Month: February 2020

Another deed for Rountree cemetery.

I published here the deed for the purchase in 1906 of one acre of the land that now comprises the abandoned Rountree cemetery. I speculated that the remaining acre was purchased later. However, it appears that, in fact, Rountree Missionary Baptist Church trustees bought the first acre of the burial ground — the section west of Lane Street — almost ten years earlier, in 1897.

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North Carolina, Wilson County  }

This Deed, made this 2nd day of August, A.D., 1897, by F.W. Barnes and wife, Mattie B. Barnes, Parties of the first part, to George Harris, Charles Bullock and Arch Harris, Trustees, of the Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, Parties of the Second Part, all of County and State aforesaid, witnesseth:

That the Said Parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of Twenty Five Dollars, to them in hand paid, (the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged), have bargained and sold, and do by these presents convey unto the Said Parties of the Second part, and their successors in office, that certain lot of land, lying and being situate in Wilson Township, county and state aforesaid, adjoining the lands of F.W. Barnes and Martin V. Barnes, and more particularly described as follows: Beginning at a stake on the path leading from the Plank road to the Stantonsburg road where a small branch crosses said path, thence westerly with said path, a fence row, 270 feet to a stake cornering thence northerly 250 feet to a stake in Said branch, thence down said branch or ditch to the beginning containing one acre, more or less. It is understood and agreed that the path above referred to Shall at no time be closed up and that the public shall have the enjoyment thereof without the interference or interruption from the said parties of the first part.

To have and to hold said real estate unto the said parties of the Second part and their successors in office in fee simple. And the said F.W. Barnes, for himself, his heirs, executors and administrators, doth covenant to and with the said parties of the Second part, and their successors in office, that he will forever warrant and defend the title to the Said land against the lawful claim or claims of all other persons whomsoever. In Testimony whereof the Said parties of the first part have hereunto  set their hands and seals, the day and year first above written.  /s/ F.W. Barnes, Mattie B. Barnes

——

Note this description: “beginning at a stake on the path leading from the Plank road to the Stantonsburg road where a small branch crosses said path.” The “small branch” is Sandy Creek. The plank road is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the continuation of East Nash Street beyond U.S. Highway 301. Stantonsburg road is still Stantonsburg Road. The path? That’s modern-day Lane Street, which no longer spans the entire stretch between MLK and Stantonsburg. Instead, just beyond Vick cemetery it makes an abrupt westward turn toward 301.

Here’s detail from the United States Geological Survey’s 1904 topographic map of North Carolina’s Wilson Quadrangle:

The rough area of the cemeteries is encircled. Lane Street clearly continued down to Stantonsburg Road at the time.

  • George Harris
  • Charles Bullock — Bullock was also one of the trustees who purchased the second parcel.
  • Arch Harris — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Arch Harris, 53; wife Rosa, 45; and children James, 22, Arch, 20, Mary Jane, 18, Nancy, 16, Lucy, 12, Minnie, 11, Maggie, 8, Jessie, 6, and Annie, 3.
  • Rountree Missionary Baptist Church

Deed book 45, page 153, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Snaps, no. 63: Penny Mills Dancy and family.

This remarkable photograph of what appears to be a family gathered for a funeral, probably in the 1940s. Penny Mills Dancy stands fifth from the left, hatless in a dark dress with two large buttons. The girl at far left, looking out of the frame, may be her daughter Lovie Dancy (later Tabron.)

The stamp on the back of the photograph is equally remarkable, revealing as it does another African-American photographer operating in Wilson: “Portraits Made In Your Homes. R.J. Dancy. 704 Suggs St. Phone 2092. Wilson, N.C.” Ray J. Dancy, Penny Mills Dancy’s son.

——

In the 1910 census of Chicod township, Pitt County: Arnold Mills, 61, farmer; wife Lovie, 42; and children Nasby R., 21, Arnold, 20, Carrie T., 18, Gatsey D., 15, Goldman, 11, Lovie E., 13, Pennie, 9, Vanie L., 6, Jeruth, 5, and Abram C., 3.

