Births Deaths Marriages

Toward identifying the Masonic cemetery’s dead.

Around the same time the Odd Fellows were establishing a cemetery at the far end of Lane Street, the Mount Hebron Lodge #42, Prince Hall Masons, set out their own on a lot purchased from Cain and Margaret Artis in 1900. It is no longer an active cemetery, but is regularly, if brutally maintained. Clumps of weedy shrubbery have trapped some of the oldest gravestones, and others have been victimized by overzealous mowing.

  • Aiken, John H. — Born 1872, died 1914. Death certificate: buried in Wilson by C.H. Darden & Sons (CHD).
  • Barnes, Armena — Died 1907.
  • Barnes, Cora — Born 1875, died 1917. Death certificate: buried in Wilson Co., N.C., CHD.
  • Barnes, Ida Hinton — Born 1875, died 1953. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, Darden Memorial Funeral Home.
  • Barnes, Samuel — Born 1868, died 1933. Death certificate: Wilson, CHD.
  • Barnes, Short W. — Died 1943. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, CHD.
  • Battle, Charles — Born 1842, died 1910.
  • Battle, Edith — Born 1818, died 1899.
  • Battle, Leah — Born 1851, died 1898.
  • Bryant, Harry H. — Headstone not located. Per obituary and death certificate, born 1873, died 1946, buried in Masonic cemetery.
  • Bryant, Julia Suggs — Headstone not located. Wife of Harry Bryant and likely buried in Masonic cemetery. Death certificate: Wilson, CHD.
  • Bullock, Louise J. — Born 1909, died 1968. Death certificate: Masonic, Edwards F.H.
  • Bullock, Ruel — Born 1908, died 1969. Death certificate: Masonic, Edwards F.H.
  • Bullock, Ruel, Jr. — Headstone not located. Infant son of Ruel and Louise Bullock. Born 1931, died 1932. Death certificate: Wilson, CHD.
  • Clark, Ida Ross — Born 1873, died 1942. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, CHD.
  • Clark, John H. — Born 1863, died 1949. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, Darden Memorial F.H.
  • Coward, B.P., Rev. — Bryant P. Coward. Born 1864, died 1940. Death certificate: Masonic, Hamilton F.H.
  • Coward, Sarah A. — Born 1867, died 1946. Death certificate: family cemetery, Wilson, N.C., CHD.
  • Edwards, Calvin S. — Born 1887, died 1947. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery.
  • Foster, Rachel — Born 1900, died 1902.
  • Hicks, Maria — Born 1821, died 1902.
  • Hill, Henry L. — Headstone not found. Husband of Malissia Hill. Died 1957. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, CHD.
  • Hill, Malissia — Born 1887, died 1929. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, CHD.
  • Jones, Butler — Died 1961. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, Darden Memorial F.H.
  • Jones, Charles T., Rev. — Born 1878, died 1963. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, Edwards F.H.
  • Jones, M. Gertrude — Born 1881, died 1968.
  • Kittrell, Mary F. — Born 1882, died 1947. Death certificate: Mason’s cemetery, C.E. Artis F.H.
  • Kittrell, William — Born 1869, died 1952. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, C.E. Artis F.H.
  • Levy, Betty J. — Born 1942, died 1975.
  • Lucas, Henry — Born 1872, died 1942. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, CHD.
  • Lucas, Mamie Battle — Born 1881, died 1942. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, CHD.
  • Moore, Lee A. — Died 1948. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, CHD.
  • Moore, Sarah A.J. — Born 1841, died [illegible].
  • Moore, William J. — Born 1837, died 1914. Death certificate: Wilson, CHD.
  • Pierce, Ada Davis Winstead — Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, C.E. Artis F.H.
  • Rogers, John W. — Headstone not found. Died 1951. Death certificate, buried in Mason cemetery, C.E. Artis.
  • Smith, Carrie Emma — Born 1899, died 1917.
  • Smith, Flossie — Headstone not found. Daughter of O.L.W. and Adora Smith, almost certainly buried in Masonic.
  • Smith, Owen L.W., Rev. — Died 1926. Headstone not found. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, CHD.
  • Spell, John S. — Born 1865, died 1946. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, C.E. Artis F.H.
  • Spell, Martha Gordon — Born 1874, died 1966. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, Edwards F.H.
  • Suggs, G.W. — George Washington Suggs. Born 1836, died 1914. Death certificate: Wilson, CHD.
  • Suggs, Esther — Born 1839, died 1902.
  • Taylor, Addie Washington — Born 1897, died 1963. Death certificate: Rest Haven, Darden Memorial F.H.
  • Taylor, Russell Buxton, Rev. — Born 1881, died 1954. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, Darden Memorial F.H.
  • Wilkins, Mary Boddie — Born 1874, died 1956.
  • Winstead, Braswell R. — Born died 1934. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, Artis & Freeman undertakers.
  • Young, R.J., Rev. — Richard J. Young. Born 1872, died 1933. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD.
  • Zachary, Lurean Barnes — Born 1900, died 1963. Death certificate: Masonic cemetery, Darden Memorial F.H.

