Wilson Mirror, 2 October 1889.
- Jim Thomas
Wilson Mirror, 2 October 1889.
Wilson N.C. May 6. 1887
H.D. Norton/ Capt. &c
Enclosed herewith you have a partial report of the condition of the unfortunates among the coloured population of the County, owing to the pressures of other duties. I have not been able to give the matter that attention necessary to give a full & correct report. If a longer time can be given I will give it further attention & report again — I would say that the case of the blind chidlren herein reported is one that calls loudly for sympathy & assistance, five in one family from their birth.
Yours Very Respy &c, J.W. Davis Shff Wilson Co
Table Showing the Number, Sex & Age of the class of ‘Unfortunates’ among the colored people of Wilson County, State of North Carolina
In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Edmund Williamson, 50; wife Thany, 44; and children William, 25, Nicie, 23, Eliza, 22, Eddie, 21, Ally, 19, Pollina, 17, Dolly Ann, 15, Isaac, 12, and Raiford, 7. The six hashmarks at right are in the column marked “Blind,” and the occupation of William, Eddie, Alice and Pauline was listed as “gives concerts.”
As described here, the Williamson siblings were educated at the state’s School for the Blind and earned a good living touring to showcase their remarkable voices.
On 12 October 1903, Edmund Williamson drafted his last will and testament. Per his wishes, his “two blind sons William Williamson and Edmund Williamson” and his “blind daughter Leany Williamson” were to equally divide a life estate in all his real estate and then to successive heirs “to remain in the Williamson family forever.” Daughter Dollie Ann Brownricks was to receive a life estate in all Williamson’s personal property, money, stock and crops, with her children Timothy, Bethania and Lizzie Seabury to receive the remainder.
North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 16, Unregistered Letters Received Aug 1865-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org
Wilson Daily Times, 25 August 1911.
In the winter of 1902, doctors in Wilson County commenced a vaccination campaign to counter the spread of smallpox across North Carolina. Physicians in the county were paid ten cents per resident inoculated and sent in lists of patients to justify their fees. Dr. T.L. Brooks, who operated Brooks & Whitley, Druggists, with W.R. Whitley, practiced in Black Creek and surrounds. In February 1902, the County paid him $13.70 for fees and expenses related to 136 vaccinations.
The following list of African-American patients is abstracted from the roll Dr. Brooks submitted to the County:
Earnest Parker, 17
Fred Dawson, 19
Francis Farmer, 22
Nettie Atkinson, 22
Nellie Atkinson, 19
Julia Fields, 18
Naomy Atkinson, 15
Sallie Jordan, 16
Lucy Atkinson, 14
Jane Jordan, 13
Cresy Whitaker, 12
Charity Fields, 8
Rosa Jordan, 13
Nettie Newsome, 10
Lewis H. Newsome, 7
Alford Jordan, 9
George Jordan, 11
Patsy Whitaker, 19
Mary Jordan, 9
Matthew Whitley, 16
Clara Crumidee, 13
Orangy Barnes, 23
Geo. Dew, 26
Bud Crawford, 26
Frank Tomlin, 30
Bud Tomlin, 18
John Whitley, 56
Richard Whitley, 19
The Houston Post, 16 February 1919.
I believe “Mr. N. Green” to have been Neverson Green, who operated a grocery store on Spring Street.
In the winter of 1902, doctors in Wilson County commenced a vaccination campaign to counter the spread of smallpox across North Carolina. Physicians in the county were paid ten cents per resident inoculated and sent in lists of patients to justify their fees. Dr. Edwin G. Moore practiced in Elm City and surrounds. On 3 February 1902, the County paid him $52.70 for fees and expenses related to 164 vaccinations (including ten pounds of sulphur used to treat three houses.)
