Wilson Daily Times, 1 June 1940.
The brief news report about Mary N. Vick stated that the ten year-old drowned after falling into a wash tub. Her death certificate, however, declared hers a natural death, with “no signs of foul play.”
Wilson Daily Times, 29 September 1936.
In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County, N.C.: farm laborer Jason Parker, 35; wife Annis, 24; and children Moses, 8, Harriet, 5, Jerry, 4, and Sophy, 1.
In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County, N.C.: farmer Jason Parker, 43; wife Annis, 39; and children Moses, 17, Harriet, 15, Jere, 13, Sophia, 10, Mathew, 9, Cintha, 7, Susan, 5, and Abel, 2.
On 5 March 1892, Moses Parker, 29, married Henrietta Woodard, 27, at Isaac Farmer‘s residence in Wilson County. Free Will Baptist minister Crockett Best performed the ceremony in the presence of Jordan Braswell, Jno. W. Williford, and J.G. Barnes.
On 17 June 1897, Moses Parker, 33, married Sallie Reid, 27, at William Taylor’s residence in Wilson County. Jason Parker was a witness.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Mosses Parker, 40; wife Sarah, 30; and daughters Jennie, 14, and Mary, 12. (Next door, Moses’ brother Abel Parker, 21, farmer, wife Sarah, 20, son Jerry, 6 months, and boarder Thomas Horn, 60, widower, farm laborer.)
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 415 Goldsboro Street, widower Moses Parker, 45, house carpenter; daughters Mary, 21, and Nera, 23, private family cook; and granddaughter Lee Parker, 4.
On 7 September 1911, Moses Parker, 47, of Wilson, married Charity Holland, 50, of Wilson, in Wilson township. Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams performed the ceremony at Charity Holland’s residence in the presence of John Battle, George W. Wood, and John H. Akins.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 417 Goldsboro Street, general public drayman Moses Parker, 59, and wife Charity, 64.
Wilson Daily Times, 22 June 1921.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1004 East Nash Street, owned and valued at $1700, grocery store proprietor Moses Parker, 63; wife Charity, 60; and roomer Elizabeth Simms, 17.
Moses Parker died 23 September 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 73 years old; was born in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Jason Parker and Annis Parker; was married to Charity Parker; lived at 1004 East Nash Street; and worked as a carpenter.
Wilson’s emergence as a leading tobacco market town drew hundreds of African-American migrants in the decades after the 1890s. Many left family behind in their home counties, perhaps never to be seen again. Others maintained ties the best way they could.
Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. left Dudley, in southern Wayne County, North Carolina, around 1905. They came to Wilson presumably for better opportunities off the farm. Each remained firmly linked, however, to parents and children and siblings back in Wayne County as well as those who had joined the Great Migration north. This post is the fifth in a series of excerpts from documents and interviews with my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001), Jesse and Sarah’s adoptive daughter (and Sarah’s great-niece), revealing the ways her Wilson family stayed connected to their far-flung kin. (Or didn’t.)
Sarah Silver died of a massive heart attack on a train platform on 8 January 1938 while on her way from Wilson to Greensboro, North Carolina. After receiving the news via a shocking and confusing telegram, my grandmother sent word of Sarah’s death to other relatives. One went to Sarah’s widowed sister-in-law Carrie L. Henderson Borrero, who replied via letter immediately:
Sunday Jan. 9. 38
My Dear Hattie
I received your telegram to-day. 1 P.M. it was certainly a shock to me you & family certainly have my deepest sympathy & also from my family.
I did not know your mother was sick you must write later and let me know about her illness.
It is so strange I have been dreaming of my husband Caswell so much for the past two weeks he always tells me that has something to tell me & that he feels so well so I guess this is what I was going to hear about your mother.
I wish it was so that I could come to you & family but times are so different now seems as if we cannot be prepared to meet emergencies any more but you must know that my heart & love is with you & family.
I am just writing to you a short note now will write you again. Let me hear from you when you get time to write
Your Aunt in law
Carrie L. Borrero
322 E. 100th St. N. Y City
Letter in personal collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.
I recently happened upon the death certificate of Nora Goens, who died 3 November 1935 in Merrill, Newaygo County, Michigan, north of Grand Rapids. Per her death certificate, she was born in Wilson, North Carolina; lived in Denver, Colorado; and was buried in Danville, Illinois.
Though it’s still not clear why she died in Michigan, available digital records do shed some light on Goens’ peripatetic life and, surprisingly, link her to another Wilson migrant — Dr. Joseph H. Ward!
