Discover more from A page back in time ...
More tales of North Carolina's 19th-century African American legislators
Part 2: Sessions of the General Assembly in 1887 and 1889
Earlier this year, I began introducing readers to a handful of African American legislators elected to the North Carolina General Assembly during the nineteenth century, among more than 125 black state legislators, all Republicans, who held office between 1868 and 1900.
This week, I continue my occasional series on North Carolina’s black public servants during the period, many of whom I have written about in previous articles for the North Carolina Historical Review and in other publications. Today’s post explores the lives of legislators who served in the sessions of the General Assembly held in 1887 and 1889:
Edward Bridges (1840?-1929), of Edgecombe County, served one term in the N.C. House of Representatives from Edgecombe County as a Republican, elected in 1888. [His name is sometimes spelled “Bridgers.”] He was born about June 1840 (perhaps as late as 1845) in New Bern, probably to an enslaved mother. Little is known about his early life or education. He worked at various times as a shingler and farm laborer.
After the end of the Civil War, he became active in the Edgecombe County Republican Party. Edgecombe Republicans selected him in 1888 as a nominee for one of the county's seats in the N.C. House of Representatives. Elected later that year, he served in the 1889 session of the General Assembly. He did not seek reelection.
Edward Bridges of Edgecombe County (top, far left) served in the 1889 NCGA. Public domain photo
His wife was named Emily; married in about 1865, they listed no known children. She is first listed in the 1870 census, and last listed in 1900; she died before 1910, according to that year’s census, when he was first listed aa a widower, with one boarder, Frank Batts, 15, in his Deep Creek home. [Batts died in 1918, according to state records, naming Bridges as his “parent.”] In the 1920 census, Bridges was recorded as living alone.
When the state of North Carolina conducted its 1902 voter registration, after passage of the constitutional amendment requiring literacy for most voters, a 57-year-old man named “Edward Bridgers”—thus born about 1845, race not indicated—was allowed to register in Deep Creek Township, according to county records. He was not required to name an ancestor eligible to vote in 1867, indicating he was judged “literate” by registrars. If this was the same Edward Bridges, he was one of the few black voters allowed to register that year.
Bridges died on March 31, 1929, in Edgecombe County; his death was reported by a neighbor, Isiah Cherry. His age was listed as 89. His place of interment is listed on his death certificate as the County Home in Tarboro.
* * * * * * *
Randall C. Crenshaw (1852?-1919?), of Whitakers, served one term in the N.C. House of Representatives from Edgecombe County as a Republican, elected in 1886. He was likely born in 1852/1853, possibly in Wake County, and possibly a son of Essex and Candace Crenshaw. Little is known about his early life or education, although he was probably educated in the Wake County common schools.
The Crenshaw family first appear in the 1870 census as farmers in Forestville, Wake County. Crenshaw, one of five children in the household, then attended the normal school at Shaw University between 1875 and 1882, but did not graduate. He was next listed in the 1880 census as a schoolteacher in the school at Fishing Creek, Edgecombe County.
He also became active in the Edgecombe County Republican Party in the 1880s. Edgecombe Republicans selected him in 1886 as a nominee for one of the county's seats in the N.C. House of Representatives. Elected later that year, he served in the 1887 session of the General Assembly. He did not seek reelection.
By 1880, he married his wife, Anna/Annie Lyons (1847–1920); she was listed with him in the Edgecombe censuses of 1880 and 1900. Their daughter, Sudie, was born in 1879; she died in 1922. He continued to be listed as a schoolteacher in the 1900 census, which lists his birth as occurring in March 1845.
Crenshaw’s death date is unknown; his widow died in Whitakers on May 19, 1920. He is believed to have died on or before 1919, probably in Edgecombe County. His place of interment is not known.
