The program.

The Times published the full program of commencement exercises for Wilson Normal and Industrial Institute’s first graduating class. The composition of the school’s board of directors reveals the depth of investment by East Wilson’s elite. (Even veterinarian E.L. Reid, whose brother J.D. Reid lit the match that started the public school boycott conflagration.)

Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 11.01.29 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 11.01.53 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 11.02.27 PM.png

Wilson Times, 28 May 1919.

  • Harry C. Eldridge and J. Bassett Willard published Arcticania, or Columbia’s Trip to the North Pole, an Operetta in Two Acts, a “juvenile fairy spectable,” in 1916. Eldridge and Elizabeth F. Guptill published Midsummer Eve, a Musical Fairy Play for Children in 1920.
  • S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick, former teacher, former postmaster, real estate developer.
  • W.S. Hines — Walter S. Hines, barber.
  • W.H. Phillips — William H. Phillips, dentist.
  • N.J. Tate — Noah J. Tate, barber.
  • C.L. Darden — Camillus L. Darden, undertaker and business owner.
  • W.A. Mitchner — William A. Mitchner, physician.
  • J.W. Rogers — John W. Rogers, businessman.
  • D.C. Yancy — Darcy C. Yancey, pharmacist.
  • M.H. Wilson — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 126 Pender Street, Virginia-born house contractor Mansfield H. Wilson, 60; son Samuel H., 20; and sister-in-law Lucy Richards, 40.
  • L.A. Moore — Lee A. Moore, merchant and insurance agent.
  • William Hines — barber and real estate developer.
  • E.L. Reid — Elijah L. Reid, veterinarian.
  • A.L.E. Weeks — Alfred L.E. Weeks, Baptist minister.
  • R.R. Forman — Organist, pianist and composer Allie Waling Forman (1855-1937) registered her work under the name Mrs. R.R. Forman.
  • Frederic Boscovitz composed the duet “Bella Napoli” in 1900.
  • Rogenia Barnes — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street,
  • Lillian Wilson
  • Boisey Barnes — Boisey O. Barnes, half-brother of Walter and William Hines.
  • Lester Mitchell
  • Willard Crawford
  • Addie Davis — Addie Davis Butterfield, daughter of Baptist minister Fred M. Davis Sr.
  • Jos. Rosemond Johnson — James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) composed “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” as a poem in 1900, and his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) set it to music in 1905. In 1919, the year of the Industrial School graduation, the NAACP dubbed the song the “Negro National Anthem.”
  • R.N. Perry — Robert N. Perry, Episcopal priest.


A big occasion in the history of the race in this city.

I was astonished to realize that this article memorializes the first commencement exercises at the Independent School — here called by its full and official name, the Wilson  Normal and Industrial Institute. As chronicled here and here and here, a coalition of African-American parents and religious and civic leaders founded the Independent School (also known as the Industrial School) in the wake of an assault on a black teacher by the white school superintendent.

I have not been able to identify Judge William Harrison of Chicago, who delivered to the new school’s graduates a remarkably unprogressive message that seemingly flew in the face of the stand for civil rights the community had resolutely made just a year earlier. The Times reporter made no mention of the school’s genesis, preferring to focus at length on Harrison’s message of admiration for the white man’s guidance and fine example.

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.02.53 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.03.35 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.04.13 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.04.45 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.04.59 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.05.37 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.06.05 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.06.24 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.06.43 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.07.00 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 11.07.22 PM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1919.

  • Judge William Harrison
  • Prof. S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick furnished a building on Vance Street to house the new school.
  • Rev. A.L.E. Weeks — Alfred L.E. Weeks was a member of the Colored Ministerial Union committee appointed to address the community’s concerns to the school board.
  • Joseph S. Jackson — Joseph S. Jackson Jr.
  • Boisy Barnes — Boisey O. Barnes.
  • Lester Mitchell — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Annie Mitchell, 70, her children Sallie, 46, Eddie, 44, Albert, 42, Eva, 36, and Floyd, 34, plus niece Sevreane, 18, and nephew Lester, 15.
  • Willard Crawford — probably, Daniel Willard Crawford who died 16 October 1964 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 January 1900 in Wilson County to Daniel Crawford and Annie Whitted; was never married; and worked as a carpenter. Walter H. Whitted was informant.
  • Addie Davis — Addie Davis Butterfield.
  • Rev. R.N. Perry — Episcopal priest Robert N. Perry was also on the Ministerial Union’s committee.
  • Lillian Wilson — perhaps, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: livery stable groom William Wilson, 51; wife Sarah, 48, and daughters Elen, 23, and Lillian, 21, both tobacco factory workers.

