Women

Mrs. Johnson seeks a pension.

In March 1933, Lula Johnson applied to the North Carolina Confederate Pension Board for a widow’s pension.

Johnson’s application noted that she was 60+ years of age; resided at 608 East Nash Street, Wilson; and her late husband was John Streeter, also known as John Johnson. She did not know when or where Streeter/Johnson enlisted, but claimed he was a member of “Company H, 14 W.S. Colord Heavy Artillery.” The couple had married in 1922, and Streeter/Johnson died in June 1932, three years after he had begun to draw a pension. Arthur N. Darden and Darcey C. Yancey were witnesses to her application, which Yancey stamped as notary public.

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Lula Johnson’s application was denied. She was “not eligible” (underscored) for a pension. (To boot, she was “Negro,” underscored four times.) Though the Pension Board did not set forth a reason for denying Johnson’s claim, there is a glaringly obvious one. The 14th Regiment, Colored Heavy Artillery, were United States Army troops, not Confederate. The regiment — comprised of runaway enslaved men and free men of color — was organized in New Bern and Morehead City, North Carolina, in March 1864; primarily served garrison duty in New Bern and other points along the coast; and mustered out in December 1865.

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Here is a record of the military service of John Streeter, alias Johnson. He was born in Greene County about 1846 and had enlisted in the Army in New Bern in 1865. Three months later, he was promoted to corporal. John Johnson had served his country honorably, which did not entitle his widow to Confederate benefits.

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I did not find any evidence that the Johnsons actually lived in Wilson County. The address Lula Johnson listed as her own was that of C.H. Darden & Sons Funeral Home, the family business at which Arthur Darden worked. Was she (or her husband) related to the Dardens? Census records show John Johnson and his wife Mary in Leflore County, Mississippi, in 1900 and 1910, but Mary Moore Johnson died in Farmville, Pitt County, in 1913.

John Johnson died in Farmville, Pitt County, North Carolina, on 8 June 1932. Per his death certificate, he was about 90 years old; was married to Lula Johnson; had been a preacher; and was born in Greene County to Ned and Manervie Johnson. He was buried in Farmville, and Darden & Sons handled the funeral. (Charles H. Darden was also a Greene County native. )

Act of 1901 Pension Applications, Office of the State Auditor, North Carolina State Archives [online]; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865  [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Julius Freeman buys land.

On 21 March 1898, Louisa M. Daniel sold Julius F. Freeman a 125-acre tract called the Arky Gardner land in Gardners township. Freeman paid her $500.

Freeman married Eliza Daniel (or Daniels), daughter of Amos and Olive Daniel, in 1873. Was Louisa her kin?

Deed book 46, pages 421-422, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

The obituaries of Anna Brodie and Margaret Joyner.

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Wilson Daily Times, 20 October 1944.

  • Anna Brodie — Anna Kearney Brodie.

In the 1900 census of Franklinton, Franklin County: Paul Kearney, 59; wife Patsey, 47; and children Robert, 19, Bennie, 16, Anna, 13, Zollie, 11, Joseph, 9, Geneva, 5, and Vassa L., 2.

In the 1910 census of Youngsville, Franklin County: Paul Kearney, 67; wife Patsy P., 54; and children Anna, 23, Zollie, 21, Joseph, 19, Geneva, 15, and Vassar, 10.

On or about 30 December 1913, Arthur Brodie, 26, of Franklin County, son of Joshua and Nellie Brodie, married Anna Kearney, 26, of Franklin County, daughter of Paul and Patsie Kearnie, in Franklinton, North Carolina.

In 1918, Arthur Brodie registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 7 May 1886; resided at 16 Carolina Street; worked as a machine operator for Hackney Wagon Company; and his nearest relative was Anna Brodie.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: laborer Aurtha Brodie, 36; wife Annie, 31; children Lizzie V., 3, and Aurtha, 2; and brother Elmer, 22.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1201 Carolina Street, rented for $12/month, tobacco factory laborer Arthur Broady, 43; wife Anna, 46, laundry; and children Elizabeth, 13, Arthur, 11, Iola, 8, May E., 5, and Anna O., 11 months.

On 17 April 1937, Elizabeth Brodie, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Arthur and Anna Brodie, married Luther E. McKeithan, 25, son of Henry and Sarah McKeithan of Cumberland County, in Wilson. A.M.E. minister John C. Coaxum performed the ceremony in the presence of Rhoda McMillan, Alex McMillan and Sallie Suggs.

In 1940, Arthur Brodie Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 9 September 1918 in Wilson; lived at 1208 Queen Street; his contact was mother Anna Kernay Brodie; and he worked at Carolina Laundry.

On 9 March 1941, Iola Brodie, 20, of Raleigh, daughter of Arthur and Anna Brodie of Wilson, married Willie Blount, 21, of Raleigh, son of Mary Rawlins, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Annie Brodie died 18 October 1944 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 57 years old; her birthday was July 1; she was married to Arthur Brodie; she lived at 1208 Queen Street; and she was born in Franklinton, North Carolina, to Paul Kearney and Patsy Perry.

On 26 September 1946, Anna Odell Brodie, 17, of Raleigh, daughter of Arthur and Anna Brodie of Wilson, married Jack Terry Marsh, 17, of Raleigh, son of William and Joy Bell Marsh, in Raleigh. Iola Blount, guardian, gave permission for Anna to marry.

