Family

The Edwards family reunion.

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.

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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!

A closer look at the Simon and Penninah Woodard Barnes family.

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.

  • Rosetta Barnes married 1st Henry Pleasant and 2nd the Rev. John Dillahunt. [John Washington Dillahunt was a native of New Bern, N.C.]
  • James Walter (Bud) Barnes was born in 1878 and died August 18, 1931. He married Adeline Pitt but had no children. In addition to a farming operation, he had quite a widespread reputation as an “herb doctor.” The writer of this article also remembers that as late as 1919 he operated a cane press and vat which he transported from farm to farm at the end of the summer in order to make the molasses that in those days was considered a great delicacy by a great many people in Wilson and Wilson County
  • Hardy Barnes died October 11, 1954. He married 1st Martha Ann Pitt and 2nd Maggie Barnes [Maggie Bullock].
  • Chaney Barnes was born October 28, 1882. She married Frank Barnes, son of Silas Barnes and wife Mary Coleman. She lives with a daughter, Mrs. Jesse T. McPhail [Minnie Barnes McPhail] of 1316 Carolina Street, whose husband is a retired post office employee and friend of the writer.
  • Penny Barnes died on November 27, 1923. She married Turner Hines.
  • Leonard Barnes was born on June 26, 1888, and died on November 19, 1952. He served in World War I. His wife was Adelaide White.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 November 1952.

  • Silas Barnes died on February 2, 1945. He married Gertrude and lived in Richmond, Va.
  • Priscilla Barnes was born in 1891 and died on October 24, 1919. She married the Rev. Ed [Zeb] Hardy.
  • Simon Barnes, Jr., was born on October 15, 1895. On September 14, 1921, he married Roselee McCoy who was born on January 26, 1904. He served in World War I and now owns and occupies part of the farm that his maternal grandmother purchased prior to the Civil War. He is a lifelong and esteemed friend of the writer of this article as he was of my father before me.

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.

  • Mary Eliza Barnes was born in April of 1896 and died on May 19, 1931. She was the second wife of Turner Hines above.
  • Treacy Barnes was born on June 4, 1900, and died on December 23, 1954. She married Calvin Atkinson.
  • Amy Barnes was born on August 25, 1904. On February 11, 1926, she married Luther Petway, son of Joe Petway. They reside at 1209 Queen Street and her husband is an old friend of the writer.”

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.

Sankofa: the Wards come home.

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.

Studio shots, no. 106: Nina F. Hardy.

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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.

In memory of William H. Coleman.

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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.

Division of lots in Stantonsburg.

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:

  • Lot 1 — This 50′ by 150′ lot at the intersection of Broad and Yelverton Streets was allotted to Hannah Artis. [This is odd and interesting. Why Hannah alone, and not to her and Walter jointly? He was alive in 1941, and they were still married.] Because Lot 1 was more valuable than Lot 2, Hannah was to pay William $212.50. Also, William had sixty days to move a small building behind the store on Lot 1 to Lot 2, or it would become Hannah’s property, and the owner of an oil tank buried on Lot 1 had sixty days to move it or to come to terms with Hannah. [The “store” is identified here as the building rented by John Whitley for a blacksmith shop.]
  • Lot 2 — A 100′ by 150′ lot (comprising two lots on a town plat map) adjacent to Lot 1.

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.

Studio shots, no. 103: Victoria Ennis Whitehead.

Generations of the Whitehead family have been members of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church for well over one hundred years. Portraits of their matriarch, Victoria Ennis Whitehead, and her children hang prominently in a church hallway.

Victoria Ennis Whitehead (1891-1974).

On 8 December 1908, Henry Whitehead, 34, of Wilson, son of Ben and Frances Whitehead, married Victoria Innis, 22, of Wilson, daughter of Freeman Innis of Smithfield, at the residence of James Hardy in Wilson. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of James Hardy, George Brodie, and Lizzie Wayfield.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Smith Street, brickyard laborer Henry Whitehead, 34; wife Victory, 23; daughters Della M., 3, and Lucille, 1; and son Willie, 18.

Lucial Whitehead died 23 December 1910 at home at 120 Smith Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 March 1908 to Henry Whitehead and Victoria Ennis. Informant was Henry Whitehead.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, Henry Whitehead, 48; wife Victoria, 32; and children Willie, 27, Della Mae, 13, Catherine, 9, Odell, 7, James, 5, Grace, 2, and Rosalie, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Highway 91, owned and valued at $2500, oil mill contractor Henry Whitehead, 53; wife Victoria, 43, seamstress; and children Katherine, 19, Odell, 17, James, 15, Grace, 13, Rosalyn, 11, Herbert, 9, Gertrude, 6, Mable, 4, and Victoria, 2.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow Victoria Whitehead, 52, sewing; children James, 25, apprentice carpenter; Rosaline, 21; Herbert, 20, tobacco company floor hand; Gertrude, 16, Mabel, 14, and Victoria E., 12; and nieces Elizabeth Brodie, 32, public school teacher, and [actually, granddaughter] Joan Bynum, 6.

