Slavery

William Barnes plantation.

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“[T]he William Barnes house was built in a style which was popular in Wilson County between 1848 and 1860. Barnes was the brother of General Joshua Barnes, one of the most influential men in the area and a founder of Wilson County. Barnes was born in 1811. Like his brother, he was a planter, and by the time of his death he had accumulated over 1,000 acres. …The exterior of the Barnes house has remained basically unaltered except for the constriction of a two-story portico with Doric columns which dates circa 1914. The William Barnes House is very similar stylistically to the house of his brother. General Joshua Barnes, which was built circa 1845. The exterior consists of a plain two-story box with a shallow hipped-roof and a three-bay facade. A wide trabeated entrance, surmounted by a smaller door on the second floor, is located in the central bay. The unusual six-panel door is similar to those found on the Daniel Whitley House (also in Stantonsburg Township). The interior plan is that of a wide center hall with two large rooms located on each side. Major alterations have been made on the interior. A large two-story packhorse and small gable-roof storage building, both contemporary with the house, exist on the grounds.” — Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981).

In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County, 48 year-old farmer William Barnes’ listing notes that he owned real property valued at $35,000 and personal property at $89,000. The latter, of course, largely consisted of enslaved men and women, whose crucial role on his plantation went unmentioned in the description above. The 1860 census credits him as the owner of 10 men or boys and 16 women or girls, ranging in age from 1 to 60.

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Aerial shot of the Barnes House and outbuildings at the intersection of Fairfield Dairy Road and Highway 58.

Photograph of Barnes house taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2015.

The house that Jack built.

STANTONSBURG — The house that Jack Sherrod built is a hidden history.

Built as a wood structure in 1886, the entire building has been encapsulated into brick and has had multiple additions over the years, but Leonard Paul Sherrod Jr., great-grandson of the builder, knows what’s underneath.

Sherrod and other family members are preparing for a grand reunion on Sept. 1-3 to be held at the Sherrod homestead.

“We are refurnishing, repairing, remodeling when necessary and getting it ready to be used as a venue for the upcoming September reunion,” said Sherrod, who was born in Wilson in 1933 and graduated from Charles H. Darden High School in 1952

A picnic and a banquet are planned at the event, which Sherrod has titled “Exploring Our Family History.”

“There is so much history,” Sherrod said. “Not only is it family history, it is African-American history, and in some small portion, American history.”

That history begins with Jack Sherrod and his wife, Cassie. Both had been slaves, yet 20 years afterward had managed to build a home on what is now Watery Branch Church Road south of Stantonsburg near the confluence of Wilson, Greene and Wayne counties.

“He had been a slave until the end of the war,” Sherrod said. “As a freed man, he acquired this land and built a home on it. He could not read, nor write, but he could build things. He had this God-given talent for building things. It is not written, but certainly said, that he built a lot of structures in this area. He was a builder. It took him two years to build this house.”

Last week, Sherrod stood in the graveyard behind Watery Branch Free Will Baptist Church. The graves of Jack and Cassie Sherrod are right there, with those of other deceased family members, about 200 yards away from and within sight of the homestead.

“To be able to stand there in your yard and see where your great-grandparents are buried, that raises a lot of emotions within me,” Sherrod said. The house that he built and I can see his grave from the front yard.”

Restoring the homestead is a passion for Sherrod.

“I think the Lord put this in my spirit to be a part of preserving this property because it has been in the family for so long and it is such a rich history that I could not stand by and let it go,” he said.

From “Hidden History: Family Celebrates Home of Patriarch, a Former Slave,” by Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Times, 16 July 2017.

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Jack Sherard, son of Denis Barnes and Tempy Davis, and Cassy Exum received a marriage license in Wayne County in 1868.

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jack Sherard, 26, wife Cassey, 25, and daughter Fanny, 4.

In the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherod, 37; wife Cassey, 28; and children Fanny, 12, William, 9, Ida, 7, Marcy, 2, John, 5, and Benny, 11 months.

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 56; wife Cassy; and children Ida, 27, Benjamin, 25, Dalas, 20, Exum, 16, Arthur, 15, and Cora, 11.