On 9 December 1917, John C. Dancy, 20, of Greene County, son of John and Elizabeth Dancy, married Pennia Mills, 18, of Greene County, daughter of Ormond and Lovie Mills of Pitt County, at Maury Chapel Church in Greene County, North Carolina.

In the 1920 census of Contentnea Neck township, Lenoir County, North Carolina: farm laborer John C. Dancy, 24; wife Penny E., 19; and daughter Enlishel V., 2 months.

On 9 May 1924, John Allen Dancy, age 18 months, died in Ormonds township, Greene County. Per his death certificate, he was born to John Dancy of Ayden, N.C., and Pennie Mills of Pitt County, and was buried in Mills cemetery, Pitt County.

In the 1930 census of Township 9, Craven County, North Carolina: farmer Johnie C. Dancy, 34; wife Pennie, 29; and children Evangeline, 10, Lovie, 8, R.J., 5, and Aribell, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Dancy, 44, city of Wilson laborer; wife Pennie, 39, tobacco factory laborer; and children Evangline, 20, tobacco factory laborer, Lovie, 18, R.J., 15, Olie Bell, 11, Mildred, 8, and Leo, 5.

In 1942, Ray Joel Dancey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 5 December 1924 in Pitt County; lived at 704 Suggs Street; has contact was Penny Dancey of the same address; and he was a student at Darden High School.

In 1946, Ollie Bell Dancey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 4 June 1928 in Greene County; lived at 704 Suggs Street; has contact was mother Penny Dancey of the same address; and he was a student at Darden High School.

Penny Ethel Dancy died 13 April 1984 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 January 1901 in Pitt County to Arnold Mills and Lovie Shepherd; was widowed; had worked as a factory worker for Watson; and lived at 702 Suggs Street. Lovie Tabron was informant.

Many, many thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for a copy of this photograph.

The A.M.E. trustees buy a lot on Suggs Street.

On 25 July 1906, Norris Stevens, C.C. Goffney, Moses Bennett, J.M. Sanders and M.L. Phillips, trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, paid $200 for a 90′ by 110′ lot on Suggs Street.

The A.M.E. church as drawn in the 1922 Sanborn map of Wilson, N.C. 

The church was the first home of Saint Luke A.M.E. Church, which moved to its current location at Vick and Atlantic Streets in the 1930s. Saint Luke’s cornerstone describes its founding as 1910, however, which seems to indicate that a different, earlier congregation built this building.

——

  • Norris Stevens — Norris Stephens died 5 December 1909 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 35 years old; was married; lived on Darden Alley; was born in Duplin County to Joe Stephens of Sampson County and Emline Flowers of Wayne County. Lum C. Goffney was informant.
  • C.C. Goffney — In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Sugg Street, Christopher Gofney, 44, carpenter; his wife Fannie, 30; and son Clinton, 16; plus lodger Freeter Moseley, 19, insurance agent. Christopher Columbus Goffney died 3 September 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 December 1858 in Ed[ge]combe County to Woodson Goffney and an unknown mother; and worked as a carpenter. Lucy Goffney was informant.
  • Moses Bennett — Moses Bennett died 27 April 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 47 years old; was married; worked as a laborer; was born in Sampson County to Wright Bennett. Informant was Calline Bennett.
  • J.M. Sanders
  • M.L. Phillips

Deed book, page 361, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Update: James Woodard’s father, Amos.

A few days ago, the blog of the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center posted an article on James Woodard, whose Wilson County connection I shared here. This article explores the identity of James Woodard’s father Amos, who is recorded in family lore as having been sold away. Identifying two Amos Woodards from Wilson County who enlisted in regiments of the United States Colored Troops, researcher Cheri Todd Molter speculates that Amos’ sudden departure was due to his having run away to join the Army, rather than being sold away.

