20 beds for white patients; as many for Negroes.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 August 1941.

This hospital was not Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium (now Longleaf Neuro-Medical Treatment Center), which was under construction when the above facility opened and admitted its first patients in January 1943. It seems a curious duplication of scarce resources to build two TB hospitals essentially simultaneously in one small city.

By the 1970s, the Wilson County Tuberculosis Hospital building at 1808 South Goldsboro Street housed the offices of the Wilson County Cooperative Extension agency. It now houses the Wilson County Senior Activity Center.

Photo courtesy of Wilson County Senior Activity Center Facebook page.

Contributions to Mercy, part 1.

On 30 January 1947, the Wilson Daily Times published a lengthy list of contributors to the fundraising drive of the Mercy Hospital Women’s Auxiliary. The list, reproduced here in five parts, included many of black Wilson’s leading individuals, businesses and institutions.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 January 1947.

  • Dr. Badie T. Clark — Clark Badie T (Margt S) phys Carolina General Hosp home 607 Raleigh Rd
  • B.O. Barnes — Barnes Boisey O (c; Flossie H) physician 525 1/2 E Nash h 613 E Green
  • Doris Parks — Parks Doris L (c) case war County Bd of Charities & Public Welfare h 604 Green
  • William Hines — Hines Wm M (c; Ethel L) barber h 615 E Green
  • Anna J. JohnsonJohnson Robt Rev (c; Anna) pastor St Marks Episcopal Church h 1111 Washington
  • Norma Darden — Norma Duncan Darden. Darden Norma E Mrs (c) v-pres Darden Mutual Burial Assn h 108 Pender
  • Ethel L. Hines — Ethel L. Cornwell Hines.

All annotations, some edited for clarity, are entries in Hill’s Wilson City Directory 1947-48.

On the agenda.

This 1925 Daily Times article detailed the business of a single February city aldermen’s meeting. First on the agenda, the Wilson Colored Hospital. The article listed the white members of the hospital’s board of trustees first, then noted its African-American members — S.H. Vick, J.D. Reid and “Permillus” [Camillus] Darden. After some discussion, the “the Board” decided to reinstate the city’s $75/month appropriation to the hospital, which had been discontinued the previous September.

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The trustees stated that the hospital was “a necessity among the colored people of the city, and that many of them would be without treatment but for the institution.” Alderman Daniel asked if the trustees had personal knowledge that “the affairs of the institution were properly administered.” Dr. C.A. Woodard responded that “no institution of this kind made any money, and that they understood the disadvantages under which those connected with it were laboring.” Hospital management agreed to file monthly reports to the city.  Trustee F.N. Bridgers invited the city to appoint a member to the board, and J.D. Reid noted that alderman Graham Woodard had been asked. Woodard acknowledged the invitation, but cited a busy schedule.

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Hospital business satisfactorily concluded, Vick broached another subject — street lights. Would “the city extend its Whiteway below the railroad to the Baptist church, at the corner of Nash and Pender Streets”? A lighted north side and dark south did not present a good look to voyagers passing through on trains. The aldermen referred the matter to the Water and Light Commission. The Business Men’s League and the J.C. Price Literary Society endorsed the project, Vick added. (Joseph C. Price “taught here fifty years ago and afterwards founded Livingstone College.”) Mayor Lucas raised another point: lighting would help the police do their job. One had been killed and another nearly so in “pistol duels in that section of the city.”

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Vick raised item number three — the colored cemetery. Would the city place an awning and also fix the roads so people could get in and out? Mr. Grantham of the cemetery commission responded defensively: “it was difficult to get the cemetery into a correct shape, and lay it out. The graves had been placed everywhere, and without regard to lines or streets.” Also, “there was some of the land that was worthless for the purpose, as it was a bottom. He spoke of land in the old cemetery which if the graves were removed would be worth considerable money.” Anyway, he agreed to “go over the property and work out some plan to get it in shape.”

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No further colored business.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 February 1925.

  • Why had the city discontinued its $75/month allocation in the first place?
  • What did the J.C. Price Literary Society do? When was it founded? Who were its members?
  • When did streetlights finally cross the tracks?
  • For what purpose was an awning needed in the cemetery?
  • “Fix the roads“? What roads led to the cemetery?
  • Were there still burials in Oakdale as late as 1925? Was the question more of access to existing graves than for new ones?


Chief Mincey.

