1890s

Leonard Medical School students.

James Arthur Cotton appears in Leonard Medical School‘s 1888-’89 catalog with a notation that he done his collegiate studies at Saint Augustine’s College. (Perhaps he did not finish, as the Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929 lists him as a 1897 graduate of Chicago’s Harvey Medical College.

Lincoln University graduate Charles Hudson Bynum appears in the 1892-’93 Leonard Medical School catalog.

Wanton deviltry.

One hundred twenty years ago yesterday …

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Wilson Advance, 14 October 1897.

  • Lewis Pitt — On 1 August 1872, Lewis Pitt, 24, and Charity Strayhorn, 21, were married in Edgecombe County. In the 1880 census of Hillboro township, Orange County, Lewis, 25, and Charity Pitt, 23, were listed in the household of Charity’s parents, Yank and Patsy Strayhorn. In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Lewis Pitt, 55; wife Carty, 50; and grandson Daniel, 10. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 633 Green Street, farmer Lewis Pitt, 71; wife Charity, 68; daughter Gradis, 15; and roomers George Thompson, 16, and John Byrd, 20, both wagon factory laborers. Lewis Pitt died 6 April 1924 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was about 76 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Hardy and Peggy Atkinson; and resided at 704 East Green Street. Charity Pitt was informant.
  • Nettie Jones
  • Bill Ayers
  • John Swader

Their future home.

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Raleigh Gazette, 4 September 1897.

Whatever their plans, the Rawlinses did not remain in Wilson long. They do not appear in the 1900 census, but when he registered for the World War II draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, their son Allen Benjamin Rawlins reported that he was born 11 February 1900 in Wilson. By the 1910 census, Benjamin F. and Ella Westray Rawlins had returned to Rocky Mount.

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The Shoo Fly train ran over him.

Wilson Mirror, 30 August 1893.

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On 11 April 1878, Hilliard Hunter, 26, of Nash County, married Mary Jane Pitt, 25, of Wilson County, in Toisnot township.

In the 1880 center of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer Hilliard Hunter, 25; wife Mary J., 27; and son Walter, 5 months.

In 1893, Mary Jane Hunter filed an unsuccessful suit against Wilmington and Weldon Railroad over her husband’s death.

On 6 July 1899, Turner Anderson, 21, married Lillie Hunter, 20, in Toisnot township in the presence of Annie Bryant, Martha Modica and Nancy Deans.

On 2 August 1903, Mary Jane Hunter, 40, of Elm City, daughter of Moses and Marina Pitt, married Daniel Foster, 45, of Elm City, son of Austin and Rachael Foster of Kansas at George Barnes‘ in Toisnot township. Red Batts applied for the license.

On 12 July 1905, Willie Hunter, 22, of Elm City, son of Hilliard and Mary J. Hunter, married Mary Whitehead, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Ben and Francis Whitehead, in Toisnot township. T.H. Nicholson applied for the license, and the ceremony took place at Ben Drake’s in the presence of T.H. Nicholson, William Short and W.A. Whitfield.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Elm City-Stantonsburg Road, widowed farm laborer Mary J. Hunter, 40, and daughter Alice, 20, a laundress.

On 18 January 1914, Arthur Hunter, 20, of Toisnot, son of Mary J. Hunter, married Estelle Wooten, 24, of Toisnot, daughter of Linda Wooten, in the presence of Turner Anderson, Lillie Anderson and Clarence Wiggins, all of Elm City.

On 23 March 1915, Liza Hunter, 20, of Elm City, daughter of Hilliard Hunter and Mary J. Pender, married Jim Pinkney, 21, son of Henny and Hilly Pinkney, in Johnston County.

On 14 September 1921, B.S. Jordan, 58, son of Hardy and Mary J. Jordan, married Lilly Anderson, 39, daughter of Hilliard Hunter and Mary J. Hunter, at Lilly Anderson’s in Toisnot township. Wiley Locus applied for the license, and Baptist minister Elias Lucas performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Johnson and Bud Simms of Wilson and Hamp Mordcia [Modica] of Elm City.

Alice Hunter died 20 April 1960 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 October 1901 to Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane Pitt; and was never married. Informant was Eliza Pinkney, Elm City. [Note that Alice Hunter’s birthdate is off by at least 10 years.]

Willie Hunter died 28 April 1960 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 February 1884 in Wilson County to Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane [last name not listed]; lived at 204 South East Street; and worked as a laborer. Informant was Doris H. Wilson, 204 South East Street.

Eliza Pinkney died 10 July 1969 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 June 1898 in North Carolina to Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jones; resided in Elm City; was married to Jim Pinkney; and was buried in Elm City cemetery. Doretha H. Farmer, 706 East Green Street, was informant.

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White Swamp runs about 5 miles south of Elm City.

The regular daily Norfolk-to-Wilmington passenger train was known as the Shoo Fly. In 1906, the train had a cataclysmic accident near Warsaw, Duplin County. After, a ghost train legend grew in the area.

 

 

The murder of Calvin Barnes … but not by THAT John Jefferson.

