Wilson County

Lane Street Project: Gus Hilliard.

This grave marker, which appears to be a foot stone, stands in Odd Fellows Cemetery. Research reveals only one Augustus “Gus” Hilliard in early 20th-century Wilson County.

But he died in 1971.

And is buried in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Why, then, is his marker in Odd Fellows?


In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Black Creek Road, dredge boat laborer Dock Hilliard, 31; wife Mary Ella, 29; and children Agustus, 8, Isic, 7, Mattie F., 6, Eddie, 3, and Mary, 4 months.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Moyton and Wilson Road, Dock Hillard, 46; wife Mary, 28; and children Gustus, 17, Mattie, 14, Eddie, 12, Mellar, 11, Isabella, 10, Channie, 8, Tommie, 4, and Willie, 3 months.

On 17 January 1925, Augustus Hilliard, 23, of Stantonsburg, son of Dock and Mary E. Hilliard, married Nancy McCoy, 21, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Will and Leesie McCoy.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Gustie Hillard, 29; wife Nancy, 23; and children Henry, 5, and Daissey L., 2.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Old Wilson Road, farm laborer Gus Hilliard, 39; wife Nancy, 40; and children Henry, 14, Daisy Lee, 12, Eddie, 9, Isaac, 6, Nathaniel, 3, and Johnnie A., 9 months.

In 1942, Gus Hilliard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 31 March 1901 in Wilson County; lived at “Box 87 – Rt. #3 – Wilson – Stantonsburg – Wilson”; his contact was Thurman Phillips; and he worked for Ashley Horton, Greensboro, N.C.

In 1943, Henry Hilliard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 25 November 1925 in Wilson County; lived at Route 3, Box 87, Wilson; his contact was Gus Hilliard; and he worked at J.A. Wharton Farm, Wilson.

Augustus Hilliard died 22 February 1971 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 3March 1904 to Doc Hilliard and Mary Ella Ellis; was married to Nancy McCoy; was a farmer; and was buried in Rest Haven. Informant was Daisy Peoples, Wilson.

Odd Fellows photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, January 2021; Rest Haven Cemetery image courtesy of Findagrave.com.

The why of Black Wide-Awake, no. 2.

Carolyn Maye, a generous contributor of photographs to Black Wide-Awake, made it to Imagination Station on closing day to see Say Their Names. The exhibit included among its displayed documents a copy of the obituary of her formerly enslaved great-great-grandmother, Jane Rountree Mobley.

She brought with her Skylar, the youngest of Jane Mobley’s great-great-great-great-granddaughters.

Thank you, Carolyn, for affirming the purpose of Black Wide-Awake. Your determination to get to Wilson, despite a pandemic, and to introduce Skylar to Jane Mobley, both humbles and inspires me. She will never believe, as so many of us have, that the lives of her ancestors passed unknown and unknowable.

Blount Knight’s birthday.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 April 1946.


In the 1880 census of Walnut Creek, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: farm laborer Martha Knight, 47, and children Ellen, 22, Blunt, 18, George, 16, Moses, 14, and Haywood, 10, plus granddaughters Emma, 3, and Delia Harrison, 4.

On 16 December 1880, Blount Knight, 23, married Lucy Bullock, 20, on 29 December 1880 in Edgecombe County.

On 21 March 1884, Blount Knight, 22, married Ginnie Carroll, 16, at Martha Knight‘s home in Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Blount Knight, 42; wife Jennie, 31; and children Eddie, 17, Martha, 13, Minnie, 11, Carrie, 6, Jemmie, 4, and Mary, 9 months; plus mother-in-law Mary Coal, 68.

On 30 July 1908, Blount Knight, 50, son of Isaac and Martha Knight, of Gardners township, married Mary Ellis, 39, daughter of Frank and Sara Edmundson, of Gardners, in Saratoga township.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: ditcher Blount Knight, 52; wife Mary, 41; children Minnie, 19, Jimmie, 13, Mollie, 10, and Louisa, 6; son-in-law Willie Anderson, 30, daughter Martha, 22, and grandchildren Robert, 2, and “no name” Anderson, 0, and Jennie Knight, 1.

In the 1916 Wilson city directory: Knight Blount, laborer, Harper’s Ln near Herring Av

In the 1920 Wilson city directory: Knight Blount, farmer, 1 Carolina

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Carolina Street (suburbs Wilson), farmer Blount Knight, 59, wife Mary, 42, and daughters Mary 17, and Louisa, 15, with James Blount, 38, and wife Lulu, 19.

