Stantonsburg, NC High School circa. 1920’s

Stantonsburg High School 3 Stantonsburg High School 2 Stantonsburg High SchoolA man named Jeff Owens just dropped off these three pictures of classes at Stantonsburg High School.  The older kids look like the 1920’s especially with the short hair on women and the mink stole. Only one image looks like high school age but he didn’t have any info on them except to say that everyone who knew anything about them in his family are dead.  Also, that his aunt is in the pictures, but I forgot to ask her name.

So if anyone can ID any of the students in the pictures, please let us know.

Using Deeds to Discover Your Enslaved Ancestors Part 2: Henderson Bagley

Recently a man and his son visited from Wake County looking for information on their enslaved and later freed ancestor, Henderson Bagley.  I was not there when they visited unfortunately, but I have kept in touch  with them over the phone and through email trying to decipher the enigmatic past of Henderson Bagley.

Henderson Bagley marriage record 1866

The marriage of Henderson Bagley and Hana Williams. Taken from Family Search.

On 22 August 1866 Henderson Bagley and Hana Williams registered their cohabitation in Wilson.  According to the 1870 census, Henderson Bagley  was listed as  living in Chesterfield, Nash County  with his five children and no wife.  In 1880, Henderson and four of his children were living in  Old Fields Township in Wilson County.

Bagley family 1870 census

The Bagley family in the 1870 Census. Taken from

I thought that the name Henderson was so unique that if I found it in a record as an enslaved person’s name, it would be a good chance that it would be Henderson Bagley.  But the name was more ubiquitous than I realized.  The name Henderson  appears several times in Nash County, NC, Division of Estate Slaves  1829-1861, abstracted by Timothy W. Rackley, as the name of a slave owned by the Boddie family.





henderson_bagley49henderson_bagley72In Johnston County deed books I found eight different entries of a slave (or several) named Henderson.  According to the 1870 census, Henderson was born in about 1830, therefore the most promising deed listed here  is from 14 March 1837, where they list a seven year old boy named Henderson.

Henderson in deedsIn a Wilson County will I found a record that lists an enslaved person named Henderson.  The will is from 1862 and I would have hoped that it  listed Hana or one of their older children from the census, but no such luck.

henderson wilson county wills2

This image is from “Abstracts of Wills, Wilson County, NC 1855-1899” by Robert Boykin

Although I found not a few entries that listed a man named Henderson in deeds, wills and estate records, it is difficult to determine if any of them are the Henderson Bagley that I was searching for.  Not often is the research as cut and dry as it was with Mariah and Bryant Pender from my earlier post.  But the fact that I found an enslaved man (or men) named in the records 14 times is a great indicator of how useful deeds, wills and estate records can be used to good effect.

Lisa Henderson (no relation) has also posted some more about Henderson Bagley on her blog.

Marion W. Moore

We lost the library’s longtime local history and genealogy volunteer yesterday.  He knew more about the history and people of the area than anyone I have ever met.  He will be sorely missed by me and everyone at the library, especially on every Tuesday from 1-4 pm when he would punctually man the volunteer desk.  I knew something was wrong when I came back from vacation 2 months ago and he didn’t show up on that Tuesday.  I couldn’t remember him ever missing a shift.

I went to visit him at his home yesterday and was told by his son that he had died two hours before I arrived.  I hated that I missed the last opportunity to talk to a person who had become an indispensable coworker and friend.

Marion W. Moore

Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2016 9:00 pm

Marion W. “Monk” Moore, 83, of Wilson, died Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016.

Funeral, Friday, 10 a.m., Maplewood Cemetery.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia Ruffin Moore; and parents, Marion and Juanita Woodard Moore.

He was retired from the N.C. Department of Transportation and was a veteran of the U.S. Army.

Monk is survived by his daughter, Susan W. Moore of Wilson; son, Grey Moore of Wilson; grandchildren, Casey Moore of Wilson and Tanner Moore of Atlanta; and sister, Becky Rhodes (Eddie) of Wilmington.

