Wilson County

Negro weddings.

Who knew that “negro wedding” was a whole subgenre of blackface?

… Me either.

But it was, and quite popular in Wilson County as late as the 1940s.

In 1927, Mrs. R.H. Llewellyn, clever and entertaining, entertained the Rotary Club with a negro wedding and a negro sermon. 

Wilson Daily Times, 14 December 1927.

In 1938, Stantonsburg High School’s senior class’ evening of “good clean fun and amusement” included a negro wedding.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 March 1938.

In 1941, Saratoga High School’s Beta Club presented a negro wedding whose finale was a stirring “Dark Town Strutter’s Ball.”

Wilson Daily Times, 26 February 1941.

Participants did not need to make up their own mockeries. Titles of negro wedding plays include “Henpeck at the Hitching Post,” “My Wild Days are Over,” and “The Coontown Wedding.” Characters in Mary Bonham’s “The Kink in Kizzie’s Wedding: A Mock Negro Wedding,” published in 1921, include Lizzie Straight, Pinky Black, Sunshine Franklin, Necessary Dolittle, George Washington Goot, and Uncle Remus. The opening lines: “CAPT. COTTON — ‘Bein’ as Ise de Knight ob de Hoss-shoe, an’ while we’s waitin’ fo’ de bridal paih, we will practice de riding’ gaits.’ ALL GROOMSMEN — ‘Thank-u-doo, obleeged-to-you!’ (They salute the Captain.)” Charming.

The resting place of Cornelius Barnes.

After reading about Cornelius Barnes, Officer Jose A. Rivera Jr. visited Bethel cemetery to look for his grave. Officer Rivera and the Stantonsburg Police Department have taken an interest in the upkeep of this historic graveyard, and he sent this photo this morning. (The marker was carved by the fine folk artist and stonecutter Clarence B. Best.)

Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

My aunt married into a big family, and my parents, sister, and I were often absorbed into the Barneses’ big holiday gatherings. Especially Thanksgiving. I’m not sure why I remember this one exactly, but I was about 9 or 10, I think, and Aunt Pet was hostess. At the time she was living in this house at 1112 Carolina Street, down the street from our old house. Coats heaped on a bed, folding tables pressed end to end from one room into the next, pots steaming, plates groaning. 

2020 has been terrible in so many ways, but though there will be no big family gathering, I am mindful of the grace extended to me even in this year. I am thankful for my life and all in it, and grateful to the ancestors who guide my steps. 

Snaps, no. 75: Cornelius Barnes.

Cornelius Barnes (1875-1960).


In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Richard Barnes, 38; wife Aqulla, 33; and children Edward C., 9, Wm. H.M., 8, Lewis H., 6, Maryland, 5, and Corneleous, 4.

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Richard Barnes, 58; wife Gracey, 23; children Peter, 23, Cornelius, 21, Mary S., 18, Geneva, 16, John, 14, and Barnie, 7.

On 27 December 1905, Cornelius Barnes, 29, of Stantonsburg, son of Richard and Quilla Barnes, married Maggie Farmer, 22, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Robert and R. Farmer, near Moyeton, N.C. 

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg & Wilson Road, tenant farmer Nela Barnes, 43; wife Maggie, 35; children Sallie, 13, and Claranc, 16, and nieces and nephew LouEtta, 17, Walter, 16, Flora, 10, Quillie, 8, and Susan A., 5.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Neal Barnes, 55; wife Maggie, 45; and nieces Mary S., 16, and Quillie, 18.

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Cornelius Barnes, 64; wife Maggie, 55; daughter Sallie, 33; nephew Frank Ellis, 29; and grandchildren Herman Bowden, 12, and Thelma, 9, Corana, 8, William, 5, Josephine, 4, and Dorothy Taylor, 3. 

Cornelius Barnes died 27 June 1960 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 March 1875 in Wilson County to Richard Barnes and Quilla Joyner; had been a farmer; and was married to Maggie Barnes. He was buried in Bethel cemetery.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user wepurkett.

Mother and child killed in oil can explosion.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 November 1921.

In 1917, Avery Johnson registered for the World War I draft in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Per his registration card, he was born 25 June 1891 in Marietta, N.C.; lived at 636 Green, Wilson; worked as a laborer for Worth Bros., Coatesville, Pennsylvania; and had a wife and one child.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Avery Johnson, 27; wife Carrie, 24; and children Evaline, 2, and John L., two months.

The child who died in the oil can explosion was a son, John Elry Johnson, not a daughter. He was two weeks past his second birthday.

Avery Johnson’s wife Carrie Wingate Johnson also succumbed to her injuries, after four days of suffering. 

Teachers, 1890.

From the chapter concerning Wilson County in the 1890 edition of Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory:

Other suns: Arkansas.

Arkansas was not a Great Migration destination. Rather, it was a state from which thousands of African-Americans streamed North to cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit. However, no doubt, many such families had come to eastern and central Arkansas from Wilson County in the 1880s and ’90s.

