Simms shot in escape attempt.

Wilson Times, 10 March 1911.

But on the next page of the newspaper ….

Wilson Times, 10 March 1911.

And what was the crime that had sent Simms to the county stockade?

Wilson Times, 13 September 1910.

Simms not only lived, he lived to re-offend.

Wilson Times, 20 October 1911.

The Wyatt Moye house, built with blood money.

Slave-trading was good money.

In the area that became Wilson County, Wyatt Moye and Robert S. Adams were perhaps the major players in the domestic slave trade, moving humans from eastern North Carolina into the Deep South, where prices were high and demand insatiable.

It was a lucrative business, and both men eventually settled in Aberdeen, Monroe County, Mississippi. An 1852 newspaper ad touts Adams and his business partners’ arrangements: “They will keep at their depot in Aberdeen, during the coming fall and winter, a large lot of choice Negroes, which they will sell low for cash, or for bills on Mobile.”

Both Adams and Moye moved into large homes in town to signal their wealth. We’ve seen R.S. Adams’ grand Greek Revival mansion (which checks every antebellum architecture box); Moye’s more modest house was close enough that they’re in the same historic district, North Aberdeen. (Descriptions of the houses’ history describe Adams and Moye as “bankers.” It is true that they formed a money-lending concern in Aberdeen. Their wealth, however, was built on buying and selling enslaved people.)

Built circa 1855 and now known as the I.Y. Johnson House, Moye’s house was recently purchased for restoration after decades of deterioration.

I.Y. Johnson House, 108 West Canal Street, Aberdeen, Mississippi. Front and side facades. March 11, 2010, W. White, photographer.


Wyatt Moye wore a lot of hats, including “general” (of what?), sheriff of Greene County, North Carolina state legislator (he introduced the bill to incorporate the Town of Wilson), and, as we’ve seen slave trader and money lender. He seems to have been in Mississippi full time shortly after 1850, but spent his last decade between Monroe County and business concerns in Saint Mary Parish, Louisiana. He is listed in both Mississippi and Louisiana in the 1860 census.

In the 1830 census of Greene County, N.C., Wyatt Moye reported owning 27 enslaved people.

In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County, N.C.: Wyatt Moye, 55, no occupation listed; [second] wife Louisa, 37; and daughter Louisa V., 17. [Judging by their neighbors, the Moyes appear to have lived in the Saratoga area of what is now Wilson County.]

In the 1850 slave schedule of Lowndes County, Mississippi, Wyatt Moye reported 27 enslaved people.

In the 1860 census of Western Division, Monroe County, Mississippi: trader Wyatt Moye, 66; [third] wife M.M., 44; W.A. Rover, 33, lumber dealer; and D. Farmer, 25, laborer. Moye reported owning $5500 in real property and $7500 in personal property (which would have included enslaved people).

In the 1860 slave schedule of Western Division, Monroe County, Mississippi, Wyatt Moye reported 8 enslaved people.

But also: in the 1860 census of Western Division, Saint Mary Parish, Louisiana: Yatt Moye, 50, planter; wife Mary, 32; Margaret Fisher, 21; and W.J. Deson, 42, agent. Moye reported a whopping $100,000 in real property and another $100,000 in personal property. [One hundred thousand dollars in 1860 is roughly $3.5 million today.]

In the 1860 slave schedule of Western Division, Saint Mary Parish, Louisiana, Wyatt Moye & Company is listed with 119 enslaved people.

Wyatt Moye died in 1862 in Saint Mary Parish. His body was returned to North Carolina for burial in Calvary Church cemetery, Tarboro.

Eleven year-old boy beaten by white men.

In November 1944, a mail carrier found an eleven year-old African-American boy crying in ditch. The child’s leg was broken, and he revealed that he had been chased and knocked by several drunken white men. The mail carrier took him to a white doctor in Stantonsburg, who recommended that he be taken to Mercy Hospital in Wilson.

I have not been able to find more about the incident.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 November 1944.

I suspect that “Rosette” Artis was actually Roselle Artis, a well-known African-American farmer in the Stantonsburg area. However, as best I can determine, Roselle and Rencie Bynum Artis did not have a son who was 11 years old in 1944. The closest was their son Milton R. Artis, who would have been 9 years old.


