Month: April 2023

Lewis Artis sells 100 acres in 1825.

This Indenture made the 7 day of August one Thousand Eight hundred and Twenty five Between Lewis Artice of the State of North Carolina and County of Edgecombe of the one part and William Woodard of the other part of County and State aforesaid Witnesseth that I the sd. Lewis Artice for an in consideration of the sum of Four Hundred and three Dollars to me in hand paid at or before the sealing or Delivery of these presents the receipt whereof I hereby acknowledge that I have Bargaind, Sold and Conveyed unto the sd. William Woodard and his Heirs a Certain tract or parcel of land situate in the County above Written and on the South side of Little Contentney Creek and Boundered as follows to Wit Beginning at a white oak in the Creek then a line of Mark’d trees to a corner pine then to red oak which is a Dividing Corner Between the sd. tract and Wilie Ellis land then a line of mark’d trees to a Corner Sweetgum in the Creek then up the various Courses of sd. Creek to this first Station Containing one hundred and 3/4 Acres be the sum more or less the sd. Lewis Artice do warranted forever defend the rite title and Claim unto the sd. Wm. Woodard and his Heirs forever in witness whereof I have hereinto set my hand and seal the day and date ante written Signed and Sealed in presents of us. Jas. B. Woodard   Lewis X Article


Little Contentnea Creek arises just east of Saratoga in what is now Wilson County (but was Edgecombe County in Lewis Artis‘ day) and flows a short distance into Pitt County on the Greene-Pitt County line.

The relationship between Lewis Artis and John Artis Jr. is unknown.

Deed Book 18, page 433, Edgecombe County Register of Deeds Office, Tarboro, North Carolina.

The estate of Isaac Scarborough, part 2.

Isaac Scarborough died in early 1857, and his estate entered a lengthy probate. The estate file is rich with references to the enslaved people whose lives were upended by his death.

In this post, we examine documents from 1859 through 1863, including hire lists and receipts for medical care.

In 1859, James Reddick Barnes, guardians of Isaac Scarborough’s children, paid Dr. John R. Mercer of Edgecombe County $4.50 “To visit Boy at Pat. Byrum,” i.e. to provide treatment to an enslaved boy (or man, frankly) that Patrick Byrum had hired out. (Byrum hired out Bill in 1858 or 1859.)

Polly Walston, likely a midwife, received two dollars “for Services rendered in attending to negro woman Ginna, January 21st 1861.”

In 1861, Barnes paid J.N. Bynum “to visit medicine &c to little negro boy at G.S. Bergeron’s.”

In November 1862, Barnes paid Edwin Whitley seven dollars for “making coffin for negro.” We do not know who died.

The annual “hiring of Negros” took place on the last day of December 1862. For the first time, Jesse Galloway secured labor, hiring Bill for $72. William Forbes hired David for $75. John Bridgers took Daniel for $100. T.H. Bridgers took Jesse and Ned for $100 a piece and Tony for $50.50. James Parker took Augustin for $35. David Webb took Ashley for $10. Hannah went to Reddin Bridgers for $51; Milly to David Amason for $60. Deamos went to William Web for $21.50. Mary and child went to Fanny Eason for $35. Nancy Scarborough took Chana for $34. Jinna and two children went to B. Crafton for $15. Jane went to William Burriss for $38. Jacob went to George Thigpen for $4. Nancy Scarborough accepted the whopping sum of $540 from the estate to care for Lucy and her three children, Debbie and her four, and Charlotte and her three.

The receipt Nancy Scarborough received for “taking care of” three enslaved women and their children.

