Violence

Shooting scrape.

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Wilson Advance, 12 March 1896.

  • James Artist — perhaps, in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason James B. Artis, 26; wife Cornelia, 31; and son Solomon, 7 months; plus brother-in-law Charlie B. Fort, 12.
  • West Barnes — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Willis Barnes, 30; wife Cherry, 25; and children Rachael, 7, West, 5, Jesse, 2, and Ned, 5 months. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Willis Barnes, 42; wife Cherey, 20; stepdaughter Rachel Battle, 17; children Wesley, 15, Jesse, 13, Ned, 11, Eddie, 7, Mary Barnes, niece Ellen Battle, 2; and son Willey Barnes, 1. On 4 June 1885, Sylvester [sic] Barnes, 21, married Ellar Mercer, 22, at Dempsey Mercer’s in Wilson County. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: teamster Wesley Barnes, 32; wife Ella, 35; and children Joseph, 14, Lucy, 11, Sylvester, 7, Viola, 5, and Charley, 3. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: West Barnes, 44; wife Ella, 47; and children Sylvester, 17, Viola, 15, and Charlie, 13. Wesley Barnes died 20 January 1919 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 54 years old; was born in Wilson County to Willis Barnes and Cherry Eatmon; was married to Ellar Barnes; and worked as a drayman for Tominson & Company.

Indicted for the murder of slave Thomas.

In May 1860, on the testimony of H.F. Barnes and Warren Ellis, a grand jury indicted Hartwell Williford and James G. Williford for the murder of an enslaved man, Thomas, who belonged to Hartwell Williford. I have found no additional information about this crime.

Hartwell Williford and James Williford lived in the area of modern-day Elm City and were the father-in-law and husband of Nancy Mears Williford, written of here.

On 22 February 1957, the Rocky Mount Telegram ran a genealogy column by “An Old Reporter” [Hugh B. Johnston] that featured Hartwell Williford. Largely a compendium of Williford’s real estate transactions and estate purchases, it somehow missed his indictment for murder. However, there was this:

“Family tradition states that Hartwell Williford possessed a ready temper and a powerful physique in his youth. On one occasion he engaged in a rough-and-tumble fight with another man in the neighborhood, seized him by the ears, and slung him around with such force that these appendages were torn from the head of the unfortunate owner. On another occasion he became so infuriated with a slave fellow that kept stealing from the neighbors or running away and causing his master trouble and expense in bringing him back home, that he undertook this immediate, unique, and terrifying punishment. He knocked both heads from a barrel, drove short nails in the sides from every direction, tied the slave securely in it with his head out one end and his feet out the other, and rolled him a short distance down the road in front of the house. The nail pricks received through his clothes were probably inconsequential to the slave as compared with the moral effects, but at any rate he was for the rest of life a reliable and industrious person.”

Murder of Slave-1860, Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Lynching going on, and there are men trying to stand in with the white folks.

Charles Stump was the pen name of Kentucky-born journalist Charles Stewart (1869-1925). By 1914, Stewart was working for the Associated Press and the National Baptist Convention and was known as “the press agent of the Negro race.” As Stump, Stewart reported to The Broad Axe, a black Chicago newspaper, his impressions of the areas through which he traveled. His 1918 sojourn through North Carolina coincided with the boycott of Wilson Colored Graded School.

Stump misreported principal J.D. Reid‘s name as A.D. Reed, but spared no words in describing his disdain for Reid’s conduct — “It is a small man who would strike a woman, but they have it down fine in Wilson, N.C., and if it is kept up much longer there will be some going home, but which home I am not prepared to say myself …. I never want to see a white man strike one of our best women in this world, for I would just then send word to the angels to dust my wings for I will be on my way for them, and then send word to the devil to heat the furnace just a little hotter, for I have started some one to take quarters therein.” Mary Euell, on the other hand, received her full due as “a refined, cultured, christian woman” with the “dignity of a queen.”

Stump’s account contains new details of Reid’s actions and the startling news that Reed’s karmic redress included the public slap of his ten year-old daughter Thelma by white merchant W.D. Ruffin.

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The Broad Axe (Chicago, Ill.), 26 July 1919.

Stabbed while asleep.

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Wilson News, 20 July 1899.

Another version:

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Wilson Daily Times, 21 July 1899.

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  • Warren Barnes — probably, in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Warren Barnes, 50, ditcher; wife Agnes, 38, “stimmer”; and children Addie, 18, Willie, 17, and Jinnet, 11. Warren Barnes died 10 January 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was about 70 years old; married; worked in a tobacco factory; and was born in Wilson County to Dink Barnes and Judia Barnes. Agnes Barnes was informant.
  • Mrs. Warren Barnes — Agnes Barnes died 21 March 1934 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 62 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Agnes Powell; and was the widow of Warren Barnes. Addie Lee of 204 Pettigrew Street was informant.
  • Claude Jones

 

Disturbing the peace.