On 6 February 1894, Nora Ward, 21, daughter of B.H. Ward and Sallie Forbes, married Eugene Goins, 22, son of Lewis Goins and Edna Martin, in Indianapolis, Indiana. [Henry Ward (recorded elsewhere as B.H. and as Edwin H.), son of D.G.W. Ward and Sarah Darden, married Sarah Forbes, daughter of Henry Forbes, in 1870 in Wilson. Henry Ward was the brother of Joseph H. Ward’s mother Mittie R. Ward. Joseph Ward arrived in Indianapolis around 1890. Did he join or precede his uncle’s family?]
In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1504 Arthur Street, janitor Eugene Goins, 27, and wife Nora, 27.
Within the next decade, the Goenses migrated further west to Colorado. In the 1910 census of Denver, Denver County: at 2230 Cal. Street, among other families, apartment janitor Eugene Goens, 36, and wife Nora, 36. Eugene reported that he was born in Ohio to parents from Virginia and Kentucky. Nora was born in North Carolina to North Carolina-born parents. The couple had been married 16 years, and Nora reported that she had had one child, who was dead. [Thirteen years later, after divorcing her first husband, Nora’s first cousin Minerva Ward Artis (Joseph Ward’s half-sister) married Jonas Biggins in Denver. Had Minerva come west to stay with the Goenses?]
2230 California Street, Denver. Courtesy of apartments.com.
Nora Goens’ mother-in-law Edna Martin Goens Wright died in Denver in 1919. Her body was taken to Castalia, Ohio, for burial. Norris Wright was Eugene Goens’ half-brother. Norris was born in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1888, and the Wrights moved to Indianapolis before 1900.
Sandusky Star Journal, 5 December 1919.
In the 1920 census of Denver, Colorado: at 2230 California Street, among other families, Eugene Goens, 46, apartment janitor, and wife Nora, 46, janitress.
Though I have not found record of Nora’s early life, she had at least one sister. Mattie L. Robinson died 12 March 1921 in Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois. Per her death certificate, Mattie Robinson was born 16 September 1884 in Wilson, N.C., to Henry Ward and Sallie Forbes; was married to J.W. Robinson; and was buried in Springhill Cemetery, Danville. [More about Mattie to come.]
The Goinses made a long, looping excursion in 1928, spending considerable time in Xenia, Ohio. Their weekend hosts Joseph T. and Addie Artis Rountree were natives of Wilson. Mrs. Fred Cosby — Ardeaner Rountree Cosby — was the Rountrees’ daughter and was also born in Wilson.
Xenia Evening Gazette, 7 July 1928.
Xenia Evening Gazette, 16 November 1928.
In the 1930 census of Denver, Colorado: at 609-26th Street, Eugene Goins, 39, and wife Nora, 37.
In February 1934, the Goinses were again back East and were honored guests at dinner hosted by the S.S. Club of Xenia.
Xenia Evening Gazette, 27 February 1934.
In the 1935 San Diego, California, city directory: Goens Eug (Nora) h2874d Franklin Av. [Nonetheless, Eugene Goens reported his and his wife’s residence as Denver on her death certificate.]
As noted above, Nora Ward Goens died 3 November 1935. She was buried near her sister in Block 26 of Vermilion County’s enormous Springhill Cemetery.
Wilson Daily Times, 2 October 1935.
In his 2005 memoir Son of the Rough South, journalist Karl Fleming painted a dark picture of police officer Philemon Ray Hartis in the late 1940s, a dozen years after he shot Ernest Sanders to death. In a chapter titled “My First Bad Cop,” Fleming introduced Hartis as the detective whose job it was to follow what was happening across the tracks in “n*ggertown” and in other pockets of the town’s demimonde, who ran white madames and black bootleggers as informants, who hoarded the dirty secrets of the white upper class, and who smacked around any black body he deemed deserving.
Earnest Sanders’ death was ruled a justifiable homicide, “shot by policeman.”
Indianapolis News, 6 November 1956.
Mary L. Sims married Henry Thorpe on 4 October 1893 in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Journal, 5 October 1893.
In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: day laborer Henry Thorpe, 33; wife Mary, 30; and children Eugene, 6, Nellie, 4, and Henry Jr., 1; all born in North Carolina.
In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2601 Baltimore Avenue, street laborer Henry Thorpe, 43; wife Mary, 40; children Eugene, 16, Nellie, 14, Henry, 10, Elvia, 8, and Robert, 6; and niece Blanch Sims, 15. All the children were described as Indiana-born.
John Henry Thorpe died 6 June 1912 at 2557 Caroline, Indianapolis. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 June 1871 in Indiana to Robert Thorpe and Francis Bunn of North Carolina; was a laborer; and was married to Mary L. Thorpe. [In fact, he was born in Nash County, N.C., and migrated with his family to Putnam County, Indiana, before 1880, and then to Indianapolis.]
John Henry Thorpe died 17 January 1927 at City Hospital, Indianapolis. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 August 1898 in Indianapolis to John Henry Thorpe and Mary Sims, both of North Carolina and worked as a laborer.
