Wilson County

20 beds for white patients; as many for Negroes.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 August 1941.

This hospital was not Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium (now Longleaf Neuro-Medical Treatment Center), which was under construction when the above facility opened and admitted its first patients in January 1943. It seems a curious duplication of scarce resources to build two TB hospitals essentially simultaneously in one small city.

The Wilson County Tuberculosis Hospital building now houses the Wilson County Senior Activity Center, 1808 South Goldsboro Street.

Photo courtesy of Wilson County Senior Activity Center Facebook page.

Studio shots, no. 36: Levy Evans.

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 8.22.00 PM.png

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Ellen [sic] Evans, 39; wife Eliza, 25; son Thomas, 18; mother Harriet, 68, cook; widowed sister Dora Davis, 28; and nieces and nephews Levi, 14, Ivy, 12, Lillie, 10, Mamie, 5, and Margaret Davis, 2.

Levi Evans, 23, of Taylors township, son of Dora Evans, married Nancy Coleman, 18, of Taylors township, daughter of Tom and Mollie Coleman, on 8 September 1916 in Taylors township.

Levi Evins registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in July 1896 in Wilson County; he worked in farming; and had light hair and blue eyes.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Levi Evans, 23; wife Nancy, 20; daughter Esther Q., 2; and sisters Fannie Battle, 26, and Mamie Evans, 16.

In the 1930 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Levie Evans, 33; wife Nancy, 29; and children Esther, 12, Viola, 10, Rachael, 6, D.C., 4, and Harvey, 18 months.

Levi Evans married Lottie Mae Joyner in Nash County on 23 December 1937.

Levy Evans died 6 November 1970 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 July 1898 to Dora Evans and an unknown father; was married to  Lottie Joyner; and had worked as a farmer.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry user rogerbarron52.

The life and times of Nathan W. Boyette.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 November 1921.

In a nutshell: Nathan W. Boyette lived at 210 Pender Street. He was born 18 September 1850 and was enslaved in Old Fields township by Jimmy Boyette. He was the second oldest of 11, eight boys and three girls. His mother Julie was literate and taught her children to read and write. In October 1865, Boyette purchased a Blueback Speller from Moses Rountree’s store at Tarboro and Broad Streets in Wilson. In 1871, he began subscribing to the Wilmington Post. Before he was 20, he became Sunday school superintendent at New Vester Baptist Church. Shortly after, he moved to Goldsboro and went to work for “Old Man” John Robinson. After seven years, he became a carpenter and continued to work into his 70s. In 1920 Boyette married his sixth wife. All but one — Roscoe Boyette — of his 14 children were dead. However, Roscoe’s whereabouts since his discharge from the military after World War I were unknown. Boyette was hardworking and thrifty and gave up his sole vice, smoking, as a condition of his last marriage. He had only been inside a courtroom to serve as a juror three times. He was a member of the Missionary Baptist Church on East Nash Street. “Never had a doctor but once in my life and then I could have done without him. The Lord has been good to me.”


The 1860 slave schedule of Old Fields township, Wilson County, lists James Boyett as the owner of eight enslaved people: a 28 year-old woman [Julia?]; six boys aged 19, 12, 9 [Nathan?], 7, 4 and 2; and a girl aged 8. They were housed in two dwellings.

On 23 February 1882, Nathan Boyett, 31, of Wayne County, son of Moses Bayley and Julia Bayley of Wilson County, married Charity Crow, 27, of Wayne County, daughter of Jorden and Jane Crow of Wayne County, in Mount Olive, Brogden township, Wayne County, North Carolina.

On 2 March 1904, Nathan Boyette, 53, married Louisa Fowler, 38, daughter of Suckey Wiggins, in Goldsboro, Wayne County.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Boyette Nathan carp h 210 Pender; Boyette Emma dom h 210 Pender.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Boyett Nathan W (c, Emma) carp h 210 Pender

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 115 West Walnut Street, rented for $20/month,  Nathan Boyette, 79, and Emma Boyette, 56, cook for private family.

