Farmlife

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.

The death of John Henry Evans.

The cause of death on John Henry Evans‘ death certificate is fairly laconic: “brain injury due to auto accident.”

Newspaper accounts detail a more complicated story. About eight o’clock on the evening of April 11, Evans and J.D. O’Neal, on whose land he lived, were driving wagons to fertilizer to O’Neal’s farm near Lamm’s School [today, near the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. 264.] The men stopped on the shoulder of the road to talk to O’Neal’s brother. Both wagons were lit with lanterns. Erwin Stewart of Durham smashed into other wagons in a Graham truck and flipped over in a ditch. According to witnesses, Stewart’s truck had only one headlight working and had drifted partly on the shoulder of the road. The wagons were demolished, one mule was badly injured, and John Henry Evans was first thought dead. He was rushed to the “colored hospital.” As his death certificate notes, Evans lingered for five days before succumbing to injuries to his head.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 April 1929.

For all the carelessness hinted at in the initial report, a month later, Stewart was acquitted of a manslaughter charge in Evans’ death.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 May 1929.

The mysterious deaths of Miles and Annie Pearson.

An anonymous letter arrived at the sheriff’s office on 13 January 1922. Miles Pearson had killed his wife, it said, and fled the scene, leaving her lying the yard. The sheriff and several deputies rushed to the scene to find Annie Pearson‘s body, shot through the heart and mutilated by hungry animals. 

“Pistol shot wound through the heart. Murdered by husband”

The Daily Times reported on 14 January that the Pearsons were sharecroppers who had been on this farm, owned by Lithuanian Jewish brothers-in-law Morris Barker and Morris Popkin, just weeks. Their animals were found tied up and famished. 

… and then Miles Pearson was found in the woods, shot in the back.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 January 1922.

A Black man named Jim McCullen and two white men, prowling about the farm, found Pearson’s body stretched out behind a log with a shotgun nearby. Suddenly, it seems, everyone recalled a man and woman who’d been living with the Pearsons and were nowhere to be found. A week earlier, some said, they had briefly borrowed a horse and buggy from George Barnes, but had not been seen since.

“Pistol shot wound Murdered by unknown parties No Doctor in Attendance”

Were the Pearson murders ever solved?

Shelling corn.

In the summer of 1938, “Baker” photographed farming scenes across North Carolina for the state Department of Conservation and Development. In July, he captured in quick succession two images of a small group of white and African-American men and boys shelling corn on a farm “near Wilson.”

Close-ups of the two photographs: 

Shelling Corn near Wilson July 1938, Department of Conservation and Development, Travel Information Division Photographs 1937-1973, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh.

Henry Joyner, whose credit is good.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 September 1929.

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In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Simon Joyner, 38; wife Venus, 36; and children Mary A.F., 14, William H., 11, Dossy, 9, Jacen, 7, and Charley, 2.

On 5 January 1895, Henry Joyner, 26, of Taylors township, son of Simon and Venus Winstead, married Margaret Winstead, 27, of Taylors township, daughter of Berry and Luenda Winstead, in Taylors township.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Henry Jones, 31; wife Margret, 31; and children James, 14, Lou, 10, William H., 6, Herbert, 4, Maggie, 3, and Anna, 1 month.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Thompson Road, farmer Henry Joyner, 42; wife Margaret, 42; and children Lula, 18, William, 17, Hubbert, 15, Maggie, 13, Annie, 10, Obie, 8, Bettie, 4, Luther, 2, Theodore, 3 months, and James, 24.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Henry Joyner, 52; wife Margaret, 51; and children Annie, 20, Obie, 18, Bettie, 13, Luther, 11, Theodore, 9, and Lizzie, 6; and grandson Nathan, 6 months.

In the 1930 census of Jackson township, Nash County, North Carolina: farmer Henry Joyner, 60; wife Margaret, 60; children Anne, 26, Obie, 25, Bettie, 24, Luther, 21, Lizzie, 16, and Nathan, 10; and grandchildren Josephine, 14, Rosella, 12, Edward, 10, and Elmus Eatmon, 8.

In the 1940 census of Jackson township, Nash County: Obie Joyner, 38; wife Gladys, 20; father Henry Joyner, 71; mother Margret Joyner, 70; sister Annie, 40; brother Luther, 30; nephew Curtis, 7; niece Leona Eatmon, 28; nephew Nathan Eatmon, 28; and lodger Elmus Eatmon, 19.

Henry Joyner died 13 June 1944 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 78 years old; was born in Wilson County to Simon and Venus Joyner of Wilson County; was a farmer; was married to Margaret Joyner; and was buried in Granite Point cemetery, Wilson County. Obie Joyner was informant.

Margaret Joyner died 18 October 1944 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was a widow; was born in Nash County to Berry and Lurenda Winstead of Nash County; and was buried in Granite Point cemetery, Wilson County. Obie Joyner was informant.

Thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for the clipping.