Beulah Artis Exum Best (1909-1972), Helen Carter Greenfield (1916-1994), Margaret Artis Thompson (1910-1981), circa late 1930s.
Beulah and Margaret Artis were daughters of William M. and Etta Diggs Artis, and Helen was the granddaughter of their father’s sister Louvicey Artis Aldridge. Though William M. Artis and family lived primarily just south of Eureka in Wayne County, he owned property a few miles away in Stantonsburg, Wilson County.
Beulah Artis and her first husband, Leslie “Jake” Exum, lived in Wilson from the time they were married in December 1929 until he was killed in July 1934.
The grave markers of Clarence Lenwood Carter and his daughter Edith Omega Carter Spicer lie displaced, but together, in Odd Fellows Cemetery. Like many Hannibal Lodge Odd Fellows, Carter was also a Prince Hall Mason.
Clarence Lenwood Carter registered for the World War I draft in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 29 October 1882; resided at 423 Green Street; worked as a merchant for G.S. Walston, 507 East Nash; and his nearest relative was Mena Carter.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 423 Green Street, barber Clarence Carter, 36; wife Meena, 25; and children Omega, 9, Clarence H., 7, and Mina G., 3.
Clarence L. Carter died 13 February 1925 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was married to Mina Carter; lived at 418 East Green; was born 29 October 1877 in Bertie County to George Carter and Annie Outlaw; and worked as a day laborer.
On 7 October 1933, Elverde Taylor, 23, son of Jim and Matilda Taylor, married Omega Carter, 22, daughter of Clarence and Mina Carter. C.A. Artis applied for the license, and a justice of the peace performed the ceremony in the presence of L.M. Mercer of Elm City and L.F. Winborn and W.W. Clark of Wilson.
Edith Omega Spicer died 27 April 1945 at the Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium. Per her death certificate, she was born 7 December 1910 in Wilson County to Clarence Carter of Bertie County and Mena Rountree of Wilson County; worked as a waitress; resided at 538 East Nash Street; and was separated.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 East Hines, owned and valued at $1200, William Dixon, 60, fireman “N&S R.R.”; wife Rachael, 62; and son Astor, 17.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 East Hines, owned and valued at $500, William Dixon, 72; wife Rachael, 62; and grandson Richard, 6. Also, at 918 Washington, Alonzo Foster, 37, and roomers Astor Dixon, 26, theatre doorman, and wife Minnie, 24, cook.
William Dixon died 21 April 1945 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 December 1880 in Dalton, Georgia, to Lyon Dixon and Bura Pender; was married to Rachel Dixon; lived at 406 East Hines; and was a retired railroad Norfolk & Southern fireman.
This large marble headstone, with its delicate crossed fern fronds, stands near the front edge of Odd Fellows Cemetery adjacent to plot of the Noah Tate family. It marks the family plot of the Alexander and Lucy Hill Dawson family.
Alexander, known as A.D., Dawson was born about 1860, likely in Lenoir County, N.C., and arrived in Wilson by the 1880s. He was active in county Republican Party politics and was a teacher before going into business as a restaurant and fish market owner. Lucy Annie Hill Dawson (1860-1917) was born in Edgecombe County and worked as a dressmaker. The couple married in Wilson in 1882.
The only identifiable individual headstones in the plot are those of Lucy Dawson and daughter Virginia S. Dawson (1890-1933).
“Injury of heel and an open sore cause by wearing a plaster cast”
Four year-old Archie Henderson was my father’s cousin. A poorly fitting cast rubbed a raw spot on his heel, gangrene set in, and he quickly succumbed. Little Archie very likely was buried in Vick cemetery.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Willis Barnes, 30; wife Cherry, 25; and children Rachel, 7, West, 5, Jesse, 2, and Ned, 5 months.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Willis Barnes, 42; wife Cherey, 20; stepdaughter[?] Rachel Battle, 17; children Wesley, 15, Jesse, 13, Ned, 11, Eddie, 7, and Mary Barnes, ; niece Ellen Battle, 2; and son Willey Barnes, 1.
On 21 September 1882, Mike Taylor, 20, Wilson, married Rachel Barnes, 19, of Wilson, in Wilson. Baptist minister Louis Croom performed the ceremony in the presence of W.T. Battle and Edmon Pool. [Prominent planter Howell G. Whitehead (Jr. or Sr.?) applied for the marriage license on Mike Taylor’s behalf, suggesting a personal relationship — most likely employment. Whitehead erroneously named Taylor’s father as “John” Taylor and admitted he did not know the names of Taylor’s mother or either of Barnes’ parents.]
