1900s

“Standing by your old ni**er, are you?”

b Woodard 1 31 1908

News & Observer (Raleigh), 31 January 1908.

This nasty bit of “news” is a sample of the gratuitous racism that permeated Josephus DanielsNews & Observer in the Jim Crow era. Daniels had grown up in and gotten his journalistic start in Wilson and undoubtedly knew all the involved parties well.

Benjamin Woodard, a notorious folk doctor in Wilson County, had been arrested on unclear charges (probably involving bootlegging liquor) and hauled into federal court in Raleigh. Several notable white Wilsonians showed up to serve as counsel and character witnesses, including brothers and law partners Frederick A. Woodard (a former United States Congressman) and Sidney A. Woodard (a state congressman). The Woodards were described as Ben Woodard’s former owners, though F.A. had been a child and S.A. an infant at war’s end. Ben’s owner, then, had been their father, Dr. Stephen Woodard of Black Creek, Wilson County. F.A. requested a nolle prosequi (“nol. pros.”), which is odd, as this is generally a motion made by a prosecutor who wishes to drop charges. The District Attorney here politely indicated his unwillingness to make such a request, but the judge cheerfully entered it anyway. Thus Dr. Ben benefitted from ties forged in slavery and earned an insulting article in the state’s newspaper of record.

It shall be known as The First Presbyterian Church of Elm City.

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF ELM CITY ORGANIZED

Elm City, N.C., May 29, 1904

The Committee appointed by the Presbytery in session at Burgaw, North Carolina, April 1904, to visit Elm City, N.C. and to organize a church if the way be clear. We met the petitioners on the 29th day of May, 1904 in the Methodist Church. The sermon was preached by the Reverend Clarence Dillard, PhD of Goldsboro, N.C. from 2 Timothy 2:19. After the sermon, those who desired to walk together in the Presbyterian faith were asked to join hands around the pulpit, and the following came forward:

James G. Mitchel, Ada Gaston, Nina Gaston, Minnie Ellis, G.E. Mebane, Clara M. Nicholson, John C. Ellis, J.J. Howard, William C. Ellis, Isaac Smith, Sara Ellis, James Cobb, Lillian Hall, William T. Armstrong and Georgia Gaston. These were examined and received on confession of faith.

John C. Ellis and Ganzy E. Mebane were elected and ordained elders. James G. Mitchel and W.C. Ellis deacons.

The church having been organized, it was agreed that it be known as The First Presbyterian Church of Elm City, North Carolina.

Committee: Rev. C. Dillard, Ph.D.; T.G. Williamson; C.E. Tucker

Elders: S.H. Vick, J.P. Murfree

Respectfully submitted to the Elm City, N.C. Centennial Committee, July 11, 1973.

— Elm City Centennial Committee,  Elm City North Carolina Centennial 1873-1973.

  • James G. Mitchel — in the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: tenant farmer James G. Mitchell, 38; mother Rosa, 58; and children Kester R., 18, Cynthia, 14, Robert L., 12, Jimmie D., 10, and Lelia B., 8.
  • Ada, Nina and Georgia Gaston — in the 1900 census of Town of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Pender Street, barber and plasterer George W. Gaston, 44, wife Cilla, 44, a cook; and children Rosco, 18, bricklayer; John, 16, common laborer; Georgia, 15, cook; Addar, 12, nurse; Nina, 11, nurse; Mancy, 6; Lacy, 6; Augustas, 6; Boston, 1; and Dewey, 6 months.
  • John C. and Minnie Ellis — in the 1900 census of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Main Street, school teacher John C. Ellis, 44; wife Della, 44, cook; and children Walter, 20, Martha, 18, Minnie, 16, John, 14, Haywood, 11, Arthur, 7, and Doretha, 4.
  • G.E. Mebane
  • Clara M. Nicholson — in the 1910 census of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson Street, Thomas H. Nicholson, 34; wife Clara, 33; and children Alonzo, 7, and Alice M., 4 months.
  • J.J. Howard
  • William C. and Sarah Ellis — in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County:  sawmill worker William Ellis, 20; wife Sarah, 21; and mother Leah, 80.
  • Isaac Smith
  • James Cobb — in the 1910 census of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: at 57 Wilson Street, railroad track repairman James Cobb, 28; wife Lula, 27; and children Wiley, 2, and John A., 8 months.
  • Lillian Hall
  • William T. Armstrong — in the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Proctor Road, farmer William T. Armstrong, 35, and wife Lucy, 28.

