Wilson County

Martin Luther King Jr. thought everyone should be equal.

From Drew C. Wilson’s article, “Students learn legacy of civil rights,” in the 19 January 2020 online edition of the Wilson Times:

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“Martin Luther King thought everyone should be equal,” wrote Lavender Miller, a student in Helen Williams’ first grade class.

On Friday, Lavender and other first graders were polishing second drafts of papers they wrote about King’s life.

“Martin Luther King Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929. He had a brother and a sister,” wrote first grader Mateo Bacas. “Martin Luther King Jr. cannot go to the movie because it said white only.”

In Mateo’s first iteration, King stood in front of a lectern with a microphone delivering his speech. In the second, more colorful version, Mateo drew King larger and with a crown on his head.

“Martin Luther King grew up to be a minister,” wrote first grader Zymir McArthur. “Some people didn’t like him. He fought against racism. He gave a speech, ‘I Have a Dream,’ in D.C. He wanted his children to be able to hold hands with white children.”

Some thoughts:

1) Mateo’s drawing #2?  I’d blow it up and hang it behind my desk.

(2) Second drafts of papers — in first grade? That’s the kind of early literacy I love.

(3) These babies attend Samuel H. Vick Elementary, which has been around in one form or another long enough for my 85 year-old father to have attended. (Here’s another first grade class at Vick.) There were no white children there with which to hold hands in his day. And I’d bet there are next to none now.

(4) There are, however, many Latino children at Vick, mostly Mexican-American, and these black and brown children hold East Wilson’s future in their little hands.

(5) Martin Luther King Jr. Day post-dates my elementary and secondary education. I don’t recall him being much remarked upon in any classroom I sat in, but that was okay — I got my Black History at home.

(6) I live in Atlanta, Dr. King’s hometown. I am watching the annual commemoration of his life and legacy, broadcast live from Ebenezer Baptist Church. Today, we are often reminded, is a day on, not a day off. My service is Black Wide Awake. And I’m on.

A marriage in 1848.

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Ed. Powell and Thomas Mercer gave bond for a marriage license for Ed. Powell and Mary Jones on 14 August 1848 in Nash County. The couple likely lived in a section of Nash that would be incorporated into Wilson County in 1855.

Nineteen years later, on 10 October 1867, John Allen Jones, son of Edwin Powell and Mary Jones, married Susan Simpson, daughter of Sallie Simpson, at Margarett Simpson‘s house in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jno. A. Jones, 22; wife Susan, 19;  children Thomas, 2, and Jesse B., 7 months; and Rosett Boykin, 10.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Dempsy Powell, 52, farmer; wife Sallie, 46; daughter Susan A. Jones, 27, and her husband John A. Jones, 34; their children Thomas A., 13, Jessee B., 11, James A., 7, Celia C., 5, Sallie C., 4, and John A., 1; and W.D. Lucus, 21, laborer. [Sallie Simpson married Dempsey Powell in Wilson County in 1855. The family appears in the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: turpentine worker Dempsey Powell, 30; wife Sallie, 28; and Susan Simpson, 9.]

Many thanks to Edith Garnett Jones for this copy of the Powell-Jones marriage license.

Studio shots, nos. 134 and 135: Lonnie Bagley and Leona Jones.

  • Lonnie Bagley

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Lonnie Bagley sitting in Picture-Taking Barnes‘ wicker chair.

In the 1900 census of Old Fields, Wilson County: farmer Henderson Bagley, 70, wife Lenora, 48, daughter Etta, 18, and grandchildren Lonna [Lonnie] Locus, 8, Earnest Locus, 6, and Percy Locus, 2. Next door: Ruffin Bagley, 32, wife Luesah, 25, and son Arthar, 6.

Lonnie Bagley, 20, of Old Fields, son of Frank Locus and Ida Jones [Mary Ida Bagley Jones], married Mary Jane Morgan, 21, of Nash County, daughter of Parker and Mary Morgan, on 16 January 1908 in Old Fields township, Wilson County.

Lonnie Bagley registered for the World War I draft in Nash County. Per his draft registration, he was born 3 July 1891 in Wilson; resided in Bailey; worked as a farmer for Mary J. Glover near Bailey; and had a wife and children.

In the 1920 census of Jackson township, Nash County: on Bailey and Spring Hope Road, Lonnie Bagley, 28; wife Mary J., 30; and children Odel, 10, Weldon, 9, Gladys, 7, Lessie, 6, Ollie M., 4, and Lonnie Jr., 1 month.

Lonnie Bagley registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C. Per his registration card, he was born 3 July 1891 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 2007 O Street, N.W., Washington; and worked for Morrison Brothers, Bethesda, Maryland.

Lonnie Bagley, 51, married Hattie M. Robinson on 12 June 1943 in Washington, D.C.

