The garage museum.

When I was in Wilson this past weekend, I had the great good fortune to spend a couple of hours with Lewis and Tinia Howard Neal at Mr. Neal’s remarkable Garage Museum in Daniel Hill. The museum is, literally, packed to the rafters with photographs, news clippings, vintage tools and farm implements, political paraphernalia, and other items Mr. Neal has collected, curated and neatly labeled. His focus is local history and culture, with a strong emphasis on artifacts relevant to Wilson’s African American community.

[Obviously, in this way, Mr. Neal is a kindred spirit, but it turns out that I also share ancestry with both him and Mrs. Neal. I haven’t figured out my DNA connection to him, but Mrs. Neal is a direct descendant of Nelson and Marinda Locust Eatmon (via their daughter Rhoda Eatmon, who married Zealous “Deal” Howard), and I am descended from Nelson Eatmon’s kinsman Toney Eatmon.]

Mr. Neal opens the doors of his museum as a community meeting space and welcomes visitors. Please call for an appointment.


  1. Lisa, I do believe we’re going to find out we’re related. Zealous “Deal” Howard and Rhoda Eatmon are the great-grandparents of Addie Lucas Winstead – my great-grandmother. She was the wife of Bryant J. Winstead, the son of Edward “Ned” Winstead, both whom you have written about.

    My great-grandmother is the daughter of Robert Lucas and Etta Howard, the daughter of Zealous Howard, Jr and Nancy Blackwell.

    Though indicated as my “step” great-grandmother, DNA is proving a biological connection on her Howard side.

    Would you share with me (via email is fine) the direct line from Rhoda Eatmon to Tinia Howard Neal? Or give her my info to contact me. I wonder if we perhaps met at one of the family reunions.

    Interested in building a Wilson, NC African American Family Tree??? I’m up for it! 🙂

    1. Just seeing this — it got tagged as spam for some reason.

      I am an Eatmon descendant! My great-great-grandfather Toney Eatmon was the son of (likely) Theophilus Eatmon, who was white, and an unknown free woman of color. Eatmon genealogy is super-murky. The white Eatmons are have a big gap in the late 18th century that conceals the connections between the various Nash County Eatmon lines and their exact descent from a common ancestor. The FPC Eatmons, except for Toney, appear to all descend from Nelson Eatmon, but who were his parents? Toney and Nelson and were obviously quite closely related, as my DNA match lists are FULL of descendants of both Nelson and white Eatmons.

      As for a Wilson NC Af-Am tree, I’m definitely down for a collaboration. I’ve seen something similar somewhere, but can’t now recall it. It was a Virginia county, I think.

  2. I am also related to Zealous Howard and Rhoda Eatmon.
    They had a son who is Ira Howard, who had a son, who is William Howard. who had a son who is Authur Pue Howard, who had a son named Authur Pue Howard Jr. who had a son named Gary Holmes (Howard)…that’s me.
    Thank you cousin Lisa for the tedious work that you do!
    Documentary about Zealous Howard coming soon!

      1. That’s not his signature. It’s signed with an X. I’m suspicious of “Zelius” as a spelling. Note that the Will misspells Anna as “Anner.” Elsewhere in his estate records the spelling is “Zealous,” which is the standard spelling used for him in records for decades.

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