Births Deaths Marriages

The obituary of Johnsie P. Hardy, age 99.

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Johnsie P. Hardy, 6 October 1918-20 June 2018.

“Mrs. Johnsie Pauline Hardy, age 99 of Wilson, died Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at her residence. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 30, 2018 at 1:00 pm at Brown Chapel FWB Church, 507 Hadley Street in Wilson, NC with Bishop Willie Thomas officiating. Burial will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery. Public viewing will be on Friday, June 29, 2018 from 3-7 p.m. at Edwards Funeral Home Chapel.

“Celebrating her memory are her loving and devoted family: George L. Hardy [Louise], Christine D. Deans [Larry], Faye D. Hardy, Vernon T. Hardy, Vicky L. Saunders [James], Gwendolyn Paulette Howard, Patricia A. Jones [Mark] and Bruce Hardy [Joyce]; two daughters-in law, Betty Hardy and Joan Hardy; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

“The family will assemble at her residence on Saturday, June 30, 2018 at 12 noon for the procession to the church. Direct condolences to edwardscares.com. Professional and personal services are entrusted to Edwards Funeral Home, Inc., 805 Nash Street East in Wilson, NC 27893.”

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In the 1920 census of Coleridge township, Randolph County: farmer James M. Cheek, 34; wife Donna, 36; and children Georgeanna, 9, Sarah B., 7, James H., 6, Thomas L., 4, Walter L., 2, and Jonsie P., 1.

In the 1930 census of Coleridge township, Randolph County: farmer J. Manley Cheek, 44; wife Donna, 46; and children Georgiana, 19,  Beatrice, 18, James H., 16, Thomas L., 14, Walter L., 13, Johnsie P., 11, Callie V., 9, Mahalah, 8, Celia M., 6, Gerladine, 4, Sylvinia, 2, and Margaret, 2 months.

On 1 October 1938, Pauline Cheek married Lawrence Hardy in Randolph County, North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 209 Warren Street, rented for $7/month, Edna Hardy, 54; daughters Dina Mae, 18, and Nancy, 13; granddaughter Margaret, 1; son Lawrence, 23, bakery shop deliveryman; and Randolph County-born daughter-in-law Pauline, 21, cook.

In 1940, Lawrence Barnett Hardy registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 28 April 1916 in Pitt County, North Carolina; resided at 409 South Warren; was married to Mrs. Johnson Pauline Hardy; and worked for Imperial Tobacco Company, corner of Lodge and Barnes Streets, Wilson.

Alex Williamson cemetery, revisited.

I wrote here about visiting the Alex and Gracy Shaw Williamson cemetery. This cemetery lies in a partially cleared patch of woods adjacent to the Hardy H. Williamson cemetery, and I wondered about the relationship between the two families. I asked Gregory D. Cosby when I met with him recently and was astounded by his answer. Though the earliest marked grave in the Alex Williamson cemetery dates to 1885, the graveyard is much older. It was originally, in fact, the burying ground for African-Americans enslaved by Hardy H. Williamson’s family. The wooden markers that identified the oldest graves have been lost, but some rough fieldstone markers remain. Though I know the locations of many graves of formerly enslaved Wilson County residents, most are buried in church graveyards or graveyards established on family land, and this is the only so-called “slave cemetery” that I have located in the county.

The John B. Williamson house, which is built around a house originally built for Hardy Williamson.

Gregory Cosby also told me that the house across the road from the cemeteries, which I had used as a landmark to find them, was originally the Hardy Williamson house. (Hardy Williamson was Hardy H. Williamson’s father.) In History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985), I found this entry for John Bartley Williamson Family that I’ve been overlooking for decades: “The original portion of the John Bartley Williamson homeplace, located on Highway 42, west of Wilson, in Spring Hill township near Buckhorn, is believed to have been built by his grandfather, Hardy Williamson. … Most of the Williamsons are buried in the Williamson cemetery, which is located across the highway from the John B. Williamson someplace, or in the Buckhorn church cemetery. Almost adjacent to the Williamson cemetery is a Williamson slave cemetery.

Photo of house by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2019; aerial photo courtesy of Google Maps.

The last will and testament of Trial Williamson.

Trial Williamson, born about 1805, is likely the “Trion” mentioned in the 1829 will of Hardy Williamson and is certainly the “Trial” mentioned in the 1858 estate records of Hardy H. Williamson. His blood relationship to other enslaved people held by the Williamsons is unknown.

