Which colored cemetery?

Green Mercer died 17 January 1910 at the Wilson County Home, which housed indigent people. Mercer, who was married and whose regular address was on Church Street, had been in “general bad health” for several months. Though just 69, he was described as a “very old negro” for whom no family information was available. Undertaker John W. Quinn buried Mercer in the “Wilson N.C. Colored Cemetery.”

But which colored cemetery?

By 1910, there were four in Wilson — Odd Fellows, Rountree, Masonic and the “old” cemetery, sometimes called Oaklawn or Oakdale, which was established after Emancipation near Cemetery Street south of downtown. The Odd Fellows and Masonic cemeteries seem to have been restricted to burials of lodge members and their families, and Rountree was probably intended originally for Rountree Missionary Baptist church members. (The land now known as Vick cemetery was still an undeveloped tract owned by Samuel H. Vick in 1910.)

It’s likely that Green Mercer, and other African-Americans with no ties to a masonic order or Rountree who died in Wilson up to the early 1920s, were buried in the “old” cemetery. In 1940, the city moved — or said it moved — graves from this cemetery to the newly opened Rest Haven cemetery.



On 24 August 1866, Green Mercer obtained a license to marry Margarett Wilkins in Edgecombe County.

In the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Green Mercer, 27; wife Margaret, 27; children Fanny, 3, Major Totten, 1, and Frederick Cotton, 54, Randal Parker, and Louisa Ruffin, 21.

In the 1880 census of Cocoa township, Edgecombe County: farmer Green Mercer, 42; wife Margarett, 37; and children Reden, 15, Fannie, 14, Tatin, 11, William, 8, and Joseph, 3.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County, Green Mercer, 50, widower, is listed as a servant in the household of Arthur Farmer, 73.

“Don’t know who she belonged too.”

Julia Washington of Wiggins Street, Wilson, died of gastritis on 29 June 1913.  Her son Aaron Washington provided the information used to complete her death certificate. At 62, Julia had been born about 1851. Aaron knew Julia’s father was Sam Barnes and her mother was named Patience. However, he did not know Patience’s maiden name because he did not “know who she belonged too.”


Mrs. Lucas returns from Ohio.

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New York Age, 18 December 1913.

Rose Farmer Harris Lucas visited her son Frank Harris in Youngstown, Ohio, late in 1913.


In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Daniel Farmer, 37; wife Axele, 36; and children Rosa, 14, Cherry, 12, Hardy, 7, and Elbert, 3.

Burton Harriss married Rosa Farmer on 19 March 1874 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Rosa Harris, 24, farm laborer, with children Frank M., 4, and John H., 1.

On 22 September 1891, Elbert Locus, 36, of Toisnot township, son of Richard and Elizabeth Locus, and Rosa Harris, 28, of Nash County, daughter of Daniel and Alice Farmer of Wilson County, obtained a marriage license in Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Elbert Locus, 45; wife Rose, 42; and children Leaner and Lillie, 18, Bettie, 16, Gertie, 15, Jessie, 13, Flora, 7, Bertie, 4, and Floyd, 6 months.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, Elbert Locust, 50; wife Rose, 46; and daughter Berta, 14.

In the 1910 census of Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio: at 407 East Federal Street, North Carolina-born Frank W. Harris, 33, clothing store janitor, is listed as a roomer in the household of Thomas Zehennea, 43, a butcher and native of Turkey.

Frank Wellington Harris registered for the World War I draft in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 23 May 1874; lived at 902 McHenry Street; worked as a laborer for Youngstown Sheet and Tube, and was married to Frances Harris.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Albert Lucius, 61 wife Rosey, 61; and Etta, 16, Emma, 13, Isaac, 12, Ruby, 10, Edward, 10, Martha, 11, and Marrel Lucius, 6.

In the 1920 census of Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio: Frank Harris, 40, born N.C., “confectory” store porter, and wife Frances, 39, born in Pennsylvania.

Elbert Lucas died 24 March 1924 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was born in Wilson County to Richard Lucas and Elizabeth Evans; was married to Rosa Harried; and worked as a tenant farmer for W.E. Barnes. Informant was Will Lucas, Elm City.

Frank Harris died 5 December 1928 in Youngstown, Ohio, at the age of 49. Per his death certificate, he lived at 333 East Rayen Avenue; was married to Frances Harris; was born in 1879 in Elm City, N.C., to Bert Harris and an unknown mother; and worked as a laborer. He was buried in Belmont Avenue cemetery.

Ohio Deaths 1908-1952, digitized at http://www.familysearch.org.

Emma Gay’s lands.

In 1918, John Griffin subdivided and sold a large parcel that had formerly belonged to Emma Gay. Griffin contemplated twenty lots with connecting rear alleys. This corner is easily recognized as the eastern gateway to Wilson’s black business block. Subsequent development, all commercial, suggests that most the lots were sold in multiples and consolidated.

The approximate location of Emma Gay’s lands.

Plat Book 1, Page 56, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

Sent to the roads.

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Wilson Times, 17 November 1911.

In this follow-up to “Teck got shot,” we get a close look at the way justice was administered (and reported upon) in 1911.

First, the Times flatly pronounced Herbert “Goldie” Horton guilty of shooting Ed Walker. The trial, however, had been on the charge of carrying a concealed weapon. The “trial for shooting … Walker will be deferred until Ed. recovers or dies.” On the basis of testimony from Jake Tucker, Annie Lewis and Elijah Saunders — testimony that sounds much more relevant to the shooting than mere concealed carry — Wilson’s mayor convicted Horton and sentenced him to four months on a road gang.


  • Herbert Horton
  • Edward Walker
  • Jake Tucker — Jacob Tucker was also a key witness in the inquest into the homicide of James A. Hunt and the robbery of Neverson Green‘s grocery.
  • Annie Lewis — perhaps, in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 555 Spruce Street, Ed Lewis, 49, odd jobs laborer; wife Nancy, 37, private family cook; sister Sue, 19, factory laborer; and daughter Annie, 16, private family cook.
  • Elijah Saunders

Samuel H. and Annie W. Vick family, no. 2.

This formal portrait of Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick and their children was taken around 1913, a few years after the photograph posted here.

The woman at left does not appear to be an immediate family member. Otherwise, by my best judgment, there is daughter Elba, Sam Vick, son Robert, son Daniel (center), daughter Doris, Annie Vick, son Samuel, son George, and daughter Anna.

Photo courtesy of the Freedman Round House and African-American Museum, Wilson, N.C.