Land

Griffin Hill.

As detailed here, in 1920 Roscoe Briggs moved in earnest to dismantle the African-American neighborhood of Grabneck to make way for the mansions of West Nash Street. On a single day in March 1920, he bought four parcels from members of the Best family, including Frank and Mamie Best, who exchanged their lot for a house to be built in Griffin Hill by John H. Griffin.

Here’s the plat for “Griffins Hill,” surveyed days later and recorded in Plat Book 1, Page 187, at the Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

At first I thought the Bests got the okey-doke. Connor Street runs five blocks from Kenan to Lee. Cone Street runs parallel to the west. To this day, there’s no Griffin Street or Center Street or Boyette Road in Wilson.

So where did Frank and Mamie Simms Best end up?

Frank Best died in 1922. His Wilson County death certificate describes his residence as “country.” Mamie Best remarried, but second husband Charles Jordan soon died. In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, she and her 14 year-old step daughter Mabell Jordan were listed just outside the city limits in New Grabneck, near other former Grabneck families. Mamie Simms Best Jordan died 29 January 1940, and her death certificate lists New Grabneck as her residence.

A list of delinquent property taxes published in the Daily Times on 17 September 1938 included these Griffin Hill residents. All were families who lived in the area otherwise known as New Grabneck.

Though he lived within a few houses of Ed Bobbitt, Emma Lee and Alice Mitchell, Paul Sherrod‘s listing was “New Grab Neck.”

In May 1943, Fred Lucas placed ads for farm animals that suggest that the name Griffin Hill was unfamiliar enough to require location aides. (And emphasize its rural nature.)

Wilson Daily Times, 27 May 1943.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1943.

Finally, in a 21 October 1959 article announcing the construction of low-income housing for whites, the Times noted:

This terrible map accompanied the article, the hashed area depicting the site of the new project at Griffin Hill:

The dark squiggle is the Hominy Swamp Canal. The arc slicing across it is the Norfolk & Southern Railroad. Warren Street (now Elizabeth Road) is the west border; Forrest Street, at bottom. (Parallel to a short road labeled “New Grabneck.”) Griffin Hill was no hill at all. In fact, like Lincoln Heights, it was in a notorious flood plain of Hominy Swamp. And 40 years after it was developed to accommodate the relocation of the Grabneck community, it was gone.

Per Google Map, the public housing built on the former site of Griffin Hill. 

[Note: Connor Street indeed runs as described above, but in this map, Forrest Road is labeled “Connor Street.” Presumably, someone realized the inadvisability of having two streets with the same name, and the anchor street of Griffin Hill was renamed.]

To have and to hold the land, pt. 3.

Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-Americans in Wilson County during the first fifty years of freedom:

  • Hilliard Ellis paid R.J. Taylor and wife Gallie Taylor $500 for 92 acres. The purchase was recorded 11 March 1872 in Deed Book 6, page 24, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 21 October 1873, William Airs [Ayers] paid Simon Newsom and Oliver and Penina Farrell $525  for 150 acres. The purchase was recorded 26 October 1874 in Deed Book 9, page 402, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 29 December 1874, Emily Gay paid Frank W. Barnes and wife Mattie B. Barnes $750 for a lot of land containing about one and a half acres on the east side of Wilson near the corporate limits and adjoining R.J. Taylor, Samuel Williams and others for “the sum of her natural life remainder to Charles Gay Mary Gay Ethelders Gay and William F. Gay children of said Emily Gay.”  The purchase was recorded 31 December 1874 in Deed Book 9, page 522, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. [Gay lost a half-acre of this property in 1885.]
  • Jesse Aires [Ayers] paid Martha Hawley $106 for 16 acres known as “Bits Aires Place” adjoining the lands Hawley and Ayers. The purchase was recorded 13 November 1879 in Deed Book 15, page 489, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • Hilliard Ellis paid Alpheus Branch and wife Nannie Branch and A.J. Hines and wife Eliza A. Hines $300 for a 50-acre parcel adjoining Ellis’ own land. The purchase was recorded 22 December 1879 in Deed Book 16, page 71, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 10 December 1879, Garry Armstrong paid C.S. Braswell and wife Martha A. Braswell $125 for 15 acres. The purchase was recorded on 6 March 1880 in Deed Book 16, page 353, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • Benjamin Hardy paid Thomas Woodard and wife Elmina Woodard $500 for a 29 1/2 acres on the New Road from Barefoots Mills in Cross Roads township. The purchase was recorded 16 December 1880 in Deed Book 16, page 628, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 9 November 1892, Penelope Tynes paid Mahala Artis of Buncombe County, North Carolina, $250 for a 81′ by 143′ lot “in the northern angle of Green and [blank] Streets” adjoining Thomas Knight and Penelope Tynes Proctor. The purchase was recorded 18 November 1892 in Deed Book 31, page 351, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. [Mahala Artis moved to Asheville, North Carolina, circa 1890.]
  • Hilliard Ellis Jr., Master Workman; Austin Williams, Treasurer; Charles Williams, Financial Secretary; and Milly Ellis, Recording Secretary of Local Association of the Knights of Labor No. 734 paid Hilliard Ellis Sr. one dollar for a one-acre parcel on the west side of the Wilson and Nashville Road in Taylor township. “The condition of this deed is such that whereas the parties of the first part are justly indebted to Hilliard Ellis in the sum of Eighty dollars (money borrowed to erect a building upon the above described land) due and payable Jan’y 1, 1892 with 8 % interest.” If the Lodge defaulted, Ellis Sr. was authorized to sell the parcel on the courthouse steps. This purchase was recorded 10 March 1893 in Deed Book 33, page 246, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

The last will and testament of Benjamin Hardy.

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State of North Carolina, Wilson County }

Know all men by these presents that I Benjmon Hardy being of sound mind and memory but knowing that it is apointed to man to die do make and declare this my last will and testament as follows first that all my just debts be paid sect I give to my beloved wif one half of my property both real and personal third I give to my wife daughter Litha the other half of my property booth real and personal and after the death of my wife then hir half to hir Daughter Litha fouth I here by Appoint Solomon Lamm executor to this my last will

this the 28th day of April eight teen hundard and eighty four   Benjmon (X) Hardy

Test    A.J. Ellis, Huel Newsom

The inventory of Benjamin Hardy’s estate, 28 December 1885.

——

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborers Benjn. Hardy, 25, wife Mary A., 30, and daughter Letha, 14.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Hardy, 28; wife Mary Ann, 40; daughter Tillitha, 22; and mother-in-law Hester Hinnant, 65.

Estate of Benjamin Hardy, images available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The 200 block of East Street and the 900 blocks of Carolina and Washington Streets.

In February 1920, Atlantic Coast Realty Company surveyed an irregularly shaped parcel of land between East and Vick Streets in Wilson. The land, commonly known as the Sallie Lipscomb property, belonged to J.H. Griffin and others, who planned to carve out 45 lots for sale to home builders.

[Note: Sarah A. Barnes (1842-1927), daughter of Edwin T. and Theresa Simms Barnes, married Virginia-born Oswald Lipscomb in 1869. Per documents in Lipscomb’s estate file, Lipscomb and his brother-in-law John T. Barnes entered into a partnership to form Lipscomb & Company (also known as Lipscomb & Barnes), a contracting, carpentry and woodworking business that operated from a shop at Pine and Lee Streets. The business operated profitably until “opposition in business, a general falling off of the trade, the contraction in prices and one or more contracts for building houses in which the firm lost money” caused Lipscomb to give up the trade and “retire to his wife’s farm near the town of Wilson.” It is reasonable to assume that the Sallie Lipscomb property platted here was (part of) that farm. (Lipscomb & Barnes continued to struggle, and Barnes piled on more debt to keep the firm afloat. Lipscomb died in 1891, and Barnes in 1894. Soon after, Edwin T. Barnes, administrator of John T. Barnes’ estate, sued to make sure their brother-in-law’s estate claimed no portion of the business.)]