Suffer the little children: death by fire.

Well into the twentieth century, children faced harrowing odds at reaching adulthood. Disease, accidents, violence bore them away in sorrowful numbers. In the 1910s, 17% of American children died before age 5, a figure that was higher for Southern and African-American children. Few children in Wilson County were buried in marked graves. In town, original burials were in Oaklawn or the Masonic cemetery. The Oaklawn graves were exhumed and moved to Rest Haven in the 1940s, and headstones, if they ever existed, have been lost over time.

By allowing us to call their names again, this series of posts memorializes the lives of children who died during the first twenty years in which Wilson County maintained death records. May they rest in peace.

  • On 11 February 1915, Mary Mercer, 2, in Wilson, daughter of Dempsey Mercer and Maggie Hines, was burned to death.
  • On 17 February 1915, Wilbert Hall, 3, in Stantonsburg, son of James and Henrietta Hall, died after his “clothes caught fire and [he] was burned so badly he died within a few hours.”
  • On 11 December 1915, Willie Gray Harrison, 4, in Taylors township, son of Ed Wiggins and Bessie Harrison, died of accidental burns.
  • On 6 June 1916, Lizzie Green, 14, in Oldfields township, daughter of George Parker, married, was accidentally “burned to death — her dress caught fire while cooking in lumber camp, from cracks in stove.”
  • On 18 October 1916, Lucrecia Pace, 4, in Oldfields township, daughter of Dewitt Pace and Fannie Renfrow, died after “burned in clothing caught while playing in fire with no one in house but smaller baby.”
  • On 28 March 1917, Robert Rich, 18 months, in Gardners township, son of Edd Rich and Martha Dickens, died after “burned to death in burning home.”
  • On 10 May 1918, Milton Haskins, 3, in Wilson township, son of John Haskins and Eliza Joyner, died after “burned while in home asleep.”
  • On 26 September 1918, Hattie Bynum, 6, in Saratoga township, daughter of Lynn and Lena Bynum, died after being “burned by fire — clothes caught fire around wash pot.” She was buried at the “Whitehead place.”
  • On 4 March 1920, May Lillie Battle, 7, in Gardners township, daughter of Simon Battle and Mary Hines, died after being burned.
  • On 27 November 1920, Namie Pearl Clark, 5, in Saratoga township, daughter of William Clark and Ella Graves, “died in about 3 hours of burn covering entire body.” She was buried in “Vines cemetery.”
  • On 25 April 1922, Manallis Hooks, 3, in Wilson, son of Barnard Hooks and Sittie Dawson, “burned to death, caught from open fireplace during absence of parents.”
  • On 8 March 1923, Leroy Wanamaker, 6 months, in Saratoga, son of James Wanamaker and Augusta Walker, “burned to death.” He was buried “near Saratoga.”
  • On 12 November 1923, Linda Inman, 4, in Toisnot township, daughter of Lim Inman and Edna McNeal, “burned to death, dress caught from grate.”

Studio shots, no. 102: Joe and Minnie Bailey Kent.

Screen Shot 2019-02-18 at 9.34.16 PM.png

Joe and Minnie Bailey Kent and eldest daughter Fannie, circa 1910.

Joseph Kent, 26, of Cross Roads township, son of Elbert and Bacy Kent, married Minnie Bailiey, 20, of Cross Roads, daughter of Julia Bailey on 19 February 1907. Free Will Baptist minister J.W. Richardson performed the ceremony in the presence of J.H. Rowe, T.W.A. Thompson, and W.H. Richardson, all of Lucama.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Joseph Kent, 28; wife Minnie, 22; daughter Fannie, 1; and sister-in-law Rosa Bailey, 18.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Joe Kent, 38, farmer; wife Minnie, 30; and children Fannie, 11, Lillie, 9, Joe, 7, Elbert, 5, Ellic, 3, and Pauline, 5 months.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Joe Kent, 48, farmer; wife Minnie, 42; and children Joseph, 17, Elbert, 15, Elek, 13, Pauline, 10, Elve, 8, Addilee, 5, and Wallace, 3.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Joe Kent, 48; wife Minnie, 51; and children Elbert, 25, Alex, 23, Ella, 17, Addie Lee, 15, and Wallace, 13; as well as daughter Lillie Powell, 25, and her children Joseph, 9, Elmer Lee, 5, and Bill, 3.

