The Union League.

Nearly 80% black, and representing the 40% of North Carolina’s population that was African-American, the Union League was critical to the success of the Republican Party post-Civil War. Governor William W. Holden, committed to black political and social equality, pulled the Union League under the party’s umbrella with white Unionists. The newly formed Ku Klux Klan rose up in opposition, unleashing a scourge of retribution and intimidation across the state and driving Holden from office. Under this pressure, the League effectively collapsed by 1871.

In 1912, the Sewanee Review published J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton’s “The Union League in North Carolina,” a disapproving assessment of the League’s activities across the state. In the article, Hamilton, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and founder of that institution’s esteemed Southern Historical Collection, briefly touched upon Wilson County’s organization:

“In December, 1869, at Wilson Court, in the case of two members of the League who were indicted for whipping a negro for voting the Conservative ticket, Judge Thomas refused to admit any evidence to show that the League had ordered the whipping, and sentenced them when convicted to thirty and sixty days’ imprisonment respectively. They were immediately pardoned by the governor.”



The last will and testament of Walter M. Foster.

I, Walter M. Foster, of the town of Wilson, State of North Carolina, being of sound mind and memory, declare this to be my last will and testament, in manner and form following, that is to say:

  1. It is my will that all my just debts be paid.
  2. I will and devise to my wife, Rose P. Foster, my house and lot where we now live No. 808 E. Vance St.
  3. I will and bequeath to my wife Rose P. Foster, my household and kitchen furniture.
  4. I will and bequeath to my daughter Henretta Foster, Five Dollars.
  5. I will and bequeath to my son Walter H. Foster, Five Dollars.
  6. I will and bequeath to my son Carter Foster, my Automobile, Viz, Reo Six.
  7. I will and bequeath to my daughter, Naomi Foster, Five Dollars.

I appoint as my executor Atty. Glenn S. McBrayer.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I Walter M. Foster, have hereunto set my hand and seal thi the 9th day of March, 1922.             Walter M. Foster

Subscribed by the testator in the presents of each of us at the same time declared by him to us to be his last will and testatement.

Witness our hands this 9th day of March, A.D. 1922     A.N. Neal, A. Batts, Glenn S. McBrayer


On 14 August 1896, Walter Foster, 23, son of Peter and Phillis Foster, married Nettie Young, 28, daughter of Henry and Annie Young. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Lou Ellis‘ house in Wilson in the presence of William Coley, Cora Ellis, and Minnie Coley.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Walter Foster, 26, day laborer; wife Nettie, 29; daughter Mollie, 6 months.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Walter Foster, 34, fireman at wagon factory; wife Nettie, 39; and children Henry E., 8, and Walter A., 5; plus boarder Arthur Broady, 22, laborer.

Nettie Young Foster died 7 July 1912.

On 17 April 1913, Walter Foster, 38, married Rosa Parker, 23, in Wilson. Rev. M.A. Talley performed the rites in the presence of L.A. Moore, A.F. Broadie, and E.H. Thomas.

In 1918, Walter Macklin Foster registered for the World War I draft. He reported that he was born 13 May 1874, that he resided on East Vance Street, worked as a fireman for Hackney Wagon, and his nearest relative was wife Rosa Foster.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 Vance Street, Walter Foster, 46, fireman at wagon company; wife Rosa, 34; children Heneretta, 18, Carl, 6, and Naomi, 4; and sister-in-law Etta Parker, 32, a school teacher.

Walter’s will does not indicate the model year of his REO Six, but this 1922 ad offers a possible glimpse of his apparent pride and joy:


Walter Foster died 24 November 1928 in Wilson. His death certificate reports his place of birth as Franklinton, North Carolina. He had been working as a fireman at Hackney Wagon Company more than 20 years. (It is not clear to me whether he was a fireman in the traditional fire-fighting sense or in the maritime sense of “stoker.”)


His and his first wife Nettie’s gravestones are among the few that remain standing in Rountree cemetery.



Walter Foster’s home at 808 East Vance Street today:


North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; cemetery photos taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2016; photo of house courtesy of Google Maps.

Tax sale.

Most of the delinquent taxpayers named in this notice were African-American. Late payment notwithstanding, the list gives an idea of the widespread property ownership among that group in the early 1900s, and clearly indicates Samuel H. Vick’s wealth. His back taxes totaled more than ten times the next highest sum.


Wilson Times, 1 May 1910.

