Wills & Estates

Williamson v. Williamson, 57 N.C. 272 (1858).

This case was filed in Wilson County Court of Equity by Garry Williamson and Jesse Fulgham, executors of the will of Thomas Williamson, concerning the distribution of certain enslaved people for whom Williamson claimed ownership. The principle question posed to the North Carolina Supreme Court was whether enslaved children, born before Williamson died, passed with their mothers to the designated legatees. “The general rule is clearly settled that the bequest simply of a female slave and her increase passes the mother only, and not the increase which she may have had before the will was executed, or between that time and the death of the testator.” An exception would be where the testator’s intent to include the children can be inferred from a reference to the enslaved woman having previously been in the possession of the legatee. Otherwise, the children become part of the “residue,” i.e. property to be liquidated and the proceeds equally divided among legatees.

The chart below summarizes the fates of 26 of the enslaved people — all women and children — that Thomas Williamson owned. It is a stark encapsulation of the devastating impact of slavery on African-American families. And where were their men? An examination of Williamson’s will, drafted in August 1852, reveals further separation. Turner, Patrick and Dennis were bequeathed to his wife Keziah Williamson, and Jack was passed to son Garry Williamson.

 

The last will and testament of Lucy Woodard.

Lucy Woodard drafted her will in 1921, but lived another 13 years. By its terms, she left:

  • her house and lot on East Street, all household and kitchen furnishings, and all residual property to Cornelia Coleman, Charlie White and Annie Howard [Howell]
  • her piano to Annie Howell’s daughter Ethel Gray Howell

——

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Ruffin Woodard, 50 farmer; wife Lucy, 38; and children Zilpha, 19, John, 13, Polly, 12, Sallie, 2, Oscar, 1; and servant Willie Barnes, 12.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed day laborer/tobacco stemmer Lucinda Woodard, 52; children Sallie, 23, Viola, 17, Minnie, 13, and Winnie, 11; and grandchildren Cornelia, 4, Anderson, and Ruffin O. White, 10 months.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Lucy Woodard, 62; daughters Minnie, 23, cook, and Louvenia Woodard, 20, cook; daughter Mollie Thomas, 38, cook, and her daughter Mary, 17; and boarders widow Margret Jones, 28, cook, and her daughter Marthy, 4.

Lucy Woodard died 29 June 1934 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 94 years old; was the widow of Rufin Woodard; and was born in Wilson County to Harry and Hanah Simms of Wilson County. Informant was Annie Howell.

[Ethel Gray Howell (not Howard) was the daughter of Harry and Annie Thompson Howell. Her and her mother’s relationship to Lucinda Simms Woodard is not clear.]

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Zebulon M. Johnson.

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On 19 November 1905, Zebulon Johnson, 33, son of Jere and Minnie Johnson, all of Northampton County, married Armittie Powell, 25, daughter of Isaac and Georgia Powell, at Jerusalem Church, Rich Square township, Northampton County, North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Rich Square, Northampton County: Armittie Johnson, 28, and her children Elvalene, 3, and Allene, 1 1/2, are listed in the household of her mother Georgianna Powell, 61. Armittie is described as married, but her husband Zebulon is not found.

In 1918, Zebulon Myer Johnson registered for the World War I draft in Nash County. Per his heart registration card, he resided at R.F.D. 3, Rocky Mount; was born 17 September 1872; was employed as a chiropodist and farmer; and his nearest relative was wife Mittie Johnson. [Where did Johnson receive his medical training? Was he actually a physician?]

On 1 December 1926, Zebulon Johnson, 48, of Wilson, married Roberta Battle, 38, of Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Mamie Lucas, Ella Allen and Henry Lucas.

In 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1008 East Nash Street, chiropodist Zebulon M. Johnson, 56, and wife Roberta, 37.

On 13 July 1934, Zebulon Myer Johnson died in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 61 years old; born in Bertie County to Jerry and Winnie Johnson; was married to Robetta Johnson; and worked as a chiropodist. He was buried in Rich Square, North Carolina.