  • Ellis, Littleton, and Julia Barnes Ellis and children, unnamed location, ca. 1886
  • Dixon, Luke, and Martha Tyson Dixon, DeValls Bluffs, 1889
  • Armstrong, Haywood, and Agnes Bullock Armstrong, and children Charlie, Mollie, William, Joshua, and Herman, Lonoke County, ca. 1890
  • Parker, Caesar, and Cinda Parker and children Mattie, Willis, Daniel, and Louvenia, Keo, Lonoke County, 1890
  • Barnes, Nathan, and Lucy Barnes, and children Marson, Mary Jane, Claudie, and Elroy, Saint Francis County, ca. 1890
  • Ruffin, Thomas, and Martha Farmer Ruffin, and children Wiley, Marina, and James, Brodie, Pulaski County, ca. 1891
  • Scarborough, George, and Millie Armstrong Scarborough and children Walter, George, Martin J., and Charity, Lonoke County, ca. 1892
  • Scarborough, George, and children Martin, Cromwell, Arie, Jesse, Fannie, Joseph, and Leon, Lonoke County, betw. 1893 and 1900
  • Forbes, Wiley, and Penny Forbes and siblings Johnnie, Mary B., Martha J., and Tinsey, 12; and father Toney Forbes, bef. 1894
  • Bynum, Isaac, and Martha Bynum and children, Lonoke County, ca. 1895
  • Daniels, Henry, and Elizabeth Daniels, and children William H., Matilda A., and Mary J., Pine Bluff, bef. 1896
  • Lucas, Ephraim, and Annie Lucas, and son Luther, Cross County, betw. 1896 and 1900
  • Bullock, Harriet, county unknown, bef. 1897
  • Taylor, George W., Pulaski County, ca. 1898
  • Barnes, Smithy, and sons George, Sidney and Bruce Cooper, Pine Bluff, bef. 1900
  • Farmer, Peter, and Mariah Farmer, and children John, Margaret, Isaac, Eli, and Louisa, Cross County, bef. 1900
  • Armstrong, Isaac, and Laura Armstrong and children William, David L., Mary B., and James G., Ashley County, bef. 1900
  • Jones, George D., Little Rock, bef. 1900
  • High, Joseph W., Lafayette County, bef. 1900
  • Farmer, Peter, and Mariah Lofton Farmer, and children Hardy and Essie, Cross County, bef. 1900
  • Hines, Cherry Ward, Lonoke County, bef. 1900
  • Barron, Mark, Ashley County, bef. 1900
  • Aycock, Green, and Janie Aycock, and children Robert, Larry, and Peter, and mother Faine Aycock, Jefferson County, bef. 1900
  • Davis, Paul, and Annie Davis and Louvinia, Sadie, Emma and Claud, Cross County, bef. 1900
  • Armstrong, Burton, and Clara Armstrong, Ashley County, bef. 1900
  • Barnes, Haywood, and Tena Barnes, and sons James and Clayton, Lonoke County, bef. 1900
  • Wesley, Hayward, Columbia County and Pine Bluffs, bef. 1900
  • Woodard, John H., Pope County, bef. 1900
  • Lewis, Kinchen, and children Cora, John, William and Arthur, Marianna, Lee County, bef. 1900
  • Adams, Abram, and Millie Adams, and Fannie Adams Owens, Union County, bef. 1900
  • Hooks, Thomas, Pulaski County, bef. 1904
  • Baker, James, Lonoke County, bef. 1910
  • Harp, Adeline, Lee County, bef. 1910
  • Brown, Rhoda Tabron Taylor, Saint Francis County, bef. 1910
  • Thomas, Hattie Sharpe, Lonoke County, bef. 1910
  • Griffin, Josh, Little Rock, bef. 1910
  • Barnes, Clayton, and Jennie Barnes and sister-in-law Lucille Jones, Lonoke County, bef. 1910
  • Smith, Jesse A., Crossett, Ashley County, ca. 1911
  • Joyner, Ada Barnes, Pine Bluffs, bef. 1916
  • Davis, Drew, Jefferson County, bef. 1926
  • Barnes, Fred, Saint Francis County, bef. 1930
  • Connor, Thomas F., Mississippi County, bef. 1930 (prior, in Mississippi)
  • Horn, Gray, Desha County, bef. 1939 (prior, in Louisiana)
  • Barnes, Richard B., Little Rock, bef. 1930
  • Scarborough, Jesse, Pulaski County, bef. 1930
  • Tabron, Elzie Jones, Cross County, bef. 1930
  • Bynum, Lawrence, and Edna Bynum, and James C., Mary, Charlie, and Hattie, Lonoke, bef. 1930
  • Bines, Lillie Ricks, North Little Rock, bef. 1931
  • Robinson, Alvanie Sharp, Desha County, bef. 1937
  • Jones, Andrew J., Bradley, Lafayette County, bef. 1940
  • Bullock, Eliza Barnes, Chicot County, bef. 1940
  • Langston, George W., Lewisville, Lafayette County, bef. 1940
  • Horn, Henry, Dermott, Chicot County, bef. 1942
  • Hooks, Elijah W., West Helena, Phillips County, bef. 1942
  • Lassiter, Hardy, Pine Bluff, bef. 1942
  • McDowell, Charlie, Bradley County, bef. 1942 
  • Aycock, Jethro, Scott County, bef. 1942
  • Gay, Charlie, Blytheville, Mississippi County, bef. 1942
  • Adams, Edward, Prattsville, Grant County, bef. 1942
  • Hines, Paul, Sebastian County, bef. 1942
  • Dillard, Mary Simms, Crittenden County, bef. 1951
  • Phillips, Martha Farmer, Little Rock, bef. 1955

Death certificate of Hayward Wesley, who died 23 July 1924 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The merchant had been born in Wilson, North Carolina.