Trial Williamson dictated his will in April 1878 and died the next month.

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In the name of God Amen! I Tryal Williamson do make and declare this my last will and testament as follows:

Item 1 I give and devise to my wife Rosetta the lands whereon I now live during her natural life or widowhood and at her death or marriage to be equally divided between my daughter Mary wife of John Boykin and my daughter Cherry wife of Daniel Hocutt during their lives and at their deaths to be equally divided between the children of each; that is the children of Mary to have one half and the children of Cherry to have the other half the said lands to be free from the control of their respective husbands John Boykin and Daniel Hocutt.

Item 2 I give and bequeath to my said wife my mare one ox all the hogs bacon and corn & fodder of which I may die possessed. Also all my kitchen and household furniture and farming implements.

Item 3 It is further my will and desire that my cattle one mule colt bees and any other property that my wife does not want be sold and the proceeds of said sale with whatever money I may have at my death be used by my wife for her sole benefit and use the interest to be used by here whenever she needs it.

Item 4 I hereby constitute and appoint my wife Rosetta executrix to this my last will and testament

Signed and declared my last will and testament This 6 day of April 1878    Tryal (X) Williamson

Witness J.M. Taylor, A.S.J. Taylor

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In 1866, Trial Williams [sic] and Roseta Williams registered their 17-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Trial Williamson, 65; wife Rose, 60; and daughters Mary, 21, and Cherry, 19.

On 18 September 1874, Cherry Williamson, 19, married Danl. Hocutt, 24, in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer John Boykin, 42; wife Mary, 29; and children Dock, 19, and Dick, 15 (both sick with whooping cough), Turner, 7, Troy, 5, Betty, 3, and John, 1. [Per the 1870 census, Zadoc and Richard — Dock and Dick — were John’s children.] Next door, widowed farmer Rose Williamson, 68.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Daniel Hocutt, 30; wife Cherry, 29; and children Jiney, 4, James T., 3, and Tilda An, 1.

Rose Williamson died in 1891. Ishmael Wilder was appointed administrator of her estate. Her meager household goods, purchased by friends and family, netted less than nine dollars.


Handy Atkinson, John Boykin, and Spencer Shaw were among the purchasers at Rosetta Williamson’s estate sale.

Per the terms of Trial Williamson’s will, at Rosetta Williamson’s death, the family farm passed in equal shares to their daughters Mary Williamson Boykin and Cherry Williamson Hocutt.

In 1902, by their attorney W.A. Finch, Cherry Hocutt and her heirs filed a Petition to Sell Real Estate for Division, Including Infants Interest. In a nutshell: (1) Trial Williamson died in 1878 and left a will with the above provision; (2) before Trial died, his land was divided, and the halves were allotted to his daughters; (3) after Rosetta Williamson died about 1891, Cherry Hocutt took full possession of her half; (4) Cherry Hocutt is now 49 years old and has these living children — J.A. Hocutt, age 27, J.T. Hocutt, age 25, M.A. Hocutt, age 22, Ben Hocutt, age 20, Settles Hocutt, age 17, Ida E. Hocutt, age 15, Willie J. Hocutt, age 14, and Lenore Savannah Hocutt, age 12 — and no grandchildren; (5) B.A. Scott has been appointed to represent the interests of the minor children; (6) the Hocutts are tenants in common on their half of Trial Williamson’s 23 1/2 acres in Spring Hill township; (7) in 1889, Daniel and Cherry Hocutt and their children migrated to [Cotton Plant,] Tippah County, Mississippi; (8) the Hocutts wish to sell their half because they “derive no benefit whatever” from it, are too far away to look after it, derive no net income from renting it out, and “the land is hilly and badly washed” and getting worse; and (9) the land is too small to divide among them.

The Superior Court approved the sale, it was advertised, and J.T. Rentfrow was high bidder at $500. Rentfrow promptly filed to partition his property from the half held by Mary Boykin and her heirs — Turner Boykin and wife; Laura Boykin; William Boykin and wife; Cora BoykinBettie Boykin; John Connor Boykin; Minerva Boykin; Sarah BoykinJames Boykin and wife; Ella Boykin; Buck Boykin; and Lizzie Boykin. Turner, Laura and John Connor Boykin no longer lived in North Carolina.

The court ordered this survey, then approved the partition as platted:

Estate Records of Trial Williamson, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; Estate File of Rose Williamson, Estate File of Trial Williamson, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

The search for Rountree’s lost gravestones.