Drunk and froze to death.

North Carolina, Wilson County } The examination of Elisha Barnes, Roscoe Morris and Mima Barnes taken before the undersigned Coroner of said county, this 25th day of Feb’y, 1907, upon the body of Robert Barnes (col) then and there lying dead, to wit:

Elisha Barnes sworn says: He saw Robert Barnes (Col) about 4 P.M. Saturday or a little after, as he was passing Demus Harriss’ house about a ¼ mile from where he died. He appeared to be drunk. He was a drinking man. He was staggering & I saw him fall down. He started to come into the house but was advised to go on home. He had a bag on his shoulder. He made no complaint of being sick. The next time I saw him was Sunday morning about 9 oclock lying in road dead about ¼ mile from where I saw him the evening before. It was snowing very hard & was very cold Saturday evening. I know of no one that I think would have injured him and my opinion is that he fell down on account of being drunk & froze to death.   /s/ E. Barnes

Roscoe Morriss sworn says: Robert Barnes came with my & my brother from Wilson Saturday evening riding in our wagon. Didn’t complain of being sick. He was under influence of liquor when he left our house but could walk very well. He had about 2/3 of a pint of liquor with him when he left us. /s/ R.O. Morris

Mima Barnes sworn says: I am the wife of Robert Barnes, dec’d. He left home Saturday morning to go to Wilson. We lived about one mile from where he was found dead Sunday morning. He has had some trouble with Eddie Coleman (col), but I don’t know when it was. Mima (X) Barnes

/s/John K. Ruffin, Coroner.

Be it remembered that on this the 25th day of Feb’y 1907 I, John K. Ruffin, Coroner of the county of Wilson, attended by a jury of good and lawful men, viz: S.J. Watson, Jesse Taylor, W.R. Bryant, Jas. D. Barnes, G.W. Walls and J.M. Leeth, by me summoned for the purpose, according to law, after being by me duly sworn and impaneled, in the county aforesaid, did hold an inquest over the dead body of Robert Barnes (Col); and after examination into the facts and circumstances of the death of deceased, from a view of the corpse, and all the testimony to be procured, the said jury find as follows, that is to say,

That Robert Barnes came to his death Saturday night, Feby 23rd, from exposure to cold while under the influence of liquor. /s/ J.K. Leath, W.R. Bryan, J.D. Barnes, G.W. Walls, S.J. Watson, J.M. Taylor.

  • Robert and Mima Barnes — on 3 June 1892, Robert Barnes, 26, married Mima Barnes, 25, at Dr. Woodards’ in Black Creek, Wilson County.
  • Demus Harris
  • Eddie Coleman — perhaps, in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Coleman, 28, wife Harriet, 26, children Henrietta, 4, Lear, 2, and Eddie, 9 months, plus Molly Strickland, 7. In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Eddie Coleman, 20, and wife Emma, 22.

Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Leaders of Saint Mark’s Episcopal.

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Junior warden John Boykin, Rev. Robert N. Perry, and senior warden John H. Clark, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, early 1900s.

  • John Boykin — John Boykin, son of Rose Boykin, married Dicy Bailey, daughter of Moses and Julia Bailey, on 21 April 1870 in Wilson County. In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Virginia-born farmer John Boykin, 26; wife Disey, 25; and children Julian, 8, Rear Ann, 7, John C., 5, W. Brogner, 3, and Sallie A., 9 months, plus Anna Barnes, 17. In the  1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house mover John Boykin, 50; wife Dicy, 44, cooking; and children Sallie, 19, cooking, James, 18, day laborer, Dotia, 14, Susia, 14, Lillie, 10, and Eliza, 7. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Boykins, 56, odd jobs laborer; wife Disey, 54; and children Lillie, 20, and Liza, 17. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Virginia-born house mover John Boykin, 70, wife Dicey, 65, and lodgers Sam Stephens, 21, and wife Cora, 20. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 801 Viola Street, widower John Boykin lived alone.
  • Rev. Robert Nathaniel Perry — Rev. Robert N. Perry appears in Hills’ city directory in 1908 as the rector of Saint Mark’s, then located at Lodge Street near Bank Street. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, Robert Perry, 28, wife Mary A., 26, and son William, 5 months. Perry was described as a public school teacher. On 12 September 1918, Robert Nathaniel Perry registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 6 December 1881; resided at 315 South Street; was married to Mary A. Perry; and was minister of the colored Episcopal Church. After leaving Saint Mark’s, Father Perry served 32 years as vicar of Good Shepherd Church in Thomasville, Georgia and headmaster of its parochial school.
  • John Henry Clark

Photo courtesy of Robert Boykin, reprinted from Wilson Daily Times, 4 February 2008.

