Month: January 2023

The “jungles of Africa” during World War II.

Technical Sergeant Herman O. Marshall spent two years at a station hospital in West Africa, probably in Sierra Leone or Liberia, during World War II.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 February 1944.


In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Hines Street, auto mechanic John Marshall, 32; wife Annie, 32; and children Glascoe, 12, Louise, 6, Bessie, 3, and Herman, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Hines Street, widow Annie Marshall, 42, cook; and children Louise, 16, Bessie M., 13, Herman, 11, Margrette, 9, and Gretchen G., 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: cook Louise Marshall, 25, and her brother Herman, 20, at 702 East Nash Street.

Herman Oliver Marshall died 11 September 2005 in Washington, D.C.

The estate of Shadrach Dickinson.

The lands of Revolutionary War veteran Shadrach Dickinson [Dickerson] lay along Contentnea and Black Creeks in what were then Edgecombe and Wayne Counties. His small house is one of the oldest standing in Wilson County. Dickinson died in 1818 leaving a large estate that included numerous enslaved people.

A division of Dickinson’s “lands and negroes” took place in May 1819, and the report of that division shows that his children had received some of their inheritance while their father was alive.

Daughter Elizabeth Stanton received a seven year-old girl named Mourning in 1795; eight year-old Jack and ten year-old Lany in 1819; and, in the general division, Dick and Grace Sen’r.

Daughter Penny Barnes received Hester, 10, and Tamar, 8, in 1814, and Hannah in the general division.

Daughter Susanna Edmundson received Cely, 13, and Lucy, 9, in 1817; Jacob, 7, in 1818; and Anica and Cherry in the division.

Daughter Polley Thomas received Sam, 10, in 1797.

Son James Dickinson received Peter in 1809 and Harry and Clary in 1819.

Daughter Patience Dickinson received Peg and Levi in the general division.

Son William Dickinson received Dick and Grace Junior in the general division.

Daughter Martha Simms received Darkas, 9, in 1793; Arch in 1818; and Warum in the division.

Daughter Sally Jernigan received Jack, 10, and Diner, 6, in 1807; Dury, 6, in 1813; and Smitha in the division.

At least two of Shadrach Dickinson’s children — daughters Elizabeth Dickinson Stanton and Patience Dickinson Turner — migrated to Sumter/Pickens Counties, Alabama, carrying enslaved men and women with them and further sundering family ties strained by Dickinson’s estate distribution. Pickens County proved particularly inhospitable to African-Americans well into the twentieth century, and Sumter County is the poorest county in Alabama. Thousands joined the Great Migration out of the state, and it would not be surprising to find in Chicago and Detroit and Cleveland today descendants of Shadrach Dickinson’s enslaved.

Estate File of Shadrach Dickinson (1819), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,

Bigamy hearing interrupted for wedding.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 January 1928.

I had to read this a few times before I understood that the couple being married was not named in the piece.

As for James Artis, at age 19 he married Cherry Murphy, 18, on 1 October 1922 in Ormonds township, Greene County, North Carolina. I have not found a license for him and Lena Edwards.

Former Darden High teacher killed in accident in Elizabeth City.

Wilson Daily Times, 4 November 1949.

Floreta Walson Allen died 3 November 1949 in rural Pasquotank County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 May 1908 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Stacy J. Walson and Ruby A. Trowell; was married; was employed as a teacher. She was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Elizabeth City, N.C. Lesly J. Walson was informant.

Though she was said to have lived and taught in Wilson for ten years, I have not found record of her in the city.

“He was faithful and upright in all his works”: the life and legacy of Samuel H. Vick.

Speaking to my home community at Wilson County Public Library has been a highlight of my Februarys lately, and I’m excited to return in person this year. I’ll be trying to do justice to the extraordinary life of Samuel H. Vick in an hour or so, and I look forward to seeing you there.

Lane Street Project: Season 3, January 28.

I live far from Wilson, and my schedule does not align with LSP workdays as often as I would like. I am grateful to be able to rely on the eyes, hands, and hearts of so many to make each day a success. Wilson native Jane Cooke Hawthorne, who first came out to work at Odd Fellows in Season 1, beautifully described her experience yesterday:
“Do you love a daffodil like I do? Spring’s first flowers often push through before the last frosts, their brilliant yellow trumpets announcing that a new season is on its way! They are a symbol of re-birth and resurrection — a sight for weary, winter jaded eyes. Daffodils were often planted in cemeteries and are sometimes called the ‘Cemetery Ladies’ — a nod towards their faithful and upright appearance among the headstones.
“Today I had the honor and privilege of working at the beautiful Odd Fellows Cemetery in my hometown of Wilson, and I was hoping that the daffodils would be blooming. Odd Fellows is an African-American Cemetery in East Wilson that is being resurrected by faithful people under the umbrella of the Lane Street Project. Mostly through volunteer work over the last two years, the project has reclaimed gravestones and other markers hidden by debris, vines and overgrowth, in some places as deep as two feet, after years of neglect. Our instructions were to be mindful of and to not disturb the daffodils that grow in the underbrush. Especially in African-American cemeteries, we were told, daffodils and other shrubs such as palmetto were used to mark the grave instead of a headstone when the family could not afford such a luxury. I wasn’t sure there’d be any daffodils, but when I found them blooming today, my heart was full.
“Here were the daffodils springing forth to say, ‘Here I am, friend! Here I am, family! Here I am!! I lived and worked and played and loved and welcomed each spring in Wilson! And I am so glad that you have found me! I am not forgotten! I am loved and remembered and cherished!’ My clippers moved quickly to free the vines around those daffodils, and my heart filled even more.
“Taking a break, I spoke in the most honest way, as only one can, with Castonoble Hooks, Lane Street Project’s cheerleader, poet laureate, and head of the project’s Senior Force. (I’m now a card-carrying member). I asked him, ‘Who owns this place after the efforts of the Senior Force, after the hard and dedicated work of Lisa, after the hard work of all the folks who have put in an hour or two or sixty? Who will own this place?’ ‘All of us,’ he said.
“All. Of Us.
“I think the daffodils are having their say. Come and help the Lane Street Project and let your heart be filled like mine was today.”
Thanks so much, Jane, for all you do to support Lane Street Project in word and deed!

