Insolvent tax list.

A taxpayer is insolvent when his or her total liabilities exceed his or her total assets. Not surprisingly, less than twenty years into freedom, African-American farmers struggled disproportionately to meet their tax obligations.

wa 9 5 1884

Wilson Advance, 5 September 1884.

Wilson township: Frank Allen, James Armstrong, Windsor Brian, Johnson Blew, Patterson Brewer, Jerome Barden, Jack Battle, Jospeh Best, Frank Edwards, Reddick Edwards, Luke Fleming, Thomas Gay, Willey Gay, James Horn, Simon Jordan, Richard Johnson, Burton Locus, James H. Lawrence, Wright Lamm, William Melton, Dock Owens, Mack Proctor, Albert Renfrew, Abram Smith, Harry Spicer, Vines Thompson, Robert Vick, Shade Woodard, James Williams, Henry Waters, Gray Washington, and George Washington.

Toisnot township: Austin Barnes, Amos Bynum, Dallis Bowser, Burd Bunting, Joseph Battle, Alfred Batts, Richard Bryant, George Bynum, Hyman Bunn, Tom Butler, John Brown, Jack Bullock, William Collins, John Cox, Amos Dew, Grey Dodson, Alfred Drake, Daniel Davis, John Ellis, Titus Farmer, Esseck Farmer, Esseck Farmer Jr., William Hill Jr., Charley Hardy, W.T. Jones, Haywood Joyner, Ben Jones, Henry Rice, Warren Staton, Isaac Taylor, Charles Taymor, Hardy Winstead, William Wells, Haywood Winstead, Isaac Winstead.

Gardners township: Red Barnes, Ben Barnes, Blount Bennett, Prim Boddie, John Brown, Jack Boyett, Grey Braswell, Jospeh Davis, Aaron Edwards, Holloway Ethridge, Handy Gulley, William Hussy, Alex Harrison, Frank Johnson, Peter Williams, Ruffin Walker.

Saratoga township: James E. Barnes, Grey Davis, William Edwards, Sand Mitchell, Calvin Tate.

Stantonsburg township: Henry Applewhite, Saml. Jones, John Perry.

Black Creek township: Robt. Anderson, Telfair Baker, Jackson Barnes, Raiford Daniel Jr., James Edmonson, John Hubbard, David Heath, George Mercer, Ben Rountree, W.R. Williams Jr.

Cross Roads township: William Dew, W.R. Riggs.

Spring Hill township: Henderson Deans, Cain Hocutt.

Old Fields township: Kinchen Flowers, Isham Gay, David Jones, James Locus Sr.

Taylors township: Esau Freeman, Macajah Lucas, Isham Latham, Deat Locus, Alex Parker, Joseph Royal, Joseph Taylor, Nathan Jones.


Calvin Bone supports his claim.

More on the contract dispute with Jourdin Artis that Calvin Bone brought to the attention of the Freedmen’s Bureau:



Black creek N.C., July 3 1867.

Mr. O Compton, I Received your note yesterday in closed you will find the am of my Acct against Jourdin Artis, allso an Acct he should of had to of settled with his hands. Jourdin has never bin to me for asettlement nor nor finished the contract he is oing me right smart Am. now. I thought all last fall he would come & complete the egagement you want the Am of labour done there has bin only 6423 bushels of marl thrown out & agreeable to contract he should of thrown out 26000 bushels. I would go down at once & see you but my crop is allmost ruined with grass I have narry dutiful Sevent or that will do to risk. if you request my going to your office let me hear from you again I shall be at this post office again in five or six days.  Verry Respectfully yrs., Calvin Bone.

Bone attached pages and pages documenting supplies advanced to Artis for laborers Artis employed — tobacco, flour, sugar, whiskey, herrings, mullet, shoes, clothing.








Including documents that named the workers. Though Bone lived in Black Creek, Wilson County, Artis appears — per the 1870 census — to have hired his hands from nearby Wayne County communities.