In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Old Wilson Road, farmer Roselle Artis, 27; wife Rencie, 20; son Milton, 4; mother Frances, 60, widow; nephews Marion Jr., 10, and Thomas S., 9;  lodgers Jimmie D. Barnes, 21, and Miles Warren, 60.

The Lord told me to.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 November 1948.


In the 1900 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County, N.C.: Joseph Wooten, 38; wife Chaney, 28; and children Cora, 11, James, 6, Lossie, 4, and Nora, 1.

In the 1900 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: Watt Vines, 30; wife Emma, 29; and children Eddie, 11, Patsey, 5, Junius, 3, and Yettie, 3 months. 

In the 1910 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: Joseph Wooten, 50; wife Chaney, 40; and children James, 17, Lossie, 15, Jacob, 11, Mark, 9, and Andrew J., 1.

On 27 January 1915, James Wooten, 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Joe and Chaney Wooten, married Yettie Vines, 18, of Saratoga, daughter of Watson and Emma Vines, in Saratoga. Joe Wooten applied for the license, and Primitive Baptist minister Ruffin Hyman performed the ceremony in the presence of C.C. Vines, J.J. Vines, and Miles E. Reid.

In the 1920 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: James Wooten, 25, and wife Yettie.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: James Wooten, 36; wife Yattie, 30; and William J., 7.

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Jim Wooten 45; wife Hattie, 39; sister Mary Bullock, 50; and cousins Melba M., 9, and Ada R. Edwards, 6.

The 8 December 1948 Daily Times reported that Yettie Wooten, an “aging colored woman,” had been sentences to ten to fifteen years in state prison, with a recommendation that she placed in the division for the criminally insane. 

Yettie Vines Wooten died 9 October 1990 in Wilson. 

White man held for murder of Sam Jackson.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 September 1924.

On 18 August 1924, Joe Cockrell, white, interrupted four African-American men — Sam Jackson, Tom Smith, Otis Taylor, and John Smith — pulling fodder in a corn field on George Dew’s farm. After demanding liquor, Cockrell argued with Jackson. Shortly after, a shot rang out, Jackson dropped to the ground, and Cockrell fled. He was on the lam for about two weeks before being arrested at his uncle’s house, charged and held without bail.

On 6 November 1924, Raleigh’s News and Observer reported that a judge had determined there was not enough evidence to hold Cockrell on first degree murder charges and had reduced the charge to second degree and released Cockrell on $5000 bond. I have not found a report of the verdict in the case. 


On 9 December 1918, Sam Jackson, 19, of Wilson, son of Turner and Nellie Jackson of South Carolina, married Victoria Watson, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Will and Alice Watson of Clayton, North Carolina, at the courthouse in Wilson. 

On 4 January 1919, Sam Jackson, 20, of Wilson, son of Simon and Nellie Jackson of Conway, South Carolina, and Mary Carroll, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Major and Dollie Carroll, in Wilson. Free Will Baptist minister A.A.J. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of William Cassill, Molley Wright, and Mary Davis. [A month after Jackson married Victoria Watson??]

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farm laborer Sam Jackson, 22, and wife Mary, 23.

Sam Jackson died 18 August 1924 in Taylor’s township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 30 years old; was married; and was a farmer. He was buried in Coleman’s cemetery. George Dew was informant.

James Wiggins shot to death at tobacco barn.

Wilson Daily News, 18 November 1921.


James Wiggins, in fact, was fatally wounded. In fact, by time this article ran, he had been dead four days and buried two.

James Wiggins died 14 November 1921 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 26 years old; was born in Edgecombe County, N.C., to George Wiggins and Mary Pitt; and was a common laborer. 

  • Isaac Ford

On 10 October 1912, Isaac Ford, 22, married Jane Peaton, 21, both of Black Creek, were married at Peaton’s father’s house in Nahunta township, Wayne County (though their marriage license was issued in Wilson County.) H.R. Minshew applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister N.S. Newton performed the ceremony in the presence of John R. James, Peter Applewhite, and Charlie Newton.