  • Leona Jones

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Leona Jones.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: on Sims Road, farmer Thomas A. Jones, 51; wife Mary I., 45; children Milbry T., 23, Andrew, 19, Leona, 17, James H., 14, Ollie, 9, Ida May, 7, Paul H., 5, and Jim Lawrence, 3; and granddaughter Bettie Lee, 4.

In the 1930 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Jones, 61; wife Ida, 54; and children Leona, 27, Ollie, 19, Ida M., 17, Paul, 15, James, 13, and Willie, 8.

Many thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for the use of these images.

“Don’t know who she belonged too.”

Julia Washington of Wiggins Street, Wilson, died of gastritis on 29 June 1913.  Her son Aaron Washington provided the information used to complete her death certificate. At 62, Julia had been born about 1851. Aaron knew Julia’s father was Sam Barnes and her mother was named Patience. However, he did not know Patience’s maiden name because he did not “know who she belonged too.”

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Toward identifying Rountree, Vick and Odd Fellows’ dead, no. 2.

This is a running annotated list of people whose headstones still stand in Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

  • Barnes, Dave — Died 1935, age 52. Odd Fellows. Death certificate lists burial site as Wilson, N.C. (Undertakers C.H. Darden and Sons handled most of the Odd Fellows burials on this list, and their practice was to refer to the cemetery by this broad location name. Darden and Sons’ burials are marked CHD below.)
  • Barnes, Della — Born 1858, died 1935. Odd Fellows. Death certificate lists burial site as Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Barnes, Nunnie — Born 1885, died 1921. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson County; CHD.
  • Best family — Odd Fellows. Large flat family marker.
  • Carter, C.L.Clarence L. Carter. Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with Odd Fellows triple link and Masonic square and compass. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Dawson family — Odd Fellows. Large upright family marker.
  • Dawson, L. — Lucy Hill Dawson. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Dawson, Virginia S. — Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Ellis, Buster — Born 1914, died 1924. Rountree. Located in a cluster of broken stones, including grandmother Clarkie Ellis. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Ellis, Clarkie — Born 1853; died illegible. Rountree. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Farrior, Henry W., Rev. — Born 1859; died 1937. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Hines, Walter S. — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Marlow, Daniel — Born 1870, died 1918. Rountree.
  • Mincy, Oscar — Odd Fellows.
  • Mincy, Prince — Died 1902, age 61. Odd Fellows.
  • Oats, Charles — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only. Death certificate: Roundtree cemetery; CHD.
  • Oats, Emma — Died 1908, age 40. Odd Fellows.
  • Pitt, Washington — Died 1917, age 38. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Robins, Daisy — Died 1914, age 38. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Rountree, Delzela (dau. of Jack and Lucile Rountree)– Born 1897, died 1914. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.
  • Spicer, Omega C. — Died 1945. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; Hamilton Funeral Home. [Listed in Howell volume.]
  • Tart, Henry — Born 1886, died 1919. Odd Fellows.
  • Tate family — Odd Fellows. Large upright family marker.
  • Tate, Hardy — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with Odd Fellows triple links.
  • Taylor, H.B. — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with triple links and square and compass.
  • Thomas, Charles S. — Died 1937. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.
  • Thomas, Sarah (wife of Charlie Thomas) — Odd Fellows.
  • Unknown — Died 1921, age 51. Odd Fellows.
  • Uzzell, Millie — Born 1872, died 1928. Rountree. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Vick, Irma (dau. of S.H. and A.M. Vick) — Born 1905, died 1921. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.
  • White, Lucinda (wife of Geo. W. White) — Odd Fellows.
  • Williams, Louis — Odd Fellows.

Thomas Kerney, old soldier.

Though Thomas Kerney‘s death certificate describes him as an “old solder,” he appears to have been too young to have served during the Civil War. Nor have I found any military record for him. Thomas and Silvey Kerney are not listed in Wilson County census records.

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UPDATE: 20 January 2020. Obviously, I didn’t look hard enough. Thomas Kearney enlisted in the United States Army in 1881 and served nearly till the end of his life.

On 15 August 1881, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Charleston, South Carolina. Per the enlistment register, he was 21 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a laborer; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 3/4″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 14 August 1886 in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, as a private.

On 4 December 1886, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Washington, D.C. Per the enlistment register, he was 26 years, 5 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company I; and was discharged 3 December 1891 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, as a private.

On 16 December 1891, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Washington, D.C. Per the enlistment register, he was 31 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had dark brown eyes, black hair and brown complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company I; and was discharged 15 December 1896 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, as a private.

On 23 December 1896, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Charleston, South Carolina. Per the enlistment register, he was 26 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a laborer; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 3/4″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 14 August 1886 in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, as a private.

On 23 December 1899, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Fort Apache, Arizona. Per the enlistment register, he was 39 years, 7 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and black complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry; and was discharged 22 December 1902 in Monterey, California, as a private.