Plat book 1, page 184, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County.

The plat map shows neighboring landowners as “Vick” (almost certainly Samuel H. Vick), Dorsey Williams, Robert Rice and “Howard.” Development did not commence immediately, as the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map below shows empty space along the 200 block of East Street and between the 900 blocks of Washington and Carolina Streets. The six houses on Washington and one on Carolina lie beyond the borders of the Sallie Lipscomb property. Sam Vick’s house is at top left on Green Street, and the strip of land he owned at the edge of the map seems to have been behind houses in the 700 block of Green. Dorsey Williams’ house was at 304 (formerly 147) East Street.

1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of WIlson, N.C.

On 12 February 1924, barber David H. Coley and wife Eva Speight Coley, a teacher, purchased Number 44, one of the larger lots in the subdivision, and built a house on it. On 1 October 1929, they executed a deed of trust with realtor D.S. Boykin to secure a loan from Carolina Building and Loan Association. Exactly four weeks later, the stock market collapsed, and it is not hard to imagine that the Coleys’ fortunes fell with the country’s. They defaulted on their loan, and in February 1932, Boykin advertised the impending sale.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 February 1932.

Here is the approximate location of the Sallie Lipscomb property as shown on Google Maps today. The Coleys’ house at 931 Carolina Street was long ago demolished; it is not listed in the East Wilson historic district inventory.

 

The strange affairs of Silas Parker.

Silas Parker died without a will in 1914, and two years later his 51-acre tract went up for sale at public auction to pay his debts. His widow Mahalia Parker, who served as administratrix of his estate and filed the petition to sell, was high bidder at $500. The couple’s children were Maggie V. Parker, Mary B. Parker, John W. Parker, Mack McKinley Parker, Este Parker, Jerry D. Parker, Bertha Parker, Anna Parker, Sarah J. Parker and Adeline P. Parker.

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Via Dickensian proceedings, Silas Parker had inherited most of this tract of land from his uncle, Jerry Dunn.

——

In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Toney Parker, 41; wife Julia, 34; and children Harry, 10, Silas, 10, Bray, 8, William, 5, Mary, 3, and George, 3 months.

Also, in the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Jerry Dunn, 48; wife Sarah, 40; and Silas Parker, 8. (Next door: Zania Hill, 43, and daughter Della, 17.)

In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Jere Dunn, 60; wife Sarah, 55; and nephew Silas Parker, 21, laborer.

In early 1881, Jerry Dunn drafted his last will and testament:

State of North Carolina Edgecomb County I Jary Dunn thankin God that I am in Good Bodily helth and sound mind do acknowlege this my last Will and testemaning that I do give unto Silas Parker after the deth of my self and my beloved Wife sara Dunn a serten tract of land containing forty one acres known as the Boiten Wilaford tract Joanding the lands of Boston Armstrong and others to him the said Silas Parker to have and In Joy forever as he may ce cause I Jarey Dunn in Presans of God and Witnss have hear to set my hand and seal the 9 day of Januarey AD 1881 Jarey X Dunn Witness Jesse W. Williams Richard X Wilkins

On 20 December 1888, Silas Parker, 27, of Nash County, son of Toney Parker of Wilson County and Julia Parker, married Mahala Parker, 20, of Nash County, daughter of Ruffin Parker and Morning Parker, at Ruffin Parker’s in Nash County.

On 31 December 1888, Jerry Dunn, 65, of Toisnot township, son of Harry and Rachel Dunn, married Sarah Wilkins, 58, of Toisnot township, daughter of Daniel Pitt and Piney Wilkins, in Wilson township. Methodist minister J.H. Mattocks performed the ceremony, and Silas Parker and C.H. Darden witnessed. [Was this a second wife, also named Sarah?]

