Month: December 2015

The death of Moses Brandon.

Victim of Heart Failure.

Moses Brandon, a negro, fell dead today at 2:15 from heart failure.

The negro, it appears, was walking on Spring street, opposite the Norfolk Southern cotton platform, when suddenly he threw up his hands and fell to the ground. Smith Bennett, another negro who lived nearby, saw him and ran to his assistance. He saw though that Brandon was dying and ran to get a chair. Brandon died in a few minutes.

The deceased had conducted a restaurant in this city for a great many years and is one of Wilson’s best known colored citizens.   — Wilson Daily Times, 4 March 1914.


Moses Brandon, son of Frances Terry of Virginia, married Amie Hilliard on 22 May 1895 in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister L.B. Williams performed the ceremony, and Charles H. Darden, Braswell R. Winstead and L.A. Moore served as witnesses.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Virginia-born Moses Brandon, 50, day laborer; wife Emmie, 45, washerwoman; and son Marvin, 12. (Smith Bennett, 47, a brickmason, and his daughter Addie, 20, also appear in the Wilson census.)

In the 1908 Wilson city directory, Moses Brandon’s listing shows his “eating house” at 127 South Goldsboro Street and his home at 125 Ashe.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Moses Brandon, 55, proprietor of boarding house, and wife Amy, 51, laundress. Her only child was reported dead.

In the 1912 Wilson city directory, Moses Brandon’s listing shows his eating house at 411 East Nash and his home at 127 Ashe.

Page_11) 127 E. Goldsboro. 2) 411 E. Nash. 3) 125-127 Ashe. 4) N&S cotton platform, Spring Street. Sanborn map of Wilson NC, 1913.

Brandon died intestate. Two months after his death, his widow Amy applied for letters of administration for his estate, valued at $300. Camillus L. Darden (son of Charles L. Darden, above) and Roderick Taylor joined her to give a $600 bond.

M Brandon Admin Bond

Amy Brandon did not long outlive her husband. The will she drew up in September 1916 was proved six months later:

North Carolina, Wilson County.   I, Amy Brandon, a colored woman, of the state of North Carolina and county of Wilson, being of sound mind and memory but considering the uncertainty of this my earthly existence and wishing to arrange for the proper handling of my affairs and the distribution of my property in the event of my death, do make, publish, and declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following:

First: my executor, hereinafter named and designated, shall give my body a decent burial, suitable to the wishes of my relatives. And it is my desire that my said executor have my body interred in the burial ground at Wilson, North Carolina.

I direct my said executor to pay all my funeral expenses and all my just debts out of the first moneys coming into his hands from my said estate.

Second: I give, bequeath and devise to my beloved and only sister, Lucinda Holloway, now living and residing at No. 624 Princess Anne Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia, all my property, real and personal, of whatsoever kind and condition and wheresoever situate, to her and her heirs and assigns, in fee simple forever.

Third: I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint, Camillus Darden, a colored man of Wilson, North Carolina, a friend of myself and family, my lawful executor, to all intents and purposes to execute this my last will and testament and every part and clause thereof according to the true intent and meaning of the same, hereby revoking and declaring void all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made.

In Testimony Whereof, I, the said Amy Brandon, have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, this the 8th day of September, 1916.     Amy (X) Brandon  {seal}

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said Amy Brandon to be her last will and testament in the presence of us, who at her request and in her presence, and in the presence of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses thereto.    Witnesses: /s/ D.C. Yancey, Ph.G., L.A. Moore



General Joshua Barnes plantation.

Gen. Joshua Barnes House is a historic home located near Wilson, Wilson County. Built about 1844, it is a two-story, central-hall-plan, Greek Revival-style frame dwelling built around the nucleus of an earlier, Federal style dwelling dating to 1830 and was remodeled about 1870. The house features a shallow hipped roof and one-story, full-width front porch. Attached to the rear of the house is a small one-story Greek Revival frame structure connected by an enclosed breezeway. Gen. Joshua Barnes, who built the house, is considered the father of Wilson County.

