Month: December 2019

Lane Street Project: cemetery records request update, no. 3: the background.

Yesterday I sent a letter to the mayor of Wilson, the city manager, and all seven council members setting forth my concerns and requests regarding the status of Vick, Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

In a nutshell, I requested:

  • the survey PLT prepared of Vick cemetery or confirmation that it was never done or no longer exists
  • the whereabouts of gravemarkers removed from Vick or confirmation of their destruction
  • a plat map showing the boundaries of Vick cemetery
  • a statement of the city’s position on the ownership of Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries

I have already had some fruitful responses, and I look forward to the action of promises fulfilled. (And broad-based support for same.) City government is not the only stakeholder here though, and the hot lights of factual inquiry may illuminate a need for sustained community volunteerism.

In the meantime, I am sharing some Wilson Daily Times articles from the first period of public interest in these cemeteries, which began in 1989 and culminated in 1996 with the erection of the monument at Vick cemetery.

On 23 February 1990, Carl W. Hines Sr. hit the nail on the head with his letter to the editor lamenting Sam Vick‘s lost grave and noting “[m]uch of the apathy surrounding the cemetery is a result of: 1. Public unawareness, 2. Uncertainty about ownership, 3. Condemnation, 4. Removal of gravestones, 5. Removal of many remains to Rest Haven and, of course, the dumping of trash in the area.” Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

On 11 January 1991, the paper published a photo of city workers clearing Vick cemetery with a bush hog. This apparently was the first official attention paid to a Vick clean-up.

On 13 September 1991, various city officials weighed on the status (and challenges) of clean-up efforts:

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On 6 January 1993, this:


On 19 May 1996, the Times announced that the end was near, that Vick would soon be “a proper cemetery.” A plan to mark each grave had been abandoned during the project, and Deputy City Manager Charles Pittman III mentioned that a survey  done instead had located more than 1000 graves. Facing these numbers, the city determined that a single monument would be “wiser” and less costly to maintain to boot. Pittman also noted that 30-40 “relatively intact” tombstones were being collected for storage by the city.

Book and Garden Club.

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This Raines & Cox photograph of the Book and Garden Club appears to have been taken in the mid-to-late 1960s. The setting is the home of Dr. Frank N. and Suzie J. Sullivan on Faison Street. Though the photo itself falls outside the period of focus of Black Wide-Awake, it captures several women who came to prominence in Wilson’s African-American middle class in the first half of the 20th century.


First row standing:

Second row standing:

Many thanks to John Teel for sharing this image from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. It is catalogued as PhC_196_CW_PHB_7611_Book&GardenClub.

Cemeteries, no. 28: the Bynum-Williamson cemetery.

I searched unsuccessfully for this cemetery a couple of years ago — it was the wrong time of year. In summer it’s hidden from the street by tobacco or corn or whatever tall crop is growing, but it’s readily visible in December. (The thick growth just behind the graves shelters Cedar Creek, a tributary of Black Creek.)

The oldest marked grave is that of

  • Moses Bynum

Moses Bynum 1825-1885 Gone but not forgotten

  • James Grice

James Grice Born 1850 Died Sep 23 1925 Gone but not forgotten

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: James Grice, 17, farm apprentice in the household of Thomas Woodard, 38.

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: James Grice, 30; wife Leatha J., 34; and children Mary, 11, Loney W., 8, and Joseph, 4.

In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: James Grice, 50, farm laborer; wife Jane L., 49; and children Mary, 35, Lonney, 28, Sarah A., 17, and James L., 12.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on West Railroad Street, James Grice, 59, farmer; wife Eliza, 52; daughter Mary,; and granddaughter Hattie,

In the 1920 census of lack Creek township, Wilson County: Eroy A. Grice, 40; wife Clyde, 33; James, 69; Hattie Wood, 40, and Walter Wood, 12.

James Grice died 23 September 1925 in Black Creek township. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1850 in Wilson County to James Grice and Thanney Keen; was a tenant farmer for Johnson Daniel; and was the widower of Litha Grice. Eroy Grice of Black Creek was informant.