The first net thrown, unfortunately, has come up empty.

I am on a quest to find out what happened to the gravestones removed from Rountree cemetery when it was cleared in 1995. Wilson Cemetery Commission’s Heather Goff called me today in response to the letter below. Ms. Goff, hired long after Rountree was cleared, has no personal knowledge of the whereabouts of the stones and could find no records among the Commission’s holdings. (In response to the first paragraph of the request, she generously offered to furnish a copy of Joan Howell’s Wilson County Cemeteries, Volume V: Rest Haven and Rountree/ Vick Cemetery, but I already have it.) I appreciate her prompt response.

So, it’s on to the next round of public records request letters, which will be addressed to the current City Manager, City Clerk and City Engineer.

State v. Nathan Locus.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County }

The examination of Georgiana Simpson (Colored), in the said county, single woman, taken on oath before me, Wm.G. Jordan a justice of the peace in and for said county, this 18th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1866, who saith that she is the mother of a child now fifteen months old, and that the said child was born a bastard and likely to become chargeable to the county aforesaid and that Nathan Locus a free man of color , is a father of the said child    Georgiana (X) Simpson

Taken before me and signed the day and year above before written   Wm.G. Jordan J.P.

Both of the above parties were free born

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In the 1850 census, Nash County, North Carolina: Delany Locust, 28; Lucy, 25; and Nathan, 12, Henry, 8, Goodson, 6, Nelly, 4, and Mary A., 3.

In the 1860 census of Winstead township, Nash County: housekeeper Delany Locus, 43, and Nathan, 22.

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Ellic Taylor, 34, farm laborer, and wife Lainy, 45; Nathanel Locust, 33, and children Malvina, 11, and Duncan Locust, 4. [Delaney Locus married Alexander Taylor between 1860 and 1870. Duncan Locust may be the son of Georgiana Simpson and Nathan Locus. Simpson does not appear in Wilson or Nash County census record.]

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Nathan Locust, 40, hireling “working about.”

On 13 February 1883, Nathan Lucus, 40, married Sarah Williams, 40, at the Wilson Court House.

Branch Flowers died 27 August 1938 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 65; was born in Wilson County to Nathan Locus and Delsa [Delphia] Flowers, both of Wilson County; was a farmer; and was married to Mary Flowers.

Bastardy Records-1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

The obituary of Edgar Williams.

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Wilson Daily Times, 21 January 1949.

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In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Williams Edgar (c) lab h 213 Spruce; Williams Jane (c) lab h 213 Spruce

In 1917, Edgar Williams registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 3 January 1896 in Mount Olive, N.C.; lived at 213 Spruce, Wilson; and worked as a laborer for Wilson Country Club.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 213 Spruce, Jane Williams, 46, and son Edgar, 24, both tobacco factory workers.

On 16 December 1920, Edgar Williams, 24, of Wilson County, son of Jane Williams, married Anna McKoy, 22, of Wilson County. Rev. A.L.E. Weeks performed the ceremony in the presence of F.F. Battle and Annie Weeks of Wilson and Almer Pouncey of Bennettsville, South Carolina.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 511 South Mercer Street, rented at $8/hour, Echo Williams, 33, office boy for “Empriel Tobacco Fac.”; wife Anna, 28; and lodger Ora Sanders, 26.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 511 South Mercer Street, rented for $6/month, Edgar Williams, 44, redrying plant office janitor, and wife Anna, 39, redrying plant “hang.”

Edgar Williams died 18 January 1949 at his home at 511 Mercer Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 June 1896 in Wilson to Jane Spells; was a widower; worked as a tobacco factory day laborer; and was buried at Rountree cemetery. Inez Watson, 113 Pender Street, was informant.

The obituary of Fletcher F. Pierce.

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Philadelphia Daily News, 22 February 2002.

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Fletcher Forest Pierce was born 5 May 1912 in Wilson to Nazareth Pierce and Ella Armstrong Pierce.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 806 Vance Street, Export Tobacco laborer Nazareth Pierce, 42; wife Ella, 43; children Eugene S., 18, Almira, 16, Leroy J., 14, Louie, 10, and Fletcher, 7; and mother-in-law Luvicy Armstrong, 65.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 905 Vance Street, insurance agent Nazareth Pierce, 54; wife Ada, seamstress; son Fletcher, 17, and daughter Elmira, 25.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 905 Vance Street, Milton Fisher, 32, teacher; wife Elmira, 28, teacher; and brother-in-law Fletcher Pierce, 26, insurance salesman.

