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Black Nix Family’s ancestors settled in Oakey Streak area

The black Nix family of Butler and Covington County, Ala., are fortunate to have had a relative who has thoroughly researched their ancestry. In addition, other Nix descendants have done considerable research, which provides an excellent genealogy for the family.

In 1990, an article written by Mary T. Schmich appeared in The Anniston Star entitled “Chicago woman seeks Alabama roots.” The woman, Dee Parmer Woodtor, set out to solve the mystery of a woman named Charlotte Nix. According to the writer, “She rode the train from Chicago to Jackson, Miss., then took the bus over to Butler County, Ala., where Chicago seems just a cold, remote town that lured Southern blacks by the thousands back when the North still masqueraded as the promised land.”

Upon arriving in Greenville, Ala., Dee knew little about Charlotte Nix—where she lived or where she died. She only knew she was her great, great grandmother, her last name was Nix, and that she was once a slave. She also knew that Charlotte was buried, in the Oakey Streak Methodist Church Cemetery located about 18 miles south of Greenville. The Nix descendants had a family plot among mostly white graves. In more recent years, a white Nix descendant, Fern Nix (deceased), a retired educator and local historian, collected funds and had new headstones placed at the graves of the black Nix descendants.

Woodtor was seven years old when her family moved from Butler County, Ala., to Chicago. They were like so many who went north seeking a better life than the South’s farm fields could offer. Upon graduating from high school, Woodtor continued her education until she earned her doctorate degree in political science from Northwestern University. Around 1989, she was hired for the Afro-American Family History Project at Chicago’s Newberry Library. From that work, she became intrigued with exploring her family’s past, especially the identity of Charlotte Nix.

Needless to say, searching the ancestry and history of descendants whose ancestors were slaves at one time is very challenging. Few records were kept, and the later generations often disliked recalling any memories of those early years. Woodtor researched every available source including interviewing living relatives, descendants of former white slave owners, etc. The following is only a sketch of what she and others have compiled.

Although some records list Charlotte Nix as being born in 1805, it appears that this date is probably the birth of her mother, Susan. It seems Charlotte was born in 1822 in Franklin County, N.C.  A look at an earlier owner, Phillip Perry lll, of Nancemond, Va., shows seven of his sons migrated in 1746 to Granville County, N.C., which later became Franklin County. In 1829, three Perry descendants, Eliza, Amaryllis and Willis, purchased property from John Perry’s estate sale. Included were the following slaves: Susan and her four children, Adam, Hartless, Charlotte and Malone. The slaves had most likely migrated with the John Perry family to Russell County, Ala. They had already settled there when John’s daughter, Jane, was married to Edward Nix in 1839. John Perry, desiring for slaves owned by him to remain with his own children and provide some convertible wealth free and independent of their spouses (to prevent possible ownership under the prevailing laws of the time), deeded Charlotte and her two children to his son to hold them in trust for his sister Jane.

By 1860, Jane and her husband, Edward Nix, had settled near Greenville, Ala., on a farm of 240 acres. They owned seven slaves at the time, but Edward’s estate at his death before 1865 revealed no slave names. It may be because their slaves were actually owned originally by Jane Perry before her marriage as indicated previously. Further, it is possible that Charlotte and her children were hired out to a large neighboring plantation owner, John Crittenden. However, records show they had returned to the Nix owners before the end of the War Between the States. There is a record of a labor contract between Jane Perry Nix and Charlotte and two of her children, Adam and Henrietta. It was an “Articles of Agreement” with Jane providing land for share cropping, medical care, clothing, etc.

Charlotte died in 1895 appearing to be 73 years of age. She was buried among relatives’ graves in the Oakey Streak Methodist Church Cemetery

During the late 1800s, possibly Charlotte’s children and others were able to purchase unsettled land abandoned by railroad companies. They were required to cut cords of wood to help pay for the land. Some of the acreage acquired in this manner is still in the hands of Nix descendants. All of Charlotte’s children with the exception of her youngest, Malinda, resided in the Oakey Streak community. Malinda and her husband, Hiram Hamilton, settled in Conecuh County. Hiram died in Evergreen, Ala., in 1925; Malinda died in 1926 in Crenshaw County, Ala..  They were all farmers, although the death certificate for Mose lists his occupation as that of “minister.”

On May 25, 1884, Charlotte gave birth to Adam, and on November 3, 1849, she gave birth to Cary. She later gave birth to three other children. The 1880 Census list all five children as mulattoes.  The known children of Charlotte Nix include the following: Adam, b. 1844, d. 1899, m. Lucinda Tillman (1848-1930); Cary G., b. 1849, d. 1927, m. Eliza Hamilton (1850-1903); Mose, b. 1854, d. 1932 m. Margaret (?); m. Metsie Titen; Henrietta, b. 1855, m. Champion Shine; and Malinda, b. 1856, d.1926, m. Hiram Hamilton (1852-1925).

