Month: July 2020

Snaps, no. 70: Frances L.J.S. Edmundson.

Frances Jones Smith Edmundson and Katie Hill, undated but probably early 1970s. (Are they standing in front of a school?)

In the 1870 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: Lewis Speight, 34; wife Kezzie, 36; and son Bill, 1.

In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: Lewis Speight, 34; wife Cuzzie, 30; and children Edward, 10, Violet, 8, Annie, 6, and Mirtie, 2.

Jos. J. Jones, 38, and Violet Speight, 22, were married 17 June 1896 in Wilson County. O.L.W. Smith performed the ceremony in the presence of Burt EllisAnnie E. Speight, and Louisa Washington.

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Joseph Jones, 40, farmer; wife Violet, 27; and children Agnes, 13, and Anna, 12. [The children’s ages appear to be in error and should be 3 and 2.]

On 23 April 1902, Cuzzy Speight filed a widow’s application #765144 for the pension of Lewis Speight, who had served in an unknown unit of the United States Colored Troops.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Joseph Jones, 55, farmer; wife Violet, 36; and children Agnes, 11, Roscoe, 10, Frances, 6, William H., 4, and Benjamin, 2.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Joseph J. Jones, 58, tenant farmer; wife Violet, 45; and children Rosco, 19, Frances, 15, William H., 14, Benjamin, 12, and Lizzie Beth, 8; and mother-in-law Cuzzie Ward, 65.

On 29 January 1924, Rosco Jones, 22, of Stantonsburg, son of Joe and Violet Jones, married Lavinia Hagins, 20, daughter of Dave and Almena Hagans, at the home of “Mr. J.J. Jones” in Stantonsburg. A.J. Rhoades, A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Joe Ward, M.V. Reid and Mena Winstead.

On 3 February 1924, William Jones, 21, of Stantonsburg, son of Joseph and Violet Jones, married Mena Winstead, 18, daughter of Will Hall and Amanda W. Williams, at Mena Winstead’s residence. J.F. Ward, A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Lavenia JonesJoe Ward and Alexander Ellis.

Roscoe Jones died 29 July 1928 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 June 1900 in Wilson County to Joseph J. Jones of Wilson County and Violet Speight of Greene County, and was a farmer.

Frances Jones, 25, married Robert Speight, 40, on 9 December 1928 in Stantonsburg. A.M.E. Zion minister J.F. Wardperformed the ceremony at the Missionary Baptist church.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Robert Speight, 48; wife Frances, 26; and son Albert, 4.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Speight, 20; father Lewis, 73; mother Violet, 55; sister Elizabeth, 18; and grandmother Cuzzie Ward, 80, widow.

Violet Jones died 25 January 1931 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1876; was married to Joseph Jones; was born in Wilson County to Lewis Speights and Cussey Speights; and farmed.

Agnes Beamans died 23 November 1931 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 35 years old; was born in Wilson County to Joseph Jones and Violet Speights; and was married to Jasper Beaman.

Causey Ward died 13 July 1932 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 90 years old; was born in Greene County; and was the widow of Lam Ward. [I have not found the marriage license for Cuzzey Speight and Lam Ward.]

On 9 December 1932, Ben Jones, 21, of Saratoga, son of Joseph and Violet Jones, married Irene Speight, 18, of Saratoga, daughter of Marie SpeightC.D. Ward, A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony at his home in the presence of Ernest Barnes, Elizabeth Jones and Mary Speight.

William Henry Jones died 1 September 1934 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 31 January 1905 in Wilson County to Joseph Jones and Violet Speight; was married to Minnie Jones; worked as a truck driver; and his informant was Benjamin Jones.

Frances Speight, 50, daughter of Joe Jones and Violet Speight, married Hadie Edmundson, 54, son of Rufus Edmundson and Eva Rice Edmundson, on 15 July 1956 in Wilson.

Frances Louise Speight Edmundson died 14 June 1976 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Her death certificate lists her birth date as 12 October 1905 [but it was likely 1903]. Her parents were Joseph Jones and Violet Speight Jones of Stantonsburg, Wilson County.

Elizabeth Barnes Turner died 1 June 1992. She was born 1 January 1912 to Joseph Jones and Violet Speight.

Katie Hill was likely Katie Brown Hill, who was born in 1908 to Leroy Brown and Fannie Levester in Greene County and died in Wilson County in 1996.

Many thanks to Tiyatti Speight for sharing this family photograph.