As noted in the document above, Johnson’s will entered probate ten days after his death. As required, for several months, his executrix ran an ad in the local newspaper, notifying claimants and debtors of their obligations.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 August 1934.

There was a response — likely, unexpected. Armittie Powell Johnson, who lived in Rocky Mount, stepped forward to file a claim. By the brief notation handwritten in the will book, above, it appears that she asserted that she, and not Roberta, was Zebulon Johnson’s legal widow. I have no further information on the outcome of this challenge, but it is clear that Roberta Johnson remained in the house she had been bequeathed in the will.

Roberta Battle Johnson died 28 July 1958 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 October 1889 in Wilson to Parker Battle and Ella (last name unknown); was widowed; resided at 1108 East Nash; and worked as business manager for Mercy. Informant was Grace Battle Black, 1108 East Nash Street.

[Sidenote: Zebulon Myer Johnson was the grandfather of noted Nash County educator and activist Kanawha Zebulon “K.Z.” Chavis (1930-1986), whose mother was Arlin Johnson Chavis.]

The estate of Alex Crockett.

Alexander Crockett died 22 February 1920 in Wilson. He left no will.

Crockett was unmarried, and his sister Georgia Crockett Aiken filed for letters of administration on the estate. She and their brother James Crockett were the sole heirs, and she estimated Alex’ estate value at $400.00. Aiken and E.D. Barnes posted bond.

Dr. William A. Mitchner filed a claim for $65 against Crockett’s estate, presumably for services rendered during his treatment for tuberculosis.

——

In the 1880 census of Little Washington, Goldsboro, Wayne County, North Carolina: William Crockett, 35, drayman; wife Rachel, 41, seamstress; and children James, 11, Alex, 9, Georgianna, 8, and Robert, 1.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 123 Pender Street, Georgia Akin, 45, widow, livery stable manager; brother Alexander Crockett, 47, stable salesman; and roomers John Norfleet, 30, and Mose Parker, 32, both laborers. [Georgia’s husband John H. Aiken had been a partner with Crockett in Crockett & Aiken, a livery, transfer and house-moving outfit.]

Alexander Crockett died 22 February 1920 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 August 1875 in Wayne County to William Crockett of Chester, South Carolina, and Rachel Hill of North Carolina; was a self-employed livery and transfer operator; and was single. Informant was Georgia Aiken.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Carter W. Foster.

Carter Washington Foster died 17 February 1955, deeply in debt.

Foster had been Wilson County’s Negro agricultural extension agent. To open his estate, his widow Estelle Duncan Foster testified that she had found his will among papers in a locked box at the National Bank of Wilson. Sadie H. Collins, Helen W. Branford and John M. Miller Jr. examined the paper and positively identified as the document they had witnessed Foster sign just a month before.

004778533_00399 copy

On 24 February 1955, Wilson County Superior Court opened the estate. Foster’s will was straightforward — he left all property left after his debts were settled to his wife and named her his executrix. The attachment to the will is more perplexing.

First, “I suggest that the $5000 Metropolitan Policy payable to my wife be loaned to the Company and payable to Csrlotta and Barbara shall need same for schooling.” (What company? Was this suggestion lawful? Barbara Jean, born 1942, and Carlotta Estelle, born 1951, were the couple’s daughters.)

Second, Foster named three people who owed him a total of $30 — Isham Bryant, Leona Hines, and Maggie Bryant.

Third, he named eleven people that he owed a whopping $3007.5 (roughly $27,000 in 2017 dollars) — M.R. Zachary ($320), Mrs. Branford ($375), Percy Williams ($100), Mark Sharp ($825), Joe Hester ($650), Frank Murphy ($350), W.R. Barnes ($105), Cora S. Wilson ($75), Isiah Whitehead ($100), M.G. Garris ($25), and Martha Mitchell ($82.50). [As newspaper notices gave witness, attempts to pay them all back would require the sale at auction of Foster’s personal belongings, such as a 1951 Plymouth, and the house on Vance Street that he and his sister had inherited from their mother.]