The records below offer descriptions of both men. Further research is required to determine which, if either, was James Woodard’s father, and if either were related to London Woodard.

Amos Woodard enlisted in Company M, 14 Regiment U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 24 April 1865 in New Bern, North Carolina. He was 18 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, with black eyes, hair and complexion. He deserted on 13 July 1865 at Fort Macon, N.C.

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Amos Woodard enlisted in Company I, 14 Regiment U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 4 April 1865 in New Bern, North Carolina. He was 18 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, with black eyes and hair and yellow complexion. He deserted on 10 June 1865 at Morehead City, N.C., and returned to duty in August.

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Cemeteries in the flood plain.

From the website of the Wilson County GIS/Mapping Office, a map showing the flood plain of Sandy Creek. As is obvious from the drifts of trash littering the low-lying rear of Rountree cemetery, much of this graveyard is regularly underwater. The same holds for the southeast quadrant of Odd Fellows cemetery and nearly all of the section of Rountree across Lane Street.

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Rest in peace, Monte Vick Cowan.

Occasionally, we are reminded that the past is not so very distant, that we are often only a degree or two removed from the men and women whose achievements we now think of as historic. The news of the death last week of Monte LeRoque Vick Cowan, the youngest and last surviving child of Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick, is just such a reminder.

A young Monte Vick on a snowy day.

Mrs. Cowan was born in Wilson in June 1918. World War I was raging, and Spanish flu had begun its deadly spread across the United States. At home, though, the Vick family was enjoying perhaps its period of greatest influence and prosperity. With the entrenchment of Jim Crow, Samuel Vick had retired from political life, but, described as the wealthiest man of his race in North Carolina, was involved one way or another in the establishment of nearly every important institution in East Wilson — an Odd Fellows hall, a Presbyterian church, a Baptist church, a public cemetery, a hospital, a theatre. Two months before Mrs. Cowan’s birth, black parents launched a boycott of the colored graded school, and Vick stepped forward with the offer a building to house an alternative school. Just before Mrs. Cowan’s third birthday, her father led the establishment of Wilson’s only black-owned bank. She grew up in her parents’ imposing East Green Street home in a neighborhood he largely planned with streets named for her older sisters Irma, Viola, Elba and Doris. She was five years old when Wilson Colored High School opened its doors, and a young adult when the elementary school named for her father admitted its first students in the late years of the Great Depression. World War II found Mrs. Cowan in Wilmington, Delaware, where she married Army corporal George Alexander Cowan.

Mrs. Cowan’s 101 years offer a bridge to places and events that can now seem remote. Her long life reminds us of the reach of our roots and invites remembrance and recognition of those upon whose shoulders we stand.

Rest in peace, Monte Vick Cowan.

——

Monte L. Cowan passed on February 12, 2020. She was a Maywood, N.J., resident, formerly of East Orange. She was a graduate of Bennett College of Greensboro, N.C., class of 1940. She was a life long member The Silver Steppers of East Orange, N.J.

Mrs. Cowan leaves to cherish her memories her daughter Vicki M. Cowan, granddaughter Kyara A. Cowan, nieces Joyce Freeman, Beverly Adams, Darnell Street, Denise Cowan, Emma Cowan, Roslyn Lanham, and a host of other relatives and friends. Funeral Services Tuesday February 18, 10 am at Mt. Olive Baptist Church 260 Central Avenue, Hackensack. Visitation 9-10 am Tuesday at the church. Cremation at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Bennett College of Greensboro, N.C. in the name of Monte L. Vick Cowan Class of 1940. Arrangements by Earl I. Jones Funeral Home, 305 First Street, Hackensack. Brent Smallwood Senior Director.

My thanks and condolences to Vicki L. Cowan on the loss of her mother and for sharing these family photographs. Thanks also to Cynthia S. Ellis for the notification of Mrs. Cowan’s passing and for connecting me with the Vick-Cowan family.

A list of known burials in the Colored Cemetery, also known as Oaklawn or Oakdale.

