Axie Beasley Howcott (1838-1927)
Information about Axie’s early life is limited, both because pre-Civil War censuses did not record the names of individuals who were held in slavery and also because various court house fires have thinned out the surviving records for Washington county, North Carolina.
There is conflicting evidence as to where Axie was born. Her death certificate gives her place of birth as Plymouth. However, the death certificate of her daughter Aggie states that Axie was born in West Tennessee. Census records conflict as to whether Axie was born in Tennessee or North Carolina. 
The earliest record found that
mentions Axie is in the register of Grace Episcopal
church, Plymouth, which records her baptism along with her sister Mary on 20
July 1851. Axie’s
date of birth was recorded as February 1838 and Mary’s as February 1840.
Their parents were Ned and Polly.  The baptisms were included in the part
of the register assigned to “colored infants” and
the “surname” column in the register was completed for both of them as
“servant of J B Beasley”, their sponsor being Mrs Mary Beasley.  One of
the other two children baptised on that day was Silvy,
who had been born 5 November 1848 and was also a “servant of J B Beasley”
sponsored by Mrs Mary Beasley. Silvy’s parents were
Joe and Polly, so it may well be that Silvy was Axie’s half-sister.
Axie’s son Benjamin had born about 1850.
No contemporary record has been found of his birth or the identity of his
On 18 March 1854, Axy “servant of J B Beasley of Plymouth” married William “servant of C Howcott” at Grace church. William may have been the same person as “Bill” who appears in a list compiled on 14 May 1845 of slaves in the estate of Charles R Howcott. When on 3 July 1833 the slaves that had been held by Sarah P Knox were divided between her children Louisa Matilda and Andrew, one called Bill was assigned to Louisa Matilda, who afterwards married Charles R Howcott.  Louisa Matilda died before her husband, so it is likely that he had inherited the person in the 1833 list. However, Bill in the 1833 list was probably significantly older than Axie as that list does not indicate that he was still a child at that time.
The death certificate of Axie’s daughter Aggie states that her father was born in Dare county.
The register of Grace Church gives
these details of William and Axie’s children:
John was baptised, Axie was described as servant of
Mrs M Beasley (who by then was the widow of J B Beasley).
record has been found of Axie and her family during
the Civil War period, when there was extensive fighting in and around
Plymouth and most of the buildings in the town were destroyed.
the 1870 census of Plymouth township, Axie is
recorded as “Axy Haket”,
her age being given as 31 and her occupation as “keeping house”. William does
not appear in the household and has not been located elsewhere in that
census, so he may have died by then. The 1870 census did not record the
relationship between members of a household but all others present with Axie had the same surname and either definitely or
probably were her children:
On 17 December 1878, Axie Howcott was described as aged 42 when she married Jordan Norman at her home in Plymouth township.  Two years later, Axie and Jordan were living in Plymouth township, along with her daughters Aggie and Polly and four of his children, who ranged in age from 4 to 14. Jordan was working as a shingle hand and Axie kept home. In 1830, the North Carolina General Assembly had passed a law prohibiting anyone from teaching a slave to read or write , so it is not surprising that Axie, Jordan and Aggie were all recorded as unable to read and write. However, that was not the case with 15-year old Polly, who had attended school during the previous year.
Almost all records of the 1890 census of the USA have been destroyed, so there is a 20-year gap after 1880 in the census records of Axie’s family. In 1900, she and Jordan were living at Pinetown, Beaufort county, NC, where they were servants of Surry Parker, who was engaged in the logging business.  Norman worked as a teamster and Axie did laundry. Their names were immediately followed by Isaac Norman (born September 1885), who was described as a drayman and also worked for Surry Parker. Jordan’s date of birth was given as March 1832 and Axie’s as March 1844. The latter date does not accord with other records and would have been provided to the enumerator by the employer, as Jordan and Axie were registered as part of Surry Parker’s household.
the 1900 census, Axie was recorded as having given
birth to 13 children, seven of whom were still living, the ones identified so
1910 census of Pinetown includes Axie Norman as a widow
aged 75, living in a rented house in Back Street. Six of her children were
still living at that stage. Axie reported that she
was still working as a laundress and had been born in Tennessee but that both
her parents were born in North Carolina. The other members of the household
On 1 January 1920, Axie was living at Rail Road Street, Plymouth in the household of Preston Weaver; she was described as his aunt although she was, in fact, his mother-in-law. The other members of the family were his wife Helen and daughter and son-in-law, Mabel and Mike King.
Axie Harman” died at Plymouth at 6.30 pm on 2 May
1927 of a cerebral haemorrhage and paralysis. Her residence at the time was
320 Adams Street, though the certificate does not specify an address at which
she died. The informant was Mrs Helen Weaver of Plymouth. Axie
was buried at Plymouth on 4 May 1927, the undertaker being Slade & Towe.
 Axie’s birthplace is recorded as follows in the various
death certificate says that her father was Edward Beasley and that he was
born at “Tenmall, Tennessee” – it is likely that this
means “Ten Mile”, which is an unincorporated area in northern Meigs and south-eastern Roane
counties, about 160 miles east of Nashville. In all the censuses where Axie’s father’s birthplace is recorded, it is shown as
North Carolina. One possibility is that Ten Mile was Axie’s
own birthplace. It may be significant that in 1910, which was
the only census when Axie herself was the
head of household, her state of birth was given as Tennessee.
 In some other records the father is
described as Edward Beasley.
 John Baptist Beasley (1796-1855) was born
in Bertie county and had been a state senator in the NC assembly from Tyrell
Co. 1821-1831 and in 1835. At the time of the 1850 census, he was a grocer
living in Plymouth township with real estate worth $10,000 and held a total
of 14 slaves. Mary Alexander was his second wife. J B Beasley was a cousin of
Charles R Howcott of Chowan county and was appointed executor of his will
when Charles died in 1845.
 "North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-23059-1988-87?cc=1911121 : 21 May 2014), Chowan County > K > Knox, Sarah P (1833) > image 12 of 324; State Archives, Raleigh.
 Washington county marriage licence register.
 “A History of African Americans in North
Carolina” by Jeffrey J Crow, Paul E Scott and Flora J Hatley,
(Raleigh NC, 1997).
 Surry Parker (1866-1942) established Pinetown in 1893. He was a noted designer and builder of steam logging machinery.
 The death
certificate of Mrs Helen H Weaver, who died at Plymouth on 7 November 1964,
says that she was born at Plymouth 22 March 1880 and gives her parents as
William Howcutt and Axie Beasley. However, Axie married Jordan Norman in 1878. The 1900 census of
Plymouth township gives Helen’s birth month as April 1874 and states that she
had been married for three years and had two children, Birtha
(born September 1897) and William L (born December 1898). This would be
consistent with Helen’s father being William if he lived at least until 1873.