Church

Colored churches of Wilson.

The Wilson Daily Times posted this list of “colored” churches in Wilson and Wilson County in August 1946. It’s a long roster, but incomplete. Notable omissions — all still meeting in 2019 — include London Primitive Baptist Church, Ellis Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, William Chapel Baptist Church, Rocky Branch United Church of Christ, Jerusalem Grove Primitive Baptist Church, Mary Grove Missionary Baptist Church, New Vester Missionary Baptist Church, Oaky Grove Primitive Baptist Church, and the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Saint Delight Missionary Baptist near Walstonsburg, which is actually in Greene County, is listed, but not Saint Delight Original Free Will Baptist, just north of Kenly. These churches are now defunct, but were certainly active during the 1940s: Friendship Baptist, Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist, and Little Union Primitive Baptist.

Churches marked * remain active today.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 August 1946.

  • Saint Mark’s Church, Rev. F.W. Williams
  • Saint Mary’s Church, Rev. F.W. Williams
  • Dixon Chapel, Rev. C.B. Smith
  • Bethel Mount Zion Church, Rev. W.B. McCoy [Bethel A.M.E. Zion?]
  • Saint James [Holy] Church,* Rev. W.H. Holliday
  • Saint Delight,* Rev. W.C. Cotton
  • Saint Joseph A.M.E. Zion Church, Rev. C.D. Cotton
  • Saint Joseph A.M.E. Zion Church, Rev. C.D. Ward [sic]
  • Patterson Chapel Holiness Church of God,* Rev. Carrie Tabron
  • Saint Paul’s Holiness Church, Rev. E.Z. Coley
  • Hardy’s Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, Rev. C.D. Ward
  • Mount Olive A.M.E. Zion Church, Rev. R.A. Murphy
  • Saint Rose Pentecostal Church,* Rev. W.H. Bailey
  • Owens Chapel Free Will Baptist Church,* Rev. N.D. Beamon [actually, this is a white church]

Another history of London Woodard and his church.

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Rocky Mount Telegram, 29 January 1960.

The take-away:

  • London’s Primitive Baptist is possibly the oldest African-American church in Wilson County.
  • London Woodard was born in 1808. In 1827, James Bullock Woodard purchased him for $500 from the estate of Julan Woodard.
  • In 1828, London Woodard was baptized at Toisnot Primitive Baptist.
  • In 1866, he sought permission to preach among his people.
  • In 1870, he was “dismissed” from Toisnot so that he could pastor the church he founded. He died lass than a month later.
  • London Church appears to have become disorganized after Woodard’s death, but in 1895, Toisnot P.B. dismissed several “colored brethren and sisters” who wanted to reestablish worship at London’s. The same year Union (now Upper Town Creek) P.B. released Haywood Pender, George Braswell, Dublin Barnes, and couple Charles and Rebeckah Barnes for the same purpose.
  • London Woodard married Pennie Lassiter, born free about 1810 and possessed of considerable property, including 29 acres purchased from James B. Woodard in 1859. [Penelope Lassiter was his second wife. His first, Venus, was enslaved.]
  • London and Pennie Woodard’s children were Priscilla (1846), Theresa (1848), Hardy (1850), Haywood (1852), William (1854), and Penina (1858). “Another child was probably named Elba, born in 1844; she was working for the John Batts family in 1860.” [London and Venus Woodard had nine children; Elba was not among either set.]
  • Many “old-time colored Christians” remained members of the churches they attended during slavery. Their children and grandchildren, however, gradually formed separate congregations.

——

  • Haywood Pender — in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Haywood Pender, 50, farmer; wife Feraby, 45; children Mollie, 39, and Ann, 8; and grandchildren Gold, 5, Nancy, 3, and Willie, 16. Haywood Pender died 15 July 1942 in Elm City, Toisnot township. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 October 1852 in Wilson County to Abram Sharp and Sookie Pender; was a farmer; was a widower; and was buried in Piney Grove cemetery, Elm City.
  • Dublin Barnes — in the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Doublin Barnes, 25; wife Eliza, 21; daughter Sattena, 2; and Jane Thomas, 12, farmhand.
  • Charles and Rebecca Barnes — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmhand Charley Barnes, 50; wife Rebecca, 57; and children John, 26, William, 23, Annie, 17, Tom, 18, and Corah, 12.
  • George Braswell

Saint Luke’s Christmas news; or “I will pray for the many white people who gave the tree.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1940.

  • Rev. A. Betha
  • Ella Bryant — possibly, in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: William Bryant, 55; wife Ella, 53; and niece Willie Merrill, 23. William was a hospital cook; Ella and Willie, cooks in private homes.
  • Rev. M.C. McNeil

And, again in 1942, prayers for white people (though “a few colored contributed.”)

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1942.

  • Marilla Murphy
  • Mary Robinson
  • George M. Mason
  • Rev. Muggin 

Four years later, Bryant was still thanking the Good White Folks for their generosity.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 December 1944.

  • Rev. McIntyre
  • Mattie Poole — possibly, in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 309 Stantonsburg Street, Jim Poole, 55, and wife Mattie, 45, both tobacco factory laborers, and daughter Odell, 10.
  • Helen Mears

Saint Luke A.M.E. Church, Christmas 2018.

“The official business of Christ.”

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The Carolina Times, 20 November 1937.