The National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the house waxes enthusiastic: “The exterior appearance of the house is very simple and elegant. The house is set in a grove of mature trees at the intersection of Waterworks Road and London’s Church Road just outside the city limits of Wilson. Prime agricultural land surrounds the house. The boxy massing of the house is typical of Greek Revival architecture in general and of this type of plantation house in Wilson County in particular. The house, set on a low brick foundation, is oriented to the east and to the road. A plain continuous frieze forms a band under the boxed cornice. Applied diamond motifs ornament the rear and parts of each side elevation. Similar diamonds are found on buildings in Wilson dating from the last quarter of the nineteenth century and these diamonds may date from this period. Many plantation houses originally had a double gallery porch on the front elevation, which may account for the lack of frieze ornament on the main facade of this house. A single story porch with square posts with molded caps shelters the main facade. The broad trabeated door boasts some original etched cranberry glass in the transom and sidelights. Large six-over-six-sash windows are the dominant window type used in the house. The southern side facade has four bays on the first floor, but only three on the second floor. The rear elevation gives clues to the orientation and placement of the earlier structure as well as showing the additions which have been made to the house since 1844 including a pantry, laundry and enclosed porch.”

Of Joshua Barnes’ success: “In 1860, on the eve of the Civil War and five years after his great success in the legislature, Barnes was one of the wealthiest men in Wilson County. According to the 1860 census he was a farmer owning $27,500 worth of real property and $79,000 worth of personal property.” As usual, nowhere in the glowing description of Barnes, his house and his accomplishments is any mention of the main source of Barnes’ wealth — his slaves.

The 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County pulls back the curtain: Joshua Barnes owned 66 men, women and children, ranging in age from eight months to 94 years, housed in ten dwellings. Benjamin Ellis‘ family were among them:


Wilson Daily Times, 13 June 1922.

J Barnes house 1976

Joshua Barnes house, 1976. The house, recently sold, remains in excellent condition. 

Georgia Burke.

In the late summer of 1922, the New York Age‘s Wilson correspondent included this short snippet in her report of Black Wide-Awake’s social swirl:

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New York Age, 9 September 1922.

The Battle sisters, teacher Georgia Burke and nurse Henrietta Colvert were neighbors as well as travel companions. In the 1920 census of the Town of Wilson, Wilson County: at 330 South Spring Street, Henrietta Colvert is listed as a boarder in the household of widow Nannie Best, 61, and her extended family Frank, 30, Aaron, 21, Estelle, 19, and Harper Best, 65. Next door, at 332: widow Ella Battle, 52, and her children Grace [Glace], 27, teacher Roberta, 29, tobacco worker John, 25, and Olga Battle, 11, shared their home with boarders Georgia Burks, 25, a Georgia-born teacher, and chauffeur Theodore Speight, 17; and roomers William Phillips, 35, a dentist, and his wife Jewel, 23.

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Burke taught in Wilson for at least ten years. In April 1918, she was one of eleven African-American teachers who resigned to protest the slapping of a black teacher by school superintendent Charles L. Coon and the disrespect shown them by Colored Graded School principal J.D. Reid. With the others, Burke resumed teaching at the privately funded Wilson Independent School. (More about this infamous and revolutionary incident soon.)

In 1928, while taking a summer course at Columbia, she sang a few songs while attending a rehearsal for “Blackbirds of 1928.” Hired for the choir, she took a year’s leave of absence from teaching. She never returned.

Afro American 5 6 1944

The Afro-American, 6 May 1944.


New York Age, 26 March 1949.


Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 8 March 1953.

“Georgia Burke, 107, Acted Character Roles.”

Georgia Burke, an actress who played character roles on Broadway from the 1920’s until her retirement in the 1960’s, died in the De Witt Nursing Home in Manhattan last Thursday. According to the records of the Actors Fund of America, she was 107 years old.

Miss Burke appeared on Broadway in “The Grass Harp,” “The Wisteria Trees,” “No Time for Comedy,” “Mamba’s Daughters,” “They Shall Not Die,” “Anna Lucasta,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Cabin in the Sky,” “Mandingo” and “Decision,” for which she won the Donaldson Award in 1944.

Born on Feb. 27, 1878, in La Grange, Ga., Miss Burke studied at Claflin University in Orangeburg, S. C., and taught fourth grade for six years.

In 1929, she came to New York to take a summer course at Columbia University. At the time a black choir was being assembled for ”Blackbirds” on Broadway. A friend persuaded her to audition. She sang ”St. Louis Blues” and was hired on the spot and she left teaching to pursue an acting career.

In addition, Miss Burke appeared on radio and television serials. For five years before and during World War II, she played the role of a nurse in ”When a Girl Marries.” There are no known survivors. A service, sponsored by the Actors Fund, will be held at noon tomorrow at the Walter B. Cooke Funeral Home, 1504 Third Avenue.  — New York Times, 4 December 1985.


