Family

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.

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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] ***

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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.

Cemeteries, no. 22: John and Bettie Hinnant Jones family cemetery.

This small family cemetery is adjacent to the Sane Williams graveyard, described here.

The graves of John A. Jones and Bettie Hinnant Jones lie under two of the brick vault covers seen below.

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In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Dempsy Powell, 52, farmer; wife Sallie, 46; daughter Susan A. Jones, 27, and her husband John A. Jones, 34; their children Thomas A., 13, Jessee B., 11, James A., 7, Celia C., 5, Sallie C., 4, and John A., 1; and W.D. Lucus, 21, laborer.

John A. Jones, 20, of Old Fields, son of John A. and Susan Jones, married Celia Williamson, 18, of Old Fields, daughter of Spencer and Senia Williamson, on 17 January 1898 at Jim Jones’.Witnesses included Thomas A. Jones.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer General V. Hinnant, 38; wife Martha A., 35; and children Alice V., 13, Minnie A., 12, Ezekiel, 11, Bettie J., 9, William V., 4, Oscar, 2, and Herman, 2.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Vandorne Hinnant, 48; wife Betsy J., 46; and children Ezekial, 22, Bettie, 19, Willie, 13, Oscar, 12, Luther, 10, Regest W., 9, Roland, 8, Ralon, 6, Ollien, 4, and Roy E., 2.

J.A. Jones, 34, son of John A. and Susan Jones, of Old Fields, married Bettie Hinnant, 21, daughter of Vandorn and Janie Hinnant, of Springhill township, on 5 May 1912. Missionary Baptist minister William H. Mitchiner performed the ceremony at the Hinnant home.

In 1918, John Alce Jones registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he resided at R.F.D.#1, Sims; was born 25 January 1897; was a self-employed farmer; and Bettie Jones was his nearest relative.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: on Jones Hill Road, farmer J.A. Jones, 42; wife Bettie, 28; and children Johnie W., 16, Grover, 7, Susie, 5, Maomie, 4, and Ruth, 1.

In the 1930 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: John A. Jones, 53, farmer wife Bettie J., 39; and children Grover L., 17, Sussie J., 15, Namie, 13, and Ruth, 11.

John Asley Jones died 21 April 1962 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 October 1878 in Wilson County to John Allen Jones and Susan Powell; was married to Betty Hinnant; was a retired farmer; and lived in Sims, Wilson County.

Bettye Hinnant Jones died 21 May 1866 in Enfield, Halifax County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 February 1891 in Wilson County to Vandorn Hinnant and Martha Jane Horton; was widowed; and resided in Sims, Wilson County.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018.

 

Golden wedding … and more.

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Wilson Daily Times, 1 December 1953.

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 November 1963.

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B.H. Edwards, 23, of Nash County, married Lucy Kearney, 17, of Wilson, on 9 November 1903 in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of J.J. Murfree, J.H. Pulley and W.L. Hardy.

Lucy K. Edwards died 26 March 1966 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 8 November 1886 in Franklin County, North Carolina, to Anna Williams; resided in Elm City, Wilson County; was married to Buck H. Edwards; and was buried in William Chapel cemetery.

Buck H. Edwards died 12 December 1967 in Elm City, Taylors township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 February 1891 in Nash County to Robert Edwards and Sallie Parker; was married to Bettie M. Edwards; was a minister; and was buried in William Chapel cemetery. Informant was Mrs. Mae Guzman, 1214 Queen Street, Wilson.