Nathan Boyett died 2 June 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 February 1850 in Wilson County to Moses Bailey and Julia Boyett of Wilson County; had worked as a laborer until three months prior to his death; was married to Emma Boyett; and lived at 115 West Walnut. [Note that Nathan Boyette adopted his mother (and former owner’s) surname upon Emancipation. Julia Boyette apparently died before 1870. In that census Moses Bailey is listed as the single parent of several children, and on 5 January 1871, he married Isabella Renfrow in Wilson County. Per their marriage license, Bailey was the son of Benja Bryant and Juda Jones.]

Studio shots, no. 34: Mary Poole Watson.

Mary Poole Watson (ca. 1888-1973).

Dempsey Pool married Gracie Bynum on 24 December 1874 in Edgecombe County.

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: laborer Dempsy Pool, 30; wife Gracy, 25; and children James, 30, Easter, 2, and Dempsey, 1.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Dempsey Poole, 50; wife Gracy, 45; and children Easter, 22, Elizebeth, 20, Dempsey Jr., 18, Charlie, 17, Annie, 14, Ella, 13, Mary, 11, Alice, 9, Haly, 8, Minnie, 5, and Richard, 2.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 417 Railroad Street, widowed tobacco factory worker Mary Watson, 36, and children Willie, 12, Virginia, 6, Charlie, 4, and Martha, 16.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1113 Woodard Street, tobacco factory stemmer Mary Watson 34, divorced; with children Willie, 18, tobacco factory laborer, Virginia, 17, Charlie, 14, and granddaughter Dorothy, 22 months.

Gracie Poole died 4 March 1939 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was a widow; was 69 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to James Bynum and Rhodia Bynum; and was a farmer. Annie Knight, Route 1, Wilson, was informant.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Mary Watson, 42, tobacco factory laborer, and children Charlie, 21, Robert (adopted), 2, and Willie, 23, tobacco factory laborer.

In 1940, Charlie Watson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he lived at 413 Murray [Maury] Street; was born 8 November 1914 in Wilson; his contact was mother Mary Watson, 413 Murray [Maury]; and he worked for his mother as a cook.

Mary Poole Watson died 4 June 1973 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 May 1892 to Grace Poole; was a widow; resided at 413 Maury Street; and was a tobacco worker. Informant was Charlie Watson, 411 Maury.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user scottywms60.

Wanted: colored girl to …

Wilson Daily Times, 29 November 1933.

In the 1928 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Earp Norma (c) student r 106 S East.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 November 1936.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 October 1940.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 July 1943.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 June 1946.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 September 1946.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 September 1949.

Contributions to Mercy, part 4.

On 30 January 1947, the Wilson Daily Times published a lengthy list of contributors to the fundraising drive of the Mercy Hospital Women’s Auxiliary. The list, reproduced here in five parts, included many of black Wilson’s leading individuals, businesses and institutions.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 January 1947.

