Farmlife

Five-foot collard.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 July 1932.

Cabbage collards are an heirloom variety of collards that originated in eastern North Carolina. Yellow-tinged and more tender than regular collards, they are also less bitter. (In other words, they are delicious.)

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Probably, in the 1880 census of Lumber Bridge township, Robeson County: Ed Currie, 22; wife Effie, 19; and stepson Mac, 10.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Plank Road, farmer Ed Curry, 50; wife Caroline, 23; and sons Clarence, 17, Joe, 12, and Jim, 8.

On 12 February 1925, Ed Curry, 60, married Alice Woodard, 30, in Wilson.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Eddie Curry, 75; wife Alice, 43; and sons Alex, 12, Willie, 16, and James, 11.

Edward Curry died 21 December 1937 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 82 years old; was born in Robeson County, N.C., to Jack Curry and Sarah Baldwin; was married to Alice Curry; and was a farmer.

Joe Curry died 18 May 1948 in Snow Hill, Greene County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was about 50 years old; was born in Florence, South Carolina, to Ed Curry and Caroline Curry, both of Wilson County; worked as a machinist for county schools; was married to Addie Edwards [Curry]; and was buried in Rountree Cemetery, Wilson.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Henrietta Ruffin, champion canner.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 August 1944.

Once again, Henrietta Ruffin was recognized for her canning prowess, here crowned Wilson County champion canner by the Farm Security Administration. Using a pressure cooker obtained via an FSA loan, Ruffin planned to can 800 quarts of fruit, meat, and vegetables in 1944, topping her 550-quart total the year before.

Three men charged with stealing tobacco from Black farmer; selling it in town.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 September 1922. 

Tenant farmer Roscoe Pearson raised tobacco on Green Watson’s farm between Wilson and Kenly, a town at the edge of Johnston and Wilson Counties. He stored his crop in a packhouse near the road. Three white Johnston County men were accused of stealing his tobacco and selling it at Planters Warehouse in Wilson. A white Wilson policeman testified against the trio, asserting that one of them asked if he thought the matter would be dropped if they paid Watson (not Pearson) for the tobacco. 

  • Roscoe Pearson — I have found no record of Pearson in Wilson County.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

A farm dinner.

The account of the annual lunch the Amos Hayes family hosted for the “help on the farm.” Hayes himself was a tenant farmer, renting his farm from Congressman Frederick A. Woodard, but he operated on a large scale and employed dozens of laborers. Sixty-seven attended the mid-day meal, 33 white and 34 black, seated separately at two long tables spread with “barbecue, chicken, pickles, bread, cake, and other good things to eat.”

Wilson Daily Times, 19 August 1910.

Crop liens and mortgage deeds, no. 2.

Founded in 1899, P.L. Woodard & Company was the leading farm supply outfit in Wilson for much of the 20th century. The company did much of its early business via loans and lines of credit, accepting mortgages on land and livestock to secure debts.

Luther Wilder and wife Katy Wilder already had a ledger account balance of $163.22, but on 6 March 1937, P.L. Woodard & Co. agreed to advance them $148.06 in money, merchandise and supplies for the cultivation of crops on 9 1/2 and four-acre tracts of land in Spring Hill township, “the identical land inherited by Luther Wilder from the estate of Josiah Wilder.” The Wilders gave P.L. Woodard & Co. a lien on their crop as well as on the two tracts of land and a black mare mule. Per the red stamp at left, the Wilders did not pay off the loan until July 1944. 

Deed book 220, page 296.

On 22 May 1937, P.L. Woodard & Co. agreed to advance Seth Wilder and wife Lillie May Wilder $200.00 in money, merchandise and supplies for the cultivation of crops on a 14 and one-half acre parcel in Spring Hill township, “the identical land inherited by Seth Wilder from the estate of Josiah Wilder.” The Wilders gave P.L. Woodard & Co. a lien on their crop as well as on the tract of land, a black mare mule, and all farming implements. Per the red stamp at left, the Wilders did not pay off the loan until November 1947. 

Deed book 220, page 309.

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In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Raleigh Road, Joseph [sic] Wilder, 44; wife Chestina, 40; and children Almita O., 15, Elizabeth, 11, Seth B., 8, Sidney, 6, and Luther, 4.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Old Raleigh Road, widow Chestiney Wilder, 51, and children Elizabeth, 21, Seth, 17, Sidney, 15, and Luther, 13.

