Month: September 2016

Where did they go?: Indiana death certificates, no. 3.

Death certificates of Wilson County natives who died in Indiana.

  • Jack Sims


In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: Isaac Simms, 32, wife Elvy, 33, and children Lucy, 12, Lilly, 10, Jack, 6, Isaac, 5, and unnamed 10 day-old twins, a boy and a girl.

In the 1940 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: North Carolina-born Jack Sims, 69, was a lodger in a household on 17th Street.

  • Ella Farmer Suggs


In the 1940 census of Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana: hotel night porter Adock Thompson, 68, wife Hattie, 55, and widowed sister-in-law Ella Suggs, 68. Ella indicated that she had been living in Indianapolis in 1935.

  • Joseph Levi Sutton


In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Wiggins Street, Joseph Sutton, 31, wife Maryliza, 30, and children Lula M., 9, Collie L., 6, Amanda, 4, and Bessie E., 1.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on Finch Mill Road, Joseph B. Sutton, 40, wife Malissa, 40, and children Lula May, 19, Carrol Lee, 16, Senoa, 13, Bessie, 11, Rosa Belle, 9, Beatrice, 7, James W., 5, Frederick C., 2, and Levi J., 10 months.

In the 1930 census of Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania: at 329 Front Street, Joseph B. Sutton, 50, wife Malissa G., 53, and children Beatrice, 17, James W., 15, Frederick, 13, Joseph L., 11, Bruce, 9, Beulah, 9, and Mable E., 7.

On 22 May 1940, in Emporia, Greensville County, Virginia, Joseph L. Sutton, 21, of Petersburg, Virginia, married Josie Mae Kenney, 18, of Wilson, North Carolina. Joseph, son of Joseph B. Sutton and Melissa G. Thaggard, reported that he was born in Sussex County, Virginia. Josie, daughter of Frank Kenney and Ida Barnes, reported that she was born in Baltimore, Maryland.

On 16 October 1940, Joseph Levi Sutton registered for the World War II draft. His registration card notes that he was born 19 May 1919 in Wilson County, that he resided at 534 East Nash Street in Wilson, that he worked for Southern Tobacco Company, and that his nearest relative was Malissie Gray Sutton of 716 East Green Street.

Malissie Gray Sutton died 17 May 1964 at her daughter’s home at 1200 Carolina Street in Wilson. Her death certificate states that she was born 15 May 1880 in Cumberland County to Andrew Thaggard and Annie Edwards. Informant was Lula Hayes of 1200 Carolina.

  • Eliza Patterson Venable


In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 27 West 10th Street, widow Eliza Venable, 53, laundress, and daughter Fannie Patterson, 30, domestic.

In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 913 Camp Street, Edward Thompkins, 47, wife Fannie, 36, daughter Elizabeth, 4, and widowed mother-in-law Eliza Venable, 63.

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 2846 Shriver Street, Edward Tompkins, 56, wife Fannie, 44, daughter Elizabeth, 15, and mother-in-law Eliza Venable, 73. Edward worked as a stock clerk in an electric shop and Fannie as a church secretary.

  • Eleanor Bynum Whitlock


  • Eugene Williams


In 1942, Eugene Williams of 918 Fayette Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, registered for the World War II draft. His draft card reports that he was born 9 May 1878 in Wilson County, North Carolina, that his contact was Jannie Williams, and that he worked for Heteren & Burner & Co.

  • John A. Woodard


In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 1146 West 26th Street, North Carolina-born laborer John Woodard, 46, and Ohio-born wife Belle, 44.

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 1146 West 27th Street, owned and valued at $2500, John Woodard, 56,  wife Belle, 54, and son Frederick, 7. John worked as a janitor in a business building.

In the 1940 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 104 Geisendorf Street, laborer John Woodard, 66, and wife Belle, 65.

The murder of Nettie Vick Jones.

Ten years after Caesar Wooten shot Mittie Strickland near Wilson’s railroad tracks, another man killed a woman near the Nash Street crossing. Initially, at least, this murder drew wide attention: A. Wilson Jones, the alleged killer, was a prominent African-American Republican Party leader in Wilson County, and his victim, his wife Nettie Vick Jones, was the sister of Samuel H. Vick.

