1880s

A rare opportunity to rent.

In 1881, Rufus Wright Edmundson ran an ad in the Wilson Advance for the lease of a house on a seven-acre lot on the east corner of Vance and Pender Streets. Wilson’s segregated residential patterns had not yet set, and Edmundson was able to extol the virtues of the parcel to white potential renters. East Wilson’s rapid development is hinted at in the notice — “all nearly new as premises were in original forest seven years ago.” Soon, Vance Street would become the southern edge of white settlement in East Wilson, and Edmundson’s property would be developed for the town’s newly emerging African-American middle class.

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Wilson Advance, 16 December 1881.

Rev. John W. Perry, Episcopal priest.

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Educated at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, John W. Perry was a deacon when appointed in 1882 to serve Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Tarboro. Perry was ordained a priest in 1887 and two years later was assigned to lead the congregation at Saint Mark’s in Wilson in addition to Saint Luke’s. He shared these posts for the next twelve years.

See Rev. Dr. Brooks Graebner, “Historically Black Episcopalian Congregations in the Diocese of North Carolina: 1865-1959” (2018), for more on Rev. Perry.

 

A great question affecting their welfare.

On 1 September 1887, John H. Williamson of the North Carolina Industrial Association wrote Samuel H. Vick seeking his assistance. Vick was head of the Wilson County chapter of the association, and this letter is found at the Freeman Round House and Museum:

My Dear Sir:

I shall be present in your city and address the people Sept. 8, 1887, on the Fair and progress of the race.

Will you please aid in securing a place for speaking and see that a large audience is obtained as I desire to talk to them on what I consider a great question effecting their welfare. I have sent hand bills.

Yours most truly,

Jno. H. Williamson, Sect.

Poll holders and registrars, 1884.

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Wilson Advance, 26 September 1884.

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  • Tom Johnson — in the 1880 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: teamster Thomas Johnson, 30; wife Milly, 25; and children Willie, 9, Ella, 8, and Daisey, 5.
  • Jolly Taylor — in the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Jolly Taylor, 60; wife Cherry, 38; son Richard, 18, farm laborer; and David Cotton, 18, farm laborer.
  • Jack Woodard — Jackson Woodard. In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Jack Woodard, 35; wife Fanny, 32; and children John, 12, Julia, 7, Cynthia, 6, Albert, 5, and Aaron, 2.
  • Woodard Williams
  • Randall Hinnant — in the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Randall Hinnant, 33, farmer; wife Angeline, 26; and children J. Thomas, 10, James H., 8, Lilly Ann, 6, Roscoe F., 4, and Hugh M., 7 months.
  • Ruffin Woodard — in the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Ruffin Woodard, 56; wife Lucy, 38; and children Zilpha, 19, John, 13, Polly, 12, Sallie, 2, and Oscar, 1.
  • Joe Cox — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Joseph Cox, 33; wife Litha, 27; children Augustin, 6, Bunyan, 11, Iredell, 4, and Zella, 3; and farm laborer Esther Hinard, 54.
  • Ned Scarboro — in the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: laborer Ned Scarboro, 35; wife Bedie, 27; and children Rufus, 14, Leda, 11, Jennie, 8, Polly, 6, Martha, 3, and Penny, 1.
  • Preston Jenkins — probably, in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Preston Jenkins, 49; wife Patsy, 43; daughters Nancy, 22, and Lizzie, 18; and adopted son King Tom, 20.
  • Alfred Woodard — in the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Alfred Woodard, 50; wife Sarah, 45; children Florence, 28, Mary, 22, Howell, 18, Sarah E., 16, Zilly A., 17, Lundon, 13, Minnie, 12, Willie, 10, Josephine, 7, and Evvy, 4; and grandchildren Elizabeth, 7, Robt. B., 5, and John H. Bynum, 4.
  • J.I. Parker

Handy Atkinson and family.

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Wilson Advance, 10 February 1882.

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On 7 August 1866, Hamlet [sic] Atkinson and Lida Atkinson registered their 17-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.  As set forth here, Handy Atkinson and Lida Williamson had at least four children — Henry, Spencer, Silvia and Angeline. Lida Atkinson died between 1866 and 1870.

On 16 December 1869, Randal Hinnant, son of Emsley Hinnant and Ally Hinnant, married Angaline Atkinson, daughter of Handa Atkinson and Lida Atkinson, at Handa Atkinson’s in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Handy Atkinson, 50; and children Nathan, 21, Spencer, 17, Simon, 15, Charity, 13, Sarah, 10, and John, 8. [It seems likely that Nathan, Simon, Charity, Sarah and John were also Lida’s children.]

On 17 February 1870, Henry Williamson, son of Hander Atkinson and Lida Williamson, married Cora Adams, daughter of Mary Adams, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Handy Atkinson, 53; wife Souson, 26; children John, 15, Thomas, 8, Mary, 6, Hannor, 5, Abby, 2, Harry, 2 months; mother Hagar, 80; and nephew Stanton, 8.