Shaw v. Telegraph Co., 151 N.C. 638 (1910).

The suit by Gus Shaw against Western Union Telegraph Company reached the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1910. Shaw had charged the company with negligence by failing to deliver a telegram. As detailed on page 2 of the decision, a black woman in Wilson played a small role in the drama.

In a nutshell, on 29 June 1908, Gus Shaw of Durham sent a telegram to his sister, Mrs. Riney Rogers, No. 419 South Street, Wilson, North Carolina, pleading: “Come at once. Ida and I are sick with malarial fever.” Apparently, there were two houses numbered 419 on South Street. One was at the corner of South and Lodge, and the other was “lower down South Street.” The Western Union messenger attempted delivery at the corner house, but “found that it was occupied by a colored woman” Annie Moring. The Rogerses, in fact, had been living at the other house for two years. The messenger sent a service wire back to Durham asking for an address clarification. Shaw confirmed the address as 419, but his response was not conveyed to the Western Union manager in Wilson. The messenger inquired at the post office, which also confirmed Rogers’ address as 419 South. He mailed a postal card to Rogers at that address, but it was delivered to Moring. Nonplussed, Western Union never delivered the telegram to Rogers, and Shaw testified at trial that this “just like to killed me. I didn’t know what was the matter. …” Western Union appealed the lower court’s ruling that it had acted negligently and owed Shaw damages for mental anguish. The Supreme Court denied its appeal, however, and confirmed the judge’s rulings for Shaw.

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The 1908 Sanborn insurance map does not comport with the scenario here. South Street is a short street, running parallel to Nash Street for three and a half blocks from Goldsboro Street across Spring (now Douglas), Lodge and Factory (now Layton) Streets to the railroad. Here is most of the bottom stretch:

south street

No. 419, a large, one-story dwelling, is at the corner of South and Factory, not South and Lodge. On the odd-numbered side of the street, the corner of South and Lodge is occupied by the black Episcopal Church and R.P. Watson & Company tobacco factory. “Lower down” on South, presumably headed southeast, South Street runs alongside Wilson Cotton Mill and ends abruptly at the railroad. (In the other direction, street numbers descend through the 300s to 211 at South and Goldsboro.)

Neither Annie Moring nor Riney Rogers are found in the 1910 census of Wilson. However, the 1908 edition of Hill’s Wilson city directory provides some information, but perhaps makes the story more murky. Benj. L. Rogers, foreman of Wilson Cotton Mills, is listed at 419 South Street. So, however, are three African-American workmen, Andy Money, Ed Money and Lucian Norfleet. (There is no Moring listed.) The Sanborn map shows four tiny double-shotgun houses, lettered A through H, behind 419 South. It’s possible that the Moneys, Norfleet and Moring lived in these dwellings, but that scenario would not explain the mix-up or meet the layout described in Shaw v. Western Union.

I am shot all to pieces, can’t get anywhere.

In April 1898, Mrs. A.V.C. Hunt placed an ad for her “uptown” grocery store, serving a white clientele, on Goldsboro Street in Wilson. A year later, on March 29 and 31, 1899, town newspapers carried an enigmatic series of articles about the trial of a “negro detective” apparently hired by white livery owner Jefferson D. Farrior to “work up a case” against Hunt’s husband, James A. Hunt, for burning her store. Farrior owned the building, and posted the detective’s bond. Almost exactly one year after that, Farrior waylaid James Hunt and shot him down in the street.

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Raleigh Morning Post, 31 March 1900.

More than two dozen witnesses, black and white, testified at the inquest into Hunt’s death, held 3 April 1900.

