Church

African-Americans baptized at Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist.

Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist Church, founded in 1783, was the second church organized in what is now Wilson County. (It closed its doors in 2010.) The church’s nineteenth and early twentieth-century records includes names of enslaved and freed African-American members, who worshipped with the congregation as second-class Christians even after Emancipation.

This page records baptisms “under the Care of Elder Reuben Hays” from 1803 and 1808 and includes references to nine enslaved African-Americans. (Don’t let “servant” fool you.) As Primitive Baptists did not practice infant baptism, the nine were, if not adults, then nearly so, and thus were all born in the 1700s. Some may have lived to see Emancipation, but even if they remained in Wilson County, I have no way to identify them further.

  • Dick, a servant
  • Lewis, a servant
  • Jane, a servant
  • Dick, a servant
  • Will, a servant
  • Harry, a servant
  • Beck, a servant
  • James, a servant
  • Salath, a servant

Copy of documents courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III. Originals now housed at North Carolina State Archives.

Mother Lizzie J. Fleming of Saint Luke F.W.B. Church.


Lizzie Jones Beamon Fleming (1892-??)

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In the 1900 census of Saulston township, Wayne County, N.C.: Isaiah Jones, 29, farmer; wife Sidney, 25; and children Lizzie, 7, Leuberter, 6, Octava, 4, and Febry, 8 months.

On 4 October 1908, Willie Beamon and Lizzie Jones, both of Greene County, N.C., were married in Speights Bridge township, Greene County.

On 4 December 1919, Josh Fleming, 38, of Wilson County, son of Jim and Jane Fleming, married Lizzie Beamon, 26, of Greene County, N.C., daughter of Isiah Jones, in Greene County. A.M.E. minister J.W. Saunders performed the ceremony in the presence of J.G. Brooks, J.H. Williams, and Isaiah Jones, all of Stantonsburg.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Josh Flemmin, 38; wife Lizzie, 26; children Wade, 10, Clifton, 7, Dydie, 5, and Antabelle, 3; [Josh’s] stepchildren Viola, 10, Susie, and Simm S. Beamon, 2; and nephew Connie Fort, 19.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Josh Flemming, 47; wife Lizzie, 37; and children Viola, 19, public school teacher, Clifton, 17, Dida, 15, Sudie, 14, Archie B., 13, Esie, 12, Josh Jr., 9, Lizzie, 7, Mary, 5, Douglas, 2, and Jernas, 7 months.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Josh Flemming, 47; wife Lizzie, 37; and children Josh Jr., 20, Lizzie, 17, Mary, 15, Douglas, 13, and Jernis, 10; Ivy Robinson, 10; Nathaniel Fleming, 7; mother-in-law Sidney Jones, 66, widow; and lodger Ida Holmes, 48, widow, cook.

In the 1950 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Whitley Street, widow Lizzie J. Fleming, 37; children Journice E., 20, Nathaniel, 18, and Alma D., 11; daughter Lizzie F. Charles, 27, house service, and her children Vivian E., 8, Joyce A., 7, and Mary V., 1.

Photo courtesy of Saint Luke Free Will Baptist Church, Stantonsburg. Thank you!

A special Sunday service.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 November 1936.

As signaled by the use of the honorifics “Mrs.” and “Miss,” Lula Craft and Dovie Adams were white women. The “Stantonsburg colored school house” was on Macon Street near North Whitley Street. Saint Luke Free Will Baptist and Travelers Rest Primitive Baptist were, more or less, “back of” the school, but  I am not familiar with an Ebenezer Baptist in Stantonsburg.

The former Lofton Chapel Original Free Will Baptist Church.

Even tucked away as it is behind two houses, I don’t know how I’ve missed this church the thousands of times I have driven up and down (the former) Lane Street. 

The sign out on Bishop L.N. Forbes Street identifies New Christian Original Free Will Baptist Church. What I took for a driveway leading to the building is actually the short unpaved, uncurbed, unguttered length of Graham Street. It didn’t take much sleuthing to figure out that, until recently, this was Lofton Chapel Original Free Will Baptist Church. 

The earliest reference I have found for Lofton Chapel is 1955. This building has been heavily renovated, but is decades older than that — the vinyl siding doesn’t entirely conceal its early 20th century origins. (Those lancet windows!) Strangely, the building does not appear in a 1940 aerial photograph of the site, suggesting that it was moved to this location from another at some time after. Whether it was built as Lofton Chapel, I do not know.

Aerial view of the church per Google Maps.

Top photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2022.

Saint Luke Free Will Baptist Church.

I was peering at the cornerstone of Stantonsburg’s 105 year-old Saint Luke Free Will Baptist Church when a small pickup truck pulled up behind me. Mother Annie Dupree stepped out and asked me to identify myself. After I established my bona fides — we are not related, but share kin — I was invited into the sanctuary and given both a tour and a history of the church. Before I left an hour later, I’d purchased a commemorative brick — HONORING HISTORY/ LISA Y HENDERSON/ BLACK WIDE AWAKE — and gotten permission to take pictures of pictures of a half-dozen early church leaders and write about them here. Stay tuned.

ST. LUKE FREE WILL BAPTIST CHURCH ESTABLISHED 1917 WILLIE JORDAN SECT. REV. J.E. BROWN PASTOR

Travelers Rest Primitive Baptist Church.

Rev. Hubert Tyson shared here his vivid memories of attending services at Travelers Rest Primitive Baptist Church in Stantonsburg. Travelers Rest was site of Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association’s 1923 annual session.

This undated photograph of the church appears in Stantonsburg Historical Society’s A History of Stantonsburg Circa 1780 to 1980 (1981).