In 1895, county commissioners took up “a matter of importance,” the issue of “providing a suitable burying ground for the colored people” (which suggests that the old burial ground was critically unsuitable.) The location of the “new” cemetery is memorialized in the name of Cemetery Street. It was variously called the colored cemetery, Okalwn, Oakland and, most commonly, Oakdale cemetery. (Oddly, there seems to have been a white cemetery in Wilson in the early 20th century also called Oakdale.)

Most of the burials below were gleaned from the records of undertakers Wootten & Stevens. Oakdale accepted burials until the 1920s, but is rarely designated on death certificates. Prior to World War II, those records most often referred to “colored cemetery,” which could have been Oakdale, Rountree, Odd Fellows, Masonic or Vick cemeteries.

  • Barham, Hattie. Wilson. Died 30 April 1898, aged 22 years, of consumption. Wife of Alex Barham. Church funeral and burial at Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Barron, Alex. Wilson. Died 22 March 1899, aged 30 years, of consumption. Funeral at house. Burial in Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Battle, Turner. Wilson. Died 16 January 1899, aged 46, shot to death. Burial in Oakdale cemetery.
  • Beckham, Junius. Wilson. Died 24 September 1898, aged 9 months, of pneumonia. Burial in Colored Cemetery.
  • Best, Edward. Wilson. Died 29 May 1898. Funeral at Church. Burial in Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Best, Sylvia. Wilson. Died 17 May 1897, aged 65 years, of consumption. Mother of Ben Best. Funeral at home. Burial in Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Boykin, [no first name]. Wilson County. Died 18 November 1896, aged 8 months. Child of John Boykin. Burial in Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Bullock, Gladiss. Wilson. Died 10 October 1897, of brain fever. Funeral at home. Burial at Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Bynum, Lucy. Wilson. Died 12 November 1898, aged 75 years, of old age. Mother of Wright George Cooper and Amos Bynum. Burial in Oakdale cemetery.
  • Campbell, Fanny. Near Wilson. Colored. Died 25 August 1897, of worms, aged 4 years, 8 months. Buried in Oak Wood cemetery.
  • Cherry, Flora. Died 11 September 1898.  Funeral at church. Burial in Oakdale cemetery. “Flora Cherry was a member of the Burial Association and [was] buried by said Association.”
  • Clayton, Lucy. Died 23 September 1897, aged 1 month, 14 days. Burial in Oakdale cemetery.
  • Darden, Olive Oleta. Wilson. Died 6 April 1898, age 5 months 11 days, of bronchitis. Daughter of Charlie and Diana Darden. Funeral and burial at Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Farmer, _____. Wilson. Died 14 January 1899, of croup. Billed to John Wash Farmer. Buried in Oakdale cemetery.
  • Freeman, James. Wilson. Died 21 May 1899, age 29 years 2 months 10 days, of consumption. Buried in colored cemetery.
  • Gaffney, Andrew. Wilson. Died 6 January 1898. Billed to brother William Gotny [Gaffney]. Buried in colored cemetery.
  • Hill, Edgar. Wilson. Died 20 October 1897, age 16 years, of consumption. Son of Henrietta Hill and brother of Richard Norwood‘s wife. Funeral at home. Burial at Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Jackson, Rosa. Wilson. Died 5 July 1898, age 10 months, of cholera infantum. Child of Jos. S. Jackson.  Funeral at home. Buried colored Oakdale cemetery.
  • Jenkins, Annie Monite. Wilson. Died 20 May 1899, aged 24 years, of consumption. Daughter of Monite Jenkins. Buried Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Jones, Estelle. Wilson. Died 20 December 1896, age 9 months of fever. Buried at colored cemetery.
  • Jones, Gillie. Wilson. Died 31 October 1897, age 51 years, of bowel consumption. Wife of Alex Jones. Funeral at home. Buried at Oakdale cemetery.
  • Jordan, Ned. Wilson. Died 2 February 1898, age 65 years. Father of Charlotte Aycock. Buried in colored cemetery.
