Civil rights

You’re invited: “Overcoming Barriers to Voting: Past to Present.”

Join us September 8 at Wilson County Public Library’s Main Branch for my talk about Dr. George K. Butterfield Sr.’s historic election to Wilson’s Board of Alderman in the 1950s. The lecture is part of a series of events leading up to National Voter Registration Day on 20 September 2022. 

W.H. Barnes is called for jury duty.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 August 1935.

In 1935, William H. Barnes‘ selection for jury duty made the news after county commissioners determined that “negroes were to be included in the jury lists of the County.” 


In the 1880 census of Sauls Crossroads, Wayne County: farmer Samuel Barnes, 37; wife Jane, 34; and children Robert, 14, Frances, 11, Ora, 9, Bettey, 6, William, 2, and Annie, 1.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: widower William H. Barnes, 33, farmer.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer W.H. Barnes, 52; wife Minnie, 46; and children Dida, 23, Johnie, 21, and Willie V., 19.

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer W.H. Barnes, 62; wife Minnie, 54; children Dottie, 35, Verona, 30, and Jane, 10; and grandson John Lee, 3.

William H. Barnes died 10 November 1944 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 October 1877 in Wayne County to Samuel Barnes of Wayne County and Jane [maiden name unknown] of Georgia; was the widower of Minnie Barnes; was engaged in farming; and was buried at Turner Swamp, Wayne County. Dedie Barnes Reid was informant.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

NAACP meets at Piney Grove.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 August 1948.


In 1918, Isaac Butler registered for the World War I draft in Brunswick, Glynn County, Georgia. Per his registration card, he was born 7 September 1899; lived at 1723 Lee Street, Brunswick; his nearest relative was George Butler, Owens Ferry, Camden, Georgia; and he worked as a laborer for “Targan Rosin & T. Co.,” Brunswick.

In the 1920 census of Brunswick, Glynn County, Georgia: longshoreman Isaac Butler, 24, was a lodger in the household of Will Mitchell, 1417 Albany Street.

On 13 January 1923, Isaac Butler, 24, of Wilson, son of George and Patsy Butler, married Estelle Joyner, 25, of Wilson, daughter of Kinchen and Jane Joyner, at E.S. Hargrave‘s in Wilson. Free Will Baptist minister Hargrave performed the ceremony in the presence of John Boykin, Annie Hargrave, and Jane Taylor.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Butler Isaac (c; Estelle) hlpr h 317 Hackney

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 413 East Green, rented at $15/month, Georgia-born household servant Isaac Butler, 44; wife Estelle, a household servant; and lodger Eleanor Deans, 38, also a household servant.

In 1942, Isaac Brandon Butler registered for the World War II draft in Newport News, Virginia. Per his registration card, he was born 7 September 1894 in Camden County, Georgia; lived at 629 – 26th Street, Newport News; his contact was Estelle Butler, 704 East Green Street, Wilson; and he worked for Newport News Shipping & Dry Dock Company. He signed his card “Rev. Isaac Brandon Butler.”

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 East Vance, Isaac Butler, 55, and wife Estelle, 50, servant.

Isaac Branton Butler died 25 February 1966 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 September 1899 in Georgia to George and Pattie Butler; lived at 708 Edwards Street, Wilson; was married to Estelle Butler; and worked as a minister.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Parker refuses to give up his seat on the bus.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 April 1943.

Meet James Parker, American hero.

In April 1943, Parker boarded a Wilson city bus on Saturday evening. He sat down in the white section and remained firmly ensconced when the driver asked him to move. The driver, James Batchelor, abandoned his route to drive the bus to the police station, where Parker was arrested and charged with violating North Carolina’s “passenger law,” which allowed for the designation of colored and white sections in commercial transport vehicles. Parker was adjudged guilty and given a thirty-day suspended sentence provided he remain “in good behavior.” Per the Daily Times, Parker was the first person to challenge Jim Crow laws in Wilson County in 25 years.  

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.