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Mike Taylor, 36, drayman; wife Rachel, 36; and childrenRoderick, 17, Maggie, 14, Mattie, 13, Maddie, 12, Bertha E., 8, and Hennie G., 6. Rachel and daughters Maggie, Mattie and Maddie were occupied at washing. Roderick and the youngest girls “go to school.”
On 16 May 1906, W.T. Taylor applied for a marriage license for Roddrick Taylor, 23, of Wilson, 23, son of Mike Taylor and Rachel Taylor, and Mary J. Pender of Wilson, 18. Fred M. Davis, Baptist Minister, performed the ceremony the same day at Mike Taylor’s in Wilson, with witnesses W.T. Taylor and Addie Rauls.
On 30 May 1906, W.I. Barnes, 22, married Madie Taylor, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Mike and Rachel Taylor, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of William Mitchell, Alex H. Walker, Roderick Taylor, and Sarah Ward.
On 10 August 1906, Sam Ennis, 22, of Durham, N.C., son of Freeman and Della Ennis of Smithfield, N.C., married Maggie Taylor, 20, of Durham, daughter of Mike and Rachel Taylor of Wilson, in Durham. Presbyterian minister I.H. Russell performed the ceremony.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lee Street, drayman Mike Taylor, 52; wife Rachel, 51, laundress; daughters Mattie, 21, Bertha, 18, and Henny, 16, laundresses; and niece Louise, 12.
Hennie Taylor died 25 December 1916 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1897 in Wilson County to Mike Taylor and Rachel Barnes; worked as a domestic; and was buried in Wilson. Rodderick Taylor was informant.
On 14 January 1920, Bertha Taylor, 24, of Wilson, married Jimmie Reaves, 26, of Pitt County, in Wilson. Rev. B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of Roderick Taylor, John Barber, and Van Smith.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 114 Lee Street, Mike H. Taylor, 50, cook in cafe; wife Rachel, 58; son [actually, nephew] Tom Perry, 12; bricklayer Van Smith, 33, and his wife Mattie, 28.
Rachel Taylor died 2 October 1925 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 54 years old; was born in Wilson County to Willis Barnes and Cherry Barnes; was married to Mike Taylor; lived at 108 West Lee Street; was buried in Wilson; and worked as a laundress. Roddrick Taylor was informant.
Mike Taylor died 8 January 1927 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was about 68 years old; was the widower of Rachel Taylor; worked as a day laborer; was born in Wilson County to Green Taylor and Ferby Taylor; and was buried in Wilson. Roddrick Taylor was informant.
Roderick Taylor Sr. died 4 August 1947 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 March 1882 in Wilson to Henry Taylor and Rachel Barnes and worked as a barber. Informant was Mary J. Taylor, 607 East Green St., City.
Bertha Reaves died 18 June 1962 in Greenville, Pitt County, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 March 1891 in Wilson County to Henry Taylor and Rachel [no maiden name]; was married to James Reaves; worked as an elevator operator; and lived at 1400 West Fourth Street, Greenville. She was buried in Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson.
When I found this stack of gravestones at the end of February 2020, I described the assemblage as a “broken granite marker support[ing] two intact concrete headstones, two marble footstones, and a few other chunks of rock.”
Yesterday, when I started prising the mound apart and snapping the wisteria runners that bound it, I quickly realized there was a whole lot more than had initially met my eye. And today — well, let me start where I ended:
Forgive me. Rachel Barnes Taylor was born in 1863 and died in 1925. (Her husband, my great-grandfather Henry Michael Taylor, died in 1927. Does his grave marker survive, too?) Her death certificate states only that she was buried in Wilson, N.C. I had not known if that meant Rountree or Odd Fellows or Vick cemetery. Odd Fellows it turns out. Nearly one hundred years after her death, I uncovered her stone face down, strapped to the earth by wisteria and covered in leaves and loam, in a jumble of more than two dozen other markers, several too broken to decipher. I’d say the ancestors approve of Lane Street Project.
