Children

O.L. and Emma Freeman family portrait.

Bottom: Emma, “Little Emma” and Oliver Lovett Freeman. Top: Irma, Percy and Hazel Freeman.

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Lovett Freeman, 24, of Wilson County, son of J.F. Freeman and Eliza Freeman, married Emma Pender, 23, daughter of Amos Pender, on 25 October 1899 in Amos Pender’s house in Wilson County. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio: blacksmith Oliver L. Freeman, 25; wife Emma C., 24, school teacher; sister Olive, 8; and roomer Henry Bruce, 20, barber. All the Freemans were born in North Carolina; Bruce, in Tennessee.

In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: blacksmith in buggy shop Oliver Freeman, 36; wife Emma, 34; and children Percy, 10, Hazel, 8, Irma, 6, and Emma, 3.

In the 1920 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: blacksmith O.L. Freeman, 44; wife Emma, 43; and children Percy, 29 [sic], Hazel,18, Erma, 16, and Emma, 12.

In the 1930 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: at 1113 West Thomas, Oliver L. Freeman, 55, blacksmith; wife Emma C., 53; and Emma Freeman, Percy Freeman and Harold L. Freeman.

In November 1938, Oliver Lovett Freeman applied for Social Security benefits. His application noted that he was born 12 November 1869 in Wilson, N.C., to Julious Freeman and Eliza Daniel.

In the 1940 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: at 1113 West Thomas, Oliver Freeman, 64, blacksmith shoeing horses; wife Emma, 63; and daughter Emma, 31.

In 1942, Cornelius Pitt registered for the World War II draft in Nash County. Per his registration card, he was born 6 October 1921 in Rocky Mount; lived at 1110 West Thomas; his contact was Oliver Freeman, 1113 West Thomas; and he worked for Emerson Shops, A.C.L. [Railroad], Rocky Mount.

Oliver L. Freeman made out his will on 5 June 1954 in Nash County. Per its terms, daughter Irma F. Rudd was to receive the homeplace at 1113 West Thomas Street, Rocky Mount; daughter Hazel F. Whisonant, the tenant houses at 1123-1125 Gay Street, Rocky Mount; son Percy Freeman, the tenant house at 1119-1120 Gay Street; and daughter Emma Freeman, the tenant house at 1121-1122 Gay Street. His remaining property was to be divided among his children in equal shares.

Per Findagrave.com, Freeman died 26 June 1955 and is buried in Northeastern Cemetery, Rocky Mount.

Photo courtesy of Mary Freeman Ellis, The Way We Were.

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.

State vs. Felix Godwin.

In January 1867, a Wilson County justice of the peace examined Linda Barnes (colored), who was unmarried, and determined that she had delivered a child whose father was Felix Godwin of Johnston County.

I have not found Linda Barnes in Wilson County records.

However, on 23 January 1867 — 11 days after this warrant issued — Phelix Godwin married Aurelia Smith in Boon Hill township, Johnston County. In the 1880 census of Boon Hill township, Johnston County: farmer Felix Godwin, 52; wife Arena, 28; and children Jane E., 11, and Preston, 8.

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

Dear Santa Claus.

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Wilson Daily Times, 24 December 1940.

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In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, Joe Jones, 44, tobacco factory laborer; wife Mary L., 33, county home nurse; and children Marie, 12, and Joseph Jr., 9.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, Oliver W. Best, 32, [occupation illegible],and wife Sadie L., 24, public school teacher.

Model 1938 Red Ryder BB gun, today.

A Christmas party at Saint Alphonsus School.

On 22 December 1946, Raines and Cox arrived at Saint Alphonsus Catholic School to photograph the children’s Christmas party.

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The boy kneeling at far left is Carl W. Hines Jr. Two other kneeling boys, including the one at far right in the double-breasted jacket, may be sons of Ruel and Louisa Jones Bullock. Can you identify other children in this photo?

Again, many thanks to John Teel for sharing this image from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. It is catalogued as PhC_196_CW_218H_StAlphonseHolidayParty.

The deaths of little Louisa Sims and Infant Thorpe.

Though the state of North Carolina did not require death certificates until 1913, some municipalities began to record them earlier. Below, the returns of a death for two young children born in Raleigh to parents from Wilson County.

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Louisa Sims died on 1 March 1900 after a six or seven-day illness. The three year-old had been born in her parents’ home on West Connor Street, Raleigh. Her father was from Wilson County; her mother from “near Goldsboro.”

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Thomas and Mary Thorpe’s infant son was stillborn at 832 South Wilmington Street. His father was from granville County; his mother, from Wilson.

Death Certificates 1900-1909, Wake County, North Carolina County Records 1833-1970, familysearch.org.

Smallest prints on file.

I have been unable to find more to elucidate this strange kidnapping story. The Daily Times‘ initial report, which focused more on a novelty angle than on the tragedy, misidentified the baby as “11 months old Mildred Pace,” and suggested that her birth mother had taken her from a black doctor in Washington, D.C., to whom she had sold the child for fifty dollars.

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Wilson Daily Times, 14 November 1940.

Two weeks later, while still strangely stuck on peripheral details like the light skin color of the baby and her mother, the Times had more details. The child Lorraine was 20 months’ old, and Delores Pace was accused of stealing her from her birth parents, Ida and Massie Vaughn. (Massie Vaughn was a W.P.A. worker, not a doctor.) As best I can decipher, the allegations were these:

Delores Pace befriended the Vaughns under the alias Annie Mae Johnson. On October 28, she took the youngest two of their six children to the movies, where three year-old Cephus was found alone that night. Pace’s friends told police she had taken Lorraine to Wilson. United States marshals were called in to track down Pace and the toddler, and a D.C. policeman followed, took the child into custody and stashed her in the Raleigh City Jail under the care of a janitor.

Pace did not testify at her arraignment. The Vaughns identified their daughter and produced her birth certificate (and the newspaper made much of the contrasting skin tones of all involved.) Pace was ordered to stand trial. After the hearing, Pace told someone (the reporter?) that the child had been born in New York and that her father, Marvin Knight, had promised to marry Pace if Pace showed him the child, and Knight confirmed his paternity. That’s it.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 November 1940.

The 1940 census of Washington, D.C., shows that Lorraine was the youngest of the Vaughns’ six children.

I have not found any record of Delores Pace anywhere.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, retail grocer James Henry Knight, 53; wife Ada Elsie, 52; and children Marvin, 22, retail grocery clerk; Evelyn, 19, Nancy Doris, 10, and Joseph Frank, 8. On 6 June 1944, Marvin Robert Knight, 26, of Wilson, son of James and Ada Knight, married Jewell Dean Stokes, of Middlesex, daughter of T.O. and Anna Stokes, in Wake County.