Georgia Burke in “Anna Lucasta,” New York Age, 28 February 1959.

Two white men running after a negro.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County  }  To any lawful officer to execute and return forthwith Whereas information has the day been made to me William Ellis one of the Justices of said County on the oath of William Thompson that he has reason to believe that John Edwards or Kinchen Page either on or the other did shoot or was accessory to the shooting of his slave Abraham this day near Stantonsburg in said County  This is therefore to command you yo arrest the said Edwards and Page and them have before some Justice of said county to answer the aforesaid complaint and be further delt with according to Law. Herein fail not Given under my hand and seal this 22nd day of March 1855.  /s/ William Ellis J.P. {seal}

Summon for the state: John W. Nobles, Nathan P. Daniel, William Jordan, Mrs. Avy Peacock, Orange Jones


State of North Carolina, Wilson County    }  The defendants John Edwards and Kinchen Page being brought before me William Ellis one of the Justices of said County of Wilson charged according to the terms of the foregoing warrant and being put on the examination John Edwards states that he met said boy Abraham in the road in Stantonsburg [illegible] near the bridge and told said boy that for previous conduct he [illegible] him a whipping and that he was agoing to whip him and that if he run he would shoot him whereupon the boy said if he was a mind to shoot he must shoot and troted off whereupon he did shoot him

Kinchen Page states he did not shoot the boy nor was he accessory to the shooting

Orange Jones a witness for the state being duly sworn states that John Edwards told him he did shoot the boy Abraham and gave as a reason about the same as said Edwards states in his examination as recorded above

Mrs. Elizabeth Heath being duly sworn states that she heard a gun fire and looked out and saw two white men running after a negro but did not know either of them

Mrs Avy Peacock being duly sworn states that she saw Mr. Edwards shoot the boy and then she also saw Edwards and Page run after the boy — She also states that upon interrogation that about the time Edwards had the gun raised to his face she heard Page say stop John or dont shoot or words to that effect

Slave Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Early history of New Vester Missionary Baptist Church.

The roots of New Vester Church go back to the brush arbor in the mid-1860’s. Vester Church, located in an area known as Parker’s Island, was led first by a Reverend Stamper, who was followed after a few years by the Reverend Nick Anderson.  Reverend Daniel Stokes and Reverend Nick Arrington succeeded Reverend Anderson. In 1891, the church was relocated to its present site, where two deacons, Harry Dunston and Ned Kent, contributed lumber to build a new edifice. Under the leadership of Reverend Anderson, who served from 1891 until 1903, the church adopted the formal name New Vester Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend W.H. Mitchiner served from 1903 until his death in 1953, with Reverend Offie Richardson serving as Associate Pastor for three years due to Rev. Mitchner’s illness. Rev. Mitchner was succeeded by Reverend J.H. Bryant and Reverend A.A. Crum, who served from 1956 until 1970.


New Vester is located near Buckhorn reservoir southwest of Sims (and due south of Bailey), in western Wilson County. It remains an active congregation.

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  • Daniel Stokes may have been the 35 year-old farmer who is listed in the 1880 census of Castalia, Nash County, with wife Cherry. Their 1871 marriage license describes Daniel as born in Franklin County to Cary and Eliza Stokes and Cherry as born in Franklin to Redic and America Wheeless. Daniel died in 1917 in Cypress Creek, Franklin County.
  • Harry Dunston (1855-1950) was the son of Ben and Harriet Hester Dunston. He is buried at New Vester.
  • Ned Kent was born about 1855 in Johnston County. His death certificate lists his parents as Elbert and Abbie Sanders, but a family story published at names Lightfoot Sanders and Angeline Kent. Ned Kent married Lydia Barnes circa 1875, probably in Wilson County. He died in 1940 in Springhill township, Wilson County.
  • Offie William Richardson was born in Wake County in 1884 to Richardson “Dick” Richardson and Cornelia (or Topsy) Richardson. He died in Johnston County in 1965.

Church history adapted from

Loving and only daughter passed away.


Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 1919.

In the 1900 census of Deep Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Jarrett Z. Staton, 28, his wife Mary, 26, and their daughter Eula, 10 months.

In the 1916 Wilson NC city directory, Eula Staton is listed as a grocer, though she was only 16 years old. Her father Jarrett was described as a porter in the directory.