Ida Sherrod, 32, and Alonzo Wilson, 35, received a marriage license in Wayne County on 18 April 1906.

On 17 April 1907, Cora Sherrod, 18, of Wayne County, daughter of Jack Sherrod, married Columbus Ward, 26, of Greene County, son of Pearson and Cherry Ward. Oscar Hagans applied for the license, and Methodist minister Robert E. Hunt performed the ceremony in Stantonsburg, Wilson County, in the presence of Mrs. R.E. Hunt, B.J. Thompson, and Mrs. B.J. Thompson.

On 13 January 1909, Arthur D. Sherard, 22, son of Jack and Cassie Sherard, married Effie Diggs, 18, daughter of Margaret Diggs at Frances Diggs‘ house in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Jack Sherard applied for the license, and witnesses to the ceremony were W.M. Artis, Henry Pender and Richard Artis, all of Eureka, Nahunta township.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 66; wife Kassey, 55; and grandchildren Thomas, 8, and Zelma Sherard, 5.

Dallas Alonzo Sherrod, 28, son of Jack and Carrie Sherrod, married Mary Ann Taylor, 20, daughter of Nelson and Delia Taylor, on 21 December 1911 in Petersburg, Virginia.

Dallas A. Sherrod

Dallas A. Sherrod.

Jack Sherrod scrawled an X at the bottom of his last will and testament on 30 June 1914. By its terms, his wife Cassie was to receive a life estate in all his property and, after her death, daughters Cora Ward and Fannie Powell (wife of George Powell) would receive dollars each, with the remainder of his property equally divided among his children John Sherard, Exum Sherard, Willie Sherard, Ben Sherard, Arthur Sherard, Ida Wilson and Dallas Sherard.

Jack Sherrod died 18 May 1915 in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 August 1842 to Dennis Barnes and Tempie Barnes; was married; and worked as a farmer. Arthur Sherrod was informant.

Ida B. Wilson died 21 October 1918 in Nahunta, Wayne County, of influenza. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Alonza Wilson; was born about 1873 in Wayne County to Jack Sherrod and Cassie Exum. Informant was Ben Sherrod of Fremont, North Carolina.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Stantonsburg Road, Cassey Sherard, 69; and grandchildren Zelma, 15, Joseph, 12, and Ralph L., 12.

On 30 November 1926, Cora Sherrod, 35, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Jack and Cassie Sherrod, married Robert C. Powell, 58, of Stantonsburg, son of Lawson and Lanie Powell, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. A.M.E. Zion minister E.D. Lewis performed the ceremony in the presence of Albert A. Cooke of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Mattie Winstead of Stantonsburg.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Delaware Line (on street), Cassie Sherrod, 75, widow; granddaughters Zelma, 25, Doris, 7, and Jeraldine, 6; and daughter Cora Powell, 30, teacher. Sherrod owned the house, valued at $600.

Dallas Sherrod died 26 December 1934 in Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was 50 years old; was born in Stantonsburg, North Carolina, to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; was married to Mary Sherrod; and resided at 1111 Stainback Street. He was buried in East View cemetery.

Cassie Sherrod died 26 June 1940 at 624 East Green Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Jack Sherrod; was born in Wayne County to Lewis Hall and Cassie Kelley. Informant was Cora S. Powell, 612 East Green.

Cassie Sherod’s will entered probate on 1 July 1940. Dated 25 November 1932(?), per its terms sons Exum, Arthur, Dallas and Ben Sherod were to receive $1 each; wearing clothes to daughter Fannie Sherod Powell; $1 each to John Sherod’s children Bee and Joe; $1 each to John Sherod’s children Velma and Tom; and a house and lot in Stantonsburg, a piano and all other personal property to Raphael Ward.

Arthur Sherrod died 28 March 1955 in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 March 1886 in Wayne County to Jack Sherrod and Catherine Exum and was married to Effie Sherrod.

Cora Sherrod Barnes died 12 June 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 December 1888 to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; resided at 500 East Green Street; was a retired teacher. Informant was Ralph Sherrod, 327 West 30th Street, New York City.

