Photographs

Studio shots, no. 124: Robert Barron Sr.

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Robert Barron Sr. (1914-1993).

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In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Smithfield Road, Gray Barron, 49, farmer; wife Tempie, 44; and children Laura, 20, Dora, 17, Sarah, 15, Bessie, 13, Aggie, 10, Minnie, 8, and Robert, 6.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Barron, 63; wife Tempy, 58; children Dora, 26, Larro, 28, Minnie, 15, and Robert, 16; and grandchildren Ernest, 9, J.C., 8, Lucile, 5, and Areline, 2.

In 1940, Robert Barron registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 1 May 1914 in Wilson County; lived at Route 1, Elm City; his contact was sister Minnie Bynum; and he worked for James Whitehead, Route 1, Elm City.

In the 1951 Plainfield, New Jersey, city directory: Barron Robert (Naomi) fctywkr h538 W 3rd

Robert Barron Sr. died 31 August 1983 in Irvington, Essex County, New Jersey.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user rogerbarron52.

The Benjamin and Tinner Howard Ellis family.

Benjamin Ellis, Mollie Brantley Howard Brown and Tinner Howard Ellis. Mollie Brown’s first husband, Kenyon Howard, son of Deal and Nancy Blackwell Howard, was Tinner Ellis’ uncle.

“As far back as my husband, Benjamin Ellis, and I can trace our family, it leads us to Wilson County. My great-grandfather Nelson Eatman was born issue-free about the year 1800. Fortunately, from that point on there was no slavery on my side of the family. He had a daughter named Roady who married Deal Howard. From that marriage was born a son, also named Deal Howard who married my mother, Nancy Blackwell. My grandmother on my mother’s side was named Nancy Blackwell. During the early part of the 19th century there were still many Indians in and around the eastern North Carolina region. One tribe known as the Cherokees still have a reservation in western North Carolina. It is through that tribe that I trace my mother’s heritage.

“My husband’s grandfather Hillard Ellis was born here in 1825, on the Roundtree Plantation. His mother and father were Africans who had been brought to America and sold in the slave market to the Roundtree family. Hillard Ellis had a brother named Warren Roundtree who took the slave name, and as a result, many Ellis’ and Roundtree’s are related. Hillard Ellis married Fairiby Roundtree who was also a slave on the Roundtree farm. To that union were born fourteen children — one of which was my husband’s father named Hillard who was born in 1865. Around the turn of the century and for many years thereafter he was one of only two blacksmiths in the Town of Wilson. Hillard married Cora Williams. Cora’s parents were Nellie Locust and Austin Williams. Austin was a slave on the McWilliams farm and Nellie was issue-free. My husband’s Uncle Warren’s son, Henry Ellis was the first black in Wilson County killed while serving his country in the first world war. His name is found in the Wilson County courthouse among those honored for serving their country.

“Both my husband and I are from very large families. I had four sisters and nine brothers and my husband had several brothers and one sister. We were raised as children in Wilson County and went to Howard elementary school. My husband also attended “graded” school in Wilson. We were married in 1921 and from our union were born seven children: Raleigh, Ezamae, Emma Lee, Tiner Mae, Mabel, Beulah and Benjamin. We have twenty-one grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We still maintain the Ellis cemetery on a piece of land formerly owned by Hillard Ellis, Sr. Also the Ellis Chapel Church off Route 58 was named after Hillard Ellis, Sr., who donated the land to the church around the turn of the century.”

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  • For more on the Hilliard Ellis family, see here and here.
  • For more on the Nelson Eatmon family, see here.
  • For more on the Zealous “Deal” Howard family, see here.
  • Re the Blackwells:

Asberry Blackwell married Nancy Taylor on 2 October 1845 in Nash County.

In the 1850 census of Nash County: Asberry Blackwell, 25 [listed alone.]

In the 1860 census of Kirby’s district, Wilson County: Asberry Blackwell, 45, turpentine laborer, Nancy, 30, farm laborer, Charity, 14, Drucilla, 9, Albert, 7, Appy, 7, Zilpha, 4, Obedience, 3, and Asberry, 2 months.

