1910s

Col. church.

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Surrounded by “the Farmer place owned by the hairs of Mrs. Jerusha Woodard” was a small square of land upon which a “colored church” was built. Woodard, born 1838 to Moses and Elizabeth Barnes Farmer and married to Warren Woodard, died in 1910. This plat map was drawn in 1914.

I have not been able to identify the church.

Plat book 1, page 111, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

The last will and testament of Washington Pitts.

On 25 November 1916, Washington Pitts (or Pitt) wrote out his last will and testament:

  • to his aunt Lucinda Pitts, the lot on Vance Street in Wilson on which he then lived, purchased from Earnest Deans and wife and recorded at Deed Book 91, page 37; all his personal property; and any residual money
  • to his brothers Martin and Jack Pitts, a lot on Vance Street purchased from Wilson Real Estate and Loan Company and recorded at Deed Book 102, page 246
  • to his cousin Hattie Slight, a lot at 523 Church Street at which Beatrice Sugg now resided
  • Lucinda Pitts was named executor of the will, and C.T. Harriss and W.P. Whitaker Jr. were witnesses

Washington Pitts Will (1916), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The remains of West Vick, a colored soldier, return.

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 March 1919.

In the 1900 census of Stony Creek township, Nash County: farm laborer John Vick, 45; wife Hanna, 40; and children Tassey, 21, Clara, 19, Johnnie, 17, Berry, 15, Elisha, 13, Joseph, 10, Westray, 9, Paul 3, and Baby, 1.

Wesley Vick, 21, son of John and Hannah Vick, married Sarah Locus, 20, daughter of Jesse and Florida Locus, on 25 May 1912, in Wilson.

The Farrior farm.

For much of the twentieth century, Wilson’s eastern city limits did not extend beyond modern U.S. Highway 301. A half-mile outside of town, along what was then a county road (and is now Martin L. King Parkway/U.S. Highway 264 Alternate), sprawled one of Jefferson D. Farrior‘s many farms.

In 1919, Atlantic Coast Realty prepared a plat map showing the 500+-acre Farrior farm divided into 35 unequal parcels. Though there were few buildings or other landmarks on the land, it is easily identifiable. I spent half my childhood on the land, on its far edge, in Bel-Air Forest.

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Plat map 1, page 160, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

New school open.

More details from the opening of the Wilson Normal and Industrial Institute, also known as the Independent School, which opened after African-American students boycotted Wilson public schools.

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Wilson Daily Times, 12 November 1918.

Episcopal priest Robert N. Perry and Baptist minister Fred M. Davis were placed at the school’s head. (As principal and vice principal?) Samuel H. Vick was appointed chairman of the board of directors and Dr. William H. Phillips, secretary. The school was incorporated, and $2400 raised for its operation. The school was to have a high school department (which the Colored Graded School did not.) And most surprisingly, the school building, on Vance Street near Pender, had been the old (white) Methodist church and had been moved several blocks across the tracks to the site.

Church 1/2 acre excepted.

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In 1917, Atlantic Coast Realty prepared a plat map subdividing the James W. Hayes Farm near Elm City into ten parcels. The farm’s location is readily identifiable as the tip of the triangle formed by present-day East Langley and Haynes Roads. At the tip of the tip, this notation: “Church 1/2 A, Excepted.”

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The original Little Union Primitive Baptist Church!

Plat book 1, page 40, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial view courtesy of Google Maps.

Another Jackson Chapel?

Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church looms over the intersection of East Nash and Pender Streets. It is one of the oldest African-American churches in Wilson County and for much of its existence was one of the largest congregations. Jackson Chapel A.M.E. Zion though?

This deed reveals that there was such a church in Wilson County just before World War I. In November 1917, Lizy and William McCoy, Rosa and Gray Speight, Robert and Annie Bynum, Arch and Lilly Bynum, and Tamer Bynum (the heirs and widow of George Bynum) sold a parcel of land for $200 to W.F. Leak, John Williams, Melinda Leak, James Anderson, G.W. Leak, Alexander Leak, Floyd Ellis and J.T. Jackson, trustees of Jackson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church. The parcel, measuring just over an acre, lay beside the Norfolk Southern Railroad track “near the Town of Evansdale.” (Evansdale has never been a town. It is crossroads community that, in its heyday, was centered around the intersection of what are now Evansdale and Graves Roads.) If the church were ever constructed, it no longer stands, and the congregation has disbanded. (George J. Leake, however, a grandson of William F. and Malinda Leak born in 1929, became an A.M.E. Zion minister, rising to the office of bishop before his death at age 51.)

