Court Actions

The Shoo Fly train ran over him.

Wilson Mirror, 30 August 1893.

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On 11 April 1878, Hilliard Hunter, 26, of Nash County, married Mary Jane Pitt, 25, of Wilson County, in Toisnot township.

In the 1880 center of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer Hilliard Hunter, 25; wife Mary J., 27; and son Walter, 5 months.

In 1893, Mary Jane Hunter filed an unsuccessful suit against Wilmington and Weldon Railroad over her husband’s death.

On 6 July 1899, Turner Anderson, 21, married Lillie Hunter, 20, in Toisnot township in the presence of Annie Bryant, Martha Modica and Nancy Deans.

On 2 August 1903, Mary Jane Hunter, 40, of Elm City, daughter of Moses and Marina Pitt, married Daniel Foster, 45, of Elm City, son of Austin and Rachael Foster of Kansas at George Barnes‘ in Toisnot township. Red Batts applied for the license.

On 12 July 1905, Willie Hunter, 22, of Elm City, son of Hilliard and Mary J. Hunter, married Mary Whitehead, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Ben and Francis Whitehead, in Toisnot township. T.H. Nicholson applied for the license, and the ceremony took place at Ben Drake’s in the presence of T.H. Nicholson, William Short and W.A. Whitfield.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Elm City-Stantonsburg Road, widowed farm laborer Mary J. Hunter, 40, and daughter Alice, 20, a laundress.

On 18 January 1914, Arthur Hunter, 20, of Toisnot, son of Mary J. Hunter, married Estelle Wooten, 24, of Toisnot, daughter of Linda Wooten, in the presence of Turner Anderson, Lillie Anderson and Clarence Wiggins, all of Elm City.

On 23 March 1915, Liza Hunter, 20, of Elm City, daughter of Hilliard Hunter and Mary J. Pender, married Jim Pinkney, 21, son of Henny and Hilly Pinkney, in Johnston County.

On 14 September 1921, B.S. Jordan, 58, son of Hardy and Mary J. Jordan, married Lilly Anderson, 39, daughter of Hilliard Hunter and Mary J. Hunter, at Lilly Anderson’s in Toisnot township. Wiley Locus applied for the license, and Baptist minister Elias Lucas performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Johnson and Bud Simms of Wilson and Hamp Mordcia [Modica] of Elm City.

Alice Hunter died 20 April 1960 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 October 1901 to Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane Pitt; and was never married. Informant was Eliza Pinkney, Elm City. [Note that Alice Hunter’s birthdate is off by at least 10 years.]

Willie Hunter died 28 April 1960 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 February 1884 in Wilson County to Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane [last name not listed]; lived at 204 South East Street; and worked as a laborer. Informant was Doris H. Wilson, 204 South East Street.

Eliza Pinkney died 10 July 1969 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 June 1898 in North Carolina to Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jones; resided in Elm City; was married to Jim Pinkney; and was buried in Elm City cemetery. Doretha H. Farmer, 706 East Green Street, was informant.

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White Swamp runs about 5 miles south of Elm City.

The regular daily Norfolk-to-Wilmington passenger train was known as the Shoo Fly. In 1906, the train had a cataclysmic accident near Warsaw, Duplin County. After, a ghost train legend grew in the area.

 

 

Store owner convicted in accidental shooting.

An act of self-defense at a small Springhill store ended in the death of an innocent bystander:

 

Wilson Daily Times, 12 October 1948.

Asheville Cit Times 1 9 1949.png

Asheville Citizen Times, 9 January 1949.

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In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Raleigh Road, Joseph Wilder, 44; wife Chestina, 40; and children Almita O., 15, Elizabeth, 11, Seth B., 8, Sidney, 6, and Luther, 4.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Old Raleigh Road, widow Chestiney Wilder, 51, and children Elizabeth, 21, Seth, 17, Sidney, 15, and Luther, 13.

