Author: Lisa Y. Henderson

Researcher -- and descendant -- of North Carolina's free people of color. See also my genealogy blog at www.scuffalong.com and www.afamwilsonnc.com, which documents the African-American history of Wilson County NC.

William Barnes plantation.

IMG_8397

“[T]he William Barnes house was built in a style which was popular in Wilson County between 1848 and 1860. Barnes was the brother of General Joshua Barnes, one of the most influential men in the area and a founder of Wilson County. Barnes was born in 1811. Like his brother, he was a planter, and by the time of his death he had accumulated over 1,000 acres. …The exterior of the Barnes house has remained basically unaltered except for the constriction of a two-story portico with Doric columns which dates circa 1914. The William Barnes House is very similar stylistically to the house of his brother. General Joshua Barnes, which was built circa 1845. The exterior consists of a plain two-story box with a shallow hipped-roof and a three-bay facade. A wide trabeated entrance, surmounted by a smaller door on the second floor, is located in the central bay. The unusual six-panel door is similar to those found on the Daniel Whitley House (also in Stantonsburg Township). The interior plan is that of a wide center hall with two large rooms located on each side. Major alterations have been made on the interior. A large two-story packhorse and small gable-roof storage building, both contemporary with the house, exist on the grounds.” — Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981).

In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County, 48 year-old farmer William Barnes’ listing notes that he owned real property valued at $35,000 and personal property at $89,000. The latter, of course, largely consisted of enslaved men and women, whose crucial role on his plantation went unmentioned in the description above. The 1860 census credits him as the owner of 10 men or boys and 16 women or girls, ranging in age from 1 to 60.

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 11.19.08 PM.png

Aerial shot of the Barnes House and outbuildings at the intersection of Fairfield Dairy Road and Highway 58.

Photograph of Barnes house taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2015.

Elnora C. Dawson, 101.

Elnora Dawson, 101, a resident of Hunter Hill Nursing Home and formerly of 313 Freeman Street, Wilson, NC died March 2, 2015. The funeral will be held Saturday at 12 noon at Olive Chapel Baptist Church, Hwy 301 South, 3406 Hathaway Blvd., Sharpsburg, NC with Rev. Jimmy Williams officiating. Interment will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery Wilson, NC. Public viewing will be Friday from 2 to 7pm at the funeral home with the family receiving friends from 6 to 7pm. Family and friends are requested to assemble on Saturday at the residence, 313 Freeman St., Wilson, NC, at 11:00am for the funeral procession to the church. Professional and personal services are entrusted to EDWARDS FUNERAL HOME, 805 E. Nash Street, Wilson, NC. Condolences may be directed to edwardscares.com.

Obituary online.

——

Elnora Cotton Dawson (1914-2015).

In the 1930 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: farmer James Cotton, 52; wife Mattie, 42; and children Leroy, 17, Elnora, 16, Essie M., 13, Sabra A., 11, and Addie M., 9.

In the 1940 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: farmer Jim Cotton, 62; wife Mattie, 58; and children Lee Roy, 28, Elnora, 26, Essie Mae, 24, Sabrer Ann, 22, and Alta Mae, 20; and sister Bettie Cotton, 67.

On 28 October 1946, Elnora Cotton, 32 , of Sharpsburg, North Carolina, daughter of Jim and Mattie Cotton, married Frank Lee Dawson, 28, of Norfolk, Virginia, son of Vanderbilt and Carrie Dawson, in Tarboro, Edgecombe County. [Frank Lee Dawson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 19 August 1919 in Wilson; resided at R.F.D. 3, Box 275, Wilson; his contact was his mother, Harrit Dawson of Wilson; and he worked for R.P. Watson Tobacco Company, Wilson.]

On 31 July 1987, Frank Lee Dawson died in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 October 1918 in Wilson to Vanderbilt Dawson and Harriet Woodard; resided at 313 Freeman Street; was married; and had worked as a ship mechanic.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user diann_dawson.

The house that Jack built.

STANTONSBURG — The house that Jack Sherrod built is a hidden history.

