First-generation freedom, pt. 4.

The fourth in a series of annotated abstracts of Wilson County death certificates of African-Americans born before 1870, the cusp of slavery and freedom. The records are a trove of information about otherwise obscure family relationships among enslaved and free people of color and shed light on intra- and interstate migration patterns in the decades after Emancipation.


Bagley, Lenora. Born 1852, Wilson County. Died 15 June 1915, Old Fields township. “Cancer of face.” Father, William Jones, North Carolina. Mother, Zillie Jones, North Carolina. Widow. Informant, Thos. Jones, Wilson. [In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, WIlson County: Lenora Jones, 28, daughters Missouri A., 9, Sallie Ann, 7, Mary Ida, 6, and Lucy, 26 days, and mother Zillah Jones.]

Bagley, Ruffin. Born 1866, Wilson County. Died 30 December 1915, Old Fields township. Gastritis. Father, Henderson Bagley, North Carolina. Mother, Fannie Williamson, North Carolina. Farmer. Married. Buried in Bagley burying ground. Informant, Nestus Bagley, Wilson. [In the 1870 census of Chesterfield, Nash County: Henderson Bagley, 40, and children Catherine, 15, Allen, 10, Zillie, 8, Nestus, 6, and Thomas R., 4. In the 1880 census of Old Fields, Wilson County: farmer Henderson Bagley, 53, and children Allen, 21, Zillah, 18, Genestus, 17, and Ruffin, 4.]

Bailey, Elizar. Born 1857, Wilson County. Died 16 May 1916, Old Fields township. “Long standing  fibroid tumor of bowells.” Father, Thomas Shaw, Wilson County. Mother, Katy Shaw, Wilson County. Farmer. Widow. Buried Wilson County. Informant, Milly Bailey. [In the 1870 census of Springhill township: Thomas Shaw, 26, wife Katy, 37, and children Frances, 16, Eliza, 14, Fox, 12, David, 11, Martha, 4, and Mary, 2.]

Bailey, Gray. Born 10 March 1845, North Carolina. Died 7 July 1914, Old Fields township. “Valvular heart lesion.” Father, Moses Bailey, North Carolina. Mother, Vilet Bailey, North Carolina. Married. Farmer. Informant, W. Grady, Wilson. Buried at New Vester cemetery. [In the 1880 census of Old Fields, Gray Bailey, 34, wife Iser, 24, and children Florence A., 7, James T., 5, Polly Ann, 3, and Harriett, 1.]

Baines, Simon. Born 1850, Nash County. Died 8 September 1930, Wilson. Resided at 806 Singletary Street, Wilson. “Chronic interstitial nephritis when I saw her.” Tenant farmer. Married to Diannah Baines. Father, Mack Eatman, Nash County. Mother, Rachel Baines, Nash County. [In the 1880 census of  Old Fields township: Simon Baines, 30, wife Isabel, 27, and children Duncan E., 9, Henry R., 2, and Vandelia, 5 months, plus Hasty Locust, 21. Simon, Isabel and Hasty’s ages were indicated as approximate.]

Baines, Zilphia. Born 1 September 1857, Wilson County. Died 30 March 1926, Gardners township. Myocarditis. Father, Stephen Taylor, Wilson County. Mother, Rachel Mercer, Wilson County. Buried family cemetery. Informant, Johnnie Baines. [In the 1870 census of Garners township: Stephen Taylor, 35, wife Rachel, 32, and children Zillie, 13, Zelphy, 10, Caroline, 5, Willis, 4, and Martha, 1.]

Baker, Mary Eliza. Born 1868, Wilson County. Died 29 November 1920, Wilson. “Leakage at heart found dead in bed.” Married to Wm. Baker. Mother, Annie Boan, Wilson County. Informant, William Baker. [In the 1900 census of Wilson: William Baker, 40, wife Mary, 31, children Rachael, 13, and Joseph, 12, and mother-in-law Annie Mercer, 65.

Baker, Miley. Born 26 March 1854, Wayne County. Died 12 November 1933, Gardners township. “No doctor called in old age & a stroke of parlies only lived a short time.” Widow of Richard Baker. Father, John Artis, Wayne County. Mother, Miley Artis, Wayne County. Buried Snow Hill, North Carolina. Informant, Sudie Jenkins, Macclesfield. [In the 1860 census of Davis district, Wayne County: John Artis, 39, wife Lethy, 40, and children Sarah J., 13, Zachary, 11, Milly, 9, William T., 7, and Betsey, 4. In the 1880 census of Bull Head township, Greene County: Richard Baker, 51, wife Millie, 27, children John R., 21, and James F., 19, Lulu, 8, Hattie, 5, and Bud, 3.]

Baker, Nathan. Born 15 April 1866, Nash County. Died 24 May 1931, Old Fields township. “No doctor died suddenly.” Married to Harriet Baker. Farmer. Father, Roberson Baker. Mother, Anna Wilkerson. Buried at New Vester cemetery. Informant, Albert Bailey. [In the 1880 census of Old Fields township: Nathan Baker, 17, and Samuel Baker, 19, servants in the household of white farmer Arnold Nichols.

Baker, West. Born 19 February 1852, Wilson County. Died 19 June 1917, Black Creek township. Chronic nephritis. Married. Farmer. Father, Ephram Baker, Wilson County. Mother, Margarette [no last name given], Wilson County. Buried at Moore graveyard. Informant, James Baker. [In the 1870 census of Old Fields township: Ephraim Baker, 51, wife Margarett, 45, and children Bitha, 21, Pricilla, 15, Etta, 12, Pinah, 10, Louisana, 7, Needham, 5, Margarett, 3, and Benjamin, 2 months, and Eli Williamson, 15.]

Ballard, Henretta. Born 1869, Wilson County. Died 31 August 1918, Toisnot township. Pulmonary tuberculosis. Married to Henry Ballard. Father, Dick Lucas, North Carolina. Mother, Bettie Lucas, North Carolina. Informant, Henry Ballard.

Banks, Mary. Born 6 March 1860, Johnston County. Died 27 November 1947, Cross Roads township. Chronic myocarditis. Widow of Isiah Banks. Father, Lum Revells. Mother, Hannah Barnes. Buried at Polly Watson cemetery, Wayne County. Informant, Allen Banks. [On 1891, Isiah Banks, 25, married Mary Revell, 25, in Wilson at the A.M.E. Zion church. Both were residents of Springhill township.]

Barbour, Boston. Born 4 November 1853, North Carolina. Died 2 September 1916, Wilson. Valvular disease of heart. Carpenter day laborer. Father, Lewis Dodge, North Carolina. Mother, Lucy Barbour, North Carolina. Informant, Adeline Barbour, Wilson. [On 25 September 1902, Boston Barbour, 35, married Adeline Pool, 40, at Jordan Taylor‘s house in Wilson. Taylor, Ben Parks and Mary E. Baker (see above) were witnesses, and Rev. William Baker, Missionary Baptist, performed the ceremony.]


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