Joe Kent died 22 November 1957 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 August 1890 in Wilson County to Elbert Kent; resided in Lucama; was married to Minnie Kent; and was buried in Mary Grove cemetery. Fannie Patterson was informant.

Minnie B. Kent died 15 February 1966 in Lucama. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 March 1890 in Harnett County to George Bailey and Julia Bailey; was a widow; and she was buried in Mary Grove cemetery. Pauline Ward was informant.

Many thanks to Bernard Patterson for sharing this photograph.


Farmer’s School revisited.

Field Trip to Farmers School: Rural Wilson County Education History Unearthed

By Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Times, 8 February 2019.

Shirley Pitt climbed up the steps of the old Farmers School and stepped into the past.

“My mother went here,” Pitt said. “This is our history.”

Farmers School was a two-room school north of Silver Lake in the Cliftonville community at the Wilson-Nash county line. It was one of 21 early 20th-century schools attended by members of the African-American community prior to integration.

Pitt, of Wilson, led a group of former students, children of students, neighbors and other interested people through the woods Jan. 29 to pay a visit to the school site.

Past rusty old farm implements, the group beat a new path through the woods to the building.

In the days before the visit, Pitt had gathered pictures of former students and placed them in a frame to display at the wooded pathway leading to the school.

Using hoes, men in the group chopped through years of overgrowth to clear a slender path on the cement steps leading up to the front doors.

Almost every pane in every window was broken out. Thick vines climbed up and around to a holey roof covered with years of leaves and pine straw.

Pitt organized a return to the two-room school to reconnect with an important part of Wilson County’s bygone days.

“I got on the phone and called cousins and the ones that had family here and friends that knew about Farmers School, and they all came out to celebrate today,” Pitt said.


Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute and Julius Rosenwald, a philanthropist and president of Sears and Roebuck, led an effort to build more than 5,000 schools across the South between 1917 and 1932 for the purpose of providing education facilities for the African-American population. According to the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, Farmers School was not one of the 15 Rosenwald schools to be built in Wilson County but might have benefited from some Rosenwald funds.

It isn’t clear when the Farmers Mill Colored School first opened, but county records show that John S. Thompson sold the land for the school to the Wilson County Board of Education for $1 on Oct. 16, 1926. That land was held by Wilson County until Nov. 19, 1951, when it was sold to Alfred Barker, then resold Dec. 17, 1951, to William Johnson, highest bidder in a public auction, for $1,550.

The Farmers Mill Colored School was part of an offering the Wilson County Board of Education made at public auction of 19 African-American schools including New Vester, Jones Hill, Sims, Calvin Level, Wilbanks, Howards, Brooks, Minshews, Ruffin, Lofton, Lucama, Rocky Branch, Williamson, Bynums, Saratoga, Yelverton, Stantonsburg and Evansdale.

The property’s current owner is Cary resident Mary Lynn Thompson Whitley.


Farmers School was a two-room structure with first- through third-graders taught in one room and fourth- through seventh-graders taught in the other.

Raymond Lucas, 77, of Wilson, went to the school in 1947. Lucas grew up to become the first black deputy in the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked for more than 30 years.

“We had an old wood stove that they heated with,” Lucas said. “We lived right across the street from the school. When I was there I could get to school in about five minutes.”

Lucas remembers being one of about 15 or 20 students who attended the school at the time.

“It was real nice when we went there. Mostly everybody in the neighborhood went,” Lucas said. “It brings back a lot of memories and everything there at that school. I was really young at that time.

“A nurse would come there, one of the county nurses, Mable Ellis, and when everybody would see her coming, they would know she was coming to give a shot.”

Rhonnie Mae Arrington Jackson, 87, speaking by phone from her home in San Antonio, Texas, remembers that her room in the school didn’t have desks.

“We had a long table with some on one side and some on the other and some on the end,” Jackson said. “We didn’t have chairs. We had a long bench, and you stepped across the bench and sat down at the table.

Thelma Dorris Winstead Hall of Snow Hill and Annie Morris Winstead Woodard of Rocky Mount were twins born June 6, 1944. They went to Farmers School as 6-year-olds. They learned their ABCs, how to spell their names, how to color pictures and how to play with others.

