harvey we saw but didn’t recognize.

Harvey would occasionally drop by on a Friday or Saturday afternoon to show us the latest cover. What I don’t think any of us realized was that Harvey had produced over two hundred covers, including some for jazz artists such as Coltrane. Harvey would produce album covers for Savoy until about 1969.[8] I don’t know what ended the relationship. What I do know is that the original canvases were not kept.

Icarus by Harvey.JPG
Icarus by Harvey, owned by Margo Williams

Harvey had other art success during those years. He was a regular exhibitor at the Greenwich Village Art Festival. My family and I would usually try to go to see his work. Most of his canvases were surrealist, but he also had some landscapes. I don’t remember any nudes.  He always sold out. I also remember that he had a one man show at a Madison Avenue art gallery. It was upstairs over another shop. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of that gallery. However, in 1959, he received a Ceceile Award and his works were on exhibit at the Ceceile Gallery on West 56th St., in New York. [9]

 

Harvey & father with painting - George Korval (2)
As seen in Pittsburgh Courier, July 1959, courtesy of George Korval and John Glassburner. Proper name of painting is Gift of the Magi.

Harvey would also begin teaching classes on Saturdays at the Art Students League. Once again, I would visit the school and meet some of his students. By this time, I was in high school and Harvey was willing to take me along on some informal social gatherings at a popular restaurant called The West End on occasion. He would also pick me up sometimes to go see his son Keith in school football games. Unfortunately, a disagreement with my mother put an end to those activities. I learned later that Harvey was plagued by rheumatoid arthritis and would be forced to give up his art. He could no longer hold his brushes.

By 1964, I was off to college in the Midwest. I did not have any ongoing interactions again until the late 1970s when our father was ill. I know my father saw him regularly, usually meeting up with him for lunch where he worked, and he may have dropped by the house briefly to say hello, but I didn’t see him.

I would see Harvey for the last time at our father’s funeral in 1982. Although he sat with the rest of the family in the church, he did not go with us to the cemetery. I never spoke with him that day. My mother and I arrived at the church and we were immediately gathered for the procession into the church. Upon leaving, my mother and I went straight to the limousine, but Harvey, Keith, and Keith’s wife, Lucille left. I never spoke to him again, although I believe my mother did hear from him occasionally. One afternoon in 1987, my mother called me in Maryland where I was living to tell me that Harvey had died. I wish we had had another opportunity to interact, to find a new, more forgiving relationship. Such is life. Harvey is buried at Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island (New York).[10]

Fortunately, after several years, Keith, his family, and I rekindled our relationship. We noted that we did not know what had become of Harvey’s canvases, meaning his oil paintings. We each searched on-line for any hints, but nothing seemed to show up. Then one evening, Keith called to say his daughter, Kahlil, had found something about Harvey. He said he would send me the link right then. It was the link to Harvey, at harveyalbums.com.[11] What a shock! Harvey was a cult figure! It said his album covers were coveted around the world.  It also said no one knew who Harvey was. It was even speculated that Harvey was a pseudonym, possibly even for Lubinsky himself! Both Keith and I quickly wrote corrections in the comments. He commented that Harvey was his father; I commented that I was Harvey’s sister. With that, we began an email relationship with the website’s owner, John Glassburner, leading to others who have expressed new, renewed, or increased interest in his album covers, as well as his canvases. In fact, we’ve been able to be in contact with several individuals who had purchased his oil paintings in the past. I’m thrilled to know that his work will not end in oblivion.

Endnotes

[1] 1940 US Federal Census: New York, New York, New York; Emma Williams, head; Robert Williams, son, age 14; Harvey Williams, son, age 12. NARA Roll: M-T0627-02671; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 31-1947B. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[2] 1940 US Federal Census: New York, Bronx, New York; Herbert Williams, head; Margaret Williams, wife. NARA Roll: M-T0627-02467; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 3-272B. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[3] National Cemetery Administration. (2006). Harvey Williams, death: 24 Jan 1987. U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006 [Database on-line]. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[4] 1940 US Federal Census: New York, New York, New York; Leroy Butler, head, funeral home owner; Betty, daughter, age 11. NARA Roll: M-T0627-02664; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 31-1701. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[5] New York, New York, Birth Index, 1910-1965 [database on-line]. Keith Williams, 15 Oct 1946. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[6] Brand-Fisher, S. (n.d.). Ernest Feine (1894-1965): Biography. The Caldwell Gallery. Retrieved from: http:// www.caldwellgallery.com.

