Lane Street Project: spring has come.

I confess to some shock. Spring is relentless in eastern North Carolina; April is the scene of boundless vegetal fecundity. The green took my breath away.

Odd Fellows is fighting back.

The boundary between Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

The winter’s hard work is not undone, however. Though new sprigs of wisteria sprout from the stubs of vines, young trees have been thinned out, and the forbidding leading edge of solid woodland has retreated a few dozen yards. We are likely to halt organized clean-ups during the summer in order to avoid some of the hazards of wild woods and to focus on several related projects. Thus, your help in the next few weeks is even more critical to maintaining the progress we have made. Please join us April 24!

Henry Tart’s headstone, which was nearly invisible from just a few feet away just months ago, is now readily seen from the woodline.

If you or your group were not able to join the Lane Street Project this past winter, I hope you will make plans to do so in 2021-22. Many hands make light work, and our ancestors need you.

Lane Street Project: Lewis Holloway Sr.

Louis Holloway.


In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: south of the Plank Road, Edward Holloway, 39, farm worker; wife Harriet, 44; and children Lewis, 20, Abigail, 11, James S., 6, and Milly, 3.

On 4 August 1880, Lewis Holliday [sic] and Leah Farmer were issued a license to marry in Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Lewis Halaway, 40; wife Lear, 39; and children Jeff, 14, Edwin, 12, Elic, 10, Harry, 5, Anie, 8, Lewis, 4, and Willie, 7 months.

Jeff Holloway, 21, of Wilson, son of Louis and L. Holloway, married Hardena Best, 21, of Wilson County, daughter of Owen [Orren] and Hansey Best, on 22 August 1906 at the bride’s residence. Charlie B. Gay applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of Sarah Best, William Simms, Shepherd Sharp, and Martha Scarborough.

The 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory listed Alexander and Benjamin Holloway, both laborers, and Lewis Holloway, driver, all at Nash near Bynum [in other words, Grabneck.]

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: hardware store laborer Louis Holoway, 47; wife Leah, 43, laundress; children Ellic, 19, Harry, 14, and Louis Jr., 12, grocery store laborers, and Wilber, 11; and lodger Aaron Campbell, 19, wagon factory laborer.

Henry Rountree, 20, of Wilson, married Annie Holloway, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Louis and Lear Holloway, on 30 March 1910. Noah Best applied for the license, and Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Jeff Holloway, Lewis Holloway and James A. Whitley.

Though it’s not entirely clear, it appears Louis Holloway died between 1910 and 1916. His death certificate has not been found.

The 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory listed Alexander Holloway, well digger; Annie Holloway, laundress; Harry Holloway, butler; Jeff Holloway, porter; Leah Holloway, laundress; Lewis Holloway, cook; and Wilbur Holloway, helper at P.D. Gold Publishing Company, all living at West Nash Street extended. [Lewis here is likely Louis Holloway Jr.]

The 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory listed Annie, Harriet and Lelia Holloway, all domestics, and Louis and Wilbur Holloway, both laborers, at W Nash near Young. 

Leah Holloway, 62, of Wilson, daughter of Harry and Rosa Farmer, married Jeremiah Scarboro, 63, of Wilson, son on Robert and Flora Scarboro, in Wilson on 31 March 1922. Missionary Baptist minister Charles T. Jones performed the ceremony in the presence of W.S. Barnes, Columbus Stuart, and Annie Rountree.

Alexander Holiway died 26 April 1929 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 38 years old; was married; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Lewis Holiway and Leah Farmer; and worked as a day laborer. Jeff D. Holiway was informant.

On 30 September 1933, Jeff Holloway, 47, of Wilson, son of Louis and Leah Holloway, both deceased, married Ella May Taylor, 24, of Wilson, daughter of Heywood and Wealthy Taylor. A.M.E. Zion minister John A. Barnes performed the ceremony in the presence of Oliver Best, Bethana Lassiter and Alberta McKethan.

Jefferson Davis Holloway died 7 November 1952 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 November 1885 in Wilson County to Louis Holloway and Leah Farmer; was a minister; was married to Ella Holloway; and lived at 323 Griffin Hill.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, January 2021.

Snaps, no. 82: Artis cousins.

Beulah Artis Exum Best (1909-1972), Helen Carter Greenfield (1916-1994), Margaret Artis Thompson (1910-1981), circa late 1930s.

Beulah and Margaret Artis were daughters of William M. and Etta Diggs Artis, and Helen was the granddaughter of their father’s sister Louvicey Artis Aldridge. Though William M. Artis and family lived primarily just south of Eureka in Wayne County, he owned property a few miles away in Stantonsburg, Wilson County.

Beulah Artis and her first husband, Leslie “Jake” Exum, lived in Wilson from the time they were married in December 1929 until he was killed in July 1934.

Helen Carter Greenfield‘s paternal great-uncle, Jesse A. Jacobs, lived in Wilson, and she and her family lived briefly on Green and Vance Streets in the early 1920s.

Copy of original photo in the collection of the late Helen C. Greenfield.

603 East Green Street, revisited.

The Washington Wilkins house at 603 East Green Street, built circa 1930, was burned beyond repair last night.

The destruction of this historic house is tragic, but secondary to the well-being of the last family to live in it. Wishing them well as they recover from their loss.

[Update, 4/15/2021: since this posting, the Wilson Times published an article detailing the local fire department’s efforts to battle this fire and the resiliency of Hunette Francois, the Haitian immigrant who lived in the Wilkins house for six years and lost everything in the blaze.]

Thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for sharing this image.

Snaps, no. 80: Two boys and a dog.

