With the exception of Heritage [formerly Elm City Colored] Cemetery, all documented Wilson County African-American cemeteries outside the city of Wilson are church cemeteries (such as Cherry Chapel, New Vester, Rocky Branch, and Saint Delight) or small family cemeteries (such as Farmer, Brantley, Williamson, and Taylor-Barnes). However, for the innumerable laborers who had no regular or long-term church affiliation and whose families owned no property, burial often took place on the farms on which they worked.
I wrote here of my unsuccessful attempt to locate the Black cemetery on Joshua Barnes’ farm, which probably began as a slave graveyard and was likely quite large. I have not identified the locations of any others, which likely numbered in the many dozens, if not hundreds. Graves in these cemeteries
Death certificates from just a couple of months in 1918 reveal some of the farms on which workers were buried. Their graves, if marked at all, probably had only wooden and fieldstone markers, which have not survived, and the graveyards are most likely lost in decades of overgrowth or plowed under expanding tobacco or soybean fields.
Carrie Horne was buried on “Mrs. Eliza Barnes Place” in Saratoga township on 6 October 1918.
This appears to be the farm of Eliza Overman Barnes, widow of Roscoe B. Barnes, who was living in Wilson on Kenan Street at the time.
James Taylor was buried 29 November, also on “Eliza Barnes Place.”
Nathaniel Rountree was buried on 22 October 1918 on “James H. Lamm Land” in Cross Roads township.
James Henry Lamm was a farmer-employer in Cross Roads township.
Paul Ruffin was buried on “Whitehead Farm” in Wilson township on November 28.
Perhaps, the farm of tobacconist Howell G. Whitehead III, who then lived on West Nash Street in Wilson.
David Mack was buried on 11 October 1918 on the “B.J. Thompson Place.”
Benjamin J. Thompson was a farm-owner in Saratoga township.
Henry Artis was buried on “Billy Barnes Place” in Stantonsburg township on 29 October. William Barnes is so common a name in Wilson County as to make identification of this farm difficult.
Though he was a city boy, Edward Simms was buried 12 October 1918 on “Steve Woodard’s farm.” There was only one Stephen Woodard in Wilson County at the time of Simms’ death, a 35 year-old African-American farmer living in Black Creek township. Woodard rented his land, rather than owned it, and it is unlikely it would have been known as his farm. In that case, the reference may be to a farm formerly owned by Dr. Stephen Woodard Jr., who died in 1897.
Andrew Nathaniel Barnes was buried 22 June 1918 on “Reuben Ellis plantation.”
Reuben Ellis was an African-American farmer. The “plantation” was not actually his. It was land his wife Mary Wyatt Lynch Rhodes Ellis had inherited from her parents, Wyatt and Nicey Hall Lynch, and we roughly located it on Old Stantonsburg Road near present-day Wedgewood Golf Club. (More about this land soon.) Thus, this was actually a family cemetery, though it is not clear that Andrew Barnes was a relative of the Lynch-Ellis family.