I will speak more of Rachel Taylor later, but right now I want to call the names on the slabs I found with her:
On 22 January 2021, the United States Senate confirmed Gen. (Ret.) Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden as Secretary of Defense. The Wilson Times noted that Gen. Austin had ties to Wilson through his wife Charlene D. Austin and quoted Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr.‘s remarks about his close friendship with her parents. Mrs. Austin’s father was Maryland Lee “M.L.” or “Tank” Banner, and her stepmother was Margaret Reid Banner. M.L. Banner was a Concord, N.C., native who moved to Wilson in the late 1950s to work at Reid Street Community Center. Margaret Reid Banner was a Wilson native, a descendant of the Wayne County Reid family whose Wilson branches included veterinarian Elijah L. Reid, principal and banker J.D. Reid, farmer Henry S. Reid, barber Willie G. Reid, and carpenters John R. Reid and John B. Reid. After many years in Pennsylvania, M.L. and Margaret Banner returned to Wilson in the 1980s, where both were deeply involved in community service for the rest of their lives.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 614 Vick Street, laborer Oscar Reid, 26; wife Nora, 20; and daughter Thelma, 2.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1007 Washington Street, dry cleaner Oscar Reid, 41; wife Nora, 39, laundress; and children James O., 20, Cecil, 18, Percell, 16, Leotis, 14, Margarett, 7, Evangeline, 4, Eugene, 3, and Lettie Romaine, 2 months.
Margaret Reid graduated Darden High School in the Class of 1949.
From the The Trojan (1949), the Darden High School yearbook.
Curating Black Wide-Awake brings innumerable rewards, among them making surprise connections between people I’ve known all my life and people who pop up in records. Even better, sometimes those connections hit home.
I made a startling discovery a couple of weeks ago when I was updating my family tree with information I found in cousin Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook. The material included several funeral programs, including one for Alberta Artis Cooper. This wasn’t new to me; I featured it here. But, looking for obituaries for Alberta Cooper’s children, I found that of her son, John Hardy Cooper. I studied the names of his children … Frances Cooper Bynum … Christine Cooper Barnes … Wait — what?
I’ve been friends with the children of these sisters since middle school — and we’re cousins!
… but not in the way I first thought.
Though she reared him as her own, John H. Cooper was actually Alberta Artis Cooper’s step-son, the son of James W. Cooper and his first wife, Susannah (or Susie Anna). But Susannah Cooper was also an Artis — the daughter of Richard Artis and Susannah Yelverton Artis. Richard Artis (1849-1923) was the youngest brother of Adam T. Artis, who was Alberta Artis Cooper’s father (and my great-great-great-grandfather.) Thus, James W. Cooper’s wives were first cousins, a not-uncommon phenomenon in small communities in that time.
So, having already featured Alberta Artis Cooper, here is James William Cooper:
James W. Cooper (1886-1967), who, as president of Tobacco Workers Union Local 270, worked to improve working conditions for leaf house workers.
In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wilson County: farmer George Cooper, 46; wife Stellar, 40; and children Arrettor, 22, George B., 16, Juley, 14, James, 12, Mary, 10, Maggie, 7, Bessie, 4, and Royal, 3 months.
James Cooper, 21, of Wayne County, son of George and Stella Cooper, married Susie A. Artis, 19, of Wayne County, daughter of Richard and Susanna Artis, on 6 December 1905 at Richard Artis’ residence in Nahunta township, Wayne County.
James Cooper married Alberta Artis on 18 July 1918 in Kings County, New York.
In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Brick House and Moore School Road, James Cooper, 33, farmer; wife Alberta, 20; and son Albert Horton, 1.
In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: James Cooper, 39, farmer; wife Alberta, 26; and children Elija, 21, Albert, 10, Mollie A., 8, Willard M., 5, Lauzin, 3, Annie M., 7 months; sister Oretter Bailey, 45; and niece Irene Artis, 18.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Cooper, 54, farmer; wife Alberta, 40; and children Marilyn, 18, Willard, 15, Laurzene, 13, Annie, 11, George, 9, Alberta, 5, Chester, 3, and Lillie, 1.
James William Cooper died 12 February 1967 at his home at 110 Fourth Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 July 1887 in Wayne County to George Cooper and Estelle Smith; worked as a foreman for Jas.I. Miller Co.; and was a World War I veteran. Wife Alberta A. Cooper was informant.
Photo courtesy of George Cooper and Frances C. Bynum, via Vernette B. Roberson. Thank you!