Births Deaths Marriages

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.

The obituary of Charles Oats.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 July 1941.

Incredibly, the grave markers of Charles Oats and his wife Emma Oats are among the few that remain at Rountree cemetery. Oats was an employee of C.H. Darden and Sons Funeral Home.

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In the 1870 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Albert Oates, 40; wife Elizabeth, 30; and children Ferrebee, 10, and Charly, 3.

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Albert Oates, 51; wife Bettie, 34; and children Charles, 13, Turner, 11, Adam, 9, and Willie, 3.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer Charles Oates, 34; wife Emma, 30; and children Willie, 11, Fannie, 9, Annie, 8, Effie, 5, and Queen Elsie, 4.

On 9 August 1916, Charles Oats, 53, applied for a license to marry Lou Woodard, 48. It was never returned for registration.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on 119 Ash Street, laborer Charlie Oats, 52; wife Lilla, 42; and step-children Lizzie, 24, and Elmira Woodard, 15.

On 6 December 1920, Fannie McCullers died in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 32 years old; married to Andrew McCullers; lived on Ash Street; and was born in Wilson County to Charley Oates of Edgecombe County and Emma Williams of Wilson County.

On 3 February 1921, Matthew Smith of Greene County married Annie Edmundson, 30, of Wilson, daughter of Charles and Emma Oats. A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of James Debury, Charles Thomas and Richard Green.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 203 Stantonsburg, rented for $24/month, Charlie Oats, 67, undertaking establishment laborer; wife Emma, 53; daughter Almira, 25; and mother Betsie, 92.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Jeff Benjamin, 41, bricklayer; wife Marie, 26, tobacco factory laborer; and lodger Charlie Oats, 75, widower, undertaker shop laborer.

Charles Oats died 13 July 1941 at his home at 112 South Vick Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 September 1873 in Edgecombe County to Albert Oats and Bessie Mercer; was widowed; and was an undertakers assistant.

Rountree cemetery, revisited.

We visited the remains of Rountree cemetery here and here. In the photo below, the arrow indicates the grove that surrounds the memorial plinth and obelisk erected by the city in 1995. The grassy area? THE CEMETERY. Denuded of forty years of overgrowth and seventy years of grave markers, filled, leveled and sown. There were no disinterments or removals. The graves are still there (and probably in the woods beyond, too).

In 1989-90, Wilson City Council wrestled with the question of its responsibility to Rountree after discovering that the city owned the property. In a 10 January 1990 Daily Times article, “Cemetery income down, costs up,” Cemetery Commission Chairman Earl Bradbury “described the small 100-foot by 140-foot cemetery as a jungle.” Jungle it may have been, but it was a lot bigger than the quarter-acre he imagined.

Lane Street was a dirt road well into the 1970s. When I was a child, we sometimes rode our bikes over to peer into the woods at Rountree’s gravestones, tilting and toppled in the leaf litters. I distinctly remember the long edge of a vault cover exposed in the weeds at the edge of the road, near the Y below. Right now, at X, a few markers remain visible inside the tree line.

The last burials at Rountree took place in the early 1960s. By 1967, there was a problem. With abundant heat and humidity, an abandoned Southern landscape is fecund ground, and “growing like a weed” is not a simile. Kudzu had not yet arrived in eastern North Carolina, but catbrier and poison ivy and broomsedge, followed quickly by sumacs, sweetgums and pines, make quick work of an untended lot. Worse, there was unchecked dumping.

 Wilson Daily Times, 10 June 1967.

The following spring, just as the weeds were flexing to spring to new heights, this appeal to the public appeared in the Times. “Come on out and do your part,” it implored. (“Persons interested”? There was probably not a black person in Wilson at the time, me included, that didn’t have someone buried at Rountree.)

Wilson Daily Times, 3 March 1968.

Less than ten years later, my friends and I were telling ghost stories as we cycled past woods dotted with lichen-flecked headstones. A dozen or so years after that, the Daily Times‘ 18 February 1989 article about Ben Mincey Jr.‘s efforts to honor his parents’ graves kickstarted the city’s reckoning with the travesty of Rountree. These photographs accompanied the piece.

So, having cleared the cemetery and raised a memorial, where are the headstones the city removed?

Top photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019; aerial photo courtesy of Google Map.

Sarah Artist Battle of Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Indianapolis Recorder, 1 October 1938.

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In the 1880 census of Greencastle township, Putnam County, Indiana: farmhand Jonathan Artis, 47; wife Margret, 39; and children Evert, 19, Gray, 16, Sarah, 14, Tamer, 12, Minnie, 10, Rose, 8, John, 6, Jonathan, 4, and Willie, 2.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 2419 North Oxford, Margaret Artist, 57, and children John, 24, day laborer, Jonathan, 22, grocery deliveryman, Willie, 22, railroad section laborer, and Sarrah, 34.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: Margaret Artist, 67, with family members John, 30, Emma, 34, and Damon Artis, 8; Ralph, 13, and Mona McWilliams, 8; and Rose, 29, and Sarah Artist, 40.

In the 1930 census of Greencastle, Putnam County, Indiana: in a house owned and valued at $300, Anthony Battle, 70, farmer, and wife Sarah, 70, both of North Carolina.

Sarah Artist Battle died 27 September 1938 in Evansville, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was about 72 years old; was born in North Carolina to Jonathan Artist and Margaret Woodard; was married; and resided in Greencastle, Indiana.

State v. Calvin Barnes.

In December 1866, Eliza Barnes was hauled before two justices of the peace to answer some sharp questions. In response, she admitted that she had delivered a baby boy in about July; that she was not married to his father, who was Calvin Barnes; and that she was poor.

The justices issued a warrant for Calvin Barnes:

Calvin Barnes appeared with John Q. Thigpen, a white farmer, to post a two hundred dollar bond for Barnes’ appearance at January term.

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Possibly, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: George, 24, Dempsey, 23, Calvin, 22, Esther, 44, Alice, 18, Anna, 19, Robert, 20, and Jane Barnes, 19, all farm laborers.

Also possibly, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Frank Barnes, 55; wife Nicy, 51, and children Edwin, 12, Catharine, 7, and Watson Barnes, 12; with Weltha, 13, and Richard Artis, 21, and Eliza Barnes, 26, and her son Benjamin, 5. [Benjamin possibly the child sworn to in the proceeding above.]

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