Mary Grove Missionary Baptist Church is on Wiggins Mill Road northwest of Lucama in Springhill township. Founded in 1909, the church is home to branches of the Kent, Renfrow, Jones, Barnes, Creech and Powell families, among others. (Including members of the Gospel Four.)
These photographs, which appear to date from the early 1970s, show the church’s wooden mid-century iteration, an early cornerstone, and the road sign that once identified the church to passersby.
Mary Grove Church today. The sanctuary has undergone several remodels in its 100+ years and is now a modern brick structure with attached offices and meeting space. The cornerstone in the brick plinth shown above is now embedded front left. The church’s cemetery is located behind the parking lot at the far right edge of the image below.
Many thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for sharing family photographs of Mary Grove Church.
The Rufus Edmundson House lies just two blocks off Stantonsburg’s main street, but at the very edge of town. Behind it stretch miles of fields and woodland.
“This antebellum house was built circa 1846 for Rufus Edmundson. … The house is similar to the William Barnes and Ward-Applewhite-Thompson Houses (both in Stantonsburg Township) and the Elias Barnes house (Saratoga township). It stands two stories high and the main block is capped with a shallow hipped roof. Unusual heavy dentils ornament the frieze and the three-bay facade was once sheltered by a double-gallery porch supported by square columns. Although the door leading to the second floor porch has been altered, the original trabeated entrance to the first floor is still intact. A single-story, hipped-roof porch with Doric columns replaced the earlier double-gallery porch in the early twentieth century. On the interior the house is divided by a wide central hall with two rooms to either side. Some original woodwork remains intact including a handsomely curved newel post.” — Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981).
In the 1860 census of Saratoga township [which included Stantonsburg], Wilson County, Rufus Edmundson’s reported wealth comprised $15,000 in real property and $30,600 in personal property. The 1860 slave schedule parses Edmundson’s wealth — the $30,600 mostly took the form of 34 enslaved men, women and children, aged 1 through 38, who inhabited six dwellings on Edmundson’s farm and toiled for him.
The 1870 census was the first post-Emancipation enumeration. Next door to Rufus Edmundson were Margaret and Bailum Hall and their son John, 4 months. (Balaam Hall, son of James Woodard and Liza Hall, had married Margaret Edmundson, daughter of Proncey Edmundson, on 19 July 1870 in Wilson County.) Next to the Halls was a household comprised of members of several families, including Bertha Edmundson, 20, and Winnie, 12, and Gray Edmundson, 14, who were all listed as farmer’s apprentices. Though close proximity and shared surname, as well as indenture as apprenticed labor, do not guarantee that these young people had been enslaved by Rufus Edmundson, these facts are strong evidence.
The files of nineteenth and early twentieth century divorce cases are housed at the North Carolina State Archives. This is the first in a series abstracting some of the folders of actions filed in Wilson County Superior Court. (The allegations of misdoing summarized are derived from court pleadings and were not necessarily true.)
Henry Artis v. Mary Ann Artis
May term, 1901. Married 4 January 1893 in Wilson. After about a year, defendant Mary Ann deserted plaintiff Henry. She also committed adultery with Jim Pool and others and was a “common prostitute.”
On 4 January 1893, Henry Artis, 20, of Wilson township, son of Richard and Eliza Artis, married Mary Ann Lewis, 19, of Gardners, daughter of John and Mary Lewis, in Wilson.
Tom Artis v. Ida Artis
November term, 1910.
William Artis v. Mollie Artis
May term 1906. Married December 1898 in Wilson County. Mollie abandoned William in December 1903. In 1905, she committed adultery with Noah Foreman.
James Artis v. Louvenia Artis
February term, 1914.
On 28 February 1908, James Artis, 29, of Gardners township, son of Jesse and Patsey Artis, married Louvenia Pleasant, 19, of Gardners, daughter of George Pleasant. Blount Best performed the ceremony.
George Barnes Jr. v. Milly Barnes
June term, 1896. Married 4 July 1895 in Wilson County by Free Will Baptist minister Crockett Best. Witnesses produced at trial: Richard Eatman, Smith Battle, Jerry Scarboro, William Barnes, Reuben White, George Towe, Alfred Thompson and Alfred Woodard. Divorce denied.