Fourth, he designated seven people as trustworthy advisors to his wife — Bing Miller, Charles James, Rev. Farmer, Rev. Watkins, M.R. Zachary and Thomas J. Moore.

004778533_00399

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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 [sic, Carter], 6, and Naomi, 4; and sister-in-law Etta Parker, 32, a school teacher.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 808 East Vance Street, teacher Rosa Foster, 42; children Carter, 16, Daily Times newsboy, and Naomi, 14; and two roomers Alice Jones, 36, and Mamie Key, 20, both teachers.

The 1939 Ayantee, yearbook of North Carolina A&T State University.

On 29 December 1939, Carter Washington Foster, 26, of Wilson, and Estelle Duncan, 25, of Maysville, North Carolina, were married in Danville, Virginia. Foster, son of Walter Foster and Rosa Parker, worked as an agriculture teacher at Chatham County Training School and lived in Siler City, and Duncan, daughter of Samuel Duncan and Annie Hicks, lived in Clinton, North Carolina.

In 1940, Carter Washington Foster registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 15 January 1914 in Wilson; resided at 808 East Vance; worked as county farm agent at 559 1/2 East Nash Street; and was married to Estelle Duncan Foster.

This newspaper article about county officials reveals that Foster was paid less than half of his white counterpart’s salary:

Wilson Daily Times, 1 December 1941.

His work, alongside black home demonstration agent Jane Boyd, was recognized, however:

“Wilsonia” column, John G. Thomas, Wilson Daily Times, 24 January 1945.

Carter Washington Foster died 17 February 1955 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 January 1914 in Wilson to Walter Foster and Rosa Parker; was married; resided at 801 East Green; and worked as a county agricultural agent.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 1955.

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  • Sadie Collins — Wilson cafe operator Sadie Collins.
  • Helen W. Branford — per the 1953 Raleigh city directory, Helen Wade Branford (1913-1994) was a agricultural extension agent living in Wilson.
  • J.M. Miller Jr. — Wilson elementary school principal John Maxwell Miller Jr. 
  • Isham Bryant — Sampson County native Isham Bryant (1891-1961) was a machinist in Wilson.
  • Leona Hines — Leona T. Hines (1901-1988) of Wilson County and later Lenoir County.
  • Maggie Bryant — Wilson teacher Maggie Walker Bryant (1910-1958).
  • M.R. Zachary — Hertford County native Molton R. Zachary was a classmate of Foster at A&T and was a county farm agent.
  • Mrs. Branford — probably Helen W. Branford above.
  • Percy Williams
  • Mark Sharp — Wilson County farmer Mark B. Sharpe.
  • Joe Hester — Granville County native Joe Hester (1900-1984) was a Wilson County farmer.
  • Frank Murphy
  • W.R. Barnes
  • Cora S. Wilson
  • Isiah Whitehead — Isaiah Whitehead Jr. (1894-1969) was a farmer near Tarboro, Edgecombe County.
  • M.G. Garris
  • Martha Mitchell — probably, Martha Taylor Mitchell (1895-1976) of Wilson.
  • Bing Miller
  • Charles James — undertaker Charles D. James.
  • Rev. Farmer
  • Rev. Watkins — Baptist minister Talmadge Adam Watkins (1915-2002)
  • Thomas J. Moore
  • Jane Boyd — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1111 Washington Street, Walter Thorpe, 63; wife Rebecca, 46; and roomer Jane Boyd, 37, Virginia-born county home demonstration agent.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Louisa S. Perrington estate.

This notice of sale signaled the dissolution of the estate of Louisa Perrington, who died 26 January 1936 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, Louisa Virginia Perrington was born 1 April 1857 in Wilson to Sylvester Scarboro and Annie Adams, both of Greene County; resided at 702 East Nash Street; and was the widow of Weldon Perrington. Annie Marshall was informant.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 September 1933.