“We learned how to give respect, manners and to love, be friendly and have friends,” Woodard said. “We couldn’t answer older people with, ‘What?’ It was ‘Yes ma’am.’ ‘No ma’am.’ ‘Sir.’ ‘Yes sir.’ ‘No sir.’ We had to be respectful to older people and use good manners.”


Jackson and her little sister, Sadie Arrington Sessoms, 85, remember all the students gathering together to wrap the maypole.

“We would have a pole standing up, and we would have some ribbons from the top of the pole coming down to reach where the children were. And there were different color ribbons, and we would walk around that pole and go under one and come out, and the other one would go under us, and we did that all the way down the pole, which made a very beautiful pole,” Sessoms said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Hall and Woodard remember that after a lesson, the children would use a little stage on one side of a classroom for skits, plays and tap dances.

As soon as the twins got into the school on the recent visit, the first place they went was up two steps onto a stage.

“We just had fun back here, and we learned,” Woodard said.

“Then we would go out in the yard and wrap the maypole. A lot of children don’t even know what that is now,” Woodard said. “We had an old pump out there. If we got thirsty, we would go down there and crank up that old pump and drink some cold water and go back to playing.”


An aerial photograph from 1936 supplied by Will Corbett, GIS coordinator for Wilson County, shows a myriad of paths in the woods leading to the school from the west and north. A large clearing adjacent to the building suggests much activity around the school.

Modern photographs enhanced by light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, technology, clearly show the walking paths and driveways leading to the school and through the adjacent cemetery.

Woodard and Hall said Farmers School had no school bus. The sisters walked with the older students to and from school every school day through a path, a shortcut through the woods that came through the cemetery. Jackson recalls the children walking through the woods eating the berries, the orange fruit of the persimmon tree and the pulp from dangling pods of the locust tree.

“I don’t know if we carried lunch to school or not,” Jackson said. “We would be real hungry and we had to go by a locust tree, and we would pull the locusts off of the tree and eat them. It was a little path where we walked going to school. They were almost like a long corn stalk. They were purple. You would pull them off the tree and break them open and eat what was inside. A lot of times that was all we had to eat, so the locusts were just like we were eating food.”

“All I know is the long walk we walked going to school,” Sessoms recalled last week. “I do remember walking around the edge of somebody’s field.”

The school had no cafeteria.

“Memories, memories, memories,” Hall said. “We had to take our lunch in a brown paper bag every day. Our friends carried sweet potatoes and fatback biscuit, peanut butter and crackers and whatever Mother fixed for us.”


Lucas said the school was named for the Farmer family members who lived in the area.

Sessoms and Jackson came from a family with 14 children.

“My daddy moved every year. All my daddy acted like he knew was farming,” Sessoms said. “As we got old enough to work, he had each one of us working in tobacco.”

The sisters said when they went into the school last week, it was as exciting as the first day they started at Farmers School in 1950.

“It is a wonderful, exciting feeling for me to even come back here where I started at school,” Woodard said. “It’s an excitement for me to be here just with the ones that are here, and I know it will be an excitement for me to see a lot of them I haven’t seen in years and years.”


There are many Farmers buried in a cemetery a short walk north of the school.

“I have a lot of relatives that are there now — grandmother, grandfather, cousins and all buried over there,” Raymond Lucas said. “It is a family grave spot.”

Paul Lucas, a New Jersey resident, drove down to take the tour of the school his family members attended.

“My brother did. My dad did. My brothers was in the last class,” Paul Lucas said. “We lived on the farm here, the Thompson farm here.” He also came to North Carolina to see the grave of his father, William Hulen Lucas. Pitt led Lucas to his father’s resting place near the school.

Jimmie Arrington of Wilson said it was an adventure seeing the school again.

“The last time I was over here was when we had a funeral,” said Arrington. “I don’t know how long it has been. It is nice to get back to where everything was started out and see what’s going on now with it. It would be nice if we could have it cleaned up and possibly do something to the school so it could be in better shape for other people to see it in the future.”

Robert Vick of the New Hope community agreed.

“I remember this school being here. When I saw someone had posted something on Facebook about coming to the school, I knew Shirley and all of the Arrington family and several of these folks. I knew their grandparents and all growing up in the community. It is interesting to see someone taking an interest in it. This ought to be preserved because it is a part of the history of this area.”

