Church

The deed for Rountree cemetery.

In early 1906, Rountree Missionary Baptist Church purchased part of the land that comprises part of Rountree cemetery. The deed is found in deed book 76, page 97, and is transcribed below. The deed describes a parcel only half the size of the current boundaries of Rountree’s lot. Was a later purchase consolidated?

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North Carolina, Wilson County  }

This Deed, made this 24th day of February, A.D. 1906, by F.W. Barnes and wife Hattie B. Barnes, parties of the first part, to Charles Bullock, Jesse Barnes and William Crudup, Trustees of the Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, parties of the second part, WITNESSETH:

That the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of One Hundred Dollars to them in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledge, have bargained and sold, and do by these presents convey unto the said parties of the second part, that certain lot of land lying and being situate in Wilson township, county and state aforesaid, adjoining the lands of J.C. Farrior, F.W. Barnes and the present church lot, above mentioned, and more particularly described as follows: Beginning in the middle of the canal [Sandy Creek], the present church lot corner, thence south 72 ½ west 270 feet to a stake, cornering, thence south 24 west 565 feet to the canal, cornering, thence up said canal to the beginning, containing one acre, more or less.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD said real estate with the privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging unto to the said parties of the second part and their successors in office in fee simple.

And the said F.W. Barnes for himself, his heirs and personal representatives do covenant to and with the said parties of the second part, their heirs, successors assigns: That he will forswear warrant and defend the title to said real estate against the lawful claim or claims of all other persons whomsoever.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, the said parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals, the day and year first above written.   /s/ F.W. Barnes, M.B. Barnes

Witness: W.E. Warren

Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

I happened unexpectedly upon Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church a few miles east of Lucama. 

The style of the building suggests that it was built circa the turn of the 20th century. The original block of the church consisted of a rectangular, gable-front section with a square tower on the gable end facing the road. Five peaked windows grace each side. The cinder-block wings on each side of the double front door are relatively recent modifications, built to house restrooms. There are also newer additions at rear.

The church is decorated with a large cross fitted with lightbulbs and a cast-iron bell in the yard. Thelma B. Forbes states the bell was rung to announce church services.

When I sought information about this church, my childhood friend Dawn Forbes Murphy informed me her maternal grandfather Kennell Braswell and family had belonged to Macedonia. (Her grandmother Marie Cannady Braswell was a member of Mary Grove Missionary Baptist Church.) Dawn has wonderful memories of attending Macedonia as a child, sitting on wooden benches in summer heat, singing hymns without piano or organ accompaniment, delicious food served at church functions, and lots of love. Dawn’s mother Thelma Braswell Forbes recalls there was once two-room school on the grounds of the church. The school was moved down the road from the church, but may still be standing. Though Mrs. Forbes is not sure when the church was founded, she knows her father Kennell Braswell joined as a child, and eventually his mother Minnie Cox Braswell was mother of the church. The church met only twice a month, so the Braswells attended Mary Grove on alternate Sundays.

Kennell and Marie Cannady Braswell.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Braswell, 30; wife Minnie, 26; and children Sadie, 10, Missie, 9, Aira, 7, Sallie, 1, Mary, newborn, Ira, 6, Kennon, 5, and Roland, 3.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Braswell, 39; wife Minne, 37; and children Ira, 16, Kennen, 15, Roland, 14, Sallie, 12, Pennie, 10, Irene, 9, Hessie C., 7, Allen, 6, Hazel, 5, Bessie, 3, Leslie, 2, and William T., 10 months.

On 28 November 1936, Kennell Braswell, 22, of Lucama, son of Thomas and Minnie Braswell, married Marie Cannaday, 20, of Lucama, daughter of Charlie and Mary Cannaday, in Smithfield, Johnston County. Ossie M. Cannady and Curtis L. Cannady of Lucama were witnesses.

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: South Carolina-born farmer Charlie Cannady, 60; wife Mary, 50; daughter Marie Braswell, 23; son-in-law Kennel Braswell, 24; and grandchildren Minnie M., 2, and Charlie T., 1. Mary and Marie were also born in South Carolina.

In 1940, Kennel Braswell registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 15 September 1916 in Wayne County; his contact was mother Minnie Braswell; and he worked for Ceney Boyex, R.F.D. #2, Wilson.

Kennell Braswell (1914-1992) as a World War II soldier.

Photo of church by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2019; family photos courtesy of Dawn F. Murphy.

Rev. John W. Perry, Episcopal priest.

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Educated at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, John W. Perry was a deacon when appointed in 1882 to serve Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Tarboro. Perry was ordained a priest in 1887 and two years later was assigned to lead the congregation at Saint Mark’s in Wilson in addition to Saint Luke’s. He shared these posts for the next twelve years.