The following list of African-American patients is abstracted from the roll Dr. Moore submitted to the County:
Sidney Harriss, 8 January 1902, age 18
Clarence Drake, 8 January 1902, age 14
Fred Gaston, “, age 12
Ivy Barnes, “, age 15
Nellie Ellis, “, age 17
Blanche Barnes, “, age 12
Haywood Ellis, “, age 13
Martha Ellis, 9 January 1902, age 20
Haywood Ellis, “, age 10
Lily Hall, “, age 18
Cora Gaston, “, age 16
Violet Bullock, “, age 16
Lena Armstrong, “, age 18
Wm. Armstrong, “, age 7
Ricks Whitaker, “, age 14
Ben Whitehead, 10 January 1902, age 19
Jennie Bunn, “, age 16
Ivrah Farmer, “, age 23
Almeta Williams, “, age 14
Mag Bullock, “, age 12
Elmer Gaston, 11 January 1902, age 9
Alma Gaston, “, age 7
Tom Coggins, “, age 16
Mag Armstrong, “, age 14
Etta Kelly, “, age 14
Pearly Mitchell, “, age 11
Viola Kelly, “, age 8
Flossie Gaston, “, age 7
Ada Gaston, “, age 15
Georgia Gaston, “, age 17
Serena Hunter, “, age 12
Julius Mitchell, 13 January 1902, age 10
Nina Gaston, “, age 13
Walter Locus, “, age 11
James Rosser, “, age 9
Maggie Ricks, “, age 16
Mancy Gaston, “, 9
Gus Gaston, “, 7
Malvina Johnson, 14 January 1902, age 16
Arie Williams, “, age 15
Catherine Hall, “, age 6
Anna Belle Hall, 15 January 1902, age 12
Minerva Anderson, 16 January 1902, age 15
James Anderson, “, age 9
Jno. Red Barnes, “, age 18
Redmond Barnes, “, age 66
Kinny Ellis, ” , age 17
Will Barnes, 17 January 1902, age 26
Scilla Parker, “, age 40
Nathan Williams, 18 January 1902, age 60
Alice Williams, “, age 40
Emma Williams, “, age 14
Melvina Whitehead, “, age 42
Wily Bynum, “, age 38
John Ellis Sr., “, age 46
Ed Barnes, “, age 27
Caroline Reid, 20 January 1902, age 21
Farro Sanders, 21 January 1902, age 13
George Sanders, “, age 13
Wily Barnes, 30 January 1902, age 30
Jno. Ellis Jr., “, age 19
Nan Williams, “, age 13
Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
The Independent (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 24 June 1921.
Harriet Holloway‘s vision failed; she died less than four months later.
In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists Harriet Holloway as owner of a millinery on Nash Street near Vick and living at East Nash near Wainwright. Laborers Jefferson Holloway and Thomas Holloway also lived at East Nash near Wainwright.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Harriet Holoway, 43, laundress, and son Thomas, 23, auto machinist.
In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, several Holloways were listed on West Nash Street near Young Avenue — domestics Annie, Harriet and Lelia, and laborer Louis and Wilbur.
Harriet Holaway died 2 October 1921 in Wilson of cancer of the uterus. Per her death certificate, she was 45 years old; was born in Durham, N.C., to Charlie Adams and Mary Trice; was married to Jeff Holaway; and resided at 609 Roberson Street.
On 5 October 1921, Camillus L. Darden appeared in Wilson County Superior Court and was appointed administrator of Harriett Holloway’s estate, her husband Jeff Holloway having renounced the role. T.F. Sanders provided bond with Darden. The estate was described as a house worth about $2500 and personal property valued at $150. Her heirs were Jeff Holloway, Minnie Exum, Thomas Holloway and Eddie Lee Artis (who was a minor.)
Holloway’s desperate measures captured the attention of her neighbors and of newspapers across North Carolina:
Fayetteville Observer, 20 June 1921.
News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 21 June 1921.
Forty-three Wilson County midwives (41 black) met with state health officials to receive training. Wilson Daily Times, 17 June 1921.
Well into the 20th century, most babies in Wilson County were delivered by midwives, whose ranks were overwhelmingly comprised of African-American women. Here is a running list of them:
1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, page 65.
Wilson Daily Times, 21 October 1921.
Well into the twentieth century, children faced harrowing odds against reaching adulthood. Disease, accidents, and violence bore them away in sorrowful numbers. In the 1910s, 17% of American children died before age 5, a figure that was higher for Southern and African-American children. Few children who died in Wilson County were buried in marked graves. In town, most early burials were in Oaklawn, Rountree, or the Masonic cemetery. The Oaklawn graves were exhumed and moved to Rest Haven in the 1940s, Rountree was engulfed by pine forest, and their headstones, if they ever existed, have been lost over time.
By allowing us to call their names again, this series of posts memorializes the lives of children who died in the first twenty years in which Wilson County maintained death records. May they rest in peace.
Diarrhea and dysentery
Stomach disorders and conditions
Intestinal disorders and conditions
Poisoning and esophageal burns
Nutritional disorders, marasmus and inanition
Wilson Times, 7 January 1919.