Water and sewer for every home.

Petition of Dr. Anderson’s and List of Signers Asking for Water and Sewer to be in Every Home.

To the Honorable, the Board of Aldermen of the Town of Wilson:

We, the undersigned citizens of the town of Wilson, respectfully petition your honorable Board:

1st. That the town of Wilson put water and sewer in every house in the town; because, it is the safest and best sanitary measure known at this time; and we want nothing but the best.

2nd. It is the only plan whereby the town will receive immediate return from water rent to pay all interest on the debt and ultimately the debt.

3rd. That the town buy material and install at cost, the consumer to pay cash when installation is complete, as is now being done in the case of gas.

4th. We protest against in surface closets because they do not give protection to the people, with open wells, all, or nearly all of which have been found to be polluted. It is a mere makeshift and will prove in the end a very expensive proposition. It will costs between Six and Seven Thousand Dollars to install them and Four Thousand Dollars per year to keep them up. This is more than enough to pay interest on sufficient bonds to put in water and sewer.

5th. It will cost approximately $75,000.00 to put it in 1300 closets; interest on that amount at 5 per cent is $3750. The water rent will be $13,000.00. Deduct from this the interest and we have $9250.00 left each year to pay for the upkeep and the other expenses of the plant and to pay on the debt.

6th. These people referred to below pay taxes but have not the fire protection to which they are entitled.

The following are signators:

F.S. Hargrave, Dr. M.S. Gilliam, L.A. Moore, Dr. W.A. Mitchener, C.L. Darden, Jno. H. Clark, Chas. T. Jones, Jno. M. Barnes, A.N. Darden, J.F. Barnes, H.H. Barnes, J.W. Rodgers, D.C. Yancey, G.H. Edmundson, L.V. Arrington, Rev. H.B. Taylor, Chas. S. Thomas, W.P. Evans, B.R. Winstead, M.D. Cameron, W.H. Phillips, G.L. Brooks, W.H. Kittrell, C.A. Crawford, Rev. B.P. Coward, Dr. E.L. Reid, Richmond Pender, G.W. Joyner, J.Z. Staton, W. Pitts, Jno. Cherry, J.J. Langley, W.S. Langley, H.G. Staton, E.S. Hargrave, Jas. Thomas, L.H. Peacock, J.T. Teachie, J.D. Reid, Henry Tart, S.H. Vick, Ernest Winn.

Wilson Daily Times, 27 March 1917.

Transcription courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The obituary of Hilliard Barnes, age 100?

Wilson Daily Times, 8 January 1944.

Hilliard Barnes, in fact, was probably closer to his early 90s when he died, but even that’s an impressive lifespan for man born into slavery on the plantation of Elias Barnes.


On 16 February 1880, Hilliard Barnes, 30, married Nancy Baker, 25, in Wilson County.

On 24 February 1887, Hilliard Barnes, 29, son of Gray Barnes and Bunny Barnes, married Sarah Spell, 30, daughter of Sarah Spell, at C. Woodard’s in Wilson County. Primitive Baptist minister Jesse Baker performed the ceremony in the presence of Turner Hale, Peter Barnes, and Hilliard Strickland.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Barnes, 50; wife Sarah, 52; and children Mary and Martha, 11, Clara, 10, WIllie, 8, Hettie, 3, Lula, 6,  and Lonza, 9 months.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Hillard Barnes, 54; wife Sarah, 56; and children Mary, 20, Lula and Willie, 16; Hettie, 13; Lonzo, 10; and Rosa, 7.

On 17 August 1916, Hilliard Barnes, 62, of Wilson, married Fannie Thompson, 58, of Wilson, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of Lee Simms, Shade Hines and Menus Hines.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Barnes, 70; wife Fannie, 53; children James, 21, Rosa, 18, Essie May, 12, and Odessa L.M., 1; and daughter Mary Jones, 36, widow, and her children William, 8, Nettie, 4, Bud, 34, and Pate, 6 months.

Martha Batts died 26 September 1922 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 37 years old; was born in Wilson County to Hilliard Barnes and Sarah Spells; was married; and was buried in Oldfield cemetery, Wilson County. John Batts was informant.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 702 Lipscomb, owned and valued at $500, Hilliard Barnes, 72; wife Fanny, 50; and granddaughter Odessa, 12.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 705 Lipscomb, “rent free,” Fannie Barnes, 70, cook; husband Hilliard, 88; daughter Odessa, 21; and grandson Herbert L., 4.

Hilliard Barnes died 6 January 1944 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 100 years old; was born in Wilson County to Gray Barnes and Bernie Barnes; lived at 705 Woodard Line; and was married to Fannie Barnes, age 70.

State v. Charles Evans, alias Dog Head.

In April 1912, a Wilson County clerk of court typed up notes in the matter of State vs. Charles Evans, who was also known as “Dog Head.” Evans had been charged with highway robbery, apparently on the evidence of Jim Redman, who testified that he had come to Wilson with Evans from Washington, N.C., and had lifted a man’s pocket book and given it to Evans. Bond for Evans was set at $200, but someone dashed off a comment in pencil that went to the core of the alleged crime. Who was the victim? “What man — who?”

It does not appear that Evans or Redman were residents of Wilson.

Criminal Action Papers, 1912, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.