The death certificate of Henry Moses.

Henry Moses had two death certificates, each of which offers unique information.

The basics: Henry Moses died 15 December 1913 of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

  • Certificate #1. This document is most complete. Moses lived on Youngs [Alley or Avenue]; was born 27 May 1878 in Franklin County, North Carolina; was married; could read and write; and operated both a restaurant and a pressing club. Undertaker A.D. McGowan buried him in Wilson (most likely, the “old colored cemetery” or what is now known as Vick cemetery.)

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  • Certificate #2 is a copy of the first, but on a slightly different form. The person who filled it out misread the signature of the registrar, L.A. Hinnant, and wrote it “Hinerant.” He or she (most likely he) also misread the first name of the informant, who was Henry Moses’ father Caesar Moses. This document dispensed with Moses’ occupation, but added two detailsto his cause of death: (1) it was a homicide and (2) “gambling” was the contributory cause.

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On 22 November 1905, Henry Moses, 27, of Wilson, son of Caesar Moses, married Sandora Dancey, 25. Rev. P.H. Howell, a Christ Disciple minister, performed the ceremony at Henry Moses’ home in the presence of W.M. Mayo, L. Studeway and Frank Sims.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: tobacco factory laborer Henry Moses, 31; wife Dora, 31; and daughter Luevenia Dancy, 16, servant.

Also in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on TIllmans Road, house carpenter Caesar S. Moses, 56; wife Alice, 53; and children Oliver, 22, and Walter, 13.

Caesar Moses died 19 January 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was a widower; was 63 years old; worked as a carpenter; and his father was named Crofford Stone. Oliva Moses was informant.

[Note: the 1900 census of Jeffreys township, Florence County, South Carolina, lists a Henry Moses in the household of his father Caesar Moses. As uncommon as the names are, this is a coincidence. This Henry Moses died of typhoid fever in 1917 in Florence County.]

Nancy Staton weds Rev. James Boykin.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 January 1928.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Vick Street, house carpenter James Boykin, 49; tobacco factory worker Eliza, 47; and children Albert, 15, and Ruth, 9; Arthur Chester, 28, transfer car driver; wife Fannie, 28; and children Arthur Jr., 7, Joseph, 5, Irvin, 3, and Charlie, 1.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 713 Viola Street, midwife Nancy Staten, 52, widow; house carpenter James Jenkins, 24, and wife Annie, 19.

On 22 December 1927, James Boykin, 50, married Nancy A. Staton, 55, in Wilson. Rev. B.J. Gregory of Christian Church Colored performed the ceremony at the bride’s home in the presence Glenn S. McBrayer, Lillian McBrayer and Bettie Whitley. [Note the article got the bride’s name wrong.]

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 900 Viola Street, owned and valued at $4000, private practical nurse Nancy S. Boykin, 59; husband Christian Church clergyman James, 44; daughter Lila R., 19; and roomers Ines Williams, 23, and Minnie Nelson, 20, both servants.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 812 Viola, owned and valued at $1500, James Boykin, 60, and wife Nancy, 79; and, renting at $12/month, Lucias Smith, 28, skilled sewer contractor laborer, wife Jacqueline, 18, daughter Louise, 2, and Sidney Ramsouear, 89; and, renting at $4/month, Ray Brockman, 33, skilled sewer contractor laborer, and wife Hattie, 22. The Smiths and Brockmans were from South Carolina.

The death certificate of the infant son of Geo. Ferguson.

North Carolina did not mandate death certificates statewide until 1914, but some towns and cities implemented the requirement earlier.

Wilson’s first death certificates date from late 1909. As the record below shows, in the early days there was sometimes confusion about who was to fill in what blanks. It appears here that the family took a shot at writing in personal information about the decedent, a duty that should have fallen to the undertaker. The result, however, is a fascinating collection of details that would otherwise have gone unrecorded.

The basic facts: George and Bettie Ferguson‘s infant son was still born (or died the day after he was born). The family lived at 505 Spring Street, Wilson.

The facts as entered:

  • The baby’s name — was it Stephen?
  • His sex? “Nov. 24” — apparently his birthdate, though this date should match his death date, which was recorded by Dr. W.A. Mitchner.
  • His color? “Color.”
  • His age? “No” years, which was true, as the boy was stillborn.
  • Father’s birthplace? “22 bone 1887 Nov 7.” This was George Ferguson’s age and birthdate.
  • Mother’s birthplace? “Mother bone 1888 August 10.”
  • Occupation? “Stem tobacco.” This, of course, was the occupation of one or both of the baby’s parents.
  • Informant? Charles Darden, though Darden did not serve as undertaker. Quinn-McGowan Firniture Company did.