Built as a wood structure in 1886, the entire building has been encapsulated into brick and has had multiple additions over the years, but Leonard Paul Sherrod Jr., great-grandson of the builder, knows what’s underneath.

Sherrod and other family members are preparing for a grand reunion on Sept. 1-3 to be held at the Sherrod homestead.

“We are refurnishing, repairing, remodeling when necessary and getting it ready to be used as a venue for the upcoming September reunion,” said Sherrod, who was born in Wilson in 1933 and graduated from Charles H. Darden High School in 1952

A picnic and a banquet are planned at the event, which Sherrod has titled “Exploring Our Family History.”

“There is so much history,” Sherrod said. “Not only is it family history, it is African-American history, and in some small portion, American history.”

That history begins with Jack Sherrod and his wife, Cassie. Both had been slaves, yet 20 years afterward had managed to build a home on what is now Watery Branch Church Road south of Stantonsburg near the confluence of Wilson, Greene and Wayne counties.

“He had been a slave until the end of the war,” Sherrod said. “As a freed man, he acquired this land and built a home on it. He could not read, nor write, but he could build things. He had this God-given talent for building things. It is not written, but certainly said, that he built a lot of structures in this area. He was a builder. It took him two years to build this house.”

Last week, Sherrod stood in the graveyard behind Watery Branch Free Will Baptist Church. The graves of Jack and Cassie Sherrod are right there, with those of other deceased family members, about 200 yards away from and within sight of the homestead.

“To be able to stand there in your yard and see where your great-grandparents are buried, that raises a lot of emotions within me,” Sherrod said. The house that he built and I can see his grave from the front yard.”

Restoring the homestead is a passion for Sherrod.

“I think the Lord put this in my spirit to be a part of preserving this property because it has been in the family for so long and it is such a rich history that I could not stand by and let it go,” he said.

From “Hidden History: Family Celebrates Home of Patriarch, a Former Slave,” by Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Times, 16 July 2017.

——

Jack Sherard, son of Denis Barnes and Tempy Davis, and Cassy Exum received a marriage license in Wayne County in 1868.

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jack Sherard, 26, wife Cassey, 25, and daughter Fanny, 4.

In the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherod, 37; wife Cassey, 28; and children Fanny, 12, William, 9, Ida, 7, Marcy, 2, John, 5, and Benny, 11 months.

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 56; wife Cassy; and children Ida, 27, Benjamin, 25, Dalas, 20, Exum, 16, Arthur, 15, and Cora, 11.

Ida Sherrod, 32, and Alonzo Wilson, 35, received a marriage license in Wayne County on 18 April 1906.

On 17 April 1907, Cora Sherrod, 18, of Wayne County, daughter of Jack Sherrod, married Columbus Ward, 26, of Greene County, son of Pearson and Cherry Ward. Oscar Hagans applied for the license, and Methodist minister Robert E. Hunt performed the ceremony in Stantonsburg, Wilson County, in the presence of Mrs. R.E. Hunt, B.J. Thompson, and Mrs. B.J. Thompson.

On 13 January 1909, Arthur D. Sherard, 22, son of Jack and Cassie Sherard, married Effie Diggs, 18, daughter of Margaret Diggs at Frances Diggs‘ house in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Jack Sherard applied for the license, and witnesses to the ceremony were W.M. Artis, Henry Pender and Richard Artis, all of Eureka, Nahunta township.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 66; wife Kassey, 55; and grandchildren Thomas, 8, and Zelma Sherard, 5.

Dallas Alonzo Sherrod, 28, son of Jack and Carrie Sherrod, married Mary Ann Taylor, 20, daughter of Nelson and Delia Taylor, on 21 December 1911 in Petersburg, Virginia.

Dallas A. Sherrod

Dallas A. Sherrod.

Jack Sherrod scrawled an X at the bottom of his last will and testament on 30 June 1914. By its terms, his wife Cassie was to receive a life estate in all his property and, after her death, daughters Cora Ward and Fannie Powell (wife of George Powell) would receive dollars each, with the remainder of his property equally divided among his children John Sherard, Exum Sherard, Willie Sherard, Ben Sherard, Arthur Sherard, Ida Wilson and Dallas Sherard.

