The obituary of Fletcher F. Pierce.

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Philadelphia Daily News, 22 February 2002.

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Fletcher Forest Pierce was born 5 May 1912 in Wilson to Nazareth Pierce and Ella Armstrong Pierce.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 806 Vance Street, Export Tobacco laborer Nazareth Pierce, 42; wife Ella, 43; children Eugene S., 18, Almira, 16, Leroy J., 14, Louie, 10, and Fletcher, 7; and mother-in-law Luvicy Armstrong, 65.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 905 Vance Street, insurance agent Nazareth Pierce, 54; wife Ada, seamstress; son Fletcher, 17, and daughter Elmira, 25.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 905 Vance Street, Milton Fisher, 32, teacher; wife Elmira, 28, teacher; and brother-in-law Fletcher Pierce, 26, insurance salesman.

In 1940, Fletcher Forest Pierce registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his draft registration card, he was born 5 May 1912 in Wilson; lived at 905 East Vance; his contact was father Nazerth Pierce, 415 East Green; and he worked for Winston Mutual Life Insurance, 656 East Nash Street, Wilson.

On 12 June 1943, Fletcher Forest Pierce, 31, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, son of N.A. and Ella Pierce, married Lucile Helen Russell, 30, of Charlotte, daughter of L.M. and Irene Russell, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 1950, Fletcher F. Pierce filed for World War II compensation.

Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Studio shots, no. 123: Hilliard Ellis Jr.

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Hilliard Ellis Jr. (1865-1924).

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In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Ellis, 43; wife Feribee, 40; and children Caroline, 16, William, 14, George, 11, Emily, 9, Hilliard, 6, Mary H., 4, and Warren, 8 months.

In 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Hilliard Ellis, 53; wife Fereby, 50; and children Hilliard Jr., 17; Mary A., 13; Warren, 12; Phillis, 10; and Milby, 6.

On 29 November 1887, Hilliard Ellis Jr., 22, son of Hilliard Ellis and Feraby Ellis, married Cora Williams, 21, daughter of Austin Williams and Nelly Williams, in Wilson County. Samuel Rowe applied for their license, and Warren Ellis witnessed the application.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: blacksmith Hillard Ellis, 34; wife Cora, 31; and children Willie, 11, Floyd, 6, and Ben, 2.

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Ellis, 44; wife Cora, 42; and children Floid, 17, Benjamin, 13, Hilliard D., 9, and Cora L., 9.

Cora Lee Howard died 13 October 1918 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 18 years old; married; and was the daughter of Hilliard Ellis and Cora Williams. M.S. Gilliam was the attending physician.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Hillard Ellis, 53; wife Cora, 52; and children Floyd, 24, Bennie, 21, Hillard, 19, and Walter M., 5.

Hillard Ellis died 20 March 1924 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 September 1865 in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Fabriby Rountree; was farmer working for Furney High; and was married to Cora Ellis.

Wilson Daily Times, 5 February 1948.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user tishbaldez.

The Brantley cemetery.

Armed with a 1937 Leica IIIa 35mm camera, Brian Grawburg has begun a project to document “lost” Wilson County graveyards. Using early 20th topographical maps, WPA cemetery surveys, Google Maps, and tips from the public, Grawburg has battled heat, humidity and nearly impenetrable thickets to create and preserve a record of these forgotten spaces.

This is the second in a series of posts exploring African-American cemeteries that rediscovered by Grawburg.

The Brantley cemetery, off Crepe Myrtle Road in Taylors township, Wilson County, contains nine headstones. For more about the Brantleys, see here and here and here.

  • Bettie Brantley — 1878-8 Dec 1919, daughter of Henderson Brantley and Mollie Boone Brantley.
  • Charlie Brantley — 1 Aug 1873- 8 Jan 1948, son of Henderson Brantley and Mollie Boone Brantley.
  • Finner Brantley — 1 Dec 1887-5 Jan 1924, son of Charlie Brantley and Margaret Locus Brantley.
  • Floyd Brantley — 17 Feb 1901-20 May 1905, son of Richard Brantley and Missouri Eatmon Brantley.
  • Henderson Brantley — ca. 1836-2 Dec 1916, son of Bettie Brantley.
  • Richard Brantley — ca. 1877-28 Dec 1905, son of Henderson Brantley and Bettie Brantley.
  • Solomon Finch  — 9 Mar 1896-11 Mar 1955, son of Jane Finch and Joseph Jones.
  • Annie Thomas Howard — 15 May 1907-1 Aug 1930, adopted daughter of Kenyon Howard and Mollie Brantley Howard.
  • Kenyon Howard — 28 Oct 1874-9 Dec 1938, son of Zealous Howard and Rhoda Eatmon Howard, first husband of Mollie Brantley Howard Brown.

Tony Robbins’ side: “Please send me a paper so as I can get them.”