First, the doctors’ reports.  James A. Hunt was over six feet tall and weighed 225-250 pounds. He received four gun shots to the torso. One grazed his left chest, another buried in his shoulder, another entered near his left kidney, and another lodged between his 11th and 12th ribs. Dr. Albert Anderson administered a painkiller by hypodermic at the scene, and Hunt was transported by wagon to his home. Dr. C.E. Moore determined that a perforated intestine was likely, and the doctors performed surgery the day after the shooting. Hunt died at about 7:30 the evening of March 31.

The action is somewhat difficult to follow among the multiple viewpoints, but in essence, these are the facts alleged.

A couple of weeks before the shooting, James A. Hunt spoke with Herbert Bass about getting a horse and said he did not want to get one from Jefferson Farrior because they were not on good terms. Hunt also told Bass that he was out of business but had one more piece to transact before leaving Wilson. Monday or Tuesday before the shooting, Farrior showed several people a letter that he believed Hunt had written him. On Thursday, Hunt was observed passing Farrior’s livery stable stable several times, then standing across the street and staring at him. Because it was well known that Hunt had been charged the year before with shooting at a black detective that Farrior had hired to investigate an arson, witnesses suspected that Hunt was up to something. Farrior frequently had to pass through “the colored settlement down the plank road” to get to several farms he owned in the country, and some witnesses claimed that Hunt had threatened to kill Farrior. Sitting in Foster’s bar, Hunt told someone he had had a lot of trouble with “a small man of about 120-125 pounds, a blue-eyed sharper,” adding “It’s a fellow but the fice [feist] wouldn’t bark, and [he] had a fice now that would bark and he would get recompense.”

On Friday, Hunt and Jake Tucker went to Nash County to meet with a Mr. Eatmon about Hunt purchasing property in Wilson’s Little Washington neighborhood. Eatmon lived about six miles “the other side of Finchs Mill.” They returned about five or six P.M. Later that evening, Hunt, his wife Annie V. Collins Hunt, and friend Carrie Moore headed to the Marmona Opera House to attend a benefit performance for the colored Methodist Church. They walked up Green Street, crossed the tracks, and continued up Nash Street to Tarboro Street, where they turned left. They had passed the telegraph office and were near the silversmith’s shop when Farrior suddenly stepped out in front of them and raised a pistol. Hunt, who was unarmed, grabbed Farrior’s hands, and another man ran across the street to them shouting that he would shoot Hunt if he did not let Farrior go. Annie Hunt screamed, “Murder! Fire!” Hunt loosed Farrior and ran back toward Nash Street. Farrior chased him, shooting, then followed him into Ruffin’s store where he shot Hunt again. Alf Moye grabbed Farrior, who yelled that Hunt had threatened his life. John Gaston went outside, found A.V.C. Hunt and took her home.

1897

Marmona Opera House is at the arrow at left. The Hunt party walked northwest up Nash street, then turned on Tarboro. The telegraph office occupied 638 Tarboro, shown as vacant in this 1897 Sanborn insurance map. A few doors beyond is a jewelry shop that may be the silversmith referred to. Officer Harrell likely ran up the alley shown parallel to Nash. 

Police officer Ephraim Harrell heard the shooting, ran through an alley and encountered Farrior, who did not respond when asked what was going on. Harrell saw Hunt and told him to move on. Hunt responded, “I am shot all to pieces can’t get anywhere,” and lay down in a pile of wood. Harrell called a hack to take Hunt home. Hunt told him it was “cold-blooded murder” and asked for morphine so he could “die easy.” As he lay in a wagon near Wooten & Stevens furniture store, a doctor administered a painkiller by hypodermic needle. Harrell said he had known Hunt two or three years as a merchant who had a business on Goldsboro Street that had burned out. Hunt was a large man and “regarded as having plenty of grit.” Harrell had arrested him two or three weeks before for fighting a black man named Junk Williams, who had since left town.

Sandy Henderson, who had just dropped off some passengers at the opera house, spoke to Hunt as he lay bleeding. Hunt identified the men who abetted Farrior as Skinner and Privett and said he would have not been shot had they not threatened him. Hunt said he was going to die “but God would pay Mr. Farrior for shooting him.”