More news of Wilson, N.C.


Pittsburgh Courier, 4 April 1936.

  • Elizabeth Darden James
  • Mr. and Mrs. George W. Ellis — on 28 September 1927, George W. Ellis, 52, of Wilson, married Mable Weaver, 26, of Wilson in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister B.F. Jordan preformed the ceremony in the presence of James Whitfield, Robert Haskins and Rosa Arrington. George Ellis was a carpenter; Mable W. Ellis, a public nurse.
  • U.N.I.A. — Universal Negro Improvement Association, the black nationalist fraternal organization founded by Marcus Garvey, had an active chapter in Wilson in the 1920s.
  • Rev. and Mrs. I. Albert Moore — I. Albert Moore served very briefly as pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church. By late 1937, when the photo below ran, he was head of Jones Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Recorder, 4 December 1937.

  • Mrs. Ben F. RobbinsVashti Smith Robbins. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Robbins Benj (c; Vashti) barber Reid Barber Shop r 313 Pender.
  • Carrie H. Hargraves — possibly, in the 1928 Hargrove John (c; Carrie) lab h 1212 Carolina
  • Christine Norwood — Norwood died 12 August 1944 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 45 years old; was born in Wilson to Richard Norwood and Ceceline Hill; and lived at 205 Pender Street. Hazel Covington of Durham, N.C. was informant.
  • Inza
  • Sarah Reid — probably Sarah Reid who died 22 March 1945 at 907 Washington Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 56 years old; was born in Wayne County to Zion Reid and Eliza Reid; was single; worked at Watson’s Tobacco Factory. Frederick Reid, 1009 Washington Street, was informant.
  • George Barnes — “Picture-Taking” George W. Barnes. Barnes died 13 April 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was married to Mary Barnes; was born in Wilson County to George A. Barnes and Annie Battle; lived at 803 East Green Street; and was a photographer.
  • Ruth Colest Jones — Ruth Jones died 20 March 1936 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 28 years old; was born 10 January 1908 in Lake City, South Carolina, to David Cameron and Sarah Cameron; was married to Cornelious Jones; and she lived at 720 East Green Street. Bessie Laury was informant.
  • Rev. B.J. Jordan — Rev. Benjamin F. Jordan.

Other suns: the Williamsons of Wilson and Xenia, Ohio.

Shortly after their marriage, Charles and Clara Vick Williamson followed the footsteps of Charles Rountree‘s family to Xenia, Ohio.


In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: domestic servant Robert Vick, 19, and wife Spicy, 18; Anna Williamson, 25, washerwoman, children Jena, 10, Charles, 5, and Ann I.M., 2, and husband Jackson Williamson, 45, blacksmith.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Tarboro Street, Jack Williamson, 55, blacksmith; wife Ann, 30; and children Eugina, 20, cook, Charles 16, blacksmith shop worker, Tete, 14, and Lea, 4.

On 6 January 1887, Charles Williamson, 21, son of Jack and Ann Williamson, married Clara Vick, 18, daughter of Nelson and Viney Vick, in the Town of Wilson. Amanda Vick applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister H.C. Phillips performed the ceremony in the presence of S.H. Vick, H.C. Rountree and Daniel Vick.

In the 1900 census of Xenia, Greene County: on 128 East Second Street, blacksmith Charles Williamson, 30; wife Clearo, 26; and children Mamie, 10, Charles A., 7, William H., 6, and John, 2. All the children were born in Ohio.

On 27 September 1904, Charles Williamson, 34, of Xenia, Ohio, blacksmith, born in North Carolina to Jack and Ann Williamson, married Lulu B. Anderson, 21, of Xenia, born in North Carolina to George Nelson Anderson and China Brown, in Xenia, Ohio.

In the 1910 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 228 Fair Street, ropewalk laborer Charles Williamson, 46, married twice; wife Lula, 29; and children barber Charles Jr., 18, ropewalk laborer William, 16, John, 12, Hugh, 3, and Marcus, 4. Charles and Lula were born in North Carolina; the children in Ohio.

Though described as a ropewalk laborer in the 1910 census, Charles Williamson Sr. apparently continued to do some blacksmithing work as a horseshoer in 1911.

Xenia Daily Gazette, 12 April 1911.

On 8 July 1912, Charles Arnold Williamson Jr., laborer, of Xenia, age 20 on 1 April 1912, born in Xenia to Charles Williamson and Clara Vick, married Marguerite Scott Howard, age 18 on 10 September 1911, born in Xenia to James A. Howard and Mary Lucy Scott, in Xenia.