As an early report from a Fayetteville paper notes, considerable confusion surrounded the crime. Jones fled in the aftermath, and a black constable searching for him got himself arrested after pulling a gun on a flagman.


Fayetteville Observer, 28 August 1897.

The Baltimore Sun claimed that friends of the victim’s family were threatening to lynch Jones.


Baltimore Sun, 28 August 1897.

A few days later, the Wilson Advance and Wilson Times offered more detailed versions of events. The Joneses, who were estranged, were overheard quarreling on Nash Street. Nettie rebuffed Wilkes, and he stabbed her repeatedly with a shoemaker’s knife. Wilkes then ran down Pettigrew Street to the home of one of Nettie’s friends, Annie Williams (reported earlier as Annie Battle), and shot her as she came to her door.


Wilson Advance, 1 September 1897.


Wilson Times, 3 September 1897.

Expressions of shocked sympathy rolled in from Nettie Jones’ contemporaries.


Raleigh Gazette, 11 September 1897.

Quickly, though, the hubbub died away, and a few brief updates in newspapers in early 1898 suggest that Jones was never caught.


In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: baker Samuel Williams, 30, carpenter Daniel Vick, 25, wife Fannie, 24, children Samuel, 8, Earnest, 3, and Nettie M., 5, plus Violet Drake, 52.

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: shoemaker Henry Jones, 55; wife Milly, 50; and sons Morris, 19, a bakery worker, and Wilson, 11.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Daniel Vick, 38, wife Fannie, 35, children Samuel, 16, Nettie, 14, Earnest Linwood, 12, Henry, 10, and James O.F. Vick, 8, plus Frank O., 20, and Marcus W. Blount, 26.

In the 1880 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Wilson Jones, 22, shoemaker.

On 13 December 1884, A.W. Jones, 24, of Wilson County, married Nettie M. Vick, 20, at Thomas Johnson’s. E.H. Ward, a minister, conducted the ceremony before John Moss, Alice Johnson and Thomas Johnson. (Per the 1900 census, Thomas Johnson was a mail carrier and, presumably, therefore an associate of postmaster Sam Vick. Alice was his wife.)

Pop-Eye Leonard and the Wilson Braves.


Pittsburgh Courier, 21 September 1925.

Charles “Pop-Eye” Leonard is not well-known, but his brother Walter F. Leonard — better known by the nickname Charles gave him, “Buck” — was a legend. The Leonards were natives of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, 18 miles north of Wilson. I have not been able to discover much about Charles, but a bio brief about Buck in Jason T. Powers’ Bringin’ Gas and Dialin’ 9: A Seven Score Addition to the National Pastime, volume 1, describes the brothers’ relationship, and Buck’s attempts to steer his brother away from baseball.

The Wilson Braves, presumably, were affiliated with an African-American minor league.

Vanilla Beane, milliner extraordinaire.

Posted today on the Facebook page of the National Museum of African American History and Culture:

“Vanilla Beane, is a milliner, or hatmaker, known for her custom-made pieces adorned by civil rights activist Dorothy Height.

“Born Vanilla Powell in Wilson, N.C. in 1910 [sic; actually 1919], as the youngest of seven. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1942 where she met her husband, Willie Beane. Working in the downtown Washington Millinery Supply and as a seamstress in the 50s, she sharpened her craft. After leaving the company, Beane continued to passionately make hats while working as a mail clerk for the General Services Administration. In 1979, she opened Bene Millinery & Bridal Supplies on Third Street in Northwest Washington to serve the African American community that kept the tradition of ornate hats alive, especially in the church. The 106 year-old milliner paid a visit to the museum on Grand Opening day. You can see an example of a millinery shop in our Power of Place exhibition on the fourth floor.”