Jack Sherrod died 18 May 1915 in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 August 1842 to Dennis Barnes and Tempie Barnes; was married; and worked as a farmer. Arthur Sherrod was informant.

Ida B. Wilson died 21 October 1918 in Nahunta, Wayne County, of influenza. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Alonza Wilson; was born about 1873 in Wayne County to Jack Sherrod and Cassie Exum. Informant was Ben Sherrod of Fremont, North Carolina.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Stantonsburg Road, Cassey Sherard, 69; and grandchildren Zelma, 15, Joseph, 12, and Ralph L., 12.

On 30 November 1926, Cora Sherrod, 35, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Jack and Cassie Sherrod, married Robert C. Powell, 58, of Stantonsburg, son of Lawson and Lanie Powell, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. A.M.E. Zion minister E.D. Lewis performed the ceremony in the presence of Albert A. Cooke of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Mattie Winstead of Stantonsburg.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Delaware Line (on street), Cassie Sherrod, 75, widow; granddaughters Zelma, 25, Doris, 7, and Jeraldine, 6; and daughter Cora Powell, 30, teacher. Sherrod owned the house, valued at $600.

Dallas Sherrod died 26 December 1934 in Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was 50 years old; was born in Stantonsburg, North Carolina, to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; was married to Mary Sherrod; and resided at 1111 Stainback Street. He was buried in East View cemetery.

Cassie Sherrod died 26 June 1940 at 624 East Green Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Jack Sherrod; was born in Wayne County to Lewis Hall and Cassie Kelley. Informant was Cora S. Powell, 612 East Green.

Cassie Sherod’s will entered probate on 1 July 1940. Dated 25 November 1932(?), per its terms sons Exum, Arthur, Dallas and Ben Sherod were to receive $1 each; wearing clothes to daughter Fannie Sherod Powell; $1 each to John Sherod’s children Bee and Joe; $1 each to John Sherod’s children Velma and Tom; and a house and lot in Stantonsburg, a piano and all other personal property to Raphael Ward.

Arthur Sherrod died 28 March 1955 in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 March 1886 in Wayne County to Jack Sherrod and Catherine Exum and was married to Effie Sherrod.

Cora Sherrod Barnes died 12 June 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 December 1888 to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; resided at 500 East Green Street; was a retired teacher. Informant was Ralph Sherrod, 327 West 30th Street, New York City.

Photograph of D. Sherrod courtesy of Ancestry user garey45sos1.

Loafers are not wanted here.

JOSEPH ELLIS.

I am from Wilson, N.C.; I have been here three weeks. I found employment readily, and a good home. I live and work with Mr. F.B. Gardner, a good farmer in Russell township, Putnam county. He pays me $13 per month until spring, and then he will give me more. I find him a very kind and good man to me in the way of accommodations. Mr. Gardner could not get possession of his own house for me until the first of March, but he procured from his brother-in-law, Mr. D. Evans, a good and comfortable house for us until he can get the use of his. I am well pleased with my situation, and like this country finely. I would not go back to North Carolina for any consideration, and I would advise all my friends in that State to come to this county, as they can better their condition. But they should not come unless they expect to do good work, as loafers are not wanted here.

——

In the 1880 census of Russell township, Putnam County, Indiana: laborer Joseph Ellis, 27, and wife Prissa, 23, both born in North Carolina.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: widowed day laborer Joseph Ellis, 48; son Theodore, 16, and daughters Margaret, 10, and Vera, 8.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

Nadal’s neighbors.

IMG_0046.jpg

This plat, drawn in September 1905, shows an irregular plot of land near Nash and Pended Streets. Part of the Anthony Nadal estate, the tract measured just under three acres. Wilson’s African-American community had begun to coalesce east of Pender, across from First Baptist Church, Saint John’s A.M.E. Zion and Calvary Presbyterian, and a close look at the plat shows some of Nadal’s neighbors.

Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 8.14.21 PM.png

  1. John Mack Barnes, master builder, carpenter and brickmason, who would soon built Saint John, among other fine brick buildings.
  2. John W. Aiken, a horse dealer and liveryman.
  3. Rev. Owen L.W. Smith, just returned from his stint as consul to Liberia.
  4. John S. Spell, carpenter and contractor.
  5. Darden Alley, named for the Charles H. Darden family and called so to this day.

Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 8.30.51 PM.png

Plat Book 1, page 17, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Lossie B. Barnes, 99.

Lossie Marie Baker Barnes died peacefully at her residence on Aug. 26, 2011.
The funeral will be held Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, at 11 a.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 106 S. Reid St. Interment will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Lossie Baker was born in Wilson County on April 23, 1912. She was the fourth child of James and Mollie Williams Baker. She was a vibrant, active and youthful woman as indicated in the accompanying photograph taken at age 98. In 1929, she married Clarence W. Barnes and was widowed in 2000. They were married for 71 years. Mrs. Barnes was a member of the Book and Garden Club, Starlight Chapter 251 of the Order of Eastern Star and the C.H. Darden High School Alumni Association. She was a loyal supporter of the Frederick Douglass High School (Elm City) Band Mothers; and, in the days when resources were nonexistent, she actually made majorette uniforms for the band. She was an active supporter of the Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association’s Scholarship program, assisting high school graduates who wished to attend college. At the time of her death she was the oldest known member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Mrs. Barnes and her husband farmed for many years in Wilson County. However she is best known as one of the best, if not the best, seamstresses in Wilson County. In the late 1940s and 1950s, Mrs. Barnes made dresses for women for $2 and suits for men for $4 in order to send her oldest daughter to college. She was also an accomplished dressmaker and upholsterer, but even more exceptional were her skills in all aspects of interior design and commercial and residential drapery making. For many years she was head of the drapery department at J.C. Penney and Company and she also worked for Brewer Interiors in Rocky Mount. Lossie Baker Barnes was not a talker but rather a woman of action.

Surviving are five daughters of whom she was very proud: Marie Barnes Jones, Mollie Grace Barnes Corbin, Verona Barnes True, Jeraldene Barnes Massey and Alice Barnes Freeman (Charles); 11 grandchildren, Edwina Jones Simons (Craig), Raynite Corbin, Phillip Clarence Corbin (Deborah), Winifred Corbin-Ward (David), Aaron True, Rachel True, Noel Lossie True King (Robert), Stephanie Marie Massey, Alice Ray Massey, Charles E. Freeman (Julie), and Lossie Marie Freeman-Ross (Stephen); 10 great-grandchildren, Christopher Simons, Tiffany Simons, Javar Corbin, Justin Corbin, Taylor Marie Corbin, Gurvey Malone, Truman King, Clarence King, Neil Oliver Freeman and Nathan Freeman Ross; five nieces, Christine B. Ritchie, Catherine B. Slade, Ruby B. Spoons, Romain B. Harris and Mavis B. Harris; one nephew, Herbert Baker; and many other family members and friends.

Public viewing will be held Tuesday from 2 to 6 p.m. with the family receiving friends from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be directed to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 4405 Wilson, NC 27894 or to the Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 2562 Wilson, NC 27894. The funeral cortege will depart 703 Blakewood St. at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

Professional and personal services are entrusted to Edwards Funeral Home, 805 E. Nash St. Condolences may be directed to edwardscares.com.

——

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, farmer James Baker, 40, wife Mollie, 33, and children Irena, 14, Moses, 12, Rony, 10, and Lossie, 7.

Clarence Barnes, 18, of Taylors township, son of Lovett and Lucy Barnes, married Lossie Baker, 16, of Wilson, daughter of Jim and Mollie Baker, on 21 January 1929. Rev. G.A. Wood, an A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony at his residence in the presence of Frank Harrison, McKinley Barnes and Victoria Barnes.

In the 1940 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Clarence Barnes, 29; wife Lossie, 27; and children Marie, 10, Molly Gray, 9, and Virginia, 2; plus mother-in-law Molly Baker, 50.

As different as chalk and cheese.