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George Ferguson, 20, son of Sam and Mary Ferguson, married Bettie Barnes, 18, daughter of Aaron and Margaret Barnes, in Wilson on 12 July 1909. W.H. Neal of Saint James Holy Church performed the ceremony in the presence of J.A. McKnight, Annie Pitt and Edmonia Perrington.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: George Ferguson, 21, factory worker, and wife Bettie, 18.

Bettie Ferguson died 24 July 1918 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 August 1890 in Wilson to Aaron Barnes and Margarett Blount; was married to George Ferguson; lived at 117 Wiggins; and worked as a stemmer at “Emperial Tobacco Co.” She was buried in Wilson by C.H. Darden & Sons.

George Barnes Ferguson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 8 October 1914 in Wilson County; lived at 1120 East Nash Street, Wilson; his contact was wife Wilhelmina Ferguson; and he worked for R.B. Carroll Grocery.

Georgia L. Barnes died 3 June 1945 in Goldsboro, Wayne County. Per her death certificate, she was born about 1913 in Wilson to George Furgerson of Edgecombe County and Betty Barnes of Wilson County and was married.

A marriage in 1848.

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Ed. Powell and Thomas Mercer gave bond for a marriage license for Ed. Powell and Mary Jones on 14 August 1848 in Nash County. The couple likely lived in a section of Nash that would be incorporated into Wilson County in 1855.

Nineteen years later, on 10 October 1867, John Allen Jones, son of Edwin Powell and Mary Jones, married Susan Simpson, daughter of Sallie Simpson, at Margarett Simpson‘s house in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jno. A. Jones, 22; wife Susan, 19;  children Thomas, 2, and Jesse B., 7 months; and Rosett Boykin, 10.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Dempsy Powell, 52, farmer; wife Sallie, 46; daughter Susan A. Jones, 27, and her husband John A. Jones, 34; their children Thomas A., 13, Jessee B., 11, James A., 7, Celia C., 5, Sallie C., 4, and John A., 1; and W.D. Lucus, 21, laborer. [Sallie Simpson married Dempsey Powell in Wilson County in 1855. The family appears in the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: turpentine worker Dempsey Powell, 30; wife Sallie, 28; and Susan Simpson, 9.]

Many thanks to Edith Garnett Jones for this copy of the Powell-Jones marriage license.

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.

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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.”

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Toward identifying Rountree, Vick and Odd Fellows’ dead, no. 2.

This is a running annotated list of people whose headstones still stand in Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

  • Barnes, Dave — Died 1935, age 52. Odd Fellows. Death certificate lists burial site as Wilson, N.C. (Undertakers C.H. Darden and Sons handled most of the Odd Fellows burials on this list, and their practice was to refer to the cemetery by this broad location name. Darden and Sons’ burials are marked CHD below.)
  • Barnes, Della — Born 1858, died 1935. Odd Fellows. Death certificate lists burial site as Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Barnes, Nunnie — Born 1885, died 1921. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson County; CHD.
  • Best family — Odd Fellows. Large flat family marker.
  • Carter, C.L.Clarence L. Carter. Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with Odd Fellows triple link and Masonic square and compass. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Dawson family — Odd Fellows. Large upright family marker.
  • Dawson, L. — Lucy Hill Dawson. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Dawson, Virginia S. — Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Ellis, Buster — Born 1914, died 1924. Rountree. Located in a cluster of broken stones, including grandmother Clarkie Ellis. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Ellis, Clarkie — Born 1853; died illegible. Rountree. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Farrior, Henry W., Rev. — Born 1859; died 1937. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Hines, Walter S. — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Marlow, Daniel — Born 1870, died 1918. Rountree.
  • Mincy, Oscar — Odd Fellows.
  • Mincy, Prince — Died 1902, age 61. Odd Fellows.
  • Oats, Charles — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only. Death certificate: Roundtree cemetery; CHD.
  • Oats, Emma — Died 1908, age 40. Odd Fellows.
  • Pitt, Washington — Died 1917, age 38. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Robins, Daisy — Died 1914, age 38. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Rountree, Delzela (dau. of Jack and Lucile Rountree)– Born 1897, died 1914. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.
  • Spicer, Omega C. — Died 1945. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; Hamilton Funeral Home. [Listed in Howell volume.]
  • Tart, Henry — Born 1886, died 1919. Odd Fellows.
  • Tate family — Odd Fellows. Large upright family marker.
  • Tate, Hardy — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with Odd Fellows triple links.
  • Taylor, H.B. — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with triple links and square and compass.
  • Thomas, Charles S. — Died 1937. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.
  • Thomas, Sarah (wife of Charlie Thomas) — Odd Fellows.
  • Unknown — Died 1921, age 51. Odd Fellows.
  • Uzzell, Millie — Born 1872, died 1928. Rountree. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Vick, Irma (dau. of S.H. and A.M. Vick) — Born 1905, died 1921. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.
  • White, Lucinda (wife of Geo. W. White) — Odd Fellows.
  • Williams, Louis — Odd Fellows.