On 28 December 1924, Seth Wilder, 22, married Aldonia Ruffin, 20, in Johnston County.

Aldonia Wilder died 24 July 1929 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 24 years old, born in Wilson County to Charlie Ruffin of Johnston County and Sarah Jane O’Neil of Wilson County; was married to Seth Wilder; and was buried in Barnes cemetery.

On 14 January 1931, Seth Wilder, 31, son of Josiah and Chestinie Wilder, married Lillie Mae Creech, 24, daughter of Wright and Sallie Creech, in Smithfield, Johnson County.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Seth Wilder, 37; wife Lillie Mae, 32; and children Willie May, 2, and Seth, 1; Chestiney Wilder, 72; Sally Creech, 57, and her children Sally, 18, Geneava, 16, and Addie Lee Creech, 13; and Waltie Monque, 26.

Seth Wilder registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 6 May 1902 in Wilson County; resided at Route 1, Box 261, Lucama; was self-employed; and his contact was R.H. Neal.

Seth Wilder died 2 May 1990 in Washington, D.C.

Crop liens and mortgage deeds, no. 1.

On 6 April 1936, General Supply Store Inc. agreed to advance brothers Will Artis and Roselle Artis a fifty dollar merchandise account for the cultivation of crops on the lands of W.J. Davis in Stantonsburg township. In consideration, the Artises agreed to convey to General Supply “a light brown Guernsey cow about 3 yrs old & increase 1 Poland China sow & 14 pigs 4 Poland China shoats about six weeks old” as well as a lien on all the crops grown on the land, in the event of default.

Deed book 220, page 160.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Willie Artis, 43; wife Francis, 43; children Alexander, 21, Harvie, 20, Willie Jr., 16, Nora E., 14, Marion, 11, Rosel, 9, Jessie, 8, Elcy, 5, and Johnie, 18; laborer Miles Warren, 40; and boarder Albert Thompson, 19.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Will Artis, 53; wife Francis, 52; children Roselle, 19, Jesse, 18, and Elsie M., 15, and Johnie, 18; lodger Myrs Warren, 50; and sister Beatrice Sauls, 19.

On 1 December 1934, Rozell Artis, 23, of Wilson County, son of Will and Frances Artis, married Rencie Bynum, 16, of Wilson County, daughter of William and Rosa Bynum, in Nashville, Nash County, North Carolina. Will Artis, William Bynum, and Frank Williams were witnesses.

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On 22 May 1936, P.L. Woodard & Co. agreed to advance Captain Rountree and Freeman Rountree $27.50 in money, merchandise and supplies for the cultivation of crops on an eight and one-fifth acre lot in Wilson township, “the identical land deeded to Freeman Rountree by Margaret Dew and having been a part of the Jeff Dew estate.” The Rountrees gave P.L. Woodard & Co. a lien on their crop as well as on the land they had purchased from Jeff Dew’s daughter. The Rountrees paid off the loan in October of the same year.

Deed Book 220, page 180.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Willie Rowntree, 29; wife Martha, 27; and children Freeman, 9, Willie, 8, Rapherd, 6, Captan, 3, Dasie, 2, and Andrew, 1.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tarboro Road, Wiley Rountree, 42; wife Matilda, 34; daughter Matha, 20, and her son Roscoe, 2; children Freeman, 19, Wiley Jr., 18, Raford, 16, Captain, 14, Daisey, 13, Andrew, 10, Husband, 9, Nellie, 8, and Frank, 6; and grandson Bosy, 3 months.

On 31 August 1916, Freeman Rountree, 25, of Wilson, son of Wiley Rountree and Martha (last name not listed, married Vinie Wilson, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Tom Wilson and Anna Wilson. Rev. John A. Barnes, A.M.E.Z. minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Jesse C. Lassiter, William Knight and Johnnie A. Barnes Jr.

In 1917, Freeman Rountree registered for the World War I draft. Per his card, he was born 5 October 1890; was born in South Carolina; was a self-employed farmer; and lived in Black Creek township. He was literate.

In 1917, Captain Rountree registered for the World War I draft. Per his card, he was born 25 December 1895; was born in Wilson County; farmed for his father; and lived at R.F.D. #5, Wilson. He signed his name with an X.