Solomon Kittrell, William Mitchell, Lee A. Moore, Edmund McLean, Levi H. Peacock, B. Frank Barnes, George W. Barnes, Ned Barnes, Walter M. Foster, Charles H. Knight, Goodsey Holden, Nathan Hines, Walter S. Hines, Morris Hagans, Guilford Ellis, Daniel Gunn, Thomas Johnson, Samuel Gay, Argent Farmer, Edward Humphrey, Duncan Hargrave, William T. Hargrave, Levi H. Jones, John M. Barnes, William Barnes, William Austin, Short W. Barnes, William Bullock, Alexander Dawson, James G. Coppedge, John H. Clark, Peter Bynum, Archer Bynum, Pennie Bynum, James Bynum, Wright Bynum, Amos Bynum, Burt L. Bowser, Crockett Best, Wilson Best, Moses Bennett, Cora Beckwith, H.G. Barnes, Richard Renfrow, George Robertson, Charity Robbins, J. Wesley Rodgers, Olivia Simmons, James Simmons, Turner Stokes, Wyatt Studeway, Washington Sugg, Elijah L. Reid, Thomas G. Pitt, Amos Pender, A.J.C. Moore, Dorsey Williams, Samuel H. Vick, H. Michael Taylor, Walter Kersey, William Coley, Wiley Barefoot.

Cemeteries, no. 4: New Vester Baptist Church cemetery.

As discussed here, New Vester is one of the oldest extant African-American congregations in Wilson County. Its large, well-maintained cemetery holds the remains of several men and women born prior to the Civil War.

  • Richard J. and Lucy Boykin Jones



Lucy Boykin, daughter of George and Mary Boykin, married Richard Jones on 8 September 1870 at minister J.J. Wilson’s. In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Richard Jones, 35; wife Lucy, 25; and children Catharine, 8, James R., 7, Louisa, 4, Geneva, 3, and Rosa L., 10 months; plus mother-in-law Mary Boykin, 45. In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Richard Jones, 65; wife Lucy, 52; sister Cherry, 50; granddaughter Annie, 9; brother Joseph Huston, 50, and nephew Weston Huston, 25.

  • Gray and Eliza Shaw Bailey



In the 1870 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: Thomas Shaw, 36, wife Katy, 37, and children Frances, 16, Eliza, 14, Fox, 12, David, 11, Martha, 4, and Mary, 2.

In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Gray Bailey, 56; wife Elizer, 44; children Annie, 14, Bessie, 11, Thomas, 5, and Catharine, 10 months, plus daughter Polly Taburn, 28, and her children Miley, 5, Burnis, 2, Earnest, 2, and Lillian, 6 months. In the 1910 census of Old Fields township: Gray Bailey, 65, wife Eliza, 54, and children and grandchildren Thomas, 14, Miley, 14, Katie, 10, Annie, 26, Curtis A., 4, and Samuel, 2.



  • Gray Hinnant


Gray Hinnant, son of Martha Williamson, married Tama [Tamar] Hinnant, daughter of M. and Alley Hinnant, on 19 February 1895 at Thomas Hinnant’s. Witnesses were Rosker [Roscoe] F. Hinnant, Columbus Deans and Ransom Taylor. In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Gray Hinnant, 48, wife Taimmer, 36, and children Emma, 17, Jarvis, 12, Lula, 8, Edwin, 16, and Arthur, 13. In the 1910 census of Old Fields: Gray Hinnant, 56, Taimer, 45, son-in-law Sefare Hinnant, and grandchildren Clinton, 6, and Kennie, 4. In the 1920 census of Old Fields: Gray Hinnant, 65, and wife Tamar, 55, on Old Wilson and Raleigh Road.


  • Daniel Taylor


In the 1850 census of Nash County: Willie Locust, 26, Eveline, 7, Arnol, 6, Rachel, 3, and Daniel Locust, 7 months.

In the 1860 census of Sullivants district, Nash County: in the household of white farmer William Rentfro, Evaline, 18, William, 16, Rachael, 14, and Daniel Locus, 10.

In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Daniel Locust, 21.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Daniel Locust, 32, wife Lucinda, 25, and children Mary, 8, and James R., 5.

In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Daniel Taylor, 56, wife Lucinda, 43, and children Ardellis, 18, Willie T., 17, Joseph, 15, Martha, 12, Allis, 10, and Jesse, 6. In the 1910 census of Old Fields township: widower Daniel Taylor, 55, listed as a hired man in the household of white farmer Reuben Pittman. In the 1920 census of Old Fields: Daniel Taylor 70, with grandson Alvin Perry, 8.


Harry Dunston married Mary Stancil on 28 December 1897 on Oneal township, Johnston County. In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Harry Dunston, 58, his wife of 6 years Livia A., 46, and children James, 10, Pearly, 7, Percy, 7, Alparada, 3, and Ollie, 1 1/2. (Close by, the family of Gray and Eliza Bailey.) His wife Livan, daughter of Best and Clara Locus Taborn, died 29 April 1947 and is buried at New Vester. Harry Dunston’s death lists his birthplace as Wake County and his parents as Ben Dunston and Harriett Hester.