On 28 December 1924, Seth Wilder, 22, married Aldonia Ruffin, 20, in Johnston County.

Aldonia Wilder died 24 July 1929 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 24 years old, born in Wilson County to Charlie Ruffin of Johnston County and Sarah Jane O’Neil of Wilson County; was married to Seth Wilder; and was buried in Barnes cemetery.

In the 1930 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Mc. Coward Tucker, 47; wife Bella, 34; and children Mildred, 18, Albert, 17, Eddie, 14, Charles, 11, Martha, 8, Joe, 4, and James, 1.

On 14 January 1931, Seth Wilder, 31, son of Josiah and Chestinie Wilder, married Lillie Mae Creech, 24, daughter of Wright and Sallie Creech, in Smithfield, Johnson County.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Seth Wilder, 37; wife Lillie Mae, 32; and children Willie May, 2, and Seth, 1; Chestiney Wilder, 72; Sally Creech, 57, and her children Sally, 18, Geneava, 16, and Addie Lee Creech, 13; and Waltie Monque, 26.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Dowell Tucker, 71; wife Isebell, 47; and children Charles, 21, Bennie, 17, Martha, 15, Joe B., 13, James, 10, Dove, 8, Joe Lewis, 5, and daughter-in-law Mamie Ree, 14.

Seth Wilder registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 6 May 1902 in Wilson County; resided at Route 1, Box 261, Lucama; was self-employed; and his contact was R.H. Neal.

Seth Wilder died 2 May 1990 in Washington, D.C.

 

Feloniously and burglariously.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County   } Superior Court of Law, Fall Term A.D. 1862

The Jurors for the State upon their oath present that Jacon a negro slave late of Wilson County the property of James Pender of the County of Wilson and Law a negro Slave late of said County of Wilson the property of Joshua Barnes of said County of Wilson on the first day of October A.D. 1862 about the hour of eleven o’clock in the night of the same day with force and arms at and in the County of Wilson aforesaid the dwelling house of one Levi M. Hays there situated feloniously and burglariously did break and enter with intent the goods and chattels of the said Levi M. Hays in said dwelling house there and then being found, then and there feloniously and burglariously to steal take and carry away against the peace and dignity of the State.  /s/A. Thompson Sol

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State vs. Jacon (a slave) & Law (a slave)

Burglary

Witness Woodard (a slave), Levi M. Hays, W.W. Batts, John B. Batts, Josiah Farmer

Sworn & sent J.W. Davis Clk

Nott a true bill  Jos. H. Armstrong forman

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All that to say that two enslaved men, Jacon and Law, were charged with breaking and entering Levi M. Hays at eleven at night, but no true bill was returned.

Court Cases Involving Slaves, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

White man arrested for shooting negro.

81921

Wilson Daily Times, 19 August 1921.

[Ruffin Woodard is listed in the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County, as a 38 year-old white farmer, but I have not found a listing for Hardy Johnson. Paul Lee Woodard, whose small house still stands in downtown Black Creek, was a farmer whose seed and feed store in Wilson is the city’s longest continually operating business in town. This brief article raises so many questions: Both Woodard and Johnson were tenant farmers on P.L. Woodard’s land. What was their conflict? Woodard was arrested and jailed for shooting Johnson, but Woodard’s countercharges against Johnson failed to stick. Was this a matter of Justice of the Peace Jule Hardy’s scrupulous fairness? Ruffin Woodard’s lack of standing and concomitant loss of privilege? (And, if so, why?) Hardy’s stature?]

“What in the hell you doing hauling my woman around?”

State v. Thomas Coleman, Emma Coleman   }

Tom Wilson – Testified that on one occasion last year he was passing the house of the female def’t Emma Coleman and saw the two defendants lying on the floor on a quilt. One of them Emma jumped up. He did not see what they were doing. Did not see anyone else about the house at that time. Tom is a married man and had been for a number of years. Emma has been married but is a widow. They are not married to each other. That he had frequently seen Tom at Emmas house – in day time – at night and coming away from there in the early mornings – about day brake. He could not say that he saw Tom go there any night and come away the next morning. He had not seen that but there one night and coming away another morning.

