On Mother’s Day.

The two children she birthed did not live to adulthood, but Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver nonetheless was mother to the Wilson County branch of my Henderson family. She reared my great-grandmother Bessie Henderson and great-great-uncle Jack Henderson alongside her step-children in Wayne County. Around 1907, she and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Sr. and his youngest children settled in Wilson in a little cottage on Elba Street, and Jack Henderson followed. When Bessie died, my eight-month-old grandmother Hattie Mae Henderson and later her sister Mamie came to live on Elba Street, too. And she lived long enough to help my grandmother raise her four children in their earliest years. Though she was the direct ancestor of none of us, I recognize and honor Mama Sarah as matriarch to us all.

Mama Sarah and my uncle Lucian, circa 1931.

The Clarks and Taylors: reconnecting an enslaved family.

While researching for the Henry Flowers estate piece, I noticed that John H. Clark was informant on the death certificates of Isabel Taylor and Alex Taylor, children of Annis Taylor and Henry (last name uncertain). What was Clark’s connection to this family?

Detail from death certificate of Isabel Taylor, who died 26 October 1929 in Wilson. 

The crucial clue: Katherine Elks mentioned that Henry Flowers’ youngest daughters married brothers John P. Clark and Sidney P. Clark. Their father, Phineas P. Clark, had brought his family from Connecticut to Nash County to set up as a buggy maker. (His employee Willis N. Hackney went on to found the carriage-making company that became Hackney Brothers Body Company.)

P.P. Clark does not appear to have been a slaveholder. However, John P. Clark is listed in the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County as the owner of five enslaved people. One was a 19 year-old male, the correct age and sex to have been Harry Clark, John H. Clark’s father. John P. Clark was a 21 year-old newlywed at the time of the census. Where he had obtained five slaves? Had his wife Nancy Flowers brought them into the marriage?

Detail from the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson district, Wilson County.

Recall the distribution of Henry Flowers’ enslaved property. In 1850, the group was divided into three lots. Lot number 3 included a boy named Harry. Though existing estate records do not specify, it’s reasonable to assume that Lot 3 went to Nancy Flowers when she achieved majority some years later. When Nancy married John P. Clark, he assumed legal control over her property, which included Harry. (The 25 year-old woman was likely Peggy, who was also in Lot 3, and the children were probably hers. They were born after the 1850 division of Henry’s property and thus were not named.)

Harry was one of the children of Annis, as were Isabel and Alex. Harry adopted the surname Clark after Emancipation, while his siblings adopted Taylor, the surname of their last owners, William and Charity Flowers Taylor. So, what was John H. Clark’s connection to Isabel and Alex Taylor? He was their nephew.

Many thanks to Katherine Elks.

Snaps, no. 63: Penny Mills Dancy and family.

This remarkable photograph of what appears to be a family gathered for a funeral, probably in the 1940s. Penny Mills Dancy stands fifth from the left, hatless in a dark dress with two large buttons. The girl at far left, looking out of the frame, may be her daughter Lovie Dancy (later Tabron.)

The stamp on the back of the photograph is equally remarkable, revealing as it does another African-American photographer operating in Wilson: “Portraits Made In Your Home. R.J. Dancy. 704 Suggs St. Phone 2092. Wilson, N.C.” Ray J. Dancy wasPenny Mills Dancy’s son.


In the 1910 census of Chicod township, Pitt County: Arnold Mills, 61, farmer; wife Lovie, 42; and children Nasby R., 21, Arnold, 20, Carrie T., 18, Gatsey D., 15, Goldman, 11, Lovie E., 13, Pennie, 9, Vanie L., 6, Jeruth, 5, and Abram C., 3.

On 9 December 1917, John C. Dancy, 20, of Greene County, son of John and Elizabeth Dancy, married Pennia Mills, 18, of Greene County, daughter of Ormond and Lovie Mills of Pitt County, at Maury Chapel Church in Greene County, North Carolina.

In the 1920 census of Contentnea Neck township, Lenoir County, North Carolina: farm laborer John C. Dancy, 24; wife Penny E., 19; and daughter Enlishel V., 2 months.

On 9 May 1924, John Allen Dancy, age 18 months, died in Ormonds township, Greene County. Per his death certificate, he was born to John Dancy of Ayden, N.C., and Pennie Mills of Pitt County, and was buried in Mills cemetery, Pitt County.

In the 1930 census of Township 9, Craven County, North Carolina: farmer Johnie C. Dancy, 34; wife Pennie, 29; and children Evangeline, 10, Lovie, 8, R.J., 5, and Aribell, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Dancy, 44, city of Wilson laborer; wife Pennie, 39, tobacco factory laborer; and children Evangline, 20, tobacco factory laborer, Lovie, 18, R.J., 15, Olie Bell, 11, Mildred, 8, and Leo, 5.

