Children

Saint Alphonsus graduates.

November is Black Catholic History Month. Accordingly, I offer these images of a 1949 kindergarten graduation celebration at Saint Alphonsus Catholic School captured by Wilson’s preeminent 20th century photographers Charles Raines and Guy Cox. Do you recognize any of the children?

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Many thanks to John Teel for sharing these images from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. They are catalogued as PhC_196_CW_1211H _StAlphonsusGraduation1 through 10..

Samuel H. and Annie W. Vick family, no. 2.

This formal portrait of Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick and their children was taken around 1913, a few years after the photograph posted here.

The woman at left does not appear to be an immediate family member. Otherwise, by my best judgment, there is daughter Elba, Sam Vick, son Robert, son Daniel (center), daughter Doris, Annie Vick, son Samuel, son George, and daughter Anna.

Photo courtesy of the Freedman Round House and African-American Museum, Wilson, N.C.

The last will and testament of Thomas Williamson.

On 26 August 1852, Thomas Williamson of Nash County (brother of Hardy Williamson) penned a will whose provisions disposed of these 16 enslaved men, women and children:

  • to wife Kesiah Williamson a life estate in “three negro slaves namely Turner Patrick and Dennis,” with Turner to revert to daughter Tempy Fulghum, Patrick to son Dempsey Williamson, and Dennis to son Garry Williamson
  • to daughter Tempy Fulghum, negro girl Mary (and her increase) already in her possession and negro girl Bethany
  • to daughter Mourning Peele, four negroes Cherry, Merica, Charity and Washington
  • to daughter Rhoda Williamson, Ally, Arnold and Randal
  • to daughter Sidney Boyett, Julien, Issabel and Daneil
  • to son Garry Williamson, “negro man named Jack and one set of Blacksmith tools”

Kesiah Williamson died shortly after Thomas Williamson wrote out his will, and he died in October 1856 in the newly formed Wilson County.  Executors Dempsey Williamson and Jesse Fulghum filed suit to resolve “certain doubts and difficulties” that arose concerning the distribution of Thomas Williamson’s slaves.

In the meantime, the estate hired out Patrick and prepared an inventory that credited Thomas Williamson with 375 acres and 33 enslaved men and women: Patrick, Denick, Jack, Tamar, Mary, Spice, Tony, Thany, Amos, Catherine, Judy, Isbell, Daniel, Randel, Harret, Dilly, Nathan, Denis, Disey, Allen, Charity, Ben, Hester, Ally, Craroline, America, Arnold, Cherry, Bitha, Chaney, Renar, Lydia and Jo.

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After the Supreme Court rendered its decision, Thomas Williamson’s executors filed an “Account of Sale of the Negros belonging to the Estate of Thomas Williamson Dec’d Sold agreable to the desision of the Supreme Court on the construction of the last Will and Testament of said Dec’d for a divission among the heirs therein named Six months credit given the purcher by given Note with two approved Securites before the Rite of property is changed Sold the 16th of May A.D. 1850 By Garry Williamson and Jesse Fulghum Extrs.” Note that all sold were children. Nine men paid top dollar for 16 children, investments that would be as ash in their hands in six years.

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John T. Barnes purchased Nathan, age 8, for $927.50; Denick, age 7, for $855.00, Dillicy, age 10, for $508.00; and Carolina, age 7, for $871.00.

W. Swift purchased Ben, age 7, for $800.00, and Harriet, age 9, for $950.00.

Garry Fulghum purchased Amos, age 5, for $552.00, and Catherine, age 3, for $400.00.

Wright Blow purchased Joe, age 5, for $580.00.

James Boyette purchased Allen, 3, for $381.00.

John Wilkins purchased Bethea, 8, for $807.00.

Joshua Barnes purchased Chaney, 7, for $661.00.

William Ricks purchased Renner, age 5, for $600.00.

Ransom Hinnant purchased Dizey, age 5, for $575.00.

And A.J. Taylor purchased Lyddey, age 2, for $416.00.

There’s quite enough to ponder in this post. More later on some of the individual men, women and children whose lives were upended by Thomas Williamson’s death. Estate File of Thomas Williamson, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org. 

Were they illegally bound?

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Bureau R.F.&A.L. Goldsboro May 18 /67

Edwards Marcellus J., Wilson N.C.

Sir

Complaint has been made at this office that the boy Freeman and the girls Amanda & Bethany now living with you were illegally bound to you You will please forward a statement of the case to this office on or before the 23rd inst and show cause if any exist why the indentures should not be cancelled.

