The murder of Brother Carey C. Hill.

This brief blurb caught my eye. Two white men shot and killed a Black man in Wilson 1881? What were the circumstances?

Daily Commercial News (New Bern, N.C.), 20 October 1881.

On 21 October 1881, the Wilson Advance reported the murder and inquest. The available scan of that issue is poor quality; here is a transcription:




On Tuesday morning the usual repose of our peace loving community was sadly broken, and stirred into a state of high excitement by the announcement that Carey Hill, a negro carpenter of our town, and a man of good character, had been murdered in Wilson on the train the night before while on his way to Tarboro. And this excitement was increased and intensified when it became generally known that two young gentlemen of high respectability were implicated in the terrible tragedy — in that awful and pulse-stilling act which had its sombre setting in the [illegible] ending scene of bloody death. It seems that Mr. John Gardner, son of T.J. Gardner, one of our wealthiest and most prominent merchants, and Mr. Ben May, of Pitt, who is connected with some families in this place of the highest social position concluded on Monday afternoon that they would take a trip down to Goldsboro. In returning that night on the 11 o’clock train, they took umbrage at what they conceived to be an offensive remark made by one of the train hands, a colored porter, and determined to redress their grievance and per [illegible] of their displeasure. In their search for the porter, they became engaged in a fuss with Cary Hill the deceased, and from the continuous assault made upon him, as will be seen by following the line of evidence as marked [illegible] by the examination before the Coroner’s Jury, he received the whole fury of the storm which had been nursing its muttering wrath for another, and which was but ready to pour out its slumbering fires upon any who came within its reach.

In order that our reader may know all the circumstances connected with such evidence bearing upon the case as we gained from the witnesses before the Coroner’s Jury — a jury composed of most excellent citizens, to wit: T.C. Davis, J.H. Baker, L.H. Fulcher, A.G. Pearson, Wm. Mercer, and Gray Farmer; and right here we stop, at present, to thank Mr. Peele, the prompt and efficient Coroner, for his courtesy on that occasion.

The first witness, Mr. W.E. Oat[illegible] being sworn testified as follows: “I got on the train Monday night Goldsboro with Mr. Geo. Hackney of Rocky Mount. I heard a fuss on the outside and went to the door to see what it was about. A gentle man, whom I afterward learned to be Mr. Ben May, was talking in a loud tone and seemed to be very angry. A bystander told me a train hand had offended him, and that he was cursing him. About this time the train moved off, and Gardner and May came in and took seats in the first-class car. The colored porter passed through and May stopped him and demanded an apology, which the porter granted. May then told him to go about his business. Before reaching Fremont Gardner and May went to the smoking car, and prompted by curiosity I followed. When I got in, I found them abusing Carey Hill, the deceased, and I saw Gardner strike him twice in the face and made him sit down. The conductor then took May and Gardner back into the first-class car. As they left, May swore that he would whip him when he got to the station. Upon running into Wilson and nearing the depot, May went in the 2nd-class car again, and there met Hill who was in the act of coming out. Hill had a cane, when he raised when he saw May advancing upon him with right hand in hip pocket. Hill backed to the rear of the car, saying “let me alone ,” Gardner rushed [illegible] seized May, whereupon Hill jumped over two seats and made his escape out the door. May and Gardner both followed him out. Gardner then took hold of May, and with the assistance of the conductor got him near the end of the platform. May said, ‘let me go and I won’t go back there any more.’ The conductor let go, when May and Gardner both started back to the car. Just then I went to the back, and about that time the train started, and soon I heard report of pistol and almost immediately saw those young men run across the street to an old house, in full view of the train. When the train stopped and began to run back to the depot the two men ran up Barnes Street. I got on the car, and found Carey Hill on the rear platform of the ladies’ car in a dying condition. We put him in the waiting room of the depot when he breathed heavily for a moment or two and then expired.”

