City of Wilson

Lane Street Project: spring has come.

I confess to some shock. Spring is relentless in eastern North Carolina; April is the scene of boundless vegetal fecundity. The green took my breath away.

Odd Fellows is fighting back.

The boundary between Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

The winter’s hard work is not undone, however. Though new sprigs of wisteria sprout from the stubs of vines, young trees have been thinned out, and the forbidding leading edge of solid woodland has retreated a few dozen yards. We are likely to halt organized clean-ups during the summer in order to avoid some of the hazards of wild woods and to focus on several related projects. Thus, your help in the next few weeks is even more critical to maintaining the progress we have made. Please join us April 24!

Henry Tart’s headstone, which was nearly invisible from just a few feet away just months ago, is now readily seen from the woodline.

If you or your group were not able to join the Lane Street Project this past winter, I hope you will make plans to do so in 2021-22. Many hands make light work, and our ancestors need you.

Regret for the death of Russell Owings.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 October 1938.

I missed the cues, and at first could find no record of an African-American Russell Owings living in Wilson. But that was because Owings was not Black. He was instead a “faithful and courageous friend of [their] interest.” Owings, freshly graduated from Atlantic Christian [now Barton] College, was a white man who — much in the spirit of Rev. R.A.G. Foster’s outreach — crossed the color line to teach voice lessons and direct a choral group at Saint John A.M.E. Zion. He died in a car accident in late October 1938.

Nelson Farmer killed in auto accident in Virginia.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 April 1933.

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In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: express wagon driver John Farmer, 48; wife Edmonia, 41, a laundress; and children George, 23, factory laborer; Paul, 19, hotel servant; Annie, 18; Mary, 16; Fannie, 14; Arthur, 8; Melton [Nelson], 6; and William, 4.

On 10 January 1924, Nelson Farmer, 21, of Wilson, of John W. and Edmonia Farmer, married Nancy Williams, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Dorsey and Ida Williams. Presbyterian minister A.H. George performed the ceremony in the presence of John Brooks, Samuel Bridges, and Gladys O’Kelly.

Nelson Farmer died 16 April 1935 in Petersburg, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born in October 1904 in Wilson to John W. Farmer and Edmonia Barnes; was married to Nancy Farmer; lived at 706 East Green Street; and worked as a laborer. George Farmer, 1207 Carolina Street, was informant.

The obituary of Sudye Jones, Bennett Belle.

Wilson Daily Times, 5 February 1937.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 667 Nash Street, minister Charlie Jones, 41; wife Gertrude, 39; children Ruth, 16, Charlie, 14, Elwood, 12, Louise, 10, and Sudie, 4; plus mother-in-law Louisa Johnson, 65.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Harper Lane, farmer Charlie T. Jones, 52; wife Stella [sic], 49; and children William E., 23, farm laborer, Louise M., 20, and Sadie [sic], 14.

Sudye Jones died 4 February 1937 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 21 years old; was single; was the daughter of Charles T. Jones and Gertrude Johnson; and was a student at Bennett College. She died of meningitis. Rev. Charles T. Jones, 402 North Vick Street, was informant.

D.S. Farmer’s estate notice.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 May 1928.

 

When Doctor S. Farmer died without a will in 1928, the administrator of his estate published notices in the local paper seeking any persons with claims.

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On 16 March 1880, D.S. Farmer, 22, married Elizabeth Locust, 22, in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Doctor S. Farmer, 22, and wife Elizabeth, 20.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Doctor S. Farmer, 45; wife Elizabeth, 43; children Lowla, 16, William L., 13, Ella E., 12, Emma L., 9, Walter W., 5, and Geneva A., 2; and boarder Sarah Parker, 24.

On 13 May 1906, D.S. Farmer, 50, of Taylors township, son of Delphia Farmer, married Susie Johnson, 40, of Wilson, daughter of Nash Johnson [sic; Horton], in Taylors township, Wilson County.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Dock S (c) farmer h 410 N Pine

On 23 July 1908, William L. Farmer, 21, of Wilson, son of D.S. and Elizabeth Farmer, married Pocahuntas Henry, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Mack and Ellen Henry, at Mack Henry’s in Wilson. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Glace Battle, Corneva Griffin and Ella Battle.