Photograph of D. Sherrod courtesy of Ancestry user garey45sos1.

Send for your negro and get mine.

Mr. W.W. Batts

Please send for your negro and get mine and bring her to your house, if you please, and I will come to your house this Evening.

Jany the 1 1860       W.H. Edwards

[Second handwriting on face of letter]

Henry I will do what this calls for. I will bring her as far as my house.  W.W. Batts

[Handwritten on reverse]

Permit Lewis to carry this to W.H. Edwards.  W.W. Batts

 

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In 1977, late Wilson historian Hugh B. Johnston Jr. published an annotated collection of letters written to and from members of the Edwards family of Wilson County during the Civil War. William H. Edwards (1839-1864), son of Edwin and Zilpha Batts Edwards, lived in the Joyner’s Depot area just north of present-day Elm City. He was killed by cannonball during a battle near Petersburg, Virginia. His kinsman William W. Batts (1827-1869) also lived near Joyner’s Depot.

The meaning of the note is unclear, and the enslaved people to whom it refers — “your negro” and “mine” — are unknown. The message on the back conveys permission for Lewis, an enslaved man apparently belonging to Batts, to travel in Batts’ service. In other words, it is a “free pass.”

Pvt. Frank Worthington, alias Wellington.

Frank Worthington, alias Wellington, is the sole African-American veteran buried under a Civil War Memorial headstone in Wilson’s Maplewood cemetery. (For a fact, he is one of a very few African Americans buried in Maplewood, period.)

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Worthington, who ran away from a Pitt County slaveowner to join the Army, seems not to have actually lived in Wilson County. However, at least one of his children did. Charlie Wellington died 16 June 1958 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 September 1887 in Greene County to Frank Wellington and Fabie Atkinson; was married to Lovie Wellington; and was a farmer. He was buried in Red Hill cemetery, Wilson County.

Photograph courtesy of www.findagrave.com.

“Standing by your old ni**er, are you?”

b Woodard 1 31 1908

News & Observer (Raleigh), 31 January 1908.

This nasty bit of “news” is a sample of the gratuitous racism that permeated Josephus DanielsNews & Observer in the Jim Crow era. Daniels had grown up in and gotten his journalistic start in Wilson and undoubtedly knew all the involved parties well.

Benjamin Woodard, a notorious folk doctor in Wilson County, had been arrested on unclear charges (probably involving bootlegging liquor) and hauled into federal court in Raleigh. Several notable white Wilsonians showed up to serve as counsel and character witnesses, including brothers and law partners Frederick A. Woodard (a former United States Congressman) and Sidney A. Woodard (a state congressman). The Woodards were described as Ben Woodard’s former owners, though F.A. had been a child and S.A. an infant at war’s end. Ben’s owner, then, had been their father, Dr. Stephen Woodard of Black Creek, Wilson County. F.A. requested a nolle prosequi (“nol. pros.”), which is odd, as this is generally a motion made by a prosecutor who wishes to drop charges. The District Attorney here politely indicated his unwillingness to make such a request, but the judge cheerfully entered it anyway. Thus Dr. Ben benefitted from ties forged in slavery and earned an insulting article in the state’s newspaper of record.

The estate of Ann Williamson.

Documents in the 1822 estate files of Ann Williamson of Nash (now Wilson) County include several references to the sale or “hier” of enslaved people. Williamson was the widow of Joseph Williamson, and Bartley Deans was her executor.

Williamson had executed a will in 1807, fifteen years before her death. She listed three enslaved people — women named Pat and Rachel and a boy named Arch.

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A partial inventory in Williamson’s estate records also lists Arch, Rachel and Pat. Rachel and Pat are listed together at one place in documents and may have been mother and daughter. (Note that, as she was only ten years old in 1822, the Pat in in Williamson’s estate could not have been the Pat in her will.)

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Here, record of the sale of “Negro gal Pat” to Eatman Flowers for $353.88; the hire of Arch, first to Jesse Sillivant, then to Thomas Williamson; and the hire of Rachel to Ford Taylor. These three were hired out repeatedly.