Louis Strickland – Said that there was a party on old Xmas 1912 night. A number of negroes there including both defts. That they sat by the fire place and Tom felt Emma’s breasts. That he had heard Tom say that Emma was his woman; that he looked out for her and provided for her and that he did not want her wasting his time with any other man.

M.H. Lamm – Testified to the dealings in the store. About Tom paying for provisions for Emma and bills charged to Emma amounting to 3.00 or 4.00.

J.P. Vick – Testified to seeing Tom coming out of Emmas house in early morning on several occasions. That was during the tobacco curing & also tobacco selling season. That Tom told hom Emma was his woman & that he looked out for her &c.

Sim Batchelor – Testified that one day last year the female def’t asked to ride with him to town on some business and he took her to Wilson & took her home again. That soon after that the male deft asked him what in the h___ he was doing hauling his woman around.

For Def.

Mr. Edwards – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. [general character] good.

Mr. Briggs – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. good.

Thos. Coleman – Emma’s money bought the provisions. She did not understand making change. The path from my house runs right by Emma’s house which I would use in going to the tobacco pack-house. X’d [cross-examined]. The money which paid her bills at the store her own money. I never beat Emma in my life about anything. Emma bought the “Estime” herself & wore it.

For Def.

Mr. Edwards – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. [general character] good.

Mr. Briggs – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. good.

Thos. Coleman – Emma’s money bought the provisions. She did not understand making change. The path from my house runs right by Emma’s house which I would use in going to the tobacco pack-house. X’d [cross-examined]. The money which paid her bills at the store her own money. I never beat Emma in my life about anything. Emma bought the “Estime” herself & wore it.

Emma Coleman – Been the mother of 5 children. 3 living now. My husband was their father. Have never ridden with Mr. Sim Batchelor in my life. Have bought meat & bread from Mr. Lamm’s store. My money paid for it.

Lou Gay — Mother of Emma Coleman. Ed, her husband, died 3 miles from where Thos. Coleman lived. Afterwards I lived with her. We lived in the house that got burned. 2 rooms in house we lived in last year; only one bed room. Never saw Tom put his hands on Emma.

Mollie Coleman — Wife of male deft. Been married 22 years. Have 8 children. Louis Strickland came to my house in Feb, said do you know what they ketched all those peoples up & carried them off. He said it was about Tom [keeping?] Emma. My husband did not go away from home at night except in tobacco curing time and then not all of any one night.

Fannie Coleman — I was at that dance at old Xmas. Am 21 yrs. old. Not married. Have 2 children. Staid 5 weeks last year with my grandmother Wootten.

Alice Coleman — Daughter of male def. Remember that old Xmas night.

Alphonso Coleman — Present at old Xmas night party. Am Bro of the male def.

Justus Coleman — Def. is my uncle. Present old Xmas night.

Def’t Rests

For State

Lena Williams — Daughter of Dallas Williams.

Mr. Manner Lamm.

Mr. Vick — Recalled. Did Mollie Coleman make any statement to you as to the number of nights her husband had spent away from home during 1912? Def’s obj. over’d. Defts. except. (This evidence offered & allowed only against the male deft.) Mollie about Xmas was talking to me. Said Tom had been at home about 2 nights in the last month.  X’s. Ques. Who told you that Tom Coleman said your wife had been selling liquor? State obj. Sust’d. Def. except.Ques. Did not Tom Wilson a state’s witness give you that informantion? State obj. Sust’d. Defts. excepts. Same question as to Carley Holeman, M.H. Lamm, Louis Strickland, Sim Batchellor.

R.H. Braswell — Known Tom Coleman 18 years. Gen Char. Bad.

Walter Braswell — Same as above.

