I missed the cues, and at first could find no record of an African-American Russell Owings living in Wilson. But that was because Owings was not Black. He was instead a “faithful and courageous friend of [their] interest.” Owings, freshly graduated from Atlantic Christian [now Barton] College, was a white man who — much in the spirit of Rev. R.A.G. Foster’s outreach — crossed the color line to teach voice lessons and direct a choral group at Saint John A.M.E. Zion. He died in a car accident in late October 1938.
Wiley Williams‘ wife Carrie died of post-influenza pneumonia when the flu pandemic swept through Wilson County in late 1918. Perhaps overwhelmed by grief, Williams took his own life seven months later. Nicodemus Patterson, from whom Williams had rented farmland, stepped in to arrange the sale of Williams’ belongings for the benefit of his three teenaged children.
On 8 March 1899, Wiley Williams, 21, of Wilson County, son of Harriett Williams, married Carrie Sessoms, 22, of Wilson County, daughter of Claude Sessoms, in Gardners township, Wilson County.
In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Wiley Williams, 30; wife Carrie, 40; and children Arthur, 10, Ivor M., 7, and Lizzie, 4.
Wiley Williams registered for the World War I draft in 1918. Per his draft registration card, he was born 28 October 1878; lived at R.F.D. 4, Elm City; was a tenant farmer for Nick Patterson; and his nearest relative was wife Carrie Williams. He signed his name with an X.
Carrie Williams died 3 November 1918 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her birth certificate, she was about 47 years old; was born to Claude and Betsy Sessoms; was married to Wiley Williams and was a farm laborer for N.D. Patterson. G.W. Williams was informant.
Wiley Williams died 11 June 1919 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 41 years old; was a widower; was born in Wilson County to Duck Barnes and Harritt Williams; and was a tenant farmer. G.W. Williams was informant.
On 16 June 1919, N.D. Patterson filed for letters of administration in Wiley Williams’ estate, identifying his heirs as Arthur V., Lizzie, and Ivah Williams, all minors, and valuing his estate at about $500.
Arthur Williams died 28 January 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 February 1900 in North Carolina to Wylie Williams and Carrie Session; was married to Della Williams; and worked as a laborer. Daughter Clementine Wormsley was informant.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: express wagon driver John Farmer, 48; wife Edmonia, 41, a laundress; and children George, 23, factory laborer; Paul, 19, hotel servant; Annie, 18; Mary, 16; Fannie, 14; Arthur, 8; Melton [Nelson], 6; and William, 4.
On 10 January 1924, Nelson Farmer, 21, of Wilson, of John W. and Edmonia Farmer, married Nancy Williams, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Dorsey and Ida Williams. Presbyterian minister A.H. George performed the ceremony in the presence of John Brooks, Samuel Bridges, and Gladys O’Kelly.
Nelson Farmer died 16 April 1935 in Petersburg, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born in October 1904 in Wilson to John W. Farmer and Edmonia Barnes; was married to Nancy Farmer; lived at 706 East Green Street; and worked as a laborer. George Farmer, 1207 Carolina Street, was informant.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Harper Lane, farmer Charlie T. Jones, 52; wife Stella [sic], 49; and children William E., 23, farm laborer, Louise M., 20, and Sadie [sic], 14.
Sudye Jones died 4 February 1937 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 21 years old; was single; was the daughter of Charles T. Jones and Gertrude Johnson; and was a student at Bennett College. She died of meningitis. Rev. Charles T. Jones, 402 North Vick Street, was informant.
When Doctor S. Farmer died without a will in 1928, the administrator of his estate published notices in the local paper seeking any persons with claims.
On 16 March 1880, D.S. Farmer, 22, married Elizabeth Locust, 22, in Wilson.
In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Doctor S. Farmer, 22, and wife Elizabeth, 20.
In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Doctor S. Farmer, 45; wife Elizabeth, 43; children Lowla, 16, William L., 13, Ella E., 12, Emma L., 9, Walter W., 5, and Geneva A., 2; and boarder Sarah Parker, 24.
