Land

The Singletary subdivision.

This undated plat map shows lots 2 and 3 of the subdivision of the “Singletary Land,” laid out in 14 blocks divided into 176 roughly 50′ wide lots.

The streetscape is easily recognizable to the modern viewer. There have been some moderate changes in the layout — Freeman Street no longer intersects Nash (which is a street now, not a road) and nor does Wainwright.  The original course of Wainwright, which is a street now, not an avenue, essentially lies under present-day Hines Street. Bardin Street is Rountree Street, and Mewbern morphed into New Bern Street.

Plat book 1, pages 482-483, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse; aerial image courtesy of Google Maps.

Julius Freeman buys land.

On 21 March 1898, Louisa M. Daniel sold Julius F. Freeman a 125-acre tract called the Arky Gardner land in Gardners township. Freeman paid her $500.

Freeman married Eliza Daniel (or Daniels), daughter of Amos and Olive Daniel, in 1873. Was Louisa her kin?

Deed book 46, pages 421-422, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

Finding the Newsomes’ resting place.

Searching for Wilson County’s Lost Cemeteries: Project pinpoints gravesites before nature reclaims them.

By Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Times, 29 June 2018.

Brian Grawburg stops his pickup truck at the end of a farm path between an old hedgerow and a field off Radford Road.

“There it is,” Grawburg says, pointing to the underbrush where two flat marble headstones have come into view.

The 72-year-old retiree is on a search for hidden and overgrown cemeteries in Wilson County.

Grawburg erects a ladder in the bed of his truck, climbs up and points his camera at the graves. He makes a couple of pictures with a 1937 Leica rangefinder and climbs down to note the cemetery’s location with a modern GPS tracker.

These are the gravestones of Amos and Martha Newsome, husband and wife, who called Wilson County home in the late 1800s. A neighbor across the road had told Grawburg about the graveyard’s existence, and this was his second visit to the spot. Upon closer inspection, Grawburg notes the presence of another grave a few feet deeper into the woods.

Hidden behind a shield of Virginia creeper, smilax and scuppernong grape vines is a marble obelisk not quite waist-high. The face of the monument is clean and the inscription is clear.

Edna Newsom, 1846 to 1913, Kind angels watch her sleeping dust.”

“It’s a very nice stone,” Grawburg comments. “That one we’re going to have to carefully look at.”

Despite the difference in the last name spelling, Grawburg wonders if Edna might be Amos’ mother, but he’s not sure.

“Martha died in 1902, and he’s 1919,” Grawburg said. “That is certainly where we will have to get more information.”

Grawburg says he can’t wait to tell Joan Howell that he has found another headstone.

MAKING A LIST

Joan Howell has compiled four books on Wilson County cemeteries. The first one was completed in 1993, and she is currently working on her fifth. All were projects supported by the Wilson County Genealogical Society with information supplied by the group’s members.

It is Howell’s work and old Work Progress Administration surveys from the 1930s that offer hints as to where Grawburg may find the forgotten cemeteries.

The Wilson resident will sometimes wear boots to protect his shins from snakes and ticks and take along clippers to cut back “vines from hell” as he calls them.

Grawburg is building a photographic record of deceased Wilson County residents.

He’s not interested in the cemeteries that are neatly kept. Those are the ones that are already well-known.

Grawburg is interested in finding the ones that have been overgrown and rest in little patches of woods in farm fields, at the edges of subdivisions, anywhere that Mother Nature has waged a battle to reclaim the plots.

“It doesn’t take long,” Grawburg said.

A cemetery can go from being well-maintained to overgrown in a matter of a few years.

“This is top priority because they are becoming nonexistent,” Howell said.

An example is the B. Ellis cemetery in a small plot hidden by trees and overgrowth that is unseen by passing traffic off Forest Hills Road in Wilson.

“There are 35 people in there, and you don’t know there is a single one in there,” Grawburg said. “That cemetery is right there.”

Grawburg said with 16 cemeteries Howell recently found and added to the list, there are about 260 known cemeteries in Wilson County.

There are estimates that there could be another couple of hundred cemeteries that are not documented in the county.

‘IT’S EXCITING’

At age 85 and after two hip replacements, Howell still puts on her “snake boots” and heads into the woods to search.

