Della Hines Barnes.

Della Hines Wife of Dave Barnes 1858-1935 She is not dead but sleeping

Della Hines Barnes was mother of three of early 20th-century Wilson’s African-American heavyweights — Walter S. Hines, William Hines and Boisey O. Barnes. Her ornate marble grave marker — with its angel lifting her finger heavenward — gleams from the shabby remains of Odd Fellows cemetery, a testament to the wealth of her children at the time of her death. Though the success of the Hines brothers and Dr. Barnes is primarily attributable to their own talents, each had the great good fortune to be the beneficiary of their mother’s drive and early financial success.

Della Hines Barnes was born in 1858 in Cokey township, Edgecombe County, which borders Toisnot and Gardners townships in Wilson County to the west. She was reared by Joshua Hines and Callie Mercer Hines, but, according to Hugh B. Johnston Jr., her birth father was John Routh Mercer (1825-1894), a wealthy white Edgecombe County physician.* (Mercer was likely the owner of Callie Mercer and her eldest children.) Della Hines Barnes’ first surviving child, Walter Scott Hines, was born in 1879 in Edgecombe County. Again per Johnston, his father was Walter S. Parker, a white farmer. Her second son, William Hines, was born in 1884, also in Edgecombe County. His father was Thomas Williams. About a year later, she gave birth to daughter Lucy.  In 1890, Hines and her children left the Jesse Norris farm in Edgecombe County for Wilson. There, Hines worked at Briggs Hotel and as a seamstress and tailor and was a member of London’s Primitive Baptist Church. Johnston further recorded that on 25 January 1894, just a few months before her marriage, Della Hines purchased 613 Green Street in Wilson for $375. (Though it not clear when it was built, by 1913 Della Barnes had erected a large two-story house at this address (originally 612 Green), which stood until the 1990s.) On 25 September 1911, she purchased four lots on Pender, Green and Second Streets in her own name (not her husband’s) from son William Hines for $1000, and on 1 March 1915, she purchased another lot on Green Street from son William and his wife Ethel Hines for $1200 and four lots from son Walter S. and and his wife Sarah E. Hines.


In 1866, Joshua Hines and Callie Mercer registered their seven-year cohabitation with an Edgecombe County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: carpenter Joshua Hines, 41; wife Calley, 37; and children Jerry, 11, Ashley, 21, Watson, 16, Della, 14, Joshua, 8, Eliza, 6, Caleb, 4, and William, 4. [Judging by the children’s ages, it appears that Jerry was their first child together.] Listed next door were physician John R. Mercer and his children.  Mercer reported $26,500 real property and $6500 in personal property.

In the 1880 census of Cocoa township, Edgecombe County: Joshua Hines, 52; wife Cally, 47; children Jerry, 20, Deller, 22, Lizer, 17, Joshua, 15, Caliph, 13, William, 11, Robert, 7, and Adline, 4; nephew Allen Harris, 3; and grandson Walter, 1 [Della’s son.]

On 15 April 1894, David Barnes, 35, married Della Hines, 32, in Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at the bride’s home in the presence of J.T. Deans, Mrs. Hardy Tate, and Hardy Tate.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel porter Dave Barnes, 40; wife Della; and children Walter, 20, William, 15, Lucy, 13, Dave, 5, and Viola, 11. [Walter, William, and Lucy were, in fact, Hineses and were Della Hines Barnes’ children. Viola Barnes was Dave Barnes’ daughter by an earlier marriage to Pattie Battle. She married Mack Jones and died in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, on 8 September 1909. Dave and Pattie Barnes also had a son Efford Barnes, who was born about 1883.] Dave Sr. worked as hotel porter, Walter as a barber, and William as a day laborer.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel servant Dave Barnes, 50; wife Della, 50; and children William, 25, barber, Lucy, 23, Dave, 15, Bosey, 8, Mary, 7, John, 5, Sam, 3, and Carry, 1 month. [No further record is found of the youngest four children, which suggests that they died between 1910 and the regular recording of North Carolina death certificates in 1914.]

On 5 June 1912, Lucy P. Hines, 21, of Wilson, daughter of William Hines and Della Barnes Hines, married John L. White, 27, of Hampton, Virginia, son of William and Mary R. White (resident of Hingham Centre, Massachusetts), at the bride’s parents’ home. W.S. Hines applied for the license, and Presbyterian minister H.B. Taylor performed the ceremony in the presence of M.E. Dortch of Goldsboro, North Carolina; J.M. Parker of Rocky Mount, North Carolina; and [illegible] B. Thomas of Washington, D.C.

David Barnes died 23 January 1913 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 52 years old; lived at 612 Green Street; was married; was born in Wilson; and worked in “hoteling.” William Hines was informant.

Della Barnes was appointed administratrix of her deceased husband’s estate in 1913. The estate was valued at $600, and heirs were identified as Della Barnes, Dave Barnes Jr., Boisey O. Barnes, Effort Barnes and “Viola Jones’ child.” (Efford Barnes died months later on 31 May 1913. I have not been able to identify Viola Barnes Jones’ child.) William Hines and Walter Hines joined their mother to post bond, as shown below.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 612 East Green, widow Della Barnes, 50; Cleveland Chick, 25, barber, and Dasy Chick, 23, both of South Carolina; and Della’s sons Dave, 24, and Otha, 17.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 613 East Green, valued at $8000, widow Della Barnes, 71, and sons Boysie, 26, and Dav., 35, barber.

Della Hines died 10 January 1935 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 75 years old; was born on January 19; was born in Edgecombe County to Joshua Hines and Pattie Hines; and was a widow. William Hines was informant.

Some Black Families of Wilson County, North Carolina, a compilation of The Hugh B. Johnston Working Papers published in 1997 by Wilson County Genealogical Society, contains several worksheets that Johnston apparently filled in while interviewing subjects. The information attributed to him here is drawn from the worksheets for Della Hines Barnes and William Hines.

This look at the life of Della Hines Barnes is the 2000th post of Black Wide-Awake. When I commenced this journey in October 2015, I had no idea where it would go or for how long, or even if anyone other than I would benefit from it. Thanks for coming on the ride with me.


  1. You have inspired me to learn more about my Barnes family and Goldsboro N.C. thank you

  2. Boisie Barnes & my brother Charles Ellis were on the C.H. Darden H. S. Football Team in the late 50’s. I have enjoyed immensely your great historical
    research & evocations of my past. I’m sure others have as well. Please continue.

    1. Oh I will! Thank you! Boisie Jr’s sister was in my dad’s Darden class, but the only sibling I knew was John Howard. Mrs. Barnes kept me sometimes in the years before I started school. I have find memories of her house on Fikewood Street, but only vague ones of being inside the Green Street house.

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