[7] Glassburner, J. (2010). Harvey. Retrieved from: www.harveyalbums.com

[8] Glassburner, J. (2010). Harvey. Retrieved from: www.harveyalbums.com

[9] Prize Winner. (July [illegible] 1959). Pittsburgh Courier. Retrieved from: http://fultonhistory.com

[10] National Cemetery Administration. (2006). Harvey Williams, death: 24 Jan 1987. U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006 [Database on-line]. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[11] Glassburner, J. (2010). Harvey. Retrieved from: www.harveyalbums.com

 

#52Ancestors – (22) So Far Away

Next weekend (22-24 June), descendants of the families who attended Strieby Church and School, in southwestern Randolph County, will gather for a reunion. Those planning the reunion wanted to make every effort to invite as many descendants as could be located from the core families, Hills and Lassiters, and those they married, including Laughlins, Phillipses, and Waldens. I understand about one hundred family members are expected to attend from around the country, including some who have never met anyone from any other ancestral branches.

Over the years, family members and descendants moved away in search of greater opportunities. One branch of the Hill family moved farther away than most living today in North Carolina were aware. Nathan Case Hill, oldest son of Edward “Ned” Hill and Priscilla Mahockly Hill, the principal progenitors of the Hills of Hill Town, later Strieby, and his wife, Sarah Polk Hill, had 10 known children.[1] By 1900, two of those children, Milton[2] and Thomas Julius,[3] had moved away to Jefferson County, Arkansas. Exactly why they moved away is not clear, since they are listed as farmers in Jefferson County, just as they had been in Randolph County, North Carolina. The areas had another similarity, both were significant lumber producing areas. Descendants of these two men knew to this day that their roots were in Randolph County. However, they had lost touch with those back in North Carolina. DNA and on-line family trees changed all that.

Figure 54-Milton Hill
Milton L Hill

The first contact with descendants I was able to make was through a site called “Tribal Pages.” A descendant had a public tree that listed these men and their descendants. She did not seem to know much about their ancestors back in Randolph County. I attempted to contact her, but she did not respond. Nevertheless, I was able to use her information to further my own research and confirm what had happened to descendants and other family members. Later, I would find this same woman had a public tree on Ancestry. Just as I had added the names of descendants identified because of her information on her publicly viewable family trees, so she had added the names of ancestors based on the information he was able to view on my public trees, both on Tribal Pages and on Ancestry. Though we had each benefited from the research of the other, we still had not talked personally. There things stood until I began to DNA test family members.

Figure 107-Aveus Ave Lassiter
Aveus Lassiter Edmondson

One family member I tested was my cousin, Aveus Lassiter Edmondson. At the time she was our oldest living family member. She was 100. Among Aveus’s matches was a man called “W. W.” whose results were managed by “ShanksSharon (Sharon Shanks).” By examining the associated tree, and other information on Sharon Shanks’ contact page, I learned that W. W. was descended from Thomas Julius Hill.

Thomas Julius Hill
Thomas Julius Hill

W. W. also had an ancestry hint shaky leaf. Since Aveus (who has since deceased)[4] was not a direct Hill descendant, the only connection between them was through Sarah Polk Hill, Thomas’s mother.[5] Aveus’s grandmother, Katherine Polk Lassiter (wife of Colier Phillips Lassiter) was presumed to be Sarah’s sister. Both women had been living in the home of Jack and Charity Lassiter in 1850.[6]

Figure 83-Granny Kate Polk Lassiter
Katherine Polk Lassiter

Colier Lassiter, who would marry Katherine Polk,[7] was the bondsman for Nathan and Sarah.[8]  However, since the 1850 census does not name the relationship of those in a household, one can only speculate based on later records or other non-census documents. DNA can also help. In this case, the only plausible reason for Aveus and W. W. to be biologically related would be because Sarah and Katherine were related. Thus, the DNA link between Aveus and W. W. helped confirm that Sarah and Katherine were most likely sisters. Test results of other descendants have continued to reaffirm this genealogical link and reunite our separated family branches. Consequently, I contacted Sharon and we began exchanging information and developed an on-going relationship. Sharon was instrumental in providing pictures of family members from these branches for use in my book on the history of Strieby Church, school, and community.