According to birth records, Vanilla Powell was born in 1919 in Wilson County to James and Martha Hagans Powell. Her father, born about 1876, was the son of Ichabod and Mary Ann Lassiter Powell. (Mary Ann’s parents were Silas and Orpha Simpson Lassiter.) Her mother Martha was the daughter of Charles and Charity Thomas Hagans.

For more on Mrs. Beane, see here and here.

They have urged me to take them from their father.

Bu.R.F.&A.L., Office Asst. Sub. Asst. Com, Rocky Mount N.C. Dec 3rd 1867

Brt.Lt.Col. C.E. Compton, Sub. Asst. Com.


There is a colored man living in Wilson County by the name of Exum Joyner, who has five children, the oldest is about fifteen years of age.

The children have been to me twice and urged me to take them from their father & send them to some place where they could earn a comfortable support & protect them in so doing. I told them I had no authority to take them away from their father & sent them back to him.

I have made enquiries of both White & Black men who are neighbors, and know Exum’s character & the response has been, in every case, that he is Lazy worthless fellow & that he does not take [care] of his children.

They were certainly in a pitiable condition when they came to my office.

Would it be proper for me to ask the court in Wilson County to appoint a guardian for them

These children have a half brother who is twenty five years old, and he is an active, intelligent man; he is willing to take charge of them, providing he can be properly authorized.

I have the honor to be, Very Respectfully, Your Obed’t Svt.,

Wm. H. Culler, Brt.Lt.Col. & A.S.A.C.

Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 [database online],

Woodard family portrait.

This remarkable photograph depicts the family of Charles and Winnie Woodard Bynum of Gardners township, Wilson County.


In the 1880 census of Gardners, Wilson County: Wesley Bynum, 24, wife Sophy, 24, and children Polly, 14, Lonie, 12, Charlie, 9, Bunny, 7, Jack, 5, and Arch, 3.

In the 1880 census of Gardners, Wilson County: Hilliard Woodard, 30, wife Rosetta, 25, and children Winnie, 9, Aaron, 8, Mary E., 6, Cora, 3, and James, 1, and John Taylor, 15, a servant.

On Christmas Eve 1890, Charles Bynum, 20, married Winnie Woodard, 20, in Wilson County at the residence of J.S. Woodard, Primitive Baptist minister. Witnesses were J.P. Uzzell, J.S. Woodard Jr. and Mollie Woodard.

In the 1900 census of Gardners, Wilson County: Charlie Bynum, 28, wife Winnie, 28, and children Mollie, 7, Amey, 6, Mattie, 5, Sophia, 2, and Rose, 11 months.

In the 1910 census of Gardners, Wilson County: farmer Charles Bynum, 38, wife Winnie, 38, and children Mollie, 16, Mattie, 14, Sophia, 12, Rose, 10, Winnie, 8, Lula, 6, Prissy, 4, Ferdie, 3, and Robert S., 1.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Charlie Bynum, 48; wife Winnie, 48; children Mattie Ruffin, 22, Winnie, 14, Lula, 16, Percy, 13, Ferdie, 12, Robert, 10, and Essie Bynum, 5; grandchildren W. Berley, 3, and Paul Ruffin, 1; sister-in-law Rebecca Capers, 24; and niece Sallie Oats, 20.

On 13 October 1921, Charlie Bynum died in Rocky Mount, Nash County. His death certificates remarks that he was born 12 July 1871 in Wilson County to West Bynum and Sophia Dunn. He was buried  in Wilson County.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Roman Sharp, 34, wife Mattie, 34, and children Willie, 13, Paul, 12, Bramon, 6, Roman Jr., 5, and May C., 2, plus mother-in-law Winnie Bynum, 64, and sister-in-law Essie Bynum, 16.

Winnie Woodard Bynum died 26 August 1943.

Photo courtesy of member Speedoo251.

The last will and testament of Asa Locus.


I, ASA LOCUS, of Wilson County, North Carolina, DO MAKE, DECLARE and PUBLISH this to be my last WILL and TESTAMENT, hereby revoking and declaring utterly void all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made:

(1) FROM the first monies coming into her hands MY EXECUTRIX hereinafter named shall be all debts owing by me at the time of my death, including burial expenses and the costs of an appropriate grave stone.