  • Silvia Mariah Deans


In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Sylvia Deans, 46, with children Jane, 11, Simon, 9, and Columbus Deans, 6. [Silvia Deans apparently was not married. The marriage and death records of her sons John Simon and Columbus name their father as Jordan O’Neal, who appears in the 1870 and 1880 censuses of Wilson County in Spring Hill township.] In the 1900 census of Old Fields township: Columbus Deans, 23, wife Rosa L., 22, children Silvanes, 3, and Gray C., 1, and mother Silva Deans, 54. Next door: John Deans, 28, wife Ada P., 23, and grandmother Emily Taylor, 75. In the 1920 census of Old Fields township: Columbus B. Deans, 44; wife Rosa Lee, 41; children Savanah, 22, Gray C., 20, Allinor, 17, Walter Kelley, 16, Bennie H., 14, William T., 12, James K., 10, George L., 9, and Lucy J., 7; grandchildren Ella W., 6, and Lossie Lee, 3; and mother Sylvion Deans, 74. In the 1930 census of Old Fields: Columbus B. Deans, 54; wife Rosa L., 52; children and grandchildren James K., 21, Lucy J., 17, Ella W., 16, Lossie L., 13, Jessie, 8, Willie, 4, and Callie, 2; and mother Silvia Deans, 84.


  • Angeline Hinnant


In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Randall Hinnant, 33, Angeline, 26, and children J. Thomas, 10, James H., 8, Lilly Ann, 6, and Roscoe F. Hinnant, 4. In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: Randall Hinnant, 55, Angeline, 48, George W., 16, Sallie A., 14, Survayal, 5, and “hired girl” Susan Hinnant, 40. In the 1910 census of Old Fields township: George Hinnant, 24, wife Elizabeth, 22, daughter Mary L., 1, mother Angeline, 58, and Percy Hinnant, 7. In the 1920 census of Old Fields: George Hinnant, 35, Elizabeth, 30, Mary L., 11, James, 9, Mary Lee, 7, Martha May, 6, and Charlie T. Hinnant, 1, and mother Angeline Hinnant, 70.

  • Alonzo Terrell


In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Alonzo Terrell, 35, wife Jane, 30, and children Mariah, 15, John, 10, Mary, 7, Ellis, 4, Andrew, 2, and an unnamed infant, 1 month.

Where did they go?: Pennsylvania death certificates, no. 2.

The second in a series — Pennsylvania death certificates for Wilson County natives:

  • Hubert Barefoot


In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County, on Viola Street: 37 year-old oil mill laborer Wiley Barefoot, wife Maggie, 35, and children Linwood, 15, Mike, 14, Matha, 10, Essiemay, 3, Hubert, 4, and Angly B. Barefoot, 2. Maggie worked as a washerwoman, Linwood as a “prentice carpenter,” and Mike as an odd jobs laborer.

  • Michael Barefoot


Michael Barefoot was the brother of Hubert Barefoot, above. The death certificate of their father Wiley Barefoot, filed in 1952 in Wilson County, reveals their grandparents to have been Michael and Caroline Barnes Barefoot.

  • George Barnes


  • James A. Barnes


  • Julius Barnes



They are perfectly satisfied.

Wilson N.C. Nov 6th 1867

Prev Lt Col W A Cutler


The condition of my family will prevent my personal appearance at Rocky Mount on the 9th to show cause by what authority I hold in my service Edward & Esau Bagley (Col’d) But will take this method of reporting that Edward aged about 13 years was apprenticed to me by the Bureau at Goldsboro N.C. in the year 1866.  Subsequently (Oct Term 1866) by the County Court of Wilson County.  Said boy is an orphan, with no nearer relative than half-uncle and is perfectly satisfied & contented.

Esau is forty five years of age and is living with me as per contract made and entered into by himself and myself and with which he seems, to me, perfectly satisfied, none having made any complaint.  If any informality or irregularity exists in regard to the indentures I am not aware of it, & which, if such there be the court upon motion properly made will correct – or annul the indentures.

Yours &c, Alvin Bagley


40 year-old farmer Alvin Bagley is listed in the 1870 federal census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County.   Farmer’s apprentice Edwin Bagley, 18, appears next door in the household of 22 year-old farm laborer Cain Atkinson. Both were African-American, as were farm laborer Esaw Bagley, 50, and farmer Isaac Bell, 40, with whom Esaw lived in Springhill township.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records 1862-1870, http://www.familysearch.org.