George Hackney being sworn testified: “I took the car at Goldsboro; while waiting for the train to start, I heard a fuss on the outside — cursing, and abusive language used freely; did not get up to see what was it was about; as the train moved off, two young men, John Gardner and Ben May came in and took seats. After the conductor had collected fare, May said ‘let’s go in and settle with that dam scoundrel,’ whereupon both immediately went in the second-class car. In a few moments I heard a fuss and blows. The conductor heard the fuss and went in and brought the two young men out. Gardner bragging about having knocked the negro down. As the train was nearing Fremont, the young men went in again and I soon heard another fuss. I went to the window near the door and looked in, and saw a crowd together in the car, but paid no attention to it. They came back this time on their own accord, but both declaring that they would whip the man when they got too Wilson. Pretty soon May proposed again to go in and settle with the ‘dam scoundrel.’ Gardner tried then to keep him back, but did not succeed, but followed him into the car. I heard another fuss and soon saw the conductor bringing them in again. They took seats and soon both went in again, and soon returned. After leaving Black Creek, May proposed to go in again but Gardner succeeded in keeping him back. When nearing Wilson May went in second-class car, I lost sight of Gardner. May went up to Hill and this was the first time I recognized him as the one against whom their spite was directed. May made a threat by striking his fist and putting his right hand in hip pocket, and said something which I did not understand. Hill told him to get out, that he would knock him down if he came to him, but was retreating all the time. Hill, going as far as he could, jumped over the sears and passed by May, who followed him with pistol drawn. Hill seemed that he wanted to get rid of them. Both got off — May immediately after him, and then I lost sight of both. In a few minutes, I saw May and Gardner come up, both cursing and saying if they could find him they would kill the ‘dam scoundrel.’ As the whistle sounded, Hill got on the car where I was, and seemed terribly excited. He recognized me, and began to tell me how it occurred. As the train was moving off, May and Gardner jumped on the platform, and made for Hill. I stepped between them and seized May. Gardner jumped at Hill, who rain in the first-class car, but could not get through in consequence of aisle being blocked up. Gardner then jumped on him, and began to strike him. Hill then began to use his stick rapidly, and Gardner retreated under the blows to the platform. Just then I turned May loose who was apparently satisfied, although he still had his pistol in the hand, and I then stepped back in the car. Almost immediately I heard Hill said, ‘I am shot,’ but I heard no report of pistol. Hill ran through the first-class car repeating three times, ‘I am shot,’ and fell at the rear end of the car on the platform. I went immediately to him, and raised his head. He recognized me and said, ‘Mr. Hackney, I am dying innocently,’ and expired almost immediately.”

Capt. A.H. Cutts, being sworn testified: “While my train was at Goldsboro on Monday night I heard a fuss about the rear end of the train, and pretty soon I saw a young man walking aside of train and peeping in as if looking for some one. He came in baggage car where I was standing and peeped in. I asked him whom he wanted and he walked off. About then the train started, and when I went through to collect fare I saw this same young man and another one whom I read was Gardner. While collecting fare from Gardner, the other man who was sitting with a lady struck a match and lit a cigar. I told him it was against rules of company to smoke in that car, and he put down the cigar. I then went in second-class car. Pretty soon my colored porter came to me and told me that man was smoking again. I went in and asked him to stop, which he did. Upon nearing Fremont, these young me came out on the platform where I and my porter were standing. May asked if the porter did not tell about his smoking. I replied yes, that was his duty and he did right. May said that the porter was a dam scoundrel, and that he intended to whip him. I told him to go back in the car which he did. Pretty soon they came back in the smoking car, and I told my porter to go in the baggage car and lock the door. They began to curse and roar around, when the deceased spoke out and said he would stand up for the colored porter and see him have fair play. I told him to hush and not have anything to do with it. Gardner then cursed him and asked him if he took it up, and then they began to rustle about, when I took the tough man back in the other car. After getting to Wilson I saw Gardner who asked me to help him get May out. I took him by the arm and got him near the ticket office, when he promised he would not go back. I let him go and he ran across the end of the mail car platform and jumped down on the other side and ran back. Gardner told me to watch at this end and he would keep him back at the other end. About that time, the train started, and when i went to step on the platform I saw Carey Hill on the platform with a hickory stick, waving it and making his threats, saying what he would do, &c. I told him to go in, and I went on to the baggage car. About the time I got there my porter came to me and told me a man had been shot. I pulled the bell-rope, stopped the train and had it backed to depot. I had the man put in the waiting room and he died in a few minutes. I did not see the shooting.”