Blount Knight died 5 July 1957 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 April 1868 in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Isiah Knight; lived at 920 Carolina Street; was a widower of Mary Knight; and had worked as a laborer. Mary Currie was informant.

Knight’s headstone in Rest Haven cemetery lists his birth year as 1851, which would have made him 106 at his death. The records above yield birth years between 1857 and 1862, which would have made him somewhere between 95 and 100 years old.

Lane Street Project: a change of schedule and an invitation.

This is wisteria. Its lovely lilac racemes are harbingers of spring and the Easter season. It is also a scourge, invading native landscapes, girdling trees, and smothering trees via dense networks of runners that criss-cross the woodland floor. Wisteria eradication is the greatest challenge to reclaiming Odd Fellows and Rountree Cemeteries, but our teams of volunteers have made unbelievable progress in just three months.

LSP volunteer days at Odd Fellows are normally the first and third Saturday. However, Easter is the first Sunday in April this year, and for that reason we are shifting to the 2nd and 4th Saturdays for the month. We’ll need all the help we can get as the weather warms up and privet, honeysuckle, and wisteria try once again to overwhelm the cemetery. We also need help with two side projects — the pruning of trees and shrubs around the monument in Vick cemetery, and application of defoliant chemicals at Odd Fellows.

If you’ve been thinking of coming out, please do — and bring a friend. If you’ve already been, please come back — and bring your sorority sisters, your lodge brothers, your motorcycle club, your soccer team, your usher board, your anybody!

As always, thank you!

Voter registration in Beaufort County.

James H. Barnes, Gatlin Barnes, and David Barnes registered to vote in 1896 in Beaufort County, North Carolina. Gatlin was father to James and David, and all lived in the Tranters Creek community.

  • Gatlin Barnes reported that he was 54 years old, worked as a farmer, and was born in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Gatlin Barnes, 31, wife Jane, 22, and children Henry, 4, and Bud, 1, Sabra Ward, 70, and Sarah Barnes, 34.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Gallin Barnes, 36; wife Jane, 36; and sons Henry, 13, and Bud, 8.

In the 1900 census of Washington township, Beaufort County: farmer Gatlin Barnes, 54; wife Jane, 45; and widowed sister Sarah, 75.

In the 1910 census of Washington township, Beaufort County: farmer Gatlin Barnes, 62; wife Jane, 50; divorced son David, 23; and widowed sister-in-law Sarah, 75.

  • James H[enry]. Barnes reported that he was 27 years old, worked as a laborer, and was born in Wilson County.
  • David Barnes reported that he was 22 years old, worked as a laborer, and was born in Wilson County.

Tranters Creek, Beaufort County, 1896, North Carolina Voter Registers and Certificates of Registration, http://www.familysearch.org.

Store damaged by fire.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 March 1924.


  • Ed Johnson — Edward Johnson died 15 April 1924 (two weeks after his store burned.) Per his death certificate, he was born 12 February 1869 in Durham County, N.C., to Martin Johnson and Francies Burks of Durham County; was married to Rachel Jane Johnson; was a self-employed grocery merchant; and lived at 406 East Hines Street. His wife Rachel Johnson was the daughter of his landlord Lewis Townsend.
  • Louis Townsend — Lewis W. Townsend and his brother Andrew J. Townsend operated groceries together and separately in the warehouse district southwest of downtown Wilson.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Applications for military headstones, no. 3: Rountree Cemetery.

As here, the applications below were made for military headstones to be installed in “Rountree Cemetery,” i.e. Rountree, Odd Fellows, or Vick Cemeteries. Of these, only James F. Scott’s grave marker has been found. (Another is now in Rest Haven, presumably the result of an exhumation and reburial.) The number of missing military headstones provides scale to the total loss of monuments in these cemeteries. 

  • James Franklin Scott

The gravestones of James F. Scott and his father, the Rev. John H. Scott, have been located in Odd Fellows Cemetery. (Rev. Scott applied for his son’s gravestone.) However, they were found piled and stacked with more than a dozen other markers, and the location of the actual graves is not known.

Frank Scott’s headstone. Interestingly, the marker is engraved with after-market text — a birthdate and an epitaph, “Who is now with the Lord.” 

  • Larry Barnes

Howard M. Fitts applied for the marker on Barnes’ behalf, as he did for many veterans.

  • Marcellus Lassiter

Marcellus Lassiter died 4 July 1947 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 April 1897 in Wilson County to John Lassiter and Isabell Gear; worked as a laborer; was a World War I veteran; was the widower of Mamie Lassiter; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Informant was Hardy Lassiter of Baltimore, Maryland.