“It’s exciting,” Howell said. “I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. Some people don’t know where their grandmothers and their grandfathers are. I just love doing this. I lament the fact that I am not as able as I once was.”

Grawburg and Howell will often meet in the genealogical room of the Wilson County Public Library to share notes. On Thursday, Howell spread out a United States Geological Survey topographical map with handwritten notations marking cemeteries that had been located.

“I don’t put anything on the map until I find the cemetery, and then I give it a name,” Howell said.

Howell said locating gravestones is vital to filling in Wilson County’s history.

“Death certificates didn’t begin to be recorded until 1913, and then they were spotty. So this is a means of recording people who might not have been noted elsewhere,” Howell said. “It is a way of preserving history and family information.”

Grawburg and Howell said there have been rare instances where farmers have driven implements over cemeteries, knocking over gravestones, and have even taken them away from the actual graves.

“That is distressing to me,” Grawburg said.

It is also a violation of state law, he added.

When Grawburg finds a grave, he wonders who the person was, how he ended up there and what he died from, particularly the children who are interred.

“Did they have scarlet fever? Did they have measles? I think about that,” Grawburg said. “Why did they die? Why so young?”

Grawburg traveled to upstate New York to locate his own relatives.

“I think about my reaction when I found my great-great-great-great-grandfather and you say, ‘Geez, I’m standing on the grave where we’re related.’ There is just something cool about that,” Grawburg said. “Not everybody sees that, but it is kind of neat to say that there’s a connection.”

Grawburg hopes that living Wilson County residents might have the same experience after their ancestors’ graves have been located.

He said there is the joy of saving somebody’s heritage regardless of the fact that he is not a relative.

“I don’t know Amos Newsome,” Grawburg said. “I don’t know anything about him. I don’t know any of his family. I have no connection to him whatsoever. None. Well, somebody does.”

Both Grawburg and Howell said tips from the public about the locations of lost cemeteries are valuable in the search.

“If they would show me where the cemeteries are, that would be helpful,” Howell said. “This is such a large project and I don’t know when we will ever get through with it.”

People interested in the project may contact Grawburg by email at archive@myglnc.com.

——

Benjamin Newsome and Edna Newsome registered their 16-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Newsom, 50; wife Edna, 31; and children Amos, 10, Gray, 18, Pennina, 16, Mary, 13, Louisa, 9, Larry, 7, and Joseph, 5.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Newsome, 53; wife Edna, 40; and children Oliver, 21, Amos, 19, Gray, 18, Penelope, 6, and Mary, 2.

On 23 December 1883, Amos Newsom, 23, married Martha Ann Barnes, 22, in Wilson County.

After Benjamin Newsome’s death in 1893, Edna Newsome applied for letters of administration for his estate. A Report of Commissioners valued his personal estate (excluding land) at $400. At his death, he had owned a safe; a bureau and its contents; four beds, [bed]steads and contents; another bed and bedstead; two trunks; a sewing machine; a table; a clock; eight chairs; a stove and contents; two more tables and contents; a lard stand; another safe and contents; a saw; three trays; two jugs; a jar; two pots; a tub; two buckets; one lot of corn (about 15 barrels); two stacks of fodder; two mules; one wagon and gear; one cart; farm tools; a barrel of syrup; two wheels; a loom; four bushels of pears; two bushels of wheat; nine hogs; 150 bushels of potatoes; 150 bushels of cotton seed; seven geese; 25 chickens; 500 pounds of tobacco; and 1200 pounds of seed cotton.

On 31 January 1900, Edna Newsome, 55, of Cross Roads, married Ishmael Wilder, 60, of Springhill township, at Newsome’s residence. W.H. Horton, “minister of the Christian denom.,” performed the ceremony in the presence of Grant Farmer, W.T. Barnes, and L.H. Newsome.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Ishmael Wilder, 63; wife Edney, 55; and daughter Clara, 26.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Joseph L. Newsom, 34; wife Virginia L., 34; mother Edna, 65; and sister Mary E., 42.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Amos Newsom, 55; [second] wife Frances, 30; and children Lena, 21, Mamie, 17, Mattie, 14, Linettie, 5, Clevland, 2, Willie, 20, and Albert, 18.