I am Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servt

A. Compton, Major 40th U.S.I., Sub Asst Com

——

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Marcellus Edwards, 42; his children Emma, 16, Sallie, 14, Mary, 13, William, 10, Julia, 9, Marcellus, 6, Joseph, 2, and James, 1; Virginia Edwards, 25; plus Freeman, 18, Amand, 16, and Bethena Edwards, 12, all farmer’s apprentices.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters sent, vols. 1-2, February 1867-February 1868, http://www.familysearch.org.

Were the Fisher children regularly bound?

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Mr. Burnell, No. 11, Wilson, N.C.             Goldsboro N.C. March 8 1866

Sir,

You are requested to inform this office if you have in your employ two (col) boys, named Beverly & Henry Fisher, aged 12 & 14 years, formerly of Dinwiddie Va. Please state if these children are regularly bound to you, or if there exist any reason, why they should not be returned to the custody of their parents, who have made application to this Office for this return.     Very respectfully, Hannibal D. Norton

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters sent, vols. 1-2, February 1867-February 1868, http://www.familysearch.org.

Handy Atkinson and family.

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Wilson Advance, 10 February 1882.

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On 7 August 1866, Hamlet [sic] Atkinson and Lida Atkinson registered their 17-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.  As set forth here, Handy Atkinson and Lida Williamson had at least four children — Henry, Spencer, Silvia and Angeline. Lida Atkinson died between 1866 and 1870.

On 16 December 1869, Randal Hinnant, son of Emsley Hinnant and Ally Hinnant, married Angaline Atkinson, daughter of Handa Atkinson and Lida Atkinson, at Handa Atkinson’s in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Handy Atkinson, 50; and children Nathan, 21, Spencer, 17, Simon, 15, Charity, 13, Sarah, 10, and John, 8. [It seems likely that Nathan, Simon, Charity, Sarah and John were also Lida’s children.]

On 17 February 1870, Henry Williamson, son of Hander Atkinson and Lida Williamson, married Cora Adams, daughter of Mary Adams, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Handy Atkinson, 53; wife Souson, 26; children John, 15, Thomas, 8, Mary, 6, Hannor, 5, Abby, 2, Harry, 2 months; mother Hagar, 80; and nephew Stanton, 8.

Handy Atkinson died between 1880 and 1900.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Susan Atkinson, 48; children Calvin, 17, William, 15, Lessie, 12, Daisey, 10, Lafayette, 8, Kizziah, 6, and Ora, 1; step-daughter [sic] Hanner, 24; and grandson Fred D., 7.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: widowed farmer Susanna Atkinson, 56; children Hannah, 31, Daisy M., 20, and James, 19; and granddaughter Minnie, 10.

Hannah Atkinson died 8 June 1915 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born April 1877 in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susan [last name unknown]; was single and worked as a farmer. Informant was “brother S.T. Atkinson.”

Susan Atkinson died 3 June 1919 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 March 1854 to Isaac and Abbie Barnes and was a widow. Informant was Tom Atkinson.

Spencer Williamson died 22 August 1926 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 56 years old, was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and an unknown mother; was married to P. Williamson; and lived at 112 North Pine Street, Rocky Mount.

Thomas Stephen Atkinson died 14 July 1928 in Beulah township, Johnston County. Per his death certificate, he was 56 years old; was born in Wilson County in Handy Atkinson and Susie Atkinson; was a farmer; was married to Zillie Atkinson; was buried in Boyette Cemetery. Iva Thomas Atkinson was informant.

C.H. Atkison died 21 March 1929 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 49 years old; was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Stella Atkison; was a farmer; and was married to Stella Atkison. He was buried in Rocky Branch cemetery.

Lafayett Atkinson died 19 March 1933 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, he was 48 years old; was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susan Barnes; was married to Etta Atkinson; and was a farmer.

Channie Barnes died 22 December 1942 in Micro township, Johnston County. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 May 1877 in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson; was the widow of Joseph Barnes; and was buried at Rocky Branch Cemetery.

Daisy Barham died 23 February 1956 at her home at 626 East Vance Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 January 1887 in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susan [last name unknown]; was a widow; and was buried in Rocky Branch Cemetery. Informant was Lessie Davis.

Lessie A. Davis died 4 July 1959 in Oldfields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 March 1886 in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susie Barnes and was married to Richard Davis. Informant was Mrs. Willie Blackwell.