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A receipt for partial proceeds from the sale of Jack to John Watson, executor of Luke Collins:

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Estate of Ann Williamson (1822), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

 

First-generation freedom, pt. 6.

The sixth in a series of annotated abstracts of Wilson County death certificates of African-Americans born before 1870, the cusp of slavery and freedom. The records are a trove of information about otherwise obscure family relationships among enslaved and free people of color and shed light on intra- and interstate migration patterns in the decades after Emancipation.

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Barnes, Della. Born 1841, Wilson County. Died 29 March 1931, Wilson township. Father, F.K. Moore, Wilson County. Mother, Sarah Moore, Wilson County. Married to Drew Barnes. Common laborer. Resided 501 Murray Street, Wilson. Informant, Bessie Barnes. 

Barnes, Dina B. Born 1849, Wilson County. Died 4 February 1944, Lucama. Father, Simon Dew, Wilson County. Mother, Litha Horne, Wilson County. Widow of Blount Barnes. Farmhand. Buried at Beckie Pate. Informant, Bessie Lee Dew. [In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Simon Due, 45, wife Litha, 40, and children Laney, 16, Peter, 15, Lucy, 11, Hilliard, 7, Izaih, 9, Arch, 3, Deanah, 10, Hester, 3, Patience, 4 months, and Zilpha Due, 3, and William Horn, 5 months.]

Barnes, Dollie Ann. Born 1856, Nash County. Died 13 January 1929, Wilson. Father, Jacop Boddie, Nash County. Mother, not listed. Married to Lemon Barnes. Tenant farmer for E.K. Wright. Informant, Leona Barnes.

Barnes, Dollie Ann. Born 1861, Wilson County. Died 19 January 1928, Crossroads township. Father, Edmond Williamson, Wilson County. Mother, Bethune Williamson, Wilson County. Married to Matherson Barnes. Common laborer. Buried in Williamson cemetery. Informant, Timothy Seaberry. [In the 1880 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: Edmund Williamson, 50, wife Thany, 44, and children William, 25, Nicie, 23, Eliza, 22, Eddie, 22, Ally, 19, Pollina, 17, Dolly Ann, 15, Isacc, 12, and Raiford, 7.]

Barnes, Dred. Born 1860, Wilson County. Died 29 September 1930, Black Creek township. Father, Nelson Barnes, Wilson County. Mother, Annie Daniel, Wilson County. Farmer. Married to Lusina Barnes. Informant, Lusina Barnes. [In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Nelson Barnes, 35, wife Ansey, 36, and children Harriet, 15, Margaret, 12, Dread, 10, Mae, 8, Thomas, 7, and Lon, 2 months.]

Barnes, Ed. Born 1869, North Carolina. Died 5 December 1916, Wilson. Father, George Barnes, North Carolina. Mother, not listed. Married. Brickmason. Buried in Wilson. Informant, Mary Turner.

Barnes, Ellen. Born 1851, Wilson County. Died 17 March 1936, Stantonsburg township. Father, Bill Barnes, Wilson County. Mother, Harriett Barnes, Wilson County. Widow. Resided in Stantonsburg township. Informant, Rev. Wiley Barnes.

Barnes, Fannie. Born 1850, Johnston County. Died 21 August 1918, Wilson. Father, Chas. Barnes, North Carolina. Mother, Nicy Watson, North Carolina. Widow. Resided at Branch farm. Tenant farmer. Buried in Wilson. Informant, Joseph Taylor.

Barnes, Frances. Born 1860, Wilson County. Died 30 May 1938, Wilson. Father, Morrison Woodard, Wilson County. Mother, Martha Thorn, Wilson County. Married to Short W. Barnes. Informant, Maggie Crawford. [In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: carpenter Morison Woodard, 47; wife Martha, 32; and children Nancy, 18, Arche, 17, and Cherry, 15, all farm laborers, Rosa, 13, Frances, 8, Jane, 7, John, 4, Martha, 1, and Mary, 2 months.]

Barnes, Frank. Born 1845, Wilson County. Died 29 July 1919, Wilson township. Father, Harry Barnes, North Carolina. Mother, Nellie Barnes, North Carolina. Married. Farmer. Buried Wilson County. Informant, Austin Barnes.

