The Woodard plantations.

Woodard Family Rural Historic District is a national historic district located near Wilson, Wilson County, North Carolina. It encompasses 29 contributing buildings in a rural area near Wilson. The district developed between 1830 and 1911 and includes notable examples of Colonial Revival and Greek Revival style architecture. Notable buildings include the William Woodard House, built circa 1832; the Woodard House, build circa 1855; William Woodard Jr. House, built circa 1850; and Elder William Woodard Sr. House, built later. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Per the Nomination Form, the historic district consists of a cluster of farmhouses and outbuildings built on land acquired by William Woodard in the 1820s and ’30s. The 550-acre district in eastern Wilson County is located in the fork of Toisnot Swamp and White Oak Swamp. Most of the land is cleared for agriculture, but there is a large timbered section near Buck Branch. The main houses of the district are located along modern Alternate Highway 264, which largely follows the route of the antebellum Wilson to Greenville Plank Road. “Associated with the agricultural prosperity in the eastern part of present Wilson County during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Woodard Family Rural Historic District is indicative of the character and diversity of rural life in the area.”

This rural life, of course, was supported by many dozens of enslaved people and, later, tenant farmers. In 1852, after William Woodard was declared dead years after disappearing during a trip to Texas, his estate went into probate, and his assets were distributed to his heirs. Fifty-five men, women and children, valued at more $19,000, were divided thus:

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Their names: Mintas, Siller, Ginny, Rose, Easther, Thain, Dark, Pleasant, Morris, Blont, Ben, Arch, Alford, Tom, Peg, Rody, Silvier, Charlot, Liberty, George, Jonathan, Jim, Rachel, Nancy, Ned, Elizur, Sarah, Cherry, Amy, Harry, Gray, John, Jess, Piety, Edy, Mandy, Little Rose, Mal, Lewis, Lizzy, Sal, Little Mintas, Mariah, Hiliard, Beck, Phereby, Little Ned, Simon, London, Amos, Harrit, Richard, Dennis, Randol, and Venice.

These 55 people did not represent the total of the Woodard family’s human capital however. William’s widow Elizabeth Woodard, for example, had reported 67 slaves in the 1850 federal schedule. Her sons William Jr., Warren, James S., and Calvin reported 21, 21, 14 and 18, respectively, in the 1860 schedule.

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The heart of the Woodard Family Rural Historic District today.

Estate Record of William Woodard, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

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