  • J.J. LangleyLangley Jarrette J (c; Mary H) grocery h 901 Viola
  • Jesse Knight — Knight Jessie (c; Eliz) grocery 1105 Washington h 300 N Reid
  • J.F. Downing — Downing James F Jr clk Virginia Downing [grocery]
  • B. Murray
  • C.B. Stewart — Stewart Columbus B (c; Pearl M; 3) grocery 602 W Spruce h 604 ditto
  • E.H. Knight — Knight Elbert emp Williams Lumber r Elm City
  • Rev. R.A. Murphy — Murphy Raymond A (c; Ethel) grocery 210 E Banks h 411 Warren
  • Best Stewart — Stewart Best (c; Marjorie) grocery 411 W Spruce h 409 ditto
  • Jesse Stewart
  • L.E. Smith
  • Wheeler Filling Station– Wheeler D Elmo (Viola H; 2; Wheelers Esso Station) filling station 711 S Goldsboro h 910 Jordon (Five Points)
  • Rev. D.W. Winstead
  • S.M. Steevrus Grocery
  • Dora Gaston — Gaston Dora (c; widow Henry) grocery 706 U S Hwy 301 h 710 ditto
  • Junius Mitchell
  • J.F. Williams Cash Grocery
  • Hochnotts Grocery — Hocutts Grocery (Wm S & Roland B Hocutt) 203 1/2 Stantonsburg
  • Yellow Front Market — (Wm L Dickerson) grocery 501 E Nash
  • J.B. Barnes — perhaps Barnes John B (c; Rachel) Quick Serv Cleaners h 526 E Nash
  • Peter LupeLupe Peter (c; Rosa R) beer 511 E Nash h 717 Viola
  • Thomas Ford — Ford Thomas (c; Dora) confectioner 515 E Nash h 1008 Mercer
  • Baxter Grocer Co. — 703 Crowell
  • Nash Street Cafe — Nash Cafe (John R Saleeby) rest 552 E Nash
  • Mercers Market — Mercers Gro (Jas Mercer) 550 E Nash
  • Haywood Ellis — Ellis Haywood W (c; Ida) beer 506 E Nash h 108 Powell
  • Mr. and Mrs. G.J. Faison
  • S.P. ArtisArtis Separise P (c; Gracie W; Artis Barber Shop) h 537 1/2 E Nash
  • Libby’s Cafe — (c) (Libby McPhatter) rest 539 E Nash
  • Wade Moore — Moore Wade M (c; Eliz O; Wade’s Shoe Shop) h 1001 Faison
  • J.H. Moore — Moore J H floor mgr Big Star Whse h Bowdens
  • Lewis Barber Shop
  • Mack’s Shoe Shop — Mack James (c; Beulah; Baltimore Show Shop) h 206 N Reid
  • C.B. Bynum — Bynum Curley B (c; Pearl) shoe shiner 522 E Nash h 102 Pender
  • Levi Godwin — Godwin Levi (c; Esther) checker Wardrobe Cleaners h 900 Washington
  • J.M. Moore
  • Clarence BestBest Clarence B (c; Eva; East Nash Monument Co) h 1302 E Nash
  • James Whittaker — Whitaker Jas (c; Effie; 2) porter Rick’s Gulf Service h 416 N Vick
  • Gills Gro. — Gills Grocery (John Gill) 915 E Nash
  • W.L. Whitley — Whitley Walter L (Marie; 2; Forbes Grocery) h 1506 S Goldsboro
  • Kirby Sutton — Sutton Kirby (c) grocery 1122 E Nash h 1200 ditto
  • Eula Locus — Locus Eula (c; widow Luther) grocery 1201 E Nash h 1108 S Wainwright Av
  • Sylvester Sauls — Sauls Sylvester (c; Mattie; 2) laborer Williford Bros h 311 Stantonsburg
  • Lillian Williams — Williams Lillian (c; 2) tob wkr h 604 Manchester
  • Leslie Best — Best Lester [sic] (c; Pennie) farmer h 1331 E Nash
  • Mrs. F. McLean — probably Flowers McLean, see below.
  • Alester McLean — McLean Alex (c; Flowers) filling station 1421 E Nash h ditto
  • Cockrells — Cockrells Grocery (John Cockrell) 404 E Green
  • Geo. Wong — Wong George (Canton Restr) h 122 N Tarboro
  • O.K. Cockrell — Cockrell Onnie R. (Lucy I) grocery 513 Stantonsburg h 400 N Goldsboro
  • Dr. B.O. Barnes — Barnes Boisey O (c; Flossie H) physician 525 1.2 E Nash h 613 E Green
  • William Hines — Hines Wm M (c; Ethel L) barber h 615 E Green

All annotations, some edited for clarity, are entries in Hill’s Wilson City Directory 1947-48.

Receipt for negro slaves.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 January 1950.