Handy Atkinson died between 1880 and 1900.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Susan Atkinson, 48; children Calvin, 17, William, 15, Lessie, 12, Daisey, 10, Lafayette, 8, Kizziah, 6, and Ora, 1; step-daughter [sic] Hanner, 24; and grandson Fred D., 7.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: widowed farmer Susanna Atkinson, 56; children Hannah, 31, Daisy M., 20, and James, 19; and granddaughter Minnie, 10.

Hannah Atkinson died 8 June 1915 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born April 1877 in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susan [last name unknown]; was single and worked as a farmer. Informant was “brother S.T. Atkinson.”

Susan Atkinson died 3 June 1919 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 March 1854 to Isaac and Abbie Barnes and was a widow. Informant was Tom Atkinson.

Spencer Williamson died 22 August 1926 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 56 years old, was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and an unknown mother; was married to P. Williamson; and lived at 112 North Pine Street, Rocky Mount.

Thomas Stephen Atkinson died 14 July 1928 in Beulah township, Johnston County. Per his death certificate, he was 56 years old; was born in Wilson County in Handy Atkinson and Susie Atkinson; was a farmer; was married to Zillie Atkinson; was buried in Boyette Cemetery. Iva Thomas Atkinson was informant.

C.H. Atkison died 21 March 1929 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 49 years old; was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Stella Atkison; was a farmer; and was married to Stella Atkison. He was buried in Rocky Branch cemetery.

Lafayett Atkinson died 19 March 1933 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, he was 48 years old; was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susan Barnes; was married to Etta Atkinson; and was a farmer.

Channie Barnes died 22 December 1942 in Micro township, Johnston County. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 May 1877 in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson; was the widow of Joseph Barnes; and was buried at Rocky Branch Cemetery.

Daisy Barham died 23 February 1956 at her home at 626 East Vance Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 January 1887 in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susan [last name unknown]; was a widow; and was buried in Rocky Branch Cemetery. Informant was Lessie Davis.

Lessie A. Davis died 4 July 1959 in Oldfields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 March 1886 in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susie Barnes and was married to Richard Davis. Informant was Mrs. Willie Blackwell.

 

The estate of Daniel Williamson.

Daniel Williamson did not live long in freedom, but he made the most of the time he had.

In 1866, Daniel Williamson and Amy Deans registered their 20-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace. Within months, Daniel Williamson was dead. He died without a will, and his brother Alexander “Ellic” Williamson was appointed administrator of his estate.

Alex Williamson conducted a sale of Daniel’s property on 24 December 1867. Items could be purchased on six months’ credit. The buyers were drawn from neighbors and kin in Daniel Williamson’s Springhill township community. Many, like him, were newly freed. It’s not clear whether Daniel owned land at his death, but he certainly had a houseful of furniture and utensils and enough animals to indicate a dedicated farm life.

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  • London Rentfrow
  • Albert Adams — Albert Adams and Spicey Williams[on] registered their eight-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Albert Adams, 50; wife Spicy, 37; and children Arch, 14, Arnold, 13, Frank, 7, Caroline, 5, and James, 2.
  • Thomas Shaw — Thomas Shaw and Catherine Williams[on] registered their 16-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County:
  • Ellic Williamson — Alex Williamson, son of Samuel Bass and Silvy Williams[on], married Gracy Shaw, daughter of Thomas Narron and Katty Williamson, on 9 December 1869 at Thomas Shaw‘s. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Ellis Williamson, 33; wife Gracy, ; and children Ellic, 4, and Eugenia, 1.
  • James H. Hinnant — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: white farmer James Hinnant, 44, and family.
  • David Row
  • Mingo Hinnant — Mingo Hinnant and Angeline Kent registered their four-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Hinnant, 80, and wife Angeline, 70.
  • Isaac Barnes
  • Larry Lamm — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: white farmer Larry Lamm, 46, and family.
  • Edmond Williamson — Edmond Williamson and Hannah Winbourn registered their 13-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866.
  • Nathan Barnes — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Cherry Hinnant, 49; Henry Hinnant, 12; Nathan Barnes, 29; wife Harriet, 23, and Bitha, 14, Welsly, 12, Cenia, 10, Sallie, 8, Charles, 6, and Nathan, 3, months.
  • Amos Hinnant — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Amos Hinnant, 30; wife Linday, 25; and sons Haywood, 9, and Burruss, 3. [For Malinda Hinnant’s courageous fight to secure a widow’s pension for her husband’s Union Army service, see here.]
  • Handy Atkinson — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Handy Atkinson, 50; and children Nathan, 21, Spencer, 17, Simon, 15, Charity, 13, Sarah, 10, and John, 8.
  • Right Atkinson — Wright Atkinson and Bina Boykin registered their six-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Wright Atkinson, 40, farm laborer; wife Binah, 27; and children Celestia, 3, and Flora, 1; plus Patrick Williamson, 10.
  • John Adams
  • Moses Bynum
  • Elbert Kent — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Elbert Kent, 25; wife Rebecca, 23; and daughter Mary, 1.
  • George Creach — In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer George Creech, 40; wife Margaret, 35; and children Lucy, 7, John, 5, and Sarah, 1.
  • Jacob Hinnant
  • Willie Watson
  • John Barnes