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On 24 September 1890, Thomas Coleman, 21, of Oldfields, son of Squire Coleman and Nancy Farmer, married Mollie Woodard, 17, of Taylors, daughter of Ben and Clara Woodard, in Wilson township. Witnesses were J.W. Farmer, John Barnes and Annie Peacock.

Edwin Coleman, 20, son of Gray and Harriet Coleman, married Emma Gay, 19, daughter of Henry and Louisa Gay, on 11 October 1899 in Wilson township.

In the 1900 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Eddie Coleman, 24, and wife Emma, 22.

In the 1900 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Coleman, 34; wife Mollie, 24; and children Fannie, 10, Delany, 5, Allis, 4, and Nancy, 1 month.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Toad Town Path, widow Louisa Gay, 51, farm laborer; son Henry, 25, farm laborer; daughter Emma Coleman, 21, also a widow; and grandchildren Rosa, 7, Bertha, 5, and Frances Coleman, 4, and Lenord Williams, 10.

in the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on the Mill Path, farmer Thomas Coleman, 39; wife Mollie, 34; and children Fannie, 19, Lonnie, 14, Alace, 12, Nancy, 9, Johnnie, 8, Esquire, 5, Connie, 2, Neva and Eva, 1. Next door, Dallas Williams, 69; wife Sarah, 61; and children Minnie, 18, Lena, 16, and Henry, 24. [Also nearby, Ed Coleman’s parents and several other Coleman families. Though the file does not mention it, Thomas Coleman was, in fact, Edwin Coleman’s paternal uncle.]

Thomas Coleman died 1 December 1933 in Oldfields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born December 1862 in Wilson County to Squire J. and Nancy Roundtree Coleman; was married to Mollie Coleman; and worked as a farmer. Fannie Coleman of 115 West Walnut Street, Wilson, was informant.

Adultery Records, Miscellaneous Records, Records of Wilson County, North Carolina State Archives.

They are not married to each other.

In the summer of 1892, a Wilson County Superior Court grand jury took up the case in State vs. Henry Crutchfield and Dianna Simms, a matter alleging charges of fornication and adultery. Several prominent African-American townsmen were issued subpoenas commanding them to appear as witnesses at the next term of court.

The case file contains this summary of testimony:

State vs. Henry Crutchfield & Dianna Simms   }

Chas. Barber – I know deft. They are not married to each other. A man claims Dianna as his wife. They lived together up to the time. I have seen Crutchfield at Simms almost every night I heard Simms & Crutchfield quarreling & Simms told C. to stay away from his house. Crutchfield lived only a short distance from Simms’s on same Street & Dianna would go to his house almost every day. I would see her when I was passing. They were fussing nearly all the time. One Sunday morning I came by Crutchfield’s house; Simms was standing at the door & was saying to Crutchfield you have my wife in your house & then say I can’t some in there or you will kill me. I looked in at the door & saw Crutchfield & Simms’s wife on a pallet together before the fire. This was in open day light on Sunday morning. Sims & his wife moved away from there & I did not see Crutchfield after that time.

G.W. Sugg – I know Crutchfield. He passed for a colored man. I also know Dianna. I saw them together in the woods together last April. I saw them having sexual intercourse with each other. I saw Crutchfield at her house frequently. Her husband was gone at that time. She rented house from Calvin Blount. Dianna is Frank Sims’s wife.

Edmond Pool – Know defts. Dianna is wife of Frank Sims. I have seen Sims order Crutchfield from his house. Sims & wife are not living together now.

Joseph Sims – I passed where Dianna lived about 9 o’clock & she & Crutchfield had a pallet made down on floor & were on it together. Have heard Frank Sims & Crutchfield quarreling about this woman.

Henry Crutchfield – I got this woman to work for me a year or so off & on & I went back & forth from my house to her house to get my clothes. Cross Ex.

Dianna Simms – I went in Crutchfield’s to see about some clothes.