Jerry Dunn died in 1889, and the strangeness started. In August, attorneys Bunn & Battle filed this petition in Wilson County Superior Court on behalf of administrator D.L. Lancaster. The petitioner claimed that (1) Jerry Dunn was $800 in debt to Silas Parker; (2) the value of Dunn’s personal estate was only $50; (3) Dunn owned a 41-acre tract in Wilson County worth $300; (4) this land descended to Dunn’s children [sic] Ben Pitt, age 73 or 74, of Edgecombe County, Mariah Taylor, age 44 of Wilson County, Harry Atkinson, age 50, of Wilson County, Blount Atkinson, age 55, of Edgecombe County, Harriet Webb, wife of Eli, age 40, of Wilson County, Mills Atkinson, 64, of Edgecombe County; Dunn died intestate without wife or children; and Pitt, Taylor and Harry Atkinson conveyed their interest in Dunn’s estate to Silas Parker.

Eli and Harriett Webb filed an answer to the petition in October 1889. The opening paragraph was true, they acknowledged, but as to paragraph 1, Jerry Dunn was not carrying $800 in debt and owed nothing to Parker. Dunn had settled with Parker, paying him “every cent” he owed him and not incurred any new debt to Parker in the last three years. As to paragraphs 2 and 3, Dunn’s personal estate ought to be worth at least $250 and his land worth $450. As to paragraph 4, these were Dunn’s siblings, not his children, and none had signed over their interest to Parker. There was no need to sell Dunn’s land to pay his debts, which amounted to no more than $50, as his personal assets should cover them. Further, Mills Atkinson was a “lunatic” without a guardian.

At that point, it seems, Jerry Dunn’s will suddenly turned up. He was not intestate, after all. The will was entered into probate on 6 January 1890 in Wilson County Superior Court, and the whole game changed. The court dismissed the petition to sell land and began to transfer Dunn’s wealth to his sole heir under his will, Silas Parker. Parker was the sole buyer at the sale of Dunn’s personal property in December 1891, scooping up farm animals, some equipment and a bed. He also, of course, received Dunn’s 41 acres.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Silas Parker, 38; wife Mahala, 31; and children Maggie, 9, Mary B., 7, John W.L., 5, McKilley, 3, and Estie, 1.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wells Daws Avenue, farmer and teacher Silas Parker, 49; wife Mahalley, 41; and children Maggie, 19, May B., 17, John, 15, Mack M., 13, General Este, 11, Jerry B., 18, Bertha, 6, Anna, 4, Sarah, 2, and Addie P., 3 months.

Administrator’s bond for estate of Silas Parker, 21 February 1914.

On 13 December 1915, Mahala Parker filed the petition to sell land for assets, asserting that Silas Parker had died with about $1000 in outstanding debt; that all of his personal estate had been allotted to her as widow’s support; that she had paid down $600 of her husband’s debt; that at his death Silas Parker owned a 51-acre parcel in Toisnot township and a 3/4 acre parcel near Nashville, Nash County; that she and Silas’ children lived on the “old Silas Parker home place” and that two of the children were adults and the rest minors; and that sale of the land was necessary.

Undated notice from estate file of Silas Parker, probably published in the Wilson Daily Times.

On 6 January 1916, William Battle, 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Jackson and Hannah Battle, married Bell Parker, 20, of Toisnot township, daughter of Silas and Mahalia Parker. Minister of the Gospel Samuel Burston performed the ceremony at Mahala Parker’s in Toisnot in the presence of Sidney Cotton, George Armstrong and Kinley Battle.

On 4 September 1918, John W. Parker, 24, son of Silas and Mahalia Parker, married Indiana Terry, 22, daughter of Henderson and Mary Terry, in Toisnot township.

Mahala Parker died 13 October 1921 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Silas Parker; was about 51 years old; and was born in Nash County to Ruffin Parker and Mourning Joyner. Informant was Mack Parker, Elm City.

On 22 November 1935, Estee Parker, 30, son of Silas and Mahala Parker, married Irene Davis, daughter of Ellis and Bessie Davis, in Greenville County, Virginia.

