Wilson, North Carolina, circa 1946.
Happy birthday, Rederick C. Henderson!
Wilson, North Carolina, circa 1946.
On 3 September 1908, the New York Age’s society page announced that Martha Farmer of Portsmouth, Virginia, was spending the week visiting family and friends in Wilson. Martha was the daughter of Benjamin and Mollie Barnes Farmer, who migrated to Portsmouth about 1893.
New York Age, 3 September 1908.
Robert Barnes, son of Tony Flowers and Hannah Bass, married Harriett Barnes, daughter of Sampson Farmer and Ann Barnes, on 20 July 1867 in Wilson County.
In the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County, North Carolina: Robert Barnes, 40; wife Harriet, 30; and children Robt., 12, Nathan, 11, Amos, 7, John, 8, William, 6, Mary, 3, and Alfred, 8 months.
In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: blacksmith Robert Barnes, 70; wife Harrett, 40; and children Robert, 21, Nathan, 13, Amos, 17, John, 14, William, 12, Mary, 9, Alford, 8, and Lillie, 7.
Benjamin Farmer, 26, of Wilson County, married Mollie Barnes, 18, of Wilson County, daughter of Robert and Harriett Barnes, on 1 February 1888 in Saratoga, Saratoga township. Crummell Bullock applied for the license, and minister Thomas J. Moore performed the ceremony in the presence of D.H. Calhoun and A.J. Tyson.
In the 1910 census of Portsmouth, Virginia: at 308 Chestnut Street, Benjamin Farmer, 44, insurance agent; wife Mollie, 38; and children Martha, 19, Charles, 18, and Lee, 16; plus niece Cora Barnes, 17, and aunt Phebe Pope, 67, widow.
In the 1920 census of Portsmouth, Virginia: at 308 Chestnut Street, Benjamin Farmer, 48, insurance collector; wife Mollie, 49; and daughter Martha, 27, public school teacher; plus aunt-in-law Phoebe Pope, 81, widow.
Phoebie Pope died 22 October 1922 in Portsmouth. Per her death certificate, she was about 88 years old; lived at 308 Chestnut; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Cherry Rodgers; and was “retired many years” from domestic work. J.W. Barnes was informant.
In the 1930 census of Portsmouth, Virginia: at 308 Chestnut Street, owned and valued at $1800, Ben T. Farmer, 56, insurance agent; wife Mollie, 55; and daughter Martha Boyd, 38; plus roomer Peter Solomon, 52, navy yard laborer.
On 16 March 1948, Benjamin Farmer died at his home at 308 Chestnut Street, Portsmouth. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 September 1868 in Wilson County to Joshua and Martha Farmer; had lived in Portsmouth 55 years; was married to Mollie Farmer; and worked in insurance. Martha F. Boyd was informant.
Mollie Farmer died 9 January 1962 in Portsmouth, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was about 92 years old; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Robert Barnes and Harriet (no maiden name); and lived at 436 Chestnut Street. Martha Boyd was informant.
Martha F. Boyd died 8 April 1973 in Portsmouth. Per her death certificate, she was about 82 years old; was born in North Carolina to Benjamin and Mollie Farmer; lived at 436 Chestnut; and was a retired teacher.
Wilson Daily Times, 2 July 1976.
“Large families helped to till the soil in bygone days. The family of “Damp” Haskins, who worked for the late P.L. Woodard and others who farmed in the Black Creek area, is shown above. Damp worked for U.H. Cozart, H.G. Whitehead, and P.L. Woodard in tobacco and with Tom Washington in his livery stable. He gained a bit of fame for his skill as a dog caller in the hunting season, using the long, curved bone horn he carved from a steer horn. Sole survivor of this picture is Annie Haskins Jurgens, now living in a rest home in Enfield. Grandchildren living in Wilson are Robert D. Haskins, Elizabeth Haskins Batts, Damp Haskins III, Alice Haskins Shipman, Gail Haskins Diggens, Hester Pierce Davis, Susie Gray Haskins Davis, and James Thomas Haskins.”
[It may be true that Damp Haskins, his wife, and all but one their children were deceased by mid-1976, but this photo appears to include grandchildren as well.]
Demp Haskins, 23, married Hester Sharp, 19, on 11 February 1876 in #10 Township, Edgecombe County.
In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: laborer Damp Haskins, 28, and wife Hester, 20.
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Damp Haskins; wife Hester, 43; and children Dora, 24, Martha, 19, Lossie, 18, Robert, 16, William, 15, James, 13, Lesley, 10, John, 9, Norma, 7, Earnest, 4, and Damp, 1.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, WIlson County: on “N&S RR,” farmer Damp Haskins, 60; wife Stella, 52, servant; children Martha, 23, cook, James, 18, wagon factory laborer, Lessie, 16, lumber mill laborer, John, 15, lumber mill laborer, Annie, 8, Earnest, 7, and Damp, 3; plus grandsons Simeon, 15, retail grocery laborer, and Ambrose Hoskins, 7.