The Bynum Family

On 31 October 1869, Puss Artice, daughter of Arch and Rosa Artice, married George Bynum, son of Thos. Drake and Eliza Bynum, at Arch Artice’s. [“Puss” was the nickname of Tamar Artis Bynum.]

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Archabald Artis, 70; wife Rosa, 34; Tamer Bynum, 23, and [her husband] George, 25.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer George Bynum, 35; wife Tamer, 30; and children Arch, 7, Roser, 6, Lesey, 4, and Robert, 3 months.

  • Arch Bynum — Arch Bynum, 23, of Wilson township, son of Geo. and Tama Bynum, married Lilly Woodard, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Webster and Liza Woodard, on 27 February 1896. George Woodard applied for the license and the marriage took place at Webster Woodard’s in the presence of Rosa Bynum, Johnie Moore and Richmond Mercer. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Arch Bynum, 37, odd jobs; wife Lillie, 31; and children Nnes, 11, Junis, 7, George, 4, Rena, 2, and Ressie, 2 months.
  • Rosa Bynum — Gray Speight, 47, of Greene County, son of Noah and Synty Speight, married Rosa Brooks, 40, of Stantonsburg, daughter of George and Tamer Bynum, on 24 November 1925 in Stantonsburg. Rosa Speight died 24 August 1967. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 March 1874 in Wilson County to George Bynum and Tammer Artis; was a widow; had worked as a farmer. Informant was Louise Hinnant.
  • Lizy Bynum — On 30 June 1897, W.J. McKoy, 25, of Wilson, son of Alex and Ellen McKoy, married Leacy Bynum, 20, of Wilson, daughter of George and Tamer Bynum, at George Bynum’s residence. In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, farmer Will McCoy, 34; wife Leesie, 32; and children Joe, 11, Lossie, 9, Nancy, 8, Robert, 4, and Mary, 3.
  • Robert Bynum — Robert Bynum, 22, of Stantonsburg, son of George and Tamy Bynum, married Florence Barnes, 22, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Stephen and Adline Barnes, on 4 January 1905 at Steave Barnes’ in Stantonsburg. Robert Bynum, 31, of Wilson, son of George Bynum, married Annie Darden, 21, of Wilson, daughter of C.F. Darden and Mattie Darden on 11 December 1912 at C.F. Darden’s in Black Creek.

The Trustees

  • W.F. Leak — in the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer William F. Leak, 53; wife Malinda, 40; children L[illegible], 17, Albert, 15, Arron, 12, David, 9, and George, 3; son-in-law Lubia Oliver, 27; daughter Lucy, 21; and brother George W. Leak, 43, widower. In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, farmer William Leak, 57; wife Malinda, 54; widowed daughter Mannie Hicks, 34; and brother George Leak, 54.
  • John Williams
  • Melinda Leak
  • James Anderson
  • G.W. Leak — George Washington Leak.
  • Alexander Leak — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, Alexander Leak, 44, wide Elizar Jane, 39; and children Junous, 21, Octivis, 20, James, 15, Wyley, 9, Mamie, 12, Rosa, 5, and Addie, 1.
  • Floyd Ellis — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, tenant farmer Floid Ellis, 44; wife Mollie, 42; and children Floid T., 12, King A., 10, Joe M., 5, John A., 3, and Mary Reb, 6 months.
  • J.T. Jackson

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This abandoned general store building stands beside the Norfolk-Southern railroad at Evansdale Road and Graves Road. Unused since at least the 1950s, it was likely the heart of the community in which the Bynums and Leaks lived. There is no trace of a church along the railroad.

Five years after this purchase, a terrible tornado tore through Evansdale, killing an African-American school teacher and leaving families, including William Leak’s, homeless. Was Jackson Chapel destroyed in this storm, never to be rebuilt?

Deed book 111, page 399, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2020.

Mishaps and mayhem, no. 1.

Causes of death (or, just as often, manners of death) listed on death certificates in the early twentieth century could be surprisingly detailed or confoundedly vague. Then, as now, most people died of disease, but fatal injuries — accidental and intentional — were distressingly common, as seen below.