Benjamin Mincey, after Edmund Poole, was the second “chief” of Wilson’s African-American volunteer fire department, the Red Hot Hose Company. This magnificent photograph depicts Mincey in full fireman dress regalia.

Benjamin Mincey (circa 1881-1950).


In the 1900 census of Wilson town, Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Prince Mensey, 60; wife Susan, 52; children Ben, 19, Emma, 19, and Oscar, 12; and niece Rosetta Mensey, 7.

Ben Mincey, 21, of Wilson, son of P. Mincey, and Mattie Barnes, 20, of Wilson, daughter of M. and Mariah Barnes, were married on 12 January 1904. Berry Williams applied for the license, and Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in his home in the presence of Harry Mercer, W. Aken, and E.M. Davis.

In 1918, Ben Mincey registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1879; resided at 411 Wiggins Street; worked as a laborer for the city of Wilson; and his nearest relative was Mattie Mincey.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 411 Wiggins Street, city pipe fitter Benj. Mency, 38; wife Mattie, 37, tobacco factory worker; and children Benjamin J., 11, Mildred, 7, Maddison, 5, and John, 3 months.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 June 1929.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 656 Wiggins Street, valued at $800, town of Wilson plumber Benjamin Mincy, 48; wife Mattie, 49; and children Benjamin Jr., 23, Briggs hotel cook; Madison B., 16; Mildred, 17; and John H., 11; and roomer Andrew P. Sugg, 59.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: City of Wilson plumber Benjamine Mincy, 60; wife Mattie, 60; and sons Benjamine, 31, hotel cook, and Johnnie, 21, daily paper deliveryman; and granddaughter Deloris Woodard, 5.

Benjamin Mincey died 14 July 1950 at his home at 712 Wiggins Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 67 years old; was married; worked as a plumber for the town of Wilson; was born in Greene County to Prince Mincey and Susan Suggs; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Informant was Mattie Mincey.

Photograph of Mincey reprinted from Wilson Daily Times, 29 April 1999. Many thanks to Pamela Mincey Myers, who advises that the original of this portrait of her great-grandfather hung in the living room of her grandparents, Benjamin Madison Mincey and Lala Rook Barnes Mincey at 723 Lincoln Street, Wilson.

“I have respect for my father and mother.”

What is now called Rountree Cemetery first caught wider Wilson’s attention in February 1989 when the Daily Times printed a full-page feature. I’ve abstracted the piece, with some commentary, below:


Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 1989. (Please click image to enlarge.)

“Vick Cemetery is just one of several Lane Street cemeteries being used as trash dumps, but a small group of people want to change all that.”

Ben Mincey Jr., [who is in his 70s and] whose father is buried in the old Odd Fellows Cemetery directly north of and adjacent to Vick cemetery, is trying to get help for both cemeteries.

Councilman A.P. Coleman discussed the cemeteries with City Manager Cyrus Brooks and suggested Mincey seek grants from historic societies or other groups. Brooks said he was aware of the situation at the Vick Cemetery but “had no solutions and had directed inquiries to the [Cemetery] Commission,” over which the city has no control.

Mincey thinks the city or commission should help clean both cemeteries and notes that Vick deeded the property to the city in 1913. With volunteers and hired help, Mincey has cut down and burned off much of overgrowth in Odd Fellows and is trying to remove the accumulated trash, which includes appliances, bed frames, rotting clothing, dead animals wrapped in plastic bags, tires, and bottles.

Mincey says both cemeteries were well cared for when the “older people whose families were buried there” were still living, and he was trying to clean up because “I have respect for my father and mother.” An unnamed cemetery official said he had no idea why relatives had let the old cemeteries deteriorate or why nothing was said until recently.

Both cemeteries are over 100 years old, and neither has been used in more than 30 years. There are no known records on who or how many people are buried in Vick cemetery (or presumably, Odd Fellows.)

“Mincey said many prominent blacks from Wilson’s past are buried in these two cemeteries and the Rountree Cemetery, also on Lane Street, located where Rountree Baptist Church used to sit.” They include Ben Mincey Sr., who helped start the East Wilson Volunteer Fire Department and worked for the city’s Utilities Department; Nettie Foster, a well known teacher; Walter Hines, a downtown barber; and S.H. Vick, the cemetery’s namesake, a former postmaster.”

“Trees not hide all but one grave, which sits by the roadside at the old Rountree Cemetery. The commission was not even aware of the Rountree Cemetery’s existence” and did not know Vick Cemetery existed “until about four years ago” when Mincey brought it to their attention. At that time, they determined that Mincey Sr. was buried in the Odd Fellows, not Vick, cemetery.