  • Turner Williamson

Father Tunner Williamson Born Jan. 18. 1860 Died Oct. 22, 1937 Gone but not forgotten.

See here.

  • Turner Williamson, Jr.

Turner Jr., husband of Bessie Mae Williamson May 13, 1902 June 14, 1945 A light from our household is gone

Turner Williamson died 14 June 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 May 1902 in Wilson to Turner Williamson and Margaret Barnes; was married to Bessie Williamson, age 37; worked as an auto mechanic; lived at 601 North 53rd Street, Philadelphia; and was buried in Wilson.

  • James White

James White  Feb 8, 1877 Apr 4, 1950 At rest

Jim White died 4 April 1950 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 73 years old; was born in Craven County, N.C., to Rennie White; was married; worked as a carpenter; and was buried in Bynum cemetery. Effie White was informant.

  • Chaney Brooks

Chaney Brooks died Nov, 12, 1941 Age 66 Yrs. Gone But Not Forgotten

Chanie Brooks died 12 December 1940 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 78 years old; was born in Wilson County to Bryant Barden and Annis Barden; was married to Walter Brooks; and was buried in Bynum’s cemetery near Lucama. Informant was Tom Dawson.

  • Olive Bynum Braswell

Mother Ollie Braswell Dec. 2, 1870 Mar. 7, 1950 Gone But Not Forgotten

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Calvin Bynum, 31; wife Pherabe, 28; and children Olive, 9, Fannie, 7, Martha Ann, 5, Joseph, 2, and Benjamin, 3 months.

Luther Braswell, 20, of Wilson County, son of George and Adline Braswell, married Olive Bynum, 21, of Wilson County, daughter of Calvin and Ferebe Bynum, on 10 April 1894 at Calvin Bynum’s in Cross Road township. Witnesses were Gray Newsome, Henry Dudley and [illegible] Newsome.

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: Luther Braswell, 27, farmer; wife Oliff, 28; Lewis, 5, Frank, 3, and Luther, 10 months.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Luther Braswell, 37; wife Olif, 38; and children Lewis, 15, Frank, 12, Luther, 10, Oscar, 8, Gertrude, 6, Victoria, 2, and Calvin, 11 months.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Luther Braswell, 47; wife Ollie, 48; and children Oscar, 18, Gertrude, 15, and Victoria, 12. Next door: Luther Braswell Jr., 20, and wife Estella, 20. Also, Lewis Braswell, 24, wife Chany, 28, and children James, 2, and Carry, 8 months. Also, Frank Braswell, 22, and wife Etta, 19.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Luther Braswell, 30; wife Estell, 26; mother Olif, 57; and sister Victoria, 22.

Olie Braswell died 7 March 1950 at 604 Spring Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 December 1870 in Wilson County to Calvin Bynum; was widowed; and was buried in Newsome cemetery, WIlson County. Victoria Messick of Wilson was informant.

  • Willie Newsome

Father Willie Newsome May 17, 1959 Gone But Not Forgotten

On [illegible] October 1926, Willie Newsom, of Cross Roads, son of Amos and Martha Newsom, married Mittie Taylor, 20, daughter of Frank Taylor and Hattie Joyner. Elder Robert Edwards performed the ceremony in the presence of Jethro Dickerson, Benjamin Bynum and Geo. Sutton.

In the 1940 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Willie Newsome, 48; wife Mittie, 32; and children Lessie, 11, Hattie, 9, Mattie, 7, and Yvone, 2.

Willie Newsome died 17 May 1959 at 1312 Washington Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 April 1895 in Wilson County to Amos Newsome; was married to Mittie Newsome; was a farmer; and was buried in a family cemetery in Lucama.

  • William L. Barnes

William L. Barnes June 16, 1889 Feb. 17, 1941

113, 115 and 117 North East Street.

The one hundred-twentieth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, the houses at #113, #115, #117 are: “ca. 1908; 1 story; shotgun with board-and-batten veneer.” The board-and-batten has been replaced with clapboard.

The 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson shows that there were originally six endway houses (with two different floor plans) on this stretch of North East Street. Street numbering changed about 1922, so the houses above were originally #114, #116 and #118.