Jim Peacock, col., corroborated Capt. Cutts as to Hill’s offering to take up for the colored porter. But went further and stated that Gardner pulled Hill’s beard, slapped his face and threatened to kill him when he got to Wilson, saying that he had money to back him, &c.

Charles Freeman, a fireman on the freight train, was in the second-class car that night, and saw May and Gardner come in, and pull Hill’s beard, slap his face, and cuffed him about generally. Hill did nothing and seemed anxious to avoid a difficulty. He was positive of the fact that Hill did not offer to take up for the porter.

At Wilson he saw them fighting and saw two pistol flashes but did not know who did the shooting.

For want to space we had to abbreviate the testimony of Peacock and Freeman, but the above is the substance. Dr. Peacock told where the wounds were located; one six inches below top of chest and a little to left of center, the other four inches below the first. Either would have produced death. In accordance with these facts, the Jury brought in the verdict that the deceased came to his death by shots fired from a pistol in the hand of May or Gardner, or both.

The young men are still at large.

Newspapers across North Carolina picked up the story, including the Gastonia Gazette:

Gastonia Gazette, 22 October 1881.

The Goldsboro Star, a newspaper owned and edited by African-American lawyer George T. Wassom, also published a piece:

The Goldsboro Star, 29 October 1881.

Disturbed by what he viewed as inaccurate reporting about Hill’s murder, Thomas E. Scott, an African-American barber living in Wilmington, N.C., submitted to the Wilmington Post his own eyewitness version of events. He had harsh words for Captain Cutts, the conductor.

Wilmington Post, 13 November 1881.

A month after the murder, King David’s Lodge No. 24, a Prince Hall Masonic lodge in Kinston, North Carolina, submitted to a New Bern newspaper a resolution that was reprinted in the Goldsboro Star:

The Goldsboro Star, 26 November 1881.

The Wilmington Post ran a second letter to the editor on November 27, this one from a Washington, D.C., writer who listed only his initials — R.R.D. — and strongly proclaimed an opinion that May and Gardner should not escape justice.

Wilmington Post, 27 November 1881.

I have found nothing to indicate that either Benjamin May or John Gardner was arrested, tried or convicted. Eleven months after his murder, the Wilson Advance included in an listing of moneys paid out by the Town of Wilson the following expenses related to Carey Hill’s inquest.

Wilson Advance, 29 September 1882.

State vs. Lee Simms.

In the summer of 1913, justice of the peace Elias G. Barnes issued an arrest warrant for Lee Simms for assault with a deadly weapon against his wife Mary Simms.

Barnes took this testimony in support of the charge:

State vs. Lee Simms  }   Before Elias G. Barnes J.P.

Mary Simms, witness for the State, being sworn says: I am Lee Simms’ wife. On Sunday the 15th day of June 1913, in the morning I asked Lee to cut some stove-wood for me. He got his gun and tried to shoot me, but my daughter and myself got hold of the gun and prevented his shooting me. While we were strugling for the gun, Lee fired it off, but it did not hit any one.

Maggie Simms, being duly sworn says: Mother asked pappa to cut her some stove-wood. He said he would stop her from following him. He went into a room, and got his gun. I took hold of his gun. We went into the yard. Mother helped me, and we kept him from shooting her. While we were scuffling over the gun, father fired it off, but it did not hit any one.

W.M. Michener [Mitchner], being sworn, says: I was passing Lee Simms’ on Sunday morning, and saw him, his wife, and daughter in the yard, they seemed to be scuffling over something. His wife asked me to come and help her. I thought they were playing. While I while I [sic] was noticing a gun fired.