Damp Haskins died 22 April 1915 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 64 years old; was born to Charles Haskins and an unknown mother; and had been a farmer. William Haskins was informant.
John Haskins died 7 April 1915 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was 19 years old; married; had no occupation; and was the son of Damp Haskins and Steller Sharp. William Haskins was informant.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Warren Street, Hester Haskins, 56; and children Estella, 18, Annie, 22, Martha, 36, Ernest, 21, Ambroga, 17, Damp, 12, and [grandson] Joseph, 8.
On 4 November 1925, Hester Haskins, 70, married Charles Barnes, 74, in Wilson.
Lossie Pierce died 15 April 1940 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 55 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Damp Haskins and Hester Sharp; was married to Andrew Pierce; and lived at 707 East Vance Street. Robert Haskins was informant.
Damp Haskins [Jr.] died 30 September 1945 at Eastern North Carolina Sanitarium in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 December 1909 in Wilson to Damp Haskins and Hester Sharp and was married to Sudie Bell Haskins.
Hester Haskins Barnes died 31 August 1931 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1857 in Edgecombe County to Henry Sharp and Dianah Pitts; was married to Charles Barnes; and lived at 1105 Atlantic Street. Martha Pitts was informant.
Robert D. Haskins died 11 December 1966 in WIlson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 June 1885 in Edgecombe County to Damp Haskins and Hester Sharp; was married to Gertrude Haskins; and lived at 1300 Atlantic Street.
Ernest Haskins died 27 June 1975 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 June 1900 to Damp Haskins; was a widower; and worked as a construction worker. Susie Gray Edwards was informant.
In 1877, Abram Farmer petitioned Probate Court to apprentice his grandson to him, charging that the boy was being neglected by his stepfather:
Before H.C. Moss, Judge of Probate for Wilson County
The Petition of Abraham Farmer of Wilson County North Carolina, respectfully shows with your Honor that his grandson, Gray Pender a boy of color, aged about Sixteen years, is an orphan, his father Richmond Pender having died about six years ago, and his mother, Sarah Pender died about two years ago. That the said orphan has been living with this step father, Stephen Battle since the death of his mother, & by him hired out for wages, & has received less care & attention than his tender years demanded &c &c
Your petitioner respectfully makes application before your Honorable Court that the said orphan may be summoned to appear before the [illegible] & show cause why he may not be apprenticed to him or to some other good master who will educate & provide for said orphan as the law directs
Jan’y 22nd 1877 J.S. Woodard Atty for Petitioner
The said orphan is now at the house of your petitioner on the premises of Isaac B. Farmer.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Rich’d Pender, 28, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 25; and sons Gray, 9, and George, 1.
On 7 June 1871, at Anthony Barnes’, Stephen Battle, son of Hundy and Lucinda Battle, married Sarah Pender.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer Abram Farmer, 63; wife Rhoda, 45; step-children Charlotte, 16, Kenneth, 15, Fannie, 11, and Martha, 10; and grandchildren Gray Pender, 17, Gray Farmer, 19; and Thad, 13, and John Armstrong, 10.
In the 1910 census to Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Pender, 47; wife Lillie, 35; and Eliza, 18 months, and Aniky, 4 months.
In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Grey Pender, 58; wife Lily, 44; and children Elijah, 11, Annie, 10, Herman, 8, Rosetta, 9, Furney, 6, Dennis, 4, and Victoria, 2.
Grey Pender died 22 August 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 67 years old; was born in Wilson County to Richmond and Sarah Pender; was married to Lillie Pender; and was a tenant farmer for Mrs. Mattie Williams.
Apprentice Records 1877, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
On the Fourth of July 1954, the Edwards family — 200 strong — held its 20th annual reunion in Nashville, Nash County, North Carolina. Rev. Buck H. Edwards of Wilson County, the oldest living family member, gave the invocation prior to a dinner of barbecue, fried chicken and slaw.
Wilson Daily Times, 10 July 1954.
The tradition continues! On 4 July 2019, Edwards family members gathered in Wilson to celebrate their 85th annual reunion.
Special thanks to Carla Edwards Williams, granddaughter of B.H. Edwards, for the photo!
As previously explored here, on 14 February 1970, the Wilson Daily Times published a full-page article by local historian Hugh B. Johnston, Jr., detailing the life of London Woodard, founder of London’s Primitive Baptist Church. Near the end of the piece, Johnston outlined the family of London and Penny Lassiter Woodard‘s daughter Penninah Woodard, who married Simon Barnes.
In February of this year, I undertook an unsuccessful search for the Barnes-Woodard cemetery with Bernard Patterson, a descendant. Below, please find Johnston’s notes about the family (with a few of my annotations.)
