William H. Skinner made out his will in Wilson County on 8 September 1860. Among other things, he left his wife Rebecca Skinner 423 acres “on both sides of the swamp,” “also the following Slaves [blank] & two children Randal & Judy a boy Peter a slave, a boy a slave Jo ….” [The phrasing and lack of punctuation make it difficult to determine how many people are included in this list.]
Skinner also directed “a Negro Girl Matilda & all the balance of my Property … be divided among” several named heirs and, at his wife’s death, all slaves were to be sold and the proceeds divided among his remaining heirs.
On 11 January 1861, executor Thomas H. Skinner held a public sale of William H. Skinner’s personal property. The very last item listed, accounting for more than a quarter of the proceeds brought in, is this unnamed woman. Presumably, she was Matilda:
In 1866, Peter Skinner and Cherry Sharp registered their cohabitation in Wilson County.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Peter Skinner, 24; wife Cherry, 24; and children Van, 7, and Fate, 3.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Rosa Skinner, 30; and children Randal, 13, farm laborer, and John, 8, Judea, 7, Dennis, 3, and Amos, 3 months.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer Peter Skinner, 35; wife Sarah, 35; and children Van Buren, 14, and Lafayette, 13.
Will of W.H. Skinner (1860); Estate Records of W.H. Skinner (1860); Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Howard Darden, 47, farm laborer; wife Esther, 38; and children Warren, 20, Eliza, 18, Martin, 17, Toby, 12, and Crawford, 1.
On 22 December 1871, Martin Darden, son of Howell Darden and Esther Jordan, married Jane Dew, daughter of Haywood and Jane Dew, at H. Dew’s in Wilson County.
In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Martin Darden, 27, farmer; wife Jane, 25; and children Easter, 6, Ellen, 5, and Nellie, 3. Next door: Howell Darden, 53, and children Elizer, 28, Toby, 22, and Crawford, 11.
In the 1900 census of Great Swamp township, Wilson County: farmer Martin Darden, 48; wife Jane, 50; and children Tincey A., 14, Howard, 14, Jineva, 11, and Silvey, 9.
On 15 December 1900, Ben Lofton, 29, married Tynsie Durden, 19, in Pikeville township, Wayne County.
In the 1910 census of Buck Swamp township, Wayne County: Ben Lofton, 42; wife Tincie A., 27; and sons Willard, 3, and Benjiman, 8 months.
Martin Darden died 22 December 1926 in Kenansville township, Duplin County. Per his death certificate, he was 74 years old; was married to Jane Darden; was born in Wilson County to Howard and Easter Darden; and worked as a farmer and blacksmith. Howard Darden of Fremont was informant.
In the 1930 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Ben F. Lofton, 63; wife Tyncie, 47; and sons Janeis E., 18, and Major J., 8.
In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: servant Tincy Lofton, 57, working in a private home.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on 816 Mercer Street, Ruth Lofton, 26, day work stemmer in redrying plant; husband Benjamin, 29, storage room worker in redrying plant; niece Mary Jones, 12; daughter Marjorie, 7; sons Benjamin Jr., 6, and Herbert Lee, 4; roomer Martha Norfleet, 67, widow; mother-in-law Tincy, 56, cook in service in a private home; and brother-in-law Major, 18, stemmer in redrying plant.
In 1942, Major Lofton registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he lived at 816 Mercer Street, Wilson; born 12 December 1921 in Black Creek, N.C.; contact was Tincy Lofton, 816 Mercer Street; and worked for Thomas Barnes, Service Laundry, Five Points.
Tyncie Lofton Woodard died 29 July 1986 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 25 December 1882 in Wayne County, North Carolina, to Martin Darden and Jane Branch; was a widowed homemaker; and lived at 409 Park View Street, Wilson. Benjamin Lofton, 805 Meadow Street, was informant.
Among the many ventures to which Oliver Nestus Freeman turned his hand was the establishment of a recreation area for African-Americans. The exact location of the park is surprisingly hazy, given that it contained a pond large enough to swim and boat in. This article about the 1933 drowning of Lawrence Haskins is the only written reference to Freeman’s Pond that I’ve found. The “fair grounds,” which had hosted horse racing, bicycle racing and baseball since the late 1800s, was beyond city limits in a wooded area just beyond present-day Dick’s Hot Dog Stand and Wells Elementary School.
