“He was faithful and upright in all his works”: the life and legacy of Samuel H. Vick.

Speaking to my home community at Wilson County Public Library has been a highlight of my Februarys lately, and I’m excited to return in person this year. I’ll be trying to do justice to the extraordinary life of Samuel H. Vick in an hour or so, and I look forward to seeing you there.

Sky-high taxes.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 January 1930.


Store keeper Michael Barker, born in Lithuania in 1885, adopted the tone and tenor of native-born Wilsonians in his contribution to the paper regarding a conversation with Rebecca Daniel Pate, who was born enslaved and lived along enough to chat with folks like Barker at the start of the Great Depression.

Rebecca Pate’s parents were Arch and Leah Daniel. In a different article, Pate is said to have identified her former owners as “the Duprees.” Neither Daniel nor Dupree is a surname associated with Wayne County’s Quaker meetings.

Nelson Eatmon fosters a small boy.

From Nash County, North Carolina, Minutes of Wardens of the Poor, 1844-1869:

367 — Nov 20th 1851 Nelson Eatman To an order $20.00 By allowance for keeping a small child by the name of Cage Locust.


Nelson Eatmon lived in far western Wilson County, an area once part of Nash County. Micajah, or Cage, Locust is not listed in his household in census records.

  • Cage Locust

In the 1880 census of Jackson township, Nash County: Ruffin Grice, 44, carpenter, and wife Mary, 51, with Cage Locus, 26, works on farm.

Butterfield delivers for his District’s history.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today [22 December 2022], the United States House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus appropriations package, which contains $32,879,497 in Community Project Funding secured by Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) for projects across the First Congressional District of North Carolina.  The House’s vote now sends the funding package to President Biden to be signed into law.

“It’s extremely special to me that my last vote as a Member of Congress will send nearly $33 million to the First Congressional District of North Carolina.  Representing the First District has been a labor of love for me over the past 18 years and it feels good to know my last effort will positively impact so many hard-working families across the district long after my time in Congress comes to an end,” said Congressman Butterfield.

“I am a product of eastern North Carolina, and it has been the honor of my life to represent the First District for the past 18 years in Congress. The First District has given so much to me not only over the past 18 years, but all my life.  I am incredibly proud to have secured this funding that will have a profound impact in the district long after I’m gone.”

Congressman Butterfield championed funding for 14 projects that will directly benefit NC-01 residents[, including:]

Thank you, Congressman!

J.G. Mitchell, helping his colored people.

Wilson Daily Times, 27 March 1934.


In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Wilson Sharp, 52; wife Cherry, 45; nephew Jerry Bynum, 6; and James Mitchel, 47; wife Rose, 33; and son James G., 11.

On 24 December 1889, James Mitchell and Amanda Edwards, both 20, applied for a marriage license in Nash County, North Carolina.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer James G. Mitchell, 31; wife Armanda, 30; children Chestar, 9, Regenia, 8, Henretta, 6, William R., 4, and Dewry, 2; and widowed mother Rose Mitchell, 50.

Amanda Edwards Mitchell died between 1900 and 1910. In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer James G. Mitchell, 38; mother Rosa, 58; and children Kester R., 14, Cynthia, 14, Robert L., 12, Jimmie D., 10, and Lelia B., 8.

Cinderilla Cotton died 27 December 1928 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 35 years old; was born in Wilson County to James G. Mitchell of Wilson County and Armanda Edwards of Nash County; was married to Sidney Cotton; and was buried at William Chapel Church cemetery.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Elm City and Wilson Road, farmer James G. Mitchel, 61; wife Mamie I., 42; and children Mary M., 15, William F., 12, and Samuel B., 11.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer William Mitchell, 23; wife Rosa, 20; father Grey, 65; and brother Samuel, 21.

In 1940, Samuel Bryant Mitchell registered for the World War II draft in Cumberland County, N.C. Per his registration card, he was born 15 September 1918 in Elm City, N.C.; his home address was Route 2, Elm City; his contact was father James Gary [Gray] Mitchell; and he was a resident student at Fayetteville State Teachers College

James Mitchell Jr. died 19 May 1953 in Elm City, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 May 1869 in Wilson to James Mitchell Sr. and Rosa Parker; was married; operated a farm; and was buried in William’s Chapel cemetery. Robert L. Mitchell was informant.

Pierce asks, “Will you do your part?”

Though I have not been able to find Fletcher F. Pierce‘s letter to the editor concerning the state teachers association, I did find these letters, published in sequence in the 26 September 1933 edition of the Wilson Daily Times.

Pierce was about 21 years old at the time and clearly had a voice that he was willing to use. In these letters, he first called on the Times to act on its commitment to justice for the laboring class by sharing information about the New Deal’s impact on low area wages.

Next, he called the employers of domestic servants to task for the abysmally low wages paid to these men and women (who were overwhelmingly African-American.) “Now how in the name of sound economics can these low salaries raise the standard of living in this town?,” Pierce asked.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 September 1933.

Bushrod Dew’s crop lien.

On 17 January 1903, Howard, Graves & Company agreed to advance Bush Dew up to one hundred thirty dollars in supplies to enable Dew to cultivate the land in Wilson township Dew rented from S.H. Morris. In return, Dew gave Howard, Graves a lien on his crop as well as a eleven year-old black mare mule, an iron axle cart, an open buggy and harness, and all his farming implements.

Deed book 66, page 233, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office. 

Negro laborers wanted.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 March 1918.

Badin Aluminum Works placed this alluring ad in the Daily Times in 1918. Though working for Alcoa seemed to offer an appealing alternative to sharecropping, life in this company town had a dark side — literally, as the families of African-American workers lived segregated in Negro Town, and figuratively, as the extent and impact of industrial pollution continues to come to light.

“Badin has become a crucible for questions about the legacy of industrialization, racial capitalism, and environmental justice in the American South, and for how choices made and prejudices fomented a century ago reverberate into the present — with the added complication that Badin was a company town.” Read Emily Cataneo’s The Complicated Lgacy of Badin, North Carolina,, for more.

[I am searching for evidence that any Black Wilson County families answered this siren call.]

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

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.