This brief article appeared in a edition of the Daily Times celebrating Wilson’s centennial. It possibly raises more questions than it sheds light:

  • Did this transaction take place in Wilson County? Burket Barnes and Jethro Aycock appear in Wayne County census records after Wilson County’s 1855 creation.
  • How many enslaved people did Barnes sell to Aycock? The $3400 sale price suggests several. (And why did the Daily Times see fit to omit their names in 1950?)
  • Does the last paragraph relate to the receipt?
  • “One of the negro slaves of the township”? I assume the township is Wilson township, and the reference is to formerly enslaved people.
  • Wiggins Mill was a grist mill on Contentnea Creek, and the modern dam and reservoir can be seen from U.S. 301 South.
  • Who was “Aunt Sylvia“? The 1940 census of Wilson County reveals only one African-American woman named Sylvia in Wilson township old enough to have been enslaved, and barely. Sylvia Jones‘ age was estimated as 75, which yields an 1865 birth year. However, Jones noted that she had lived in Edgecombe County just five years earlier, and in the 1930 census she was living in Toisnot township. And only 50 years old.


Buried in a white cemetery.

Tracing Their Wilson Roots: Towering Tree Marks African-American Couple’s Grave in White Cemetery

By Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Daily Times, 1 October 2017.

Paul Sherrod and his nephew spent a day last month cleaning brush off their ancestors’ graves.

“Every time I come here to Wilson I come here to visit this cemetery because it is so special to me,” Sherrod said as he walked up to the resting place for his grandparents, Joseph Tobe Smith, 1871-1956, and Martha Elizabeth Wheeler Smith, 1875-1932.

A massive pine tree stands over the top of the gravesite, which is in the Winstead family cemetery, also referred to as the Parkwood Cemetery, surrounded by the parking lot of the now-closed Wilson Mall.

“I remember as a kid this being farmland,” Sherrod said. “My grandfather was a sharecropper on land owned by the Winstead family. My grandfather was allowed to plant this tallest tree here, we believe, sometime between 1918 and 1922, and he was promised that he could be buried there right along with my grandmother. So proud of this, to know that my grandfather planted that tree.”

Sherrod is not sure who it was in the Winstead family who offered and then kept that promise, but he suspects it might have been Charles Winstead Sr.

“They owned land from here all the way down to Raleigh Road. I had two uncles who sharecropped almost all the way down to the parkway,” Sherrod said.

It is remarkable to Sherrod that early in the 20th century, a black couple would be permitted to have a final resting place in a white cemetery.

“That is really truly amazing because here we are in 1929, in the middle of the Depression and some oppression, you have this act of compassion and courage from this Winstead family to allow this to happen,” Sherrod said. “Looking back on it, I think they must have had, what you call it now, some flack about that, but they were courageous enough to see it through because they made a promise to my grandfather and they held to their promise. And moving forward to the mall being here, as the developers were putting it together, I understand that the Winstead family made a stipulation when they sold them the land that the graves and the bodies will not be exhumed, so here they are. I don’t know which family members it was, but they, again, had the same courage as their forefathers. So that’s remarkable, in 1929, having an African-American buried in a white cemetery.”

Sherrod never knew his grandmother, as she died before Sherrod was born.

“I only know about my grandfather,” Sherrod said. “I remember so much about him because he was actually both a father and a grandfather to me because my father died when I was quite young. He died in 1945. Right after that I started to live with my grandfather, and he mentored me in so, so many ways. He would take me with him as he would take his wagon and his mule and cultivate gardens. He was a farmer, but he was not farming anymore, so he was cultivating people’s gardens, and I learned so much from him about agriculture, how to grow things. I had my own garden. He would help me take care of the tomatoes and the okra. He was a wonderful person.”

They lived together from about 1944 to 1950 when Sherrod was 13 to 18 years old.

“It was a pleasure living with him because I learned so much,” Sherrod said. “He was so patient with me. I understand now, that he could see that I was different. I loved the books, and he wanted to give me the opportunity to do my homework, so he had to always make sure there was enough kerosene in the lamp. A little step up from Lincoln and the candle, but a similar situation.”

Sherrod laughed.

“The house was about a mile and half from here, east of here in New Grab Neck,” Sherrod said. “Later it was called Jefferson Street, and now it’s called Forest Hills. They have changed the name a couple of times.”

Sherrod, who is now 84, said growing up in Wilson in the 1940s wasn’t as bad as it might have seemed that it could have been.