For the reunion, each of us was encouraged to reach out to those we knew were not in touch directly with the planners, but whom we knew and could invite personally. I knew that Sharon would be interested. She had already expressed a desire to have a reunion with descendants from the Arkansas families returning to North Carolina to see where their ancestors came from. Happily, I was right. Sharon was excited about the reunion in Winston Salem next weekend. I am excited because Sharon will be coming. So, in a way, the Arkansas descendants (who have themselves moved on to other cities, such as Chicago or St. Louis) were far away. They were not only physically far away, but they were, for those in North Carolina, emotionally far away, so far away that they were, in fact, for most, non-existent. It is almost like the prodigal son (daughter?) returning. I am very excited to know that we will be able to talk and hug this once lost, but now found cousin.

Endnotes

[1] 1860 US Federal Census; Western Division, Randolph County, North Carolina, Nathan Hill, head. NARA Roll: M653-910; Page: 213; Image: 431; Family History Library Film: 803910. Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7667/4237516_00431/38955993?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/66453873/person/36243470427/facts/citation/221841239328/edit/record; 1870 US Federal Census, New Hope Township, Randolph County, North Carolina; Nathan Hill, head. NARA Roll: M593-1156; Page: 409A; Image: 267; Family History Library Film: 552655. Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7163/4277632_00267/26491953?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/66453873/person/36243470427/facts/citation/221841239255/edit/record; and 1880 US Federal Census, Union Township, Randolph County, North Carolina; Nathan Hill, head. NARA Roll: 978; Family History Film: 1254978; Page: 195B; Enumeration District: 224; Image: 0682. Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4243412-00682/43215876?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/66453873/person/36243470427/facts/citation/221841238824/edit/record.

[2] 1900 US Federal Census, Old River, Jefferson County, Arkansas; Roll: 63; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0090; FHL microfilm: 1240063. Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7602/4120032_00255/6320871?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/66453873/person/36243470436/facts/citation/223091664994/edit/record.

[3] 1900 US Federal Census, Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas; Milton Hill, head. NARA Roll: 63; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0108; FHL microfilm: 1240063. Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7602/4120032_00829/6348455?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/66453873/person/36243470432/facts/citation/221849173466/edit/record

[4] Aveus Lassiter Edmondson. (October 23, 2014). Courier-Tribune. (Asheboro, North Carolina). Retrieved from:  http://courier-tribune.com/obituaries/aveus-lassiter-edmondson.

[5] 1880; Census Place: Union, Randolph, North Carolina; Roll: 978; Family History Film: 1254978; Page: 195B; Enumeration District: 224; Image: 0682. Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4243412-00682/43215876?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/66453873/person/36243470427/facts/citation/221841238824/edit/record

[6] 1850; Census Place: Southern Division, Randolph, North Carolina; Catherine Lassiter [sic] and Sarah Lassiter [sic]. NARA Roll: M432-641; Page: 136A; Image: 278. Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8054/4204420_00278/12941818?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/66453873/person/36231719023/facts/citation/223081904763/edit/record

[7] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Calier Lassiter and Catherine Polk, Bond, 26 Sep 1854. Retrieved from: https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=60548&h=3548742&ssrc=pt&tid=66453873&pid=36231657676&usePUB=true

[8] North Carolina, Index to Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868 [database on-line]. Nathan Case [sic] and Sarey Poke, Bond, 15 Sep 1853. Retrieved from: https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=4802&h=1120672&ssrc=pt&tid=66453873&pid=36243470429&usePUB=true

 

#52Ancestors – (21) Military: Percy Walter Phillips, World War I Veteran

In honor of Memorial Day and the 100th anniversary of the US involvement in World War I, I am writing about my great uncle, Percy Walter Phillips who fought in World War I, in what was called, “the War to end all wars.” Although his headstone lists him as having served from North Carolina, in fact, he served not with a North Carolina unit, the state of his birth, but with a unit from New Jersey where he was then living.

