Court Actions

The negroes are eager to get on the roads.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 2 March 1935.

In the 1940 census of Raleigh, Wake County: Alex Morrison, 35, of Wilson was listed as an inmate of North Carolina State Penitentiary.

Alex Morrison died 24 December 1969 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 February 1904 to Fannie Bethea; was a widower; resided at 310 Hackney Street; and had worked as a laborer. Katie Farmer of Route 1, Elm City was informant.

The sins of the husband.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 1 March 1930.

After abruptly withdrawing their appeals, J.D. Reid and H.S. Stanback entered the state prison at Raleigh to begin serving five-year sentences for convictions for receiving deposits at Commercial Bank, knowing the institution was insolvent. In so doing, they avoided prosecution on charges of forgery and embezzlement. They also opened a path for Reid’s wife, Eleanor P. Reid, to retain her position as principal of the Colored Graded School.

Sale for taxes.

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Wilson Times, 5 May 1899.

This notice of impending sheriff’s sale for non-payment of property taxes included these African-Americans (and a reference to Washington Suggs):

  • Charles Barber — Or, Charles Barbour.  In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: mechanic Charley Barber, 41; 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.
  • Morrison Barnes
  • Josephine Battle — possibly, Josephine Moore Battle. [Note that African-American women were not afforded honorifics in the Times.] Possibly, in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: laborer Paul Battle, 26; wife Josephine, 27; and children Clestia, 3, and Earnest Battle, 6 months, and Tiney, 8, and Jessee Moore, 6. In the 1900 census of Washington, D.C.: on Q Street, laborer Paul Battle, 46; wife Josephine, 40; and children Israel, 24, Austen, 17, and Indimuel, 11. (All were born In North Carolina except Indimuel, born in D.C.)
  • Dennis Batts — In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, farmer Dennis Batts, 46, widower; and children John H., 22, William A., 20, Mary J., 17, Patience, 15, Haywood, 13, Hattie, 11, Samuel, 9, Gorman, 6, and Rosa, 3.
  • Smith Bennett — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed brickmason Smith Bennett, 47, and daughter Addie, 20, with boarder Robert Wilkerson, 36; and lodgers Archie Williams, 34, and Samuel Wooten, 18.
  • F.K. Bird — Franklin K. Bird. In the 1900 census of Raleigh, Wake County: at 575 Blount Street, preacher Frank Bird, 42, wife Agnes, 36, and children Oscar S., 17, a laborer, Mamie, 15, a student, and Fred, 12.
  • Mark Blount — Marcus W. Blount. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: the widower Mark Blount, 38, a cook, and his children Coneva, 10, Dotsey, 9, and Theodore W., 6, were lodgers in the household of George Faggin, just a few households away from Samuel Vick.
  • John Boykin — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house mover John Boykin, 50; wife Dicy, 44, cooking; and children Sallie, 19, cooking, James, 18, day laborer, Dotia, 14, Susia, 14, Lillie, 10, and Eliza, 7.
  • Julia Bryant — Julia Suggs Bryant. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Harry Bryant, 34; wife Julia, 34; and sons Leonard, 10, and Leroy, 4. [Julia S. Bryant was the daughter of Washington and Esther Suggs.]
  • M.D. Cannon — Mack D. Cannon. Mack D. Cannon died 15 December 1938 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he resided at 210 Pender; was married to Bettie Cannon; was employed as a barber; was born in Oxford, North Carolina, to Henry Cannon and Mary Dinger; and was buried in Wilson. Marie Mathews was informant.
  • Clara Dupree
  • Julius Freeman — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: 56 year-old carpenter Julius Freeman, wife Eliza, 46, and children Elizabeth, 19, Nestus, 17, Junius, 11, Ernest, 9, Tom, 6, Daniel, 4, and Ruth, 4 months.
  • Nancy Hardy
  • P. Horne — Pompey Horne?
  • Walter Kersey — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith John Kersey, 61; wife Julia, 53; and son Walter, 21; plus boarder William Joyner, who worked in the blacksmith shop. In the 1910 census of Center township, Marion County, Indiana: widower Walter Kersey, 40, a blacksmith, was a boarder in a household at 914 Weikel Street.
  • Sam McGowan — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, hotel porter Saml. McGown, 57; wife Ann, 42; and children Bettie, 18, and Margaret, 16, both nurses, Saml., 12, Minnie, 3, and Lanie, 1.
  • Charlie Parker — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: carpenter Charles Parker, 32; wife Maggie, 23; and children John, 6, Charles, 3, and Henry, 1 month, plus lodger Florence Hooks, 18.
  • Phillis Phillips — On 18 May 1893, Hood S. Phillips, 22, of the town of Wilson, son of H.C. and E.E. Phillips, married Phillis Gay, 24, of the town of Wilson, daughter of Wiley and Catharine Gay. Rev. H.C. Phillips performed the ceremony at the A.M.E. Zion church. Witnesses were Annie Mincy, Annie Thorn and Alex Warren.
  • Ed Pool — Edmund Poole.
  • John W. Rogers — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John W. Rodgers, 30; wife Mary E., 22; sister Minnie, 17; and boarder Sallie Barber, 35, described as “widowed.”
  • George Short — perhaps, in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer George Short, 39; wife Martha, 35; and children Lizzie, 8, Minnie, 5, and Dorah, 2, and boarder Basha Joyner, 47, farm laborer.
  • Dennis Smith
  • S.A. Smith — Simeon A. Smith. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: school teacher Simeon A. Smith, born 1849; his wife Minnie E., born 1865, also a teacher; and their son [sic] Georgie, 3, all natives of North Carolina.
  • George Thomas
  • G.H. Towe — Granville H. Towe. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: schoolteacher Granville Tower, 40, wife Rosa, 40, and children Ophelia, 21, Addie, 18, Stella, 15, Ambrose, 14, Granville, 12, Powhatan, 9, Marry, 7, and Sinclair, 7.