Amos Newsom died 8 June 1919 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1859 in Wilson County to Benjamin and Edna Newsom of Wilson County; was married to Francis Newsom; owned his farm; and was buried in the “country.” Informant was Larry Newsome.

Image of estate document available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The division of the Ned Kent farm.

Ned Kent of Springhill township passed away 22 July 1940. The details of his will are detailed here.

Nearly eight years later, Wilson County Superior Court accepted the report of the commissioners appointed to divide Kent’s land among his many heirs. Born into slavery, he had accumulated 159 acres in southern Wilson County.

Book 150, pages 409-410, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

The interested parties were: James Kent and wife Nettie; Louise Kent Barnes and husband William Barnes; Narcissus Kent Lucas and husband John Lucas; Percy Kent and wife Cherrie; Cassanda Kent Williams; Jane Boykin; Jennie Lucas and husband W. Fred Lucas; Charlie Kent and wife Victoria Kent; Roscoe Kent and wife Mary; the children of Clara Ann Kent Hamilton (Purcelle Hamilton, Clara Beatrice Hamilton Payne and Matthew Hamilton); Fred Kent’s daughter Thelma Kent Barnes; Ada Kent Williams‘ son Willie Kent; the children of Arcelars Kent (Daisy Kent Williams, Chaney Kent Parker, Helen Kent Lipton, Ned Kent and Jim Kent); the children of James Kent (James R. Kent, Joseph W. Kent, Bessie Hardy, Thaddeus Kent, Johnnie W. Kent, Algie Marie Kent and Flora May Kent); the children of Narcissus Kent Lucas (Pearl Lucas Barnes, Kezzie Lucas Boykin); the children of Percy Kent (Carnell Kent, Lydie Frances Kent Craddock and Davie Nell Kent); the children of Louise Kent Barnes (Nannie Barnes Paschall, Sophie Mae Pulley, Benjamin Barnes, Randolph Barnes, Lydia Barnes Griffin, Gaybella Barnes Harris, Willie Mae Barnes Strickland, Glintle Lee Barnes Finch, Marcus Barnes, Mercedes Barnes, Joya Dennis Barnes, Kay Georgia Barnes and Shirley Barnes); the children of Jane Boykin (Grady Boykin, Willie Foster Boykin, William Gay Boykin, John Henry Boykin, Lillie Mae Boykin; Addie Boykin Miles, Fannie Boykin Clark, Tincie Boykin Williams, and Lydia Boykin Finch); the children of Jennie Lucas (Carrie Lucas Williams, George Lucas, William Lucas, Raspor Lucas, Callie Lucas, Emily Lucas, Chellie Lucas Gastings and Oscar Lucas); the children of Charlie Kent (James O. Kent, Roy Kent, George Kent, James T. Kent, Hubert Kent, Ned Kent, Ruth Kent Hinnant, and Janie Kent Richardson); and Casanda Kent Williams’ son Eddie Williams., plus any “unborn and unascertained children.”

Ned Kent’s farm was divided into 13 lots of just over 12 acres each. Lot #4, which contained the family cemetery, was slightly larger to compensate. A plat map shows an unpaved road running through lots 1 through 6 and a creek running at the edge of lots 7 through 10. Lots 1, 6 and 12 contained dwellings.

Plat Book 5, page 71, Register of Deeds office, Wilson County Courthouse.

The Kent land today, just west of Sullivan Road in far southwestern Wilson County. The road remains unpaved, and the cemetery is well-kept. Per Wilson County, North Carolina Cemeteries — Volume 1, a publication of the Wilson County Genealogical Society, the graveyard contains about 51 graves, including Ned Kent and wife Lydia; their daughter Mary Jane Kent Boykin, her husband John H. and son Grady; their sons Charlie and Marcellus; and others. The tiny creek at the bottom edge of the plat map is now an arm of Buckhorn Reservoir.

A close-up of the Ned Kent family cemetery and the road that runs past it:

Photographs courtesy of Google Maps.

Darden expansion.

This 1940 plat map shows the boundaries of additional land proposed to expand the campus of Charles H. Darden High School, referred to here as a “school site for colored people.”

