Well into the twentieth century, children faced harrowing odds against reaching adulthood. Disease, accidents, and violence bore them away in sorrowful numbers. In the 1910s, 17% of American children died before age 5, a figure that was higher for Southern and African-American children. Few children who died in Wilson County were buried in marked graves. In town, most early burials were in Oaklawn, Rountree, or the Masonic cemetery. The Oaklawn graves were exhumed and moved to Rest Haven in the 1940s, Rountree was engulfed by pine forest, and their headstones, if they ever existed, have been lost over time.
By allowing us to call their names again, this series of posts memorializes the lives of children who died in the first twenty years in which Wilson County maintained death records. May they rest in peace.
Diarrhea and dysentery
- On 29 October 1909, Mary Perry, 2, of Wilson, daughter of Ed and Mary Perry, died of “supposed to be diarrhea.”
- On 16 April 1910, Bettie Louise Askew, 5 months, of “corner of Vick Viola,” Wilson, daughter of John Askew and Dosia Boykin, died of diarrhea.
- On 14 May 1910, Mary John Rodgers, 10 months, of Wilson, daughter of J.W. Rodgers and Mary E. Thomas, died of dysentery and bronchitis.
- On 6 October 1910, Lillie Christine Foster, 1, of 132 Manchester Street, Wilson, daughter of Claud Foster and Cora White, died of “summer diarrhoea.”
- On 20 May 1920, Clide Parker, 1, of Saratoga township, son of Henry Parker and Mary Barnes, died of dysentery and ileocolitis, with “too much rich food” as a contributing factor. [The certificate noted that Parker had been born on Edwards’ farm, WIlson County.]
- On 29 June 1915, Estella Farmer, 15, of Stantonsburg township, daughter of Robert Farmer and Pennie Bynum, died of acute dysentery.
- On 27 May 1917, Louis Armstrong, 12, of Black Creek township, son of Bill Armstrong, died of dysentery.
- On 31 May 1917, Dorsey N. Powell, 10 months, of Wilson township, son of Dorsey Powell and Ella Hines, died. “No doctor. This child was cutting teeth, which effected the stomach, causing diarrhea.”
- On 1 October 1917, Cecil Thomas Lucas, 1, of Elm City, daughter of Wiley Plymouth Lucas and Minnie Cooper, died of diarrhea and enteritis due to “faulty feeding.”
- On 24 June 1918, Willis Edmundson, 21 months, of Saratoga township, son of Doc Edmundson and Mary Cullen, died of dysentery and was buried at Mrs. Eliza Barnes’ place.
- On 30 June 1923, John Wesley Reid, 2, of 707 Harper Street, Wilson, son of John C. Reid and Byner Cutchon, died of summer complaint. [Summer complaint an acute condition of diarrhea, occurring chiefly in infants and children during weather and caused by bacterial contamination of food. The condition is associated with poor hygiene.]
Stomach disorders and conditions
- On 16 October 1910, Chas. H. Gunn, 1, of Wilson, son of Moses Gunn and Annie Barnes, died of gastritis.
- On 21 November 1910, Joseph Batts, 13 months, of Wilson, son of Willie and Oliver Batts, died of gastritis.
- On 17 May 1917, Naomi Petway, 2, of Toisnot township, daughter of Allen Petway and Annie Mercer, “started with a very sick stomach, died in 24 hours.”
- On 11 July 1917, Emma Davis, 1, of Wilson township, daughter of David Davis and Mary Johnson, died of gastritis.
- On 24 July 1930, Detha Lee Mitchell, 22 days, of Taylors township, daughter of Gus Mitchell and Cora Hicks, died of starvation and dehydration and congenital pyloric stenosis.
- On 8 August 1930, Ben Dalton Ricks, 27 days, of Toisnot township, son of Dalton Ricks and Quinnie Farmer, died of pyloric stenosis.