Wilson Daily Times, 29 July 1933.
This photo of Connie Freeman and friends in small rowboats on Freeman’s Pond is reproduced at the Freeman Round House and Museum.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Warren Street, Robert Haskins, 37, bottling company laborer; wife Gertrude, 28; and children Mandy, 14, Elizabeth, 12, Estelle, 10, Robert, 7, Lossie, 5, Lawrence, 4, and Thomas, 1.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: insurance agent Robert Haskins, 44; wife Gertrude, 39; and children Mandy, 22, Elizabeth, 20, Estell, 18, Robert, 17, Lossie, 14, Larence, 12, and Tommie, 11.
Laurence Edward Haskins died 29 June 1933 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 September 1917 in Wilson to Robert Haskins and Gertrude Farmer; he was a school boy; and he lived at 1300 Atlantic Street. Cause of death was “accidental drowning while in [sic] bathing in Contentnea Creek.” [This does not comport with the conjectured location for Freeman’s Pond above.]
In this peevish sworn statement, dated 29 January 1866, Jane C. Barnes airs grievances held over from slavery. A man named Redmond and his family have left her employ, carrying with them items she had “let him have,” presumably at the start of 1865, when slaveholders typically dispensed clothing. She also complained that Redmond had depleted stocks of food and drink she had “put in his charge.” (When and why? Had Jane Barnes and family fled the area during the Civil War?) Tellingly, Barnes griped that Redmond’s “family was an entire expense instead of being a profit” what with his sick children and a wife who had never given her all to the labors imposed upon her.
Jane Barnes’ outrage is not surprising. Her husband William had been one of Wilson County’s largest slaveholders, claiming 79 men, women and children just before the war. He estimated their value in the 1860 census as $89,000 — roughly $2.8 million in 2019 dollars. The Barneses’ sturdy plantation house still stands today.
I have not found evidence of the outcome of Jane C. Barnes’ complaint.
To be sworn to that it has been given after May 1, 1866
I certify that Redmon had clothing last year to the amount of shirts and of winter pants before he left. I also let him have three gallons of molasses, twenty-five pounds of flour and some lard, also quinine and other medicines for his children. I also let him have one hundred dollars at one time to buy leather, and put in his charge twenty-six gallons of wine and returned only six gallons to me, about the same time I put in his charge fifty-three peices of bacon and when it was returned six peices were missing. His family was an entire expense instead of being a profit, for his three children had the hooping-cough from April up to the time they left, and his wife had to be in the house nearly all the time with them; I further say that his wife never done me a week’s washing in her life by herself. He has had many other things too tedious to mention.
January 29th 1866 Jane C. Barnes
Dear Captain, Above you will find a statement of Mr Wm S Barnes’ wife — I know the lady to be one of very high character & quite an estimable lady. Yours very truly, J.J. Lutts
In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer William Barnes, 48; wife Jane, 44; and others. [William Barnes was a brother of Joshua Barnes and Elias Barnes.]
In the 1860 slave schedule of Saratoga township, Wilson County, William Barnes claimed 79 enslaved people living in 12 dwellings on his property. He held an additional 26 in trust for minor heirs.
Reddin Barnes and Martha Barnes registered their seven-year cohabitation on 6 July 1866 in Wilson County.
In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Redmond Barnes, 34; wife Martha, 29; children Adeline, 9, Mary, 3, and Laura, 1; and farm laborer Alfred Simms, 23. Next door: Toby Barnes, 56, and wife Hannah, 84, who registered their 15-year cohabitation in 1866 as well.
In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Redmond Barnes, 45; wife Martha, 38; and children Adline, 19, Mary, 13, Laura, 11, Harriet, 9, James, 7, Margaret, 5, Joan, 4, Martha Ann, 2, and Ed, 1.
Roll 17, Miscellaneous Records, 1865-1867, Goldsboro Subassistant Commissioner’s Records, North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, National Archives and Records Administration images, www.familysearch.org.