Xenia Daily Gazette, 27 February 1913.

Xenia Daily Gazette, 20 June 1913. Was this Charles Williamson Sr.’s second wife Lula?

In 1917, Charles Williamson registered for the World War I draft in Xenia, Ohio. Per his registration card, he was born 1 April 1894 in Xenia; resided at 1118 East Main, Xenia; was a laborer at H.& A. Twine Company; was single and had a dependent child.

In the 1920 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 31 Orchard Street, Charles Williamson, 27, and wife Lena, 28.

In the 1920 census of Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio: factory laborer Charles H. Jennings, 39, and wife Mamie, 26.

In the 1930 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 33 Orchard Street, owned and valued at $200, Charles Williamson, 36, mason tender in construction.

In the 1930 census of Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio: at 3323 Erie, foundry moulder Charles H. Jennings, 49; wife Mamie E., 29, laundress; and boarder John Williamson, 33, restaurant manager.

In the 1930 census of Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio: at 511 Wyandotte, Hugh Williamson, 29; wife Elsie, 27; and children Carmen, 4, Leona, 3, and May, 10 months.

In 1940, Marcus McCampbell Williamson registered for the World War II draft in Xenia County, Ohio. Per his registration card, he was born 1 January 1906 in Zenia, Ohio; lived at Rural Route #5, Xenia; and worked for himself. Contact was aunt Hattie Young, Route 5, Xenia, Ohio.

In 1942, Hugh Theodore Roosevelt Williamson registered for the World War II draft in Lucas County, Ohio. Per his registration card, he was born 14 November 1900 in Zenia, Ohio; lived at 3323 Erie Street, Toledo; and worked for Toledo Smoke Shop. Contact was sister Mamie Jennings, 2332 North Erie, Toledo, Ohio.

In 1942, Charles Williamson registered for the World War II draft in Greene County, Ohio. Per his registration card, he was born 1 April 1896 in Xenia, Ohio; lived at 51 Columbus Road, Xenia; and was unemployed. Contact was Mamie Jennings, 2332 North Erie, Toledo, Ohio.

Charles Williamson died 16 July 1971 in Xenia, Greene County, Ohio.

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 9.02.25 PM

XDG 07161971.png

Xenia Daily Gazette, 16 July 1971.

Confusion and trouble.

Here we examined the messy machinations of the administration of Weeks Parker’s estate, which entered probate in Edgecombe County in 1844. One of his legatees was daughter Margaret H. Battle, wife of Rev. Amos J. Battle and a Wilson resident by the mid-1850s.

Hugh B. Johnston transcribed this May 1861 letter to Rev. Battle from James Davis of Wilson, the court-appointed trustees of Margaret Battle’s share of estate. (The original letter does not appear to have preserved among the Battle papers.) The letter is difficult to decipher out of context but to seems to suggest that Davis felt significant pressure to bring in quick money by selling slaves rather than hiring them out and was protesting the interference in his management of Mrs. Battle’s affairs. Recall that Weeks Parker had purposefully drafted the terms of his will to hold in trust slaves Lucindy, Stephen, Turner, Lewis, George, Marina, Tony, Matilda, Caroline, William, Holly, Big Hardy, Ben, Cena, Moses, Syphax, Little Hardy, Jim, Lucy and Little Jim “for the sole and separate use and benefit of daughter Margaret H. Battle wife of Amos J. Battle during her natural life free from the management and control of her present or any future husband.”

Mr. Battle

My Dear Sir, I have striven in vain in the management as Trustee of Mrs. Battle’s affairs to act in such a way as would conduce to the interest of all concerned and at the same time to avoid giving occasion to those dissensions & wranglings in the family which I know are so harassing to you all. I have not in any arrangement which I have attempted to make been actuated by an motive of self interest of for my own security — but having been fully satisfied by the last years management of the farm & negroes that there could not upon any just ground be expected an adequate support for the family for the ensuing year from the farm, I advised the hireing out of the negroes & I was of the opinion & still am that it would have been best to have hired out every single man — According to an understanding had some 2 or 3 months ago I gave to Dr. Bullock the choice and the refusal of all the hands to be hired out; in pursuance of this arrangement I went to see Mrs. Battle & knew of her which of the negroes she had determined to keep & told her at the time that Dr. B. was to have such of the rest as he wanted, & this arrangement I shall most certainly adhere to as long I have any say-so in the matter, because I have made the promise to Dr. B. & I see no just reason why I should violate it.