On 17 June 1936, David King, 21, of Wilson, son of Peter King and Freay (last name unknown), married Adlena Parker, 23, of Wilson, daughter of Silas Parker and Mahala Parker. Missionary Baptist minister Charles T. Jones performed the ceremony at James Alston‘s on Green Street in Wilson in the presence of Mag Parker, James Alston and Mary Whitely.

Jerry Parker died 5 July 1938 on the Parker farm, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1902 in Wilson County to Silas Parker of Wilson County and Mahala Parker of Nash County; was a farmer; and was buried in Parker cemetery. John Parker, Elm City, was informant.

Maggie McGeachy died 13 November 1953 in Sharpsburg, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 21 April 1883 in Wilson County to Silas Parker and Mahalia Parker; was married to Willie McGeachy; and was buried in the Parker cemetery, Wilson County.

Mack McKinnley Parker died 20 May 1968 in Elm City, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 May 1899 to Silis Parker and Mahalia Parker; was a farmer; and was married to Minnie Parker. He was buried in the Parker cemetery in Wilson County.

Mary Bell Battle died 4 August 1971 in Hampton, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was the widow of William Battle; and was the daughter of Galas Parker and Mahalia (last name unknown). Informant was Willie Lee Battle, Rocky Mount, N.C.

John Parker died 22 January 1975 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 November 1892 to Silas Parker; was married to India Parker; and was retired. Walter Parker of Rocky Mount was informant.

Estate records of Jerry Dunn (1889 and 1890) and Silas Parker (1914), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

To have and to hold the said land, no. 2.

Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-Americans in Wilson County during the first fifty years of freedom:

  • On 25 February 1878, A.W. Jones paid K.M. Jones, executor of the estate of Milly Jones, $300 for a half-acre parcel in the town of Wilson on Nash Street east of the railroad adjoining the lots of William Smith and Garry Edmundson. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 14, page 174, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Milly Jones was the mother of A. Wilson Jones and Kernel Morris Jones.

On , Morris Jones married Amanda Gillespie in Wilson.  In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: baker Morris Jones, ; wife Amanda; son Franklin,; and boarder Rosa Galespie, 16. In the 1905 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: In the 1910 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey:

In the 1880 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Wilson Jones, 22, shoemaker.

  • On 1 February 1880, Jordan Taylor paid John T. and Elizabeth Barnes $115 for a quarter-acre lot in Wilson township near the town of Wilson adjoining Peggy Farmer, John T. Barnes and others. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 18, page 467, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

There were at least two adult African American men named Jordan Taylor in Wilson in this period.

  • On 28 December 1881, Walter Kersey paid C.C. and Sallie Peacock $40 for a 100′ by 135′ lot on Stantonsburg Road near the town of Wilson adjoining John A. Clark and “Henry Ward (col).” The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 18, page 65, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Walter Kersey later migrated to Indiana.

  • On 27 January 1882, Noel Jones paid J.F. Eatman $228 for 45 acres in Old Fields township on the canal in “the Mill Stone Swamp.” The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 18, page 258, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: laborer Noel Jones, 34; wife Sarah, 32; and children Josiah, 13, Charity, 12, Edith J., 10, Noel J., 6, and Asberry, 6.

Per William Powell and Michael Hill’s North Carolina Gazetteer, 2nd ed., “Millstone Creek rises in nw Wilson County and flows e approx. 5 mi. to join Juniper Creek in forming Bloomery Swamp. Named prior to 1783 for the fact that millstones were made from a type of stone found there.”

 

To have and hold the said land, no. 1.

Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-Americans in Wilson County during the first fifty years of freedom:

  • On 4 February 1867, Jacob Jones paid Thomas and Rhodey Williamson $100 for 36 acres of land on the west side of Sheperds Branch adjoining the lands of Stephen Boykin and R.H. Baker. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 3, page 363, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Jacob Jones was freeborn. In the 1860 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Jacob Jones, 31, day laborer, with wife Milly, 31, and children Louisa, 11, Charity, 10, John, 6, Stephen, 4, and Joana, 2. Jacob reported $40 in personal property.

