NORTH CAROLINA, WILSON COUNTY
I, Mary Jane Sutzer, of the Town of Wilson, County of Wilson, State of North Carolina, being of sound mind and disposing memory, but considering the uncertainty of life and its duration, do make, publish and declare this my last will and testament in words and figures as follows, that it to say:
FIRST: That my executor, hereinafter named, shall provide for my body decent and suitable burial in accordance with my estate and the wishes and desires of my family and friends, to pay all of my just debts to whomsoever owing out of the first moneys which may come into its hands belonging to my estate, together with my funeral expenses.
SECOND: I give and devise to my son, Rev. R. Buxton Taylor of Wilson, N.C., my residence lot, no. 536 located on Nash Street, and my adjoining lot and house for and during the term of his natural life and no longer, and at the termination and expiration of the life estate of my said son, I give and devise the said two lots and houses to the children of the said Rev. R. Buxton Taylor, my son, then living at his said death, and to the issue of such child or children as may have died prior to his death, share and share alike therein; it is my will and I do so devise that said real estate and no part thereof shall be sold by any or all of said children until the youngest child of my said son shall arrive at full age, my object being to provide a home for him so long as he shall live and also for his children after his death until the youngest one shall arrive at full lawful age.
THIRD: I give to my Sister’s two daughters, Estella Brunston and Prudie Vest such of my personal clothing and bed clothing as they may select and choose, also that they may have their choice of my furniture.
FOURTH: All the rest and residue of my property of any kind and nature, real or personal, I give to my son, the Rev. R. Buxton Taylor, requesting and directing him to give some of my personal effects to my step-daughter Mattie Barnes and something therefrom also to Lillie Taylor in my memory.
FIFTH: I hereby constitute and appoint The Branch Banking & Trust Company of Wilson, N.C., to be executor of this my last will and testament, and to execute the same according to its true meaning and every part and clause hereof, hereby expressly revoking and declaring null and void all other wills and testaments by me at any time made heretofore.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I the said Mary Jane Sutzer, has hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, this the 30th day of April, A.D. 1927. Mary Jane (X) Sutzer
Signed, sealed, declared and published by the said Mary Jane Sutzer, to be her Last Will and testament, in our presence, and we at her request and in her presence have hereunto set our hands as witnesses thereto. /s/ S.S. Lawrence, Troy M. Myatt
Mary Jane Sutzer died 5 November 1929 in a kerosene lamp explosion at her home at 536 East Nash Street. Her death certificate reports that she was born in Sampson County to William and Mary Bass. Her age is not listed.
I have not found Mary Jane Bass in the 1870 census or her first marriage license.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: railroad worker Jordan Taylor, 35, wife Jane, 22, and children James Grant, 7, Manora Ann, 4, General Washington, 3, and Lilly Green Taylor, 1. Son Russell Buxton Taylor was born in 1881.
On 27 May 1897, the widowed Mary Jane Taylor married Sandy Henderson. Both were 40 years old. Missionary Baptist Minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Saint John’s A.M.E. Zion church, and the official witnesses were S.A. Smith, Charles H. Darden and Wyatt Studaway. (“Step-daughter Mattie Barnes,” above, was Sandy’s daughter Mattie Henderson, who married Fate Barnes in Wilson on 14 January 1909. Per Mattie’s death certificate, Sandy Henderson was a native of Henderson County, North Carolina.)
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hack driver San[illegible] Henderson, 54, wife Mary J., 40, a restaurant keeper, and children Buxton, 19, a hotel waiter, Leonidas F., 13, a tobacco stemmer, Charles J.A.W., 9, and Mattie M.G., 7, all Hendersons. (Buxton and Leonidas were in fact Taylors and were Sandy’s step-sons.)
I have not found Mary Jane Bass Taylor Henderson Sutzer in the 1910 or 1920 censuses nor have I found her marriage license to Mr. Sutzer, though she does appear in city directories throughout the 1920s.
In History of Wilson County, North Carolina and Its Families (published in 1985 by the Wilson County 130th Anniversary Committee), Rev. R.B. Taylor’s daughter Beatrice T. Barnes wrote:
“Mary Jane Sutzer, my grandmother, always believed in striving to own the roof over her head. Buxton, my father, was born in Wilson, North Carolina in the area where Manchester Street is now. Cousin John Clark‘s parents were also co-owners of this land. Cousin John was the first black mail carrier in Wilson. … Later Grandma Jane purchased two lots from Alfred Robinson on East Nash Street. The deeds to Jordan Taylor and Mary Jane were written on a sort of parchment paper in 1898. There were eight children in the Taylor family: Leonidus, a barber; Sarah; General; Russell Buxton; Ida; and Charlie Henderson by a second marriage to Sandy Henderson.”
As only R.B. Taylor and his offspring were legatees under her will, either (1) Mary Jane Sutzer disinherited her other children or (2) all the other children predeceased her and left no heirs.