Another year, another Heartbreak Day. Nancy Scarborough died during 1863, and the enslaved people under her direct control also became available for hire to generate income for her and Isaac Scarborough’s children. John Harrel took Bill for $72; T.H. Bridgers took David for $150 and Tony for $157. Oran went to Starkey Howard for $125; Daniel, to T.J. Gardner for $175. Jarret Webb leased Ned for $145; J.C. Moore took Augustin for $70. William Webb hired Deamos for $36; Howel went to J.C. Moore for $70; and Mary and child to Polly Gay for $35. Jesse Baker took Hannah for $6; Theophilus Atkinson took Milly for $77 and Jane for $51. Demsey Owens hired Chana and child for $6; S.E. Crisp, Calvin for $2.35; and David Webb, Ashley for $36 and Jesse for $205. Jacob went to John Felton for $1; Austin went to T.J. Moore for $84; Jerry went to Thomas Felton for $3. James L. Eason was paid $600 to care for Lucy and her three children and Debbie and her three. Bennet Crafton was paid $100 to care for Jinna and her two children; C. Crisp received $98 for Rose and her two; Moses Perkins, $75 for Charlotte and one child.

Estate of Isaac Scarborough (1859), North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979,

At the rummage sale.

Keith Boykin, a native of Wilson County who, like me, has lived decades elsewhere, recently contacted me to share a number of treasures from his collection. Among them, this photo, perhaps taken by Roy Millhouse, marked “at the rummage sale Sept 18 – 43.”

We’ve read about the rummage sales (in which middle-class white women sold cast-off clothing out of their cars to working-class African-American women) here and here, and these articles helped me home in on the location of this shot.

The car is parked in the west side of the 200 block of South Pender Street [then called Stantonsburg Street], just south of Barnes Street. The commercial building in the upper right corner was originally a lodge hall, but housed a grocery store with an upstairs apartment in the 1940s. (And was much later home to the East Branch of the Wilson County Public Library.) The dark, three-story building looming at rear left was Darden Funeral Home. [The Tudor Revival structure that some of us remember as the funeral home building was constructed in 1949.] For more about this block, see here.

Many thanks to Keith Boykin for sharing this remarkable photograph.

“Gatsey’s children”: a register of births of enslaved children, part 1.

The North Carolina State Archives’ Private Collections holds a remarkable and exceedingly rare document within the Virginia Pou Davis Doughton Papers. A small booklet, comprised of thirteen hand-sewn pages, holds list after list of the birthdates of enslaved women and the children they bore.

The provenance of the manuscript is unclear. The finding aid describes it as “Slaves of Bynum or Farmer Family in Edgecombe or Wilson Counties, 1825-1865.” The women’s and children’s names appear in a tight, neat script easily distinguished from other bold strokes penning lists of staples like tobacco, molasses, and whiskey. There are no fathers named. For most part, the lists of women and children appear to have been made in a single sitting, perhaps as a copy of older records. Above several names, “dead” is lightly penciled in. Some of these notations suggest updates after the end of slavery. The number of children attributed to each woman, and the frequency of their births, is startling. These women were, as enslavers so matter-of-factly described them, “good breeders.” In 1792, Thomas Jefferson himself calculated that he was making a four per cent annual profit on the birth of enslaved children. Is that what was happening here?

The front of the booklet displays at least three handwritings.

The left page, below: “this is Mr Bynum this is Mr Bynum Book” Who was Mr. Bynum? The enslaver of the women and children detailed in this volume? The enslaver’s overseer? Virginia Pou Davis Doughton’s maternal great-grandmother was Matilda Bynum Barnes (1848-1925). Had this diary belonged to her father, Robert Bynum (1817-1868), or grandfather, Turner Bynum (1787-1867)? The 1850 federal slave schedule of Edgecombe County lists Robert Bynum with 19 enslaved people; Turner Bynum claimed 44. Obviously, they are strong candidates.

At right: Gatsey‘s Children. Maria was born in May 1843. John was born in April 1849. Adeline dead was born in April 1852. Annice dead was born in July 1853. Albert was born in March 1855. Amos dead was born in March 1855. Lucinda was born Dec. the 6 1857. [Illegible] was born Jan. 1860. Penny was born Jan. 1860. Betty dead was born the 12 Sept. 1861. Hansel was born Nov. 1862. Mary was born [illegible.]

In 1866, Allen Bynum and Gatsey Bynum registered their 16-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

On 26 December 1868, Mariah Bynum, daughter of Allen and Gatsey Bynum, married Cezar Pitt, son of Stephen Barnes and Bunna Pitt, in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Allen Bynum, 30; wife Gatsey, 45; and children Adeline, 18, Ann, 16, Lucy, 12, Ethelbert, 15, Ranson, 7, and Harbert, 2.