Shepard Branch is a tributary of Contentnea Creek. It branches off the creek just below N.C. Highway 42, then runs northerly between Lamm Road and Interstate 795 and behind James B. Hunt High School.

  • On 15 September 1867, Lemon Taborn paid K.H. and Martha Winstead $600 for a half-acre parcel on Tarboro Street. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 2, page 413, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Lemon Taborn, also freeborn, operated a barber shop in Wilson as early as the 1850s.

  • On 10 April 1869, Jacob Jones paid Thomas and Rhodey Williamson $17 for 3 1/4 acres on Poplar Spring Branch. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 3, page 364, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Poplar Spring Branch, like Shepard, runs in Old Fields township.

  • On 12 November 1869, Hilliard Ellis and Warren Rountree paid R.J. Taylor and wife $1225 for 245 acres on Little Swamp adjacent to Stephen Lipscomb. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 3, page 467, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Hilliard Ellis and Warren Rountree were brothers. I do not know the source of their wealth so soon after emancipation.

Little Swamp is also in Old Fields township. It branches off Contentnea Creek just east of present-day Saint Rose Church Road, then runs west, then north between Radio Tower Road and Flowers Road.

  • On 21 March 1870, “Henry Forbes col.” purchased 1 acre from Virginia C. Edwards near Clarisa Barnes and others. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 2 (part 3), page 133, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Henry Forbes, 48, domestic servant; wife Louisa, 43; and children Charles, 15, farm laborer, and Georgiana, 9; plus John Forbes, 21, selling tobacco, and Patsey Forbes, 70.

 

Deeds of trust, no. 1.

A deed of trust is essentially an agreement between a lender and a borrower to give legal title to a property to a neutral third party who will serve as a trustee. The trustee holds the property until the borrower pays off the debt owed to the lender. During the period of repayment, the borrower keeps the actual or equitable title to the property and generally maintains full responsibility for the premises. The trustee, however, holds the legal title to the property and is empowered to sell the property to satisfy the debt if the borrower defaults.  (In that event, once the sale is complete, the trustee will distribute the proceeds between the borrower and the lender. The lender gets whatever funds are required to satisfy the debt, and the borrower receives anything in excess of that amount.)

Here are details of several deeds of trust filed in Wilson County:

  • Levi H. Peacock and his wife Hannah H. Peacock borrowed $65.88 at 6% interest from Kathleen Smith Grady to purchase a 53′ by 210′ lot with buildings on Ash Street adjacent to lots owned by O.L.W. Smith and others. The loan was due 1 January 1929. On 24 September 1928, trustee R.A. Grady filed a deed of trust that was recorded at Book 181, page 302. It carries a stamp noting thet the loan was paid in full and the deed cancelled on the due date.
  • Laura Reid and her husband H.S. Reid, Minnie Reid Creech and her husband M.C. Creech, Levi J. Reid, Hugh C. Reid, J. Harvey Reid and Walter Reid borrowed $1000 at 6% interest from A.O. Dickens to purchase 46 acres on New Raleigh Road and Contentnea Creek. Laura Reid had purchased the acreage, identified as Lot #5 of the plat at Plat Book 1, Page 24, from F.J. and Mattie Finch. Trustee Bryce Little filed a deed of trust that was recorded at Book 181, page 470. There is no indication that the loan was satisfied.

Plat Book 1, Page 24, “Division of J.D. Farrior Raleigh Road Farm Three Miles West of Wilson, N.C.,” 5 December 1916.

Lot #5 of the above plat.

The location of Laura Wilder Reid’s land today, out N.C. Highway 42 West, just past Forest Hills Road and just before Greenfield School.

