Wills & Estates

Dr. Basye’s bequest.

Three days after the Wilson Daily Times announced the death of Dr. Arthur A. Basye while visiting Richmond, Virginia, the newspaper published the contents of his will. Basye, an Illinois native, practiced medicine in Wilson for about ten years before his death. Among his bequests, Basye left African-American barber Andrew Pearce [Pierce] five hundred dollars. The will does not explain Pierce’s relationship to Basye or the impetus for this gift. 

Wilson Daily Times, 21 September 1926.

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In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel servant Andrew Pierce, 23; wife Allice, 20; daughter Nellie, 1; Harrit Knight, 36; and Victoria Knight, 17.

In the 1900 census of

On 2 February 1904, Andrew Pearce, 22, son of Andrew and Alice Pearce, married Lossie Hasket [Haskins], 21, daughter of Damp and Estelle Hasket, in Wilson. Primitive Baptist minister J.F. Farmer performed the ceremony in the presence of Thomas Barnes, Abbie Foster, and Mrs. J.F. Farmer.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 614 Hines Street, barber Andrew Pearce, 26; wife Lossy, 26; and children Allice, 5, and Bossy, 6 months.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pierce Andrew (c) barber h Hines hr Daniel

In 1918, Andrew Pierce registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 4 July 1886; worked as a barber for William Hines, 119 South Tarboro; lived at 515 Warren; and his nearest relative was wife Lossie Pierce.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 515 Warren, barber Andrew Pierce, 35; wife Loss, 35; and children Alice, 15, Mayzie [Boisy], 11, Hellen, 7, Benford, 5, and Ruby, 3.

On 11 April 1930, Ray M. Pierce, 4, of 1212 East Nash Street, Wilson, son of Andrew Pierce and Lessie Haskins, died of acute myocarditis.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 Vance, Andrew Pierce, 55, nurse at home (usually barber); wife Lossie, 55, in hospital; daughters Alice, 35, and Hester, 27; sons Boise, 29, cafe [cook?], and Binford, 14; daughter Ruby, 19, “cook school;” and grandchildren Randolph, 9, and Montheal Foster, 7, and Mickey Pierce, 1.

Andrew Pierce died 12 December 1948 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 June 1889 in Wilson to Andrew Pierce and Alice Knight; was the widower of Lossie Pierce; worked as a barber; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Hattie Tate, 307 Pender, was informant.

Clipping courtesy of J.Robert Boykin III.

D.S. Farmer’s estate notice.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 May 1928.

 

When Doctor S. Farmer died without a will in 1928, the administrator of his estate published notices in the local paper seeking any persons with claims.

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On 16 March 1880, D.S. Farmer, 22, married Elizabeth Locust, 22, in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Doctor S. Farmer, 22, and wife Elizabeth, 20.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Doctor S. Farmer, 45; wife Elizabeth, 43; children Lowla, 16, William L., 13, Ella E., 12, Emma L., 9, Walter W., 5, and Geneva A., 2; and boarder Sarah Parker, 24.

On 13 May 1906, D.S. Farmer, 50, of Taylors township, son of Delphia Farmer, married Susie Johnson, 40, of Wilson, daughter of Nash Johnson [sic; Horton], in Taylors township, Wilson County.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Dock S (c) farmer h 410 N Pine

On 23 July 1908, William L. Farmer, 21, of Wilson, son of D.S. and Elizabeth Farmer, married Pocahuntas Henry, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Mack and Ellen Henry, at Mack Henry’s in Wilson. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Glace Battle, Corneva Griffin and Ella Battle.

On 7 October 1908, D.S. Farmer, 46, of Wilson, applied for a license to marry Janie Lewis, 35, of Wilson.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Dock S. Farmer, 52; wife Janie, 26; children Ella, 20, Emma, 18, Walter, 14, and Geneva, 12; and hired woman Sarah Wells, 32.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Doc Farmer, 68; wife Janie, 30; son Walter, 25; and laborer Sarah Parker, 46.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Dock S (c) farmer h 1109 E Nash

Doctor Sims Farmer died 20 February 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 April 1857 in Wilson County to Hillard Farmer and Adelphia Farmer; was married to Channie Farmer; and was a self-employed barber.