In 1917, Isaac Ford registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 6 August 1889 in Fremont [Wayne County], N.C.; lived in Fremont; was a self-employed farmer; and had a wife and child.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Isaac Ford, 32; wife Jane, 35, farm laborer; and son Calvin, 8. 

On 28 May 1927, Isaac Ford, 37, of Black Creek, married Nora Dickerson, 26, of Black Creek, in Wilson in the presence of Braxton Davis, Hugh Campbell, and Calvin Ford.

State vs. Doc Applewhite.

In the spring of 1912, conflict between William Henry Pender and Dock Applewhite over Pender’s wife Mollie Pender came to a violent head.

Henry Pender, witness for the state, being sworn, states that he and wife had some trouble about the intimacy existing between his wife and Doc. Applewhite. Henry and his wife had a quarrel, and his wife left him. He imagined that his wife and Doc. were together at Doc.’s sister’s. Says he went there about one or two o’clock in the night, and asked if his wife was there and was told that she was not. He lay around the house, and after day they both came out of the house and started off the same way. I spoke to my wife and she agreed to go home with me. We started along together and pretty soon I heard a gun fire. I looked and Doc. was in about sixty yards of me, his gun pointing towards me. The shot seemed to strike the ground before they got to me, then arose and struck my coat and pants, but did not enter.  He then started towards me cursing saying he was going to kill me. I moved to try to get away from him. Pretty soon my brother ran and overtook me, and said that Doc had run round and was going to cut me off. I then ran.

Mollie Pender, Henry’s wife, tells about the same as Henry, as to the assault.

Done this the 12th day of March 1912   Elias G. Barnes J.P.


  • Henry and Mollie Pender

On 7 March 1900, Henry Pender, 24, son of Ed and Caroline Pender, married Molly Pitt, 22, daughter of Joe Pitt, in Black Creek, Wilson County.

In the 1910 census of Jackson township, Nash County, N.C.: H

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Raleigh Road, farmer Henry Pender, 45; wife Molly, 41; and daughter Sally, 10.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pender Wm H (c; Mollie) lab 607 E Green

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pender Henry (c; Mollie) farm hd h 710 Viola 

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 710 Viola, Earnest McCray, 22, grocery store deliveryman; wife Lizzie, 19; and son LeVaughn, 3; plus roomers Mollie Pender, 48, private servant, and husband Henry, 45, farm laborer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: carpenter helper William H. Pender, 59; wife Mollie, 52, tobacco factory stemmer; and lodgers Eva Reid, 25, from Elizabeth City, N.C., and Mary J. Pitt, 27, born in Tarboro, N.C. Both were public school teachers.

William H. Pender died 21 October 1945 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 May 1889 in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Edward Pender and Caroline Atkinson; was married to Mollie Pender; and worked as a carpenter.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 April 1970.

  • Doc Applewhite

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Enos Applewhite, 71; wife Cherry, 54; children Henry [age illegible], Virginia, 20, Dock, 19, and George, 13; grandson Enos, 2; and niece Rosa Atkinson, 16.

On 22 July 1903, Dock Applewhite, 21, of Stantonsburg, son of Elias [sic]and Cherry Applewhite, married Mary Simms, 23, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Stephen and Zanie Simms, at Stephen Simms’ house in Wilson County.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: railroad section hand Dock Applewhite, 27; wife Mollie, 27; and children David, 6, and Annie, 3.

In 1918, Dock Applewhite registered for the World War I draft in Greenville, Pitt County, N.C. Per his registration card, he was born 15 March 1881 and worked as a fireman for Greenville Cooperage & Tun Company.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Dock Applewhite, 39; wife Mary, 38, laundress; and children David and Annie M., 14; plus Sadie Cozart, 24.

Dock Applewhite died 20 January 1927 in Greenville, Pitt County. Per his death certificate, he was about 25 years old [actually, 46]; was born in Wilson County to Enos and Cherry Applewhite; and was married to Mary Applewhite.

Criminal Action Papers, 1912, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

G.W. Joyner tells what he saw.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 October 1911.

That was on page 2. On page 8 of the same edition:

Wilson Daily Times, 17 October 1911.

George Washington Joyner came forward with eyewitness testimony that a white boy, rather than a Black man, had thrown a bottle that injured another white boy at a carnival.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.