Plaintiff George asserted that he was unaware that Milly was pregnant at the time of their marriage. When he discovered her condition three weeks later, he left her as he was not the child’s father. Defendant Milly responded that she was an “innocent young woman and was seduced by the plaintiff under a promise of marriage to yield to his embrace and that she became pregnant by cohabitation with him”; that he was the child’s father; and that she had never had “carnal intercourse” with any other man.
Richard Eatman, who was served his subpoena in Halifax County, testified that he was acquainted with Milly Barnes for a number of years, “having been raised in the same neighborhood” with her; that about four years prior he began to have sex with her from time to time for about a year; that he never promised to marry her; that he did not think she was “innocent” when he first had sex with her; and that she had admitted to him having sex with Daniel Barnes.
H.E. Bell testified that he lived near Milly and had known her a number of years and that she had the general reputation of “a woman of loose morals.” He also knew George: “he is a young colored man, of good habits, sober and reliable in every way, that his reputation for truth is as good as any colored man” that Bell knew. Also, Bell stated, Milly lived with her father, Hilliard Ellis, who “provides for her and is able to continue to do so.”
On 4 July 1895, George Barnes, 24, son of George and Anica Barnes, married Milly Ellis, 20, daughter of Hilliard and Feriby Ellis as Hilliard Ellis’ house. A.J.C. Moore applied for the license, and Free Will Baptist minister Crockett Bestperformed the ceremony in the presence of G.W. Ellis, William Roberts and General Barnes.
On 20 December 1900, Millie Ellis, 23, daughter of Hilliard and Phereby Ellis, married James Smith, 22, son of Pink Smith, in Taylors township.
Darden High School graduated its last class in 1970. Within a few years, though, a robust alumni association formed to keep memories of Wilson’s black high school alive. Today, a middle school on Lipscomb Road carries Darden’s name. Across the street from its campus is a small brick building that houses the Darden Alumni Association’s offices. A banquet room, site of nearly weekly wedding receptions, birthday parties or repasts, occupies most of the space. Off that room, a back hall is lined with class photographs dating to the 1920s, depicting generations of the Wilson children who attended Darden, Sam Vick Elementary, and the Colored Graded School (later Sallie Barbour Elementary.)
The earliest pictures hanging in the hall are unlabeled, though recent visitors were able to identify a few of the children whose solemn faces peer out. Here are three.
The first is marked “Wilson Graded School, 1921-22 Second Grade.”
The second is “Graded School, 2nd Grade, 1934-35, Teacher — Miss Robinson.” In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Pender Street, brickmason Clinton Best, 40; wife Minnie, 30; children Glenwood, 5, Gladis, 15, and James, 12; and lodgers Mary Reid, 21, and Martha Robinson, 25, a public school teachers.
The third carries no label, but boys seated at center hold a banner emblazoned “Second.” Though it is undated, tentative identification of four of the boys — all born in 1931 or 1932 — yields a date of about 1939. If so, the photo was taken just after Sam Vick School opened.
On the first row, third from left, a Freeman (possibly Daniel E.); third from right, a Brodie (either George or Henry); next to him, Jacobia L. Bullock; and, at the end of the row another Freeman (if not Dan, then Joseph Thomas.)
At the Wilson-Edgecombe line, the blacktop rounds a curve and changes abruptly from Wilson County Road to Shallingtons Mill Road. Atop the bank, just inside Wilson County, is a narrow cemetery wedged between a soybean field and the road. This is the burial ground of the Allen Sharpe family on, presumably, land that once belonged to Sharpes.
Allen and Mary A. Sharpe
In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Mary J. Forbes, 54, and children Meddis(?), 33, Homer, 31, Vernie B., 14, Ida M., 13, and Mary L., 3; plus farm laborer/servant Allen Sharpe, 21.
On 10 October 1900, Allen Sharpe, 24, son of Abram and Carolin Sharp, married Mary A. Barron, 17, daughter of Mark and Mason Barron, in Wilson County.
In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road, Allen Sharpe, 31; wife Mary, 26; and children Cora, 9, Carrie, 8, John, 5, Nettie, 3, Martha, 2, and Peter, 3 months; plus, John Smith, 25.