The oldest son, Adam Nix, and his wife, Lucinda, were the parents of the following 12 children: Gracey, b. 1865; Caroline, b. 1868; Rose, b. 1870; Moses, b. 1875; George W., b. 1878, m. Lillie Daniels (1888-1921); William T. “Tommy,” m. Annie Dawson; Adam J., b. 1907, m. Victoria Hamilton (?); Walter, m. Annie Tolbert (?); John, b. 1880, m. Rosetta Hamilton; Essie, b. 1886, d.1966; Etta, m. Randell Parmer; Callie, b. 1867, d. 1919 m. Ezra Parmer; James, m. Fannie Shavers; Annie, m. Richard May.

The next son, Cary Nix, and his wife, Eliza (Hamilton), were the parents of the following children: Ervin H., b. 1874, d. 1929, m. Carrie Ellen Daniels (1879-1942); Sue b. 1877, d. 1963 m. Dunk Smith (1857-1949); Emma, b. 1879, d. 1949, m. Jink Matthews (1879-1945); Comer Payton, b. 1882, d. 1962 m. Jimmie Williams; Sylvester, b. 1884, d. 1961 m. Gatsie Cauley (1886 -1968); Essie, b. 1886, d. 1966; Ezra Howard, b. 1895, d. 1967, m. Fannie Williams;  Oscar Williams, b. 1890, d. 1974, m. (1) Sadie Fuller (2) Bobbie Crittenden (1912-1985); Other children: Claude L. Ewing (son of Dicy Ewing), b. 1886, m. Annie Lee McClain (1897-1979).

Mose Nix and his wife, Margaret, had a daughter named Maggie Nix who was born in 1876. Mose died in 1932; his death certificate listed Mitsie Titen as his wife.

The oldest daughter, Henrietta Nix, and her husband, Champion Shine, had a son named Jerdy Shine who married Maggie Reid.

The youngest child, Malinda Nix, and her husband, Hiram Hamilton, were the parents of the following children: Will, b. 1882, d. 1958, m. Maggie McClain (1886-1928); Eddie, b. 1889, d. 1946; Posey, b. 1889; Lena, b. 1890, d. 1961, m. Oliver Everette (1888-1963); Frank, b. 1892; Odis, b. 1896; Eula, b. 1897, m. Allen Everette; and Minnie, b. 1898.

Some of Charlotte Nix’s grandchildren are presented next. Adam Nix’s son, George W. Nix, and his wife, Lillie, were the parents of the following children: Adam E.; Edgar M., b. 1910; Sarah L., b. 1912; Richard O., b. 1914; Minnie L., b. 1915; George A., b. 1916, m. Laura Parmer; Van L., b. 1918; Willie J., b. 1920, m. Nellie Fergusson.

Adam’s son, William T. Nix, and his wife, Annie, were the parents of the following children: Bessie, b. 1901; Euna V., b. 1903; Karlton, b. 1904; Robert C., b. 1905; Isaac, b. 1910, m. Maude Lee McClain; Lucindy M., b. 1912; and William H. “Harry,” b. 1913, d. 1972.

Adam’s son, John Nix, and his wife, Rosetta, were the parents of the following children: Atwood, John H., and Hilton.

Adam’s youngest child, Etta Nix, and her husband, Randell Parmer, were the parents of Henry, Alonza, Alma, Eva, Elsie Lee, and Ruth Etta.

Cary Nix’s oldest son, Ervin H. Nix, and wife, Carrie Ellen, were the parents of the following 13 children: Verbie Curtis, b. 1898, d. 1940, m. Dora Williams (1900-1995); Arthur Richard, b. 1900; Eula Mae, b. 1903; Essie Viola, b. 1906; Eugene Augusta, b. 1908; John, b. 1910; Jessie Ray; Ina Pearl, m. Thomas Hamilton; Dora; Inez; Climmon Clevester; Eleanor; and Bernice Elizabeth. Ida Pearl and her husband, Thomas Hamilton, were the parents of Thomas Jr., m. Eva Nell Davis; Donald, m. Ester Isley; and Senodin, m. Rubin Williams.

Cary’s son, Sylvester Nix and wife, Gatsie, were the parents of Clara (1906-1918), Comer (1908 -1937), Minnie V. (1910-1925), Emmitt E. (1912-1996), Susie (1915-1985), Benjamin F. (1917-1918), Ester (1920-1989), Mary O. (1923-1961), Sammuel, and Alberta. 

Cary’s son, Claude L. “Ewing,” and his wife, Annie Lee, were the parents of Youliosee; Lorene; Bishop; Hollis; Ruben; Nathan; Theodore, b. 1923, d. 1996, m. Geraldine ?; and Dicy Mae,  m. Theotrie Bedgood.

The sources for this writing include an article in the November 8, 1990, issue of The Anniston Star, a chapter in Volume 14, #3 and 4, 1995, of the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, written by Dr. Dee Parmer Woodtor, and family records of Joe Nix, great grandson of Cary Nix. Appreciation is expressed to Joe Nix for assistance in editing.

Anyone who finds an error in the above is request ed to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, Ala. 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.