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On 13 February 1919, “school girl” Eulelia Staton died of pulmonary tuberculosis.


43rd State Sunday School convention.

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Minutes of the Forty-Third Annual Session of the North Carolina Baptist State Sunday School Convention (1915). 


  • Mrs. Sallie Barber — Per her death certificate, Sallie Minnie Blake Barbour was born about 1871 in Wake County to Essex and Clara Hodge Blake. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: mechanic Charlie Barber, 47; wife Sallie, 40, teacher; and sons Luther, 21, John, 17, James, 17, and Herbert, 15, plus two roomers. Wilson’s black graded school was named in her honor in the early 1930s. She died in 1942.
  • Mrs. Anne E. Weeks — In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: Alfred Weeks, 44, a minister; wife Annie, 44; daughter Marie, 14, and sister Bessie, 26. Annie Elizabeth Cook Weeks, then a resident of Elizabeth, New Jersey, died while visiting Wilson on 19 April 1943. Her death certificate noted that she was born in Wake Forest, North Carolina, in 1875 to Henderson B. and Mariah D. Batchlor Cook of Wake County, and was a teacher.
  • F.S. Hargrave — Dr. Frank Settle Hargrave was a physician.
  • S.Y. Griffin
  • Miss Daisy Holland — In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson county: at 450 Goldsboro Street, widow Charity Holland, 48, laundress; son Charlie Holland, 24, barber; and daughters Jane, 20, Mazie, 18, Daisy, 18, Lue, 16, and Lillian, 12. Daisy died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 10 May 1927. Her death certificate notes her parents as Benjamin Holland and Charity Jones, originally of Wake County; her husband as George Cooper; and her occupation as school teacher.
  • Mrs. A.L. Fauk — Probably, Arzalia L. Faulk. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: barber Hiram Faulk, 44; wife Arzalia L., 40, a dressmaker; and daughter Marie, 14.
  • A.L.E. Week — New Bern native Rev. Alfred Leonard Edward Weeks was minister of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Wilson. He was pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church of New Bern from 1896-1912 and his “dynamic leadership” is credited with the rebuilding of the church after a devastating fire, as well as the founding of the New Bern Industrial Collegiate Institute.

Minutes at Duke Divinity School Library Archives.

Mercy Hospital.


Founded in 1913, the Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home (later known as Mercy Hospital) was one of a handful of early African-American hospitals in North Carolina and the only one in the northeast quadrant of the state. Though it struggled financially throughout its more than 50 years of operation, the hospital provided critical care to thousands who otherwise lacked access to treatment.

A small cadre of black nurses assisted the attendant physicians. One was Henrietta Colvert (1893-1980) shown below at far left. A native of Statesville in North Carolina’s western Piedmont, Henrietta received training at Saint Agnes School of Nursing in Raleigh. How and when she came to Wilson is unknown. However, this photograph suggests that she cared for Mercy’s patients in its earliest days as the man seated in the middle is hospital founder Dr. Frank S. Hargrave, who left Wilson for New Jersey in 1924. The man at right is Dr. William A. Mitchner.


Photograph of staff courtesy of the Freeman Round House Museum, Wilson; photograph of hospital taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, June 2013.

Runaway railroad laborers.


Raleigh Weekly Standard, 27 May 1863.

“Railroad companies and contractors hired slaves by the hundreds; they also purchased slaves directly, in lots of 50 or more. In fact, by the 1850s, the South’s railroad companies could be counted among the largest slaveholders in their regions. They even developed special accounting entries on their balance sheets to show the value of “the Negro Fund.” …

“… The South pursued railroad expansion as fast as the North, laying as many miles of track in the 1850s as the Midwest, even exceeding the pace of construction in much of the North. And slavery was inextricably bound to the South’s railroad boom: slaves could be moved at the will of a slaveholder quickly from one part of the South to another, and whites could use slaves as collateral on loans to build railroads or purchase new farms. What’s more, railroads opened up new cotton frontiers in the interior South, expanding the need for slavery in agricultural contexts.

But the constant moving and confusion of the railroad boom also made escape easier. …”

Excerpt from Thomas, William G., “Been Workin’ on the Railroad,” New York Times, 10 February 2012.


W.K. Delany was listed in the 1860 federal slave schedule of Greenville, Pitt County, North Carolina, southeast of Wilson, as the owner of 22 slaves.