In the 1920 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: on the public road from Tarboro to Stantonsburg, farm laborer Allen Sharpe, 43; wife Mary A., 38; children Carrie, 17, John, 14, Nettie, 12, Beatrice, 10, Peter, 9, Mark, 8, Bertha, 5, Ethel Branch, 3, and niece Dora, 19,
In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Allen Sharpe, 56; wife Mary A., 47; children Carrie, 25, Nettie, 22, Peter, 19, Mark, 17, Bertha, 15, Blanche, 13, Senie, 11, and Odell Sharp, 8; plus grandchildren Roosivilt, 7, and Minnie Howard, 4.
Allen Sharpe died 24 January 1946 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 April 1888 [actually, probably 1878] in Edgecombe County to Abram and Mary Sharpe and resided near Macclesfield, Wilson County. [Note that Macclesfield itself is in Edgecombe County.]
In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Cromwell Farmer, 57; wife Mary Jane, 48; and children James, 22, Ida, 20, Cromwell, 19, Ella, 17, Maggie, 16, Clara, 14, Floyd, 12, Viola and Liola, 9, Esther, 8, Lee A., 7, and George, 6.
On 15 March 1937, Mark Sharpe, 25, of Wilson, son of Adam [sic] and Mary A. Sharpe, married Clara Farmer, 20, of Wilson County, son of Cromwill and Mary Jane Farmer.
Clara Sharpe died 20 February 1951 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 November 1917 to Crummes Farmer and Mary Jane Battle and was married. Mark Sharpe was informant.
Martha Mitchell Farmer
Per her death certificate, Martha Mitchel Farmer died 19 October 1964 in Wilson township. She was born 4 July 1881 to Willie Mitchel and Laura Barren and was married to Willie Farmer. She was buried in Pinetops cemetery, Pinetops, North Carolina. [Was her grave later moved?] Informant was Lloyd Farmer.
Kelly Johnson Sr.
On 1 October 1910, Kelly Johnson, 21, married Bloomer Moore, 19, in Edgecombe County.
On 5 June 1917, Kellie Johnson registered for the World War I draft in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 March 1888 in Edgecombe County; resided near Fountain [which is in Pitt County]; was a farmer; and supported a wife and five children.
In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Kellie Johnson, 32; wife Bloomer, 26; and children Arthur, 10, Elizabeth, 8, L. Rosa, 6, Kellie, 5, Willie, 3, and Bloomer, 2.
In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Tarboro Road, farmer Kelly Johnson, 40; wife Bloomer, 36; Elizabeth, 16, Rosa L., 15, Kelly, 14, Willie, 13, Bloomer, 12, Maggie, 9, Ethlen, 8, Allen, 5, and Martha, 1.
In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm operator Kelly Johnson, 52; wife Blumer, 48; and children Maggie, 19, Boy, 13, Martha, 10, and William Henry, 9; stepdaughter Mildred, 8; and granddaughter Alma Jean, 5 months.
Kelly Johnson died 8 April 1963 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, he was born 9 March 1889 to David Johnson and Alice (last name unknown); was retired; was married to Blummer Moore Johnson; and was buried in Northeastern cemetery, Rocky Mount [??].
Know all men by these presents that we A.J. Barefoot & J.D. Rountree are held & firmly bound unto Elias Barnes in the sum of five hundred Dollars for which payment we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors & administrators jointly & severally Sealed with our seals & dated April 25th 1855. Whereas, the said Elias Barnes has placed in the hands of the said A.J. Barefoot negro slaves Mary, Cherry and Henry the property of Geo. W. Barefoot which were lately levied upon & taken by the said Elias, as Sheriff of Wilson County, by virtue of original attachments in favor of Jas. D. Barnes, and J.D. & M. Rountree to the use of Wm. Barnes Jr. against the said Geo.W. Barefoot, returnable to July Term 1855 of the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions of said County.
Now the condition of the above obligation is such that should the said Barefoot produce the said negro slaves at the next Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions & be held for the County of Wilson at B.H. Bardens store in the Town of Wilson there to abide the decision & judgment of the Court then this obligation to be void otherwise to remain in full force & virtue. /s/ A.J. Barefoot, J.D. Rountree
Court Cases Involving Slaves, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
Gladys S. Haskins, 100, of 1603 Kincaid Ave E-4, Wilson, NC died Thursday at Wilson Medical Center. The funeral will be held Tuesday at 12 noon at Wilson Chapel FWB Church, 513 E. Barnes St. Wilson, NC with Bishop Robert Gorham officiating. Interment will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery. Public viewing will be held Monday from 2-7 pm at Edwards Funeral Home. The family will meet and greet friends from 11:00 am to 12 noon on Tuesday at the church. Family and friends will assemble at the residence at 10:00 am on Tuesday for the funeral procession. Professional and personal services are entrusted to EDWARDS FUNERAL HOME, 805 E. Nash Street Wilson, NC Condolences may be directed to edwardscares.com.