Pursuant to a 1923 state statute, the Cemetery Commission was given title to all city property used for cemetery purposes, including Vick Cemetery. Currently, only Rest Haven and Maplewood are active cemeteries. The commission does not receive city funding, but is audited by the city.

Cemetery Commission chairman Earl Bradbury says of Vick Cemetery, “Burial patterns are any which way. Nobody has any records of who was buried there. It just sat there and so nobody had any interest in it and it just grew up.” After its “discovery,” the commission authorized $8000 for cleanup by hand “because heavy machinery would cause the graves to collapse.”  (As wooden caskets decay, the ground above them subsides, creating sunken graves.) “Because of this, no local firms will help with the cleanup.” Heavy rains prevented the completion of the cleanup, and the area still needs to be burned off and treated with weed killer. Bradbury agrees that the Vick property should be cleaned and cared for, but says the commission did not have the funds to do so. “He said he hoped to pack the collapsed graves with silt dredged from Toisnot Lake, but that silt is just sitting on unused Maplewood Cemetery property. Also, Bradbury thinks people with relatives in the Vick cemetery should show some interest in having the cemetery renovated, and he said it would be nice if the city could help with possibly a one-time grant.” As for Odd Fellows, it is the responsibility of the fraternal organization or relatives of the deceased to clear that cemetery.

Councilman Coleman notes that the city might have a “moral obligation” to find a solution, notuing that “the Lane Street area was included in the 1972 annexation of east Wilson, wich was an area that had been neglected for many years.”


  • Odd Fellows cemetery? This is the first I’ve heard of it. The obelisk now marking the remaining stones says “Rountree-Vick.” If Odd Fellows was north, and “north” means northeast toward Martin Luther King Parkway/U.S. 264, is it now completely wooded? As this cemetery was not city property, was it just left to revert to nature? In the mid-1970s, headstones were visible among the trees and underbrush in this area. Though we called it Rountree, was this actually Odd Fellows? (For more about Hannibal Lodge No. 1552, International Order of Odd Fellows, see here.)
  • If so, where was Rountree cemetery? The article seems to imply that it was not immediately adjacent to Vick and Odd Fellows. The east parking lot of the “new” Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, built in the late 1970s, was laid over the site of the clapboard predecessor. There is no apparent graveyard immediately adjacent to the church now, and it’s not clear where a location closer than the known cemetery could have been.
  • It’s heartbreaking that Ben Mincey Sr.’s headstone is not one of those that survives.
  • Silt from Toisnot Lake? Did this ever happen? Is this really a sanctioned method of dealing with sunken graves. Several of the remaining graves are sunken, and at least one has been breached to the point that a dark vacuum is visible below ground.

Cemeteries, no. 21: Rountree.

Though commonly known as Rountree cemetery, this abandoned graveyard originally comprised two burial grounds. One, whose founding date is unknown, was associated with nearby Rountree Missionary Baptist Church. The other was established on land deeded to the city in 1913 by Samuel H. Vick. Into the 1950s, black Wilson’s leading lights and their families were buried here, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of lesser known residents. A half-century after the cemetery closed, only a handful of grave markers remain on a slight rise cleared along the southern ditch bank.


They include:

  • Della and Dave Barnes


Della Hines Wife of Dave Barnes 1858-1935 She is not dead but sleeping.

Dave Barnes died Jan. 23, 1913 Age 52 years Death was the gate through which to life he passed.

The most prominent of the remaining headstones are those of Della Mercer Hines Barnes and, at left above, her husband Dave Barnes, mother and father/step-father of three of early East Wilson’s most successful sons, William Hines, Walter Hines and Boisey O. Barnes.

  • Delzela Rountree


Delzela Dau of Jack & Lucile Rountree Born Aug 5, 1897 Died Mar. 8, 1914. An angel visited the green earth and took the flower away.

In the 1900 census of Falkland township, Pitt County: farmer Jack Rountree, 49; wife Lucy, 27; and children Julius, 5, Daisy E., 2, and Cora, 2 months; sisters Marcela, 23, Cora, 24, and Ella Bargeron, 26; and boarder Jacob Worthan, 18.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farmer Jack Rountree, 53; wife Lucy, 35; and children Junius, 15, Delzel, 12, Cora Lee, 10, John H., 7, James, 6, Mable, 4, and Gollie May, 1.