Boy runs amuck, cuts principal.

News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 18 January 1920.

  • Carl Lucas
  • Walter Washington — Probably this man: Walter T. Washington died 9 November 1968 in Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 September 1896; resided at 811 East Edenton Street, Raleigh; was married to Verdie Parrish Washington; was the son of Hillary Washington and Georgianna Sasser; and was a retired schoolteacher. He was buried in National Cemetery, Raleigh.

Road duty.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County Justice Court

State & Isaac Williamson overseer of public Road vs. Peter Strickland (Col)      }

Warrant for failure to Work public Road Before J.E. Eatman Justice of the Peace

The State of North Carolina

To any lawful officer of said County Greetings. Whereas the said Isaac Williamson overseer of public Road known as section beginning at Horns Bridge and ending at the great swamp Bridge has complained in oath to me a Justice of the peace in and for Wilson County, that the said Peter Strickland (Col) after being lawfully ordered on the 2nd day of March 1883 to work on said secion of Public Road and the kind of tool to carry did wilfully and unlawfully fail to meet and work as ordered against the peace and dignity of the state.

These are therefore to command you forthwith to apprehend the said Peter Strickland and have him before me or some other Justice of the peace of Wilson County.


In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Sarah Strickland, about 35; with children Peter, 21, Alice, 9, Martha, 5, and Sallie, 1 month.

On 27 December 1883, Peter Strickland, 23, married Nancy Farmer, 19, at Wash Farmer‘s.

Road Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

He abandoned and left his wife.

On 5 August 1893, Charity Jones swore that her husband Jesse H. Jones had abandoned her and left her without support. Her father Noel Jones testified on her behalf, and Martha Williamson on Jesse Jones’.  A justice of the peace sustained the charge, ordering Jones’ arrest. He was picked up a week later.


In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Noel Jones, 26; wife Sarah, 23; and children Josiah, 3, Charity, 1, and Edith, 4 months.

Also in the 1870 census of Old Fields township: Jno. A. Jones, 22; wife Susan, 19; sons Thomas, 2, and Jesse B., 7 months; and Rosett Boykin, 70. [Jesse Jones’ middle initial is given as B., rather than H., in records other than that shown above.]

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Noel Jones, 34; wife Sarah, 32; and children Josiah, 13, Charity, 12, Edieth J., 10, and Noel J., 6.

Also: Demsy Powell, 57; wife Sallie, 46; and daughter Susan A., 27; [Susan Powell Jones’ husband] John A. Jones, 34; and their children Thomas A., 12, Jessie B., 11, James A., 7, Celia C., 5, Sallie C., 4, and John A., 1; and W.D. Lucus, 21.