On 13 May 1906, D.S. Farmer, 50, of Taylors township, son of Delphia Farmer, married Susie Johnson, 40, of Wilson, daughter of Nash Johnson [sic; Horton], in Taylors township, Wilson County.
In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Dock S (c) farmer h 410 N Pine
On 7 October 1908, D.S. Farmer, 46, of Wilson, applied for a license to marry Janie Lewis, 35, of Wilson.
In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Dock S. Farmer, 52; wife Janie, 26; children Ella, 20, Emma, 18, Walter, 14, and Geneva, 12; and hired woman Sarah Wells, 32.
In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Doc Farmer, 68; wife Janie, 30; son Walter, 25; and laborer Sarah Parker, 46.
In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Dock S (c) farmer h 1109 E Nash
Doctor Sims Farmer died 20 February 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 April 1857 in Wilson County to Hillard Farmer and Adelphia Farmer; was married to Channie Farmer; and was a self-employed barber.
Susan Horton died 18 January 1945 in Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1866 in Wake County to Nash Horton; was the widow of Dock Farmer; and lived at 417 South Goldsboro Street. She was buried in Boyett [Saint Delight Missionary Baptist Church] cemetery.
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Preston Barnes, 27; wife Rosetta, 20; and children Samson, 5, Aulander, 3, and Sallie, 5 months.
Samptson Barnes died 3 August 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 22 years old; was born in Wilson County to Preston Barnes and Rosetta Williams; and was engaged in farming. Drew Barnes was informant.
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg and Wilson Road, tenant farmer Willie Artis, 43; wife Francis, 43; children Alexander, 21, Harvie, 20, Willie Jr., 16, Nora E., 14, Marion, 11, Rosel, 9, Jessie, 8, Elcy, 5, and Johnie, 18; laborer Miles Warren, 40; and boarder Albert Thompson, 19.
In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg and Wilson Road, farmer Willie Artis, 53; wife Francis, 42; children Roselle, 19, Jesse, 18, and Elsie M., 15; lodger Myrs Warren, 50; and sister Beatrice Sauls, 19.
On 1 December 1934, Rozell Artis, 23, of Wilson County, son of Will and Frances Artis, married Rencie Bynum, 16, of Wilson County, daughter of William and Rosa Bynum, in Nashville, Nash County, North Carolina. Will Artis, William Bynum, and Frank Williams were witnesses.
Helen Jean Artis died 10 June 1939 in Wilson township [12 days after her father survived his lightning strike.] Per her death certificate, she was born 24 February 1939 in Wilson County to Rosell Artis and Rencie Bynum.
In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Old Wilson Road, farmer Roselle Artis, 27; wife Rencie, 20; son Milton, 4; mother Frances, 60, widow; nephews Marion Jr., 10, and Thomas S., 9; lodgers Jimmie D. Barnes, 21, and Miles Warren, 60.
Roselle Artis registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 5 April 1911 in Wilson County; lived at Route 3, Wilson; his nearest contact was his wife Rencie Bynum Artis; and he worked for W.J. Davis, Wilson.
Jimmie Dee Barnes registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 6 January 1918 in Wilson County; lived at Route 3, Wilson; and his nearest contact was his employer Roselle Artis, Route 3, Wilson.
The Daily Times reported the death of 15 year-old Alphonso Battle as tragic, but straightforward — he had accidentally shot himself in the chest while squirrel hunting.
Wilson Daily Times, 15 October 1937.
Bizarrely, though, Battle’s death certificate tells a completely different story, establishing his legal cause of death as “natural cause no sign of foul play.”
In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer John H. Battle, 49; wife Loutoria, 40; and children Johnie L., 21, Nettie, 19, Bessie L., 16, Mary L., 15, Roosevelt, 14, Armettie, 11, Alphnza, 8, Estelle, 7, Augustus, 4, and Harvey L., 2.