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Wilson Advance, 9 July 1896.

Basically: Will Bullock, who worked at Best’s stables, was holding a horse for Ed Exum outside Batts’ bar. A drunk white man was found lying on the sidewalk, and “Prof. J. Louis Murphy” attempted to put him in Exum’s buggy. Bullock protested and, after some words, Murphy slapped him. Bullock flew at him, and Jim Holloway, accidentally or voluntarily, joined in. All three were arrested and fined, but appealed.

  • Will Bullock — probably, in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Georgia-born day laborer Will Bullock, 29; wife Martha, 27; and son Clarence W., 2, and Walter N., 8 months; half-siblings Alice, 12, and Mack Scott, 10; and boarder Will Bullock, 29.
  • Jim Holloway

Escaped through the cemetery.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 July 1910.

  • Henry Hagan

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Smith Street, Katie Williams, 46, widowed boarding house cook, and boarder Henry Hagan, 54, widower, oil mill laborer. In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hagan Henry, lab h 404 Spring St alley. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 616 Suggs Street, rented for $12/month, Henry Hagan, 75, sanitary department laborer, and wife Sarah, 55. Henry Haggan who died 21 October 1931 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 67 years old; was born in Wayne County, North Carolina, to Napoleon Haggan and an unknown mother; worked as a common laborer; and lived at 611 Suggs. Mary Gatling of Newport News, Virginia, was informant.

A pardon.

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Wilson Advance, 5 May 1882.

  • Simon Dildy
  • Charles Gay — in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Gay, 35, wife Emma, 25, children Charles, 5, and Mary, 1, and two farm laborers Rich’d Harper, 20, and Haywood Watson, 17. Though the article above states that Gay was murdered in 1875, Emma Gay was appointed administratrix of his estate in early 1874. Gay had been a shopkeeper, and his wife took over his “old stand.” On 12 March 1874, the Goldsboro Messenger  reported his murder thus:

“Times were hard and a poor nigger had to live”: the death of George Taylor.

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Wilson Times, 7 May 1918.

In a nutshell (with some augmented facts): policeman Leon M. Cooper arrested George Taylor on suspicion of theft of a chicken from Morris Barker. Taylor asked for leniency. As they walked toward the police station, Taylor “broke and ran,” and Cooper fired several shots in his direction “to scare him.” Taylor was struck and killed. After an inquest, a coroner’s jury exonerated Cooper. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme.

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  • George Taylor — in the 1880 census of Saulston township, Wayne County: farmer Jordan Taylor, 34; wife Winnfred, 43; and children Diana Taylor, 15, Nellie Langston, 14, and Robert, 12, Eliza, 11, George, 10, Rufus, 8, Mary, 9, and Jordan Taylor, 6. On 9 February 1892, George Taylor, 21, of the Town of Wilson, son of Jordan and Winnie Taylor, married Kate Lane, 20, of the Town of Wilson, daughter of Charity Lane. Baptist minister Crocket Best performed the ceremony in the presence of Mary Best, W.A. Rogers, and Vinae Araton(?). In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer George Taylor, 30; wife Catherine, 29; and daughter Nancy, 6, were listed in the household of widow Ellen M. Clark, 40. George and Catherine were servants. On 19 December 1906, George Taylor, 35, of Wilson, son of Jordan and Winnie Taylor, married Maggie Batchelor, 30, of Wilson, daughter of Peter Batchelor. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony at Jordan Taylor’s house in the presence of Leiston Pitt, Henry Stewart, Jordan Taylor and Willie Mitchell. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wagon factory laborer George Taylor, 38; wife Marguerett, 32; and daughter Nancy, 16, a private cook. Per his death certificate, George Taylor died 4 May 1918, “shot by police & killed while under arrest.” He was about 44 years old; was born in Wilson County to Jordan Taylor and Winnie (last name unknown); and worked as a carpenter.
  • Officer Cooper — in the 1920 Wilson city directory: Cooper Leon M police h 410 N Tarboro
  • Morris Barker — in the 1920 Wilson city directory, Barker was listed as proprietor of a department store at 113-115 South Tarboro. (Lithuania-born Barker lived on Maplewood Avenue and was part of Wilson’s tiny Jewish community.)
  • Kenan and Tarboro Streets

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(A) C. Culpepper & Son, (B) Morris Barker’s 5 & 10-cent store. Kenan Street is just beyond the left edge of this section of the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson.

  • Mr. Culpepper’s shop — in the 1920 Wilson city directory: Cicero Culpepper & Son is listed as a horseshoer and Wheelwright at 222-224 South Tarboro.

He is a Wilson negro and a bad one at that.

One hundred years ago today:

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The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 March 1919.

  • Kit Shaw
  • Luther Barbour — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 809 East Nash, John Barber, 27; wife Ethel, 26; mother Sallie, 59, teacher; and brother Luther, 32. Luther is described as single.