Victoria Ennis Whitehead died 2 March 1974 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 December 1891 to Freeman Ennis and Della McCullers; was a widow; resided at 108 Tacoma Street; was a retired seamstress. Informant was Catherine Bynum, 1008 Carolina Street.

The children of J. Henry and Victoria Ennis Whitehead. Top: Victoria W. McCray, James Whitehead, Gertrude E. Whitehead, Herbert V. Whitehead, Rosalyn Whitehead. Bottom: Grace W. Artis (who recently turned 102), Della W. Murrain, Catherine W. Bynum, Odelle W. Barnes, Mable W. Parks.

Notice of intention to disinter.

On sequential weeks in April and May 2006, the Wilson Daily Times ran this Notice of Intention to Disinter, Remove and Reinter Graves.

——

Notice is hereby given to the known and unknown relatives of those persons buried in The Wilder Family Cemetery located in Springhill Township, Wilson County North Carolina and being described as follows: BEING all Tract No. 1 containing 130.94 (C/L of Creek & Branches); Tract No. 2 containing 24.84 acres (C/L/ of Road & Branch); Tract No. 3 containing 11.17 acres (to C/L of Road); and Tract No. 4 containing 4.20 acres (to C/L of Road), as shown on a map entitled “Survey for Kemit David Brame, Jr., Property of Charles B. Brame, Jr., et al,” which map is recorded in Plat Book 27, page 204, Wilson County Registry; for reference see Deeds recorded in Book 125, page 583, Book 249, page 313, Book 249, page 322, Book 290, page 306, Book 381, page 37, and Book 419, page 218, Wilson County Registry. Being better described as approximately 500′ northwest of the intersection of NC#42 Highway and Neal Road (SR #1198).

KNOWNS

There are 2 marked graves said cemetery, Josiah Wilder DOB – April 5, 1866, DOD – April 22, 1919; Elizabeth Wilder Barnes, DOB October 5 1898, DOD – July 23, 1928.

UNKNOWNS

There are approximately 8-10 unknown (unmarked) graves in said cemetery; that all of the graves will be relocated and reentered in the Rocky Creek United Church of Christ Cemetery, located on NC #581 Highway, Kenly, North Carolina. Also the grave of Chestiney Earp Wilder, DOB – July 11, 1869, DOD – January 10 1957 will be relocated from the southeast corner of the cemetery to the northwest corner of the cemetery. Then a complete record of where these deceased person will be reentered will be on file with the Wilson County Registry of Deeds, Wilson, North Carolina. You are further notified that the graves are being moved under the provisions of North Carolina General Statute #65-13, and that the removals will not begin until this notice has been published four (4) successive times in The Wilson Daily Times, Wilson, North Carolina and until approval to do so has been given by the Wilson City Council, Wilson, North Carolina. This the 3rd day of April, 2006.    R. Ward Sutton [address omitted] ***

——

Here is the rough map of the site attached to the Removal of Graves Certificate and filed with the Wilson County Registry of Deeds: 

The Certificate gives two reasons as “basis for removal” — (1) to give perpetual care, (2) subdivision development. This Google Maps aerial view of the former Josiah Wilder property clearly shows the subdivision that now covers the former site of his family’s cemetery:

As shown in this photograph posted to Findagrave.com, the Wilder family’s new plot at Rocky Branch cemetery is marked with an explanatory headstone:

Capture

Detail.

I have written here of 303 Elba Street, a small L-plan cottage a few steps off East Green Street. Built before 1908, it is among the oldest surviving houses in the East Wilson Historic District, though its days are clearly numbered.  Their names are lost to time, but the carpenters that built this house by hand were almost certainly African-American, drawn from Wilson’s tiny pool of talented craftsmen.

A peek into the house, now abandoned, reveals few original details, but the ones that remain speak to the attention paid to the aesthetics of even working-class housing. The fireplace surround — simple trim molding on the mantel shelf and across the header and, on the mantel legs, double brackets atop delicate spindles. The pleasant asymmetry of the door’s five floating panels.

My family spent three decades in this house, laying hands all over it. My grandmother told me:

And I had pneumonia.  And they was sitting up with me.  Said I hadn’t spoken in three days.  And so that old clock where Annie Bell took, it was up there on the mantel, it struck two o’clock.  Mama was sitting on one side of the stove, and Papa on the other.  So I said, when the clock struck, I said, “It’s two o’clock, ain’t it, Mama?” And they thought I was dying, so they had been sitting up with me.  But I didn’t think nothing ‘bout it, and I went on back to sleep.

This mantel.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson; quotation adapted from interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.