Memorials are suggested to First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 1423, Wilson, NC 27894.

Arrangements are by Wilson Memorial Service, 2811 Fieldstream Drive N., Wilson,

Using Deeds to Discover Your Enslaved Ancestors Part One


From an excerpt of the 1963 Confederate Field map by Lieut. Koerner.  Here you can see the Pender, Robbins and Thorn families mentioned in the deeds.

It can be Sisyphean task (real dang hard) to find information about an ancestor that was enslaved.  The very institution was designed to strip the person of their identity, culture and humanity, so finding their traces in documents is never easy.

That being said, I have had some luck  researching deed records for enslaved individuals because the buying and selling of slaves and in this case, the gifting of slaves to family members, was often recorded in deed books along with their names.

Case in point, a man in New Jersey called and asked me to find the parents of a Bryant Pender who was his grandmother’s grandfather.  His grandmother thought she heard that Bryant’s mother was named Mariah.  The man said that his family believed Bryant was owned by General William Dorsey Pender (1834-1863) and his grandmother heard that he would work at two different plantations during the year. The first thing I did was look at the 1863 Confederate field map and I did see that William Dorsey’s father, James,  had a plantation not far from the General’s older brother’s, Robert  Henry ‘Bob’ Pender, plantation at Pender’s Crossroads.   I then searched Wilson and Edgecombe County wills and didn’t have any luck (also a good resource for finding enslaved people).  Then I turned to deeds. The abstracts that we have of Edgecombe County deeds, Kinfolks of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, 1788-1855 (1969), by Watson, Joseph W.,  does not list slave names.  This is a very unfortunate over-site, but perhaps a product of its non-inclusive time. Luckily, this site, Edgecombe County, NC GenWeb Archives, has more detailed transcriptions.  Although there is no index, the text is searchable and, unfortunately for the dramatic buildup, I found information on Mathiah (Mariah) and Bryan(t) very quickly in three deeds.  It also uncovered Bryant’s sister, Rhoda.

The first deed (1827) is a gift of Mathiah (Mariah) from Obedience Robbins to her sister, Elizabeth Pender, the mother of James Pender.  When I saw that she was listed as mulatto I immediately thought that  maybe Obedience was trying to get rid of her because she may have been the child of one of the Robbins family, maybe even her husband.  But that is only conjecture on my part.

Edge. County Db 19, page 10, date of deed 31 Jan, 1827, date recorded
Feb Ct. 1827, Obedience Robbins, Edge. co. to Elizabeth Pender, Edge.
for “love and affection” for my sister, Elizabeth Pender, and moving,
one mulatto girl, named Mathiah, signed Obedience Robbins (X), wit.
Thomas Anderson (+), W.B. Barnes. FHC film # 0370237. 11-5-99

The next two deeds (1842) describe the sort of perpetual leasing of Mathiah and her two children Bryan and Rhoda between James and his two brothers, Andrew and Joseph J. Which may have been a reason why the folk memory exists that they moved between plantations during the year.

Edge. Co Db 23, page 33, date of deed 7 Jun 1841, date recorded Feb Ct. 1842, Andrew J. Pender, Edge. Co. to Joseph J. Pender and James Pender; Andrew has a deed of gift from “my mother Elizabeth Pender now Thorn, bearing date of 18 May 1835 conveying to me one Negro girl, Mathiah which said deed is recorded in the Register of Deeds of said county, since which time said girl has been delivered of two children, the first named Bryan & the other named Rhoda and whereas my mother Elizabeth being some in debt  and for the consideration that my brothers Joseph Jno. Pender and James Pender having agreed to pay their proportional part of said debts and give to my mother annually a certain sum which is named in another instrument I hereby convey to them jointly two thirds of the said Negro girl Mathiah and her children Bryan and Rhoda and any other which she may have, the intention of this instrument is that the said Negro girl, Mathiah and all her increase are to be equally divided between myself and my brothers, Joseph, John and James, or our heirs, signed Andrew J. Pender, wit. W.D. Petway.