In the 1928 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ward Ussell (c; Nettie) lab h 113 N East; 115 N East Vacant; Cooper Jack C (c; Nora) lab  h 117 N East

In the 1930 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bethea Mamie (c) smstrs h 113 N East; Hargrove Andrew (c; Ada) lab h 115 N East; Artis Amelia (c) factory hand  h 117 N East

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 113 North East, paying $6/month rent, Mamie Bathea, 40, laundress; Pattie Manual, 60, mother, laundress; George Kannan, 30, brother, taxi chauffuer; Pearl Manual, 20, nurse for private family; daughters Ruth S., 14, Sally S., 12, and Adel Manual, 10; cousins Louisa, 10, and Ralph Kannan, 8; and daughter Mamie Manual, 4.

In the 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bethea Mamie (c) smstrs h113 N East; Bowman Rufus (c; Daisy) tob wkr h115 N East; Hines Boyd (c; Betty) tob wkr h117 N East

In the 1947 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bethea Annie (c) h 113 N East; Grimes Fagin (c; Addie) lab h 115 N East; Williams Rematha Mrs (c) h 117 N East

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, August 2019.

Lane Street Project: remembering the dead.

My plans are still forming, but one thing I can do right now is call the names of the men and women whose headstones I found Christmas Eve morning.

  • Prince Mincey (ca. 1841-1902)

Prince Mincy Died Sept 14 1902 Aged 61 Years

Prince Mincey was the grandfather of MadisonBen” Mincey, whose efforts to clear Odd Fellows cemetery brought the plight of Rountree-Vick cemetery to the city’s attention in the late 1980s. Ben Mincey’s father, Benjamin Mincey, was an early leader of Wilson’s black fire company, the Red Hot Hose Company.

In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farmer Prince Minshew, 52; wife Susan, 35; and children Frank, 12, Henry, 11, and John, 3.

In the 1900 census of Wilson town, Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Prince Mensey, 60; wife Susan, 52; children Ben, 19, Emma, 19, and Oscar, 12; and niece Rosetta Mensey, 7.

  • Oscar Mincey

Oscar Mincy 

Oscar Mincey, son of Prince and Susan Suggs Mincey, was born about 1887. His small stone is a few feet from his father. It’s almost completely sunken, and his death date is unreadable. I have not found a death certificate for him, which suggests he died before the state required them in 1914.  Oscar’s brother Benjamin, the fireman, is presumably buried nearby, but there is no trace of his headstone. [Update, 13 December 2020.]

  • Daniel Marlow (1870-1918)

Daniel Marlow Born Mar 1, 1870 Died July 5, 1918

In the 1910 census of town of Spring Hope, Mannings township, Nash County: Daniel Marlow, 42, brickmason, was one of five boarders living in the household of Anna Coppedge, 36, widower, laundress.

Also in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Dan G. Marlow, 40; wife Lottie, 35; and Hattie May, 6.

This tangle of vines will completely obscure this monument when it leafs out in spring.

  • Henry Tart

Henry Tart Born Apr. 11, 1886 Died May 13, 1919

Henry Tart‘s magnificent obelisk is the largest gravestone I found. Tart was the well-known proprietor of a transfer company. Read more about him here and here and here. Resting against the base of Tart’s monument was this broken marker:

Died Nov. 2, 1921, Age 51 Yrs., Gone to a brighter home, Where grief can not come.

  • Millie Uzzell

Come Ye Blessed Millie Uzzell Born 1872 Died Nov 26 1929 She is gone but not forgotten At rest

Molley Uzzell died 26 October 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was about 55 years old; was born in Lenoir County to Bob May and Molley May; lived at 709 Goldsboro Street, Wilson; and was married to Green Uzzell.

  • Best

This marker suggests the burial of several members of the Best family, but no individual gravestones are visible.

  • Washington Pitt

Washington Pitt Died May 11, 1917 Age 38 Years

Washington Pitt, 21, and Cometa Hill, 18, son of Solomon Hill, were married 26 December 1904 at Solomon Hill’s. Hilliard Ellis applied for the license, and Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony.