The contract itself:




Witnesseth that the said Jourdin Artis agrees with the Said Calvin Bone that he will clear off dig & threw out twenty six thousand bushels of pure marl on the farm of the said Calvin Bones in the mill Swamp on or before the first of Dcr next

and the said Calvin Bone in consideration of the fourgoing agreement promises and agrees, to and with the Said Jourdin Artis pay one cent a bushel in Specie or its value in Something wee can agree on, and the said Calvin Bone do further to furnish the said Jourdin Artis with one hundred & eighty lbs of bacon or its adequate in herrings & ten bushels of meal during the time he is labouring & digging the above named marl, & the said Jourdin Artis is to give the said Calvin Bone his trade whilst he is performing the above named labour this the twenty third day of July one thousand eight hundred Sixty Six in witnesseth whereoff wee set our hands and seals 

This is a true coppy of the contract with me and Jourdin Artis there was only one ritten Ys truly Calvin Bone


North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records 1862-1870,




William Hines, making good.

In March 1913, the Indianapolis Recorder, a nationally focused African-American newspaper, ran a front-page feature on William Hines, a “native of [Wilson] and a forceful character for the intellectual, moral, spiritual, social and economic development of young North Carolinians.”

Citing Samuel H. Vick and Biddle University as Hines’ influences, the article detailed his entry into the real estate business after establishing a successful barber shop. In just five years, Hines had accumulated 11 houses and “a number of very desirable lots.”

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Indy Recorder 3 1 1913

Indianapolis Recorder, 1 March 1913.

Hines’ real estate investments eventually made him one of the largest builder-owners of rental property in east Wilson. His barber shop operated for many decades, and his varied civic involvement included work as leader in the World War I Liberty Loan Campaign, charter investor in the Commercial Bank of Wilson, founding member of the Men’s Civic Clubboard of trustees of the Negro Library, board of directors of the Reid Street Community Center, and administrator of Mercy Hospital.


William Hines, a little later in life.

William Hines was born 29 October 1883 in Edgecombe County and died 17 October 1981 in Wilson. He is buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Photo of Hines courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).

Shrewd, pugnacious, saucy, intelligent Negro gives advice.


Wilson Advance, 11 June 1891.

  • Charles H. Darden
  • Susie Harris — Susie J. Harris, age illegible, married James J. Wilson, 23, on 5 January 1893 in Wilson. L.J. Melton, Presbyterian minister, performed the ceremony at the Baptist church in the presence of M.H. Cotton, S.H. Vick, and Edmund Pool. In the 1910 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: clergyman James J. Wilson, 43; wife Susie, 43, a schoolteacher; and children Mattie M., 13, Frank T., 11, Nannie R., 8, Charles E., 6, and Ophelia, 4. In the 1920 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: Presbyterian minister James J. Wilson, 52; wife Susie J., 52; and children Frank T., 20, Nannie R., 18, a teacher, Charles E., 16, Ophelia A., 13, and Lena, 8. Susie J. Wilson died 13 October 1925 in Wadesboro, Anson County. Per her death certificate: she was 57 years old; was born in Wilson to Jas. Harris and Nancy Hill; was married to Rev. J.J. Wilson; and worked as county superintendent for the North Carolina Board of Education. Informant was F.T. Wilson, 213 Oakwood Drive, Orange, New Jersey.
  • Charles H. Bynum


The Messenger and Intelligencer (Wadesboro), 1 May 1919.

Colored tax delinquents.


Wilson Daily Times, 26 May 1911.