- On 30 August 1930, Laura Mae Dew, 2 months, of 412 Lodge Street, Wilson, daughter of William Dew and Laura Cogdell, died of gastritis, with bad milk a contributor.
- On 23 December 1910, Lucial Whitehead, 1, of Wilson, daughter of Henry Whitehead and Victora Ennis, died of “don’t know, was suffering from indigestion at the time.”
- On 30 June 1916, Mark Parker, 6, school boy, of Wilson, son of Herbert Parker and Mary Simms, died of probable pellagra. [Pellagra is a disease caused by lack of niacin in the diet. In the early 1900s, it reached nearly epidemic levels among poor people in the South as a result of over-reliance on milled corn in the diet.]
- On 19 June 1918, Johnnie Hagans, 5, of Wilson, son of Alonza Hagans and Fronney Anderson, died of pellagra.
Intestinal disorders and conditions
- On 14 November 1909, E.G. Bostis, 1, of Wilson, son of E.G. and Julie Bostis, died of “supposed to be bowel trouble.”
- On 27 April 1910, John William Barnes, 11 months, of Wilson, son of J.M. Barnes and Annie Darden, died of “inflammation of bowels.”
- On 9 June 1910, Johnnie Bryant, 10 months, of Wilson, son of Anthony Bryant and Bertha Best, died of entero-colitis.
- On 11 July 1910, Marie R. Taylor, 4 months, of Wilson, daughter of Rev. H.B. Taylor and M.L. Taylor, died of entero-colitis.
- On 29 June 1911, Charles Fletcher Morgan, 1, of 504 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson, son of Calvin Morgan and Almater Bynum, died of intestinal cramps.
- On 2 June 1914, William Maning Barnes, 3, of 109 East Street, Wilson, son of Lemon Barnes and Lizzie Smith, died of intestinal catarrh.
- On 3 June 1914, Vanjaline Williamson, 4, of Wilson, daughter of William and Hattie Williamson, died of an “obstructed bowel, cause unknown, should have been operated on.”
- On 24 June 1914, Ernest Artis, 12, of Stantonsburg township, son of Willie and Mollie Artis, died of an intestinal perforation, with typhoid fever as a contributing cause.
- On 29 July 1915, Howard Simmons, 13, of Wilson, son of John Simmons and Emma Bray, died of intestinal obstruction.
- On 26 April 1917, Davis Snookums Barnes, 1, of Old Fields township, son of Wiley Barnes and Martha Homes, died of “acute enteritis caused from eating fresh green vegetables.”
- On 9 May 1917, Willie Moore, 1, of Wilson township, son of Samuel Smith and Clara Moore, died of “possibly bowel trouble and teething.”
- On 20 August 1917, McChata Barnes, 1, of Wilson, son of William Barnes and Maedie Taylor, probably died of ileocolitis.
- On 12 September 1918, Novilla Barnes, 13, “in school,” of Saratoga township, daughter of Ned Barnes and Allice Locust, died of an intestinal hemorrhage, with typhoid fever as a complicating factor.
- On 24 December 1918, Pauline David, 3, of Taylors township, daughter of Herman David and Annie Parker, died of “elleo-colitis, probable cause.”
- On 10 June 1922, Jessy Hussey, 12, “school child,” of Wilson township, son of Willie Hussey and Bessie Holmes, died of gastroenteritis with “non-ripe berries” a contributing cause.
- On 6 September 1922, Rematha Barnes, 8, of Stantonsburg, daughter of L.R.S. Barnes and Edealia Scott, died of an intestinal obstruction.
- On 15 April 1929, Jessie Henderson Jr., 5 months, of Wilson, son of Jessie Henderson and Pauline Artis, died of ileo-colitis. He was buried in Rountree cemetery.
- On 21 February 1930, Euraline Thompson, 7 months, of Cross Roads township, daughter of Addie Thompson and Lenetta Newsome, died of acute intestinal toxemia improper feeding.
