Births Deaths Marriages

The obituary of Sarah Jane Gregory.

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Indianapolis Recorder, 14 January 1967.

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Sarah Baker, born 1892, daughter of Benny Baker and Nancy Newsom, married Joseph Gregory on 25 November 1912 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1564 Park Avenue, rear, rented for $20/month, Kentucky-born Joe Gregory, 48, laborer, and wife Sarah, 45, servant, born in Tennessee [sic].

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1564 Park Avenue, rear, rented for $20/month, Kentucky-born Joe Gregory, 59, gardener, and wife Sarah, 31, maid, born in North Carolina.

Like most negroes, she was full of superstition.

In 1891, Rev. Owen L.W. Smith‘s sister, Millie Smith Sutton, shot and killed his wife Lucy Smith at point-blank range, believing that Lucy had poisoned her son.

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Wilson Advance, 9 July 1891.

On 5 November, the Advance reported that Smith had been found “mentally deranged” at the time she killed Smith and was committed to the insane asylum in Goldsboro.

The Wilson Mirror offered more on 11 November:

This tragedy had sequels.

Six years later, Sutton’s walking companion, Nettie Vick Jones, was stabbed to death on the street by her husband, A. Wilson Jones.

Ten years later, on 22 November 1901, the Times reported that Sutton had been released from the hospital and had returned to Wilson and, with Carrie Pettiford, had threatened the life of her brother’s newest wife, Adora Oden Smith. (In the 1900 census, Carrie was a boarder in the Smiths’ home.) Both were arrested.

Summerlin fatally injured.

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Wilson Daily Times, 7 November 1932.

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Though the news report did not find it worth mentioning, Benjamin Summerlin, “negro tenant farmer,” was only 13 years old when he was killed.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Summerlin, 24; wife Pearl, 22; and sons Harvey, 4, and Benjamin, 6 months.

Carolina Posse Kills Ex-GI.

The lynchings of two Wilson County men are recorded at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The name of the first, killed in 1887, is unknown. The second man, shot to death in 1946, was J.C. Farmer, a 19 year-old veteran of World War II.

Farmer and some friends were in Sims, a village in the western part of the county, playing around while waiting for a bus to take them into Wilson for a Saturday night out. Constable Fes Bissette confronted the group, ordering Farmer to get into his squad car. When Farmer refused, Bissette him in the back of the head with a blackjack, drew his gun and tried to force Farmer into the car. The two scuffled. Seizing control of the gun, Farmer shot Bissette through the hand and fled. An hour later, 20 to 25 white men, including Alcoholic Beverage Control agents armed with submachine guns, cornered Farmer near his mother Mattie Barnes Farmer‘s house and opened fire.

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New Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Va.), 17 August 1946.

Though the scant news accounts available are silent, it appears that Farmer was driven ten miles to Wilson to Mercy Hospital, where Dr. Batie T. Clark pronounced him dead from a “gun shot wound chest” about 30 minutes after arrival. Clark also noted on Farmer’s death certificate, by way of explanation: “shot by officer of law in gun duel” though it is not at all clear which member of the posse’s shot hit Farmer, and there had been no “duel.” (Also, who transported Farmer to town — his family or law enforcement? Why was he seen by Badie Clark, a white doctor, rather than, say, Joseph Cowan?)

In 1951, the Civil Rights Congress issued We Charge Genocide: An Historic Appeal to the United Nations for Relief from a Crime of the United States Government Against the Negro People, a “record of mass slayings on the basis of race.” Among the litany of such state-sanctioned crimes committed from 1945 to 1951 was the killing of J.C. Farmer.

Equal Justice Initiative’s 2015 Lynching in America report mentioned J.C. Farmer’s murder in the chapter described racial terror directed at African-American veterans: “No one was more at risk of experiencing violence and targeted racial terror than black veterans who had proven their valor and courage as soldiers during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Because of their military service, black veterans were seen as a particular threat to Jim Crow and racial subordination. Thousands of black veterans were assaulted, threatened, abused, or lynched following military service.” Farmer’s death was just one of a wave of such lynchings in 1946.

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In the 1930 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Josh Farmer, 51; wife Mattie, 46; and children William A., 21, Josh W., 17, Waneta, 14, Lonnie D., 12, Robert, 10, Albert H., 6, and J.C., 3.

In the 1940 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Jack Farmer, 59; wife Mattie, 55; and children Authur, 24, Jack Jr., 23, Robert, 20, Harry, 16, J.C., 13, and Juanita Barnes, 22, and her children Mattie Lee, 3, and Marjorie, 1.

J.C. Farmer registered for the World War II draft on 21 October 1944, was honorably discharged on 16 August 1945, and was dead 13 days’ shy of a year later.

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For the hanged and beaten. For the shot, drowned and burned. The tortured, tormented and terrorized. For those abandoned by the rule of law.

We will remember.

With hope because hopelessness is the enemy of justice. With courage because peace requires bravery. With persistence because justice is a constant struggle. With faith because we shall overcome.

National Memorial for Peace and Justice

The obituary of Henry Rountree.

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Wilson Daily Times, 14 September 1940.

Is this the same Henry Rountree who  spoke of Christmas-time serenades in an 1936 interview by a Federal Writers Project employee? Though it would seem so, the life details of the two Henrys do not seem to match.

Here is this Henry Rountree’s death certificate:

His parents are listed as Spencer and Julia Rountree, not Shark and Adell, as in the F.W.P. interview. The obituary reports his owners as the Tomlin family, but the narrative names Dock Rountree. The obituary centers around Henry Rountree’s work during the Civil War, which the narrative does not mention at all.