In regard to the sale of the Women and Children and the appropriation of the proceeds of the sale to any other purpose than the buying of such other property as the Court may be satisfied is of equivalent value, I am satisfied upon an examination the will can not be done. I am however perfectly willing to appropriate every dollar of the hire of the negroes to the purchase of provisions & I will take the notes and advance the money (Provided the sureties to that notes agree to this arrangement) & I can not see why they should not in view of the condition in which you find yourself as to provisions.

If Mrs. Battle wishes the girl at Dr Harrel’s Exchanged, I will try and effect the Exchange as soon as I can conveniently do so, but I can not and will not do that with regard to this property which I am not authorized to do by the will. If I could have the absolute and undisturbed control of the negroes, I have not the shadow of a doubt I could realize from them a handsome support for your family, but as long as their whims and caprices are to consulted & there is no settled plan as to their management, there will inevitably be confusion and trouble.

I am writing plainly, not out of any feeling of vexation or resentment, but simply because you have written thus to me, and because the circumstances of the case demand plain and prompt action. I am now as I ever have been very willing to render through motives of friendship such service to your family as I may be able, & it is only by the exercise of the strictest economy that in the present arrangement of your force that you can get through this year, & instead of hireing either for the farm or for other purposes, it most certainly is the true policy to get clear of every one that can possibly be dispensed with.

I was from home from Tuesday last to Saturday evening or you would have heard from me sooner. You must be content as I and as many others have to, tho, to trust the future somewhat. I have not got corn enough on hand to last 2 months & but few have a year’s supply of corn or meat & if the Sureties to that note will as I have no doubt they will if the matter is properly represented to them consent to the appropriation of the negro hire to the purchase of provisions, it will place some 1200$ at your disposal & as soon as the notes are placed in my hands you can buy corn or meat & draw on me for the full amount of the notes & I will pay the orders.

This amt will surely relieve you till the next term of our Sup’r Court, when we can obtain (if necessary) in a legal manner such a decree as will enable us to get along for the bal. of the year, but as I have already said, I will not without proper authority violate the plain letter of that will — and I can but think that your threat to sell those negroes is made without due consideration. It is but too evident that there is a feeling of restlessness in regard to those negroes, a continual disposition to sell or exchange, which must result if persisted in to the detriment of the estate, & while I am always willing to do that which will promote the comfort or interest of Mrs. Battle or her family, I must see a good reason why a sale or exchange should be made before I proceed to make it. You need not send the Woman & children to me, but if you wish to dispose of her for the year, please come & let me know what kind of a negro she is, what incumbrance to her &c I will Endeavor to get her off your hands.

P.S. I have just seen Dr B. he gives up Hardy & keeps Stephen, Hilliard, & Turner — says further that he is willing to the appropriation of the negro hire Except his own to be applied as above proposed & I have no doubt will willingly agree to his own hire going in the same way if I solicit it, which I will if Mrs. Battle signifies her assent to the arrangement. It may be proper for me here to say in order to give Mrs. Battle time to select another that I shall be compelled upon the first opportunity (which will be at the June Court) to resign my Trusteeship because I see probability of my being able to so manage her affairs as to secure her best interest & retain the good will of others concerned


Turner, Hilliard, Hardy, and Stephen were among the group of enslaved people Margaret P. Battle inherited from her father.

Letter transcribed in The Past Speaks from Old Letters, “a copy of the working papers found in the files of Hugh B. Johnston, Jr., acquired in the course of his lifelong avocation as a professional genealogist and local historian,”republished by Wilson County Genealogical Society, March 2003.

County schools, no. 12: Ferrell School.

The twelfth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Ferrell School

Per a 10 January 1950 Wilson Daily Times article, “Black Creek Is Oldest Incorporated Town Between Wilmington, Weldon,” “The earliest ‘free’ school is thought to have been Ferrell school located in the southwest corner of the township.” When rural white schools consolidated circa 1920, Ferrell school building was turned over to educate black children. Thus, it was not a Rosenwald school.

Location: Near Black Creek.

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Ferrell’s School, depicted below, was a one-room school seated on one acre.

Screen Shot 2020-06-13 at 6.30.08 PM

Known faculty: Anna D. Reid Hall.

Biddle University, 1914-15.

