Yesterday in my Wordless Wednesday post, I put up a picture of the historical marker of Freedom Hill, North Carolina. Freedom Hill was an all African-American community established in Edgecombe County, North Carolina in 1865 by freed slaves. It is the oldest incorporated black town in the US, getting incorporated in 1885 as Princeville. The community was named after Turner Richard Prince (1843-1912) who was a carpenter in the community. In 1999, Princeville received nationwide attention after Hurricane Floyd hit the coast of NC as many of the town’s residents were displaced and there was extensive flood damage.
I first learned of Princeville when I purchased an Arcadia Publishing book on Edgecombe County last year. At that time, I had no one in my family tree that I knew of that had any connections to Princeville, though my maternal grandmother’s McNair line started (as we know of) in Edgecombe County. When the Ancestry database of NC death certificates came out, one of the many discoveries I made was that there is indeed a connection.
My earliest known McNair ancestor, Rufus McNair (1823-1910) and his wife Mariah Wimberly (abt. 1843-1903) had at least 15 kids (in one census record, it is reported she had 22) that lived to adulthood. Two of their youngest, Susan & Sophia, both married a gentleman name Arthur Wooten. Arthur married Susan first and together they had at least 8 children. Then, I believe Susan must have died and he then married her sister Sophia. With Sophia, he had at least 3 children. Arthur Wooten Jr’s (son of Sophia) daughter Violet married George Mays and they for several years lived in Princeville. Arthur & Susie were in Princeville in the 1910 census.
I discovered this after my mother, in going through some of her mother’s papers, found a double obituary for Violet and her husband George. Since Princeville at that time was only a community of several hundred, I wonder if they knew Turner Prince? Possibly! Again, more flavor to add to the background context should I ever decide to do a formal write-up of my McNair ancestry.