(2) AFTER the payment of all my debts aforesaid, I GIVE and BEQUEATH unto my daughter, EVA HESTER the sum of Twenty Five dollars ($25.00) and to my daughter, ADA HESTER the sum of Twenty Five dollars ($25.00).

(3) AFTER the payment of all of the items set forth in Paragraph One and Paragraph Two hereof, I GIVE , DEVISE and BEQUEATH unto my beloved wife ANNIE LOCUS, all of my property, both real and personal, tangible and intangible, of every kind and description and wheresoever situate, to have and to hold unto my said wife ANNIE LOCUS for and DURING THE TERM OF HER LIFE, provided, however, my said wife ANNIE LOCUS shall have full power and authority to dispose of any of the PERSONAL PROPERTY bequeathed to her FOR LIFE but she have no power to dispose of any of said real estate.

(4) UPON the death of my beloved wife, ANNIE LOCUS, I GIVE and DEVISE unto my two sons, JOHN LOCUS and PAR LOCUS, share and share alike, all of my real estate of any and every kind and description and wheresoever situate heretofore devised to my beloved wife, ANNIE LOCUS for the term of her life to have and to hold unto my said sons, JOHN LOCUS and PAR LOCUS for and during the term of their lives only, and at the death of each my said sons, JOHN LOCUS and PAR LOCUS his share in said real estate shall vest in his children in FEE SIMPLE, provided, however, if either of said sons shall die without children, or issue of children, then his share shall vest in the other of said sons, subject to the same limitations hereby imposed.

(5) I HEREBY constitute and appoint my beloved wife, ANNIE LOCUS as the EXECUTIRIX of this will and she shall be required to execute on bond.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I, ASA LOCUS, Testator, as aforesaid have hereunto signed my name and affixed my seal this the 6th day of May, 1939.     Asa (X) Locus

Witness K.J. Herring

Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the said Asa Locus, Testator, as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us, who at his request, and in his presence, and in the presence of others have signed our names as attesting witnesses.  K.J. Herring, David W. Isear


In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Nelson Eatmon, 66; wife Eliza, 50; [Eliza’s children] Amanda, 18, Mary J., 14, Asa, 10, and Lougene Locus, 4; and Margaret Howard, 21, and Harriet Howard, 2.

Also, in the 1880 census of Fishing Creek, Warren County, North Carolina: Levi Richardson, 25, wife Temy, 16, and cousin Acy Locus, 10.

On 17 June 1895, in Brinkleyville, Halifax County, Asa Locus, 23, of Halifax County, married Annie Eaton [sic], 18, of Halifax County.

In the 1900 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Asa Locus, 27, wife Anna, 22, and children Larry, 5, Johney, 4, and Kniver, 1.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, farmer Acy Locust, 40, wife Annie, 33, and children Larry, 15, John, 13, Eva, 11, James, 8, Ada, 6, and Paul, 3, and mother-in-law Wilmur Eatman, 68.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Asa Locus, 49, wife Annie, 40, daughter Ada, 14, and son Paul, 12.

In the 1930 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Ace Locus, 60, wife Annie, 50, and granddaughter Teanestus Locus, 10.

In the 1940 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Ace Locus, 72, and wife Annie, 68.

Asa Lucus died 14 July 1955 at Park View Hospital in Rocky Mount, Nash Carolina. His residence was Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born October 1860 in Wilson County to Martin Lucus and Liza Brantley. He was buried in a family cemetery in Wilson County.


Asa Locus (circa 1870-1955)

Photograph courtesy of Europe A. Farmer. North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line],

Pvt. Leonard London Barnes.

On 5 June 1917, Leonard London Barnes registered in Gardners precinct, Wilson County, for the World War I draft. He was just shy of 30 years old.


Ten months later, the Wilson County draft board inducted the 21 men of group 159 into military service. All were African-American farmers or laborers and were sent for basic training to Camp Grant, Illinois. It was likely the first time most had left North Carolina. Leonard Barnes was among them.