Pitt said she is planning a large reunion at the school in April.

Screen Shot 2019-02-17 at 9.02.52 PM.png

Photo of Farmer’s School by Drew C. Wilson, courtesy of Wilson Times. For additional photos of the school, please visit Wilson’s article via the link above.


An afternoon with Mr. Lathan.

Samuel Caswell Lathan sat in the front row during my presentation at Wilson County Public Library last week, making me a little nervous. This extraordinary musician, who once played drums for James Brown, was especially interested in the topic — he grew up on the 500 block of East Nash Street in the 1930s and ’40s. I visited with Mr. Lathan the next afternoon, soaking up his memories of the people and businesses of the block, whom he credits for setting him on his path as a drummer. He urged me to continue my documentation of East Wilson and expressed appreciation for and satisfaction with my work thus far.

Mr. Lathan also shared with me some extraordinary photographs of pre-World War II East Nash Street. Here he is as a toddler, circa 1931.

This stunning image depicts Neal’s Barbershop, with three of its barbers, circa 1935. Mr. Lathan is the boy leaning against the window, and Walter Sanders is seated in the chair awaiting a cut. “Billy Jr.” stands to his left in the photo, and an unidentified boy to the right.

African-American photographer John H. Baker took this family portrait of an adolescent Sam Lathan with his mother Christine Barnes Collins, grandmother Jeanette Barnes Plummer, and aunt Irene Plummer Dew in the late 1930s.

And this Baker portrait depicts Mr. Lathan’s beloved late wife, Mary Magdelene Knight Lathan.

Sam Lathan has graciously agreed to meet with me again to further explore his recollection of Black Wilson. I thank him for his interest, his time, and his generosity.

Photos courtesy of Samuel C. Lathan, please do not reproduce without permission.

Suffer the little children: death by accident.

Well into the twentieth century, children faced harrowing odds against reaching adulthood. Disease, accidents, and violence bore them away with stunning regularity. In the 1910s, 17% of American children died before age 5, a figure that was higher for Southern and African-American children.

Few Wilson County children who died in that era were buried in marked graves. In town, original burials were in Oaklawn or the Masonic cemetery. The Oaklawn graves were exhumed and moved to Rest Haven in the 1940s, and headstones, if they ever existed, have been lost over time. By allowing us to call their names again, this series of posts memorializes the lives of children who died in the first twenty years in which Wilson County maintained death records. May they rest in peace.

  • On 13 January 1914, Prince Albert Barnes, 14, of Wilson, son of Arren and Margaret Barnes, died of a “blow upon head & fracture of the skull, accidental.” He worked as a laborer.
  • On 2 February 1915, Herman Carroll, 6, son of A.J. and Marchaline Pierce Carroll, died when a falling tree fractured his skull “from ear to ear.”
  • On 10 March 1915, John Hines, 8, of Toisnot township, son of John Hines, was killed by a runaway mule. His feet were caught in the stirrups, and he was dragged head down for half a mile. He was buried in Elm City Colored Cemetery.
  • On 22 April 1917, Lonnie Hilliard, 3, died after his ankle was fractured in an automobile accident.
  • On 2 May 1918, Elma Taylor, 5, of Taylors township, daughter of Alice Taylor and Haywood Johnson, fell in a well and drowned. Her family buried her.
  • On 9 August 1921, Fredie Williams, 15, of Wilson township, son of Richard and Mary Williams, drowned. He was buried in “Barnes grave yd.”

Screen Shot 2019-01-29 at 8.57.06 PM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 12 August 1921.

  • On 24 October 1921, Robert Speight, 17, in Wilson township, son of James Adkinson and Mamie Hill, was “killed at sawmill by some sort of machinery striking him on the head accidentally.”
  • On 6 March 1922, Novella McClain, 8, of Wilson, daughter of Charley and Mary Ella McClain, died from a blow to the head, over her right eye, by an automobile.

Screen Shot 2019-01-29 at 9.05.42 PM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1922.

  • On 11 December 1923, Lily Mae Reid Jones, 17, of Wilson, was “accidentally killed by train.” She was a factory laborer and a widow.
  • On 23 December 1923, Rosa Lee Jones, 5, of Saratoga township, daughter of Garfield and Bessie Parker Jones, died after she was “accidentally run over by car automobile.”
  • On 15 May 1925, Massey L. Murchinson, 10, of Elm City, son of A.A. and Annie Townsend Murchinson, drowned by accident.
  • On 6 April 1926, Eddie B. Bass, 5, of Wilson township, son of James and Geneva Clifton Bass, was “accidentally killed while playing in a tree [fell] and broke his neck; instant death.”