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  • Willis Revell
  • Joseph Hinnant — Joseph Hinnant and Roda Godwin registered their six-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Joseph Hineard [Hinnant], 30; wife Rodah, 27; and children Vandier [Van Dorne], 8, Zadoc, 6, Roxy, 4, and James, 1.
  • Simon Williamson — there were several Simon Williamsons in the area, but this was likely Daniel’s son Simon, who died two years after his father.
  • Sylva Deans — Sylvia Deans may have been a half-sister of Daniel Williamson’s son Gray Deans.

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  • Richard Durrom
  • Wm. Godwin
  • Henry Cockrel — in the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County, white farmer Henry Cockrell, 29, and family.
  • Thomas Durrom
  • Ransom Godwin — in the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County, white farmer Ransom Godwin, 34, and family.
  • Jordan Godwin
  • Robert Raper — in the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County, white farmer Robt. D. Raper, 41, and family.
  • Isaac Pearce
  • Stephen A. Watson
  • Gilford Hales
  • Loney Hinnant

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As was common, Alex Williamson spent considerable energy trying to collect on the notes issued by buyers at Daniel Williamson’s estate sale.

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In the meantime, Simon Williamson, believed to be Daniel’s son, died in early 1869. Alex Williamson, on behalf of Daniel’s estate, paid out $9.00 to Albert Adams for the “nursing and Barrien” [burying] of Simon. [Is the Simon Deens, 19, listed in the 1870 mortality schedule as having died in February 1870 the same boy? Despite the discrepancy in the year, it would seem so, as the schedule lists Simon as a member of the household of Albert Adams.]

Daniel Williamson’s wife Amy apparently died even before he did, and he left two young sons, Gray Deans and Turner Williamson. Probate dragged on for decades, and in 1886, they sued the estate to receive assets they believed due them. The document below reports on the collectibility of several debts and the whereabouts of an ox and reveals family relationships.

White farmer Simon Barnes was called on behalf of the plaintiffs to swear that Jacob Hinnant’s note was worthless when taken at the sale; that Edmond Williamson’s note was good because he owned land that could be used as collateral; that Nathan Barnes and Thomas Shaw’s notes were good because Edmond Williamson had signed them as surety; that Handy Atkinson and Wright Atkinson’s notes were worthless; and that Moses Bynum’s note was good because Willis Taylor was surety.

Handy Atkinson testified that the ox sold [to London Renfrow] at the sale and left with Alex Williamson was at Atkinson’s house for a time, but it ran “at large” and died in March after getting stuck in mire.

Alex Williamson testified that he sold an ox for $35.40 on 24 December 1867, but the purchaser could not give a good note and left the ox with him the day of the sale. He did not recall if he offered the ox at public sale again, but he tried unsuccessfully to sell it privately. It died.

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Edmond Williamson testified that the reason he did not pay the note against him was that he considered it paid by taking care of Daniel’s son Turner Williamson, who was a small boy and did not “earn his [own] support” for a few years.

Gray Deans testified that the ox was a good one that his father paid $40 for; that he and Turner had been carried to Edmond’s house after their father’s death; and that Turner was about 11 years old at the time and could work for his support.

Alex Williamson testified that Handy Atkinson had kept Daniel’s sons before Daniel died and was paid $20.50 for it.

Estate File of Daniel Williamson, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

 

State v. Hilliard Barnes and Nancy Baker.

In 1880, Hilliard Barnes and Nancy Baker were charged in Wilson County Superior Court with fornication and adultery. Edwin Barnes agreed to post bond with Hilliard Barnes, and Wright Newsome and Gray White were called as witnesses to the relationship.

Hilliard Barnes, 30, married Nancy Baker, 25, on 16 February 1880 [within weeks of their summons into court.] In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Hilliard Barnes, 30; wife Nancy, 28; and Edmund Taborne, 3.

  • Hilliard Barnes — 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.
  • Nancy Baker
  • Gray White — in the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County, Gray White is listed as a 32 year-old white laborer in the household of Edwin Barnes, below.
  • Wright Newsome — in the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County, Wright Newsome, 26, farm laborer; wife Mary, 25; children Walter, 3, Willie, 2, and Puss, 8 months; plus Mary Ellis, 13, farm laborer. [The Newsomes were next-door neighbors of Edwin Barnes and White.]
  • Edwin Barnes — white farmer Edwin Barnes, 62, listed in the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County.

Adultery Records-1880, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.