In the 1870 census of Coney township, Edgecombe County: Caesar Pitt, 21; wife Maria, 28; Lucy, 11; Patrick, 17; and William Haskins, 8.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Alen Bynum, 60; wife Gatsey, 40; and children Lucy, 18, and Horbord, 11.

In the 1880 census of Lower Conetoe township, Edgecombe County: Ceasar Pitt, 28; wife Mariah, 30; stepdaughter Martha, 18; grandson John, 1; Frank Staton, 21; and Febia Jenkins, 8, nurse.

Lucinda Bynum died 29 November 1933 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 85 years old; was single; and was born in Wilson County to Allen Bynum and Gatsey Bynum. Lydie Ricks was informant.


Cherry was born the 8 Sept 1820. Preston was born the 3 June 1836. Harry was born the 11 June 1838. Americus was born the 26 Jan. 1840. Patience dead was born the 12 Feb. 1842. Austine was born the 22 Feb. 1842. Harbord was born in Sept. 1848. Scott was born in Sept. 1849. Hilliard was born in Aug. 1850. Daniel was born in  Feb. 1852. Irvin was born in June 1854. Abbie was born in August 1856. Silva was born in May 1859. Bunny was born June 1862. Jack was born in Dec. 1865.

  • Preston Bynum

In 1866, Preston Bynum and Violet Bynum registered their 13-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Preston Bynum, 34; wife Violet, 30; and children Wilson, 12, George, 4, and Hugh, 2.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Preston Bynum, 48; wife Violet, 39; children Wilson, 18, George, 17, Major, 12, Phariba, 7, Debby, 6, Patience, 4, and Silvia, 2.

In the 1900 census of Ouachita Parish, Louisiana: Preston Bynum, 69; wife Violet, 49; daughter Patience, 29; and grandchildren Preston, 11, Martha, 8, Irvin, 4, Major, 2, and Wilson Bynum, 1, and Edgar, 9, and James Mosley, 3. All the children were born in Louisiana.

In the 1910 census of Melton township, Jefferson County, Arkansas: Preston Bynum, 78; wife Vinie, 76; and grandchildren Janie, 14, and James Jones, 13, and Harvest Wiley, 8. Next door: Wilson Bynum, 50; wife Louvena, 41; and children Calvin, 16, Charley, 10, Minnie, 7, Celia, 6, Florence, 4, and Lucinda, 11 months.

Violet S. Bynum died 24 December 1916. Her grave marker cites her date of birth as 22 June 1841.

  • Harry Bynum

Perhaps, in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Osborn Buck, 23, farm laborer; Harry Bynum, 31, and Mary Bynum, 26; and John Barron, 28.

  • Hilliard Bynum

Hilliard Bynum, 22, married Cloe Jones, 23, on 9 November 1873 in Wilson County. In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Hilliard Bynum, 27; wife Cloah, 28; and sons Charles, 6, and Richard, 1.

  • Irvin Bynum

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: laborer Earvin Bynum, 24; wife Lettice, 23; and children Joeseph, 7, Canny, 5, Cherry, 4, and Robert, 3.

  • Bunny Bynum and Cherry Bynum

Bunny Bynum married Ned Hussey 16 October 1878 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Ned Hussey, 23, laborer; wife Bunny, 17; children Marguert, 3, and Ned, 6 months; and [mother-in-law] Chery Bynum, 58, midwife.


Vinie was born in 1837. Her children. Rosa was born August 1854. Lewis dead was born April 1856. Zilphia dead was born July 1857. Wilson was born June 1860. Beauregard dead was born 1862. Calvin was born 3rd wk. in Dec. 1863.

I have not been able to identify definitively Vinie or her children.

Slaves — Bynum or Farmer Families, Edgecombe, Wilson Counties, 1825-1865, P.C. 1981.3; Virginia Pou Doughton Family Papers, Private Collections, State Archives of North Carolina. Thanks to Jennifer Johnson for bringing this collection to my attention. Librarians rock!    

The division of Hardy Lassiter’s land among his sons.