* * * * * * *
Henry Hall Falkner (1861?-1931), of Warrenton, served one term in the N.C. Senate from District 19 (Warren County) as a Republican, elected in 1888. Falkner [variantly spelled Falkener, Faulkner] was born on November 30, 1861 [year listed as 1859 on grave], in Warren County, a son of Buckner and Elizabeth [Boyd] Falkner. He grew up in Littleton, was educated in the county’s common schools, and attended the Peabody High School in Petersburg, Virginia, after which he became a schoolteacher.
Falkner began teaching after in the Warren County schools in 1877, while continuing his education. He graduated from Raleigh’s Shaw University in 1886.
In the early 1880s, Falkner became active in the Warren County Republican Party. County Republicans nominated him as clerk of Superior Court in 1884; he was elected, but never seated, after his bond was denied, perhaps because of his youthful age. Then in 1888, county Republicans selected as their nominee for the District 19 (Warren County) seat in the N.C. Senate. Elected later that year, he served in the 1889 session of the General Assembly, and was appointed to the Senate Committees on Military Affairs and Education. He did not seek reelection in 1890.
Late in the 1889 Senate session, he offered a strong protest against changes enacted to the N.C. elections law (S.B. 26): “I do most solemnly protest against the passage of the election law passed by this body, because I believe it will operate against my race and deprive them of the God-given rights which are guaranteed them by the Constitution of the United States, and will deprive the eastern counties of their legal representatives.”
From May 1890 until December 1891, he served as postmaster at Macon, in Warren County, during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison. He then began a long career in schools outside Warren County, including as principal of a state normal training school and five years as professor of English at the college now known as North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, founded in 1891. He was also principal for years of Logan High School in Concord, N.C., then known as the Logan Colored Graded and Industrial School, as well as a member of the Missionary Baptist Church and the Masons.
Professor Falkner was married on October 7, 1891, to Margaret C. Mitchell, a daughter of George W. and Almira (Jones ) Mitchell. They had five sons: Ralph C. S., George H., Herschel H., Waldo C., and John Q. Falkner.
Henry H. Falkner of Warren County served in NC Senate in the NCGA session of 1889. Public domain photo
In the censuses of 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930, the Falkner family was listed as living in Guilford County.
Falkner died in Guilford County in February 1931; his widow died there in February 1938. They are buried in Greensboro’s Maplewood Cemetery.
* * * * * *
John Holloway (1843?-1901), of Wilmington, served two terms in the N.C. House of Representatives from New Hanover County as a Republican, elected in 1886 and 1888. Holloway was born in 1843 or 1844 in Virginia, but was apparently raised in Robeson County, N.C. , where he attended the county’s common schools.
He became active in the Robeson County Republican Party in the early 1870s, and was appointed in 1871 as the U.S. postmaster at Lumberton (Courthouse), appointed during the first administration of President Ulysses S. Grant, and served until 1874.
By 1881, Holloway had moved to Wilmington, where he became a businessman and real estate entrepreneur; after 1884, he became director of the Wilmington, Wrightsville, and Onslow Railroad. He served as U.S. customs inspector from 1884 to 1891, when he was replaced by John Dancy.
In 1886, New Hanover Republicans selected him as their nominee for a county seat in the N.C. House of Representatives. Elected later that year, he served on the House Committee on Railroads, Postroads, and Turnpikes, and on Military Affairs, in the 1887 session of the General Assembly. Reelected in 1888, he also served in the 1889 session of the General Assembly. He did seek reelection in 1890.
John Holloway of New Hanover County (top, third from left) served in the 1889 NCGA. Public domain photo
After leaving the General Assembly, he later became a railway mail clerk, and in 1893, became a clerk at the Wilmington post office. Holloway was a member of the executive committee of the N.C. Colored Industrial Association in 1897. Appointed as a justice of the peace in 1889, he also served as a magistrate for Wilmington Township in 1889 and 1896, according to public directories.
The 1870 census lists Holloway as living in Robeson County with his wife, Kitty [Katherine Caudill] Holloway, and their two children. The 1880 census of New Hanover County lists the family as living on Seventh Street, Wilmington Township, including son William, 12, and daughter Elizabeth, 10.
