Wilson Daily Times, 14 November 1918.
To secure debt of $54.55 and an additional loan of $100, Spencer S. Shaw agreed in the event of default to convey to Hawley & Revell an iron gray mule, a Hackney top buggy, five hogs, a one-horse wagon, and several farm tools.
In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Spencer Shaw, 40, wife Tabitha, 41, and children George A., 17, James R., 11, Hattie, 9, Joeseph G., 6, Seth T., 5, and Albert S., 2.
In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Raleigh Branch Road, Spencer Shaw, 51, wife Bitha, 49, and children James R., 21, Joseph T., 16, Seth T.,14, Albert S., 11, Merlin S., 9, Willie H., 7, and Alice M., 5.
In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Shaw Avenue on Springhill Road, farmer Spencer S. Shaw, 60; wife Bitha, 60; and children Albert, 22, Marlie, 19, Willie, 16, and Alice, 14.
Wilson Daily Times, 12 January 1920.
In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Buckhorn Road, farmer Spencer S. Shaw, 70; wife Bitha J., 70; sons William H., 26, and Seth T., 34; daughter-in-law Georgeanna, 24; and grandchildren Alice M., 4, Seth T. Jr., 2, and Franklin S., 6 months.
Book 72, Page 292, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson.
Sharpe’s sole heir was his widow Cherry Sharpe, who was entitled to an immediate portion of his assets for her support. There was not much; she received an old buggy and harness, an old gun, some cart wheels, and pile of old tools. This being insufficient, on 15 January 1901 the commissioners reclaimed property that T.R. Lamm had taken, presumably to settle a debt — a forty-dollar mule, eight hogs, and $25 worth of corn and fodder.
In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farm laborer Wilson Sharp,42, and wife Cherry, 27.
In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Wilson Sharp, 52; wife Cherry, 45; nephew Jerry Bynum, 6; and James Mitchel, 47, with wife Rosa, 33, and son James G., 11.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Wilson Sharp, 65; wife Cherry, 40; and children Willie, 16, Eva, 9, and Besse, 2 months. [These were likely foster children.]
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tilman’s Road, widowed farm laborer Cherry Sharp, 65, living alone.
Images of estate documents available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
This notice of the events surrounding the death of Eliza Lewis, a hard-working farm wife in Old Fields township, includes details of the actions of her African-American neighbor, Essec C. Watson, to assist the stricken woman and her family. (You will note that, though praised, Watson is not given the honorific “Mr.” and is referred to by his first name later in the piece.)
Wilson Times, 18 November 1910.
Esec Watson, 21, of Springhill township, son of Mary Stancil, married Mary Ann Locust, 18, of Old Fields township, daughter of John and Millie Locust, on 5 May 1895 at Jno. P. Locust’s residence.
In the 1900 census of Smithfield township, Johnston County: school teacher E.C. Watson, 34; wife Mary, 25; and children Laurena, 8, Pieneta, 5, Rica, 4, and Sister, 5 months.
In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Esic C. Watson, 34; wife Mary, 32; children Pieneta, 14, Eureka, 12, Ila, 10, Ola, 8, and Edgar, 6; and hired man Cordie Lucas, 26.
On 24 November 1912, Peter Jones, 21, of Nash County, married Nettie Watson, 18, of Old Fields township, Wilson County, in Wilson County.
On 20 December 1914, Miley Bailey, 22, of Old Fields township, son of Will Hart and Polly Bailey, married Ila Watson, 18, of Old Fields, daughter of Essec and Mary Watson at Original Free Will Baptist minister B.H. Boykin’s place.
On 21 March 1915, Edmund Earp, 18, of Old Fields township, son of W.G. and Lucy Earp, married Ricker Watson, 17, of Old Fields, daughter of Essec and Mary Watson at S.T. Boykin’s place.
On 23 January 1916, Walter Robinson, 21, of Old Fields township, son of Bill and Sissie Robinson, married Ola Watson, 16, of Old Fields, daughter of Essec and Mary Watson at Original Free Will Baptist minister B.H. Boykin’s place.
Pinettie Jones died 19 December 1973 in Norfolk, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was born 26 July 1895 in North Carolina to Esse Watson and Mary [last name unknown], and was the widow of James P. Jones. Christine Shoulders was informant.
Wilson Daily Times, 3 December 1936.
In 1936, African-American children at Rocky Branch, Williamson, Kirby’s, New Vester and Calvin’s Level schools — all in the rural southwest quadrant of Wilson County — responded to a survey about education and farm life. To the surprise of the writer of this article, most children indicated that would like to live on a farm (in the future?)
Wilson Daily Times, 7 December 1934.
These photographs of African-American Wilson County tobacco farm laborers were likely taken by Raines & Cox in the 1940s.
Photos courtesy of Keith Barnes, The World’s Greatest Tobacco Market: A Pictorial History of Tobacco in Wilson, North Carolina (2007).
Wilson Times, 14 July 1911.
Perhaps, in the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Rheubin Ellis Jr., 34, wife Annie, 33, and children Ida, 13, and Albert, 12. Or, next door, Rheubin Ellis, 76; wife Clarkie, 72; daughters Henretta, 23, Joemima, 22, and Cherrie, 19; and grandchildren Amie, 14, Ashley, 12, Rheubin, 11, and Lucy, 11 months.
In this undated photograph, probably taken in the 1930s or ’40s, shows children and adults — four African-American — looping, or tying green tobacco leaves to sticks for drying.
Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Archives and History, reprinted in Keith Barnes’ The World’s Greatest Tobacco Market: A Pictorial History of Tobacco in Wilson, North Carolina (2007).
As adapted from Wikipedia and NCPedia: the crop-lien system was a credit system widely used by cotton and tobacco farmers in the South from the 1860s to the 1930s. Sharecroppers and tenant farmers, who did not own the land they worked, and even cash-strapped landowners, obtained supplies and food on credit from local merchants. The merchants held a lien on the farmer’s crop, and the merchants and landowners were the first ones paid from its sale. What was left over went to the farmer. Merchants routinely, and lawfully, marked up prices, and country stores rapidly proliferated across North Carolina and the South. Abuses in the crop lien system reduced many tenant farmers to a state of debt peonage, as their debts to landlords and merchants carried over from one year to the next.
On 1 January 1910, Littleton Ellis Jr. gave F.S. Davis a $140 lien on his crop in order to purchase fertilizer from Farmers Guano Company. Ellis promised to raise cotton and corn on the land on which he lived (and likely owned as his share of his father’s property) and also pledged a black mule, Rhodie, and a yellow mule, Katie, as security.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis, 73; wife Judy, 55; and children Lucy, 21, Littleton, 18, Sarah, 16, Maggie, 14, Nettie, 12, and Minnie, 10.
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Wiggins Mill Road, farmer Littleton Ellis, 27; his mother Judie, 62; and sisters Lucy, 30, Sarah, 24, Maggie, 23, and Lettie, 21.
Littleton Ellis registered for the World War I draft in 1918. Per his draft registration card, he was born 30 August 1882; lived at Box 75, R.F.D. #2, Wilson; was a farmer “on his own land next to R.P. Watsons”; and his nearest relative was mother Juddy Ellis.
In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Judie Ellis, 80, widow; children Lucy, 32, Litt, 30, and Maggie, 25; and granddaughter Manerva Barnes, 22.
In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis Jr., 47; widowed mother Juddie, 82; and divorced sister Lucy Cooker, 49.
Littleton Ellis died 24 March 1934 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 August 1882 in Wilson to Littleton Ellis and Judia Barnes; Bryant Ellis was informant.
Deed book 72, page 562, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.