Perrington’s heirs were Annie Marshall, John Perrington, Morris Ellis and Camilous E. Ellis. The city plot up for auction was a half-acre on Nash Street  (at what is now 702 East Nash) bordered by John H. Clark‘s land, “the Daniel Vick homeplace,” and Boston Parker. The same lot had once been owned by John Kersey.

In the East Wilson Historic District nomination form, the two-story house on this lot is described as the “Louisa Parrington house; hip-roofed Colonial Revival dwelling with simple detail typical of houses of this middle-class design in East Wilson; builder was local carpenter Louis Thomas.”

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In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Anna Scarborough, 35; children John, 17, and Louisa, 14; and boarder Henry Blackman, 19.

In the 1880 census of Wilmington, New Hanover County: butler Weldon Perrington, 27; wife Louise, 23, and daughter Ardena, 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 614 Gold Street, widow Louise Perrerrington, 48; daughters Annie, 22, and Omma, 23, both cooks; son John, 17; and grandchildren John, 2, and Virginia Glastor, 4.

Morris M. Ellis, 25, and Ometa Sylvia Perrington, 22, daughter of Louisa Perrington, all of Wilson, were married 10 August 1910 at Saint John A.M.E. Zion church. Rev. D.L. Maultsby performed the ceremony in the presence of Floyd Mitchell, Dr. W.A. Mitchner and Chas. H. Darden.

On 28 February 1912, John Marshall, 21, married Annie Perrington, 21, in Wilson in the presence of A.N. Darden, Joseph Baker and William Baker.

Morris Weldon Ellis Jr. was born 16 February 1914 to Morris M. Ellis and Ometa S. Perrington.

John Perrington registered for the World War I draft in Wilson in 1917. Per his draft registration card, he was born 22 November 1894 in Wilmington, North Carolina; worked as a barber for Morris Ellis in Black Creek; and had “weak eyes.”

Morris McKenny Ellis registered for the World War I draft in Wilson in 1918. Per his draft registration card, he was born 29 July 1884; resided at 324 South Spring; was married to Ometa Silvy Ellis; and worked in his own barbershop in Black Creek.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 324 South Spring Street, Morris Ellis, 35; Ametra, 34; son Morris Jr., 5, and daughter Linnai, 2; mother-in-law Louisa Perrington, 63, and her granddaughter Inez Perrington, 14.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Hines Street, auto mechanic John Marshall, 32; wife Annie, 32; and children Glascoe, 12, Louise, 6, Bessie, 3, and Herman, 1.

On 22 November 1921, John W. Perrington, 27, of Wilson, son of Weldon and Louisa Perrington, married Nannie E. Frazier, 21, of Smithfield, daughter of Leslie and Amanda Drew, in Wake County.

Camillus Edward Ellis was born 25 February 1925.

Ometa Ellis died 3 May 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was married to Morriss Ellis; resided at 702 Nash Street; was 42 years old; and had been born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Weldon Perrington of Wilmington and Louisa Scarborough of Wilson. Louisa Parrington was informant.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 706 East Nash, widow Louisa Perrington, 76, a nurse; grandsons Comelius, 5, and Morris Ellis, 6; and roomer William L. Gardner, 25, a servant.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Hines Street, widow Annie Marshall, 42, cook; and children Louise, 16, Bessie M., 13, Herman, 11, Margrette, 9, and Gretchen G., 1.

In the 1930 census of Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio: at 1409 Union Street (owned and valued at $3500), North Carolina-born barber John Perrington, 35; wife Nannie, 29; and stepsons John, 14, and James, 13.

Annie Mariah Marshall died 12 October 1937 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 50 years old; was born in Wilson to Weldon Perrington and Louise Scarborough; resided at 703 East Nash; and was widowed. Informant was Herman Marshall.

John W. Perrington died 29 November 1927 and, as a veteran of World War I, was buried at Dayton National Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio.

In the 1940 census of Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee: on Quarles Street, medical foot specialist Morris M. Ellis, 55, and wife Minnie, 56.