On 7 October 1908, D.S. Farmer, 46, of Wilson, applied for a license to marry Janie Lewis, 35, of Wilson.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Dock S. Farmer, 52; wife Janie, 26; children Ella, 20, Emma, 18, Walter, 14, and Geneva, 12; and hired woman Sarah Wells, 32.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Doc Farmer, 68; wife Janie, 30; son Walter, 25; and laborer Sarah Parker, 46.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Dock S (c) farmer h 1109 E Nash

Doctor Sims Farmer died 20 February 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 April 1857 in Wilson County to Hillard Farmer and Adelphia Farmer; was married to Channie Farmer; and was a self-employed barber.

Susan Horton died 18 January 1945 in Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1866 in Wake County to Nash Horton; was the widow of Dock Farmer; and lived at 417 South Goldsboro Street. She was buried in Boyett [Saint Delight Missionary Baptist Church] cemetery.

603 East Green Street, revisited.

The Washington Wilkins house at 603 East Green Street, built circa 1930, was burned beyond repair last night.

The destruction of this historic house is tragic, but secondary to the well-being of the last family to live in it. Wishing them well as they recover from their loss.

[Update, 4/15/2021: since this posting, the Wilson Times published an article detailing the local fire department’s efforts to battle this fire and the resiliency of Hunette Francois, the Haitian immigrant who lived in the Wilkins house for six years and lost everything in the blaze.]

Thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for sharing this image.

The death of Alphonso Battle, age 15.

The Daily Times reported the death of 15 year-old Alphonso Battle as tragic, but straightforward — he had accidentally shot himself in the chest while squirrel hunting.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 October 1937.

Bizarrely, though, Battle’s death certificate tells a completely different story, establishing his legal cause of death as “natural cause no sign of foul play.”

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In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer John H. Battle, 49; wife Loutoria, 40; and children Johnie L., 21, Nettie, 19, Bessie L., 16, Mary L., 15, Roosevelt, 14, Armettie, 11, Alphnza, 8, Estelle, 7, Augustus, 4, and Harvey L., 2.

Last will and testament of Nellie Bullock Whitehead.

When Nellie Bullock Whitehead made out her will on 10 November 1949, she was very clear that only her daughters Anna Whitehead Hagans and Elnora Whitehead Sauls would inherit.

Nellie Bullock Whitehead was a native of Wilson County; her husband John Whitehead was from Georgia. I have not found a marriage license for them, but they lived in Dodge County, Georgia, in 1910, and all their children were born in Georgia. By 1920, they had returned to live in Nellie Whitehead’s home county.

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In the 1910 census of Mullis township, Dodge County, Georgia: John Whitehead, 26; wife Nellie, 25; and sons Edmund, 7, and Will. H., 4.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on S.H. Crocker Farm Road, tenant farmer, John Whitehead, 37; wife Nellie, 36; children E.K., 16, William H., 13, Anna V.O., 7, Anna Nula, 5, and J.B., 4; and great-uncle[?] Josh Whitehead.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Highway 91, express laborer [no first name] Whitehead, 49; wife Ella, 45; and children Anna V., 17, Nora, 16, John, 14, and William, 24. All were born in Georgia except Ella [Nellie], who was born in North Carolina.

John Whitehead died in Wilson on 24 October 1937. Per his death certificate, he was 55 years old; was born in Georgia to Joshua Whitehead and Georgian Melvin; was married to Nellie Whitehead; lived at 1513 Nash Street; and worked as a meat packer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow Nellie Whitehead, 56; son J.B., 24, truck driver for a contractor; daughter Anna Hagans, 27, tobacco company stemmer; son-in-law Henry Hagans, 32, town garbage remover; and daughter Elnora Whitehead, 26.

John Baptist Whitehead registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1915 in Chester, Georgia; lived at Route 4, Box 39, Wilson; worked for Imperial Tobacco, Barnes Street; and his contact was his mother, Nellie Whitehead.

Nellie B. Whitehead died 27 March 1951 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 August 1884 in Elm City, N.C., to Equia B. Bullock and William Ann Barnes and was a widow. Anna B. Hagans was informant.