Holloway died on March 7, 1901, in Wilmington. His funeral was held at that city’s Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church, after which he was buried in Lumberton; his place of interment is not known.
His obituary in the Robesonian newspaper, reprinted days later in a Wilmington newspaper, described Holloway as “a colored man of unusual intelligence and ability, kind-hearted, honorable, and faithful to every duty. A model which his race might well follow with profit.”
* * * * * * *
Charles Wesley Hoover (1854-1934), of Raleigh, served one term in the N. C. House of Representatives from Wake County as a Republican, elected in 1888. Born June 14, 1854, status unknown, in Asheboro, North Carolina, Hoover was listed as the son of William and Chloe Hoover. Little is known about his early life or education, except that his family moved to Raleigh in 1869, and he was presumably educated in the common schools of Randolph County and Raleigh.
He was first employed as a saloonkeeper, then became a successful dry goods merchant. He soon became active in the Wake County Republican Party, and served on the Raleigh City Council from 1879 to 1885. In 1886, Wake Republicans selected him as a nominee for a county seat in the N.C. House of Representatives. Elected later that year, he served on the House Committees on Education and Insurance in the 1887 session of the General Assembly.
He was reelected to his seat in 1888, and served in the 1889 session of the General Assembly. He did not seek reelection in 1890, but remained active in politics, and served on the Raleigh City Council again from 1895 to 1897.
He and his wife, Louisa M. Johnson (1865-1947), were married in 1884. They had three children: son Charlie (1885-1916), and daughters Mable and Louisa.
Hoover died in Raleigh of a cerebral hemorrhage on December 14, 1934. His widow died in Raleigh in 1947. They are buried in that city's Mount Hope Cemetery.
* * * * * * *
Valentine Howe (1842-1904), of Wilmington, served two terms in the N.C. House of Representatives from New Hanover County as a Republican, elected in 1886 and 1888. He was born in 1842 in New Hanover County, a son of Anthony Howe and Hester White, and brother of John Harriss Howe and Washington Howe. Little else is known of his early life and education.
A carpenter and builder, he became active in the New Hanover County Republican Party in the late 1870s. Howe was then elected as a Wilmington city alderman from the Fifth Ward in 1883, and reelected in 1885. He resigned as alderman in 1887 in order to take his seat in the legislature.
New Hanover Republicans selected him in 1886 as a nominee for one of the county's seats in the N.C. House of Representatives. Elected later that year, he defeated former Democratic congressman Alfred Moore Waddell to serve in the 1887 session of the General Assembly, where he was appointed to the House Committee on Claims. He was reelected to the same seat in 1888, serving his second term in the 1889 session of the General Assembly, but did not seek reelection in 1890.
Valentine Howe (1842-1904) served in 1887-1889 sessions of NCGA. Photo courtesy HoweScholarship.org
Howe served for 35 years in the city’s Volunteer Fire Department, and as president of the N.C. Colored Firemen’s Association for five years. In 1896, he was a magistrate for Wilmington Township.
He was married twice, first to Betsy Ann Merrick, who died in 1877. His second wife was Jane Shepard, whom he married in 1881. His daughter from his first marriage, Cora Howe Harris, died May 28, 1930.
Howe died on December 3, 1904, in Wilmington. His funeral was held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, where he was a longtime vestryman and delegate to the Diocesan Council. He is buried in that city's Pine Forest Cemetery.
According to his lengthy obituary, printed in that week’s Wilmington Messenger, “no man was more universally liked and respected by white and colored people … Of sterling qualities and possessing rare virtues… [he] was a worthy and eminent leader of his people in religious, social, and other walks of life.”
* * * * * * *
Albert R. Jacobs (1850-1908), of Lasker, served one term in the N.C. House of Representatives from Northampton County as a Republican, elected in 1888. Jacobs was born in 1850 near Rich Square, probably free, and a son of Andrew and Margaret/Maryanna Jacobs. Little else is known of his childhood or early education; he likely attended the common schools of Northampton County.