At the inquest, Hunt’s wife and several of his friends testified that Hunt had neither written nor signed any letter to Farrior and said the handwriting looked like Junk Williams’. Rev. W.T.H. Woodard said, “If was a swearer, I would swear on a stack of Bibles as high as this Court House it is not [Hunt’s handwriting.]” Williams had stopped payment on a $17 check to Hunt. When Williams refused to make good, Hunt had beaten him. “I have got a good whipping,” Williams told Dennis Brooks, “but will give the man two weeks to live that whipped me.” Despite this incident and the alleged assault on the detective, for which he was acquitted, Hunt was not known to be a violent man. As to Hunt’s alleged unfinished business in town, it was not to settle a score with Farrior. Rather, Hunt had been negotiating to purchase a lot from Emma Gay, a transaction that lawyer Sidney Woodard was handling for him. Hunt also had discussed purchasing land from Rev. Woodard in Littleton for $600.

Having heard this testimony and viewed Hunt’s body, the jurors returned a verdict: “That the said J.A. Hunt came to his death by pistol shot wounds inflicted by J.D. Farrior, That said wounds came to be inflicted by said J.D. Farrior while engaged in a mutual altercation with said Hunt under the influence of a sudden passion and in heat of blood. That therefore adjudge the said J.D. Farrior is guilty of Manslaughter in killing of said J.A. Hunt.”

The inquest verdict was as surprising then as it is today.

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Wilmington Messenger, 6 April 1900.

Farrior’s capital case, for which he could have received the death penalty, was set for the June 1900 docket of Wilson County Superior Court. Newspapers reported that the trial was postponed until October and then May 1901. On 6 June 1901, the Wilson News reported that Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Farrior had recently left town for a two-week trip to Washington, D.C., New York, the Pan-American Exposition, and points in Canada. Eighteen months later, the case had yet to be heard, but was expected to go to trial that month. (Note the names of defense counsel.)

1902

Raleigh Morning Post, 11 December 1902.

Finally, in February 1903, a resolution surprising only in its technicality. Certain that it could not win, the State had dropped the case.

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Wilmington Morning Star, 8 February 1903.

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(A) marks the approximate start point for the Hunt party’s walk to the Marmona. (B) is  where Hunt was killed. Sanborn insurance map, 1897.

——

Here, except for a missing page 7, is the full transcript of the coroner’s inquest over the dead body of James Alexander Hunt.

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  • Dr. Albert Anderson — see above.
  • Annie V. Collins Hunt
  • Jefferson D. Farrior — Duplin County native Jefferson Davis Farrior (1861-1934) owned a large livery and livestock sales stable on South Tarboro Street.
  • Colored Methodist Church — Saint John African Methodist Episcopal Church.

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  • Carrie Moore
  • W.G. Williams
  • James D. High — James Draughn High (1881-1938), son of John T. and Mary Ella Draughn High. He appears in the 1900 census of Wilson as an 18 year-old salesman.

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  • John Gaston — John A. Gaston was an African-American with a popular barber shop catering to white customers.
  • C.B. Ruffin
  • Joe J. Best

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  • Ephraim Harrell — In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County, policeman Ephraim Harrell, 34, and wife Sarrah, 32.
  • Ned Bunch — In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County, teamster Ned Bunch, 50, wife Lissa, 50, and children Mary, 16, Martha, 12, Orra, 11, Nellie, 9, Mattie, 7, and Lucy, 5. Ned Bunch died 19 March 1916 in Wilson of lobar pneumonia, age 65. His death certificate reports that he was born in Wilson County, and his father was James Bunch. Malissa Bunch was the informant.
  • Sandy Henderson — On 27 May 1897, widow Mary Jane Taylor married Sandy Henderson. Both were 40 years old. Missionary Baptist Minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at the John’s A.M.E. Zion church, and the official witnesses were S.A. Smith, Charles H. Darden and Wyatt Studaway. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hack driver San[illegible] Henderson, 54, wife Mary J., 40, a restaurant keeper, and children Buxton, 19, a hotel waiter, Leonidas F., 13, a tobacco stemmer, Charles J.A.W., 9, and Mattie M.G., 7, all Hendersons. (Buxton and Leonidas were in fact Taylors and were Sandy’s step-sons.)

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  • John Hare
  • Herbert Bass

[Page 7 of the transcript, in which Bass completed his testimony and W.I. Skinner and C.H. Whitehead testified, is missing.]