- On 17 June 1930, Herline Fulton, 8 months, of Taylors township, daughter of Rufus Fulton and Maggie Blackburn, died of “acidosis and dehydration. Undetermined. Possible intestinal obstruction operation too hazardous to attempt.”
Poisoning and esophageal burns
- On 15 March 1916, Lee Roy Vick, 1, of Black Creek township, son of Willie Vick and Nancy Lewis, died from eating lye.
- On 12 June 1916, Claude Homes, 4, “farmer’s child,” of Stantonsburg township, son of Stanford Homes and Louisa Pate, died of “poison from potash, accidental.”
- On 23 October 1917, Allie Hunter, 8, of Old Fields township, daughter of James Hunter and Rosetta Barnes died of “ptomaine poisoning from eating sour vegetables.” [Ptomaine is “any of a group of amine compounds of unpleasant taste and odor formed in putrefying animal and vegetable matter and formerly thought to cause food poisoning.” Ptomaine poisoning, then, is a non-scientific term, no longer in use, for food poisoning.]
- On 13 May 1917, Willie Benjamin Wells, 1, of Wilson, son of Willie Wells and Mazie Holland, died of “ptomaine poisoning from eating fish.”
- On 18 June 1917, Ruffin Rowe, 8, of Lucama, son of Ruffin Rowe and Piety Tucker, died of “ptomaine poisoning ate cold cabbage not thoroughly cooked & highly seasoned with meat.” He was buried in the Rose graveyard.
- On 18 March 1918, Olivia Dickens, 3, of Wilson, daughter of R.D. Dickens and Nora Joyner, died “supposed of poisoned milk.”
- On 29 May 1919, George Braswell Jr., 2, of Old Fields township, son of George Braswell and Lizzie Bridges, died of “stricture esophagus for caustic lye.”
- On 20 December 1918, Andrew Tinley, 3, of 117 Manchester Street, son of James Tinley and Lula Coppedge, died of “constriction of esophagus” as a result of drinking of boiling water from tea kettle.”
- On 20 December 1923, Connie Barnes, 2, of Spring Hill township, daughter of Fletcher Barnes and Jemima(?) Wilder, died of accidental poisoning with lye. He was buried at Rocky Branch.
Nutritional disorders, marasmus and inanition
- On 27 July 1916, Timothy Vick, 1, of Cross Roads township, son of John Vick and Thanie Williamson, died of “nursing from a pregnant mother — unknown.” He was buried at Williamson cemetery.
- On 7 March 1917, Louisa Speights, 3, of Wilson, daughter of Jacob Speights and Rebecca Robbins, died of malnutrition.
- On 16 July 1917, William Alonzo Finch, 20 days, of Elm City, son of Alonzo Finch and Annie Hall, died of “inanition due to inability of mother to nurse and lack of suitable diet.” [Inanition was a term for exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment.]
- On 12 August 1917, David Junius Smith, 10 months, of Toisnot township, son of David Smith and Lessie Dawes, died of inanition resulting from improper feeding.
- On 14 August 1917, Matha Matlena Braswell, 9 months, of Stantonsburg township, daughter of Ezecial Braswell and Minnie Barnes, died of morasmus and improper feeding. She was buried at the Jack Sherard place. [Marasmus is severe malnutrition causing a child to be significantly underweight.]
- On 18 January 1919, Mayetta Jones, 1, of Saratoga township, daughter of Oscar Jones and Sue Edwards, died of “some wasting disease, don’t know exactly, looked like morasmus, don’t know cause unless was tuberculosis.”
- On 10 November 1930, Gonnell Wallice Hagans, 2, of Wilson, son of Isaac Hagans and Essie Mae Farmer, died of rickets. [Rickets is the softening and weakening of bones in children, usually because of an extreme and prolonged vitamin D deficiency. It is not, in and of itself, a fatal disorder.]
A litany of grief.