  • Lindsey, Frank. Wilson. Died 31 December 1898, age 27, of dropsy. Funeral at home. Buried at Oakdale cemetery. Billed to William Lindsey.
  • Mabry, James. Wilson. Died 15 June 1897, of consumption. Buried in colored cemetery. Bill to L.A. Moore.
  • Matthews, Tom. Wilson. Died 28 May 1899, age 37 years. Buried in colored cemetery. Billed to Town of Wilson. “Killed by Policeman George Mumford in the discharge of his duty. Coroner’s Inquest gave the above verdict.”
  • Mobley, Isaac. Wilson. Died 4 March 1899, age 21 years, of consumption. Buried in Oakdale cemetery.
  • Moore, ____. Wilson. Died 23 July 1898. Wife of Andrew Moore. Buried in colored cemetery.
  • Moore, ____. Wilson. Died 25 August 1898. Child of Henry Moore. Funeral in Methodist church. Buried in colored cemetery.
  • Moore, Lelia. Wilson. Died 6 February 1897, age 3 months, of a severe cold. Buried in Oak Dale cemetery. Billed to Bryant Moore.
  • Newkirk, Fenner. Wilson. Died 18 July 1897, age 28 years, of brain fever. Billed to Bettie Newkirk. Buried at Oak Dale Cemetery.
  • Parker, Harriet Jones. Wilson. Died 26 May 1898. Billed to Doane Herring. Burial at Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Parker, Stanley. Wilson. Died 2 August 1898, age 65, of old age. Funeral at home. Buried at Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Ransom, _____. Wilson. Died 19 February 1897 of “locked bowels.” “Was barber for long time.” Funeral at church. Buried in colored cemetery. Billed to Colored Odd Fellows. [Probably Hugh T. Ransom.]
  • Rogers, Marion L. Wilson. Died 26 April 1898, aged 5 months. Son of Wesley Rogers “who works with the American Tobacco Co.” Buried in colored cemetery.
  • Rowe, Annie Bill. Wilson. Died 16 August 1898, aged 3 months 16 days. “Child was left by her mother with Ben Parks and never came back.” Buried in old colored cemetery.
  • Sharp, _____. Rocky Mount.  Died 14 January 1899. Daughter of Sampson Sharp. “Died at Rocky Mt. & was brought to Wilson for interment.” Burial in Oakdale cemetery.
  • Sharp, Nellie. Wilson township. Colored. Died 20 December 1897, aged 58 years. Buried in Oak Dale cemetery. Billed to Wilson Sharp.
  • Simms, _____. Wilson. Died 9 May 1898, of pneumonia.  “Simms was a young man who had the misfortune to get both feet cut off by a R.R. train.” Buried in Oak Dale Cemetery. Billed to Lee Moore.
  • Stallings, Mary. Wilson. Died 15 June 1898, deranged, aged 20 years, 19 days. Funeral at home. Buried in “old section” of Oakdale cemetery. Billed to Gilbert Stallings.
  • Strickland, _____. Wilson.  Died 8 June 1899. Wife of Marcellus Strickland. Buried in colored cemetery.
  • Sugg, _____. Wilson. Died 4 April 1898, age 22, of fever. Billed to Haywood Best. Buried in Oakdale cemetery.
  • Sutton, William R. Wilson. Colored. Died 4 August 1897, aged 6 months. Child of Aider Sutton.  Funeral at church. Burial in old cemetery.
  • Thompson, Arthur. Wilson. Colored. Died 12 May 1897, of cold and measles, aged 1 year 3 months. Son of Isaac Thompson. Buried in Oak Dale cemetery.
  • Thorp, _____. Colored. Died 27 February 1897. Length 2’6″. Buried in colored cemetery. Billed to Edith Thorp.
  • Towe, _____. Wilson. Colored. Died 23 April 1899. Child of George W. Towe. Buried in colored cemetery.
  • Towe, Maggie I. Wilson. Colored. Died 15 April 1899, aged 39 years 4 months 18 days, in childbirth. Wife of Prof. G.W. Towe, a “teacher in the Col. Graded School.” Funeral in Methodist Church. Burial in colored cemetery. [Maggie Towe’s grave was moved to Rest Haven, where her headstone now stands.]
  • Vick, Viola Leroy. Wilson. Colored. Died 7 September 1897, of malarial fever, aged 2 years 10 months. Daughter of S.H. Vick. Buried in colored cemetery. [Viola Vick’s headstone was recently discovered in Odd Fellows cemetery in the Vick family plot. She was likely disinterred and reburied to that location.]
  • Wilkins, Mary. Wilson. Colored. Died 27 March 1899, age 43, of “internal tumor.” “Mary was wife of Redmond Wilkins, was in bad health for a long time, was a good woman.” Billed to Col. Mason. Buried in colored cemetery.