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  • W.J. Flowers
  • L.A. Moore — Lee Andrew Moore was one of the earliest agents of North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association (later, Insurance Company). Moore was born about 1863 in Black Creek township, Wilson County, to Lawrence and Vinnie Moore. He died in Wilson in 1948.
  • Jake Tucker — In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: salesman Jacob Tucker, 39, 40, wife Mary, 39, and children Doward, 17, Daniel, 15, Thomas, 13, Henry, 12, Smoot, 9, Walter, 7, Patience, 5, Joseph, 2, and Besse, 11 months. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Jake Tucker was described as a retail grocer.

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  • W.S. Oats
  • B.R. Selby — Benjamin Richard Selby (1877-1932) appears in the 1900 census of Wilson as a 26 year-old horse dealer. He died in East Saint Louis, Illinois, and his death certificate describes him as a livestock salesman.

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  • R.S. Rives — Robert S. Rives, pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion church.
  • Dennis Brooks — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County, 35 year-old Georgia-born merchant Dennis Brooks, wife Mary, 27, and daughter Aleo[illegible], 8, shared a household with Jordan Taylor, 50, and wife Matilda, 40. [Jordan Taylor, by the way, was the father-in-law of witness Sandy Henderson.]
  • J.F. Farmer

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Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

[Personal note: I have a familial connection to J.D. Farrior via Jesse A. Jacobs and Jesse “Jack Henderson, who worked in his livery stable when they came to Wilson a few years after this killing. In addition, I grew up in Bel Air Forest, a small subdivision laid out in the early 1960s along Highway 264 East. 264 runs in the path laid by the Plank Road to Greenville, and my neighborhood was once one of the country farms that Farrior passed through Wilson’s “colored settlement” to reach.]

 

Oh, Lordy.

Wilson County, State of North Carolina.

Pearsonal appeared before me this the 5 day of Nov 1904 Sheriff W.D.P. Sharp who maketh oath that Geo Williford is dead that he hath reason to believe to doth believe that he came to his death by unlawful means.  /s/ W.D.P. Sharp

Sworn to and subscribed before me a Justice of the Peace of Wilson County on the day and date above mentions.  /s/ T.E. Keel J.P.

—–

Mattie Speight, being sworn says: Well yesterday while it was raining I went home and shortly after I got home Albert Battle came in we all were sitting down by the fire and laufing and talking and I came up town and when I went I went back Geo. Williford came up and knocked at the door and when he knocked at the door the front door was shut but my room door was open and I went out. I heard the pistol fire and I went around the house to see what the matter I found Geo Williford on the ground between the door steps and the walling I run after the police I never heard him Geo Williford say any thing except Oh Lordy.  /s/ Mattie Speight

Chas Richerson being duly sworn says: I came up town when I came back to the corner house I heard some one say they were fighting down there and I run p there and ask what was the matter this Albert Battle run by me I heard Geo Williford say O Lord and he turned over. I suppose I was coming from up town when the shooting took place Elvy was setting by the fire when I got there. I smelt powder. Chas. (X) Richerson

Mattie Speight reexamine says: after I went back from up town Albert Battle, Elvy Sutton & another woman were the only ones in the house when I got back from up town. When I got around the house from the garden Albert Battle was on the poarch.

Dennis Brooks being sworn says: I don’t know any thing about the killing about 2 1/2 years ago Geo Williford was in my bar raising sand one Monday morning I ask him what was the matter Albert Battle was there and Geo said he was going to kill a man that morning if any one bothered him Albert told him to come on an have a drink and George told him he had money enough to buy his drinks Albert took me back in the pool room and said that Geo was mad with him and I ask him what about and he said Elvy. Albert said he better not run on him.   /s/ Dennis Brooks

Minnie Hodges being sworn says: I don’t know any thing about except Albert Battle & Elvy Sutton & I were in the house when Geo Williford came there & knocked and asked for Elvy and I opened the door and let him come in and he run to the bed where Elvy was she was sleep then he runned towards Albert he Albert had gone out in the passage and Albert said get back off of me and George kept coming towards Albert and Albert shot him once then Geo went back towards the bed and I run out the front door and run up the street and when I came back Geo was out dores and had fell between steps and walling.  /s/ Minnie Hodges

Elvy Sutton being sworn says: I was asleep and when I waked up Geo was dead Albert called me to get up. George went after Albert with a knife last summer and tried to kill him I have heard George say he was goin to kill Albert if he ever caught him with me.  Elvy X Sutton

—–

State of N.C. Wilson Co.