Morris McKinley Ellis died 16 December 1952 in Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 July 1885 in North Carolina to Huel Ellis; was widowed; resided at 107-10th Street, Clarksville; and worked as a chiropodist. Camillus E. Ellis of New York, New York, was informant.

Camillus E. Ellis died 19 February 1968 in New York.

Morris Weldon Ellis Jr. died 26 November 1997 in Wilson.

 

The last will and testament of Emma Tarboro.

On 5 March 1902, Isaac Tarboro, 22, married Emma Lewis, 19, both of Wilson, in Wilson township. Willie Bynum, Elizabeth Freeman and J.D. Stallings witnessed the ceremony.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, cigarette factory laborer Isic Tarbor, 28; wife Emma, 27; and children Thomas, 4, and Emmalue, 2.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street, ice plant laborer Issac Tarboro, 39; wife Emma, 38; and children Thomas, 14, Emma Lou, 12, Issac Jr., 8, John, 5, Virginia, 3, and Richard, 8 months.

On 21 November 1936, Virginia Tarboro, 20, of Wilson County, daughter of Isaac and Emma Tarboro, married James Rich, 33, of Wilson County, son of Jim and Mary Rich, in Nashville, North Carolina. Witnesses were Emma Tarboro, Fred Williams and Leavain Ham, all of Wilson.

Emma Lewis Tarboro applied for a Social Security number in April 1937. Per her application, she was born 7 February 1881 in Edgecombe County to Frank Lewis and Clarsey Joyner.

On 19 December 1938, Richard Tarboro, 21, of Wilson County, son of Isaac Tarboro and Emma Taylor, married Docia Mae Cotten, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of Lumas and Annie Cotten, in Nashville, North Carolina. Witnesses were James Joyner, Mamie S. Taylor and Velma McCormick, all of Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 814 Manchester Street, Isaac Tarboro, 49; wife Emma, 49; daughter Virginia Rick, 23; and grandsons Junious Rountree, 12, and Freddrick Dew, 6. Isaac and Junious worked as laborers in a tobacco factory.

Isaac Tarboro died 27 June 1945 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 May 1881 in Greene County to John Tarboro; resided at 814 Manchester Street;  worked as a laborer; was married to Emma Tarboro; and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery. Richard Tarboro, 203 Manchester, was informant.

On 12 December 1945 in Norfolk, Virginia, John Edward Tarboro, 31, of Norfolk, born Wilson, N.C., son of Isaac Tarboro and Emma Louis, married Annie May Hatcher, 27, of Patrick County, Virginia.

Emma Tarboro died 10 June 1950 in Wilson County.

Per her will, Emma Tarboro devised her house and property at 814 Manchester Street to her daughters Emma Lou Rountree and Virginia Peak; her adjoining vacant lot to sons Thomas, John Edward, Isaac and Richard; and all personal property to her daughters, who were to serve as executors. Talmon Hunter and Sallie F. McKetheon witnessed.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Cemeteries, no. 14: the Valentine Farmer cemetery.

This small cemetery lies on the the south side of a deep curve of Lake Wilson Road on land that once belonged to Valentine Farmer. Farmer was born enslaved about 1828, and his daughter Martha Farmer Ruffin‘s W.P.A. interview — a so-called “slave narrative” — provides rich details of the family’s early history.

Valentine Farmer’s grave:

That of his second wife, Mary Eliza Ruffin Farmer:

Olivia Rena Woodard, wife of Kenney Woodard:

Mattie Farmer Statton, Valentine and Quinnie Harrison Farmer’s daughter:

and Walaenetess Reel:

——

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Vance [Valentine] Farmer, 40, wife Quinnie, 30, and children Clara, 13, Patsey [Martha], 11, Isaac, 10, Nancy, 8, Leah, 6, and Mattie, 2. Also, in Wilson township: Reuben Farmer, 68, wife Nancy, 71, and Luke Farmer, 11.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Bullie [Vallie] Farmer, 50, wife Qunnia, 46, and children Patsie, 21, Isaac, 20, Nannie, 18, Lera, 16, Mattie, 10, Caroline, 8, Bettie, 6, Mary J., 4, Charles, 3, and Sarah E., 2, plus Nancy Farmer, 90.