The Colored Free Will Baptist Church buys a lot on Vance Street.

This deed made this 29th day of May 1900 by S.H. Vick and wife to Louis Bess, Daniel Blount and Windsor Darden Trustees of the Colored Free Will Baptist Church of Wilson and their Successors in office all of the County of Wilson and State of North Carolina,

WITNESSETH: — THAT FOR and in consideration of the sum of thirty five dollars to them in paid, the receipt whereof of is hereby acknowledged the said S.H. Vick and wife have bargained and sold and do by these presents bargain sell and convey to the said Louis Bess Daniel Blount Windsor Darden and their successors in office one lot or parcel of land lying and being situate in Wilson Township County of Wilson, and State of North Carolina, and bounded and described as follows:

BEGINNING at a stake in the corner of Elba and Vance Streets and running with Vance Street North West 30 feet, thence South West forty five feet, thence south east thirty feet, thence North East forty five feet to the beginning, containing thirteen hundred and forty square feet.

TO HAVE OR TO HOLD the above described lot or parcel of land to the said Louis Bess, Daniel Blount, Windsor Daniel and their successors in office in fee simple and the said S.H. Vick binds himself and heirs to warrant and defend the premises hereby conveyed against the lawful claims of all persons whomsoever.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF WITNESS our hands and seals the date above written. /s/ S.H. Vick, Annie M. Vick

——

In 1900, the trustees of Piney Grove Free Will Baptist Church bought a small lot at the corner of Vance and Elba Streets from Samuel H. and Annie M. Vick. The church they built is shown in this detail from the 1913 Wilson, N.C., Sanborn map, below. The one-story wooden building was heated with stoves and lit with oil and featured a two-story tower on its front elevation. Though this building is long gone, Piney Grove remains an active congregation. Per the current church’s cornerstone, the church was founded in 1882 by Reverends A. and D. Blunt.

  • Louis Bess — in the 1900 census of Wilson, WIlson County: Louis Best, 70, wood sawer; wife Harrit, 60, washing; and son William, 31, driver.
  • Daniel Blount — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Daniel Blunt, 35; wife Susan, 26; and children Ellen, 5, Eva, 3, Demsey, 1, Daniel, 12, and Charley, 10. Daniel Blunt died 28 July 1924 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 87 years old; was born in Pitt County, N.C., to Dempsey Blunt and Julia Carr; was married to Susanna Blunt; and worked as a laborer. [Dempsey Blunt was the son of Amos Blunt. Were they the A. and D. Blunt who founded Piney Grove?]
  • Windsor Darden — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Winsor Darden, 37; wife Mattie, 29; and children George, 11, Jesse, 8, Willie, 5, William, 3, and Mathis, 1; plus mother Mary Darden, 55. Windsor Darden died 8 February 1940 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 85 years old; was the widower of Mattie Darden; lived at 1017 Mercer Street; had been a common laborer; and was born in Wilson County to Benjamin Darden and Diliah [maiden name unknown]. Sarah Darden Harris was informant.

Deed book 65, page 297, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.