In 1942, Ray Joel Dancey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 5 December 1924 in Pitt County; lived at 704 Suggs Street; has contact was Penny Dancey of the same address; and he was a student at Darden High School.

In 1946, Ollie Bell Dancey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 4 June 1928 in Greene County; lived at 704 Suggs Street; has contact was mother Penny Dancey of the same address; and he was a student at Darden High School.

Penny Ethel Dancy died 13 April 1984 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 January 1901 in Pitt County to Arnold Mills and Lovie Shepherd; was widowed; had worked as a factory worker for Watson; and lived at 702 Suggs Street. Lovie Tabron was informant.

Many, many thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for a copy of this photograph.

O.L. and Emma Freeman family portrait.

Bottom: Emma, “Little Emma” and Oliver Lovett Freeman. Top: Irma, Percy and Hazel Freeman.


Lovett Freeman, 24, of Wilson County, son of J.F. Freeman and Eliza Freeman, married Emma Pender, 23, daughter of Amos Pender, on 25 October 1899 in Amos Pender’s house in Wilson County. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio: blacksmith Oliver L. Freeman, 25; wife Emma C., 24, school teacher; sister Olive, 8; and roomer Henry Bruce, 20, barber. All the Freemans were born in North Carolina; Bruce, in Tennessee.

In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: blacksmith in buggy shop Oliver Freeman, 36; wife Emma, 34; and children Percy, 10, Hazel, 8, Irma, 6, and Emma, 3.

In the 1920 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: blacksmith O.L. Freeman, 44; wife Emma, 43; and children Percy, 29 [sic], Hazel,18, Erma, 16, and Emma, 12.

In the 1930 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: at 1113 West Thomas, Oliver L. Freeman, 55, blacksmith; wife Emma C., 53; and Emma Freeman, Percy Freeman and Harold L. Freeman.

In November 1938, Oliver Lovett Freeman applied for Social Security benefits. His application noted that he was born 12 November 1869 in Wilson, N.C., to Julious Freeman and Eliza Daniel.

In the 1940 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: at 1113 West Thomas, Oliver Freeman, 64, blacksmith shoeing horses; wife Emma, 63; and daughter Emma, 31.

In 1942, Cornelius Pitt registered for the World War II draft in Nash County. Per his registration card, he was born 6 October 1921 in Rocky Mount; lived at 1110 West Thomas; his contact was Oliver Freeman, 1113 West Thomas; and he worked for Emerson Shops, A.C.L. [Railroad], Rocky Mount.

Oliver L. Freeman made out his will on 5 June 1954 in Nash County. Per its terms, daughter Irma F. Rudd was to receive the homeplace at 1113 West Thomas Street, Rocky Mount; daughter Hazel F. Whisonant, the tenant houses at 1123-1125 Gay Street, Rocky Mount; son Percy Freeman, the tenant house at 1119-1120 Gay Street; and daughter Emma Freeman, the tenant house at 1121-1122 Gay Street. His remaining property was to be divided among his children in equal shares.

Per, Freeman died 26 June 1955 and is buried in Northeastern Cemetery, Rocky Mount.

Photo courtesy of Mary Freeman Ellis, The Way We Were.

Cohabitation register, part 1.

In March 1866, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an act establishing a means for formerly enslaved people to ratify their marriages.  Such persons were to appear before justices of the peace, who would collect certain details of their cohabitation during slavery and record them in the County Clerk’s office. Freedmen faced misdemeanor charges if they failed to record their marriage by September, 1866, a deadline later extended to January 1, 1868.

Wilson County’s original cohabitation register is said to be held in the Register of Deeds office, but I have not found it there. Brooke Bissette, Director of Exhibits at Wilson’s Imagination Station, recently found that East Carolina University’s Joyner Library has a copy of the cohabitation register on microfilm and is creating a print volume to be shelved in the Local History and Genealogy Room at Wilson County Public Library’s main branch.

I present the register in series, with transcription:


A Winstead gathering.


Lisa R. W. Sloan kindly shared this amazing photograph taken in Wilson County around the turn of the 20th century. Her great-great-grandfather Edward “Ned” Winstead is standing in the top row, third from right, with a book tucked under his arm. Her great-great-grandmother Annie Edwards Winstead is believed to be in the photo as well, but has not been identified. Nor have the others depicted, who may members of the extended Winstead family, who lived in the Elm City area. If you recognize anyone here, please let us know.