  • Atkinson, Lafayett. Died 19 March 1933, Spring Hill township, Wilson County; was married to Etta Atkinson; was 48 years old; was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susan Barnes; and worked as a farmer. “Stabbed in heart — murdered with knife”

  • Atkinson, Stephen Clyde. Died 9 January 1923, Spring Hill township, Wilson County; single; born 26 March 1899 to S.T. Atkinson and Zillie Barnes; worked as a farmer; buried in Boyetts cemetery. “Embolism (cardiac) — Homicide — Gunshot wound thigh.”

  • Exum, Leslie. Died 4 July 1934, Wilson; married to Beulah Exum; resided at 304 North Reid; age 27 years, 9 months; taxi driver; born in Wayne County to Willie Exum and Ada Artis; informant, Beulah Exum. “Homicide — Hit over stomach with Brick.”

  • Fields, Peter. Died 5 May 1923, Cross Roads township, Wilson County; single; about 33 years old; worked as a tenant farmer for W.J. Scott; born Wilson County to Daniel Hodge and Chritchania Allen; buried in Lamm Cemetery. “Murdered by Walter Bethea. Death was instantly.”

  • Gaston, Fred. Died 17 November 1916, Wilson township, Wilson County; single; 27 years old; farm hand; born in Elm City to William Gaston of Virginia and Marriah Battle of North Carolina; informant, Elmer Gaston. “Injury of the brain, Homicidal — Blow with flue in head.”

  • Hawkins, Ernest. Died 7 March 1923, Toisnot township, Wilson County; married to Sulester Batts; about 20 years old; worked as a tenant farmer for H.C. Crumpler; born in Nash County to Lola Maryland. “Shot by County Sherrif Stilling whiskey.”

  • Hinnant, Cleophus. Died 8 December 1923, Cross Roads township, Wilson County; married Gessie Hinnant; born 24 March 1902 in Wilson County to Josiah Hinnant and Victoria Wilder; buried in Hinnant graveyard. “Was murdered. Shot to death by a man named Turner Williamson.”

  • Johnson, Herbert. Died 20 July 1923, Wilson township, Wilson County; married to Winnie Johnson; age 40; farmer for Petway & Anderson; born in Duplin County to Joseph Johnson and Rania Pearson; buried in Colman cemetery, Wilson. “No Doctor. Shot Gun. Cornes Inquest. Kill by gun shot. — Homicide.”

  • Perkins, Columbus. Died 2 January 1918, Saratoga township, Wilson County; was married; was 35 to 40 years old; and was a farmer/laborer. “Shot through head by unknown party or parties — Dr. S.H. Crocker held the inquest Stantonsburg — Shot to death by Walter Hopkins.”

  • Taylor, George. Died 4 May 1918, Wilson, Wilson County; married to Maggie Taylor; aged about 44; carpenter; born Wilson County to Jordan Taylor and Winnie [last name unknown]; buried in Wilson cemetery. “Shot by Police & killed while under arrest.”

The purchase of land for Macedonia.

As we saw here, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church is one of the few surviving early twentieth-century wooden gable-end African-American churches in Wilson County. In 1917, Macedonia trustees R.A. Worrell and Matthew Sauls acted on behalf of the church to purchase the one-half acre lot on which the church was later built. 

Note the reference to the adjoining property — the “public school lot, known as Powell’s school house (col).” Powell School predated the Rosenwald school-era. It was not listed in a recent state survey of early African-American schools in Wilson County.

——

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: on Goldsboro Road, Matthew Sauls, 43; wife Fannie, 36; and children Sylvester, 15, Nellie, 12, Maggie, 6, Dred, 4, Hattie, 2, and Bessie, 5 months.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on W.R. Raper Road, farmer R[ichard] A. Worlds, 40; wife Rachel, 43; and children Bessie, 16, Eddie, 13, Effie, 12, Richard, 10, Iona, 7, Elnora, 6, Viola, 3, and John, 2.

Deed book 111, page 195, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

They’re not yet through discussing it.

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New York Age, 25 January 1912.

Tarboro native John Campbell Dancy was a politician, journalist, and educator in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. For many years he was editor-in-chief of African Methodist Episcopal Zion church newspapers Star of Zion and Zion Quarterly. He served briefly as collector of customs in Wilmington, North Carolina, but was forced to leave the city in the Wilmington Massacre of 1898. Dancy moved to Washington, D.C., and served as the city’s Recorder of Deeds from 1901 to 1910. Dancy died in 1920; D.C. Suggs was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.