In the 1908 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Washington horseshoer h Lee cor Deans

On 29 June 1910, Washington Pitt, 27, married Lula Best, 20, in Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Ora Bunch, Walter A. Maynor and Morris Ellis.

In the 1912 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitts Washington blacksmith h Vance nr Reid

In the 1916 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Washington blacksmith h 805 E Vance

Washington Pitts died 11 May 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 March 1886 in South Carolina to Wright Pitts and Amanda Wyatt; was a widower; was a horse shoer; and was buried in “Wilson.” Informant was Lucinda Pitts.

  • Louis Williams

Probably, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Fred Owens, 32, and wife Lula, 29, and boarder Lewis Williams, 52, widower, a house carpenter.

  • Buster Ellis

Buster Ellir Was Born June 17, 1914 Died July 17, 1924

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on New Stantonsburg Road, farmer Reuben Simms, 21; grandmother Clarkie Ellis, 65, widower; aunts Cherry, 24, Jemima, 25, and Henrietta Ellis, 30; nieces Lucy, 12, and Mamie, 10; and nephew Buster, 7.

Buster Ellis died 17 July 1924 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 12 years old; was born in Wilson County to Lofton Harriss and Cherry Ellis; was a schoolboy; and died of “tuberculosis of hip; dislocation of hip caused by fall from bicycle.” Ruben Simms was informant.

  • Clarky Ellis

Clarky Ellies was born 1853 Died July [illegible]

Clarkie Atkinson Ellis was born enslaved.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Reuben Ellis, 34, farm laborer; wife Clarkey, 22; and daughter Jane Grant, 1.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Rubin Ellis, 54; wife Clarky, 36; and children Jane, 10, Jonah, 8, Sherard, 7, William, 6, Rubin, 5, George, 4, and Cansy, 4 months.

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Riubin Ellis, 70; wife Clarky U., 57; children Kansas, 22, Allen, 16, Henrietta, 15, Gemima, 13, Cherry, 12, Hardy, 10, and Benjamin N., 9; and grandchildren Plumer, 16, and Henrietta, 5 months; and Jane Bynum, 66, widow.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Rheubin Ellis, 76; wife Clarkie Ellis, 72; daughters Henrietta, 23, Joemima, 22, and Cherrie Ellis, 19; and grandchildren Annie, 14, Ashley, 12, Rheubin, 11, and Lucy, 11 months. [Ashley and Reuben’s surname was Simms.]

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on New Stantonsburg Road, farmer Reuben Simms, 21; grandmother Clarkie Ellis, 65, widower; aunts Cherry, 24, Jemima, 25, and Henrietta Ellis, 30; nieces Lucy, 12, and Mamie, 10; and nephew Buster, 7.

Clarky Ellis died 9 July 1923 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 75 years old; was the widow of Rubin Ellis; had been a farmer; and had been born in Johnston County to Lewis Adkinson and Rosa Adkinson. Rubin Ellis [Jr.] was informant.

The broken pile of Ellis family headstones:

  • H.B. Taylor

This is not the grave of Rev. Halley B. Taylor. Beyond that, I cannot identify it.

  • Daisy Robins

Daisy Robins Died May 17, 1914 Age 38 Years

Daisy Robins died 17 May 1914 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 38 years old; was married; was born in Newberry, South Carolina, to Morton Pitt and Harrett Jones; and was buried in “Wilson.” Washington Pitt was informant.

The vine stretching across the base of this stone is slowly toppling it backwards.

  • Collapsed graves

They are difficult to see in photographs, but these woods are pitted with depressions made by collapsed graves, like these:

  • Broken stones

Broken headstones and foot markers, like this one near the fence bordering the cleared field, litter the forest floor.

All photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2019.

Lane Street Project: the state of Rountree, Vick and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

The grave of Millie Uzzell (1872-1928).

This was not what I expected.