In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2557 Caroline, owned and valued at $1800, widow Mary L. Thorpe, 70; son Eugene, 46, private chauffeur; daughter-in-law Anna, 45; and granddaughter Alma L., 13.
In the 1940 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2557 Caroline, widow Mary L. Thorpe, 60; son Eugene, 36; daughter-in-law Anna, 34; and granddaughter Alma L., 3.
Mary Thorpe died 4 November 1945 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her death certificate, as digitized, is largely illegible.
When Charles Battle died during a long-awaited visit with his son N.R. Battle in Oklahoma, the local paper ran a brief obituary.
Lincoln County (Okla.) News, 30 September 1910.
This short bit appears in a Cleveland Gazette column reporting Cincinnati, Ohio, happenings:
Cleveland Gazette, 4 August 1894.
What happened here?
Joe Ward of Indianapolis is Dr. Joseph H. Ward, though he was not yet a doctor in 1894. In fact, he was newly graduated from high school and just about to commence his medical studies. This passage from an 1899 Indianapolis Freeman feature mentions Ward’s return to North Carolina after graduation.
I am surprised that Mittie Ward Vaughn was in Wilson as late as 1894 — I’d assumed she was in Washington, D.C., with her daughter Sarah Ward Moody‘s family. I’m more intrigued, not to say perplexed, by the reference to an incident involving his wife.
First, Joseph Ward had a wife in 1894? His first marriage of which I am aware was to Mamie Brown in Indianapolis in 1897. It ended in divorce. Then, in 1904, he married Zella Locklear.
Let’s assume there was an earlier wife, though, and the incident happened to her. (In other words, the encounter was personal, not a third-party incident to which Ward was reacting.) Mrs. Ward sassed a white woman for whom she was working (in Wilson?), the white woman’s husband “smacked down” Mrs. Ward, and Mrs. Ward was arrested and fined $12.50 for her impertinence???
I have not found any references to Ward’s visit in Wilson newspapers, but will continue to search for further details.
Wilson Daily Times, 17 September 1935.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Farmer, 64; wife Barnie, 52; and children Lewis, 27, Nancy, 17, Caroline, 14, Gray, 13, and Spicey, 11.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Louis Barnes, 50; wife Jane, 40; and children Maggie, 17, Lucy, 16, Reese, 15, Oscar, 13, Hattie, 12, Grey, 10, Jimmy, 6, Wiley, 4, Henry, 3, Navis, 1, Charity, 7, and Mary Jane, 1 month.
In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Barnes, 57; wife Jane, 48; and children Lucy, 26, Hattie, 21, Gray, 20, Chairity, 18, James L., 16, Henry, 14, Navis, 13, Mary Jane, 11, Joe, 9, Needham, 7, and David, 2.
In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Barnes, 70; wife Jane, 58; children Maggie Bullock 35, widow, Lucy, 25, Lossie, 18, G. Mary, 17, Joseph, 16, Needham, 15, and David, 13; and grandchildren Charity, 5, and Oscar Bullock, 3.
Jane Barnes died 28 March 1924 in Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 65 years old; was married to Lewis Barnes; and was born in Johnston County, N.C., to Charity Cruddup.
In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: widower Lewis Barnes, 73; children Charity, 27, Needam, 25, and David, 23; grandchildren Roscoe Barnes, 15, and Hannah Bullock, 17; and boarder William Richardson, 25.
Louis Barnes died 16 September 1935 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 82 years old; was born to Grey Barnes and Bannie Barnes; and was a widower and a farmer. Lucile Batts was informant.
Josephine J. Murphy of Wilson drafted a detailed will in 1946.
First, her executor should pay her debts and funeral expenses and rest a suitable monument at her grave.
Second, she gave “to the First Baptist Church located on the corner of Nash Street and Pender Street in the Town of Wilson, North Carolina” $100 to be used “for needed decorations and improvements on the interior.”
Third, $200 to Jenkins Orphans Home for Negroes, Charleston, South Carolina.
Fourth, sell her house and lot at 1006 Washington Street, Wilson, and pay half the proceeds to her niece Ovena Simmons Richardson. With the remaining half, “purchase country property for the benefit of my niece Josephine Simmons Williams, and her two children Printiss Williams, Jr., and Florida Anna G. Williams” in any location Josephine Williams chose. However, if either Richardson or Williams elected to live in the house within one year of Murphy’s death, the house would not be sold until vacated as a primary residence.
Fifth, all household items to be divided equally between nieces Ovena S. Richardson and Josephine S. Williams.
Sixth, Luke Lamb appointed executor.
Josephine J. Murphy signed the document on 23 July 1946 in the presence of Veda Lamb, Maxine Hudson, and P.O. Barnes.
Per Find A Grave, here is the suitable monument erected for Josephine Murphy in Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church cemetery, Bennettsville, South Carolina.