 

The children of Daniel Williamson and Amy Deans.

In 1866, Daniel Williamson and Amy Deans registered their 20-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace. A year later, Williamson was dead. He died without a will, and his brother Alexander “Ellic” Williamson was appointed administrator of his estate. Amy Deans Williamson apparently died around the same time. Though neither appear in census records, it is possible from other documents to identify four of their children.

  • Simon Williamson, alias Simon Deans

On behalf of Daniel’s estate, Alex Williamson paid out $9.00 to Albert Adams for the “nursing and Barrien” [burying] of Simon in early 1869. The 1870 mortality schedule of Springhill township, Wilson County, lists Simon Deens, 19, as having died of consumption in February 1870. Despite the discrepancy in the year, this would seem to be be the same boy, as Simon Deans is listed as a member of Albert Adams’ household.

  • Turner Williamson

N.B. Though records are difficult to distinguish, this is a different Turner Williamson from George Turner Williamson, born about 1860 to Patrick and Spicey Williamson.

In an action filed in 1886 by Gray Deans and Turner Williamson over the payout of their father’s estate, Daniel’s (putative) brother Edmond Williamson testified that he had taken care of Daniel’s orphaned son Turner Williamson, who was a small boy and did not “earn his [own] support” for a few years.

On 8 October 1891, Turner Williamson, 30, of Crossroads township, married Margarett Barnes, 22, of Crossroads, daughter of Wilson Barnes and Maggie Barnes, in the presence of Gray Newsom, Henry Dudley and Huel Newsom.

In the 1910 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Turner Williamson, 51, and children John E., 18, Bessie, 15, Effie, 12, Montie, 8, Junius T., 6, Annie, 5, and George D., 3.

Turner Williamson, 55, married Leesie Dew, 35, on 17 December 1914 in Crossroads township.

In the 1920 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Turner Williamson, 62; wife Margaret, 52; and children Bessie, 25, Effie, 23, Monte, 19, Turner, 17, Anne, 15, George, 13, Sarah, 4, and Amie, 8 months.

On 10 March 1929, Turner Williamson, 70, of Wilson married Lizzie Knight, 65, of Edgecombe County, daughter of Wilson Hagans, in Edgecombe County. Baptist minister Noah W. Smith performed the ceremony at Turner Pender’s in the presence of Turner Pender, James Henry Bynum and James Arthur Bynum.

In the 1930 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Turner Williamson, 72, and wife Lizzie, 70; with Effie Bynum, 35, widow, and her children Rudolph, 8, Kermitt, 7, William, 4, and Clara, 2. Next door: Johnie Williamson, 39, farmer; wife Leamither, 32; and children John H., 14, Maggielene, 12, Burlie, 10, Oscar P., 8, Charles L., 5, and James, 2.

Turner Williamson died 21 October 1937 in Crossroads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 77 years old; was married to Lizzie Heggins Williamson; and was a farmer. Johnie Williamson was informant.

  • Gray Deans

In the same suit, Gray Deans testified that he and Turner had been carried to Edmond Williamson’s house after their father’s death and that Turner was about 11 years old at the time and could work for his support.

In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: John Taylor, 21, and Gray Deens, 18.

Gray Deans, 22, married Tamer Bailey 18, in Old Fields township. Minister B.H. Boykin performed the ceremony in the presence of Moses Bailey, Allin Bailey, and John Boykin.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Gray Deans, 25, tenant farmer, and wife Tamer, 18.

In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Gray Deans, 48, farmer, and wife Tamer, 38.

On 13 October 1901, Gray Deans, 50, son of Daniel Williamson and Amie Deans, married Mary Boykin, 33, daughter of John Pettifoot and Catherine Pettifoot, in Wilson County. James Petifoot, Samuel Petifoot and Joel Oneil witnessed the ceremony.

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Gray Deans, 59; wife Mary, 48; and granddaughter Mary C. Deans, 4.

Gray Deans died 10 June 1918 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 January 1858 to Daniel Williamson and Mary Deans [sic] and was married. Informant was Mary Deans. He died without a will, and Wilson County Superior Court issued letters of administration to R.T. Barnes, who estimated the estate at $750.00 and identified Deans’ heirs as widow Mary Deans, [brother Turner Williamson, and [sister] Sylvia Deans.