On 10 April 1882, Deal Howard, 21, married Nancy Blackwell, 24, in Taylors township, Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Deal Howard, 38; wife Nancy, 39; and children John, 16, Christian, 14, Oscar, 11, Ettie, 10, Albert, 7, Thomas, 5, Alvin, 3, Herman, 1, and Tiner, 0.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Horne’s Road, farmer Zelius Howard Jr., 49; wife Nancy, 49; and children Albert, 17, Thomas, 15, Alvin, 13, Herman, 11, Tina, 9, Florence, 7, and Ella, 5.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Deal Howard, 58; wife Nancy, 60; and Albert, 28, Herman, 22, Tiner, 19, and Florence, 17.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Albert Howard, 35, farmer; mother Nancy, 75; and James, 11, and Tommie Howard, 9.

Nancy Howard died 30 June 1931 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 61 years old; was born in Wilson County to Nancy Blackwell and a father unknown to the informant; was married to Deal Howard; lived at Route 2, Wilson; and worked as a laundress. Informant was Thomas Howard, 318 Finch Street, Wilson.

  • Re the Williamses:

Austin Williams, son of Ben and Merica Williams, married Cornelia Taylor, daughter of Isaac Taylor and Lena Locus, on 10 May 1868 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Austen Williams, 34, farm laborer; wife Cornelius, 24; and daughter Cora Lee, 1.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Austin Williams, 41, farmer; wife Nobly, 30; and children Cora L., 11, Charley A., 8, Benjamin and Isaac, 4, and Minnie, 8 months.

  • Re Warren Rountree:

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Warren Rountree, 40, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 32; and children Florence, 18, Rhebecca, 17, Mary, 11, Howell, 7, Sallie, 5, Lou, 2, and Warren Jr., 20.

Warren Rountree died in late fall 1871. In November of that year, R.J. Taylor was appointed administrator of his estate.

Text and photo courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).

310 North Reid Street.

The one hundred-nineteenth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “ca. 1930; 1 story; Thomas Foster house; bungalow with hip roof and engaged porch; Foster was janitor at Wilson post office.”

In the 1925, 1928 and 1930 Wilson city directories, Thomas and Olivia Foster are listed at 310 North Reid.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: owned and valued at $3000, Tom Foster, 45, post office janitor, and wife Oliva, 43.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: owned and valued at $3000, John T. Foster, 60, post office janitor; wife Olivia, 59; and her brother Claude Artist, 53, odd jobs.

In 1940, Du Bissette Best registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 January 1922 in Wilson; lived at 308 North Reid; his contact was Tom Foster, 310 North Reid; and he worked for W.G. Taylor, Taylor’s Barber Shop, 106 South Tarboro.

Tom Foster died 17 October 1956 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 April 1883 in Wayne County to John Thomas Foster and Louise Thompson; was married to Olivia Foster; worked as an elevator laborer; and resided at 310 North Reid.

Olivia Foster died 15 November 1956 at her home at 310 North Reid. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 October 1886 in Wayne County to Jesse Artis and Lucinda Hobbs; was a widow. Informant was Ada Rowe, 1006 Atlantic Street, Wilson.

Tom and Olivia Foster had mortgaged their home early in 1955 and, the spring after their deaths, the loan went into default. Trustee Wade A. Gardner posted this notice of sale in the local newspaper. Among the details: the Fosters had purchased the lot, part of the Rountree Tract, from Levi H. and Hannah Peacock in 1916.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 May 1957.

Around the same time, Tom Foster’s executor advertised a sale of the contents of the house, which offers an interesting glimpse at the typical furnishings of a working-class household in mid-century East Wilson.

Wilson Daily Times, 8 June 1957.

Claude Artis died 16 January 1960 at his home at 310 North Reid Street. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 January 1890 in Wayne County to Jesse Artis and Lucinda Hobbs; was never married; and worked as a laborer. Ada Rowe, 310 North Reid, was informant. (Claude Artis was Olivia Artis Foster’s brother. Did he buy the house, or did he pay rent to whomever purchased it?)

