Midwives and granny women.

Forty-three Wilson County midwives (41 black) met with state health officials to receive training. Wilson Daily Times, 17 June 1921.

Well into the 20th century, most babies in Wilson County were delivered by midwives, whose ranks were overwhelmingly comprised of African-American women. Here is a running list of them:

  • Rachel Armstrong Allen
  • Phereby Barnes Artis
  • Rosetta Farmer Barnes — Rosa Barnes died 29 January 1914 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 70 years old; was a midwife; and lived on Nash Street.
  • Violet Barnes Barnes — in the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Benjamen Barnes, 52; wife Vilet, 54, midwife; and Elvy, 10, Ailcey, 7, and Spicey, 6.
  • Nannie Best — in the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Best Nannie midwife, h 332 S Lodge. Also, in 1927, per death certificate, Best attended the stillbirth of Elijah Parker and Lucy Whitfield‘s unnamed infant.
  • Nancy Staton Boykin
  • Sarah Dawes Bunn
  • Charlotte Bynum — in the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bynum Charlotte, midwife 553 E Nash
  • Bertha Cade — in the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Cade Bertha midwife, h 412 E Walnut
  • Lucy Sorsby Dail — Lucy Dail died 15 March 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 63 years old; was born in Nash County to Nelson Salisbury and Carolina Cooper; was the widow of Jos. Dail; lived at 519 South Spring; and had been a midwife. Mary Proctor was informant.
  • Viney Drake
  • Mary Fuller
  • Mariah Battle Gaston
  • Maria Hicks — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Owens Smith, 49, minister; wife Adora, 30; son Jesse, 19; daughter Flossie, 4; widowed mother Maria Hicks, 78, a midwife; and boarder Carry Pettiford, a widowed teacher.
  • Fortune Hilliard
  • Nannie Kirby — Per death certificate, Kirby attended the stillbirth of Joseph Kent, son of Charlie and Victory Kent, on 6 October 1930 in Springhill township.
  • Anna Johnson — Per death certificate, Johnson attended the premature birth of Olive Frances Hannah, daughter of Lemore Hannah and Almeda Morgan, who was born 21 November 1930 and died 28 December 1930 in Wilson. Also, Johnson was noted as midwife on the death certificate of Joseph D. Ashley, son of Anthony and Sarah Mears Ashley, who died 23 January 1931.

  • Fannie Lane — in 1927, per death certificate, Lane attended the stillbirth of Robert James Simmons.
  • Annie Leonard — in 1927, per death certificate, Lane attended the stillbirth of Nelson Farmer and Nancy Williams‘ unnamed infant.
  • Olive Lindsey — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, Richard Lindsey, 51, mechanic; Olive, 42, midwife; and sons Richard, 14, Henry, 11, and Austin, 23, a drayman.
  • Mary McClain — in the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: McClain Mary, midwife h 615 Suggs
  • Mary Miller — in the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Miller Mary, midwife h 405 N Pine
  • Charlotte Minor — in the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Minor Charlotte midwife, h 121 Manchester
  • Susan Mitchell — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Susiana Mitchel, 65, a “grannie,” and son Edd, 33, a barber. [A “granny-woman” was a midwife.]
  • Mary Morgan — on the death certificate of Edward Barnes, who died 13 February 1940 aged 2 days: “Mary Morgan midwife who attended at birth advised me that she thought this baby strangled to death with phlegm.”
  • Etta Plummer — in the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Plummer Etta midwife, h 1104 Wainwright Av. Also, per death certificates, in 1927, Plummer attended the stillbirths of John Edwards and Anna Wright‘s unnamed infant, Setha Brooks and Frodia Williams‘ unnamed infant, and Marcellus and Martha Spells‘ unnamed infant.
  • Bettie Pree — listed as midwife on the death certificate of the infant of James H. and Lillie Taylor, who was stillborn on 24 December 1917.
  • Cherry Rogers — in the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Watson Stanton, 65, wife Rosa, 53, children Richard, 15, Adeline, 13, Feribee, 8, and Louisa, 21; midwife Cherry Rogers, 80; and Hardy Barnes, 20.
  • Isabella Samuel — in the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Samuel Isabella midwife, 509 Church [residence ditto]
  • Annie Thorne — in 1927, per death certificate, Thorne attended the stillbirth of Irene Knight and the birth of Isiah Edwards, who died at age 21 days.
  • Caroline Williamson Vick
  • Mittie Wood — in the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wood Mittie midwife, h 701 Railroad
  • Eliza Woodard — in the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Woodard Eliza midwife, h 1109 Woodard Av. Eliza Woodard was reported as midwife on the death certificate of Laura Ross, daughter of John Henry Ross and Hattie Martin, who died 29 April 1931, age 19 days.

1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, page 65.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 October 1921.

1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, page 453.

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