  • Thad. Arrington
  • Willie Austin — in the 1908 Wilson city directory: Austin William, farmer, h[ome] Mercer nr Mill rd
  • Ed. Barnes — in the 1908 Wilson city directory: Barnes Edward, painter, h 711 e Spring
  • Burt Bowser — Burt Bowser married Sarah Rountree, daughter of Peter and Lucinda Rountree, on 4 December 1888 in Wilson. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: shoemaker Peter Rountree, 76, wife Lucinda, 53, daughter Sarah Bowser, 32, son-in-law Burt L. Bowser, 36, grandsons Russell, 9, Astor B., 3, and Thomas F., 1, stepdaughters (?) Manda L., 18, and Rosa E. Rountree, 14. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: poolroom conductor Best Bowser, 48, wife Sarah, 40, a seamstress, sons Russell, 19, Astor B., 13, and Thomas F., 11, plus sister-in-law Rosa Rountree, 21, a teacher, and James Rountree, 14, a servant in a milliner’s store. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: cook in cafe Bert L. Brown [sic], 56, wife Sarah M., 48, sons Astor B., 25, and Thomas, 23, and daughter-in-law Georgia B., 20, plus mother-in-law Lucinda Rountree, 78. Burt Landers Bowser died 12 July 1920 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 August 1861 in Halifax County, North Carolina, to Samuel and Isabella Bowser; was married to Sarah Bowser; and was a self-employed cook.
  • Oscar Best — Oscar Best is listed in the 1908 Wilson city directory as a grocer living at Nash near Bynum. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: carpenter Orange Best, 67, wife Hansey, 61, children Oscar, 37, a widowed grocer, Roberta, 22, Bethena, 19, Robert, 17, and granddaughter Sarah, 8.
  • Wright Barnes — Wright Barnes, son of Harry Taylor and Nelly Barnes, married Jane Strickland, daughter of Reddick and Mary Strickland, on 12 January 1868 in Wilson County. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Finches Mill Road, farmer Wright Barnes, 61, wife Jane, 58, children Mary A., 17, George, 15, and Jane, 14, and granddaughter Fannie, 13.
  • Sarah Battle 
  • Gen. Wash. Coppedge — in the 1908 Wilson city directory: Coppedge General, bricklayer, h 133 e Nash
  • J.G. Coppedge — in the 1908 Wilson city directory: Coppedge James G Rev, pastor Second Baptist Church, h 113 Manchester. James G. Coppedge died 16 July 1913 in Wilson. Per his death certificate: he was born in 1861 to Washington Coppedge and an unnamed mother; he resided on Manchester Street; and he worked as a butler. G.W. Coppedge was informant.
  • Wiley Farmer — in the 1908 Wilson city directory: Farmer Wiley, laborer, h Harper’s ln
  • Jesse Farmer
  • Chas. Hayswood — on 28 July 1901, Charlie Hayswood, 28, married Bettie Brinkley, 28, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony. Witnesses were Willie Barnes, Jane Branch and Sarah Alston. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, Charles Hayswood, 36, factory fireman, and wife Bettie, 33, cook.
  • G. Wash. Joyner — in the 1908 Wilson city directory: Joyner Washington, painter, h 616 Viola
  • Levi Jones — Levi Hunter Jones. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Levi Jones, 32, barber, with sister Nancy, 24, brothers Butler, 28, house carpenter, and Harvey, 12, and mother, Susan Jones, 50.
  • Chas. Knight — on 26 December 1898, Charles Knight, 21, of Wilson County, married Elsie McCullows, 21, of Wilson County. Baptist minister W.T.H. Woodard performed the ceremony in the presence of Annie Jackson, Lizzie McCullers, and Florence Whitfield. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Charles Knight, 35, wife Elsie, 37, and sons Charles, 8, and Frank, 6, plus boarders Ethel Coleman, 23, and Sarah Jackson, 28, both school teachers. Charles Henry Knight registered for the World War I in September 1918. Per his registration card: he was born 12 February 1875; resided at 115 Pender Street; was a self-employed barber at 533 East Nash Street; his nearest relative was Elsie Knight; was tall and of medium build; and “has rheumatism very badly cannot walk well.” He signed his card with a shaky “C.H. Knight.”
  • Ed. McCullom — in the 1908 Wilson city directory: McCollum Edward, furniture repair, h 118 Manchester
  • Geo. Pender
  • Amos Pender — perhaps, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Amos Pender, 60, and wife Annie, 59.
  • Ben. Parker or Parks — in the 1908 Wilson city directory: Parks Benj., laborer, h 623 e Nash
  • J. Wesley Rodgers — per the city directory, in 1922, John Wesley Rogers lived at 548 East Nash Street and worked as a porter at Oettinger’s department store. His wife,  a native of Johnston County, was Mary Elizabeth Thomas Rogers (1878-1950). Rogers was born in Durham County in 1870 and died in Wilson in 1951.
  • Isaac Thompson — on 3 June 1891, Isaac Thompson, 21, married Lizzie Davis, 23, at the Baptist church in Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony before John Jeffreys, Samuel Williams and Wm. Baker. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 326 Spring Street, whitewasher Isaac Thompson, 40, wife Lizzie, 43, and children James, 19, Annie, 18, Edwin, 11, Ernest, 9, Herbert, 8, Rowland, 5, and Windford, 7 months.
  • John Williams
  • Allen Williams — in the 1908 Wilson city directory: Williams Allen, laborer, h Vance cor Vick
  • Alex Warren — Alexander Warren. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 367 Spring Street, ice factory blocker Alex Warren, 34, wife Ada, 36, and son John, 19, the latter two, factory workers. Alexander Warren died 4 January 1948 in Wilson. Per his death certificate: he was born about 1879 in Wilson County to Pompie and Della Warren; had worked as a laborer; resided at 403 E. Walnut Street; and was buried at Rountree cemetery. His neighbor John Parks of 405 E. Walnut was informant.
  • Ella Woodard
  • Junius Williams — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Winona Road, sawmill laborer Junius Williams, 33, and wife Mollie, 36, tobacco factory laborer. Junius Williams died 28 December 1941 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 August 1877 in Franklin County to Pompie Williams and Dora Stones of Franklin County; was married to Mollie Williams; worked as a cooper man at Watson Tobacco Company; lived at 1009 Atlantic Street; and was buried at Rountree cemetery.
  • C. Mack Wells — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: wheelwright Mack Wells, 40; wife Cherry, 38; and children Bertha, 11, Willie, 9, Clifton, 5, Lillie, 4, and Mary, 2.
  • S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Samuel Vick, 47, dealer in real estate, wife Annie, 38, and children Elma, 16, Daniel L., 13, Samuel W., 10, George, 7, Anna, 5, and Robert, 2.

