Boy murdered by a boy.

Fifteen year-old farmer Earnest McKinley Crudup was shot in the head by another boy in January 1920. I have not been able to discover details of the incident.


“Gunshot wound in the head murdered by a boy”


In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Rufus Crudup, 38, farmer; wife A. Susie, 39; and children Edgar, 19, Cornelia, 16, McKenly, 15, Cleo, 12, Hazel, 10, and Rufus, 1.

Earnest McKinley Crudup is buried in Jones Hill cemetery. (Which is located on the opposite side of the county from his home. What was the connection?)

The doctor accidentally killed him.


“Accidentaly killed by auto Driven by the hands of Dr Paisley Fields Weldon N.C. occurred in Wilson Co near Elm City”

I have not been able to discover any additional information about the automobile accident that took 17 year-old Allen Deans‘ life. Five months later, however, this notice appeared in the Wilson Daily Times. “Judgment” implies that Deans’ estate won a monetary settlement from Fields, a Halifax County doctor, but no details are provided.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 June 1929.


In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Josuah Deans, 62; wife Julia, 39; and children Glendora, 19, Minnie, 14, Daisy, 13, James, 11, Ernest, 9, Allen, 8, Louis, 6, twins Armor and Norman, 4, John, 2, and twins Mary and Martha, 8 months.

Allen Deans is buried in Elm City Colored Cemetery.

She look at a hog.

My mother’s first job after she married and moved to Wilson was as a teacher at North Greene Elementary, a small segregated school fifteen miles southeast in tiny Walstonburg. She carpooled to and from Wilson with several other teachers who worked in Greene County, and in the spring of 1964 was pregnant with me, her firstborn. My mother generally rode in the backseat and, on this particular day, Dora Dickerson was back there with her. As they passed a farm, my mother, a city girl, exclaimed, “Ohhh! Look over there at those pigs!” Ms. Dickerson slapped her hand across my mother’s eyes. “Girl! Don’t look at that! You can’t look at pigs when you’re expecting!”

I have been hearing this story since I was a little girl, and my mother and I never fail to get a good laugh from it. The danger she faced, however, was real to many, as shown on this 1921 death certificate. Though baby John Moore was stillborn in Nahunta township, Wayne County, his parents James and Mamie Moore were from neighboring Wilson County. Midwife Cassie Exum Sherrod, who spent her life in Wayne and Wilson Counties in the Watery Branch area, attended the delivery. Though not a doctor, Sherrod completed the newborn’s Medical Certificate of Death. In her opinion, Mamie Moore’s own carelessness had caused her baby’s death: “She look at a hog an had not of look at him he might of been living to day.”

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“She look at a hog an had not of look at him he might of been living to day.”

Hat tip to Suzannah McCuen.

The first entry.

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“Kept By the Register of Deeds: The Life History Could Be Your Own,” David Witherspoon, Wilson Daily Times, 24 August 1963.

This paragraph from an article about Wilson County’s Record of Deeds Office asserts that the first entry in county death records was for a three month-old African-American girl.

The town of Wilson began recording sporadically in 1909, and the county followed in 1913. However, as digitized in’s database of North Carolina death certificates, Wilson County’s first death of 1913, recorded January 1 of that year, was for two day-old A.L. Darden Jr., a white child. In fact, the death certificate this article describes is nowhere to be found in the digital database in the month of January.

Snaps, no. 67: Happy Easter!

Easter in East Wilson, 1967.

My mother and I on Easter Sunday, just before my sister was born. Henderson Cooke owned the house we rented at 1401 Carolina Street. The trees in the near background were in an empty lot with a garden owned by Jesse T. McPhail, who lived at 1316 Carolina. The endway house visible over my shoulder is 1326 Carolina Street, built about 1917.

The 102nd anniversary of the school boycott.

Today marks the 102nd anniversary of the resignation of 11 African-American teachers in Wilson, North Carolina, in rebuke of their “high-handed” black principal and the white school superintendent who slapped one of them. In their wake, black parents pulled their children out of the public school en masse and established a private alternative in a building owned by a prominent black businessman.  Financed with 25¢-a-week tuition payments and elaborate student musical performances, the Independent School operated for nearly ten years. The school boycott, sparked by African-American women standing at the very intersection of perceived powerless in the Jim Crow South, was an astonishing act of prolonged resistance that unified Wilson’s black toilers and strivers.

The school boycott is largely forgotten in Wilson, and its heroes go unsung. In their honor, today, and every April 9, I publish links to these Black Wide-Awake posts chronicling the walk-out and its aftermath. Please read and share and speak the names of Mary C. Euell and the revolutionary teachers of the Colored Graded School.…-the-white-folks/