In the 1900 Military and Naval Population Schedule, Philippine Islands, 9th Cavalry: Kearney, Thomas, colored, 39, born in Tarboro, North Carolina.

On 13 January 1903, Thomas Kearney enlisted in San Francisco, California. Per the enlistment register, he was 42 years, 6 months old; was born in Tabor, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and dark complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company C; and was discharged 12 January 1906 in Fort Riley, Kansas, as a private.

On 19 January 1906, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Kansas City, Missouri. Per the enlistment register, he was 45 years, 6 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 9 January 1908 at Presidio, San Francisco, California, as a private.

U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, http://www.ancestry.com.

Toward identifying Rountree, Vick and Odd Fellows’ dead, no. 1.

In 2015, culminating a years-long project headed by Joan L. Howell, the Wilson County Genealogical Society published Wilson County Cemeteries, Vol. V: The Two City-Owned African-American Cemeteries, containing alphabetical listings of 11,472 burials in Rest Haven cemetery and 650 burials in Rountree-Vick cemetery.

Howell’s book is an invaluable resource for Wilson County researchers and — as far as we know — the sole list of burials in Rountree-Vick. Nonetheless, it’s worthwhile to assess this compilation in the light of recent discoveries concerning these cemeteries.

Confronted with the empty expanse of the Rountree-Vick memorial ground, Howell undertook an exhaustive search of death certificates filed in the Wilson County registrar’s office, abstracting all that gave “Rountree cemetery,” “Vick cemetery,” or “paupers cemetery” as the place of burial. An examination of the resulting list makes clear that these burials were in Rountree, Vick and Odd Fellows cemeteries, which are contiguous, but separately owned, graveyards. And the list is incomplete.

Vick and Odd Fellows cemeteries were in use by the late 1800s, and Rountree by 1900. However, the overwhelming majority of burials listed in this volume date from the 1940s. (Rest Haven was the city’s primary black cemetery thereafter.) There are a smattering of burials from the late 1930s, the 1950s and even the 1960s. Because North Carolina did not require death certificates until 1914, and death certificates did not list burial locations with specificity until around World War II, the first forty or so years of burials in these cemeteries are difficult to chronicle.

So, how many people are buried in Vick, Rountree and Odd Fellows? A 1995 Wilson Daily Times article estimated 1300.  However, as at least 600 were laid to rest here in the 1940s alone, this is surely a vast understatement. We may never arrive at a definitive number, but we can augment Howell’s list. I will start with a list of people whose burial in Rountree, Vick or Odd Fellows is memorialized by an existing headstone and continue with a list of people whose burial place is noted in a published obituary. Do you know of a family member buried in one these cemeteries? If so, please let me know. If I find that they are not listed in Howell’s book, they will be added to a third list. Thanks for your help.

Interested in purchasing a copy of Howell’s volume?  You can order one at http://www.wcgs.org.

An account of the sale of Negroes.

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On 3 January 1859, administratrix Mahala Barnes sold two families belonging to her deceased husband Elias Barnesestate. Elias’ brother Joshua Barnes purchased Axey and her two children for $1321 and Rachel and her child for $1105 on behalf of the estate of Jesse Barnes Sr., who was Elias and Joshua’s late father.

Estate of Elias Barnes (1856), North Carolina Wills and Estates 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

“It’s so nice to see/ All the folks you love together …”

I’m not sure what resonates most: the over-excited child in a hotel room, the O’Jays, the picnic, the slightly bored teenagers, the teeshirts, the cemetery cleaning, the banquet, the Electric Slide, the history lecture, the camera up in folks’ faces. Everything about this video screams BLACK FAMILY REUNION, and this one is a gathering of the Carters in Wilson in 1990.

I paused the tape at 4:34. The wall of ancestors. I recognized these names. This was a gathering of the descendants of George and Nancy Parker Carter, with the Mary Ida Carter Brockington branch exceptionally well-represented.

I hope the next generation of Carters is somewhere planning the 2020 reunion — and that they’ll film it and share!

Hat tip to Zella Palmer for leading me to this gem, and thanks to Ronald Steele, who blessed us all by posting it to Youtube.

Bob is hired for one year.

On 1 January 1857, Jesse Minshew, acting for the partnership Minshew & Caho, hired Bob from John A. Sam, guardian of William H. Applewhite, for one year for $146. Minshew & Caho agreed to furnish Bob with three suits of clothes (one woolen), a pair of shoes, a hat and a blanket.

William H. Applewhite was the son of Henry and Orpha Pike Applewhite. His father died when he was eight years old, leaving him and his siblings inheritances that included Bob and other enslaved people. As the guardian of a minor, John Sam’s job was to protect his interests and increase his assets, and sending Bob to work for Minshew & Caho was calculated to do just that. (It’s not clear what kind of business Wayne County farmer Jesse Minshew and steam miller John M. Caho were engaged in.)

Slave Hire-1857, Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.