Suffer the little children: death by violence.

Well into the twentieth century, children faced harrowing odds against reaching adulthood. Disease, accidents, and violence bore them away with stunning regularity. In the 1910s, 17% of American children died before age 5, a figure that was higher for Southern and African-American children.

Few Wilson County children who died in that era were buried in marked graves. In town, original burials were in Oaklawn or the Masonic cemetery. The Oaklawn graves were exhumed and moved to Rest Haven in the 1940s, and headstones, if they ever existed, have been lost over time. By allowing us to call their names again, this series of posts memorializes the lives of children who died in the first twenty years in which Wilson County maintained death records. May they rest in peace.


Though it appears that there was relatively little intentional homicide, death by gunshot was a dispiritingly common occurrence:

  • On 16 March 1910, Mary Lillie Loyd, 10, of Wilson, daughter of Bettie Loyd, died “from gunshot wound, accidentally fired.”
  • On 23 October 1911, Ida L. Speights, 7, of Wilson, daughter of J.C and Rebecca Robinson Speight, died of a “gun shot accidentally by Fred Davis carelessly handling gun among children.” (In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Green Street, Jake Speights, 45, laborer; wife Rebecca, 30; and children Eva, 14, Lennie, 12, Joseph, 10, Ida, 5, Bessie, 3, and Addie, 1.)

Wilson Daily Times, 27 October 1911.

  • On 28 January 1913, Floyd Anderson, 6, of Toisnot township, son of Charlie Anderson, “was accidentally shot by his brother a boy 8 years old.” (In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Township #12, Edgecombe County: Charlie Anderson, 24, and wife Viola, 20, both farm laborers, and sons Thomas, 4, and Floyd, 3.)
  • On 24 March 1914, James Scott Johnson, 8, of Elm City, son of James and Lola Batten [Battle] Johnson, died of an “accidental gunshot wound, self-inflicted.” (In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: James Johnson, 35, drayman for wholesale grocery; wife Lola, 34, washerwoman; and children Laurenzell, 6, and James S., 4.)
  • On 5 July 1914, Clinton Sylvester Ayers, 6, of Wilson, son of William and Zilfie Dew Ayers, died of a “gunshot wound, accidental.” A second death certificate, for Sylvester Ayers, 6, of Spring Hill, gives the cause of death as “gunshot wound in knee, death from shock after operation, accident.” (In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Red Hill Road, William T. Ayres, 54; wife Zilphia, 45; and children David J., 15, Lillie, 11, Albert, 9, Walter, 7, Solomon, 4, and Clinton S., 1.)
  • On 2 January 1917, Minnie Barnhill, 11, of Wilson, daughter of Marcellus and Mary Barnhill, died from a “rifle bullet through brain by another person, accidental.”
  • On 31 January 1917, Eugenia Abram, 11, of Toisnot township, daughter of Tom and Sallie Bunn Abram, died from a “hemorrhage from gun shot wound (accidental).” (In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Tom Abram, 25, sawmill laborer; wife Sallie, 22; and daughters Genie, 4, Mary, 2, and Savannah, 1.)
  • On 18 November 1918, Simon Moore, 13, of Saratoga township, son of Marcellus and Lissie Rountree Moore, was “accidentally killed by gunshot wound.” (In the 1910 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: Marcelas Moore, 26; wife Lissie, 24; and sons Simon, 4, and Henry, 2.)
  • On 22 July 1919, Lewis Henry Williams, 15, of Toisnot township, son of Czaar and Annie Williams, died of “accidental gun shot in abdomen.”
  • On 24 March 1920, Mary Brown, 16, of Wilson, daughter of Willie and Mary Brown, died of a “stab wound above left nipple, homicide.”
  • On 20 May 1920, David Jackson Moore, 4, of Wilson, son of Andrew Moore and Minnie Mercer Moore, died of “gunshot of head, accident.”
  • On 8 July 1921, Ira Owens, of Wilson, son of Mack and Mary Gardens Owens, died as a result of “punishment received while at work on county road.” [In other words, Owens was beaten or otherwise abused to death while serving on a road crew, a sentence imposed by a county court.]