Built about 1847, the W. H. Applewhite House is a historic plantation home near Stantonsburg, Wilson County, North Carolina. It is a two-story, three-bay, single pile, Greek Revival-style frame dwelling with a one-story, shed-roofed rear wing. The house features a double-gallery porch with sawn ornament and trim added about 1900. The plantation has been in the possession of the Applewhite family since 1841, when Henry Applewhite (1806-1850) purchased 425 acres on the west side of Toisnot Swamp. After Henry Applewhite’s death, his widow Orpha Pike Applewhite came into possession. Their son William H. Applewhite (1840-1903) was its next owner. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
Though the Nomination Form describes Henry Applewhite as a “prominent planter,” it makes no mention of the Applewhites’ status as slaveowners. Census records, however, tell the story. The 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County reports that Orpha Applewhite owned eight slaves — five females aged 68, 40, 16, 14, and 5, and three males aged 21, 12 and 8. In the 1860 slave schedule of Saratoga township, Wilson County, Orpha Applewhite is listed with two slaves, her daughter Celia Applewhite with one, son Jonathan Applewhite with five, and son W.H. Applewhite with two.
This, from an unsourced post at afrigeneas.com: “Among the surviving papers of Henry and Orpha Pike Applewhite of the Stantonsburg area of Wilson Co., NC are the names and ages [sic] of the following negroes: Sherod, born 16 July 1838; Patrick, born 1 May 1840; Mariah, born 27 September 1844; Penny, born August 1834; Mary, born spring 1832; Enos, born 1 January 1829.”
In the 1870 census, Stantonsburg, Wilson County: Patrick Applewhite, 25, wife Luvenia, 21, and son George, 6, with Loucinda Taylor, 18, and daughter Sarah, 1.
In the 1870 census, Stantonsburg, Wilson County: Enoch Applewhite, 40, Cherry, 24, Mary, 35 (described as “idiotic”), and Lucindah, 1. In the 1880 census, Stantonsburg, Wilson County: Enos Applewhite, 50, wife Cherry, 33, Lucinda, 12, Luvinia, 11, Henry, 7, Frank, 6, John, 4, and Virginia, 2 months.
Photo of the Applewhite house in 1985 in nomination file.
Respected poet James Applewhite, born in Stantonsburg in 1935, is a great-grandson of William H. Applewhite. His poetry often explores the rural South of his childhood, much spent at the Applewhite farmhouse, and the fraught relationships between blacks and whites in the era.
In his poem “The Deed”:
“… certain human beings. Beedy, Lewis, Offy;
Wealthy, Feruba, Bright; Tabitha
Mereca, Jinna, and Litha – I write your names again
here, since the many burnings of the iron-fenced family
graveyard have erased whatever chalked letters
once named you on the blackened
boards of heart pine.”