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 3.42.11 PM.png

The catalogue for the 1914-15 school year at Biddle University in Charlotte, North Carolina (later Johnson C. Smith University) listed several students and graduates from Wilson, including two of Samuel H. Vick‘s sons.

Freshman Year, School of Arts and Science

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 3.50.54 PM.png

  • Fernie B. Speight

Ferne Burnett Speight’s World War I draft registration card, dated 1918.

Second Year, High School

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 3.44.39 PM

  • John H. Isler

John H. Isler’s World War I draft registration card, dated 1918.

Dr. John Hazely Isler died 31 January 1960 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, Isler was born 27 February 1900 in Griffin, N.C., to Ferniet Isler and Cynthia King; resided at 1531 Beatties Ford Road; was a pharmacist at Rex Drug Store; and was married to Joreatha Rudisill

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 3.44.52 PM.png

First Year, High School

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 3.45.11 PM

Undergraduate Prizes

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 3.46.16 PM.png

Graduates of the School of Theology

Class of 1909

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 3.49.35 PM

Graduates of School of Arts and Science

Class of 1901

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 6.45.01 PM

Class of 1903

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 6.41.33 PM.png

Class of 1906

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 6.39.40 PM

Catalog digitized by North Carolina Digital History Center,


Teenager killed in a car-bike accident.

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 2.30.40 PM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 10 May 1946.

Fourteen year-old Jessie Lee Davis was seated on the handlebars of his friend Walter Rogers‘ bicycle when a car made a left turn in front of them. Rogers did not see the car and ran into it, killing Davis. The driver of the car, a 22 year-old white man named Vernest Ballance, was initially charged with manslaughter in Davis’ death, but the case was dismissed after a preliminary hearing.

  • Jessie Lee Davis

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 2.31.37 PM

Jesse Lee Davis was the son of Clinton Davis and Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall. His funeral was handled by his great-uncle, C.E. Artis.

  • Walter Rogers

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 705 East Green (one of several families in a rooming house), tobacco factory stemmer Thomas Rodgers, 37; wife Minorh, 33, housemaid; and children Ruth, 15, Joseph, 14, Otis G., 12, and Walter, 8.

Jennie Ransome Shaffer, centenarian.

Screen Shot 2020-07-25 at 12.23.02 PM

Wilson Daily Times, 10 May 1979.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: carpenter John M. Ransome, 41; wife Clanie, 23; and daughters Jennie, 6, and Lizzie, 2; plus brother-in-law Bat Mason, 30, carpenter.

On 15 December 1909, Quince Shavings, 36, of Toisnot, son of Tom and Mary Shavings, married Jennie Ransom, 36, of Toisnot, daughter of George and Fannie Ransom, in Elm City.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: laborer Joe Q. Shawfer, 35; wife  Jennie, 43, cook; son Howard, 12; and daughter-in-law(?) Jennie, 8.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: house carpenter Quincey Shaffer,  45; wife Jennie, 43; and widowed mother Emma, 78.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: town laborer Quincy Shaffer, 55; wife Genney, 54; daughter Lena, 29; and boarder Mable Dison, 7.

John [Quincey] Shaffer died 19 May 1940 in Elm City. Per his death certificate, he was 67 years old; married to Jennie Shaffer; worked as laborer; and was born in Elm City to Emma Moore. He was buried in Elm City cemetery.

Jennie Ransome Shaffer died 9 January 1981 in Wilson, aged 107.

An abundance of good grazing.


Wilson Daily Times, 27 July 1944.


  • Henry Armstrong — in the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Henry Armstrong, 52; wife Minnie, 42; and children Mary, 19, Fred, 18, Rosa, 16, Clarence, 14, Nathan, 11, Daniel, 9, Louise, 8, David, 6, and Henry, 3.
  • Sugar Hill section — There is a Sugar Hill neighborhood on the western outskirts of the town of Simms and a Sugar Hill Road that runs just east of and parallel to Interstate 95 near the Nash County line. Neither is in Toisnot township. Henry Armstrong’s family’s land was east of Elm City near Edgecombe County. Can anyone pinpoint the location of Armstrong’s Sugar Hill? [Update, 7/28/2020: Jack Cherry identified Sugar Hill as a community along East Langley Road between Town Creek and Temperance Hall United Methodist Church (which is just across the line in Edgecombe County.) His great-grandfather operated a small general store and gas station at the heart of the community and lent his name to Cherry Chapel Baptist Church.]

Google Street View of the old Cherry’s Store.