Charles S. Thomas departed this life Sept. 5, 1937 From all life’s labors he rests on high.

  • Sarah Best Thomas


Sarah wife of Charlie Thomas Born 1868 Aug 18 1916 Gone But Not Forgotten.

Sarah Thomas was not married to barber/insurance agent Charles S. Thomas above. Rather she was married to printing office employee Charles Thomas.

On 25 January 1888, Charles Thomas, 23, son of Sarah Thomas, married Sarah Best, 21, daughter of Lewis and Harriet Best. Missionary Baptist minister J.T. Clark performed the ceremony at Lewis Best’s in the presence of Charles Barbry, Wyatt Studaway and Charles Williamson.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 38, pressman for printing office; wife Sarah, 33; and children Elton, 9, Louis, 8, Elizabeth, 6, and Hattie May, 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 49, laborer for printing office; wife Sarah, 44; and children Elton, 20, Lizzie, 18, Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 1 month.

  • Nunnie Barnes

Nunnie Barnes Born June 8 1885 Died Aug 25 1921

  • Lucinda White


Lucinda Wife of Geo. W. White Oct 15 1880 Nov 30 1915 Age 35 

  • Tate family


Noah J. Tate (1876-1926) may be among the family members buried here.

  • Hardy Tate


Hardy Tate‘s foot marker lies at some distance from the Tate family plot, but he seems likely that he is buried there.

  • Emma Oates and Rev. Henry W. Farrior


Emma wife of Charlie Oates Died Sept 3 1908 Age 40 years

Rev Henry W Farrior Aug 12 1859 May 6 1937

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Charles Oates, 34; wife Emma, 30; and children Willie, 11, Fannie, 9, Annie, 8, Effie, 5, and Queen E., 4.

In the 1900 census of Lisbon township, Sampson County, North Carolina: Virginia-born preacher Henry Farrior, 39, wife Izzy, 37, children Lillie, 17, Dallas, 15, and Diane, 5, and divorced brother-in-law Richard Robinson, 50. Dallas and Richard worked as farm laborers. [Henry W. Farrior was an A.M.E. Zion minister.]

Henry W. Farrior appeared in Wilson city directories as early as 1916 and throughout the 1920s. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Christian Church minister Henry W. Farrior, 60, and wife Aria, 60, with boarders tobacco factory stemmer Earnest Bulluck, 35, his wife Lena, 30, and children Earnest Jr., 12, Paul T., 8, and Lee, 7.

Henry William Farrior died 6 March 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate: he was born 12 August 1859 in Powhatan, Virginia, to Henry and Sylvia Farrior; resided at 203 Pender Street, Wilson; was married Isiebell Farrior; and was a preacher. Dalley Farrior was informant.

  • Charles Oates


Charles Oates

  • Irma Vick


Irma day of S.H. and A.M. Vick Gone but not forgotten

Irma Vick was a daughter of Samuel H. and Annie M. Washington Vick. She died while a student in Asheville, North Carolina. (It is likely that Irma’s parents and grandparents, and perhaps other siblings, was buried in this cemetery, but none of their headstones remain.)

  • Clarence Lenwood Carter


C.L. Carter

Clarence Lenwood Carter registered for the World War I draft in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 29 October 1882; resided at 423 Green Street; worked as a merchant for G.S. Walston, 507 East Nash; and his nearest relative was Mena Carter.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 423 Green Street, barber Clarence Carter, 36; wife Meena, 25; and children Omega, 9, Clarence H., 7, and Mina G., 3.

Clarence L. Carter died 13 February 1925 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was married to Mina Carter; lived at 418 East Green; was born 29 October 1877 in Bertie County to George Carter and Annie Outlaw; and worked as a day laborer.

  • Dawson family


Virginia S. Dawson and her mother L. [Lucy Annie Hill] Dawson are among those buried here.

  • Edith Omega Carter Spicer


Omega C. Spicer Dec. 7, 1910 Apr. 27, 1945

On 7 October 1933, Elverde Taylor, 23, son of Jim and Matilda Taylor, married Omega Carter, 22, daughter of Clarence and Mina Carter. C.A. Artis applied for the license, and a justice of the peace performed the ceremony in the presence of L.M. Mercer of Elm City and L.F. Winborn and W.W. Clark of Wilson.

Edith Omega Spicer died 27 April 1945 at the Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium. Per her death certificate, she was born 7 December 1910 in Wilson County to Clarence Carter of Bertie County and Mena Rountree of Wilson County; worked as a waitress; resided at 538 East Nash Street; and was separated.