Patrick M. Valentine’s The Rise of a Southern Town: Wilson, North Carolina, 1849-1920 is an invaluable history of the city’s first seventy years. In a chapter devoted to the blossoming of Wilson’s tobacco market in the 1890s, Valentine details a gun battle in the street between banker and cotton man Alpheus Branch and new tobacco man Calvin Barnes. Nine years later, Barnes was murdered as he rode home in a wagon with his grandsons. Valentine describes the alleged killer, Jonathan [sic] J. Jefferson, as Barnes’ “black overseer” and notes the even-handedness of the law toward Jefferson, whose initial conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court on an evidentiary point and who was later found not guilty.

The decision in State v. Jefferson, 125 N.C. 712 (1899), made no mention of Jefferson’s race. This raised my antennae. Contemporary news accounts also failed to mention that Jefferson was black, though they did describe concerns that he would be lynched. Instead, reports explicitly describe him as “a white renter of Captain Barnes’,” having a “white face,” “pale,” and “slightly pale, but no different from the many other spectators.”

Here is what happened around sunset on 28 December 1899. First, the setting: “This road is known as the New Road and comes into Wilson from Barefoot’s Mill and enters the city at the old circus grounds. About a quarter of a mile from the city limits is a small stream — Hominy Swamp — and just beyond this is a steep hill descending to the swamp. The steepness of this hill has necessitated its being cut down so that the road is in a cut, the banks on each side rising about eight feet. At the left side of the road at this hill the woods comes up to a small bluff overlooking the road. About half way down the hill in this woods a fence corners and runs at right angles with the road and parallel with the swamp for nearly half a mile, when it turns to the right and running almost due South, makes the line between the lands of A. Nadal and Mrs. Sid Clark. Where the fence corners near the hill on the New Road was the place selected by the perpetrator of this most dastardly crime.”

“Captain” Calvin Barnes and two grandsons had spent the day at his farm. As their horse-drawn buggy descended the hill towards Wilson, Barnes was shot in the back. The crack of the gunshot and the children’s screams attracted Ned Bunch, “a negro man close at hand,” who grabbed the reins of the runaway horse, climbed into the buggy, and drove Barnes to his home on Nash Street. Drs. Needham B. Herring and Nathan Anderson soon arrived, but Barnes died about 2:30 the next morning. Before he passed, Barnes told his friends that he had recently had words with John J. Jefferson, who managed one of his farms. Jefferson gave an alibi, but was quickly arrested and brought before a coroner’s inquest, which returned a charge against him. Fearing a lynching, the sheriff secretly moved Jefferson to Lucama, where he was put aboard a train for safekeeping in Raleigh.

The Raleigh Post carried a salacious confession that appeared in the Wilson News the very same day – on the very same page – that the News reported Barnes’ murder. “Jefferson is a tall, sparsely built man. He has a grizzley brownish beard that conceals his white face. His eyes are positively wicked.” “I shot at him,” the paper quoted, “They swore this thing on me, and I reckon I killed him.” Jefferson went on to detail a litany of grievances against Barnes, including failure to buy supplies, interference with his hands (i.e. farmworkers), and attempting to make Jefferson work his daughter in tobacco. The night before the murder, Jefferson asked Barnes if he had brought some cloth to make dresses for Jefferson’s daughters. Barnes had not and Jefferson threatened to kill him.

Jefferson was tried and convicted in late October, and his execution by hanging was set for November 16. He appealed the verdict on the basis that one of the State’s contentions had been that Barnes had made a dying declaration that Jefferson shot him. The State Supreme Court ruled that “[s]tatements of deceased, made shortly before his death, that he had quarreled with the prisoner in the morning, and that after sunset somebody shot him, and that he saw a man running out of the bushes, but could not recognize him, as it was too dark to recognize him, and to have prisoner arrested, are inadmissible as dying declarations.” “At most, the evidence was but the opinion of the deceased that the prisoner shot him….” (Further, the indictment was flawed.)

On 22 June 1900, Jefferson was retried and, to the shock and outrage of local citizenry, acquitted of Barnes’ murder.

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  • Ned Bunch – in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: teamster Ned Bunch, 50; wife Lissa, 50; and children Mary, 16, Martha, 13, Orra, 11, Willie, 9, Mattie, 7, and Lucy, 5. Ned Bunch died 19 March 1916 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1851 in Wilson County to James Bunch and an unknown mother and was married. Malissa Bunch was informant. [Less than a year after the trauma of intercepting Barnes’ bleeding body, Bunch carried the dying James A. Hunt home after he was shot down in the street by Jefferson D. Farrior.]
  • John J. Jefferson – in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: John J. Jefferson, 50, farmer, prisoner in the Wilson County Jail. [Valentine may have confused this Jefferson with John Jefferson, 52, a black day laborer, who appeared in the same census of Wilson township.]

Narrative abstracted from articles in the Durham Sun, 30 August 1899; Wilson News, 31 August and 26 October 1899; Wilson Daily Times, 1 September 1899; News & Observer (Raleigh), 23 June 1900, as well as the text of the Supreme Court decision.