Another Jackson Chapel?

Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church looms over the intersection of East Nash and Pender Streets. It is one of the oldest African-American churches in Wilson County and for much of its existence was one of the largest congregations. Jackson Chapel A.M.E. Zion though?

This deed reveals that there was such a church in Wilson County just before World War I. In November 1917, Lizy and William McCoy, Rosa and Gray Speight, Robert and Annie Bynum, Arch and Lilly Bynum, and Tamer Bynum (the heirs and widow of George Bynum) sold a parcel of land for $200 to W.F. Leak, John Williams, Melinda Leak, James Anderson, G.W. Leak, Alexander Leak, Floyd Ellis and J.T. Jackson, trustees of Jackson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church. The parcel, measuring just over an acre, lay beside the Norfolk Southern Railroad track “near the Town of Evansdale.” (Evansdale has never been a town. It is crossroads community that, in its heyday, was centered around the intersection of what are now Evansdale and Graves Roads.) If the church were ever constructed, it no longer stands, and the congregation has disbanded. (George J. Leake, however, a grandson of William F. and Malinda Leak born in 1929, became an A.M.E. Zion minister, rising to the office of bishop before his death at age 51.)

The Bynum Family

On 31 October 1869, Puss Artice, daughter of Arch and Rosa Artice, married George Bynum, son of Thos. Drake and Eliza Bynum, at Arch Artice’s. [“Puss” was the nickname of Tamar Artis Bynum.]

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Archabald Artis, 70; wife Rosa, 34; Tamer Bynum, 23, and [her husband] George, 25.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer George Bynum, 35; wife Tamer, 30; and children Arch, 7, Roser, 6, Lesey, 4, and Robert, 3 months.

  • Arch Bynum — Arch Bynum, 23, of Wilson township, son of Geo. and Tama Bynum, married Lilly Woodard, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Webster and Liza Woodard, on 27 February 1896. George Woodard applied for the license and the marriage took place at Webster Woodard’s in the presence of Rosa Bynum, Johnie Moore and Richmond Mercer. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Arch Bynum, 37, odd jobs; wife Lillie, 31; and children Nnes, 11, Junis, 7, George, 4, Rena, 2, and Ressie, 2 months.
  • Rosa Bynum — Gray Speight, 47, of Greene County, son of Noah and Synty Speight, married Rosa Brooks, 40, of Stantonsburg, daughter of George and Tamer Bynum, on 24 November 1925 in Stantonsburg. Rosa Speight died 24 August 1967. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 March 1874 in Wilson County to George Bynum and Tammer Artis; was a widow; had worked as a farmer. Informant was Louise Hinnant.
  • Lizy Bynum — On 30 June 1897, W.J. McKoy, 25, of Wilson, son of Alex and Ellen McKoy, married Leacy Bynum, 20, of Wilson, daughter of George and Tamer Bynum, at George Bynum’s residence. In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, farmer Will McCoy, 34; wife Leesie, 32; and children Joe, 11, Lossie, 9, Nancy, 8, Robert, 4, and Mary, 3.
  • Robert Bynum — Robert Bynum, 22, of Stantonsburg, son of George and Tamy Bynum, married Florence Barnes, 22, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Stephen and Adline Barnes, on 4 January 1905 at Steave Barnes’ in Stantonsburg. Robert Bynum, 31, of Wilson, son of George Bynum, married Annie Darden, 21, of Wilson, daughter of C.F. Darden and Mattie Darden on 11 December 1912 at C.F. Darden’s in Black Creek.

The Trustees

  • W.F. Leak — in the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer William F. Leak, 53; wife Malinda, 40; children L[illegible], 17, Albert, 15, Arron, 12, David, 9, and George, 3; son-in-law Lubia Oliver, 27; daughter Lucy, 21; and brother George W. Leak, 43, widower. In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, farmer William Leak, 57; wife Malinda, 54; widowed daughter Mannie Hicks, 34; and brother George Leak, 54.
  • John Williams
  • Melinda Leak
  • James Anderson
  • G.W. Leak — George Washington Leak.
  • Alexander Leak — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, Alexander Leak, 44, wide Elizar Jane, 39; and children Junous, 21, Octivis, 20, James, 15, Wyley, 9, Mamie, 12, Rosa, 5, and Addie, 1.
  • Floyd Ellis — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, tenant farmer Floid Ellis, 44; wife Mollie, 42; and children Floid T., 12, King A., 10, Joe M., 5, John A., 3, and Mary Reb, 6 months.
  • J.T. Jackson

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This abandoned general store building stands beside the Norfolk-Southern railroad at Evansdale Road and Graves Road. Unused since at least the 1950s, it was likely the heart of the community in which the Bynums and Leaks lived. There is no trace of a church along the railroad.

Five years after this purchase, a terrible tornado tore through Evansdale, killing an African-American school teacher and leaving families, including William Leak’s, homeless. Was Jackson Chapel destroyed in this storm, never to be rebuilt?

Deed book 111, page 399, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2020.

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