On 9 November 1890, Jesse Jones, 21, son of John and Susan Jones, married Charity Jones, 23, daughter of Noah and Sarah Jones, in Wilson County. Josiah Jones applied for the license.

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

They unlawfully hired their time of their master.

An enslaver could, and often did, rent the services of an enslaved person to others for specific tasks or under long-term leases. Under North Carolina law, however, enslavers were prohibited from allowing their slaves to rent their own time. That is, to come to their own terms and arrangements for working for others for wages that they either kept for themselves or split with their masters. Slaves who hired their own time created their own wealth, a dangerous circumstance. There was a wide gulf between law and reality, however.

Dennis, a man over whom white Wilson County carpenter John Farmer claimed ownership, was indicted on misdemeanor charges of hiring his time at July term, 1859, of the Wilson County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions.  Five years later, at July 1864, jurors indicted Farmer himself for allowing the entrepreneurial activities of enslaved women named Mary, Lucy and Silvia.

The jurors for the State on their oath present, that Dennis, a Slave the property of John Farmer (Carpt) at and in the County of Wilson on the first day of January 1859 and on divers other days and times as well before as afterwards up to the taking of this inquisition by the permission of the said John Farmer his master, unlawfully did go at large, the said Salve having then and there unlawfully hired his own time of his said master, contrary to the form of the Stature in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the State.


John Farmer may have been the John W. Farmer of Wilson township, Wilson County, who is listed in the 1860 slave schedule as the owner of ten enslaved men and women.

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

The unmistakable way to conviction.

In November 1888, Charles Bynum was tried and convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of Henry Privett, his girlfriend’s brother.

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Wilson Mirror, 7 November 1888.

  • Charles Bynum, accused — possibly, the Charles Bynum, 15, listed with his parents Mack, 39, and Mary Bynum, 30, in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County.
  • Henry Privette, victim; Bettie Privette, his sister, allegedly Bynum’s lover; Alice Privette, his wife; Sallie Privette, his sister; Mahala Privette, his mother — In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Joseph Privett, 30; wife Mahala, 27; and children Lucretia, 9, Mary, 4, Henry, 2, and Bettie J., 2 weeks; plus Penninah Locust, 2. In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Joe Privett, about 44; wife Mahalah, about 35; and children Polly Ann, 16, Henry, 14, Bettie, 11, Hattie, 7, and Sallie, 3; plus Penninah Jones, 14. Henry Privett, 18, son of Joe and Mahalia Privett, married Alice Howell, 20, daughter of Ransom and Burbary Howell, on 8 February 1887 at the courthouse in Wilson.
  • James Bynum, juror.
  • Henry Birney, juror.
  • Celia Cotton, witness.

The once moral man is the father of the bastard child.

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News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 2 November 1909.

Rev. Owen L.W. Smith had, of course, been a Presiding Elder of the A.M.E. Zion Church and United States minister to Liberia. The News & Observer‘s restraint in covering his downfall is especially remarkable when earlier coverage of the affair is considered. The Smith-Moye had scandalized black Wilson. Moye not only worked for the church, she was married, and her husband had been driven off by Smith’s peremptory claims to her time. Just as shocking — the magistrate’s dismissal of Smith’s suit!

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News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 27 August 1908. 

“Delia R. Moye” was Delia A. Moye, listed in the 1908 city directory as a teacher residing at Goldsboro near Bank. Also at that address, her teenaged son, porter Albert Moye. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 459 Goldsboro Street, widowed laundress Della Moye, 31, with her children Albert, 17, twins Hattie and Mattie, 9, and Ethel, 2, who was Smith’s child. (In subsequent city directories, too, Delia Moye was described as a laundress. She lost her teaching job as a result of her pregnancy. She also likely was not actually a widow.)

On 18 August 1944, Ethel Mae Moye, 35, daughter of O.L.W. Smith and Della Smith [sic], married David H. Coley, 49, son of W.H. and Luanna Coley, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister W.A. Hilliard performed the ceremony in the presence of C.L. Darden, Norma Darden and Mrs. Ambrose Floyd.

Delia Ann Moye died 19 April 1955 at her home at 1207 East Washington Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 March 1882 in Greene County to Sandy Malone and Mattie [maiden name unknown; was widowed; and was a retired school teacher. Informant was Ethel M. Coley, 1207 East Washington.