1880s

Ayers found dead in his yard.

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Wilson Advance, 2 February 1883.

The “old man” was William Ayers, who appeared in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County, as a 46 year-old farmer. Though he was marked married, he is listed as the only person in his household.

William’s wife, Rose Ayers, quickly moved to open his estate in probate court, relinquishing her right to administer his estate to Thomas J. Rowe.

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The court duly appointed Rowe, estimated the size of Ayers’ estate at $250, and named Rosa, Jesse and Joseph Ayers as his heirs. The latter two, presumably, were his sons (or descendants of deceased children.)

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By late February, William Ayers’ personal property had been sold at auction, yielding a little more than $200. The account revealed that, in addition to carpenter’s tool, household furnishings and clothing, Ayers owned a fiddle and a single bottle of cologne.

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On 22 November 1883, commissioners laid off Rose Ayers’ dower, granting her twenty acres of her late husband’s 80 acres in Cross Roads township, representing one-third value of the land. In December 1883, commissioner F.A. Woodard placed a series of notices in The Wilson Advance (Josephus Daniels’ first newspaper), presumably advertising the sale of Ayers’ land.

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Estate records show that Edwin Barnes was the highest bidder at $430 for Ayers’ property on 7 January 1884. (The commissioners’ report also lists another heir, Council Ayers.)

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  • Rose Ayers — Rose Ayers, 45, married Nash Horton, 50, on 5 December 1888 at Meeksville post office, Spring Hill township. James G., I., and Guilford Wilder were witnesses.
  • Jesse Ayers — probably,  in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: 28 year-old farmer Jesse Ayers; wife Elizabeth, 28; and children Ida, 8; Harriet, 6; Howard, 5; and Hubbard, 2; all described as mulatto.
  • Joseph G. Ayers
  • Council Ayers — In the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: Council Ares, 52, wife Mary, 33, and William Smith, 3. However, this man was older than William and could not have been his son. (He died 1 December 1915 in Spring Hill township, and his death certificate lists his father as Sampson Ayers.) Similarly, the Council Ayers, age 21, who appears in the 1910 census of Spring Hill township with wife Beadie, 25, was born after William Ayers’ death.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Working on the railroad, drowned on the river.

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Wilson Advance, 16 February 1883.

When construction resumed after the Civil War, the state of North Carolina leased thousands of African-American convicts — many sentenced for trivial crimes — to the Western North Carolina Rail Road Company to perform the dirty, dangerous work of grading, laying rail and excavating tunnels. Hundreds died, including Jerry Smith.

The W.N.C.R.R. crosses the Tuckaseegee River, which flows entirely in North Carolina, several times between Bushnell and Almond, North Carolina.

The Wilson Collegiate Institute, a private school for boys, opened in 1872 and operated for about 20 years.

At Winstead the photographer’s.

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Wilson Mirror, 19 June 1889.

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Wilson Mirror, 10 January 1894.

Francis Marion Winstead, who was white, worked as a photographer in Wilson as early as 1880. In 1887, he opened a solo studio at the corner of Nash and Tarboro Streets. I have not been able to identify Winstead’s “nice colored waitress.”

Information about Winstead from Stephen Massengill’s Photographers in North Carolina: The First Century, 1842-1941.

 

Rejoicing.

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Wilson Advance, 1 August 1889.

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Probably, in the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: widow Farrby Pope, 50, living alone.

Fibie Pope filed for a widow’s pension on 14 November 1885.

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Her husband, Nathan Pope, a native of Pitt County, enlisted at Washington, North Carolina, on 26 January 1864. He served in Company F, 37th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, where he was appointed corporal. For a history of the company and a list of its officers and soldiers, see here.

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[Sidenote: The Bank of Branch & Co., which put Mrs. Pope’s business in the street, was founded in Wilson and is the precursor to today’s megabank BB&T.]

Civil War Pensions Index, http://www.fold3.com; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Burned a barn and stole a horse.

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Wilson Advance, 28 November 1884.

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Wilson Advance, 12 December 1884.

  • Joe Hinnant — in the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Emizel Hinnant, 30, with Harriet, 19, Tamer, 11, Henderson, 13, Mary, 7, Dennis, 8, and Joseph Hinnant, 1. In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Tamer Hinnant, 20, and brothers James, 11, and Joseph Hinnant, 11.
  • Dave Powell
  • Lewis Freeman — in the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Lewis Freeman, about 55, wife (or daughter) Katy, 25, and Violet Eatman, 78.