See Rev. Dr. Brooks Graebner, “Historically Black Episcopalian Congregations in the Diocese of North Carolina: 1865-1959” (2018), for more on Rev. Perry.

 

The Wilson Chapel Four.

The Wilson Chapel Four, of which there were five, were the first African-American gospel group to perform on local radio station WGTM.

WGTM regularly published its schedule in the Daily Times. Here, the Wilson Chapel Four were slotted in at 8:30 Sunday night.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 August 1941.

Photo courtesy of the Freeman Round House and African-American Museum.

 

Kennedy family photos.

Tennessee native Rev. John E. Kennedy was pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church from about 1925 to about 1930. (The family is not listed in the 1930 census of Wilson.) He had married Annie L. Moore, whose mother Serena Suggs Moore was a native of Wilson and a daughter of G. Washington and Esther Suggs.

This photograph was taken on the front steps of Saint John’s parsonage, next door to the church. The Kennedys’ youngest child, son James Reginald, was born in Wilson.

The Kennedy family in 1929 — Rev. John Kennedy, Annie Moore Kennedy, James R. Kennedy and Ruby E. Kennedy.

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Rev. Dr. John E. Kennedy (1876-1944).

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Annie Lucretia Moore Kennedy (1883-1942).

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Rubye Eloise Kennedy (1917-1993).

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James Reginald Kennedy (1925-1997).

The parsonage at 121 North Pender Street, Wilson. The shed-roof porch is unfortunate recent add-on.

Kennedy family photos courtesy of Ancestry.com user JamesKennedy621; photo of parsonage taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, August 2019.

Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church.

Now at 1626 Martin Luther King Parkway (formerly East Nash Street), Trinity, Wilson’s second A.M.E. Zion church, was originally located on Banks Street.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory (1928).

Wilson Daily Times, 16 October 1948.

This granite plaque is affixed to eastern end of the church’s front porch:

Jesse T. McPhail is memorialized for his nearly 70 years of service to Trinity, which he joined just after his 19th birthday.

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In the 1910 census of Dunn, Harnett County: on Washington and Pearson, lumber mill laborer Arnold McPhail, 25; wife Norah, 20; and children Jesse, 3, and Ellis, 18 months.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Arnold McPhail, 35; wife Nora, 29; and children Jessie, 13, Ellis, 11, Isibell, 9, Neressa, 7, Ethel, 5, and Paul, 2; and niece Ruby Monroe, 3.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 813 Mercer Street, owned and valued at $1500, truck farmer Hardy Hinnant, 38; mother Mollie B., 35; son George, 8 months; and roomer Jessie McPhail, 24, bank elevator boy.

On 29 March 1931, Jessie McPhail, 24, of Toisnot, son of Arnold McPhail, married Minnie Barnes, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Frank and Chaney Barnes. Elder W.C. Chavers, minister of the “U. Holiness Church,” performed the ceremony in Wilson in the presence of Hardy Hinnant, Dave [illegible] and Arnold McPhail.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: post office janitor Jesse McPhail, 32; wife Minnie, 27; and children Jesse Jr., 8, Clarence, 7, Milton, 5, Geraldine, 4, Ester, 3, Nathaniel, 1, and Minora, 4 months.

In 1942, Alen McCrimmon registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 17 November 1923 in Wilson; resided at 9 Carolina Street; his mailing address was 1114 Carolina Street; his contact was Jesse McPhail, 7 Carolina Street; and he was unemployed.

Jesse Thurston McPhail died 24 May 1994 in Wilson.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019.

Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church.

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Founded in 1896, Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church met at the corner of East Green and Elba Streets for more than 75 years. The church building has been extensively modified, but if you walk around back …

There is this. A colored-glass window that, if not original, dates to an early iteration of the church.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, taken in November 2015 and July 2019.

Colored persons buried in the Thomas graveyard.

Some Black Families of Wilson County, North Carolina, a compilation of The Hugh B. Johnston Working Papers published in 1997 by Wilson County Genealogical Society, contains a list of “Colored Persons Buried in the Old Thomas Graveyard on the Drake Thomas Farm.” The Old Thomas Graveyard, located just east of Wilson off N.C. Highway 42, is also known as the Toisnot Baptist Church cemetery. Per a marker in the cemetery: “Thomas Graveyard. Many early members of Toisnot Baptist Church lie near in unmarked graves. The Thomases continued to bury here for a century after the church was moved in 1803. …”

Here annotated, the list includes:

  • Charles Bynum, born 1825, and Caroline Bynum, born 1826 — they were former slaves of Colonel Robert Bynum and were both reputed locally as “conjure doctors”

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Charles Bynum, 45, farmer; wife Caroline, 34; and sons Richard, 3, and Isaac, 17. (In a duplicate entry in the same township: Charles Bynum, 38; wife Caroline, 39; and sons Isaac, 16, and Rich’d, 3.)