Be it remembered that on this the 5th day of Nov. 1904, I, Albert Anderson, Coroner of Wilson County attended by a Jury of good & lawful men viz: Sanford Christman, R.J. Grantham, E.F. Killette, W.W. Tomlinson, Frank Winstead, J.D. Barnes, by me summoned for that purpose according to law after being by me duly swored and empanelled at the Mayor’s office in the county of fore said did hold an inquest over the dead body of George Williford and after examination in the facts & circumstances of the death of the deceased from a view of the corps and all the testomonal to be procured the said Jury find as follow that is to say that George Williford came to his death from a pistol shot wound inflicted by Albert Battle.          /s/ Sanford Christman, E.F. Killette, R.J. Grantham, W.W. Tomlinson, Frank Winstead, J.D. Barnes

Inquest had and signed and sealed in the presence of Albert Anderson, Coroner of Wilson Co. N.C.

—–

  • George Williford
  • Mattie Speight — possibly the Mattie Speight, 24, who married Elbert Sanders, in Toisnot township on 28 February 1906. Their marriage license shows that Primitive Baptist minister William B. Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Pennina Bottoms of Edgecombe County and Jesse L. Williams and Annie Williams of Wilson County.
  • Albert Battle
  • Charles Richardson
  • Elvy Sutton — presumably, on 3 September 1900, Elvy Sutton, 23, daughter of Isham and Exie Sutton, married Robert Allen, 40, at Primitive Baptist minister P.D. Gold’s office in Wilson. [If so, what happened to Allen between 1900 and 1904?]
  • Dennis Brooks — on 10 January 1898, Dennis Brooks, 31, son of Henry Brooks, married Mary Helms, 24, at Brooks’ residence in Wilson. H.H. Bingham, an A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Lizzie B. Helms, Nannie Bennet, and Rosa Bennett. On the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Georgia-born merchant Dennis Brooks, 35, wife Mary, 27, and daughter Aleordine[?], 8.
  • Minnie Hodges

Sam Vick and his assistants.

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Wilson Mirror, 26 February 1890.

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Wilson Mirror, 1 April 1891.

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Wilson Mirror, 11 August 1891.

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Raleigh Morning Post, 14 July 1898.

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Raleigh Morning Post, 4 January 1902.

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Raleigh Morning Post, 8 April 1903.

  • Samuel H. Vick
  • Braswell R. Winstead
  • Levi H. Peacock
  • Jim Thorp — On 22 March 1900, James J. Thorp, 22, of Wilson, son of Edy Thorp, married Hattie Bunn, 17, daughter of Joshua and Emma Bunn, at Joshua Bunn‘s house in Wilson. Richard Renfrow applied for the license, and Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Hilliard Ellis, Levi Jones and Phyllis Ellis. In the 1912 Wilson city directory, James Thorp, insurance agent, is listed at 654 Viola Street.
  • Fannie McGowan — on 30 August 1905, at the bride’s residence on Vance Street, Henry Matt Daniel, 40, son of Dave and Flora Daniel, married Flora McGowan, 28, parents unknown. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Moore, J.S. Spell, and Mack Sharp.

A month will pass before the news reaches him.

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Colored American (Washington, D.C.), 2 February 1901.

On 29 November 1892, Owen L.W. Smith, 41, of Wilson County, married Adora E. Oden, 22, of Carteret County in Carteret County. It was Smith’s second marriage.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Owens Smith, 49, minister; wife Adora, 30; son Jesse, 19; daughter Flossie, 4; widowed mother Maria Hicks, 78, a midwife; and boarder Carry Pettiford, a widowed teacher.

Flossie Smith is the child who died of burns. She is referred to as an “only child” in the article above, though Owen and Adora Smith adopted two children, Jesse A. Smith and Carrie Emma, who died as a teenager.

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The grave markers of Owen Smith’s daughter Carrie and mother Maria Hicks in the Masonic cemetery, Wilson.

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Flossie Smith’s mother, Adora Estelle Oden Smith (1870-1906).

Photo of gravemarkers taken by Lisa Y. Henderson in November 2015; photo of Adora Oden Smith courtesy of Wilson County Public Library.