  • Hubert Romaine Mitchener

Hubert Mitchener’s gravestone now stands in Rest Haven cemetery.

  • Sam Nash

Sam Nash registered for the World War I draft in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 20 February 1890 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 1069 West Lexington Street, Baltimore; and worked as a laborer for B. & O. Railroad.

Minnie Nash of Baltimore submitted the application and requested that the headstone be shipped to Rosa Battle, 913 Washington Street, Wilson.

  • John W. Pitts

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 904 East Vance Street, John W. Pitts, carpenter, 53, born in South Carolina; wife Penina, 52, hotel maid; and son Junius, 20, farm laborer.

  • Nathan Austin

Nathan Austin died 22 July 1948 at a Veterans Hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1893 in Wilson County to Marshall Ingram and Louise Ingram Austin; was a widower; lived at 610 Taylor Street, Wilson; and was unemployed.

  • Robert E. Ashford

[This is not the Robert Edward Ashford born 23 November 1918 in Wilson, who was white.]

Robert Edward Ashford registered for the World War II draft in 1942 in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 23 July 1923 in Wilson; lived at 614 East Green Street, Wilson; his contact was mother Rosa Ashford; and he worked at the Marine Base in Jacksonville, N.C.

Rosa L. Ashford submitted the application.

  • Fred Hyman

Fred Hyman registered for the World War I draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 15 September 1887 in Tarboro, North Carolina; lived at 1323 South Markoe Street, Philadelphia; was a farmer for “Dougherty” in Haddonfield, New Jersey; and was married.

Fred Hyman died 23 August 1947 at a Veterans Hospital in Kecoughtan, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 September 1888 in Tarboro; was separated from Magnolia Hyman; lived at 1233 South 47th Street, Philadelphia. His body was shipped to Wilson, N.C., to the care of C.H. Darden & Sons Undertakers.

Sam Hyman, 816 Mercy [Mercer] Street, Wilson, submitted the application.

  • John Henry Jackson

John H. Jackson died 7 April 1946 at the Veterans Hospital in Asheville, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 27 September 1872 in Surry County, N.C., to Tom Jackson; was married to Ida Mae Jackson; worked as a laborer; lived at 1201 East Washington Street; and was a veteran of the Spanish American War.

  • Henry Hines

Henry Hines died 11 March 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 October 1892 in Wilson County to Mary Hines; was married to Lela Hines; lived at 808 Suggs Street; and was a day laborer for Farmers Oil Mill. 

  • Will Dixon

Will Dixon registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1896 in Farmville, North Carolina; lived on Stantonsburg Street, Wilson; was a laborer for W.L. Russell Box Company, Wilson; and was single.

Lenora Dixon applied for his headstone.

U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970, http://www.ancestry.com.

Black businesses, 1913, no. 5: City Baking Company.

A three-page Wilson Times insert published about 1914 highlighting the town’s “progressive colored citizens” featured City Bakery, then located at 540 East Nash Street, “under Odd Fellows Hall,” with R.B. Bullock as proprietor.

The bakery had a predecessor though, as shown in the 1912 city directory:

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory (1912).

Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.

This detail from the 1913 Sanborn map shows the location of the oven in the back of the small brick “bake house.” In 1914, City Bakery boasted that its premises were “sanitary in ever particular.” Such a claim must have been difficult to make when it sat within feet of multiple rail lines. 

  • Richard Bulluck — Bulluck is listed in the 1912 directory living at 412 South Lodge Street.
  • Alex Henderson — perhaps, Sandy Henderson.
  • William Kittrell

Lane Street Project: recommended reading.

I’m not an archaeologist or an anthropologist or a preservationist, and I’ve studied history, but only recently begun to engage in public history. Thus, I need to get my game up as Lane Street Project moves from dreamy rumination to real work.

I’m reading Lynn Rainville’s Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia to start. Though the landscape, material culture, and history of the Charlottesville area are quite different than those of Wilson County, Rainville’s work illustrates best practices for assessing, cataloguing, and preserving historic Black cemeteries, and I’m both taking notes and brainstorming as I read.

“Gravestones can teach us lessons in American civics as told through portraits of individuals and their communities, depicted in the details found on their headstones. The storylines in these mortuary museums illustrate national values: the worth of the individual, the primacy of the family, the depth of religious beliefs, the importance of patriotism. … They can also demonstrate some of the darker aspects of our shared past, the legacies of slavery and segregation. Cemeteries are instructional spaces that, if read correctly, have much to teach us about our social and moral values and about our shared history.”