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Charles Bynum, 49, farmer; wife Caroline, 48; and son Richard, 14.

  • Isaac Bynum, son of Charles, was born in 1853 and died February 13, 1915.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Isac Bynum, 27, farm laborer.

On 3 September 1882, in Gardners township, Isaac Bynum, 28, of Wilson, son of Chls. Bynum and Cynthy Thorn, married Laura Bynum, 31, of Wilson, daughter of Tart Bynum and Rhody Bynum.

Isaac Bynum died 13 February 1915 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1848 in Wilson County to Chas. Bynum and Caroline Thorne and was a widower. J.B. Farmer was informant.

  • William “Will” Weaver, Sr., born 1854, died September 2, 1930.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tarboro Road, farm laborer William Weaver, 56; wife Celia, 48; and sons Charlie, 16, and Iversen, 11.

William Weaver died 2 September 1930 in Coopers township, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 78 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to William Weaver and Fannie Weaver; and was married to Sealy Weaver. Informant was Frank Weaver, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

  • George Weaver, son of William Weaver, born 1875

George Weaver died 27 January 1941 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 March 1887 in Edgecombe County to Bill Weaver and Annie Williams; was a farmer; and was the widower of Mary L. Weaver. Contrary to Johnston’s assertion, George Weaver was buried in “Bynum cemetery,” Wilson County. James Weaver, 301 Finch Street, was informant.

  • Johnnie Weaver, son of William Weaver
  • Louis Williams, a native of Pitt County

In the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County, North Carolina: Louis Williams, 25; wife Delphia, 20; and children Emily, 6, Willis, 4, and Ben, 2.

In the 1880 census of Farmville township, Pitt County: Lewis Williams, 32; wife Delphia, 35; and children Jenny, 15, Willie, 12, Ernold, 10, Lewis, 7, Mariah, 5, Jerry, 3, and Pattie, 1.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Williams, 62; wife Delphia, 64; and children Lewis, 23, Pattie, 20, Jerry, 19, Lena, 17, Isaac, 15, Eddie, 13, Emmie, 11, and Odie G., 9.

  • Delphia Williams, wife of Louis and daughter of Jerry Smith and wife Annie Smith of Pitt County
  • Jerry Williams, son of Louis Williams

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Wilson Road, farmer Jerry Williams, 40; wife Mary, 28; and children Edward, 10, Martha, 8, Maggie, 5, and Jerry, 1.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jerry Williams, 48; [second] wife Martha, 38; and children Eddie, 18, Martha, 14, Maggie, 11, Jerry Jr., 7, Lucille, 5, and Nestus, 1.

In the 1940 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Jerry Williams, 60; wife Martha, 50; and children Eddie, 30, Jerry, 21, Lucille, 17, Ivy, 15, Nestus, 11, and Wade, 4.

Jerry Williams died 1 December 1946 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 January 1882 in Wilson County to Louis Williams of Edgecombe County and Delphia Williams; was married to Martha Williams; and, contrary to Hugh Johnston, was buried in Rest Haven cemetery. Jerry Williams was informant.

  • Mary, wife of young Jerry Williams, was born in 1894 and died on March 5, 1920.

Mary Williams died 5 March 1920 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 28 years old; married to Jerry Williams; was born in Edgecombe County to Tony Sharp and Sarah Wasten.

  • Alex Ray, son of George and Hannah Ray, was born in 1851 on the ancestral plantation of Captain Culbreth in Cumberland County and died on the George W. Thomas farm on January 15, 1941.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Alex Ray, 62, widower, farmer.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Alex Ray, 75, widower, farmer.

In the 1940 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Alex Ray, 90, widower, farmer.

Alex Ray died 15 January 1941 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in Cumberland County, North Carolina, to George Ray and Hannah Ray; was 89 years old; and was a farmer and a widower. Informant was Lizzie Williams. He was buried in Thomas cemetery.

  • Jenny Williams Thomas, wife of Jordan Thomas and daughter of Louis and Delphia Williams, was born in 1867 in Pitt County, and died on the T. Drake Thomas farm on February 9, 1925.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jordan Thomas, 53; wife Jennie, 50; nephews Jerry Williams, 13, and Nathan Williams, 7; and uncle Arner Williams, 80.

Gennie Thomas died 9 February 1925 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 57 years old; was married to Jordan Thomas; was born in Pitt County, North Carolina, to Lewis Williams and Delphia Williams, both of Edgecombe County; and farmed for Mrs. W.L. Banks. Jordan Thomas was informant.

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