(Note that the property was purchased in part from Louise Fike and Hadley Blake, whose names were memorialized in nearby streets laid out in the 1950s — Fikewood and Blakewood.)

Plat Book 2, page 152, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

The last will and testament of George A. Barnes.

George A. Barnes dictated his will on 24 August 1907.

He had detailed wishes: (1) all his crops to his wife; (2) a life estate in all his land to his wife, Annie Barnes; (3) subject to the life estate, his house and four acres on Hominy Swamp to son George and daughter Minnie, with certain stipulations re its disposal;

(4) subject to the life estate, two acres to daughter Edmonia Farmer; (5) subject to the life estate, two acres to son Joshua Barnes; (6) subject to the life estate, two acres to son Billy Barnes; (7) subject to the life estate, an 18-acre tract to son General Barnes (minus Joshua’s two acres), which is “perfectly fair” because General furnished one hundred dollars for his father to purchase the land and because General cared for George and Annie in their old age.

George A. Barnes died in the spring of 1910, and son George Washington Barnes applied for probate of the will on 11 May 1910. As his widow Annie Barnes held a life estate in all his real property, his estate required minimal handling. However, Annie Barnes died the day after Christmas 1917, and less than a month later their children (and spouses) sold all but two of George A.’s 28 acres for $3000 to A.F. Williams, a white physician (who had treated their mother in her final illness.) The remaining two acres belonged to son Joshua Barnes, who, astonishingly, died exactly one week later of tuberculosis.

Deed Book __, Page 6-7, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson. 

——

George Barnes married Anaca Mercer on 31 October 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George Barnes, 30; wife Annie, 24; and children Hardy, 8, Rena, 7, Edna, 1, and Jesse, 3.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: south of the Plank Road, farmer George Farmer, 41; wife Anna, 34; and children Hardy, 19, Reny, 17, Jessee, 12, Edmonia, 11, George, 9, Minnie Adeline, 6, Joshua and General, 3, and William, 1 month.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George A. Barnes, 60, farmer; wife Annie, 53; children George, 23, teacher, Joshaway, 22, farmer, and Jenerl, 22, teacher; grandson Paul, 11; son Harda, 32, and daughter-in-law Nancy, 30.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on County Line Road, farmer George Barnes, 71; wife Annie, 66; son Joshua, 34; and grandchildren Charlie, 8 , and Hattie Palm, 5.

Annie Barnes died 26 December 1917 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was 72 years old; was born in Wilson County to George Battle; and was a widow. George Barnes was informant.

Joshua Barnes died 29 January 1918 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was about 40 years old; was born in Wilson County to George A. Barnes of Wilson County and Annie Battle of Edgecombe County; and died of consumption. George W. Barnes was informant.

George Washington Barnes died 13 April 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was born in Wilson County to George A. Barnes of Wilson County and Annie Battle of Edgecombe County; was married to Mary Barnes; and worked as a photographer.

General Barnes died 7 January 1938 at his home at 518 North 58th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was 62 years old; was married; was born in North Carolina to George Barnes and Annie Battle; and worked as a clerk/postal employee. Mary Barnes was informant.

Edmonia Farmer died 18 January 1947 at her home at 706 East Green Street. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was born in Wilson County to George Barnes and Annie Parker; and was married to John Wash Farmer. Informant was George W. Farmer, 1207 Carolina Street.

Minnie Baines died 5 December 1963 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born November 1877 in Wilson County to George Barnes and Annie (last name unknown); was a widow; and resided at 309 North Reid Street. Informant was Hattie Evans, 309 North Reid.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The eastern suburbs.

This 1943 plat map shows several lots laid out in the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Washington-Carver Heights, as the neighborhood created by East Wilson’s eastern expansion was called. The blocks east of the highway were not annexed into the city’s limits until the 1970s, despite years of demand.

Doris Street, originally named for one of Samuel H. Vick‘s daughters, is now Powell Street. Tuskegee Street, like Washington and Atlantic (originally, Atlanta) Streets, was named in honor of Booker T. Washington. “N.C. State Highway” is now U.S. 301, a four-lane highway with median.

Plat Book 2, Page 176, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

Sale of the Morrison-Forbes lots.