Educated at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, John W. Perry was a deacon when appointed in 1882 to serve Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Tarboro. Perry was ordained a priest in 1887 and two years later was assigned to lead the congregation at Saint Mark’s in Wilson in addition to Saint Luke’s. He shared these posts for the next twelve years.
See Rev. Dr. Brooks Graebner, “Historically Black Episcopalian Congregations in the Diocese of North Carolina: 1865-1959” (2018), for more on Rev. Perry.
W.E.J. Shallington‘s mother died about four years after her son. Her estate consisted almost totally of promissory notes, but “There is one negro boy belonging to the estate 18 years old” and “There is one negro woman belonging to the estate 42 years old.”
Rhoda Shallington’s personal effects were sold off, and her enslaved property hired out on 28 December 1864 for what all parties believed would be a year. Both the boy Arch and the woman Dilley went to her son David Pender Shallington for hyper-inflated rates that approached the sales prices of just a few years before.
Estate Records of Rhoda Shallington, Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
The family history of Annie H.F. Pender illustrates the movement of families among neighboring counties to find the best farming arrangements. The Hineses and Finches moved between Franklin and Nash Counties before settling near Stantonsburg in Wilson County in the 1920s.
In the 1900 census of Cypress Creek township, Franklin County, North Carolina: Phil Hines, 21, farm laborer.
In the 1900 census of Cypress Creek township, Franklin County, North Carolina: farmer Marcellus Harris, 57; wife Ann, 55; children Anna, 36, William, 21, Laura, 18, and Jesse, 17; grandchildren Anthony, 10, and Sallie, 6; son Daniel, 24; daughter-in-law Drucilla, 25; and grandchildren Pearlie, 2, Mosey, 1, and an unnamed infant boy.
On 22 October 1901, Phil Hines, 22, of Franklin County, son of Jonas and Isado Hines, married Laura Harris, 21, of Franklin County, daughter of Marcillus and Anna Harris.
In the 1910 census of Harris township, Franklin County: on Lower Road, James Hines, 30, farm laborer; wife Laura, 28; and children Wiley, 7, Lula, 6, Anna, 6, Pernolia, 4, and Aron, 2.
Phil Hines registered for the World War I draft in Nash County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 13 December 1876; resided at R.F.D. #2, Bailey, Nash County; farmed for M.F. Morgan, Bailey; his nearest relative was wife Laura Hines; and he was literate, signed his name “Phill Hines.”
On 29 June 1923, Mozelle Hines died in Dry Wells township, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 4 years old; was born in Nash County to Phil Hines and Laura Harris; and was buried in Wiggins cemetery. Phil Hines, Middlesex, N.C., was informant.
On 21 July 1923, Annie Hines, 21, of Nash County, daughter of Phil and Laura Hines, married Howard Finch, 21, of Nash County son of Bennett and Annie Finch, in Nash County.
Albert Lee Finch died 12 July 1924 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 October 1923 in Nash County to Howard Finch and Annie Hines and was buried in Bethel Cemetery.
In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Snow Hill Road, Aaron Hines, 19; wife Grace H., 21; son James W., Jr., 2; father James W., Sr., 51; mother Laura, 47; widowed sister Phoenolia, 21; brothers Wiley, 25, John E., 14, George, 13, and Mozelle, 12; niece Fannie, 6; and nephews Raymond, 7, Robert L., 3, and Stephen Finch, Jr., 1. [This entry appears to contain significant naming errors.]
In the 1930 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Howard Finch, 23; wife Annie, 22; sons Howard L., 5, Grover, 3, and James A., 2; and lodger Charlie Webb, 28.
In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: sawmill laborer Phillip Hines, 55; wife Laura, 45; sons John, 23, Mozelle, 19, and Robert Lee, 17; grandchildren Raymond, 12, Stephen, 10, and Fannie, 13; daughter Lula, 37; grandchildren Dorabelle, 10, Justus Lee, 5, and Sadie Mae, 2; widowed daughter Anna Finch, 37, and her sons Howard, 17, Grover, 13, Randolph, 10, and James, 8; [grand]son-in-law Eddie Freeman, 20; granddaughter Ella, 19, and great-granddaughter Blonnie, 1.