Deed book 16, page 326-327, Edgecombe County Register of Deeds Office, Tarboro, N.C.


Hardy Lassiter Sr.‘s land was divided among his sons Hardy Jr., Green, and Matthew Lassiter after his death. At the time of partition in 1854, the land was in Edgecombe County. Wilson County was formed the following year.

41 men sent to the Army.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 April 1944.

On a single day, two local draft boards sent 41 African-American men to Fort Bragg’s Army induction center, including several who no longer lived in Wilson County: James Moore Jr., Clifton Hagans, John Daniel Smith, Clarence Virgo Holley, William Howard Jr., Levi Parker, Odies Newsome, Julius Darden, Henry Cornelius Faison, Willie Sylverty Reynolds, Jimmie Lee McCarthey, Percy Mincey, Festus Scarborough, John Wilbert Williams, Othel Hamilton, Creed Junior McCoy, Booker T. Raynor Jr.Frank Rogers Blake (Petersburg, Virginia), David Lee Lane, Alvesta Hilton, Theodore Hooker (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Edward Sharpe, Rillie Speight, Walter Worsley (Suffolk, Virginia), Sylvester Thomas DawsonJohnnie Parker, Benjamin Scott HarrisJohn Henry Allen, Oakie Parker, Ben James Barnes, James D. Etheridge, Grover Finch, Joseph Thomas Rogers (Norfolk, Virginia), Leland D. Speight (Norfolk, Virginia), Charles Henry Pope (Norfolk, Virginia), Willie Bynum (Norfolk, Virginia), Sip Allen (Baltimore, Maryland), Albert Sylvester Gay (Baltimore, Maryland), Arthur Cromartie (Portsmouth, Virginia), Jordan Mercer (Suffolk, Virginia), and Willie Artis (Washington, D.C.)

205 South Pender Street.

In the early 1960s, the brick building marked B.P.O. Reindeer Lodge No. 32 at 205 South Pender. The building has been demolished. 

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “#205 [formerly 203 1/2]; ca. 1930; 2 stories; (former) Central Grocery and Market; simple brick commercial building has parapet front and five-bay facade; remodeled recessed entry; upper floor at one time contained Knights of King Solomon civic club; interior has been altered for apartments.”

In April and May 1935, a series of notices appeared in the Wilson Daily Times alerting the public of the court-ordered sale of “the Knights of Solomon building, located on Stantonsburg Street, in the Town of Wilson” on May 18 of that year.

The 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory shows Wade H. Pridgen as the proprietor of a grocery at 203 1/2 Stantonsburg Street, with tobacco worker Eva Pringle as the upstairs tenant.

The 1947 and 1950 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories show Hocutt’s Grocery (William S. and Roland B. Hocutt, proprietors) at 203 1/2 Stantonsburg Street, with Eva Pringle still upstairs.

The 1963 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory shows BPO Reindeer at the address.

By the early 1970s, the first floor of this building housed the East Branch of the Wilson County Public Library, the successor to the Negro Library formerly located two blocks north on Pender Street.

The building was occupied as a lodging house during its final decades before demolition circa 2005.

Letters at the Post Office.

Wilson Advance, 12 January 1883.


  • Cage Archer — in the 1860 census of Edgecombe County, North Carolina: Micajah Archer, 50; wife Eliza, 40; children Martha, 18, Margaret, 16, Elizabeth, 12, James, 7, Julia, 4, and Sarah, 1; and Francis Faithful, 8.
  • Jane Barnes — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Lewis Barnes, 70; wife Jane, 58; daughter Maggie Bullock, 38; children Leecy, 25, Lossie, 18, G. Mary, 17, Joseph, 16, Needham, 15, and David, 13; and grandchildren Charity, 5, and Oscar Bullock, 3.
  • Geo. W. Barnes
  • Mack Barnes
  • Louis Holloway — in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm worker Edward Holloway, 39; wife Harriet, 39; and children Lewis, 20, Abigail, 11, James S., 6, and Milly, 3.
  • Nellie Harris
  • Buck Mitchel
  • Charity Pitt
  • Frank Whitfield
  • Jas. F. Williams