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  • Henry Crutchfield — Crutchfield is not found in Wilson County records. However, he was likely the Virginia-born shoemaker named Henry Crutchfield, 53, found 25 miles away in the 1900 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, North Carolina, and in the 1910 census of Goldsboro as Henry Crutchfield, 58, shoemaker. [The censuses note that Crutchfield’s mother was born in Scotland. In 1900, he was described as white. In 1910, as mulatto. His racial ambiguity is likely the basis of Suggs’ comment that he “passed for a colored man.”]
  • Dianna Simms Simms — on 19 June 1879, Deana Simms, 18, married Frank Simms, 22, at A. Farmer’s in Wilson. Jerry Barnes and Mike Barnes witnessed. In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmhand Frank Simms, 23; wife Diannah, 20; and son Frank, 7 months.
  • Frank Simms
  • Charles Barber — Barber, a mechanic, was soon embroiled in his own marital drama.
  • G. Washington Suggs
  • Calvin Blount
  • Edmund Poole
  • Joseph Simms
  • Redden S. Wilkins — Though subpoenaed, Wilkins apparently did not testify.

Adultery Records, Miscellaneous Records, Records of Wilson County, North Carolina State Archives.

Barber v. Barber.

Attorney John E. Woodard filed this divorce petition on behalf of his client, Sallie M. Barbour, in Wilson County Superior Court in early 1901.

  • Charles and Sallie M. Barber were married 11 July 1896 in Clayton, Johnston County. [Note: as shown in her signature, Sallie, at least, spelled her last name “Barbour.”]
  • Their sons — Luther, 13, twins James and John, 9, and Hubert, 7 — live with their father, “who is not a proper person to have the care and custody” of the children.
  • On 27 February 1900, Charles assaulted Sallie with a pistol, forcing her to flee their home to a neighbor’s house.
  • Charles, “who is a strong man,” also struck Sallie, “a frail delicate woman,” with his fist.
  • Charles is a “habitual drunkard” who, when under the influence, has repeatedly threatened Sallie’s life.
  • Since she was forced to leave their house, Charles has refused to support Sallie. Sallie has tried to support herself as a school teacher, but Charles, “to annoy and embarrass” her, notified the school superintendent and trustees to pay her salary to him.
  • Charles has committed adultery with Dora Sills, Hannah Cooke and others.
  • Sallie, a life-long North Carolina resident, is seeking divorce, child custody, and costs.

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In the 1880 census of Clayton, Johnston County: Essex Blake, 53; wife Clara, 43; and children Della, 23, Robert, 21, Sallie, 19, Benjamin, 17, James, 15, Halsey, 12, Antney, 10, Timothy, 8, Ardelia, 6, Narsissie, 6, and Jerry, 5.

The 1900 census reflects the Barbours’ separation. In Wilson, Wilson County: mechanic Charley Barber, 41, described as married; sons Luther, 13, James and John, 7, and Hubert, 5; widowed sister Mary Tomlingson, 42, and her children Ella, 9, and Charley, 4; and boarders Turner Utley, 27, John Purkison, 31, and George Garrett, 25. In a different household: John W. Rodgers, 30; wife Mary E., 22; sister Minnie, 17; and boarder Sallie Barber, 35, described as “widowed.”

In the 1908 version of Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, the only Barbers listed are James M., Jno. W., and Luther Barber at 129 Pender Street, and Sallie Barber next door at 131 Pender.

However, over the next decade, the couple reconciled. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: mechanic Charlie Barber, 47; wife Sallie, 40, teacher; sons Luther, 21, James and John, 17, and Hubert, 15; and roomers Willie Harris, 17, and Carrie Mayswood, 16.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 809 Nash Street, barber John Barber, 27; wife Ethel, 26; widowed mother Sallie, 59, a school teacher; and brother Luther Barber, 32, also a barber.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1100 East Nash Street, Sallie Barber, 67, widowed public school teacher, and her sister Tiny Hill, 69, also a widowed teacher.