Barnes, Gatsey. Born 1833, Wilson County. Died 4 July 1931, Stantonsburg township. Father, Spencer Roundtree, Wilson County. Mother, Venus Roundtree, Wilson County. Widow. Buried Barnes graveyard.

Barnes, George. Born 12 November 1949, Wilson County. Father  Roundtree, Wilson County. Mother, Annie Barnes, Wilson County. Married to Sylvesta Barnes, Day laborer. Resided Manchester Street, Wilson. Buried in Elm City. Informant, Frank Barnes.

Barnes, George. Born 1835, Wilson County. Died 22 November 1933, Wilson. Father, not listed. Mother, Debra Woodard, Wilson County. Widower. Resided Wilson County Home. Informant, Mistry Woodard.

Barnes, George T. Born 1859, Wilson County. Died 12 April 1935, Wilson. Father, John Barnes, Wilson County. Mother, Della Farmer, Wilson County. Widower of Mary Barnes. ACL Railroad employee. Resided Viola Street, Wilson. Informant, John H. Barnes.

Barnes, George. Born 1855, North Carolina. Died 19 December 1910, Wilson. Father, not listed. Mother, Rosa Barnes, North Carolina. Widower. Laborer. Informant, Tib Barnes. [In the 1870 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: washer woman Rosa Barnes, 40; with children George, 13, farm laborer; Auther, 10, brickyard worker; Phebee, 8; and domestic servant Pricilla Joyner, 25.

The family is doing well.

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Bureau R.F. & A.L., Sub. Dist. Goldsboro, Goldsboro, N.C. Novr. 9th 1866

Bvt.Col. A.G. Brady, Supt. Central Dist. N.C., Raleigh N.C. 

Col., I had the honor about ten (10) days since to receive through you a communication from a man in Boston inquiring about a family of freedmen in Wilson Co. which I sent to Mr. J.J. Lutts in Wilson and he replied that the family was then doing well etc. but I mislaid the communication so I cannot find it or it may have been taken or dropped from my pocket, or I fear most torn up and swep out with waste paper and you will much oblige by sending a copy of the breif with endorsements. The family inquire about was Taylor and Barnes. Your kind attention and early reply is respectfully solicited. Very respectfully, yr obt. Svt., Jas.W.H. Stickney [illegible]

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Bureau of Refugees Freedmen &c., Hd.Qrs. Asst. Commissioners, Raleigh N.C. Dec 14th 1866

Bell Jas B., Boston Mass

Sir, In answer to your communication of Oct 19th [illegible] in relation to whereabout of certain colored people. I quote language of Asst Supt at Goldsboro N.C.

“This family inquired for are living in the town of Wilson Wilson County N.C. are doing well and any communications for them can be addressed to Mr Benjamin Woods or to his care at Wilson”

Your communication having been mislaid the names of the family cannot be given.

Very respectfully, Your Obdt Servant, Jacob F. Ohm, Bt.Lt.Col. & A.A.A.G.

North Carolina, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, http://FamilySearch.org.

A negro of the old school, treated and trained right.

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Wilson Times, 20 August 1918.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Redmond Barnes, 34, wife Martha, 29, and children Adeline, 7, Mary, 3, and Laura, 1; plus Alfred Simms, 29.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Redmon Barnes, 45; wife Martha, 38; children Adline, 19, Mary, 13, Laura, 11, Harriet, 9, James, 7, Margaret, 5, Joan, 4, Martha Ann, 2, and Edd, 1.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Redman Barnes, 65; wife Martha, 69; children Lou, 36, Eddie, 20, Wiley, 19, John, 17; and Kinney, 16, and Adline Ellis, 3.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Martha Barnes, 68; son Wiley Barnes, 29, daughter-in-law Annie Barnes, 19, and grandchildren Lula, 3, and unnamed, 1 month; son-in-law John A. Mayo, 48, daughter Hattie L., 39, and grandchildren John E., 8, and Joseph C., 5; and granddaughter Adeline Ellis, 13.

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