“Our neighborhood was partially integrated. About a quarter of a mile up the street from where we lived, there was a white family. As a matter of fact, my grandfather had lived in that very house back in the early ’40s,” Sherrod said. “The only real signs of segregation were more the public places. We had a colored and white drinking fountain in front of the courthouse. Now it is a memorial to veterans, I believe. You could not sit in a restaurant. You had to go back to the back to get your food handed out the back door to you. And when buses came along, we had to ride in the back of the bus. So those were outward signs of the segregation, but there was never really any brutality. You weren’t afraid to walk around. You knew your place. You understood that. It wasn’t really as bad as it could have been because I have heard some real horror stories from other cities around the country later on. Not then. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”

The pine tree that Joseph Smith planted is at least 4 feet thick and the most prominent tree in the graveyard. There is a crack up its middle, perhaps made by a lightning strike many years ago.

When his grandfather died in 1956, Sherrod was overseas serving in the Air Force and could not attend the funeral.

“Before, they just had a simple marker,” Sherrod said.

Family members placed a granite marker at the site several years ago, and Sherrod recently purchased an additional stone marker to note the couple’s birth and death dates.

When Sherrod and his nephew, Bradley Sherrod of Wilson, spent the day clearing the brush around the gravesite, they left one little sapling.

“We toyed with the idea of taking it out, but my nephew and I decided no. Let that grow and see what happens. It’s obviously from the seed of this tree, so we left that one alone, that little baby pine, and over the years I’ll see what happens,” Sherrod said. “I hope the Lord allows me to be on this Earth long enough to see it be a pretty big tree. It’s growing nicely.”

Sherrod, who now resides in California, recently held a large family reunion on the site of the Sherrod family homeplace near Stantonsburg. He had spent the whole summer preparing for the event.

That is from his father’s side of the family. The Smiths are from his mother’s side of the family in Wilson.

“I firmly believe that if more people explored the roots from which they came, there would probably be a better world,” Sherrod said. “There is so much rich history on all sides on all ethnic groups, and if we had that history, we would have an opportunity to have a better understanding. It would be wonderful if people would do that on a large scale.”


In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer James Smith, 34, born in Virginia; wife Adline, 30; and children John, 14, Joseph, 9, Windsor, 12, Kate, 6, Allace, 5, and Julious, 2.

On 19 October 1892, Joe Smith, 21, of Wilson, son of Jim and Adeline Smith, married Martha Wheeler, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Amy Wheeler, at Amy Wheeler’s home. Free Will Baptist minister Crockett Bess performed the ceremony in the presence of Noah Wood, John Wheeler and Jno. Artis.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Joseph Smith, 29, farmer; wife Martha, 25; and children Addie, 5, Fenner, 4, and Mark, 2, and widowed mother Amma, 55.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Joseph Smith, 39; wife Martha, 36; and children Addie, 15, Fenner, 13, Mark, 11, James, 9, Lillie, 7, Mary F., 5, and Martha, 15 months.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Joseph Smith, 49; wife Martha, 41; and children Mark, 21, Lillie, 19, Mary Ford, 13, Martha, 10, Margaret Earls, 4 months, and Josie Brow, newborn.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Tobe Smith, 59, farmer; wife Martha, 54; and children Frenner, 35, farm laborer, Mark G., 32, farm laborer, James, 30, schoolhouse janitor, Josephine, 14, and Beulah, 11.

Martha Smith died 21 March 1932 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born born in Nash County to Dick Wheeler and Amy Rice; was married to Tobe Smith; and worked as a tenant farmer.

Joseph Tobe Smith died 20 January 1956 at his home at 315 Jefferson Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 August 1884 in Wilson County to James Smith and Adline Darden; was a retired farmer; resided at 315 Jefferson Street; and was buried in Winstead cemetery. Mrs. Martha Sherrod, 315 Jefferson, was informant.

Aerial view of Winstead cemetery behind Wilson (former Parkwood) Mall, Wilson. Courtesy Google Maps.