First, a recap:

  • The cemetery generally known as Rountree (after Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, though Vick and Odd Fellows cemeteries are contiguous) began receiving burials of African-Americans around 1900. [UPDATE: Though it is accurate to say that this group of cemeteries is known collectively as “Rountree,” the cemetery I have been calling “Rountree” is correctly called the Vick cemetery. Corrections have been made throughout this post. See below.]
  • In 1900, Hannibal Lodge #1552, Odd Fellows, purchased two acres for a cemetery adjacent to Rountree cemetery. Odd Fellows cemetery is still nominally owned by the Odd Fellows, but is essentially abandoned.
  • In 1913, Samuel Vick sold eight acres to the city of Wilson for a cemetery adjacent to Odd Fellows. Wilson’s Cemetery Commission, which maintains (historically white) Maplewood and (historically black) Rest Haven cemeteries, has only a handful of records of Rountree or Vick burials, per response to my Public Records Law request. (Sam Vick himself, by the way, is buried in Odd Fellows, but his grave is either unmarked or, more likely, the stone has been lost — as have those of a dozen other Vicks I would expect to have been interred here. [UPDATE: Vick’s marker was found in December 2020.])
  • Vick cemetery was active into the early 1960s, but abandoned soon after. There were public appeals for help with maintenance as early as 1967.
  • By the mid-1970s, all three cemeteries were overgrown.
  • Sporadically, private citizens attempted to clear the grounds, including Ben Mincey, who was determined to honor his parents’ burial sites in Odd Fellows.
  • In late 1994, Wilson City Council awarded a contract to PLT Construction Company to “restore” Vick cemetery. In a 29 August 1995 Wilson Daily Times article, city manager Ed Wyatt stated that Rountree [actually, Vick] Cemetery contained approximately 200 marked graves and 75-100 “intact, legible” headstones. PLT would survey and record the locations of gravesites prior to clearing and grading the cemetery site, and the headstones would be stored by the city’s public works division. The city would then erect a single monument to memorialize Rountree’s dead) I repeat: in 1995-96, the city leveled a public cemetery and covered the graves of many hundreds, and more likely some thousands, of its citizens. I assume council ran this action by the city’s attorney, but it certainly seems to fall afoul of (current) Article 22 of North Carolina Laws and Statutes Regarding Cemeteries:

§ 14-149. Desecrating, plowing over or covering up graves; desecrating human remains.

(a) It is a Class I felony, without authorization of law or the consent of the surviving spouse or next of kin of the deceased, to knowingly and willfully:

(1) Open, disturb, destroy, remove, vandalize or desecrate any casket or other repository of any human remains, by any means including plowing under, tearing up, covering over or otherwise obliterating or removing any grave or any portion thereof.

(2) Take away, disturb, vandalize, destroy, tamper with, or deface any tombstone, headstone, monument, grave marker, grave ornamentation, or grave artifacts erected or placed within any cemetery to designate the place where human remains are interred or to preserve and perpetuate the memory and the name of any person. This subdivision shall not apply to the ordinary maintenance and care of a cemetery.

  • In October and November 2019, I sent letters to several city officers and department heads (and PLT), requesting a copy of the survey and any records related to the removal and storage of the headstones. Only the city clerk responded — to provide copies of council minutes from the early 1990s. To date, I do not know if the survey was ever done or if copies of it exist. Without any record of the locations of graves, or the names on the surviving headstones, the city has essentially created a potter’s field.

This brings us to late last week.

Through a reliable back-channel source, I learned that after several years the Public Works Department sent letters to next-of-kin (where it could determine them) and published a notice in the Daily Times requesting family members to retrieve their kin’s headstones by a certain date. A few people responded. The remaining headstones were destroyed. (See Article 22, Section 14-149(a)(2), above.)

This morning, I drove over to Vick cemetery to look around and contemplate my next move.

This is what the cleared acreage looks like. Again, keep in mind that there are graves beneath this bland expanse:

Here’s what the graves in Odd Fellows look like. This little section is subject to some heavy-handed upkeep that results in fewer and fewer standing stones with my every visit. The two large monuments in the middle distance mark the graves of Dave and Della Hines Barnes, the (step)father and mother of Walter Hines, William Hines and Dr. B.O. Barnes.

I walked along the edge of this cleared area, looking for a small headstone I’d noticed once before. The floor of the woods here is a thicket of greenbriers and wild blackberry and saplings and springy vines and is nearly impassable in summer. Without so much as a hand pruner, even with winter’s bare branches, I had to fight my way in.

