Rosa Oats Barnes‘ broken headstone lies in Odd Fellows cemetery a short distance from her parents and sister Ella Oates.
Rosa Wife of Matthew Barnes
On 25 August 1919, Matthew Barnes, 21, of Wilson, son of Nat and Emma Barnes, married Rosa Oats, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Charles Oats. A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of John Norfleet, J.L. Moore, and James Whitley.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, tobacco factory worker Emma Barnes, 48, widow; son Matthew, 23, auto garage laborer; and daughter-in-law Rosa, 18, tobacco factory worker.
Rosa Oates died 18 November 1922 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 18 years old [actually, about 21]; was born in Wilson County to Charles Oats and Emma Williams; was divorced from Matthew Barnes; lived on Ash Street; and worked as a factory worker at Flemmings. Charlie Oats was informant.
The National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers were established following the Civil War to provide living space for disabled American soldiers and sailors. Henry Borden, born in Wilson County, entered the home at Hampton, Virginia, a few months before his death in 1911.
The hospital’s registry shows that Borden had enlisted on 25 April 1864 at New Bern, North Carolina, and served as a private in Company C, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. [Three other Bordens from Wilson County — Dennis, Edward and Jerry— enlisted the same day. Their relationship is unclear.] He was discharged 11 December 1865 in New Bern. His disability: “old injury to right foot, arterio sclerosis, &c.”
Borden was born in Wilson County, N.C.; was 85 years old; was five foot three inches tall; had a black complexion, black eyes, and gray hair; had worked as a laborer; had lived in Bertie County, N.C., after his discharge; was married; and his nearest relative was his wife Cora Borden of Winton, Bertie County.
Borden’s rate of pension was 15 [dollars per …?], and he was admitted to the hospital on 26 April 1911. He died 19 August 1911.
Henry Borden was buried in Hampton National Cemetery, Hampton, Virginia. Per the cemetery’s burial registry, he was buried in row 10117; had been a member of Company C, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery; died August 19; and was from Windsor, N.C.
Cora Borden applied for a widow’s pension on 19 September 1911.
On 24 December 1874, Henry Barreden, 36, black, married Cora Johnson, 17, “light black,” in Windsor, Bertie County, North Carolina.
In the 1880 census of Whites township, Bertie County: farmer Henry Bartly, 28; wife Cora, 26; and daughters Leah, 3, and Cora, 1.
In the 1900 census of Windsor township, Bertie County: farmer Henry Bardin, 64; wife Cora, 48; and children Leoha, 22, Ida, 20, Minnie, 17, Lazarus, 11, and Henry, 7.
Cora Burden died 14 February 1917 in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was a widow; was 59 years old; and was born in Washington County to Cora Johnson. Lazarus Borden was informant.
National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938, http://www.ancestry.com; original data: Historical Register of National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Burial Register, Military Posts & National Cemeteries, 1862-1960, http://www.ancestry.com; Civil War Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, http://www.ancestry.com.
None of these veterans’ headstones have yet been found in Rountree, Odd Fellows, or Vick Cemeteries, the cemeteries collectively known as “Rountree.”
Dave McPhail registered for the World War I draft in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born April 1896 in Wade, N.C.; lived in Darden’s Alley; worked as an auto mechanic for S.H. Vick; and was single.
David McPhail died 6 March 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 31 December 1899 in Cumberland County to Raford and Laura McPhail; lived at 208 South Vick; was married to Juanita McPhail; and worked as a mechanic.
Jessie Oliver registered for the World War I draft in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 24 December 1890 in Waynesboro, Georgia; lived in Black Creek; worked as a laborer for M.B. Aycock; and was single.
Jessie Oliver died 12 February 1938 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 48 years old; was born in Georgia; was divorced; and worked as a laborer. Mary Jones was informant.
Robert Reaves died 7 December 1932 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 37 years old; was born in Orangeburg, S.C., to Robert and Luella Reaves; was married to Daisy Reaves; lived at 510 Smith Street; and worked as a mechanic for a cement finisher.
Doc Richardson registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1887 in Johnston County, N.C.; lived at 523 Lodge Street, Wilson; and worked as a railroad section hand for J.B. Hooks.
Doc Richardson died 5 March 1937 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 March 1889 to David and Vicey Ann Richardson; was single; worked as a laborer; and lived at 713 Viola Street. Lee Richardson was informant.
Dock Royall died 31 March 1938 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 September 1898 in Sampson County, N.C., to Samuel and Rachel Royall; was married to Ossie Mae Royall; lived at 310 Hackney Street; worked as a mechanic for Hackney Body Company. George W. Royall of Clinton was informant.