In 1940, John Hines registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 17 October 1913 in Nash County; lived in Stantonsburg; his contact was mother Laura Hines, Stantonsburg; and he worked for Stantonsburg Lumber Company. In red grease pencil: “Cancelled dead Feb 9 1943.”
John M. Hines died 9 February 1943 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in Franklin County in 1921 to Phillip Hines and Laura Harry, both of Franklin County; worked as a common laborer; was single; and was buried in Red Hill cemetery, Wilson County. Informant was Laura Edmeson, Petersburg, Virginia.
In 1944, Raymond Hines registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 15 March 1926 in Farmville, N.C.; lived in Stantonsburg; his contact was grandmother Laura Hines, Stantonsburg; and he worked for Will Rogers at Stantonsburg Lumber Company.
Phill Hines died 15 March 1946 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was born in Nash County to Jonas Hines and Isadora High; worked as a common laborer; was married to Laura Hines, age 52; and was buried in Red Hill cemetery, Wayne County. Laura Hines was informant.
Laura Hines died 4 August 1960 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 22 March 1896 [actually, closer to 1880] in Franklin County to Sellus and Ann Harris and was widowed. Robert Hines was informant.
Annie Hines Pender, born 11 December 1904 in Franklin County, died 30 October 1999 in Wilson County.
Thank you to Annie Finch Artis for sharing this photograph of her grandmother.
Here is Delbert Williams‘ death certificate. It reports that he was born 12 May 1912 in Dillon, South Carolina, to Hat Williams and Katie Singletary, was married; lived (and died) on Dew Street; worked as a laborer; and died of a gunshot blast to the neck.
Well into the twentieth century, children faced harrowing odds against reaching adulthood. Disease, accidents, 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 in Wilson County were buried in marked graves. In town, original burials were in Oaklawn or the Masonic cemetery. The Oaklawn graves were exhumed and moved to Rest Haven in the 1940s, and 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.
On 4 August 1913, John Hicks, 14, of 137 Pender Street, Wilson, son of Olover and Catherin Hicks, of typhoid fever.
On 31 July 1914, Eva Ellis, 7, of Saratoga township, daughter of Burt Ellis and Nancy Hall, died of typhoid fever, with exhaustion as a contributing factor. She had been born in Greene County and was buried on the W.R. Bynum farm by United Furniture Company of Stantonsburg.
On 24 October 1924, Lillie Farmer, 9, died of typhoid fever.
On 17 July 1917, Neally Williams, 16, of Wilson township, daughter of Isaac Williams and Frances Kates, died of typhoid fever. She had been born in Nash County and worked as a cook.
On 29 July 1917, Easter Wright, 17, of Wilson, a tobacco factory laborer and daughter of William Wright and Annie Weeks, died of typhoid fever. Dr. William A. Mitchner was attending physician.
On 11 August 1917, Aurther Barnes, 11, of Wilson, common laborer, son of W.S. Barnes and Emma Mincy, died of typhoid fever. Batts & Spell were undertakers.
On 26 May 1918, Willie Graves, 4, of Saratoga township, son of Charlie Venston and Mattie Graves, died of typhoid fever. He was buried in Greene County.
On 7 August 1918, Annie Beatrice Lucas, 9, of 525 South Lodge Street, Wilson, “school girl,” daughter of Frank E. Lucas and Iver Johnson, died of typhoid fever, which she had contracted in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. She was buried in “Wilson cemetery.”
On 18 August 1918, Augustus Deans, 8, of Lucama, son of Lizzie Hines, died of typhoid. Edith Hines was informant, and he was buried in Dawson graveyard.
On 6 October 1920, Lillie May Taylor, 10, of 153 East Street, Wilson, daughter of Joseph Taylor of Edgecombe County and Martha Ellis of Wilson County, died of typhoid fever.
On 3 October 1923, Bunn Farmer, about 13, of Taylors township, son of Arch Strickland and Etta Farmer, died of typhoid fever.