Thomas Kerney, old soldier.

Though Thomas Kerney‘s death certificate describes him as an “old solder,” he appears to have been too young to have served during the Civil War. Nor have I found any military record for him. Thomas and Silvey Kerney are not listed in Wilson County census records.

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UPDATE: 20 January 2020. Obviously, I didn’t look hard enough. Thomas Kearney enlisted in the United States Army in 1881 and served nearly till the end of his life.

On 15 August 1881, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Charleston, South Carolina. Per the enlistment register, he was 21 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a laborer; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 3/4″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 14 August 1886 in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, as a private.

On 4 December 1886, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Washington, D.C. Per the enlistment register, he was 26 years, 5 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company I; and was discharged 3 December 1891 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, as a private.

On 16 December 1891, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Washington, D.C. Per the enlistment register, he was 31 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had dark brown eyes, black hair and brown complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company I; and was discharged 15 December 1896 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, as a private.

On 23 December 1896, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Charleston, South Carolina. Per the enlistment register, he was 26 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a laborer; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 3/4″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 14 August 1886 in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, as a private.

On 23 December 1899, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Fort Apache, Arizona. Per the enlistment register, he was 39 years, 7 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and black complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry; and was discharged 22 December 1902 in Monterey, California, as a private.

In the 1900 Military and Naval Population Schedule, Philippine Islands, 9th Cavalry: Kearney, Thomas, colored, 39, born in Tarboro, North Carolina.

On 13 January 1903, Thomas Kearney enlisted in San Francisco, California. Per the enlistment register, he was 42 years, 6 months old; was born in Tabor, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and dark complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company C; and was discharged 12 January 1906 in Fort Riley, Kansas, as a private.

On 19 January 1906, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Kansas City, Missouri. Per the enlistment register, he was 45 years, 6 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 9 January 1908 at Presidio, San Francisco, California, as a private.

U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, http://www.ancestry.com.

Toward identifying Rountree, Vick and Odd Fellows’ dead, no. 1.

In 2015, culminating a years-long project headed by Joan L. Howell, the Wilson County Genealogical Society published Wilson County Cemeteries, Vol. V: The Two City-Owned African-American Cemeteries, containing alphabetical listings of 11,472 burials in Rest Haven cemetery and 650 burials in Rountree-Vick cemetery.

Howell’s book is an invaluable resource for Wilson County researchers and — as far as we know — the sole list of burials in Rountree-Vick. Nonetheless, it’s worthwhile to assess this compilation in the light of recent discoveries concerning these cemeteries.

Confronted with the empty expanse of the Rountree-Vick memorial ground, Howell undertook an exhaustive search of death certificates filed in the Wilson County registrar’s office, abstracting all that gave “Rountree cemetery,” “Vick cemetery,” or “paupers cemetery” as the place of burial. An examination of the resulting list makes clear that these burials were in Rountree, Vick and Odd Fellows cemeteries, which are contiguous, but separately owned, graveyards. And the list is incomplete.

Vick and Odd Fellows cemeteries were in use by the late 1800s, and Rountree by 1900. However, the overwhelming majority of burials listed in this volume date from the 1940s. (Rest Haven was the city’s primary black cemetery thereafter.) There are a smattering of burials from the late 1930s, the 1950s and even the 1960s. Because North Carolina did not require death certificates until 1914, and death certificates did not list burial locations with specificity until around World War II, the first forty or so years of burials in these cemeteries are difficult to chronicle.

So, how many people are buried in Vick, Rountree and Odd Fellows? A 1995 Wilson Daily Times article estimated 1300.  However, as at least 600 were laid to rest here in the 1940s alone, this is surely a vast understatement. We may never arrive at a definitive number, but we can augment Howell’s list. I will start with a list of people whose burial in Rountree, Vick or Odd Fellows is memorialized by an existing headstone and continue with a list of people whose burial place is noted in a published obituary. Do you know of a family member buried in one these cemeteries? If so, please let me know. If I find that they are not listed in Howell’s book, they will be added to a third list. Thanks for your help.

Interested in purchasing a copy of Howell’s volume?  You can order one at http://www.wcgs.org.