Plat Book 3, Page 3, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

In 1924, Atlantic Coast Realty Company prepared to market thirteen lots carved from the Rountree subdivision. Only one building is drawn — a brick grocery at the corner of Nash and South Vick. The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the houses already on the lots excluded from the plat map.

The area covered by lots 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9 of the left-hand block is today roughly the site of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church at 106 South Reid Street.

Property of the Julius Freeman heirs.

In 1949, twenty-two years after Julius F. Freeman Sr.‘s death, L.M. Phelps surveyed and platted two parcels of land in East Wilson owned by Freeman’s estate. One, divided into three lots, was at the corner of East Nash and Powell Streets, across and down Nash a couple of hundred feet from Freeman’s son O. Nestus Freeman. The second parcel, divided into two lots, was inside the angled intersection of North East Street and Darden Alley (now Darden Lane.)

——

  • Lydia Norwood — Lydia Ann Freeman Norwood Ricks was a daughter of Julius and Eliza Daniels Freeman. Robert Norwood, 24, married Lydia Freeman, 21, at the residence of Julius Freeman at 26 January 1899. Episcopal priest W.B. Perry performed the ceremony in the presence of William Kittrell, William Barnes and John Williams. In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, she is listed as a domestic living at E Nash extd, R.F.D. 4. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1025 Roberson Street, owned and valued at $1000, tobacco factory laborer Egar Ricks, 49; wife Lydia, 62; and daughter Eliza Norwood, 39, tobacco factory laborer, tobacco factory laborer. Renting rooms in the house for $8/month were widow Dora Bynum, 40, tobacco factory laborer; her children Charles, 9, Dorthy, 6, and Joseph Bynum, 2, and Rosa Lee, 15, and James Joyner, 12; and widow Rosetta Farmer, 59. Lydia Ricks died 14 October 1960 at her home at 1025 Roberson Street. Per her death certificate, she was 84 years old; was born in Wilson County to Julius Freeman and Eliza Adams; and was married to Eddie Ricks.
  • Mrs. Bass
  • Dr. B.O. Barnes — Boisey O. Barnes Sr.
  • Mrs. Darden

Julius Freeman’s parcels today, per Google Maps:

Nash and Powell Streets.

The elbow of East Street and Darden Lane.

 

 

The division of Kenyon Locus’ land.

Plat Book 2, Page 171, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

Kenyon Locus‘ estate included about 66 acres of land in Taylors township, Wilson County. His property was divided and platted in January 1942, a little over a year after his death. It was bordered on the north side by a road leading to the Wilson-Nashville Highway [N.C. Highway 58] and on the west by a road leading south to Wilson via Ellis Chapel. The property to his south was jointly owned by Charlie Brantley and Mollie Howard, heirs of Henderson Brantley. To the north was acreage owned by Will and Sylvia Howard (or Batchelor) Lucas. A house and several other buildings cluster on a small road that hooked across the northwest corner of the property.

——

In the 1880 census of Jackson township, Nash County: John Locus, 30; wife Delpha, 30; and children Frank, 10, Dora, 8, Kenny, 5, Nancy, 4, and Samuel, 9 months.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Johnnie Lucus, 43; wife Delpha, 51; children Kinion, 26, Nannie, 24, Edwin, 15, Sidney, 12, and Susan, 9; and grandsons Bunion, 5, and Martin L., 3.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Howards Path, John Locust, 66; wife Delphia, 64; children Kinyan, 36, and Susie, 19; and grandchildren Bunyan, 15, Luther M., 13, and Roxie, 7 months.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: John Locus, 77; wife Delphi, 65; son Kennie, 48; and grandchildren Roxie, 11, and Luther, 23.

In the 1940 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Kerney Locus, 67; wife Bell, 53; and lodger Frosty Pond, 33.

Kenney Locas died 10 December 1940 as the result of a terrible farming accident. Working in a field on his farm, he slipped off a stalk cutter and suffered a crushed leg and pelvis. He was taken to Mercy Hospital, where he was declared dead. Per Locus’ death certificate, he was 66 years old; was married to Isabella Locas, age 55; was born in Wilson County to John Locas of Wilson County and Delphia Taylor of Nash County; and worked as a farmer.

S123_1222-0787.jpg