Susan Horton died 18 January 1945 in Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1866 in Wake County to Nash Horton; was the widow of Dock Farmer; and lived at 417 South Goldsboro Street. She was buried in Boyett [Saint Delight Missionary Baptist Church] cemetery.

Last will and testament of Nellie Bullock Whitehead.

When Nellie Bullock Whitehead made out her will on 10 November 1949, she was very clear that only her daughters Anna Whitehead Hagans and Elnora Whitehead Sauls would inherit.

Nellie Bullock Whitehead was a native of Wilson County; her husband John Whitehead was from Georgia. I have not found a marriage license for them, but they lived in Dodge County, Georgia, in 1910, and all their children were born in Georgia. By 1920, they had returned to live in Nellie Whitehead’s home county.

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In the 1910 census of Mullis township, Dodge County, Georgia: John Whitehead, 26; wife Nellie, 25; and sons Edmund, 7, and Will. H., 4.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on S.H. Crocker Farm Road, tenant farmer, John Whitehead, 37; wife Nellie, 36; children E.K., 16, William H., 13, Anna V.O., 7, Anna Nula, 5, and J.B., 4; and great-uncle[?] Josh Whitehead.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Highway 91, express laborer [no first name] Whitehead, 49; wife Ella, 45; and children Anna V., 17, Nora, 16, John, 14, and William, 24. All were born in Georgia except Ella [Nellie], who was born in North Carolina.

John Whitehead died in Wilson on 24 October 1937. Per his death certificate, he was 55 years old; was born in Georgia to Joshua Whitehead and Georgian Melvin; was married to Nellie Whitehead; lived at 1513 Nash Street; and worked as a meat packer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow Nellie Whitehead, 56; son J.B., 24, truck driver for a contractor; daughter Anna Hagans, 27, tobacco company stemmer; son-in-law Henry Hagans, 32, town garbage remover; and daughter Elnora Whitehead, 26.

John Baptist Whitehead registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1915 in Chester, Georgia; lived at Route 4, Box 39, Wilson; worked for Imperial Tobacco, Barnes Street; and his contact was his mother, Nellie Whitehead.

Nellie B. Whitehead died 27 March 1951 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 August 1884 in Elm City, N.C., to Equia B. Bullock and William Ann Barnes and was a widow. Anna B. Hagans was informant.

Lane Street Project: Nunnie Barnes.

Nunnie Barnes’ headstone.

Nunnie Barnes‘ headstone is one of the largest standing in the cleared section of Odd Fellows’ cemetery. She  died on 26 August 1921 in Wilson. Barnes was unmarried and had no children, but left a sizable estate. W.M. Farmer and R.G. Briggs filed for letters of administration of estate, naming her siblings Sarah Joyner, Annie Alexander, and Sam Barnes as heirs and estimating her estate as a one-quarter interest in a house and lot at 604 Viola Street (worth about $500) and other property totaling about $2400.

Nunnie Barnes’ name is elusive in the record, but we can find glimpses of her family. (Her sister, Sarah Barnes Joyner, was featured in the post about her home at 609 Viola Street.) 

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Ellis [Ellic] Barnes, 27, teamster; wife Frances, 25; and children Minnie [possibly Nunnie], 2, Mary, 1, and infant, 1 month. 

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Alexander Barnes, 35, farmer; wife Francis, 33; Mannie [possibly Nunnie], 13, Stanley, 10, Louizah, 7, Sarah, 5, and Roscoe, 1. All were reported as born in Virginia, though Frances’ parents were described as North Carolina-born.

I have not found Barnes in the 1900 and 1910 censuses, but she appears in the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory as Nannie Barnes, a domestic living at 615 [now 609] Viola. Per her death certificate, she worked for Roscoe G. Briggs, the bank and cotton mill president who helped settle her affairs. [Ned Barnes was Briggs’ coachman and lived on premises in 1900, per the census. Ned was the son of Willis and Cherry Battle Barnes, and there is no known relationship to Nunnie Barnes.]