Walter Hines’s headstone has disappeared.

The area outlined in red below, south of Lane Street, is the approximate area of Rountree cemetery. Its 7.45 acres also extends west the edge of the image. After a stab at clean-up in the early 1980s, the City of Wilson determined that restoring the cemetery would be too costly. In 1995, after some public input, the City elected to clear and grade much of the site and erect a stone marble memorializing Rountree’s dead. Some cracked markers are visible inside the tree line near the cleared area. Otherwise, no trace of the locations of graves remains. Broken stones were to be catalogued and stored, but recent queries into their location have been fruitless.

Photographs of Rountree cemetery taken by Lisa Y. Henderson in 2016.

The AKAs arrive in Wilson.

“The dream of establishing a graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in Wilson, NC had its origin in the mind of Soror Norma Darden during the late ‘30’s.  As years passed, she decided to organize a chapter in Wilson. However, this was very difficult since she had to have at least seven members for the establishment of a chapter.  After many years of searching for eligible ladies, her task was completed. On February 18, 1940, Gamma Beta Omega became a reality.”

The first members were Sorors Norma Darden, Dolores Hines, Rosa L. Williams, Vera G. Shade, Peggy Cooper, Marian Davis, and Odelle Barnes (a founder and charter member of Alpha Chi Chapter at North Carolina Central University, formerly North Carolina College, in 1932). Soror Darden served as the first basileus. In 1941 the first members to be initiated into the chapter were Sorors Mae Lord, Cora Washington, and Marian H. Miller.

Adapted from, the website of the Gamma Beta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

The Ques arrive in Wilson.

Nu Alpha Chapter was founded in Wilson, North Carolina, on November 17, 1936. The Chapter was chartered in New Bern on December 5, 1936, with the following officers: Basileus Bro. Boisey O. Barnes (Wilson), Vice Basileus Bro. William Perkins (Tarboro), Keeper of Records and Seal Bro. Aaron Womack (Kinston), Chaplain Bro. D.F. Martinez, Editor to the Oracle Bro. Randolph Armstrong (Rocky Mount), and Keeper of Peace Bro. John Jackson (Goldsboro). The chapter consisted of men from Wilson, Rocky Mount, Tarboro, Greenville, New Bern, Goldsboro, Kinston and surrounding areas. Later, Brothers joined or were initiated from Jacksonville, Elm City, Henderson, Elizabeth City, Beaufort, Plymouth, Scotland Neck and LaGrange. They met monthly on a rotating basis in all the cities represented. (Eventually, as a result of the travel burdens imposed across such a large geographic region, Nu Alpha chartered seven new chapters, including Beta Beta Beta in Wilson in the 1970s.)

Of Nu Alpha’s 61 charter members, these Brothers have been identified as Wilson County residents: B.O. Barnes, John M. Miller, Samuel H. Vick, and Malcolm D. Williams. Over the next twelve years, these men joined the chapter: Spencer J. Satchell (1941), Julian B. Rosemond (1942), Kenneth M. Shade (1945), Charles E. Branford and Ellis Brown (1947), and James C. Ellis and Alvis A. Hines (1948).

Adapted from the website of Nu Alpha chapter, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Early Calvary.

Calvary Presbyterian Church celebrated its centennial in 1989 and, to honor the occasion, published Adventures in Faith: The Church at Prayer, Study and Service, a commemorative booklet packed with details of the church’s history, including these photos of the church’s two earliest edifices.

Heartfelt thanks to my aunt, Hattie H. Ellis, and cousin, Tracey Ellis Leon, for sharing this invaluable document.

In memoriam: Dr. Johnny Lee Greene.

When I woke up in the middle of the night Monday and read that Dr. J. Lee Greene had died, my heart broke a little. I don’t even know how to explain what this man did for my little provincial teen-aged mind. His lecture topics ranged from Toni Morrison to Richard Ellison to Eldzier Cortor to Hughie Lee-Smith and were jewels not just for the anointing he put on works of literature and art, but for the solid-gold aphorisms he dished in between.

During the years in which we lost touch after I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, both Dr. Greene and I discovered a ministry in the preservation of local African-American history and heritage. He offered early and much-valued encouragement of my mission with Black Wide-Awake, and today I made a donation in his honor and memory to Rutherford County’s African American Heritage Museum, which he founded in 2012.

Rest in peace, Lee Greene.