Abstracted 2-5-02, NC State Archives film C.037.40018, CTC.

Edge. Co Db 23, page 33, date of deed 7 Jun 1841, date recorded Feb
Ct. 1842, Martin Thorn and wife, Elizabeth Thorn, formerly Pender, to
said Joseph Jno., James and Andrew Pender for ten dollars paid annually
to the said Elizabeth during her natural life by Joseph Jno. Pender,
James Pender and Andrew J. Pender, the sons of said Elizabeth do convey
and relinquish our right title and interest to a certain mulatto girl
named Mathiah & her two children, Bryan and Rhoda, signed Martin Thorn,
Elizabeth Thorn (X), wit. W.D. Petway. NOTE: BOOK OR PAGE MAY BE WRONG.
Abstracted 2-5-02, NC State Archives film C.037.40018, CTC.

Bryant Pender

1880 Census record showing Bryant Pender and my patron’s grandmother-Bessie Pender

It doesn’t appear that Mathiah and her children were owned specifically By General William Dorsey Pender, but they were certainly in his family.  This genealogy inquiry led to a great pairing of family oral history and archival records in finding enslaved ancestors, which is something that unfortunately doesn’t come along too often.


Scottish Research Online Resources


Declaration of Arbroath is the declaration of Scottish independence from 1320.  It is an early record with many (elite) Scottish names attached to it.

Last Tuesday I went to Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount, NC to listen to a presentation by Craig R. Scott, CG on Scottish Research.  It was a very thorough discussion (over 2 hours) and I couldn’t even begin to go over everything he touched on here.  I am interested in Scottish history and family research but a lot of the materials about clans,  tartans and heraldic baubles I find kitschy and historically iffy, but he didn’t really touch on that much. I am going to try and do some research on my family  based on his presentation and I will post my findings at some point. Here are the online resources:

Family Search- searchable database of indexed Scottish Church and civil records as well as family trees.

GenUki– links to other sites with helpful genealogical resources and databases for the UK and Ireland.  It is organized by country, then county, then parish, and by topic

Scotland’s People– a fee-based government site, searchable databases of civil, census, church, and probate records, as well as other info and links.

National Archives of Scotland– Access to the archive’s online catalogue and information and research tools.

National Library of Scotland– an online catalogue of the library’s vast book collection and maps, including some viewable online.

Scottish Archive Network– links to the website of every archive in Scotland, research tools, and handwriting guide.

Scotland’s family– link to other sites with helpful genealogical resources and databases for Scotland. It is organized by topic. Includes parish maps for each county.

Scotland’s Churches after 1700– Articles on places and people.

Vision of Britain– Groome’s Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland.

Rampant Scotland– links to information on topics for Scotland

Electric Scotland– links to information on numerous topics for Scotland, and Groome’s Ordnance Gazatteer of Scotland.

Statistical Accounts of Scotland 1791-1845– statistical accounts give historical background information on each individual parish of Scotland.

The Scottish Genealogy Society– genealogical resources held by this society.

The Heraldry Society of Scotland– heraldry in Scotland and its proper use.

Internet Archive Library– birth registers from the Scottish Record Society

Italian Sailors in Wilson Jail, 1941


Clipping from an Italian newspaper of the prisoners in Wilson




“Imported Spaghetti”

Italian_POWs_2One of my patrons found a great collection of pictures in an estate sale in Italy of Italian sailors being held in the Wilson County jail .  Yes an estate sale in Italy.  I guess some people get up very early.  Anyway the photos are quite extraordinary and I was lucky to be able to digitize them.

There are certainly some questions that go unanswered from what looks to be a news wire about them.  Supposedly their freighter, the Villerperosa, was sabotaged in the Wilmington, NC harbor, but it doesn’t say who sabotaged them.  The date of the photos are 30 June, 1941 so it would be almost six months until we were at war with Italy, yet the sailors were detained in the Wilson, NC jail, which is two hours away from Wilmington.  So many questions!

If anyone has any info about this slice of history, please let me know.