On 12 August 1887, Lee Simms 23, and Mary Harriss, 16, were married in Wilson County. Disciples minister P.E. Hines performed the ceremony in the presence of Joe Patterson, Martha Winstead, and Addie Blount.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason Lee Simes, 35; wife Marry, 29, washing; daughters Bessie, 13, tobacco stemmer, and Maggie, 9.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, Lee Sims, 44; wife Mary, 40, laundress; and daughter Maggie, 18.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Simms Lee (c) bricklyr h south of Nash nr Carroll

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Simms Lee (c) bricklyr h 813 E Nash

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Simms Lee (c) bricklyr h 648 Wainwright

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 648 Wainwright Street, Lee Simms, 56; wife Mary, 47; daughter Maggie Williams, 25; and son-in-law Sam Williams, 26.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Simms Lee (c; Mary) brklyr h 410 Hadley

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 410 Hadley Street, owned and valued at $1300, Lee Simms, 66, building bricklayer; wife Mary L., 60, laundress; and adopted son Clarence Williams, 6.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: ay 205 South Vick, widow Mary Simms, 70; daughter Bessie Woodard, 52, tobacco factory laborer; son-in-law Luther Woodard, 53, oil mill laborer; and grandson Clarence Woodard, 16; daughter Maggie Sharpe, 45; and son-in-law Van Sharpe, 45.

Criminal Action Papers, 1913, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Stick ’em up.

In which Tom Johnson, losing at cards, robs (and shoots) Jesse Foster to get his money back. 

Wilson Daily Times, 3 October 1930.


  • Tom Johnson

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 112 Reid Street, owned and valued at $1500, Tom Johnson, 41, and wife Ethel, 38, cosmetics agent.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Tom Johnson, 55, public service laborer; wife Ethel, 42; mother Lula, 68; and son Rogers McGill, 27, tobacco factory laborer. [The Johnsons lived in the same house they had occupied in 1930, but were paying $20/month in rent.]

Thomas Johnson died 25 December 1942 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 September 1895 in Terrell County, Georgia, to Orange Johnson and Lula [no maiden name given]; was married to Ethel Johnson; lived at 112 South Reid Street; and died of gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.

  • Jesse Foster

On 20 January 1915, Jesse Foster, 23, of Fremont [Wayne County,] N.C., son of Jesse and Cora Foster, married Zalister Grice, 22, of Black Creek, daughter of Joe and Lillie Grice, in Wilson.

In 1917, Jesse Foster Jr. registered for the World War I draft in Fremont, Wayne County. Per his registration card, he was born 11 March 1892 near Stantonsburg, N.C.; was a farm worker on his father Jesse Foster’s farm; and married. He signed with an X.

State vs. Daniel Sharp Jr.

In August 1911, a justice of the peace charged Daniel Sharp Jr. with assault with a deadly weapon for an alleged attack upon Louis Hagans. The charge was based on eyewitness testimony by Rufus Edmundson and Charlie Dawes. Per Edmundson, Sharp shot a pistol at Hagans at New Hope Church. (This, presumably, was New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, located then as now on N.C. Highway 58 just north of Wilson.)

  • Daniel Sharp Jr.
  • Louis Hagans — there were several Louis (or Lewis) Hagans in Wilson County around this time, and it’s not clear which this was.
  • Rufus Edmundson
  • Charlie Dawes

Criminal Action Papers, 1911, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

State vs. Fletcher Austin.

On 21 July 1912, Sarah Vick pressed charges against Fletcher Austin for “intent to have carnal knowledge of her by fraud impersonating her husband West Vick.”

Notes from testimony before the justice of the peace:

“Sarah Vick the prosecuting swore positively that the defendant broke into her room & got in bed with her & began to pull up her clothes & attempted to get on her & she awoke, struck a match & saw it was Fletcher Austin & called to Sallie Rountree who was in an adjoining room & that Sallie Rountree saw him too & that Sallie Rountree told some neighbors of it early next morning 

Sallie Rountree denied that she saw Fletcher Austin, that night, but said she saw a man siting on Sarahs bed when Sarah called to her in an adjoining room. She also denied that she told any one of it next morning.

“Other evidence showed that Fletcher had about 3 hours time that night between 2 & 5 o’clock which he failed to account for

Jonas Allen proved to be a very strong witness for the state & this court believes that Sarah Vick told the truth, also Jonas Allen, but does not believe Sallie Rountree told the truth”


  • Wesley and Sarah Locus Vick

On 25 May 1912 [less than two months before the assault] Wesley Vick, 21, of Wilson, son of John and Hannah Vick, married Sarah Locus, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Jesse and Florida Locus, in Wilson township. 