An 1875 graduate of Virginia's Hampton Institute, he became a schoolteacher and farmer. He also became active in the Northampton County Republican Party, which selected him as their nominee for a seat in the N.C. House of Representatives in 1888. Elected later that year, he served in the 1889 session of the General Assembly. He did not seek reelection in 1890.
In 1896, Jacobs was the choice of Northampton Republicans for the Third District seat (Northampton-Bertie Counties) in the N.C. Senate, but that year's race was won by Populist J. M. Earley of Bertie County. Later in 1896, Jacobs was elected as a Northampton County commissioner, and held that post from 1897 to 1899.
Albert Jacobs of Northampton County (top, second from right) served in the 1889 NCGA. Public domain photo
The Lasker Patron and Gleaner described him in 1896 as “a quiet, dignified and peaceable citizen, and will without doubt, make the most acceptable commissioner of any colored man in the county.”
He was married in May 1895 to Mary Jane Odom, with whom he had at least four children, by 1900; nine children (ages 1–16) lived with them, according to that year’s census: Albert, Alveston, Brownie, Christianna, Frank, Millie, Margaret, Percy, and Russell Jacobs.
Jacobs died in Northampton County in 1908. His place of interment is not known, but he is presumably buried in a family graveyard.
* * * * * * *
Daniel R. H. Justice (1852-1901?), of Tarboro, served one term in the N.C. House of Representatives from Edgecombe County as a Republican, elected in 1888. Said to be of mixed race, Justice was born in 1852, possibly to an enslaved mother. Little is known of his early life or education.
In 1870, he was listed as a farm laborer, living in the household of Benjamin Hart of Tarboro, in that year's U.S. census. Justice later studied at Shaw University in the 1870s, and was listed as a student in that school’s normal department in 1876-1877, a contemporary of future congressman Henry Cheatham and future state legislators Alexander Hicks and James Hunter Young, among others.
In the 1880s, he became active in the Edgecombe County Republican Party, which selected him as their nominee in 1888 for a seat in the N.C. House of Representatives. Elected later that year, he served in the 1889 session of the General Assembly. He did not seek reelection in 1890.
Daniel H. R. Justice of Edgecombe County (top, far right) served in the 1889 NCGA. Public domain photo
He was married to Mary J. Pitt in April 1881, and by 1900, they had six children: Olivia, John, Lossie, Lena, Martha, and Cora. They appear to have moved to Mississippi by 1900.
According to the 1900 census for Mississippi's Washington County, Daniel Justice, born in 1850 in North Carolina, was a farmer there, living with wife Mary J. Justice (m. 1882) and 6 children, all born in North Carolina. It was their last census listing.
Justice’s date of death and place of interment are unknown. He is presumed to have died in Mississippi sometime after 1901.
** * * * * *
Edward Randolph (“Ned”) Rawles (1855?-1929), of Garysburg, served three terms in the N.C. House of Representatives from Northampton County as a Republican, elected in 1886, 1888, and 1896. Rawles was born in 1855/1856, probably free, the son of George and Mariah Lockhart Rawls; his siblings were George, Jr., Lucy, and Sarah. He was educated in the county’s common schools after the Civil War, and became a farmer and schoolteacher.
In the 1880s, he became active in the Northampton County Republican Party, which selected him as their nominee for a county seat in the N.C. House of Representatives in 1884. He was defeated in that bid by Democrat James W. Grant. After being renominated by Republicans in 1886, Rawles defeated Grant in the general election, and represented Northampton in the 1887 session of the General Assembly.
Ned Rawles (1855-1929) represented Northampton County for three terms in the NCGA. Public domain photo
He was subsequently reelected to the House seat in 1888, and served in the 1889 session of the General Assembly. He did not seek reelection in 1890, but was then renominated in 1896. He was elected to a third term in November 1896 with 2,209 votes, defeating Democrat B.S. Gay (1,728) and Populist candidate J. J. Purvis (217) to serve in the 1897 session of the General Assembly.