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019.

Where we worked: tobacco barn.

Over the last couple of decades, the once ubiquitous tobacco barn has largely disappeared from the rural Wilson County landscape. I was surprised to find this one, then, completely enclosed in a grove of trees near a Springhill township cemetery, but otherwise in remarkably good condition.

After tying freshly picked tobacco leaves to wooden sticks with twine, workers hung the sticks from racks inside the barn to be dried, or “cured,” in the heat delivered via flue from an external fire box. The grueling work of barning season ended around this time of year.

I invite anyone knowledgeable to estimate the age of this barn. Thank you!

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019.

Studio shots, no. 122: Hilliard Ellis Sr.

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Hilliard Ellis Sr. (1827-1900).

For posts on Hilliard Ellis, see here and here and here and here and elsewhere.

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In 1866, Hilliard Ellis and Farrebee Ellis registered their 16-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Taylor, 43; wife Feribee, 40; and children Caroline, 16, William, 14, George, 11, Emily, 9, Hilliard, 6, Mary H., 4, and Warren, 8 months.

In 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Hilliard Ellis, 53; wife Fereby, 50; and children Hilliard Jr., 17; Mary A., 13; Warren, 12; Phillis, 10; and Milby, 6.

In late 1895, a newspaper editorial offered testimony from Hilliard Ellis Sr. as evidence that Henry P. Cheatham did not enjoy widespread support among voters in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District:

The North Carolinian (Raleigh, N.C.), 28 December 2019.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Hilliard Ellis, 73; wife Pharbey, 72; daughter Millie, 22; and grandchildren Walter, 8, Lizza, 10, Treasy, 7, and Arthur, 3,

Hilliard Ellis died 22 June 1900.

Hillard Ellis [Jr.] died 20 March 1924 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 September 1865 in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Fabriby Rountree; was a farmer working for Furney High; and was married to Cora Ellis.

Louise Rowe died 7 May 1924 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was about 62 years old; was born in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Feriba Roundtree; worked as a domestic for Charley Mercer; and was the widow of Samuel Rowe. Lula Toney was informant.

Adline Mitchell died 15 August 1936 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was 84 years old; was born in Wilson County to Hillard Ellis and Farby Roundtree; and was the widow of Gray Mitchell. Farby Kates was informant.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user tishbaldez.

Walter Dortch Hines, U. of Michigan A.B. ’30, M.D. ’33.

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Walter D. Hines, son of Walter S. and Sarah Dortch Hines, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1930 and a medical degree from the same in institution in 1933. Above, his senior portrait as it appears in the university’s 1930 yearbook. Below, the 1933 yearbook.

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In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 30; wife Sarah, 29; children Elizabeth, 2, and Walter D., 8 months; and boarder Inez Moore, 31, a school teacher.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 40, wife Sara, 37, Elizabeth, 11, Walter Jr., 10, and Carl, 5.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 50, wife Sarah, 48, and children Elizabeth, 21, Walter, 20, Carl W., 16, and Clifton R., 7.

In the 1931 edition of Polk’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, Directory: Hines Walter D student 1003 E Huron

In the 1933 edition of Polk’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, Directory: Hines Walter D student 1005 Catherine

On 2 January 1938, the Pittsburgh Courier carried this announcement of the marriage between Walter D. Hines and Cadence Lee Baker, formerly of Chicago, and her ascension into the haute mode of Detroit’s black elite:

The Hineses had been married for some time, however, as they appear in the 1936 Durham, N.C., city directory; Walter working as a physician and Cadence as a stenographer for North Carolina Mutual.

In 1940, Walter Dortsch Hines registered for the World War II draft in Detroit, Michigan. Per his registration card, he was born 17 July 1909 in Wilson, North Carolina; he resided at 7068 Michigan [Avenue], Detroit; he was a self-employed physician at the above address; his next-of-kin was mother Sarah Elizabeth Hines, 617 East Greene, Wilson; he was 5’10’, 154 lbs., with blue eyes and brown hair; he had a dark complexion; and he had a scar on the dorsal aspect of his left hand.