On 24 December 1927, Nathan Haskins, 30, of Wilson, married Gladys Simon, 19, of Wilson, in Wilson. Witnesses were J.W. Joyner, S. Hinnant and M. Goodman.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 702 East Green Street, Addie Haskin, 50, widowed cook; daughters Martha, 20, teacher, and Addie, 19; daughter-in-law Gladis, 19; and son Nathan, 32, tobacco factory cooper.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 721 Viola Street, Nathan Haskins, 42, tobacco factory cooper; wife Gladys, 29, tobacco factory stemmer; and mother Addie, 67, a servant.
Just beyond the northeast edge of Lucama, down a sandy road closely bordered in mid-summer by four-foot tobacco plants bristling with green-gold leaves, is the Becky Pate cemetery. I did not see Rebecca Daniel Pate‘s grave, but her Wilson County death certificate notes that she was born in 1827 in Wayne County to Arch and Leah Daniel; that she was the widow of Richard Pate; and that she died 31 March 1935 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. [Census records indicate that she was more likely born about 1845.] Richard Pate died in Cross Roads township on 21 February 1935. His death certificate shows that he was born in about 1835 to unknown parents; was married; was a farmer; and was buried in Pate Daniel Grave Yard. It is probable that this is the same burial ground as Becky Pate cemetery and that the cemetery is located on land that once belonged to Arch Daniel.
William Henry Pate
In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Leah Daniel, 69, and grandson Wm. Henry Pate, 7.
In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer William H. Pate, 26; wife Rachael, 24; brother Jesse, 10; sister-in-law Nellie Peacock, 11.
In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer William H. Pate, 36; wife Fichrel, 34; and brother Jesse, 20.
William Henry Pate registered for the World War I draft on 12 September 1918 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he lived at Route 3, Lucama; was born 11 February 1874; engaged in farming; and was married to Firchel Pate.
In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer William H. Pate, 46, and wife Firchel, 44.
William Henry Pate died 24 October 1921 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1873 in Wayne County to Alford Pate and Pollie Ann Daniel and was a farmer.
Mittie Daniel Dew
Mittie D. Dew was a granddaughter of Arch and Lear Daniel. Her murder is detailed here.
Polly Ann Artis Daniel
Polly Ann Artis Daniel was married to Isaac Daniel, grandson of Arch and Leah Daniel. (Polly is listed as Isaac’s first wife on his death certificate. And Rebecca Pate is listed as his mother.) Polly Ann died in 1908.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Mike Barefoot, 36; wife Caroline, 26; and children Olive, 12, Willie, 10, Rena, 8, Benjamin, 6, Ida, 4, Warren, 2, and Julia, 1.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Caroline Barefoot, 50, and children Ben, 21, Jula, 19, and Willie, 29.
In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, Benjamin Barefoot, 28, brickyard laborer, and his companion William Williams, 35, also a brickyard laborer.
Ben Barefoot registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County on 12 September 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 15 January 1881; resided at Route 1, Lucama; worked for Sparse Renfrow; and his nearest relative was Wiley Barefoot.
In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Willis Adams, 65, and wife Jane, 65, plus Ed Manuel, 25, farm laborer.
Ed Manuel registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he resided in Lucama, Wilson County; was born 17 September 1879; worked as a farmer for E.B. Capps; and his nearest relative was Pinkney Williams, Florence, South Carolina.
In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Ed Manuel, 30, farmer.
In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Edd Manuel, 49, farmer.
In the 1940 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Edd Manuel, 61, farmhand.
Ed Manuel died 19 September 1944 in Fayetteville, Cross Creek township, Cumberland County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was single; born in South Carolina about 1885; worked as a farmer; and was buried in Beckie Pate cemetery, Wilson County. Informant was Hubert Knight, Route 2, Wilson.