604 Viola Street (formerly numbered 615 and 612) in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson, N.C. Now demolished, the house is described in the 1988 National Historic Register nomination form as “ca. 1908; 1 story; extensively modified triple-A cottage; Masonite-veneered.”

Nunnie Barnes’ foot marker.

Exploring the kinships of men and women enslaved by the Moore-Flowers family.

We examined the connection between John H. Clark‘s father Harry Clark and Isabel Taylor here. Harry and Isabel were children of Annis Taylor, and all had been enslaved by Henry Flowers.

The will of Henry Flowers’ maternal grandfather, Edward Moore, who died in 1783 in Nash County, reveals interesting bequests, including “… to my loving Daughter Judah Flowers one Negro girl Named Nell …” and “… to my loving Daughter Elizabeth Moore one Negro [Wench?] Named Annis ….” Both Nell and Annis were already in possession of Moore’s daughters.

Judith Moore Flowers’ husband John Flowers legally owned Nell. John Flowers died intestate in early 1806, and his widow Judith quickly remarried Edward York. When the enslaved people belonging to Flowers’ estate were distributed in December 1807, York took possession of Primus, Nell, Annis and Will on Judith’s behalf. (Others distributed were Peter, Dorcas, Abram, Mourning, Jacob, Frank, Toney, and Joan.)

It appears that Nell passed from Edward and Judith Moore Flowers York to Judith’s son Henry Flowers and is likely the “old Negro woman Nelly” who died in 1845, per Henry Flowers’ estate records. 

And what about Annis? 

Recall that Edward Moore bequeathed an Annis to his daughter Elizabeth Moore. Was she the same Annis who, 24 years later, was part of John Flowers’ estate? And was this Annis connected to Annis Taylor, who was part of Henry Flowers’ estate in 1845? These and other shared names among the enslaved people belonging to the Moore-Flowers deserve a closer look.

For example, here is the bequest of Henry Flower’s grandfather, also named Henry Flowers, to John Flowers in his 1788 will:

 

Henry “Senior” directed that John receive a man named Primus (after the death of Henry’s wife Nanny) and three boys named Peter, Abraham, and Frank. Primus is surely the man Edward and Judith York took in 1807. It is possible that this is same Frank who is described as “old” in the lot drawn by John’s granddaughter Charity Flowers Taylor and her husband William in the 1849 distribution of the estate Henry “Junior.”  And Peter is probably the Peter named in the lot drawn by Nancy Flowers Mann and her husband Claiborne in the 1807 distribution of John Flowers estate. The Manns moved to Mississippi some time after 1820, and may have taken Peter with them. There is also a Peter in the estate of Henry Flowers Jr. Was he perhaps a son, grandson or nephew of the first Peter?

Henry Flowers Will (1788), John Flowers Estate Record (1806), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com. Many thanks to Katherine Elks for bringing my attention to these possible connections, which I began to explore here. Stay tuned.

The obituary of Noah Best, well-known brick layer.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 January 1929.

Noah Best was a member of the extended family who owned most of the land in the community known as Grabneck.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Daniel Best, 62; wife Jane, 50; children Laura, 19, Nicy, 17, Noah, 16, and Orange, 21, and [Orren’s wife] Hancy, 21.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: hireling Daniel Best, 72, and wife Jane, 55, living amid a cluster of household that included farmer Orren Best, 31, wife Hansey, 31, and children James, 9, Oscar, 6, George, 4, Fannie, 2, and Hattie, 3 months; hireling Lewis Best, 53, wife Harriette, 50, and children Daniel, 23, Sarah, 12, John, 8, and Willie, 10; and brickmason Noah Best, 27, wife Sarah, 25, and sons William, 2, and Thomas, 4 months.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Noah Bess, 45, brickmason; wife Sarah, 45; and children Henry, 22, brickmason, Morris, 20, day laborer, Wilson, 17, Clinton, 15, Frank, 11, Thad, 8, Noah, 6, Alis, 5, Lorra, 3, and Hillard, 1.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Road, bricklayer Noah Best, 52, widower; son Clinton, 24, bricklayer; daughter-in-law Minnie, 21, seamstress; son William, 19, bricklayer; and daughters Alice, 15, and Laura, 13.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, laborer Frank Mitchell, 27; wife Alice, 23; daughter Nora A., 1; and boarder Noah Bess, 63, widower.