In August 1867, John J. Pender complained to the Freedmen’s Bureau that Toney Robbins was harassing him about Pender’s apprenticeship of three children who Robbins claimed were his grandchildren. Pender asserted that Robbins had no children, much less grandchildren. The Bureau apparently sided with Pender, as the children were with him in 1870 when the census taker passed through.

Here is one of Robbins’ letters pleading for the Bureau to intercede on his behalf.

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Joyners Depot Wilison Co NC   August 5th 1867

Freedmen Bureau

I ha [written] 2 or 3 letter to Maj Crompto a Bout 3 of my grand Children nor [illegible] Eny Anser then wrote to General Every at Raleigh he said go to the Freedmen Bureau at Rockey Mount in Edgecone County the children is in Wilison County he told me to write to you it was out of his Power as it was in Wilison County

Thy or not Bound By law, So Plese Send me a Paper So as I can get them thy ar living With John J. Pender of Wilison Co

I wait an Anser [illegible] with Respets Tony Robins

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (assistant subassistant commissioner) > Roll 17, Letters received, Jul-Sep 1867, http://www.familysearch.org 

Doctors in the house.

Again, for a town whose population did not hit 10,000 until 1920 (of which only half were black), Wilson produced an astounding number of African-American physicians in the last decades of the nineteenth century and first few of the twentieth century. To the ranks of Drs. Joseph Henry WardCharles Hudson Bynum, William Henry BryantJohn Wesley Darden, James Thomas Suggs, Walter Theodore Darden, James Alexander Battle, James Arthur Cotton, John Clemon Williamson and Rolland Tyson Winstead, add four grandsons of Della Hines Barnes — Drs. Boisey O. Barnes, William C. Hines, Walter D. Hines and Clifton R. Hines.

African-American physicians who practiced in Wilson prior to World War II, but were born elsewhere, included: George W. Williams, Frank Settle HargraveWilliam Arthur Mitchner, Michael Edmund Dubissette, William H. Atkinson Jr., Thomas Clinton Tinsley, Matthew Stanley Gilliam Sr., and Joseph Franklin Cowan.

Native-born dentists from this period, none of whom practiced in Wilson, included Paul L. Jackson, Christopher L. Taylor and James D. Reid, while William H. Phillips, Lee C. Jones and George K. Butterfield Sr. settled in the community from elsewhere.

Simms’ Blue Book and National Negro Business & Professional Directory (1923).

Hagans did not have a license to carry a pistol.

At October term of the Wilson County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a grand jury indicted free man of color David Hagans for carrying a pistol without a license. Stephen Powell was among the witnesses called to testify.

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  • David Hagans — in the 1850 census of North Side of the Neuse, Wayne County: Eli Hagins, 47, day laborer, and sons Sherrard, 13, David, 11, Mary, 9, and Ezekiel, 5, all described as mulatto.
  • Stephen Powell — in the 1850 census of Nash County: 47 year-old turpentine laborer Stephen Powell; wife Synthia, 36; and children Gray, 9, Queen Anne, 8, Dolly, 7, Crockett, 3, and Moab, 1. In the 1860 census of Winsteads township, Nash County: 50 year-old Stephen Powell; wife Cyntha, 45; and children Gray, 21, Dollerson, 17, Queenanah, 13, Crocket, 12, Matchum, 10, and Frances, 8. In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: 60 year-old farmer Stephen Powell; wife Cinthia, 53; and children Dolison, 27, and Washington, 20; plus Julia Amerson, 15; Mary Taylor, 21; Louisa Powell, 5; and Charles Powell, 1. In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Stephen Powell, 80; wife Cynthia, 60; sons Dollison, 37, Washington, 26, and [grandson?] Charles T., 10,; plus boarder Wilson Hagans, 65.

Carrying Gun 1856, Criminal Action Papers, Records of Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.

There was about 1200 colored people.

The Freedmen’s Bureau also lent aid to impoverished white people. M.A. Gay’s letter to Major Compton began with a breezy description of the African-American Fourth of July celebration in Joyners Depot [Elm City] and ended in a plea for food assistance.

Joyners Depot Wilson Co NC

Mag Comton  Kinde Sir

I again seat my self to drop you a few lines which I hope will soon reach your hand. we had a nice time on the fourth I note there was a bout 12 hundred Col people assembled at this place and formed a prosession and marched up and down the streets with music in front they had a butifull dinner. I was much pleased with what you sent to me. I again am oblige to beg you I am nearly out of meat but I have some corn I have been sick nearly all the time and have not been able to help my self to any thing you will pleas send it to Mr Joseph Conte as before I would be glad if you could arrang it so as to send me my rashons every month Mr Conte will make it all right how and his wife are particular friends of mine yours with respets, you will pleas write to me     M.A. Gay

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  • M.A. Gay — probably, in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Mary Gay, 34, seamstress, and son Edwin, 3.
  • Joseph Conte — in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Joseph Conte, 52, “g & gd march retl” [grocery and dry goods merchant retail]; wife Mary, 28; and Joseph Totten, 29, clerk in store. The Contes were born in Italy; Totten, in Maine.