Sallie Minnie Barbour died 22 April 1942 at her home at 1100 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 71 years old; was born in Wake County to Essex Blake and Clara Hodge; was a widow; and was a schoolteacher. Ardelia Nunn, 1100 East Nash, was informant.

Divorce actions, part 2.

Second in a series abstracting some of the folders of actions filed in Wilson County Superior Court. (The allegations of misdoing summarized are derived from court pleadings and were not necessarily true.)

  • Bettie Barnes v. Morrison Barnes

May term, 1910. Married 8 October 1903 in Wilson County. In November 1903, defendant Morrison Barnes deserted plaintiff Bettie Barnes and now lives in a state of fornication and adultery with Mollie Howard, by whom he has three children.

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On 28 October 1903, Marson Barnes, 20, son of Silas and Mary Barnes, married Bettie Batts, 26, daughter of Tom Batts, at Mary Barnes’ in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Frank Barnes, Mary M. Barnes and Mary Thorn.

  • Henrietta Barnes v. Lemon Barnes

May term, 1909. Married 23 January 1907. In March 1907, defendant Lemon Barnes abandoned plaintiff Henrietta Barnes and now lives in a state of fornication and adultery with Fannie Horne. Witnesses to these facts were Otho Isham, who lived on the Frank W. Barnes place) and Jerry Williams.

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On 23 January 1907, Lemon Barnes, 21, of Wilson, son of Charles and Jack Ann Barnes, married Henrietta Blowe, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Joe and Jane Blowe, at Jane Blowe’s. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Merriman Watkins, James Taylor and Charlie H. Barnes.

  • Champion Barnes v. Luvenia Barnes

Married October 1899. Plaintiff claimed defendant committed adultery with Bill Thompson in February 1911. Divorce granted.

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On 11 November 1897, Champion Barnes, 44, of Stantonsburg, son of Daniel and Ercy Barnes, married Louvenia Applewhite, 21, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Enos and Cherry Applewhite, at Enos Applewhite’s in Stantonsburg. [This was Champion Barnes’ second marriage.]

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Champ Barnes, 48; wife Louvenia, 30; and children Violet, 18, Granvill, 17, Anarchy, 15, Effie D., 11, Henry, 14, and Droy, 6. [Louvenia reported having given birth to one child, who still lived. Was this Droy?]

  • Ben Barnes v. Annie Barnes

Plaintiff Ben Barnes is 49 years old. He and defendant Annie Barnes were married 22 November 1888. Defendant Annie left him in April 1898 and gave birth to a child about five years later. A pencilled note in the file reads: “Vance Street. Boy Zack works at 5 & 10 c store.”

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On 21 November 1888, Benjamin Barnes, 23, son of Gaston and Watey Barnes, married Annie Parker, 24. John Hagans applied for the license, and John Parker, Dennis Parker and Kiziah Mercer witnessed the ceremony.

  • Ben Barnes v. Lou Barnes

The parties were married 5 January 1885. About 10 June 1892, defendant Lou Barnes committed adultery with Roy Jones.

 

Harboring.

The solicitor of the 1860 fall term of Wilson County Superior Court presented to the grand jury a charge against Delitia Eatmon for harboring a slave, Violet, who was owned by Berkley Cone.

In the 1860 census of Sullivants district, Nash County, Berkley Cone was a 45 year-old farmer whose household included a 10 year-old mulatto boy named Richard Locus, who was probably an involuntary apprentice. The 1860 slave schedule of Nash County lists Cone as the owner of a single enslaved person — a 15 year-old mulatto girl. Who was reported as a fugitive from the state. It’s reasonable to assume that Violet was the runaway.

Delitia (or, more likely, Selitia) Eatmon was born about 1810 in what was then Nash County. She and her children are listed in her parents’ household in the 1850 census of Nash, but by 1860 she headed her own household in Oldfields township, Wilson County. She, too, owned enslaved people as reported in the 1860 Wilson County slave schedule. Five, who appear to have been an elderly woman, her daughter, and that daughter’s three children.