Lucian J. Henderson, in aviator helmet and goggles, stands with a dog between two unidentified houses in East Wilson. The boy at left in striped socks, also unidentified, is standing in the remnants of a light snow. The photo dates to the mid-1930s.

Photo in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

Darden High School class of 1949’s 30th reunion.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 June 1979.

Darden High School’s Class of 1949 celebrated its thirtieth class reunion in 1979 at American Legion Post 17’s hall in East Wilson. Twenty-seven out of about 63 class members attended.

The Class of ’49 was Darden’s second to produce a yearbook, and here are the senior pages:

Henry Arrington Jr., Daisy Lee Artis, George Thomas Barnes, Mary Bernice Barnes, Katie Chestnut Barnes, Ruby Mae Blue, Samuel Wesley Bowens, George Thomas Brodie, Henry Tabron Brodie.

Jacobia Lorenzo Bulluck, Elnora Blanche Cooper, William H. Darden, Lorena Davis, William Lima Dew, Minnie Doris Ellis, Marie Everette, Levolyre C. Farmer, Mae Lillie Ford.

Charles Ervin Howell, Fredrick D. Jenkins, Robert Allen Jenkins, Elroy Jones, Joseph Jones Jr., Phoebe Arletha Jones, Flora Narcissus Little, Georgia Moore, Sarah Ruth Moore.

Daniel Edward Freeman, Joseph Thomas Freeman, Annie Mae Goodman, Gladys Lyvonne Goodman, Lucille Gorham, Helen Delzel Green, Agnes Angeline Harris, Joseph Holiday, Jasper Hoskins.

Addie Lucille Murphy, Louise Parker, Rosa Lee Payne, Eula Mae Reid, Margaret Reid, Bernice Roberson, Daisy Mae Robinson, Charlie Allen Roberts, Ivory Robinson.

Marjorie A. Robinson, Rosa Mae Roundtree, Fannie D. Rountree, Josh B. Rountree, Moses Rountree Jr., Christine Ruffin, William B. Short, James Arthur Simms, Mildred Simms.

Vera Elizabeth Smith, Rosa B. Sutton, Amos Tabron, Helen Robinson, Doris D. Williams, Robert Earl Williams, Annie Ruth Woodard, Fred Augustus Woods Jr., Earl Leonard Zachary.

At least two ’49 classmates — Agnes Harris Locus and Levolyre Farmer Pitt — will soon celebrate their 72nd class anniversary. Do you know of others?

[Update, 4/11/2021: John Stembridge reports that Mildred Simms, too, is looking forward to the 72nd anniversary of her graduation from Darden High School!]

Lane Street Project: Aaron Washington?

This broken concrete headstone is lying atop the square marble base of a grave marker that has gone completely missing. The legible part of the broken stone reads: DIED APR 2 192 and MAY THE RESURRECTION FIND THEE ON THE BOSOM OF THY GOD.

A search of Wilson County death certificates filed in the 1920s reveals this possible identification of the deceased. Aaron Washington died 2 April 1923 in Wilson. (The bottom curve of the last digit in the year, above, is consistent with a 3.) Per his death certificate, he was born 21 February 1866 in Freemont [Fremont, Wayne County], N.C., to Gray Washington and Julie Sharp; was married to Stella Washington; worked as a drayman; and lived on Waynewright [Wainwright] Street.

Aaron Washington’s mother Julia Sharpe Washington and son Alexander Washington died in 1913 and 1918, respectively. If the marker above is in fact Aaron’s, it is likely that his family members were buried near him.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, January 2021.

The 103rd anniversary of the school boycott.

Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the resignation of 11 African-American teachers in Wilson, North Carolina, in rebuke of their “high-handed” black principal and the white school superintendent who slapped one of them. In their wake, black parents pulled their children out of the public school en masse and established a private alternative in a building owned by a prominent black businessman.  Financed with 25¢-a-week tuition payments and elaborate student musical performances, the Independent School operated for nearly ten years. The school boycott, sparked by African-American women standing at the very intersection of perceived powerless in the Jim Crow South, was an astonishing act of prolonged resistance that unified Wilson’s black toilers and strivers.

The teachers.

The school boycott is largely forgotten in Wilson, and its heroes go unsung. In their honor, today, and every April 9, I publish links to these Black Wide-Awake posts chronicling the walk-out and its aftermath. Please read and share and speak the names of Mary C. Euell and the revolutionary teachers of the Colored Graded School.















Lane Street Project: Bessie Yancey McGowan.

Bessie Wife of John McGowan Born 1888 Jan 7 1925 Gone But Not Forgotten

At right, the headstone of Bessie Yancey McCowan looms amid a haphazard pile of more than a dozen grave markers  in Odd Fellows Cemetery. 


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: ditcher Benjamin Yancy, 50; wife Angeline, 39, washing; daughters Lizzie, 19, Bessie, 18, and Gertrude, 16, all cooking; and son Willie, 16, at school.

John McCowan, 21, of Wilson, son of Sam and Anne McCowan, married Bessie Yancey, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Ben and Angline Yancey, on 5 August 1903 at William McCowan‘s residence. Levi Jones applied for the license, and Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Alonzo Taylor, [illegible] Williams, and Fannie Jones

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: brickmason John McCowan, 27; wife Bessie, 26, laundress; daughter Annie, 5; and father Sandy, 91, widower.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Nash Street, brickmason John McGowan, 40; wife Bessie, 35; and daughter Beatriss, 13.

Bessie McCowan died 31 December 1924 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born April 1884 in Goldsboro, N.C., to Benjamin Yancey and Angaline Houston; was married to John McCowan; and lived at 1203 East Nash Street, Wilson. John McCowan was informant.