  • W.M. King, J.H Neil and G.J. Branch, the trustees of “Mount Zion Holiness Church (colored)” borrowed $75 at 6% interest from J.T. Dew & Brothers to purchase a lot on the south side of Lodge Street on which a church building stood. The loan was due 14 April 1929. On 14 April 1928, trustee R.A. Grady filed a deed of trust that was recorded at Book 181, page 26. There is no indication that the loan was satisfied.
  • John Whitehead, Mat Turner and Alonzo Walker, the trustees of “Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church (colored)” borrowed $400 at 6% interest from R.A. Grady. (“Witnesseth: That whereas at a special meeting of the membership of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church (colored) held on the 4th day of January 1929 … it was made to appear that in order to complete the church building now in the course of erection” and to pay the purchase price of the lot, they needed to borrow money. … F.F. Battle, Moderator, Mary Jones, Clerk.) The lot and church building were on Atlantic Street. The loan was due 10 January 1930. On 16 January 1929, trustee R.A. Grady filed a deed of trust that was recorded at Book 181, page 543. There is no indication that the loan was satisfied.

Totals.

This table reveals the stark disparities in wealth between whites and blacks in early twentieth century Wilson County.

The columns, representing tax categories and values, are Number of Polls; Number Acres Land; Value Land and Timber; Number Town Lots; Total Value Real Estate; Total Value Personal Property; Aggregate Value Real and Personal.

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[I am intrigued by the differences in land ownership among African-Americans in different townships. Some surely is attributable merely to population, but I wonder about additional causes of inequality. Why so few taxable individuals or landowners in Stantonsburg township? Why were African-Americans in Spring Hill township so much more prosperous? I have some theories, but I want to explore more. — LYH]

Report of the North Carolina Corporation Commission as a Board of State Tax Commissioners (1907).

Saratoga’s Knights of Labor buy land.

The Wilson Lodge of the Knights of Labor was not the only African-American lodge operating in the county. In 1888, the Saratoga branch purchased a lot in the Town of Saratoga, presumably upon which to build a small hall. Here is the deed transcribed from Book 26, pages 378-379:

This deed made the 31st day of March 1888 by and between W.B. Young party of the first part and Essic Horn Blount Bess Benjamin Ruffin and Robert Hines trustees for the Lodge of the Knights of Labor (col) No 8221 of Saratoga Wilson County North Carolina the parties of the second part Witnesseth That for and in consideration of the sum of Eighty five (85) Dollars in hand paid by the parties of the second part the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged the party of the first part has bargained and sold and by these presents does give grant bargain sell and convey unto the parties of the second part all that lot or parcel of land lying in the Town of Saratoga Wilson County State aforesaid and fully described in a deed made by John Robbins and wife to said W.B. Young and recorded in Book No 23 and page 336 in the office of Register of Deeds of Wilson County to which deed reference is made for description of said land To have and to hold together with all rights priviledges and appurtenances thereunto belonging, to the parties of the second part and their successors in office and assigns in fee simple forever. And the said W.B. Young does covenant to and with the parties of the second part & their successors in office and assigns that he has a right to convey the above described land that the same is free from encumbrance, and that he will forever warrant and defend the title to the same against the lawful claims of all persons whomsoever. In testimony whereof, I the said W.B. Young have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year first above written   /s/ W.B. Young  Witness J.D. Barden

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  • Essie Horn — in the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Essic [Essex] Horn, 50, and children Abraham, 20, Diana, 18, Henry, 17, Aggie, 15, Sam, 13, Herbert, 8, and Walter, 3.
  • Blount Bess — in the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Blount Best, 53; wife Sarah, 44; and children Joe H., 27, John I., 20, Minnie, 18, Blount, 16, Ida, 14, Annie, 13, Mariah, 10, Ella, 8, Albert, 4, Sack, 2, and Joshua, 1.
  • Benjamin Ruffin — in the in the 1880 census of Gardners township, WIlson County: farm laborer Benn Ruffin, 56; wide Salie, 45; and children Margret, 16, July A., 13, Charley, 10, Mary, 8, Louvenna, 6, William, 4, and Sallie, 1.
  • Robert Hines — in the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: laborer Robert Hines, 21, and wife Elizabeth, 18.