In the 1870 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Anna Oats, 28, domestic servant; Milly, 16, domestic servant, Ned, 13, farm laborer, and Clara, 12, domestic servant; and John Batts, 22, retail liquor dealer.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Fannie Parker, 51; daughter Martha, 28; grandsons Julius S., 10, and Joseph W., 4; nephew Ned Winstead, 22.

On 29 December 1886, Ned Winstead, 28, son of George Hodge, married Annie Edwards, 23, daughter of Orren and Sarah Edwards, at James Chisel’s house in Toisnot township.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Ned Winstead, 42, wife Annie, 38, and children Hubbard, 12, James H., 10, Maggie, 8, Lizzie V., 4, William N.D., 2.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on State Highway, farmer Ned Winstead, 52, wife Annie, 47, and children Maggie, 18, Lizzie, 14, Daniel, 12, John, 9, Lee, 6, and Bryant, 4.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on State Highway, farmer Ned Winstead, 58, wife Annie, 50, and children Maggie, 23, John, 18, and Bryant, 13, plus granddaughter Annie Bell, 9.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Ned Winstead, 60, widower; son-in-law Tom Wilcher, 48; daughter Maggie, 37; Carl Farmer, 23, son-in-law; daughter Lizzie, 33; and granddaughter Annie B., 19.

On 7 November 1931, in Smithfield, North Carolina, Bryant Winstead, 26, son of Ned and Annie Winstead, resident of Elm City, married Eva Green, 24, daughter of Neverson and Isabella Green, resident of Wilson.

Ned Winstead died 24 May 1934 in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was a widower; was born 14 February 1858 in Nash County to George Hardy and Iseley Winstead; was a farmer; and was buried in Elm City. Maggie Wilcher was informant.

“It’s so nice to see/ All the folks you love together …”

I’m not sure what resonates most: the over-excited child in a hotel room, the O’Jays, the picnic, the slightly bored teenagers, the teeshirts, the cemetery cleaning, the banquet, the Electric Slide, the history lecture, the camera up in folks’ faces. Everything about this video screams BLACK FAMILY REUNION, and this one is a gathering of the Carters in Wilson in 1990.

I paused the tape at 4:34. The wall of ancestors. I recognized these names. This was a gathering of the descendants of George and Nancy Parker Carter, with the Mary Ida Carter Brockington branch exceptionally well-represented.

I hope the next generation of Carters is somewhere planning the 2020 reunion — and that they’ll film it and share!

Hat tip to Zella Palmer for leading me to this gem, and thanks to Ronald Steele, who blessed us all by posting it to Youtube.

Samuel H. and Annie W. Vick family, no. 2.

This formal portrait of Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick and their children was taken around 1913, a few years after the photograph posted here.

The woman at left does not appear to be an immediate family member. Otherwise, by my best judgment, there is daughter Elba, Sam Vick, son Robert, son Daniel (center), daughter Doris, Annie Vick, son Samuel, son George, and daughter Anna.

Photo courtesy of the Freedman Round House and African-American Museum, Wilson, N.C.

The children of Daniel Williamson and Amy Deans.

In 1866, Daniel Williamson and Amy Deans registered their 20-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace. A year later, Williamson was dead. He died without a will, and his brother Alexander “Ellic” Williamson was appointed administrator of his estate. Amy Deans Williamson apparently died around the same time. Though neither appear in census records, it is possible from other documents to identify four of their children.

  • Simon Williamson, alias Simon Deans

On behalf of Daniel’s estate, Alex Williamson paid out $9.00 to Albert Adams for the “nursing and Barrien” [burying] of Simon in early 1869. The 1870 mortality schedule of Springhill township, Wilson County, lists Simon Deens, 19, as having died of consumption in February 1870. Despite the discrepancy in the year, this would seem to be be the same boy, as Simon Deans is listed as a member of Albert Adams’ household.

  • Turner Williamson

N.B. Though records are difficult to distinguish, this is a different Turner Williamson from George Turner Williamson, born about 1860 to Patrick and Spicey Williamson.

In an action filed in 1886 by Gray Deans and Turner Williamson over the payout of their father’s estate, Daniel’s (putative) brother Edmond Williamson testified that he had taken care of Daniel’s orphaned son Turner Williamson, who was a small boy and did not “earn his [own] support” for a few years.

On 8 October 1891, Turner Williamson, 30, of Crossroads township, married Margarett Barnes, 22, of Crossroads, daughter of Wilson Barnes and Maggie Barnes, in the presence of Gray Newsom, Henry Dudley and Huel Newsom.