Occupations, 1880.

Here are the occupations carried out by African-Americans enumerated in the 1880 census of the town of Wilson, and the number of people working these jobs. The youngest person listed with a job was a 12 year-old nurse, who most likely cared for small children. In the ten years between 1870 and 1880, employment opportunities for African-Americans continued to diversify. Though most continued to work low-wage, low-skilled farm laborer and domestic services jobs, there is evidence of a tiny educated class emerging, as well as folk engaged in commerce.

  • Baker — 1.
  • Barber — 1.
  • Blacksmith/work in blacksmith shop — 3.
  • Brickmason — 3.
  • Brickyard worker — 1.
  • Butcher — 1.
  • Cook — 22.
  • Cook and washer — 1.
  • Domestic servant/servant — 52.
  • Drayman — 3.
  • Eating saloon keeper — 1.
  • Farm laborer/works on farm — 27.
  • Farmer — 1.
  • “Fires up steam engine” — 1.
  • Hireling/hired hand — 12.
  • Hotel servant — 5.
  • House carpenter — 2.
  • House painter — 1.
  • General merchant — 1.
  • Grocery shop owner — 2.
  • Ice house worker — 1.
  • Iron foundry worker — 1.
  • Laborer — 24.
  • Lightning rod wagon worker — 1.
  • Livery stable worker — 1.
  • Mattressmaker — 1.
  • Mechanic — 3.
  • Midwife — 1.
  • Nurse — 1.
  • Nursery worker — 1.
  • Painter — 1.
  • Plasterer — 1.
  • Preacher, Methodist — 1.
  • Railroad station worker — 3.
  • Schoolteacher — 3.
  • Shoemaker — 2.
  • Street worker — 1.
  • Teamster — 3.
  • Washer and ironer — 4.
  • Washerwoman — 9.
  • Wood sawyer — 4.

Bank shareholders, pt. 1.

Attached to the Commercial Bank of Wilson’s  1921 certificate of incorporation is a list of the names of all the bank’s investors, providing information about their net worth, number of shares, and occupation.  Most of the more than 150 shareholders — overwhelmingly African-American men — lived in Wilson or Wilson County, but adjoining counties like Wayne, Greene and Johnston were represented, as well as more far-flung cities like Durham and Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  The investors were farmers and contractors, merchants and ministers, teachers and barbers with estimated wealth ranging from $300 to $50,000.

This is the first in a series introducing these men and women:

  • Aiken, Georgia, Mrs. Wilson, estimated worth: $5000, dressmaker.

In the 1910 census of the Town of Wilson, Wilson County: Virginia-born John Aiken, 44, and North Carolina-born wife Georgia, 38. John worked at a livery stable.