Elder C.L. Faison is elusive in census records and directories of Wilson, and apparently divided his time between Wide-Awake and Durham, North Carolina, where his Church of God in Jesus Christ, New Deal, Inc., was incorporated. Per his death certificate, Cluster L. Faison died 27 March 1963 in Durham. He was born 9 September 1889 in McCrae [McRae], Georgia, to Eli Faison and Della Thorpe; was a clergyman; and was married to Isabelle Faison.

Wilson news.

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New York Age, 16 September 1922.

  • The Wilson Church — I am not aware of any surviving issues of this newspaper.
  • Rev. Mebane — John A. Mebane. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mebane  Jno A Rev (c; Rachel) Mt Siani [Sinai] Missionary Baptist Ch h 1008 Woodard av
  • Rev. A.H. George — Arthur H. George.
  • Ruth Whitehead Whaley — Ruth W. Whaley was a native of Goldsboro, North Carolina. Per Wikipedia, Whitehead Whaley (February 2, 1901–December 23, 1977) was the third African American woman admitted to practice law in New York in 1925 and the first in North Carolina in 1933. She was the first Black woman to graduate from Fordham University School of Law, where she graduated cum laude in 1924.
  • Mr. & Mrs. A.B. Bowser — Astor B. and Deloris Hawley Bowser.
  • Charles Knight

Like a blazing meteor.

Another encomium for Rev. J.H. Mattocks, A.M.E. Zion minister, this time in W.H. Quick’s Negro Stars in all Ages of the World (1898):

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“… At the ensuing Conference he was appointed to the church at Wilson, N.C., where for one year he was kept on the go. Like a blazing meteor he flashed here and there in interest of his beloved Zion; but like a fixed star of the first magnitude his light was unfading. Wilson has never before nor since been so mightily stirred. …”

[The church was Saint John A.M.E. Zion, which yesterday celebrated its 150th anniversary.]

 

The Bear Creek Baptists.

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Baltimore Afro-American, 3 November 1917.

“The Bear Creek Missionary Baptist Association was organized in 1872 by Rev. R.H. Harper, who was in the organization of Educational and Missionary Convention, together with Rev. W.H. Croom, Rev. J.C. Carroll and Rev. I.N. Patterson. Much credit is also given to Rev. A.A. Smith, the secretary who did much to strengthen the cause of the Bear Creek Baptist Association.” Rountree Missionary Baptist is not listed as a current member of the Bear Creek Association.

Received at Toisnot Baptist, pt. 3: F-R.

Baptisms of African-American members of Toisnot Primitive Baptist Church, continued from here. The names in parentheses indicate a slaveowner.

F

  • Abraham Farmer (John Farmer’s) was baptized on 28 August 1842.
  • Abraham Farmer was a member about 1870.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Abraham Farmer, 57, farm laborer; wife Cherry, 54; Caroline Armstrong, 30, Jane Farmer, 16; Gray Armstrong, 6; Thadeus Armstrong, 4; John Armstrong, 2 months; York Gill, 35.

  • Anecay Farmer was baptized in 1861.
  • Chaney Farmer was baptized 24 July 1853, dismissed 22 February 1856, and restored to fellowship on 24 June 1871.

H

  • Hannah Horn (Jeremiah Horn’s) was dismissed by letter 22 June 1822.
  • Jeffery Horn (Henry Horn’s) was baptized 24 June 1821.
  • Nancy Horn (Henry Horn’s) was dismissed by letter after 1820.
  • Nancy Horn was baptized 25 December 1853.
  • Sarah Horn (John Horn’s) was baptized 24 September 1826.
  • Hulda was baptized 25 February 1856.

J

  • Jeffry was dismissed by letter 26 September 1863.
  • Jeptha was baptized 25 June 1854.
  • Charlotte Jordan was baptized 26 August 1855.

In the 1870 census of WIlson, Wilson County: farm laborer Thomas Harrell, 47; wife Mary, 34; Mary Jordan, 17; Charlotte Jordan, 51; and Celia Barnes, 110.

  • Fran Jordan (Cornelius Jordan’s) was excommunicated after 1820.
  • Rily Jordan was a member about 1870.
  • Violet Jordan (Henry Jordan’s) was excluded from membership on 24 March 1821 for having “two husbands.”

L

  • Hardy Lassiter, a free black, was a member prior to 1820.
  • Orpha Lassiter was baptized 22 December 1872.

In the 1860 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Silas Lassiter, 38; wife Orpie, 34; children Sallie, 12, Mary, 11, James, 9, John, 7, Elizabeth, 5, Penina, 4, Hardy, 3, Silas, 1, and George, 2 months; and Delpha Simpson, 14.

M

  • Martha Mayo was received 23 July 1870.
  • Milbery was baptized 22 July 1855.
  • Milley was baptized 23 September 1855.

P

  • Caesar Pittman was a member about 1870.
  • Hester Pittman (Jesse Pittman’s) was baptized 24 February 1854.

In Gardners township: Cesar Pittman, 75, and wife Hester, 60.

R

  • Rachel was excluded from membership 23 June 1821 for “Stealing and Lying.”

Negro ministers recruit colored workers.

To address the acute labor shortage created by World War II, the Wilson Colored Ministerial Association came to the aid of tobacco factories and volunteered to recruit workers. “Three meetings of the colored ministers have already been held at the Darden funeral home, and colored church workers are making a house to house canvass for workers as a result of this meeting.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 22 August 1944.