  • Sylvia Mariah Deans

Sylvia Deans is not mentioned in Daniel Williamson’s estate files. She is, however, like, Turner Williamson, listed as an heir of Gray Deans, which suggests that she was their half-sister and they all shared a mother.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Silvia Deems, 36, domestic servant, with children Ellen, 8, and Jane, 6 months.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Sylvia Deans, 46, with children Jane, 11, Simon, 9, and Columbus Deans, 6. [Sylvia Deans apparently was not married. The marriage and death records of her sons John Simon and Columbus Deans name their father as Jordan Oneil, who appears in the 1870 and 1880 censuses of Wilson County in Spring Hill township.]

In the 1900 census of Old Fields township: Columbus Deans, 23, wife Rosa L., 22, children Silvanes, 3, and Gray C., 1, and mother Silva Deans, 54. Next door: John Deans, 28, wife Ada P., 23, and grandmother Emily Taylor, 75. I

n the 1920 census of Old Fields township: Columbus B. Deans, 44; wife Rosa Lee, 41; children Savanah, 22, Gray C., 20, Allinor, 17, Walter Kelley, 16, Bennie H., 14, William T., 12, James K., 10, George L., 9, and Lucy J., 7; grandchildren Ella W., 6, and Lossie Lee, 3; and mother Sylvion Deans, 74.

In the 1930 census of Old Fields: Columbus B. Deans, 54; wife Rosa L., 52; children and grandchildren James K., 21, Lucy J., 17, Ella W., 16, Lossie L., 13, Jessie, 8, Willie, 4, and Callie, 2; and mother Silvia Deans, 84.

Silvia Mariah Deans died 9 January 1938 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born in August 1843 in Nash County to Ernest Deans and Ennie Deans and was widowed. Simon Deans was informant. She was buried in New Vester church cemetery.

The mother does not wish him to have them.

A man named Abram sought the Freedman’s Bureau’s help in removing his children from John Bailey Batts’ indenture, and Batts wanted to set the record straight. With hubris typical of the times, Batts claimed to have raised the children (by virtue of having held them in slavery from their birth). Abram had once been married to an unnamed woman, but he had left her for Penny. Several children later, Abram left Penny, but was now claiming custody of their children. According to Batts, neither he nor Penny wanted the father to have them.

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Joyners N.C. Jany 12th 1866

Agent of Freedmen Goldsborough N.C.

Sir, I write to inform you of the condition of colored children born with and so far raised by me the man Abram that claims them had wife and she is still living but he left her and took up with Penny at my home she has several children by him but he has left her (Penny) but now claims her children the mother does not wish him to have them and those you bound to me I wish to retain. Penny can give her statement and I wish to hear from you please write to me and send by the woman Penny or by mail to Joyners Depot N.C. Your favorable consideration will much oblige

Yours verry truly, John B. Batts

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In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer John B. Batts, 32; wife Margaret, 23; children Mary A.F., 4, and Nancy H., 1; Eveline Morris, 21; and farm laborer Elba Lassiter, 16. [Lassiter was a free person of color who probably had been apprenticed to Batts.] Batts reported $1600 in real property and $7740 in personal property [which would mostly have been in the form of enslaved people.]

Batts is not listed in the 1870 census, though he likely remained in Wilson or Nash Counties. I have not been able to identify Abram or Penny.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

Their father claimed them.

Don’t let anyone tell you that slavery destroyed the black family. African-Americans struggled against terrible odds to unite sundered families, often standing up to authority in the process.

In June 1866, George W. Blount wrote a letter to the Freedmen’s Bureau on behalf of Josiah D. Jenkins of Edgecombe County. Just months after being forced to free them, Jenkins had indentured eight siblings whose mother had died. Within six months, the children’s family had come for them, and the five oldest had left for more agreeable situations. Sallie, 14, Sookie, 12, and Isabella, 10, were in Wilson County with their elder sister and her husband Willie Bullock. Arden, 16, was working for what appears to be a commercial partnership in Tarboro, and Bethania, 14, was with her and Arden’s father Jonas Jenkins (paternity that Blount pooh-poohed.) Jonas Jenkins had sought custody of his children before their indenture, but his claims had been trumped by a “suitable” white man who “ought” to have them because he had “raised them from infancy” [i.e., held them in slavery since birth] and their mother “died in his own house.”

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Wilson No.Ca. June 29 1866

Col. Brady   Col.