In the 1910 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Turner Williamson, 51, and children John E., 18, Bessie, 15, Effie, 12, Montie, 8, Junius T., 6, Annie, 5, and George D., 3.

Turner Williamson, 55, married Leesie Dew, 35, on 17 December 1914 in Crossroads township. [Is this the same Turner Williamson?]

In the 1920 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Turner Williamson, 62; wife Margaret, 52; and children Bessie, 25, Effie, 23, Monte, 19, Turner, 17, Anne, 15, George, 13, Sarah, 4, and Amie, 8 months.

On 10 March 1929, Turner Williamson, 70, of Wilson married Lizzie Knight, 65, of Edgecombe County, daughter of Wilson Hagans, in Edgecombe County. Baptist minister Noah W. Smith performed the ceremony at Turner Pender’s in the presence of Turner Pender, James Henry Bynum and James Arthur Bynum.

In the 1930 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Turner Williamson, 72, and wife Lizzie, 70; with Effie Bynum, 35, widow, and her children Rudolph, 8, Kermitt, 7, William, 4, and Clara, 2. Next door: Johnie Williamson, 39, farmer; wife Leamither, 32; and children John H., 14, Maggielene, 12, Burlie, 10, Oscar P., 8, Charles L., 5, and James, 2.

Turner Williamson died 21 October 1937 in Crossroads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 77 years old; was married to Lizzie Heggins Williamson; and was a farmer. Johnie Williamson was informant.

  • Gray Deans

In the same suit, Gray Deans testified that he and Turner had been carried to Edmond Williamson’s house after their father’s death and that Turner was about 11 years old at the time and could work for his support.

In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: John Taylor, 21, and Gray Deens, 18.

Gray Deans, 22, married Tamer Bailey 18, in Old Fields township. Minister B.H. Boykin performed the ceremony in the presence of Moses Bailey, Allin Bailey, and John Boykin.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Gray Deans, 25, tenant farmer, and wife Tamer, 18.

In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Gray Deans, 48, farmer, and wife Tamer, 38.

On 13 October 1901, Gray Deans, 50, son of Daniel Williamson and Amie Deans, married Mary Boykin, 33, daughter of John Pettifoot and Catherine Pettifoot, in Wilson County. James Petifoot, Samuel Petifoot and Joel Oneil witnessed the ceremony.

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Gray Deans, 59; wife Mary, 48; and granddaughter Mary C. Deans, 4.

Gray Deans died 10 June 1918 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 January 1858 to Daniel Williamson and Mary Deans [sic] and was married. Informant was Mary Deans. He died without a will, and Wilson County Superior Court issued letters of administration to R.T. Barnes, who estimated the estate at $750.00 and identified Deans’ heirs as widow Mary Deans, [brother Turner Williamson, and [sister] Sylvia Deans.

  • Sylvia Mariah Deans

Sylvia Deans is not mentioned in Daniel Williamson’s estate files. She is, however, like, Turner Williamson, listed as an heir of Gray Deans, which suggests that she was their half-sister and they all shared a mother.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Silvia Deems, 36, domestic servant, with children Ellen, 8, and Jane, 6 months.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Sylvia Deans, 46, with children Jane, 11, Simon, 9, and Columbus Deans, 6. [Sylvia Deans apparently was not married. The marriage and death records of her sons John Simon and Columbus Deans name their father as Jordan Oneil, who appears in the 1870 and 1880 censuses of Wilson County in Spring Hill township.]

In the 1900 census of Old Fields township: Columbus Deans, 23, wife Rosa L., 22, children Silvanes, 3, and Gray C., 1, and mother Silva Deans, 54. Next door: John Deans, 28, wife Ada P., 23, and grandmother Emily Taylor, 75. I

n the 1920 census of Old Fields township: Columbus B. Deans, 44; wife Rosa Lee, 41; children Savanah, 22, Gray C., 20, Allinor, 17, Walter Kelley, 16, Bennie H., 14, William T., 12, James K., 10, George L., 9, and Lucy J., 7; grandchildren Ella W., 6, and Lossie Lee, 3; and mother Sylvion Deans, 74.

In the 1930 census of Old Fields: Columbus B. Deans, 54; wife Rosa L., 52; children and grandchildren James K., 21, Lucy J., 17, Ella W., 16, Lossie L., 13, Jessie, 8, Willie, 4, and Callie, 2; and mother Silvia Deans, 84.

Silvia Mariah Deans died 9 January 1938 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born in August 1843 in Nash County to Ernest Deans and Ennie Deans and was widowed. Simon Deans was informant. She was buried in New Vester church cemetery.

Lida Williamson, alias Atkinson, and her children.

As noted here, Hardy H. Williamson’s estate included a woman named “Liddy.”