I found it: Prince Mincy Died Sept 14 1902 Aged 61 years. And nearby: Oscar Mincey. The irony. For all that Ben Mincey did to keep these cemeteries clear to honor his forebears, they’re still lying in the woods.

A minute for the lay of the land:

(A) The grassy area is Vick cemetery, the eight-acre parcel the city cleared and graded in 1995. The dotted line marks a chain-link fence. (B) The small area in Odd Fellows cemetery in which several headstones stand in bare earth. It is regularly scraped of all plant growth and the trash that people continually dump there. (C) Thickly wooded area east of (B) — Rountree cemetery. The short white line marks a ditch between Odd Fellows and Rountree. (D) The thickly wooded section of (B) Odd Fellows.

I continued along the edge of the woods, peering into the brush. As I stood on the lip of the ditch that marks the clear area’s eastern boundary, I was startled to spot the pale gray of an obelisk monument looming about 50 feet away. I crossed the ditch and plunged into (C), briers snatching at my socks and twigs catching my high bun. Suffice to say, Millie Uzzell and Daniel Marlow‘s stones are not the only ones I found, but that’s another post.

I clawed my way back out and entered (D) near its western edge. More headstones, including a stately marker over Henry Tart‘s grave.

What was going on here? If the city cleared Vick’s graves in order to create a perpetually maintained memorial, why were all these headstones still standing in the woods? While drafting this post, I realized that (D), site of the Tart and Mincey graves, is the old Odd Fellows cemetery, for which the city expressly disavowed responsibility in the late 1980s. The Odd Fellows lodge has been defunct for decades, and no one has shown this cemetery love since Ben Mincey.

What about (C), then? The headstones and collapsed graves that dot this section attest to the density of burials here. This is logically part of the former Rountree cemetery, for which the city has acknowledged responsibility. [Update: on 1 March 1990, city council denied ownership of Rountree cemetery.]

I confirm that I’m feeling pretty reactive right now, but here are my initial thoughts on next steps for the reclamation of this important African-American burial ground, reaffirmation of respect for our dead, and restoration of common decency [UPDATE: subsequently discovered facts render some of these thoughts moot or inaccurate]:

  • If this account contains inaccuracies, I welcome correction by any authoritative source.
  • I restate my request for a copy of the survey prepared by PLT when Vick cemetery was cleared. A copy, if not the original, of this survey should be shared with Wilson Cemetery Commission and made available to descendants, genealogists, or other researchers as requested.
  • As, through the city’s actions, the locations of the graves in (A) have been obliterated, the city should map (A) and (B) with ground-penetrating radar and make the results available to the public.
  • If (C) is part of Vick cemetery, it is the city’s responsibility to maintain it, and it should do so immediately. The city should also survey and catalog the cemetery’s headstones, leave them in situ, and utilize ground-penetrating radar to determine the locations of additional graves.
  • If, as it appears, the city has no legal responsibility for (D) the Odd Fellows cemetery, I implore community groups to intervene to clean it up, survey it, and create a record of the identifiable graves remaining there.

UPDATE, 12/30/2019: In reviewing city council minutes from 1 March 1990, I found this: “The Mayor again recognized Mr. Charles Hines. Mr. Hines asked whether the Rountree Cemetery located on Lane Street belonged to the City. Council indicated that it did not, but the Vick Cemetery next to it did.” I am seeking clarification from city officials, but if this is the case, (1) the cemetery I have referred to as “Rountree-Vick” or “Rountree” is in fact the Vick cemetery and (2) clean up of the graves in (C) will likely require community effort. I will edit my posts to clarify the name of the cemetery.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2019, except aerial image, courtesy of Google Maps.

Dear Santa Claus.


Wilson Daily Times, 24 December 1940.


In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, Joe Jones, 44, tobacco factory laborer; wife Mary L., 33, county home nurse; and children Marie, 12, and Joseph Jr., 9.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, Oliver W. Best, 32, [occupation illegible],and wife Sadie L., 24, public school teacher.

Model 1938 Red Ryder BB gun, today.