On 24 May 1918, Captain Rountree, 22, of Wilson, son of Wiley and Sarah Rountree, married Lizzie Horne, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Simon and Nancy Horne, at the residence of Simon Horne. Fred Weaver, Jonah Dew, and Andrew Rountree were witnesses.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Freeman Rountree, 29, and wife Viana, 20.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Freeman Rountree, 37; wife Vinie, 30; and adopted son Eddie Bynum, 14.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount to Wilson Road, farmer Captain Rountree, 35; wife Lizzie, 28; and children Viola, 10, Lossie, 9, Martha, 5, Surisa, 3, Will Jr., 2, and Annie M., newborn.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Freeman Roundtree, 49, born in Florida; wife Viney, 38; and cousin Paul, 18, farm helper.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Calvin [sic] Rountree, 40; wife Lizzie, 40; and children Viola, 19, Mathie, 15, Swanee Belle, 13, Willie Jr., 12, Annie Mae, 9, Rosa Lee, 7, Calvin Jr., 6, Mavis, 4, and Doris, 1.

Deed books, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Seeking barbecue photos.

Marion Post Wolcott image of man and two women rendering fat after a hog killing, near Maxton, N.C., 1938. Library of Congress. (Not Wilson County, but this scene would have been familiar.)

Time to dig in those old scrapbooks. Black Wide-Awake is collaborating on a major research project, and we need your help! We are looking for African-American family photos of Wilson County pig pickings, whole hog barbecues, cookouts, and farm life. If you are interested in sharing your family photos for an amazing project that will celebrate the foodways, traditions, and legacy of Wilson, North Carolina, please contact Zella Palmer at zpalmer@dillard.edu. or Lisa Y. Henderson at blackwideawake@gmail.com.

 Photo of Parker’s Barbecue pit worker courtesy of “The Barbecue Bus: Parker’s Barbecue, Wilson, N.C.” (2011).

Wilbanks news.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 June 1897.

Henry Knight, colored, who lives near here had his stables smashed by a falling tree. Fortunately he had his team in the field plowing.”

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  • Henry Knight — perhaps, Henry Knight who died 4 July 1919 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 69 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Lewis Knight; and had been a farmer. Informant was William Knight.

Educating Southern Negroes.

Wilmington Messenger,  4 March 1905.

A Wilmington newspaper reprinted this Richmond News Leader piece highlighting North Carolina Superintendent J.Y. Johnson’s views on the necessity of funding education for Black children. “If this is not even done, the negro will leave the South and go where his children may have the opportunity to attend the schools.”

“… In illustration of his point, he cites the experience of a district in Wilson county, N.C.. There the county board of education failed to provide a school-house for the negroes. Before the end of the year the white farmers offered to give a site and explained that at least a third of their best negro tenants and laborers had moved out of the district to put themselves near school-houses, leaving the farms unprovided.”

Snaps, no. 83: John W. High.

John W. High Sr.

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In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Peter High, 50; wife Mary, 50; sons Grant, 10, and John W., 9; and hireling William Young, 12.

On 1 October 1891, John High, 19, of Taylors township, son of Peter and Mary High, married Trecy Rowe, 17, of Taylors township, daughter of Samuel and Louisa Rowe, at Ellises Chapel, Taylors township. Noah Battle applied for the license, and Freewill Baptist minister Crockett Best performed the ceremony in the presence of Hilliard Ellis, Joshua Bunn, and William Ray.

In the 1900 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer John High, 26; wife Treasy, 23; and Walter, 8, and Sam, 6.

On 8 September 1907, John High, 37, of Wilson married Flora Lucas, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of Elbert and Rosa Lucas, at Ace Thompson’s house in Selma, Johnston County, N.C. Edward Battle of Wilson was a witness.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer John High, 40; wife Florine, 19, farm laborer; and Lena M., 2.

In the 1930 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer John W. High, 55; wife Flore R., 34; and children Lizzie, 14, John Jr., 16, Rennie, 12, Perlia, 10, Minnie, 8, Gldyes, 7, Bessie M., 5, and Earnest T., 1; daughter Julia Wood, 20, and granddaughter Rasey M. Wood, 8 months.

In the 1940 census of Washington, D.C., John High Sr., 67, widower, is listed as a lodger in the household of James E. and Pauline Tyler.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user gia707.