Percy Phillips Headstone 2
Private Percy Walter Phillips’ headstone, McAllister-Oddfellows Cemetery, Asheboro, North Carolina

Percy Walter Phillips was my mother’s favorite uncle, my grand uncle. He was born 4 Nov 1895, in Asheboro, Randolph County, North Carolina, the son of Samuel D. Phillips and Mary Louise Smitherman, and he was a Miles Lassiter descendant.  Percy registered for the draft on 5 June 1917 in Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey, where he lived with his wife, Florence (Bright), and daughter, Mary Louise, employed by Singer Manufacturing.[1] He enlisted on 28 January 1918.[2]

Percy served with the Battery F, 92nd Division. The 92nd became known as the Buffalo Soldiers, fighting in France. The 92nd was part of the “Negro Combat Division.” The 350th Field Artillery along with the 317th Trench Mortar Battery, were headquartered at Fort Dix in Wrightstown, New Jersey. The Field Artillery units left in June 1918.[3] The passenger list for the USS President Grant showed that he sailed for France from Hoboken, New Jersey on 30 June 1918. He listed his mother, “Mrs. Louisa Floyd” (Mary Louisa Smitherman Phillips Floyd), living in Greensboro, North Carolina, as his emergency contact.[4]

USS President Grant Passenger list Fold3_Page_661 (2)
Percy Walter Phillips departure for France, on USS President Grant, 30 June 1918

Upon arrival in France the 92nd began another training period. Their training in earnest began in July in Montmorrillon, in the Department of Vienne. In August, the 92nd would end its training and move to the town of St. Die not far from the Rhine and close to the foothills of the Alps. St. Die’s originated with the explorer, Americus Vespucci who had been a monk there and for whom the term “America” had been coined referring to the western continents. St. Die was across from Alsace, then in German possession.[5]

From August to September 1918, the 92nd attacked German front lines, while coming under attack themselves, with one of the worst attacks being on 31 August from German artillery, including mustard gas and “flame projectors.”[6] The Germans were eventually pushed back, leaving the 92nd primarily monitoring and repairing trenches. Nevertheless, there would be other attacks including aerial attacks.[7] Percy would suffer from the effects of these battles the rest of his life, suffering from “shell shock,” according to my mother, Margaret Lee Williams, his niece.  Today “shell shock” is recognized as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).[8] Percy would die from lung cancer in 1949 in the VA Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina.[9] Lung cancer was an associated health risk of exposure to mustard gas.[10]

USS Maui Passenger List Fold3_Page_566 (2)
Percy Walter Phillips departure for Hoboken, NJ, from France, on the USS Maui, 31 March 1919

Percy returned home to New Jersey, arriving on the USS Maui.[11] He was honorably discharged on 19 March 1919.[12] Things would change from before the war. By 1920, his wife and daughter had returned to Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina to live with her family.[13] Percy was living in Elizabeth, New Jersey with a woman named “Mary,” said to be his wife, although I have never found any official document for that relationship.[14] Eventually, he moved with his mother, “Louisa,” in Elizabeth, New Jersey.[15] He would live with her until she died in 1936.[16]

In the summer of 1920, Percy’s grandmother, Ellen Dunson Smitherman Mayo, Louisa’s mother, had a stroke.  Percy accompanied Louisa and his nieces, Margaret and Verna, daughters of his deceased sister, Elinora,[17] to Asheboro, North Carolina, to help care for Ellen. Ellen died in August, but the family decided to stay in Asheboro.[18] Percy and his first wife, Florence had a brief reconciliation resulting in the birth of their son, James Edward Phillips, in 1921.[19] However, by 1925, Louisa, the girls, Margaret and Verna, and Percy returned to Elizabeth, New Jersey,[20] while Florence and her children, Mary Louise “Louise” and James Edward, moved to Stanly County, south of Asheboro.[21]

In 1926, Percy was living with his mother in New Jersey, but he also married Pearl Timberlake in New York.[22] However, the relationship had to be brief since his niece, my mother, Margaret never mentioned her, even though Percy continued to live in the same house with her and his mother.[23] In 1936, his mother, Louisa, died.[24] About this time he returned to Greensboro, North Carolina, eventually marrying Agnes Kepler Hunter,[25] a widow who also had family roots in Asheboro.[26]

Percy Phillips Headstone application
Percy Walter Phillips Headstone Application, by his wife, Agnes Kepler Hunter Phillips, 29 December 1949

By 1949, Percy’s exposure to Mustard Gas had caught up with him. He had lung cancer. Percy entered the VA hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. Percy died there on 7 December 1949.[27] According to the request for a headstone from the VA made by his widow, Agnes, he was being buried in Asheboro City Cemetery.[28] However, he was actually interred in the Oddfellow-McAllister Cemetery, in Asheboro (Barnes, 2014).[29]