WILLIAM CROOM.

The man is working for Daniel Evans, near Russellville, Putnam County. He has a nice brick house to live in, has a nice garden spot, fire-wood, and a team to haul it, a milch-cow and food to feed her, and $15 in cash each month; in all, equivalent to about $24 a month. He is delighted with Indiana, and urges that all his people come to our State as soon as they can get there. In an interview with me, he said: “Neither you nor any other Republican in Greencastle ever said a word to me about voting, nor asked me how I was gaining to vote; nor have I known of your asking any of our people how they were going to vote. All that has been said to us was about finding us homes and work, and taking care of us. They have done all for us they could, and our people are grateful to them for it. None of us want to go back to North Carolina; neither does any man who is honest and has sound judgment. I would take my oath on that. Most of our people who have come here are religious. I belong to the Missionary Baptist church, and am a licensed preacher. I came here to better the condition of myself and family, and to raise them respectably. I have found it better than I expected. Indeed, I don’t think that I hardly deserve as good treatment as I have received and am still receiving. From my own experience, I know that my people in North Carolina could greatly better their condition by coming here, and if they knew the facts they would come.

In a subsequent interview Croom said:

“I came from Wilson County, North Carolina. Have been here several weeks. I came because I had heard that colored men could do better here than in North Carolina, and I find that it was a true statement. There is as much difference between there and here as there is between chalk and cheese. It is altogether different. Here we are men just like the whites, get good wages, have good homes, and there are good schools for our children. The climate is no worse for us here than there. I have not yet seen as cold weather in Indiana as I have seen in North Carolina. And then the people are so different. They are just as kind to us as they can be. It seems as though they can’t do enough for us.”

——

Possibly: William Croom died 17 July 1910 in Indianapolis, Center township, Marion County, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was 57 years old; was born in North Carolina to Sam Croom and Cherry Latta; was married to Diana Croom; and was a farmer. He was buried in Mount Jackson cemetery.

Cora Allen died 9 November 1925 at Provident Sanitarium in Indianapolis, Center township, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 May 1884 in Indiana to William Croom and Diana Ellis, both of North Carolina and was married to James Allen. She was buried in Floral Park cemetery.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

Snaps, no. 7: Marie Lofton Jones.

Marie Jones in front of 1109 Queen Street, Wilson. Probably early 1940s.

In the 1910 census of Brogden township, Wayne County: farmer Robert Lofton, 66; wife Eveline, 66; daughters Emma J. Lofton, 37, Alice A. Wilson, 35, and Mary, 24, Bettie, 19, Florence, 19, and Jessie Lofton, 14, plus granddaughters Donnie, 4, Mable, 3, and Marie, 2 months.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Major J. Loftin, 42; mother Evaline, 71; brother-in-law Sam Barron, 24; sister Jessie Lofton, 24; and nieces Donnie, 13, Maybelle, 12, and Marie Loftin, 10.

On 11 October 1926, John William Jones, 23, of Black Creek, married Marie Lofton, 18, of Black Creek. A. Bynum performed the ceremony in the presence of Sylvester Woodard, R.H. Lofton and J.A. Jones.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek, Wilson County: farmer John W. Jones, 26; wife Maria, 20, a farm laborer; and daughters Celie Mae, 3, and Ruby Lee, 2.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1107 Queen Street, tobacco factory carpenter Johnnie Jones, 36; wife Marie, 30, cook; and children Ruby Lee, 11, Cecilia, 13, Johnnie, 9, Charles, 7, Joan, 3, and Jacqueline, 1. Marie reported that she was born in Mount Olive, North Carolina.

In 1942, Johnie William Jones registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he resided at 1107 Queen Street; was born 18 September 1903 in Wilson; his contact person was Mrs. Marie Jones, 1107 Queen Street; and he was employed by Noy 4750 Housing Project, New River, Onslow County, North Carolina.

 

The Jones family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1944. This photo likely was taken there. Marie Lofton Jones died in 1954.

Photographs from the personal collection of Hattie Henderson Ricks, now in possession of Lisa Y. Henderson.