Mr. Jo. D. Jenkins of Edgecombe County has been here expecting to see you; but as he did not find you here he requested me to write to you and state his case, asking you to furnish him the remedy if any he is entitled to, and such he believes he has. In Dec 1865, Capt Richards Asst Sup F.B. for the dist of Tarboro, Apprenticed to him Eight (8) Orphan Colored children. The indentures he has, five, and the only ones large enough to render any service have been enticed away from him, leaving him with three who are hardly able to care for the own wants every thing furnished. Three of them are in the custody of Willie Bullock F.M. [freedman] whose wife is the older sister of the three. The others – Arden is in the employment of Messrs. Haskell & Knap near Tarboro. Bethania is in the custody of Jonas Jenkins F.M., who claims to be the father of both of her & Arden. The three first mentioned are in Wilson County the others in Edgecombe.

Mr. Jenkins desires me to say to you that if he cannot be secured in the possession of them he desires the indentures cancelled; for according to law he would be liable for Doctors bills – and to take care of them in case of an accident rendering them unable to take care of themselves.

This man Jonas set up claim to Arden and Bethania before they were apprenticed. The matter was referred to Col Whittlesey who decided that as they were bastard children he Jonas could not intervene preventing apprenticeship to a suitable person.

Mr. J is a suitable man to have charge of them and ought to have their services now. He raised them from infancy, and after the mother died in his own house

I am Col,                       Very Respectfully &c, G.W. Blount

An early reply desired.

A note from the file listing the Jenkins children to which Josiah D. Jenkins laid claim.

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Entry for Josiah D. Jenkins in the 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County. By 1860, Jenkins claimed ownership of 36 people, evenly divided between men and women. 

  • G.W. Blount — A year later, George W. Blount was embroiled in his own battle for control over formerly enslaved children. He lost.
  • Jo. D. Jenkins — Joseph [Josiah] D. Jenkins appears in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County, as a 59 year-old farmer who reported $25,000 in real property and $15,000 in personal property — remarkable wealth so soon after the Civil War. John Jenkins, 10, domestic servant, is the only black child living in his household and presumably of the one of the children at issue here.
  • Bethania Jenkins — on 7 April 1874, Turner Bullock, 23, married Bethany Jenkins, 21, in Edgecombe County.
  • Willie Bullock
  • Arden Jenkins
  • Sallie Jenkins
  • Sookie Jenkins
  • Isabella Jenkins — Isabella Jenkins, 22, married Franklin Stancil, 30, on 16 April 1878 at Jackson Jenkins’ in Edgecombe County. Isabelle Stancill died 19 November 1927 in Township No. 2, Edgecombe County,. Per her death certificate, she was about 80 years old; was born in Edgecombe County; was the widow of Frank Stancill; and was buried in Jenkins cemetery. Elliott Stancill was informant,
  • Jonas Jenkins — in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County, Jonas Jenkins, 45, farm laborer. No children are listed in the household he shared with white farmer John E. Baker.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount (assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org

Severe whippings for trifling faults.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County }

In the Probate Court Before A. Barnes, Probate Judge, May 8th, A.D. 1871.

George Morris an apprentice by indenture to Thomas White, colored, complaining says:

1st That he was bound by articles of indenture to Thomas White, colored, on the ___ day of _____ 18 ___ by

2nd That the said Thomas White has treated with great cruelty, inflicting upon him severe whippings for trifling faults, especially on the evening of Friday May 5th A.D. 1871 , when he was beaten by the said Thomas White in a most cruel and inhumane manner

Wherefore petitioner humbly asks your Honor that you will by order command the said Thomas White to appear before you at some early day to be named by your Honor to show cause why the articles of indenture above specified should not be cancelled.

George Morris, by Kenan & Durham, his Attorneys

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  • George Morris — in the 1870 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County, George Morriss, 10, is listed in the household of his mother Eliza Morriss. The family is described as white. [Eliza Morris was the widow of Warren Morris, with whom she appears in the 1850 Johnston County census.] The absence of a color designation behind Morris’ name in this petition can be interpreted as as an indication that he was white, which accords with this census entry.
  • Thomas White — in the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Thomas White, 56; wife Charlotte, 56; and Lucy, 14, Reuben, 15, George, 10, and Lucy White, 3. [The apprenticeship of white children by African-American masters was exceedingly rare, and White was surely taking his life in his hands abusing one.]
  • Kenan & Durham — Col. Thomas S. Kenan (1838-1911) settled in Wilson in 1869 and opened a law practice that flourished and lead to a long and influential legal career.

Apprentice Records-1871, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.