Endnotes

[1] U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [Database on-line]. Percy Walter Phillips. Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Union; Roll: 1712099; Draft Board: 3. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[2] U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [Database on-line]. Percy Walter Phillips, Enlistment 28 January 1918, Elizabeth, New Jersey. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[3] Scott, E. J. (1919). The Negro Combat Division. The American Negro in World War I (Chapter XI).  Retrieved (April 12, 2017) from: BYU.edu

[4] US Army WWI Transport Service, Passenger Lists 1918 Jun 30 – 1918 Sep 23 [Database on-line]. Percy Walter Phillips, USS President Grant, 30 June 1918. Fold3. Retrieved from: Fold3.com

[5] Scott, E. J. (1919). The Negro Combat Division. The American Negro in World War I (Chapter XI).  Retrieved (April 12, 2017) from: BYU.edu

[6] Scott, E. J. (1919). The Negro Combat Division. The American Negro in World War I (Chapter XI).  Retrieved (April 12, 2017) from: BYU.edu

[7] Scott, E. J. (1919). The Negro Combat Division. The American Negro in World War I (Chapter XI).  Retrieved (April 12, 2017) from: BYU.edu

[8] National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD). (n.d.). What is PTSD? PTSD: National Center for PTSD. Retrieved (April 12, 2017) from: National Center for PTSD

[9] South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1960 [Database on-line]. Percy W Phillips, 7 Dec 1949. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[10] Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). (2013, October 22). Exposure to Mustard Gas or Lewisite. US Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved (April 12, 2017) from: US Department of Veterans Affairs

[11] US Army WWI Transport Service, Passenger Lists [Database on-line]. Percy W Phillips, USS Maui, 18 March 1919. Fold3. Retrieved from: Fold3.com

[12] U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [Database on-line]. Percy Walter Phillips, Enlistment 28 January 1918, Elizabeth, New Jersey. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[13] 1920 US Federal Census, Greensboro Ward 6, Guilford, North Carolina. Robert Bright, head; Florence Phillips, granddaughter. NARA Roll: T625-1302; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 141; Image: 930. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[14] 1920 US Federal Census, Elizabeth City Ward 8, Union, New Jersey. Percy Phillips, head. NARA Roll: T625-1070; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 88; Image: 609. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[15] 1930 US Federal Census, Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey. Louise Ingram, head; Persie Ingram, son. NARA Roll: 1387; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0073; Image: 289.0; FHL microfilm: 2341122. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[16] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1700s-Current [Database on-line]. Louise Ingram, Apr 1936. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com

[17] North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975 [Database on-line]. Elnora Lee, 11 Nov 1918. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[18] North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975 [Database on-line]. Ellen Mayo, 12 Jun 1920. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[19] U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [Database on-line]. James Edward Phillips, 23 Mar 1921. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[20] U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [Database on-line]. Mrs. Louise Ingram, 1925, 1079 William St., Elizabeth, NJ. P. 291. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

And U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [Database on-line]. Percival [sic] Phillips, 1925, 1079 William St., Elizabeth, NJ. p. 415. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[21] 1930 US Federal Census, Harris, Stanly County, North Carolina. Florence Phillips, head; Louise Phillips, daughter; James Phillips, son. NARA Roll: 1721; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0014; Image: 683.0; FHL microfilm: 2341455. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[22] New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan. [Database on-line]. Percy Phillips and Pearl Timberlake, 1 Feb 1926. Indexed Number: M-26. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[23] Personal Contact, Margaret Lee Williams to the author.

[24] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1700s-Current [Database on-line]. Louise Ingram, Apr 1936. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com

[25] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Percy Phillips and Agnes Hunter, 3 Nov 1943. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[26] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Percy Phillips and Agnes Hunter, 3 Nov 1943. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[27] South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1960 [Database on-line]. Percy W Phillips, 7 Dec 1949. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[28] U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [Database on-line]. Percy Walter Phillips, Enlistment 28 January 1918, Elizabeth, New Jersey. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[29] Barnes, T. (2014, Dec 3). Percy W. Phillips. Find A Grave. Retrieved (April 12, 2017) from: Findagrave.com