I have not identified Liddy/Lida/Lydia in census records, but other documents indicate that four of the others listed in H.H. Williamson’s estate inventory — Henry, Spencer, Silvia “Silvy,” and Angeline “Angy” — were Lida’s children.

Handy Atkinson, who appears to have been the father of all four children, was enslaved by a different owner.

On 7 August 1866, Hamlet [sic] Atkinson and Lida Atkinson registered their 17-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Handy Atkinson, 50; and children Nathan, 21, Spencer, 17, Simon, 15, Charity, 13, Sarah, 10, and John, 8.

Were these children also Lida Williamson’s? Was Spencer Atkinson the same person as Spencer Williamson? If so, where were Nathan and Charity in 1859 when H.H. Williamson’s estate was tallied?

On 16 December 1869, Randal Hinnant, son of Emsley Hinnant and Ally Hinnant, married Angaline Atkinson, daughter of Handa Atkinson and Lida Atkinson, at Handa Atkinson’s in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Randal Hinnant, 22, and wife Angelina, 17.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Randall Hinnant, 33, Angeline, 26, and children J. Thomas, 10, James H., 8, Lilly Ann, 6, and Roscoe F. Hinnant, 4.

In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: Randall Hinnant, 55, Angeline, 48, George W., 16, Sallie A., 14, Survayal, 5, and “hired girl” Susan Hinnant, 40.

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township: George Hinnant, 24, wife Elizabeth, 22, daughter Mary L., 1, mother Angeline, 58, and Percy Hinnant, 7.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields: George Hinnant, 35, Elizabeth, 30, Mary L., 11, James, 9, Mary Lee, 7, Martha May, 6, and Charlie T. Hinnant, 1, and mother Angeline Hinnant, 70.

Per her gravestone, Angeline Hinnant died in 1936. She is buried in New Vester cemetery.

  • Henry Williamson

On 17 February 1870, Henry Williamson, son of Hander Atkinson and Lida Williamson, married Cora Adams, daughter of Mary Adams, in Wilson County.

  • Silvia Atkinson Boykin

On 3 March 1870, Henry Boykin, son of Rear Boykin, married Silvia Atkinson, daughter of Handy Atkinson and Lida Atkinson, in Wilson County.

On 12 February 1893, Harriett Boykin, 20, daughter of Henry and Sylva Boykin, married Samuel Taylor, 26, son of Peter and Zilla Taylor, at Henry Boykin’s residence.

On 17 December 1897, James Boykin, 21, son of Henry and Silvy Boykin, married Mary Jane Kent, daughter of Ned and Liddie Kent.

In the 1910 census of Oneals township, Johnston County: farmer James Boykin, 30; wife Jane, 29; widowed mother Silva, 50; and children Grady, 10, Addie, 8, Fany, 6, Falston, 3, and Tincey, 8 months.

In the 1920 census of Micro township, Johnston County: farmer James H. Boykins, 44; wife Jane, 43; and children Grady, 19, Etta, 18, Fanny, 16, Foster, 12, Henry, 10, Jay, 9, Lillie, 6, John H., 4, and widowed mother Silver, age unknown.

James Henry Boykin died 14 May 1926 in Beulah township, Johnston County. Per his death certificate, he was 48 years old; was born in Wilson County to James H. Boykin and Silva Atkinson; was married Mary Jane Boykin; worked as a laborer at a steel plant in Pennsylvania; and was buried in the family burying ground.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Foster Boykin, 22, wife Ella, 18, and children James R., 2, and Alma, 1; sister-in-law Lily Whitley, 22; mother Silva Boykin, 81; and niece Eula M. Whitley, 3.

Sylvia Boykin died 12 January 1939 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 August 1848 in Wilson County to Henry Boykin [sic; in fact, Henry was her husband] and an unknown mother; was a widow; worked as a tenant farmer; and lived at 507 Warren Street, Wilson. Informant was Addie Boykin, 507 Warren Street.

  • Spencer Williamson

Perhaps, in the 1900 census of Lower Conetoe township, Edgecombe County: farmer Spencer Williamson, 43; wife Mollie, 29; children Spencer, 6, David, 1; plus in-laws Morning, 21, Peggy, 18, and Joseph Rogers, 24.

Perhaps, in the 1910 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: Spencer Williamson, 56; wife Mollie, 40; and children Spencer Jr., 15, David, 11, Jessie, 8, Alexander, 5, and Mary, 4.

Spencer Williamson died 22 August 1926 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 56 years old, was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and an unknown mother; was married to P. Williamson; and lived at 112 North Pine Street, Rocky Mount.