“Pennina Woodard was born on January 30, 1859, and died on February 24, 1919. On January 1, 1877, she married Simon Barnes, son of Silas Barnes and wife Rosetta (Rose) Farmer. He was born September 11, 1848, and died on April 15, 1923. His mother was born in March of 1831 and died on August 1, 1921. The exact date was not given, but her position on the roll of members of old Toisnot Baptist Church indicates that she was received about 1861. “Big Simon” Barnes was an industrious and highly respected citizen of the western section of Gardners township, and he and his good wife reared a large and commendable family on the farm that she had inherited after the death of her three brothers.
Wilson Daily Times, 24 November 1952.
Simon Grove Holiness Church was named in honor of Simon Barnes Jr., who donated the land upon which the church, to which his wife belonged, was built. This land, on N.C. Highway 42 East, is part of the acreage Penny Lassiter Woodard accumulated as a free woman of color.
Wilson Daily Times, 26 May 1971.
Thanks to Bernard Patterson for information regarding the history of Simon Grove; photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, May 2019.
Joseph Henry Ward left Wilson in the late 1880s on a journey that would lead him to a trail-blazing career as a physician in Indiana and Alabama. It does not appear that he ever returned to his birthplace. Yesterday, however, his granddaughter and great-granddaughter, both born and reared in the Midwest, came home. Zella Palmer FaceTimed me as she and her mother Alice Roberts Palmer stood outside David G.W. Ward‘s house near Stantonsburg, the house in which Joseph Ward’s mother Mittie Ward and grandmother Sarah Ward toiled while enslaved. David Ward was the father of at least three of Sarah Ward’s children, including Mittie.
Cousin Alice is an accomplished educator and politician, a former member of the Illinois state senate. Zella is chair of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture in New Orleans. One hundred and thirty years after Joseph Ward left Wilson County, in the spirit of sankofa, they returned to claim their ancestors. There was laughter — Zella said she felt like she was in a scene from The Color Purple — and tears, as Cousin Alice, standing in her people’s footsteps, recalled the teachers who told her that black people did not have any history. The pilgrimage to North Carolina included time in Robeson County at a Lumbee pow-wow in honor of Dr. Ward’s wife, Zella’s namesake, Zella Locklear Ward. It was “magical, spiritual and sobering,” Cousin Alice said.
I’m so thankful to have been able to share, even if remotely, this incredible homecoming with you, cousins!
Zella’s photo of the house in which her great-great-great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother were enslaved by her great-great-great-grandfather.
Nina F. Hardy (1882-1969).
A native of Duplin County, North Carolina, Nina Frances Faison Kornegay Hardy migrated to Wilson in the first decade of the twentieth century. She worked for decades as maid and cook for Jefferson and Annie Applewhite Farrior and for William D.P. Sharpe Jr. This photo booth portrait was probably made in the 1940s.
Wilson Daily Times, 17 April 2009.
In the 1910 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Henry Coleman, 38, farmer; wife Mary J., 28; and children Stella, 13, Willie, 8, Josiah, 7, William, 5, Mattie J., 4, and Sallie, 2.
In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: on Old Wilson and Raleigh Road, farmer Henry Coleman, 50; wife Mary Jane, 40; and children Stella, 22, Willie, 19, Joesire, 17, William H., 16, Mattie J., 13, Sallie, 12, Bell, 10, Stephen, 8, Wiley, 7, and Eva, 1.
On 27 February 1929, William Henry Coleman, 24, of Old Fields township, son of Henry Coleman and Mary Joyner, married Cornelia Jones, 24, of Old Fields, daughter of George and Martha Jones, in the presence of W.M. Morris of Wilson, and Dave Powell and George Jones of Sims.
In the 1930 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer William H. Coleman, 25, and wife Conelia, 25.
William Henry Coleman registered for the World War II draft in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 15 December 1904 in Wilson County; his contact was father Henry Coleman; he lived at R.F.D. 2, Wilson; and he worked for WD. Boyette.
Cornelia Coleman died 19 June 1975 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 March 1905 to George Jones and Martha Jones; was married to William H. Coleman; was engaged in farming; and was buried in Coleman Memorial Cemetery.
Brothers William M. Artis and Walter S. Artis were primarily residents of the Eureka area of northeast Wayne County, but owned property in Wilson County. (As did their siblings Cain Artis, June S. Artis, Columbus E. Artis, Josephine Artis Sherrod and Alberta Artis Cooper.) Walter Artis and wife Hannah E. Forte Artis sued William Artis and wife Etta Diggs Artis for the partition of three lots they jointly owned in the town of Stantonsburg. (Filing suit does not necessarily indicate an adversarial situation. It is simply the mechanism for initiating a legal division.)
In January 1941, a trio of commissioners met to partition the three lots into two more-or-less equal parts:
Hannah Artis and William Artis split the cost of the proceeding, paying $22.35 each.
The approximate location of the Artis lots at the corner of West Broad and North Yelverton. As in Wilson, Stantonsburg’s African-American community was clustered “across the tracks.”
William and Etta Diggs and three of their children, circa 1930s.
Deed Book 150, page 315, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson. Photo from personal collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.