Georgia Crockett Aikens died 17 August 1939 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 67 years old, born in Wayne County to William Crockett and Rachel Powell, resided at 120 Pender Street in Wilson, and was married to John Aikens.

  • Adkinson, Thomas, Kenly, $1000, farmer.
  • Armstrong, Augustus, Elm City, $1000, farmer.
  • Armstrong, Frank, Elm City, $1000, farmer.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Tarboro Road, Frank Armstrong, 30, wife Mary, 26, and children Lucy, 5, Grace, 3, and Josuah, 1.

Frank Armstrong died 14 November 1961 in Mercy Hospital, Wilson. His death certificate indicates that he was born 5 January 1891 in Wilson County to Josh Armstrong and Harriet Bullock. He was buried in Rest Haven cemetery; Vinnie Armstrong was informant.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson Rocky Mount Road, farmer Gary Armstrong, 73, wife Henrietta, 65, and daughter Minnie, 28.

Garry Armstrong died 1 February 1928 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 82 years old, born in Edgecombe County to Abraham and Cherry Armstrong, and married to Henrietta Armstrong. He was buried in a family cemetery in Wilson County, and John H. Armstrong was informant for his death certificate.

  • Armstrong, George, Elm City, $1000, farmer.
  • Armstrong, H.A., Farmville, $500, farmer.
  • Armstrong, John H., Elm City, $1000, farmer.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot, Wilson County: farmer John Armstrong, 43, wife Mary, 40, and children James, 18, Bessie, 17, Harvey, 16, William, 11, John, 9, Laura, 7, Mammie, 5, Hattie, 4, and Attie, 1.

John H. Armstrong died 1 February 1939 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 August 1877 in Wilson County to Garrett Armstrong and Henretta Williams, and married to Mary Johnson Armstrong. He was buried in a family cemetery in Wilson County, and James A. Armstrong was informant for his death certificate.

  • Armstrong, Joseph, Elm City, $1000, farmer.
  • Armstrong, Joshua, Elm City, $10000, farmer.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson Elm City Road, Josh Armstrong, 61, wife Harriet, 58, and children Annie, 28, Willie, 22, Arthur, 19, Minnie, 18, Charlie, 17, Ada, 15, and James, 11.

Joshua Armstrong died 22 June 1925 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old, a farmer, born in Edgecombe County to Abram and Cherry Armstrong, and married to Harriet Armstrong. Frank Armstrong was informant for his death certificate.

  • Armstrong, Moses, Elm City, $1000, farmer.

Moses S. Armstrong died 23 November 1961 at his home at 62 Wilson Street in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. His death certificate states that he was born 12 February 1893 in Wilson County to Garry Armstrong and Henriett (maiden name unknown). He was buried in a family cemetery in Town Creek, North Carolina, and wife Lillie Armstrong was informant.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot, Wilson County: Nelson Armstrong, 60, wife Mary, 50, and boarder Grover Barnes, 19.

Nelson Armstrong died 8 December 1934 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 80 years old, a farmer, born in Edgecombe County to Abraham and Cherry Armstrong, and a widower. Henry Armstrong of Sharpsburg, North Carolina, was informant for his death certificate.

  • Artis, C.E., Wilson, $1500, undertaker.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: grocery storekeeper Columbus Artis, 24, his brothers June Scott, 20, and Henry J. Artis, 16, and lodgers John Newson, 30, and Eliga Diggs, 24, all of whom worked as laborers in a box factory.

Columbus Estelle Artis died 18 March 1973 in Wilson. According to his death certificate, C.E. was born 28 August 1886 to Adam T. Artis and Manda Aldridge. Married to Ruby Barber and residing at 611 East Green Street, he was a retired undertaker. He was buried at Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson.

  • Artis, J.S., Wilson, $2000, farmer.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg & Wilson Road, farm manager June S. Artis, 30, wife Ethel, 26, and children James, 7, Edgar, 7, Manda Bell, 3, and farm laborer Edgar Exum.

June Scott Artis died 2 June 1973 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County.  His death certificate reports that he was married to Ethel Becton and was born 23 November 1895 to Adam Artis and Mandy Aldridge.  He was buried 7 June 1973 at Artis Cemetery, Wayne County.

  • Artis, Robert, Lucama, $7500, farmer.
  • Ayers, Henry, Lucama, $1000, farmer.