Sarah Vick died 19 March 1916 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1890 in Nash County, N.C., to Jesse and Flora Lucas and was married. She died of tuberculosis of the lungs contracted while “waiting on nursing sister” near Wilson. West Vick was informant.

West Vick died of broncho-pneumonia on 11 March 1919, just two weeks after returning from overseas service in World War I and while still enlisted. 

  • Fletcher Austin

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Vick, 50; wife Liw, 40; sons Paul, 13, and Ollie, 10; and stepson Fletcher Austin, 18.

On 15 September 1915, Fletcher Auston, 22, of Wilson, son of Henry and Lou Auston,  married Alice Pearce, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Lillie Pearce, at W.P. Anderson’s farm. Missionary Baptist minister Jeremiah Scarborough performed the ceremony in the presence of James Knight, Paul Vick, and Bill Thorne.

In 1917, Fletcher Austin registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 22 June 1893 in Smithfield township, Johnston County, N.C.; lived in Wilson township; worked as a farmhand for W.P. Anderson; and supported his mother, wife, and child.

  • Sallie Rountree
  • Jonas Allen

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Jonas Allen, 49; wife Victoria, 38; and children James, 16, Lillie, 3, and Willie, 22 months.

Criminal Action Papers, 1912, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

State vs. Barry Lawrence.

To stave off responsibility for caring for poor women and their children, unwed mothers were regularly brought before justices of the peace to answer sharp questions about their circumstances.

On 25 July 1866, Jane Horn admitted to Wilson County justice of the peace Solomon Lamm that her two-month-old child’s father was Barry Lawrence. Lamm ordered that Lawrence be arrested and taken to a justice to answer Anderson’s charge.

I have not been able to identify Horn or Lawrence with certainty.

Bastardy Bonds, 1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

He said he would shoot her head off.

On 21 August 1911, Martha Atkinson pressed charges against her husband, Dock Atkinson, for assault with a deadly weapon. She and her daughters testified in support of the arrest warrant:

Martha Atkinson being sworn says: That the defendant drew a double barrel shot gun on her at her house on Sunday night Aug 19th & swore that he would shoot her head off. That she ran out of the house & hid under the house until she thought her husband had gone to sleep, then she went out in the cotton patch & stayed until 3 o’clock, & from there to the house of another woman in the neighborhood, & that she has not been back home since, & is afraid to go.

Daisy Atkinson corroborates her mother almost verbatim.

Rosa Atkinson says that her father took the gun from the rack & pointed it at her mother & said he would blow her brains out.


In the 1870 census of Selma township, Johnston County, North Carolina: farmer Louis Atkinson, 60; wife Rose, 50; and children Jimmima, 20, Raiford, 17, Henrietta, 15, Allen, 10, Hardy, 8, Dock, 6, and Cook, 2.

In the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: Vinous Bullock, 50; Mike Bullock, 60, farmer; [Mike’s wife?] Gatsey, 50; Alexander, 29; his wife Hannah, 23; and their children Martha, 4, Charley, 2, and General Grant, 5 months.

In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: laborer Alex Bullock, 30; wife Hannah, 34; and children Martha, 14, Charlie, 13, Gen’l Grant, 8, George, 7, Puss, 7, Mary, 5, Nannie, 3, and Orren, 4 months.

On 20 September 1884, Blount Powell, 21, married Martha Bullock, 19, in Edgecombe County.

Dock Atkinson, 26, of Stantonsburg, son of Louie and Rosa Atkinson, married Martha Powell, 20, daughter of Alex Bullock, in Stantonsburg township, on 9 December 1897. Daniel Ellis applied for the application.

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Dock Atkinson, 35; wife Martha, 32; daughters-in-law [stepdaughters] Mary E., 14, Martha, 13, and Daisey Powell, 11; daughter Rosella Atkinson, 4; son Lewy Atkinson, 6 months; and cousin Jollie Bullock, 24.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Dock Atkinson, no age given; wife Martha, no age given; and children Daisey, 17, Rosetta, 14, Louie, 10, Ida, 7, Alexander, 5, and William A., 4.