On 5 February 1882, Vaul Farmer, 52, married Mary E. Ruffin, 43, in Wilson County. On 19 March 1882, in the town of Stantonsburg, Robert Farmer, 19, married Marinda Bynum, 18. I have not found Martha Farmer Ruffin’s marriage record.

On 11 January 1889, Kenny Woodard, 24, of Toisnot township, son of Howell Woodard and Rhoda Farmer, married Leah Farmer, 24, of Gardners township, son of Vaul Farmer. London Woodard applied for the license, and they were married by a Justice of the Peace in the presence of Dublin Barnes, Frank Barnes and Peter Thomas.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Valintine Farmer, 70, wife Mary, 58, children Mattie, 30, Elizabeth, 26, Mary J., 24, and Elizar, 22, son-in-law Charly Freeman and daughter Carolina. All did farm work except Elizabeth, who was a cook, and Elizar, who was a schoolteacher. Meanwhile, in Brodie, Pulaski County, Arkansas: North Carolina-born Thomas Ruffin, 48, his North Carolina-born wife Patsie, 42, and children Wiley, 14, Marina, 12, James, 10, Mammie, 8, and Lucy, 4. The last two children were born in Arkansas.

Valentine Farmer made out his will the following spring, and his estate went into probate in 1906:

North Carolina, Wilson County  }  I, Valentine Farmer, of the aforesaid County and State, being of sound mind, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence, do make and declare this my last will and testament.

First: My executor hereinafter named, shall give my body a decent burial, and pay all funeral expenses, together with all my Just debts out of the first money which may come into her hands belonging to my estate.

Second: I give to my daughter Clary Batts, the wife of Amos Batts, and Patsy Ruffin, the wife of Thomas Ruffin, the sum of one dollar each.

Third: I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Mary Eliza Farmer, during her lifetime or widowhood, my entire estate, both real and personal.

Fourth: At the death or marriage of my wife, I give and bequeath to my four daughters, hereinafter named — Mattie Farmer, Elizabeth Farmer, Mary Jane Farmer and Sarah Eliza Farmer, all of my personal property of whatsoever kind.

Fifth: At the death or marriage of my wife, I give and bequeath to my children hereinafter named, viz: Nannie Farmer, Louvenia Farmer, Elizabeth Farmer, Mary Jane Farmer, Charlie Farmer and Sarah Eliza Farmer all of my real estate.

Sixth: I hereby constitute and appoint my wife Mary Eliza Farmer my lawful executor to all intents and purposes to execute this my last will and testament, according to the true intent and meaning thereof; hereby revoking and declaring void all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made.

In witness whereof, I, the said Valentine Farmer, do hereunto set my hand and seal this 9th day of April, 1901.   Valentine (X) Farmer

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said Valentine Farmer to be his last will and testament in the presence of us, who at his request and in his presence do subscribe our names as witnesses thereto   /s/ E.O. McGowan, W.H. Dixon

Valentine Farmer cemetery, July 2017.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2017.

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.

——

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.

The last will and testament of Henry Jones, alias Barnes.

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In May 1903, Samuel H. Vick swore in Superior Court that he had witnessed Henry Jones, alias Barnes, make his mark on will. Because Walter Hulin was deceased, his widow Hattie Hulin swore to the validity of his signature on the document.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Barnes, 35, and wife Milah, 30.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Barnes, 52; wife Mila, 40; son Amanuel Robins, 22; and boarder John Hardy, 20.

On 2 August 1899, Walter B. Hulin, 21, married Hattie Artis, 18, at the Artis home in Wilson. Rev. W.B. Perry, Episcopal, performed the ceremony in the presence of James Artis, Irine Winstead and Mrs. Barnes.

Mily Barnes died intestate in the late summer of 1909. Dr. F.S. Hargrave applied for letters of administration for her estate, estimated at $100 value.

 

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.