Rawles was married on December 25, 1879, to Alice Ransom (b. 1861) of Garysburg, by whom he had three children: daughter Pattie and two sons, George Douglas Rawles and Matthew Whitaker Rawles. Alice Ransom was widely regarded as the mixed-race daughter of then-U.S. Sen. Matt Whitaker Ransom and Emma C. Outland Exum, an enslaved mother.
According to the 1900 census, Rawles, now 39, was listed as widowed with three children: Douglas, 17; Patty, 16; and Mat, 12. By 1910, the census shows he was married a second time, to Sarah Brockett, of Virginia; they had one son, Woodrow Wilson Rawles. He was listed in the 1920 census as once again widowed.
Rawles died March 4, 1929, in Occoneechee Township, Northampton County. His place of interment is unknown.
* * * * * *
Hugh Granville Tilley (1861?-1921), of Oxford, served two terms in the N.C. House of Representatives from Granville County as a Republican, elected in 1886 and 1888. Tilley was born on November 1861 in Granville County, one of eight children of Marcus Tilley and Annie Bullock. Little is known about his early life, but he presumably attended the common schools in Granville County.
Tilley lived in Granville’s Tally Ho Township with his family in 1870 and 1880, according to the U.S. censuses of those years. He then attended Shaw University as a normal (teacher training) student between 1878 and 1880. He became a preacher and pastor at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, organized in the 1870s.
He also became active in Granville County’s Republican Party in the early 1880s. County Republicans selected him in 1886 as their nominee for one of the county’s seats in the N.C. House of Representatives. Elected later that year, he served in the House Committee on Railroads, Postroads, and Turnpikes in the 1887 session of the General Assembly.
He was reelected in 1888, serving his second term in the 1889 session of the General Assembly. He did not seek reelection in 1890.
Hugh G. Tilley of Granville County (bottom, second from left) served in the 1889 NCGA. Public domain photo
Tilley married his wife, Demar Green, about 1886. After completing his legislative terms, Tilley moved his family to Washington, D.C., soon after 1890. In 1900, he was recorded by the U.S. census as living with his wife and three children—daughters Julia and Pauline and a son, Walter, all born in North Carolina before 1895—in Washington, where he worked as a government laborer. A second son, Theodore, was born there in 1906.
In the 1920 census, the Tilley family was listed as residing once again in Tally Ho Township, where Hugh Tilley was now described as a farmer and his daughter Pauline as a schoolteacher.
Tilley died in Tally Ho Township on July 23, 1921, according to his death certificate. His widow died in 1957. They are buried in that township’s Community Memorial Gardens, along with three of their children.
* * * * * *
William P. Q. Webster (1848-1906), of Yanceyville, served one term in the N.C. House of Representatives as a Republican from Caswell County, elected in 1886. Webster was born to free parents, William and Jane Gould Webster, on June 18, 1848, in Pilesgrove, Salem, New Jersey; one of least seven children, he received his early education in the Salem County public schools.
Between 1872 and 1876, Webster then attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, along with a classmate from North Carolina, future state legislator Calvin Smith of Caswell County, who served in the 1895 session of the General Assembly. Webster moved to Milton, in Caswell County, in the late 1870s, where he may also have worked as a schoolteacher. The 1880 census shows his occupation as grocer; in the census of 1900, he was listed as a farmer.
Caswell County Republicans recruited him in 1886 as a nominee for the county's seat in the N. C. House of Representatives, according to his biographical sketch in the General Assembly Sketchbook of 1887. Elected in 1886 by 393 votes over his Democratic opponent, Julius Johnson, he served in the 1887 session of the General Assembly, and was appointed to the House Committees on Education and Propositions and Grievances. He did not seek reelection in 1888.
He was married to Nancy W. Jones of Caswell County in 1878; her adult daughter, C. A. Jones, lived with them in 1880, according to that year’s U.S. census.
Webster died in Caswell County on May 13, 1906. He is buried, apparently alone, in the Milton cemetery; his grave marker mistakenly indicates his year of birth as 1846.
Next time: Members of the 1891 session of the General Assembly