Noah Best died 29 January 1929 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 62 years old; was born in Greene County to Daniel Best; and lived near Grabneck. Informant was Clinton Best.

Noah Best drafted a will on 9 January 1924, leaving bequests to his children Laura Best [Boddie], Morris Best, Clinton Best, Alice Best Mitchell, William Best, Wilson Best, and Henry Best. (On 8 July 1927, Best signed a codicil modifying the second provision slightly, leaving his house on Griffin Street to both daughters.)

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

Iredell County Chronicles, no. 1.

A few weeks ago, I promised to go a teeny way toward carrying out my original plan for several one-place studies by turning the focus of Black Wide-Awake briefly to other beloved Black communities. This week I’ll be guest-blogging (though in my own space) from time to time about Iredell County, North Carolina, my maternal grandmother’s birthplace, two hundred miles west of Wilson on the western edge of North Carolina’s Piedmont.

I’ll start with an introduction to my great-great-great-grandfather Walker Colvert, who was born enslaved about 1819 in Culpeper County, Virginia. When Samuel W. Colvert died in 1823, Walker passed to his son John Alpheus Colvert, who had migrated to Iredell County and bought land on Rocky Creek, a South Yadkin River tributary.

Only four years later, John A. Colvert died. This excerpt from his estate records shows  “Negroes hired for one year,” that is, enslaved people leased to neighbors to earn money for Colvert’s estate and the support of his widow and children. “Boy Walker” was about eight years old. That he was listed without his mother may suggest that he was an orphan, though he was about the age to be separated from her and put to work on his own. Walker’s kinship to Jerry, Amy, Joe, Ellen, Meel, Anda, Charlotte, and Lett is unknown. 

Inventory of the estate of John Alpheus Colvert, Iredell County, North Carolina, 1827.

When he reached adulthood in 1851, John’s son William Isaac Colvert inherited Walker and held him until Emancipation on his farm in Eagle Mill township. The same year, Walker Colvert fathered a son, John Walker Colvert, by Elvira Gray. The boy and his mother were likely enslaved on a nearby plantation, perhaps that of William I. Colvert’s sister, Susan Colvert Gray. Around 1853, Walker married Rebecca Parks, a relationship that was not legalized until they registered their cohabitation as freed people in 1866. Their registration notes three children — John (Rebecca’s stepson), Elvira, and Lovenia. Rebecca also had a son Lewis Colvert, born about 1860, whom Walker reared but apparently did not father.

Iredell County Cohabitation Records, Register of Deeds Office, Statesville, N.C.

Walker Colvert and his son John Walker worked for decades after slavery for William I. Colvert, likely both on his farm and at his cotton manufacturing enterprise, Eagle Mills. Walker eventually bought a small farm in nearby Union Grove township, though he did not record a deed for it. On 16 March 1901, with the help of his neighbors he drafted a short will leaving all his property to his widow Rebecca Colvert, and then to his son John Colvert. Four years later, he died.

The Landmark (Statesville, N.C.), 10 February 1905.

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In the 1870 census of Union Grove township, Iredell County: farm worker Walker Colvert, 50; wife Rebecca, 25; and Lewis, 10.

In the 1880 census of Union Grove township, Iredell County: farm worker Walker Colvert, 62; wife Rebecca, 37; grandson Alonzo, 5; and niece Bitha Albea, 3.

