Louise Hayes was born Louise Artis in 1840 to Alfred Artis and Tempe Acock in North Carolina. The Artis’ were an extended family of free blacks from an area around Goldsboro, North Carolina. By 1850, our Artis family had moved to Parke, Indiana. After Louise’s father, Alford, died. Louise’s mother, Tempe, married Dennis Kersey. Following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the family, like many other free families of color, fled to Canada. In 1861 the Artis/Kersey family was in Amhertsburg, just across the river from Detroit.
Louise married Charles Augustus on April 2, 1860 in Ravena, Ohio before moving to Ypsilanti together. Charles joined the 54th Massachusetts Infantry in May, 1863 and was wounded in the assault on Fort Wagner in July of that year. Captured, Charles would die at the notorious Andersonville Prison in September, 1864. He is buried at the National Cemetery there. Charles was a barber and one of five Ypsilantians to join the 54th and one of two to die at Wagner.
At the end of the war, Louise married James Hayes, born 1826 in Canada, and moved to Ypsilanti after living in Ohio for a number of years. She is found in 1870 with three children of her own and one fathered by James from a previous marriage in Ypsilanti. Louise’s brothers, Archibald and Elijah, and sister Almeda (who married Robert H. Morton) also settled in Ypsilanti. Her half-brothers included George and James H. Kersey, local builders, including of Brown Chapel.
By 1871, Louise’s mother and step-father were in Colchester, a town on Lake Erie with a large fugitive population. Here, Louise’s mother Tempe died in 1871. Louise was a cook, with her sister Almeda, at Ypsilanti hotels. Together she and James, who died in 1892, had nine children, three of which were still living when Louise died in December, 1901. Extremely active in the neighborhood, Louise’s home was the site of numerous social events, including meetings of the Ladies Lyceum and Reading Society. She is buried in Highland Cemetery.
With her in the rented home at 115 South Adams in 1900 were her daughters Mammie and Ester and grandsons Charlie, a twenty year old apprentice tailor, and Ray, an eighteen year old day laborer. Her sister, Almeda (Artis) Morton lived down the street from her at 320 South Adams. Her brother Archibald died in the 1890s, last living on Chidester Street. By this time the Kersey’s were living on First Avenue.
A number of communities in Michigan and Canada saw members of the extended North Carolina Artis family settle in. Is the man in this famous photo, of 102nd USCT Civil War soldier Kinchen Artis from Cass County, a possible relative of Louise’s?