Plummer Williams registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1896 in Pitt County, N.C.; lived at Route 6, Wilson; worked as a farm hand for W.F. Williams, Wilson; and was single.
Plummer Williams died 11 December 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 44 years old; was married to Annie Williams; worked as a common laborer; and was born in Falkland [Pitt County], N.C., to Haywood Williams and Francis Barnes.
Incredibly, Augusta Walker dropped by the Daily Times office a few days after her infant son Leroy Wanamaker was burned to death in a house fire. She wanted to explain the circumstances of the tragedy.
Per his death certificate, Leroy was six months old; was born in Wilson County to James Wanamaker of South Carolina and Augusta Walker of Durham, N.C.; and died in Saratoga township, Wilson County.
No other trace of Augusta Walker is readily found in Wilson County records. She may have only recently arrived when she gave birth in Wilson County and may have had no family with which to leave her son while she worked.
Lee Ander Sauls registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 11 [illegible] 1899; lived at Route 3, Stantonsburg; was a farm laborer for Claude Foster; his contact was Ivery Artis, Fremont, Wayne County; and he had lost one eye. He signed his card “Leander Sauls.”
On 19 July 1919, Lee Sauls, 21, of Stantonsburg, married Bessie Barnes, 20, of Stantonsburg, in Wilson County.
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Lee A. Sauls, 21; wife Bessie, 20; children Mary F., 14 months, and John L., 1 month; and mother-in-law Ceilie Barnes, 61, widow.
Leander Sauls died 26 February 1922 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 23 years old; was born in Wilson County to Ivey Artis and Emia Sauls; was married; and farmed for W.A. Batts. Eddie Sauls was informant.
Casual violence among young men is not new. Unsurprisingly, historically newspapers have sensationalized such violence when it involved black men, playing into the stereotypes and fear-mongering of the era.
I recognize the viciousness of this propaganda.* I also recognize articles reporting violent crime as invaluable, if distorted, glimpses into the lives of ordinary African-Americans during a period in which they were poorly documented. Beyond the basic facts of the terrible crime reported here, what can we learn?
News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 30 July 1907.
“on the Owens place” — This reference to the owner of the farm on which the events took place indicates the protagonists were likely sharecroppers or tenant farmers. The Saratoga Road is today’s U.S. Highway 264-A (formerly N.C. Highway 91.)
“a negro dance and barbecue supper was given by Robert Hilliard” — Hilliard, who was Black, hosted a Saturday night party on the farm, perhaps in a barn. He sold barbecue — surely Eastern North Carolina-style, with a vinegar-and-red pepper sauce — and sandwiches to patrons from a stand near the road.
“a wheezy fiddle” — the source of music for the dance. (Who was the fiddler? Was he locally renowned? Was there accompaniment? Was fiddling a common skill? I can’t name a single one from this era.)
“‘Hilliard is the n*gger I wanted to drap.” — The meaning and usage of this now-extreme pejorative has shifted over time. Here, it is almost, but not quite, neutral. More interesting, to me, is the now-archaic pronunciation “drap” for the verb “drop.”
On 29 January 1903, Will Scarborough, 21, of Saratoga, son of Ashley and Ellen Scarborough, married Lucy Anderson, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Bob and Winnie Anderson, in Wilson County. Jack Bynum applied for the license.
Will Scarborough died 6 August 1968 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 90 years old; was the son of Ashley Scarborough and Ellen [maiden name unknown]; was a widower; lived in Stantonsburg; and was buried at Saint Delight cemetery, Walstonburg. Informant was James E. Best, Stantonsburg.
On 1 November 1900, Robert Hilliard, 20, of Wilson County, son of Jack and Laura Hilliard, married Ailsy Bynum, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of West and Sopha Bynum, in Gardners township, Wilson County.
Robert George Hilliard Sr. died 27 February 1944 at his home at 211 Finch Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 66 years old; was born in Wilson County to Jack Hilliard and Laura [maiden name unknown]; was a widower; was engaged in farming; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Mattie Moore, 211 Finch Street, was informant.
On 8 May 1902, Riley Faison, 30, of Wilson County, son of Henry and Sophia Faison, married Frances Farmer, 26, of Wilson County, daughter of Tom and Polly Farmer, at “Mr. Frank Barnes Plantation.” A.M.E. Zion elder N.L. Overton performed the ceremony in the presence of Mattie V. Overton, James Smith, and Polly Farmer.
The victim, in fact, was named Cora Lee Carr. I have not found more about her terrible death.
Cora Lee Carr died 21 April 1924 in Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was about 24 years old; was married to Earnest Carr; and was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Willie Williams was informant. Cause of death: “Crushed scull with axe Homicide Instant death.”