On 27 April 1946, the Pittsburgh Courier printed a photo (so dark as to be useless) of the Detroit Hineses visit to Los Angeles, where Elizabeth Hines Eason and her husband Newell lived. Sarah Dortch Hines crossed the country from Wilson to join her children. Within two years, Walter and Cadence Hines had relocated to California.

Per the 1960 California Board of Medical Examiners Directory, Hines was licensed to practice in California in 1948 and maintained an office at 4830 Avalon Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Dr. Walter D. Hines died 6 February 1996 in Los Angeles.

Rountree cemetery, revisited.

We visited the remains of Rountree cemetery here and here. In the photo below, the arrow indicates the grove that surrounds the memorial plinth and obelisk erected by the city in 1995. The grassy area? THE CEMETERY. Denuded of forty years of overgrowth and seventy years of grave markers, filled, leveled and sown. There were no disinterments or removals. The graves are still there (and probably in the woods beyond, too).

In 1989-90, Wilson City Council wrestled with the question of its responsibility to Rountree after discovering that the city owned the property. In a 10 January 1990 Daily Times article, “Cemetery income down, costs up,” Cemetery Commission Chairman Earl Bradbury “described the small 100-foot by 140-foot cemetery as a jungle.” Jungle it may have been, but it was a lot bigger than the quarter-acre he imagined.

Lane Street was a dirt road well into the 1970s. When I was a child, we sometimes rode our bikes over to peer into the woods at Rountree’s gravestones, tilting and toppled in the leaf litters. I distinctly remember the long edge of a vault cover exposed in the weeds at the edge of the road, near the Y below. Right now, at X, a few markers remain visible inside the tree line.

The last burials at Rountree took place in the early 1960s. By 1967, there was a problem. With abundant heat and humidity, an abandoned Southern landscape is fecund ground, and “growing like a weed” is not a simile. Kudzu had not yet arrived in eastern North Carolina, but catbrier and poison ivy and broomsedge, followed quickly by sumacs, sweetgums and pines, make quick work of an untended lot. Worse, there was unchecked dumping.

 Wilson Daily Times, 10 June 1967.

The following spring, just as the weeds were flexing to spring to new heights, this appeal to the public appeared in the Times. “Come on out and do your part,” it implored. (“Persons interested”? There was probably not a black person in Wilson at the time, me included, that didn’t have someone buried at Rountree.)

Wilson Daily Times, 3 March 1968.

Less than ten years later, my friends and I were telling ghost stories as we cycled past woods dotted with lichen-flecked headstones. A dozen or so years after that, the Daily Times‘ 18 February 1989 article about Ben Mincey Jr.‘s efforts to honor his parents’ graves kickstarted the city’s reckoning with the travesty of Rountree. These photographs accompanied the piece.

So, having cleared the cemetery and raised a memorial, where are the headstones the city removed?

Top photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019; aerial photo courtesy of Google Map.

505 South Pender Street.

The one-hundred-eighteenth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

The nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District does not list 505 South Pender. However, this description of 501, which does not actually exist, seems to describe the house above instead: “ca. 1922; 1 story; shotgun with shed-roofed porch, gable returns.”

In the 1928 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Leak Clara (c) dom h 505 Stantonsburg

In the 1930 Wilson, N.C., city directory: McNeil Mary (c) dom h 505 Stantonsburg

The 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes Pearl (c; 2) lndrs h505 Stantonsburg

In the 1947 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes Pearl N (c; wid Zach) lndry wrkr Caro Lndry & Clnrs h 505 Stantonsburg

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The stretch of Pender Street above Suggs Street today, per Google Map. 505 is the silver-roofed shotgun at the corner Pender and Hines.

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Here, the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C. Below Nash Street, Pender Street was then called Stantonsburg Street. When Hines Street was extended east in the 1960s, it largely followed the former path of Wiggins Street. It appears that 501 and 503 were cleared out to make way for the much wider Hines.