In the 1900 census of Union Grove township, Iredell County: farmer Walker Colvert, 84, and wife Rebecca, 60. Both reported having been born in Virginia.

The estate of George W. Thompson.

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Wilson Advance, 19 June 1890.

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In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer George Thompson, 57; wife Rilda, 43; son Rufus, 8; with Cherry Bailey, 42, and Bitha, 25, and Mittie Bailey, 16.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer George Thompson, 62; wife Marilda, 52; son Rufus, 20; and granddaughter Hattie Thompson, 6.

Apparently on his deathbed, George W. Thompson made out his will 16 December 1885.

He left all his property to his wife Rilda during her lifetime, then his land to son Rufus, and, if Rufus had no heirs, to granddaughter Cora Thompson. After Rilda’s death, his personal property was to be sold and the money equally divided between son Rufus Thompson, Courtney Peacock, and Cora Thompson. Solomon Lamm was appointed executor.

George Thompson died within days. His executor filed to open his estate and prepared this inventory of his property. Though relatively meager, the list represents a laudable achievement for a man who had spent the bulk of his life enslaved.

Unfortunately, George Thompson’s debts outweighed the value of his estate, forcing the sale advertised in the notice above of a ten-acre parcel adjoining the property of M.V. Peele, Isaac Rich, and Henry Peacock. Marilda and Rufus Thompson had left the area, however, and could not be found in the county for service.

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

Run over by the fast mail train.

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Wilson Advance, 14 May 1896.

Henry Peacock was killed in a particularly gruesome train accident in 1896.

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In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farm laborer Moses Peacock, 42; wife Hagar, 30; and Charles, 10, Matilda, 9, Green, 7, Roxy, 5, Caroline, 16, Lucetta, 2, and Henry Peacock, 13.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Henry Peacock, 24; wife Courtney, 25; daughters Hettiroe, 4, and Naroe, 2; and stepmother Celia Thompson, 50.

Peacock’s land in Cross Roads township was mentioned in the notice of an action to sell a tract belonging to the estate of George Thompson.

Wilson Advance, 20 March 1890.

A week after her husband’s terrible death, Courtney Peacock appealed to justice of the peace W.R. Davis to appoint two disinterested people to assess Henry Peacock’s estate and apportion to her the year’s support to which she was entitled by law. Davis appointed Larry Lucas and Amos Atkinson and made this notation on the back of their summons:

She is entitled to 300$ as years support for herself and 100$ each for any child under 15 years of age — to be set apart out of all the personal estate of the dec’d. including crop now growing — which crops must be valued as correct as possible.

Courtney Peacock had eight dependents, though, and the value of her husband’s estate was only $432.50.

Henry Peacock’s widow Courtney died within a few years, leaving their children orphaned. In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer [illegible] Peacock, 18; and siblings Nerroe, 21, James P., 20, Amos H., 15, Georg A., 7, and Nettie, 5; plus grandmother Celia Thompson, 80.

Georgia Barnes died 28 December 1929 in Lucama, Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 38 years old; was married to Junious Barnes; was born in Wilson County to Henry and Cortna Peacock; and was buried in the Peacock graveyard.

Anderson Peacock died 24 September 1933 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1883 in Lucama to Henry Peacock and Courtney Thompson; was the widower of Pattie Dawson; was a tenant laborer; and was “found dead in field no sign of foul play.” Abie Reid was informant.

Nero Bains died 3 February 1942 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 30 June 1878 in Wilson County to Henry Pickup and Codney [last name unknown]; was the widow of John Bains; and was buried in Bickup cemetery near Lucama.

James P. Peacock died 3 March 1942 in Fremont, Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 November 1880 in Wilson County to Henry Peacock and Cedney [last name unknown], both of Wilson County; was a wage hand; was married to Minnie Belle Peacock; and was buried in Bains cemetery near Lucama.

Nellie Reid died 19 December 1949 in Great Swamp township, Wayne County. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 March 1889 to Henry and Courtney Peacock; was married; and was buried in Watson cemetery.

Henry Peacock Estate Records (1896), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.