Month: October 2015

She remembers being sold for $40.


New York Age, 22 July 1933.


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The sailor she married: on 27 May 1874 in Salem, Massachusetts, Laura Whitfield, 30, of North Carolina, married Augustus Mafuta, 40, of “Africa.” It was a first marriage for both.

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1880 census, Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts.

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Worcester, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1898.

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Worcester, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1909.

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1920 census, Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Baptist State Sunday School Convention, 1924.

Sunday school delegates



These Wilson County Baptist churches attended the Sunday School convention: Brooks Chapel, First Baptist, Calvary, Mount Sinai, Sandy Fork and Tabernacle in or near Wilson; First Baptist, Williams Chapel and Union Chapel in Elm City; and Elm Grove near Bailey.

First Baptist (now Jackson Chapel First Baptist), Sandy Fork, Williams Chapel, Calvary, and First Missionary Baptist Church of Elm City are living congregations.

Round House fundraiser.

Please support the Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House Museum as it begins to expand its walls.

The Round House preserves, promotes, and presents African-American history, art, and culture to all citizens of Wilson, NC and its surrounding region.  From community trailblazers to nationally known personalities, the museum strives to increase awareness and appreciation of the numerous contributions that local people of color have made to society.

The Round House building was constructed by Oliver Nestus Freeman, who was born in 1882 in Wilson County to former slaves. He was educated at the Tuskegee Normal School in Alabama and returned to Wilson to build houses, including a number designed to help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing for soldiers returning from World War II.  Freeman’s services were especially sought out for his fine stonework.

The museum’s expansion plans will allow it to showcase Freeman’s unique stone three-room round house, as well as offer additional exhibition space, a community conference room, and a resource center.

Please consider giving during The Round House’s fundraising campaign.

One named Daniel, commonly called Possum.

In the name of God Amen

I Benjamin W. Sharp of the County of Wilson and State of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory do make ordain declare and publish the following to be and to contain my last will and testament in manner and form following, to wit

Item first. I will and desire my Executor hereinafter named to provide for my body a decent burial and to pay all my just debts out of the first monies coming into their hands as a part and parcel of my estate.

Item second I will and desire and devise to my wife Martha that portion of my home tract of land whereon my dwelling now stands and adjoining the lands of Ely Robbins begining on the road below the cribs in front of the store at the barbecue hole then through the field by a walnut tree on an old dunghill a strait line to Redmon Thomas line also one other tract on the north side of the mill swamp also the following slaves to wit and their ishue from the date of this will one named Abram one named Mary one named Daniel commonly called possom one named Judith also three of the choise Horses three cows and calves of her choise and all of the hogs all of my sheep all of the House hold and kitchen furniture of every description all my farming utentials all my riding vehicles one cart and its wheels also fifty barrels of corn and 4000 lbs of foder and ten bushels of peas and 500 lbs of Bacon and all of my poultry fifty lbs of Shugar 25 gallons of Molasses 25 lbs of Coffee and 75 lbs of Picked Cotton to have and to hold during her natural life

Item third my will and desire is that my crop be carred on the present year and at the end of the present year and then to be hired and rented out untill the two years of executorship expires then to be equally divided amongst all of my shildren with the exception of that that is willed to my wife to have and to hold in fee simple except that portion coming to my daughter L[illegible] E. Bridges wife of Franklin Bridges and for that to remain in the hands of my son James B. Sharp as her trustee and for her to have the hire and rent every year during her life and then to be divided amongst her isue or isue of isue

Item the forth my will and desire is that at the death of my wife that the property bequeathed to my wife be equally divided amongst all my children to have and to hold in fee simple except that portion coming to my daughter L[illegible] E. Bridges wife of Franklin Bridges and for that to remain in the hands of my son James B. Sharp and to be done by as the other that has come to her before

Item the fifth my will is that my Executors hereinafter named pay to my son Isaac G. Sharp the sum of forty Dollars out of the money coming in to their hands

Item the sixth I nominate James Barnes (Miller) and my son William H. Sharp Executors to this my last will and testament hereby revoking all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made

In testimony of which I hereunto set my hand and seal this the 28th day of Febuary in the year of our Lord 1860

Signed published and declared to be and to contain the last will and testament of Benjamin W. Sharp in our presence who witness the same at his request the year and day above written   /s/ Benja. W. Sharpe   /s/ Benja’n Bynum, Ely X Robbins


Contrary to the four people he named in his will, the 1860 slave schedule of Joyners and Gardners township, Wilson County reports that Benjamin Sharpe owned 15 enslaved people, ranging from a 45 year-old woman to a one year-old boy. They were sheltered in just two cabins.

Wilson County marriage records show that Abram Sharpe, son of Church Bynum and Thana Sharp, married Caroline Hines, daughter of Allen Hines and Harriet Hines, on 12 January 1869. In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Abram Sharp, 30, wife Caroline, 19, and son John, 9 months. A death certificate shows that widow Caroline Sharp died 1 February 1935, in Pinetops township, Edgecombe County. She had been living on Leggins farm, and her parents were listed as Allen Hines and Caroline Lancaster.

“Possum” may have been the farm laborer Daniel Sharpe, 26, listed in the household of Benjamin Tillery in the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County.

North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line],

Colored lawyer.


Wilson Daily Times, 25 November 1921.


Glenn S. McBrayer was born about 1884, probably in South Carolina, to Randall and Sylvia McBrayer. He was reared near Shelby, in western North Carolina, and appears in Cleveland County in the 1900 census. Ten years later, he was listed as a 23 year-old farm laborer, but he was soon to make life-changing moves. Sometime during the decade he obtained a degree from Howard University. In January 1917, he married Lillie Brown in Zebulon, Nash County. Shortly after, he passed the North Carolina bar.

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The Crisis, April 1917, page 293.

In 1920, however, the McBrayers were in Wilson, and, according to the census,  Glenn was working a retail grocery merchant. Sometime during the next year, he hung out his shingle and got himself elected corresponding secretary of the Negro State Bar Association. In the 1922 Wilson city directory, his occupation is clearly noted:

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He appears in Wilson directories throughout the 1920s, but seems to have left Wilson after 1930. In 1934, Glenn and Lillian McBrayer are listed in the city directory of Buffalo, New York. His occupation is given as salesman.

The obituary of Judah Davis, a faithful Christian, a kind neighbor, a loving mother.


Wilson Daily Times, 2 August 1929.

Judah Davis was born in 1843 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, and died 29 July 1929. Her death certificate lists her parents as Jack Edmundson and Synthana Edmundson. She appears as 27 year-old “Judia” Davis in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County, in a household that includes Sarah Davis, 54, and Judah’s children Fredrick, 4, and Mary, 2. All are erroneously classified as white.

Son Fred’s (and perhaps Mary’s) father, in fact, was white — Joseph Watson Davis, a 38 year-old agent for a commercial merchant, who lived nearby. [Joseph had sons Bayard Mershon (1859-1882) and William (1863-1943) and a daughter Addie (1876-1965). Rev. Fred Mashon Davis, longtime pastor of  Jackson Chapel First Baptist Church, named one of his sons William Bayard and a daughter Addie.] Judah had at least one other child, son Alfred Davis, who was 20 days old at the time the 1880 census was taken.