Who was Violet to Selitia Eatmon? Why would Eatmon have kept and concealed Violet from Berkley Cone? Were Eatmon’s slaves Violet’s family? Had she been with Eatmon the entire six months between the census enumeration and the grand jury panel? Longer? Had she run because she missed her family? To avoid Cone’s close attention to her teenaged body? To thwart sale?

Berkley Cone and J. Calvin Narron appeared before the grand jury to offer testimony. Whatever they swore to, it was not enough. “Not a true bill,” said the jury. No indictment.

Harboring a Slave, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Divorce actions, part 1.

The files of nineteenth and early twentieth century divorce cases are housed at the North Carolina State Archives. This is the first in a series abstracting some of the folders of actions filed in Wilson County Superior Court. (The allegations of misdoing summarized are derived from court pleadings and were not necessarily true.)

  • Henry Artis v. Mary Ann Artis

May term, 1901. Married 4 January 1893 in Wilson. After about a year, defendant Mary Ann deserted plaintiff Henry. She also committed adultery with Jim Pool and others and was a “common prostitute.”

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On 4 January 1893, Henry Artis, 20, of Wilson township, son of Richard and Eliza Artis, married Mary Ann Lewis, 19, of Gardners, daughter of John and Mary Lewis, in Wilson.

  • Tom Artis v. Ida Artis

November term, 1910.

  • William Artis v. Mollie Artis

May term 1906. Married December 1898 in Wilson County. Mollie abandoned William in December 1903. In 1905, she committed adultery with Noah Foreman.

  • James Artis v. Louvenia Artis

February term, 1914.

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On 28 February 1908, James Artis, 29, of Gardners township, son of Jesse and Patsey Artis, married Louvenia Pleasant, 19, of Gardners, daughter of George Pleasant. Blount Best performed the ceremony.

  • George Barnes Jr. v. Milly Barnes

June term, 1896. Married 4 July 1895 in Wilson County by Free Will Baptist minister Crockett Best. Witnesses produced at trial: Richard Eatman, Smith Battle, Jerry Scarboro, William Barnes, Reuben White, George Towe, Alfred Thompson and Alfred Woodard. Divorce denied.

Plaintiff George asserted that he was unaware that Milly was pregnant at the time of their marriage. When he discovered her condition three weeks later, he left her as he was not the child’s father. Defendant Milly responded that she was an “innocent young woman and was seduced by the plaintiff under a promise of marriage to yield to his embrace and that she became pregnant by cohabitation with him”; that he was the child’s father; and that she had never had “carnal intercourse” with any other man.

Richard Eatman, who was served his subpoena in Halifax County, testified that he was acquainted with Milly Barnes for a number of years, “having been raised in the same neighborhood” with her; that about four years prior he began to have sex with her from time to time for about a year; that he never promised to marry her; that he did not think she was “innocent” when he first had sex with her; and that she had admitted to him having sex with Daniel Barnes.

H.E. Bell testified that he lived near Milly and had known her a number of years and that she had the general reputation of “a woman of loose morals.” He also knew George: “he is a young colored man, of good habits, sober and reliable in every way, that his reputation for truth is as good as any colored man” that Bell knew. Also, Bell stated, Milly lived with her father, Hilliard Ellis, who “provides for her and is able to continue to do so.”

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On 4 July 1895, George Barnes, 24, son of George and Anica Barnes, married Milly Ellis, 20, daughter of Hilliard and Feriby Ellis as Hilliard Ellis’ house. A.J.C. Moore applied for the license, and Free Will Baptist minister Crockett Best performed the ceremony in the presence of G.W. Ellis, William Roberts and General Barnes.

On 20 December 1900, Millie Ellis, 23, daughter of Hilliard and Phereby Ellis, married James Smith, 22, son of Pink Smith, in Taylors township.