On 6 April 1911, Floyd Bynum, 2, of 501 Gay Street, Wilson, son of Cooper Bynum and Annie Woodard, both of Edgecombe County, died of measles. A.D. McGowan was undertaker. [Andrew D. McGowan was white, but his undertaking and furniture business, Quinn McGowan Company, regularly performed burials of African-Americans.]
On 28 April 1913, Marshall Lee Tally, 5, of 110 Pender Street, Wilson, daughter of Rev. M.A. Tally, died of measles. Dr. Frank S. Hargrave was attending physician and informant. She was buried in Raleigh, N.C.
On 9 June 1910, Albert Smith, 4, of 411 Pine Street, Wilson, son of Ed Smith and Sallie Louis, both of Virginia, died of meningitis following typhoid fever.
On 24 January 1911, Willie Junius Dewey, 6, of 619 East Vance Street, Wilson, son of Thomas Dewey of Chatham County and Callie Smith of Harnett County, died of spinal meningitis “paralysis of respiratory muscle.” He was buried in Dunn, N.C.
On 24 January 1914, Lillian Holland, 15, school girl, of Goldsboro Street, Wilson, died of meningitis.She was born in Cumberland County to Ben Holland and Charity [last name not given]. Charity Parker of Wilson was informant.
On 20 February 1916, Annie Bell Waddell, 6, of Wilson, daughter of Eli Waddell of Virginia and Annis Holland of North Carolina, died of “meningitis, cerebral.” James L. Kearns of Wilson was informant.
On 12 May 1913, Lucy Woodard, 1, of 136 Suggs Street, Wilson, daughter of Willie Woodard and Lucy Harris, died of malarial fever,
On 19 July 1914, Henry Taylor, 6, of Wilson, son of King H. Taylor and Lula Hines, died of malarial fever. Informant was Henry Hines.
On 8 July 1924, Eunice Reid, 5, of Gardners township, daughter of Gray Reid of Edgecombe County and Mary Hagans of Wilson County, died of pernicious malaria.
On 28 June 1910, Rodney G. Green, 4 months, of 624 Viola Street, Wilson, son of J.W. Green of Pitt County and Bertha Wells of Wilson County, died of hereditary syphilis.
On 5 August 1915, Amy Marshall, 2, of Wilson township, daughter of Coley Marshall and Calonia Campbell, died of “laryngeal diphtheria, treated by neighbors for asthma.” Informant was Ruben Campbell.
On 21 May 1917, Earnestine Ford, 5 months, of Wilson township, daughter of Curtis Ford of Dillon, S.C., and Mamie Battle of Wayne County, died. “This child had what they call ‘white thrash’ and developed into ‘yellow thrash.'” Informant was Curtis Ford, 605 East Green Street, Wilson.
On 15 February 1920, Beatrice Mincey, 16, of Wilson, son of John Mincey and Olivia Rand, died of “supposed tetanus.”
On 6 June 1921, Mattie Jane Ward, 3, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Frank Ward of Greene County and Pearl Winstead of Wilson County, died of infantile paralysis.
On 2 July 1923, Ethel Grey Barnes, 10, school girl, of Wilson, daughter of W.I. Barnes and Madie Taylor, died of infantile paralysis. She was buried by Thomas Yelverton Company, a white funeral business.
On 16 December 1924, A.J. Barnes, 11, of Spring Hill township, son of J.C. Barnes and Spicy Jane Atkinson, died of “septicemia mixed beginning from tubercular arthritis in right foot.” The boy worked in farming.
On 25 December 1925, Leonard Swinson, 10, of Greene County, son of Jim Swinson and Holland Woodard of Greene County, died at Wilson Colored Hospital of “tetanus following injury to hand by cap pistol.” He was buried in Green County by Artis & Flanagan.
On 2 January 1926, Walter Darden, 9, of Walstonburg, son of Walter Darden and Mamie Farmer of Greene County, died of “tetanus (cap pistol wound)” at the colored hospital in Wilson. [“Toy-pistol tetanus” was very much a thing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.] He was buried in Greene County by C.H. Darden & Son.