In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Simon Ricks, 34; wife Lula B., 29; children Mary E., 12, Alexander, 9, Etta, 6, Gertie, 4, and Roland, 2; mother-in-law Fannie Rountree, 58, widow; and uncle Henry Rountree, 74, widower.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: renting for $2/month, widowed farm laborer Nora Dew, 42; her children Lester, 15, and Etta, 11; uncle Henry Rountree, 85, farm laborer; and boarders Edna, 17, and Ella Lane, 14, and Elijah Terrell, 22.

Jim Crow exception.

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Carolina General, a private hospital, opened in 1920 at 103 North Pine Street. It closed in 1964 and, for the 44 years of its operation, was a segregated facility. How was it then, in 1943,  that Banks Blow, who was African-American, died at Carolina General rather than Mercy Hospital?

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Carolina General Hospital, circa 1964. Image courtesy of digitalnc.org.

The obituary of Rev. James Wesley Holiday.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1977.

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In the 1920 census of Concord, Clarendon County, South Carolina: farmer Wesley Holiday, 29, farmer; wife Caroline, 22; and children Erlier, 5, Cecil, 4, Manyard, 3, and Eddie, 2.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Holiday Wesley (c; Rosa) tob wkr h 709 Cemetery.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 612 East Suggs, rented for $12/month, tobacco factory laborer Westley Holiday, 40; wife Rosa, 30; and children Earlise, 12, Edward, 11, Deborah, 9, Lula M., 6, Earnest, 4, and Joseph, 1.

Rosa M. Holiday died 31 January 1938 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 5 months old; was the daughter of Wesley Holiday and Rosa Brown, both of Sumter, South Carolina; and resided at 312 Spruce Street.

In 1946, Joseph Holliday registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 16 September 1928 in Wilson County; lived at 648 Cemetery Street; was a student; and his contact was his father Wesley Holliday, 648 Cemetery.

Rosa Holiday died 8 December 1951 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 18 September 1899 to Payrow Brown; was married; and lived at 648 Cemetery Street. Rev. W.H. Holiday was informant.

James W. Holiday, 69, married Lona Tillery, 47, in Wilson on 23 October 1958.

Lonia Tillery Holiday died 15 November 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 57 years old; was married to James Holiday; was the daughter of Mary Sanders; and had worked as a maid.

James Wesley Holiday died 8 March 1977 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born January 1900 in South Carolina to unknown parents;

The obituary of Lauraetta J. Taylor.

Lauraetta J. Taylor (1916-1977), daughter of Russell Buxton and Viola Gaither Taylor, was a legendary women’s basketball coach at Fayetteville State University. A gymnasium on campus is named in her honor.

Pittsburgh Courier, 26 March 1977.

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In the 1920 census of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: on Johnston Bow, preacher Russell B. Taylor, 35; wife Viola, 31, seamstress; and children Beatrice, 7, Janett, 5, and Sarah, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on East Nash Street, Methodist minister Russell B. Taylor, 48, widower; children Laura, 14, Sarah, 11, Christopher, 7, and William, 4; daughter Beatrice Barnes, 18, public school teacher, and her son Elroy, 1; and lodgers Cora Speight, 49, laundress, and Mamie Williams, 30, ironer, and Roscoe McCoy, 32, farm laborer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 536 East Nash, preacher and public school teacher Russell B. Taylor, 52; children Loretta, 23, and Sarah, 21, both teachers, Leonard, 16, and William, 14; grandson Elroy Barnes, 11; and lodgers Isiar Jones, 36, Virginia-born construction laborer; Mitchell Frazier, 32, South Carolina-born truck driver; John Baldwin, 29, Lumberton, N.C.-born tobacco redrying factory laborer, and his wife Clyde, 26, a native of Wilmington, N.C.

1939 edition of The Ayantee, the yearbook of North Carolina State A.&T. University in Greensboro. Taylor’s sister Sarah G. Taylor graduated from A.&T. that year.

Studio shots, no. 84: Jesse and Sarah Henderson Jacobs.

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On 27 November 1895, Jesse Jacobs married Sarah Henderson in Wayne County, North Carolina. [The photo probably commemorated their wedding.]

In the 1900 census of Dudley, Brogden township, Wayne County: farmer Jessey Jacobs, 42; wife Sarah D., 28; and children Aner S., 17, Redis J., 15, Carie, 13, Docter, 8, Hatie, 6, and Anie B., 3.

In the 1908 and 1912 Wilson city directories, Jesse Jacobs is listed as a laborer living at 106 Elba Street.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Jesse Jacob,  53, deliveryman for stable; wife Sarah, 35; daughter Annie Belle, 15; and boarders Jesse Henderson, 17, Herbert Jones, 23, both stable laborers, and Nina Fasin, 32, a housemaid.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 606 Elmo [Elba] Street: school janitor Jessie Jacobs, 60, wife Sara, 52, and daughters [great-nieces] Mamie, 12, and Hattie May, 10.

Jessie Adam Jacobs died 6 July 1926 at the “colored hospital” in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 December 1862 in Sampson County, North Carolina, to Jesse A. and Abbie Jacobs; was married to Sarah Jacobs; resided at 303 Elba Street; and worked as a janitor in city schools.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 303 Elba, laundress Sarah Jacobs, 49, and daughter [great-niece] Hattie Jacobs, 19, a servant for a private family.

Sarah Henderson Jacobs died 8 January 1938 in Selma, Johnston County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 55 years old, married to Joseph Silver, and was born in Wayne County to Lewis Henderson and Margaret Carter, both of Wayne County. Informant was Hattie Jacobs of 303 Elba Street, Wilson.

Original photograph in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.