Lane Street Project: the continued search for gravestones in Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

It was chilly Saturday morning, too, but not as bitingly cold as at my last visit. This time, I focused on the end of Odd Fellows cemetery closest to its boundary with Vick.

First depressing thing I notice — some jackass has been spinning donuts in Vick cemetery.

Once I clawed my way into Odd Fellows, though I was achingly aware that the depressions I was stumbling in were collapsed gravesites, I didn’t see much beyond broken stones scattered here and there across the forest floor.

Have I mentioned the vines? The vines are insane.

The low-lying back of the property, which has standing water, probably year-round.

After poking around in piles of broken bottles and rusted-out enamelware, I finally spotted a cluster of grave markers about thirty feet distant.

This is the only military headstone I’ve seen in Rountree or Odd Fellows, and may be the only military marker I’ve seen anywhere with “after-market” enhancement.

James F. Scott North Carolina PVT 365 INF 92 DIV March 28, 1939 Born March 6, 1887 Who is now with the Lord

In the 1910 census of Weldon township, Halifax County, North Carolina: farmer John Scott, 53; wife Mary J., 46; and children James F., 22, Annie B., 16, Salomie A., 15, John A., 13, Sylvester, 11, Eliga, 9, Mary E., 7, David, 5, Sarah J., 3, and Inthe, 1.

James Franklin Scott registered for the World War I draft in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 6 March 1887 in Wayne County, N.C.; lived on “Robinson” Street, Wilson; worked as a porter for Carroll Grocery Company; and was single.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Wainwright Street, farm operator John Scott, 60; wife Mary, 51; and children James, 30, wholesale company helper; Elijah, 19, David, 14, Sarah, 11, and Ianthe, 13.

Bessie Wife of John McGowan Born 1888 Jan. 7 1925 Gone But Not Forgotten

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John McGowan, 40, brickmason; wife Bessie, 35; and Beatriss, 13.

Jesse Parker Dec. 1, 1890 Apr. 12, 1937 light from our household is gone

And then there was this stack, roped with vines:

The broken granite marker supports two intact concrete headstones, two marble footstones, and a few other chunks of rock.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Edd Hunter, 27, odd jobs laborer.

Ed Hunter, 27, married Minnie Woodard, 23, daughter of Ruffin and Lucy Woodard, on 28 December 1910 at Lucy Woodard’s in Wilson. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of James H. Knight, J.L.Barnes Jr., and Joe Baker.

Ed Hunter, 30, married Lossie Ruffin, 27, on 18 March 1914. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at William Coppedge’s in Wilson in the presence of William Coppedge, Timcy Jones, and Bessie McGowan.

In 1918, Ed Hunter registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 30 August 1883; lived on Carroll Street, Wilson; worked at Barnes-Harrell bottling plant; and his nearest relative was Lossie Hunter.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Washington Street, laborer Edd Hunter, 37; wife Lossie, 33; children Maeoma, 3, and Eliza, 1; and step-children Inise, 13, and Addie L. Ruffin, 11.

Rufus Son of James & Amelia Artis Born July 16, 1900 Died Apr. 24, 1916

Blount Artis died 24 April 1916 in Boon Hill township, Johnston County. Per his death certificate, he was about 16 years old; was born in Wilson County to Jim Artis and Amelia Artis; was single; and worked as a clerk in a drugstore. Charles Gay was informant. [Though the first name is different, this appears to be the same boy as Rufus Artis.]

Tempsy Wife of Rufus Speight Died July 16, 1917 Aged 75 Yrs. Gone to a Better Home, Where Grief Cannot Come.

In the 1870 census of Upper Fishing Creek township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Rufus Speight, 23; wife Tempsy, 25; and children Isabella, 8, Rufus, 3, and Celey, 1.

In the 1880 census of Upper Fishing Creek township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Rufus Speight, 45; wife Tempsy, 38; and children Isabella, 19, Rufus, 12, Wesley, 8, and Celey A., 10, and Mattie, 4.

Back toward the cleared section of the cemetery near the road, two broken concrete markers lay atop the marble base of a missing monument that must have been quite large.

Only the footstone of Mark H. Cotton, engraved with the Odd Fellows’ triple links symbol, is standing.

Mark Cotton, 23, married Jane Freeman, 22, on 27 February 1878 in Wilson, Minister Joseph Green performed the ceremony in the presence of I.S. Westbrook, S.W. Westbrook, and Charles Smith.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: laborer Dempsey Parker, 60; wife Phareby, 50; and children Mark, 27, works in nursery, Sanders, 23, laborer; Mary, 22, cook; and Lemuel, 40, laborer.

Mark H. Cotton, 45, son of Dempsy and Fereby Cotton, married Mahalia Battle, 22, daughter of Turner and Effie Battle, on 26 June 1895 at the residence of Mahalia Battle in Wilson. Henry C. Rountree applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Thomas J. Day and J.T. Deans of Wilson and J.T. Tomlinson of Black Creek.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: graded school janitor Mark Cotton, 45; wife Mahaley, 27; daughter Mary E., 2, and adopted daughter Rosa L., 11.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Gold Street, school janitor Mark Cotton, 52.

Mark Cotton 67, son of Dempsey and Farebee Cotton, married Minnie Brooks, 38, daughter of Tobe Farmer, on 11 December 1922 in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of Edward Smith, Sallie Smith, and Rosa Arrington.

Mark Henry Cotton died 19 November 1934 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 95 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Dempsey Cotton and Fariby Mercer; was married to Minnie Cotton; worked as a laborer; and was buried in Wilson.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 November 1934.

I stepped from the wood line into the cleared section of Odd Fellows cemetery. At its line with Rountree cemetery, remnants of a stone border nestle in moss, then the ground dips into a vine-choked ditch. Below, the city has recently clear-cut the western side of the street, a section of which was once part of Rountree cemetery. A short stretch of stone or concrete border remains.

Naturalized daffodils hint at the strip’s past as a graveyard.

This ambiguous concrete rectangle is the sole evidence I saw of a grave marker.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2020.

 

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