Lewis Atkinson died 25 July 1919 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 28 October 1899 in Wilson County to Dock Atkinson and Martha Bullock; was single; and worked as a tenant farmer.

Martha Adkison died 29 October 1932 in Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born February 1866 in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Alex Bullock and Hannah Bennett; and was a widow.

Martha Farmer died 1 December 1965 in Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 July 1889 in Edgecombe County to Blount Powell and Martha Bullock.

Criminal Action Papers, 1911, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

State vs. Daniel Sharp.

To stave off responsibility for caring for poor women and their children, unwed mothers were regularly brought before justices of the peace to answer sharp questions about their circumstances. 

On 29 March 1866, Nancy Williford admitted to Wilson County justice of the peace William D. Farmer that she was a single woman, that she was pregnant, and that Daniel Sharp was the child’s father. Farmer ordered that Sharp be arrested and taken to a justice to answer Williford’s charge.

Two years later, Williford, who was white, and Sharp, who was Black, were charged with adultery and fornication. By then they had had two children together, John B. Williford, born about 1866, and Mary E. Williford, born about 1867.


In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer James G. Williford, 46; [second] wife Nancy, 26; and children Mary A., 18, John T., 16, Nancy T., 14, Caroline, 11, Arabella, 5, Elijah A., 4, and James C., 1. 

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Nancy Williford, 34, and children John B., 3, and Mary E., 2. All were described as white. [I initially assumed that this Nancy was James G. Williford’s daughter. However, her age as listed in the 1870 and 1880 censuses is more consistent with that of Williford’s wife Nancy Mears Williford. Williford died in 1861. His and Nancy’s son Elijah Elbert is listed in the 1870 census as Bertie Williford, 14 year-old apprentice to Hickman Barnes, and daughter “Arvilla” is listed in the household of her half-brother William Williford. Did Nancy lose custody of her children as a result of her relationship with Daniel Sharp?]

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Benjamin Tillery, 27; wife Cherry; and daughter Jane, 3; Lucy Taylor, 23, and son Columbus, 8 months; and Daniel Sharp, 26, farm laborer.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Nancy Williford, 42, and children John, 13, farm laborer, and Mary E., 12. Here, Nancy’s children were described as mulatto.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Daniel Sharp, 40, farmer.

Mary Williford, 18, daughter of Nancy Williford, and Lorenzo Barnes, 22, son of William and Sarah Barnes, obtained (but did not return) a marriage license in Wilson County on 15 April 1891.

On 20 February 1895, John Williford, 28, married Mary Ella Barnes, 21, in Toisnot township. G.A. Gaston, J.C. Ellis and Buck Dew witnessed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: widower John Williford, 34, farmer; daughter Mary B., 4; and boarder Sammie Barnes. 19.

On 29 October 1893, Daniel Sharp, 52, of Toisnot, married Cynda Parker, 19, of Toisnot, in the presence of John Williford, Mose Parker and Jason Barnes.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Daniel Sharp, 58, farmer; wife Lucinda, 25; and children Joseph, 6, George W., 4, and James H., 2.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Renza Barnes, 26; wife Mary, 32; daughters Nanny, 11, and Minnie, 8; and niece Bertha Williford, 4.

On 19 December 1900, John Williford, 34, son of Dan Sharp, married Lena Locust, 19, daughter of Elbert and Rose Locust, in Elm City in the presence of J.C. Ellis, Lucian Norfleet, Willie Locus, and George Braswell.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: John Williford, 43; wife Lena, 28; and children Bertha, 14, Beatrice, 7, John L., 6, Edward, 4, Arnold, 2, and Odell, 2 months.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: well digger John Williford, 53; wife Lena, 38; and children John, 15, Edwin, 13, Arnel, 12, Frank, 8, and Inez, 17 months.

In the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township: John Gaston, 48, brickmason; wife Nannie, 41; daughters Pricilla, 21, and Minnie, 18; plus mother-in-law Mary Barnes, 62.

Mary [Williford] Barnes died 6 April 1949 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 May 1868 in Wilson County to unknown parents and was a widow. Nannie Gaston was informant.

Bastardy Bonds, 1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.