Pvt. Barnes served with 350th Machine Gun Battalion, 92nd Division, and was honorably discharged on 17 June 1919. For details of the famous 92nd’s dramatic and heroic service in France, see E.J. Scott here.


When he died 19 November 1952, his widow Adelaide W. Barnes applied to the military for a flat granite marker.



In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Simon Barnes, 51, wife Pennina, 40, and children Rosetta, 22, James W., 20, Hardy, 18, Chaney, 16, Pruny, 14, London, 12, Silas, 11, Prisa, 8, Simon, 5, and Marylisa, 2. [Leonard’s mother was Penninah Woodard, daughter of Rev. London and Penelope Lassiter Woodard.]

On 19 December 1917, in Rocky Mount, Nash County, Leonard Barnes married Adelaide White, 24, daughter of Allen White and Lula German of Nash County.


In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1203 Carolina Street, rented at $12/month, wagon company laborer Lenord Barnes, 35, wife Adeline, 39, and children Penny, 11, Mary, 9, Adeline, 6, and Oscar, 11 months.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Lernord Barnes, 52, wife Adalaid, 45, Penny, 21, Adelaid Lee, 15, Oscar, 10, and Leandar Jr., 8.

Leonard Barnes died 19 November 1952 at his home at 1314 Carolina Street in Wilson. He was buried in his mother’s family’s cemetery.


Photo of Leonard L. Barnes courtesy of member CYBARNES; U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line],; U.S. Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917–1918 [database on-line],

Peter Darden.

In the early pages of cookbook-cum-family memoir Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine, Norma Jean and Carole Darden describe the mystery of their grandfather Charles H. Darden (1854-1931)’s earliest years. As far as anyone knew, at Emancipation he walked on his own from Greene County to Wilson, where he planted his boot and raised himself by its straps.

While I have not discovered Charles Darden’s parents, the article below suggests that he did have family. The Gazette, an African-American newspaper published in Raleigh,  periodically ran society columns covering towns in eastern North Carolina, including Wilson and Rocky Mount. On 28 August 1897, the columnist mentioned in passing that Miss Annie “Dorden” of Wilson was visiting her uncle, Peter Darden. Annie Lee Darden (1879-1943) was the oldest daughter of Charles and Diana Scarborough Darden. (She married John Mack Barnes in Wilson in 1903.) Peter Darden, then, seems to have been Charles Darden’s older brother.


Raleigh Gazette, 28 August 1897.

In the 1870 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: house carpenter Peter Darden, 27, and Sidney M. Darden, 8. Peter claimed $100 in real property and $100 in personal property.

In the 1880 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: house carpenter Peter Darden, 38, wife Edna, 27, and sons Walter, 10, Johnny, 8, and Wesley, 4.

In the 1900 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: on Frankling Street, carpenter Peter Darden, 55, wife Ednar, 49, and son Westry, 33, a carpenter, plus boarder Mack Maderson, a preacher.

Westry Darden died of tuberculosis on 15 January 1910 in Rocky Mount. His death certificate reports that he was born 17 October 1875 to Peter Darden and Edna Speights, both of Greene County and was married and worked as a carpenter.

In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 230 Franklin Street, house carpenter Peter Darden, 70, wife Edna, 61, widowed daughter-in-law Lula, 22, and grandchildren Westray, 3, Walcott, 1, and Lula, 2 months.

In the 1920 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 230 Franklin Street, Peter Darden, 74, and wife Edna, 63.

Edna Darden died 30 March 1931 in Rocky Mount. Her death certificate reports that she had been born 8 May 1856 in Greene County to Redman Speight and Elizabeth Edwards. Peter Darden was informant.

Peter Darden died 9 February 1922 and was buried in Rocky Mount’s Unity Cemetery.


Both Mount Zion First Baptist Church and Saint James Missionary Baptist Church remain active congregations in Rocky Mount. Saint James celebrated its 130th anniversary in June 2015 and is described as the “2nd oldest African American Baptist Church in the Twin Counties area of Eastern North Carolina.”

Photo courtesy of