In 1940, Fletcher Forest Pierce registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his draft registration card, he was born 5 May 1912 in Wilson; lived at 905 East Vance; his contact was father Nazerth Pierce, 415 East Green; and he worked for Winston Mutual Life Insurance, 656 East Nash Street, Wilson.

On 12 June 1943, Fletcher Forest Pierce, 31, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, son of N.A. and Ella Pierce, married Lucile Helen Russell, 30, of Charlotte, daughter of L.M. and Irene Russell, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 1950, Fletcher F. Pierce filed for World War II compensation.

Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The Brantley cemetery.

Armed with a 1937 Leica IIIa 35mm camera, Brian Grawburg has begun a project to document “lost” Wilson County graveyards. Using early 20th topographical maps, WPA cemetery surveys, Google Maps, and tips from the public, Grawburg has battled heat, humidity and nearly impenetrable thickets to create and preserve a record of these forgotten spaces.

This is the second in a series of posts exploring African-American cemeteries that rediscovered by Grawburg.

The Brantley cemetery, off Crepe Myrtle Road in Taylors township, Wilson County, contains nine headstones. For more about the Brantleys, see here and here and here.

  • Bettie Brantley — 1878-8 Dec 1919, daughter of Henderson Brantley and Mollie Boone Brantley.
  • Charlie Brantley — 1 Aug 1873- 8 Jan 1948, son of Henderson Brantley and Mollie Boone Brantley.
  • Finner Brantley — 1 Dec 1887-5 Jan 1924, son of Charlie Brantley and Margaret Locus Brantley.
  • Floyd Brantley — 17 Feb 1901-20 May 1905, son of Richard Brantley and Missouri Eatmon Brantley.
  • Henderson Brantley — ca. 1836-2 Dec 1916, son of Bettie Brantley.
  • Richard Brantley — ca. 1877-28 Dec 1905, son of Henderson Brantley and Bettie Brantley.
  • Solomon Finch  — 9 Mar 1896-11 Mar 1955, son of Jane Finch and Joseph Jones.
  • Annie Thomas Howard — 15 May 1907-1 Aug 1930, adopted daughter of Kenyon Howard and Mollie Brantley Howard.
  • Kenyon Howard — 28 Oct 1874-9 Dec 1938, son of Zealous Howard and Rhoda Eatmon Howard, first husband of Mollie Brantley Howard Brown.

The obituary of Channie Hunter Bynum, 102.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 July 1992.

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In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Anderson Hunter, 54; [second] wife Lula, 33; and children Chanie, 18, Sam, 16, Emma, 15, Robert, 11, Annie, 6, and Clyde, 2.

On 21 April 1915, Louis Braswell, 20, of Wilson, son of Arthur and Olive Braswell, married Chanie Hunter, 20, of Black Creek, daughter of Anderson Hunter, at Anderson Hunter’s in Black Creek. Luther Braswell applied for the license, and Sam Hunter, Ennis Sauls and Aget Dew witnessed.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on the Wilson-Rocky Mount Road, Lewis Braswell, 24; wife Chany, 28; and children James, 2, and Carry, 8 months.

Lewis Braswell died 21 December 1921 in Elm City, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 29 years old; was born in Wilson County to Luther Braswell and Oliva Bynum; was married to Chainey Braswell; and worked as a tenant farmer to Mrs. M.A. Bryant. Informant was Frank Braswell.

Addie Pearl Braswell died 22 December 1924 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 2 years old and was born in Wilson County to Lewis Braswell and Chanie Hunter. Frank Hunter was informant.

On 23 December 1925, Chanie Braswell, 32, of Toisnot, married George Bynum, 53, of Black Creek, in Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Route 2, Wilson, of Highway 301, day laborer Geo. Bynum, 66; wife Chanie, 49; Carrie, 20, Estella, and Junnies Braswell, 16 (described as in-laws, but actually Bynum’s stepchildren]; and Dazell, 12, and Ruth Bynum, 10.

In 1940, Roscoe Boot Braswell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 30 September 1917 in Wilson County; lived at 607 Spring Street, Wilson; his contact was mother Chaney Bynum, Route 2, Wilson; and he worked for the Country Club, Goldsboro Highway, Wilson.

In 1940, Louis Junior Braswell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 9 May 1921 in Edgecombe County; lived at 816 South Manchester Street, Wilson; his contact was mother Chenie Bynum, 816 South Manchester; and he worked at Cherry Point.