  • Seventh Day Adventist Church
  • Elder N.B. Smith — Napoleon B. Smith. Rev. Smith is listed in the 1922, 1925 and 1930 Wilson city directories.
  • Margaret Joyner — Margaret Winstead Joyner.

In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Benj. M. Williams, 35; Berry Winstead, 47; his wife Louisa, 41; and their children Adeline, 20, Lena, 18, Sidney, 13, Rinah, 7, Henry, 10, Malinah, 6, Willie, 1, and Margrett, 4.

Henry Joyner, 26, of Taylors township, son of Simon and Venus Joyner, married Margaret Winstead, 26, of Taylors township, daughter of Berry and Luende Winstead, at A.M. Thompson’s house in Taylors.

In the 1900 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Henry Joyner, 32; wife Margret, 31; and children James, 14, Lou, 10, William H., 7, Hubert, 4, Maggie, 3, and Anna, 9 months.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on Thompson’s Road, Henry Joyner, 42; wife Margaret, 42; and children Lula, 18, William, 17, Hubbert, 15, Maggie, 13, Annie, 10, Obie, 8, Bettie, 4, Luther, 2, and Theodore, 3 months, and James Joyner, 24.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Henry Joyner, 52; wife Margaret, 51; and children Annie, 20, Obie, 18, Bettie, 13, Luther, 11, Theodore, 9, and Lizzie, 6, and grandson Nathan, 6 months.

Maggie Eatmon died 10 February 1923 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was 26 years old; was born in Wilson County to Henry Joyner and Margaret Winstead of Nash County; was engaged in farming; was married to Sessoms Eatmon; and was buried in Wilson County.

In the 1930 census of Jackson township, Nash County: Henry Joyner, 60; wife Margaret, 60; and children Annie, 26, Obie, 25, Bettie, 24, Luther, 21, and Lizzie, 16, and grandchildren Nathan Joyner, 8, and Josephine, 14, Rosella, 12, Edward, 10, and Elmus Eatmon, 8.

Bettie Joyner died 17 September 1933 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 25 years old; was born in Wilson County to Henry Joyner and Margaret Winstead; was married to Fred Joyner; and engaged in farming.

In the 1940 census of Jackson township, Nash County: Obie Joyner, 38; wife Gladys, 20; father Henry, 71; mother Margrett, 70; siblings Annie, 40, and Luther, 31; and nieces and nephews Curtis Joyner, 7, and Leone, 4, Nathan, 24, and Elmus Eatmon, 19.

Henry Joyner died 13 June 1944 in Jackson township, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 78 years old; was born in Wilson County to Simon and Venus Joyner; was married to Margaret Joyner; was a farmer; and was buried in Granite Point cemetery, Wilson County.

Margaret Joyner died 18 October 1944 in Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was born in Nash County to Berry Winstead and Lurenda Winstead; was a widow; and was buried in Granite Point cemetery, Wilson County. Obie Joyner was informant.

Annie Joyner Thomas died 30 October 1950 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 April 1900 in Wilson County to Henry Joyner and Margaret Winstead; resided in Elm City; was married to John Thomas; and was buried in the Thomas family cemetery in Wilson County.

Herbert Joyner died 14 August 1966 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 January 1893 in Wilson County to Henry Joyner and Margaret Winstead; was married to Laura Joyner; resided in Wilson; was a World War I veteran; and worked as a laborer.

Lula Joyner Eatmon died 25 January 1967 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 May 1894 in Nash County to Henry Joyner and Margaret Winstead; was married to Jarman Eatmon; and resided in Elm City.

  • Saint Paul’s Holiness Church — now Saint Paul Church of Christ, located on Lake Wilson Road northwest of Wilson?
  • Rev. Benny Melton — in the 1940 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Bennie Melton, 33; wife Julia, 34; children Ireen, 6, Kathreen, 4, Curtis, 3, Bennie Jr., 2, and Esther, 8 months; grandson Ramson Morgan, 4; and mother Frances Morgan, 57.

How Dew’s Rest Home got financed.

Naomi Elizabeth Morris (1921–1986), who grew up in Wilson, served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 1967 through 1982. She was Chief Judge of that court from 1978 through 1982. In an interview conducted in 1983, Judge Morris recollected her efforts to assist the establishment in the 1950s of Wilson’s first sanctioned nursing home for African-Americans. Though considered progressive for her time and place, Judge Morris’ notions of privilege and segregationist propriety (and that of the interviewer) peek through here.

——

PAT DEVINE: One story that I encountered which struck me with interest as something that I’d love to hear you talk more about was, you alluded to one experience you had in helping to do the legal background work for the founding of the first or only home for indigent blacks in Wilson.

JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS: Not indigent blacks. No, this was a nursing home for blacks. The office had had this woman as a client for many years. She ran a restaurant at one time. She was quite an aggressive, hardworking woman, and she came to me and said that the director of public welfare, Mr. Monroe Fordham [Fulghum], had asked her to open a nursing home for blacks. She had at that time taken in two or three aged people in her home to take care of, under the auspices of the welfare department, and Monroe Fordham had asked her if she would open a nursing home for blacks. She told him that she would if she could get the money, so she came to me to get the money. We went many places to borrow money, including from the black insurance company in Durham, and they would not let her have the money. Although she had sufficient property to secure the note, they would not let her have the money, and that made me perfectly furious. I came back to Wilson and called the Branch Bank and told them the situation. I said, “You will be missing a very good opportunity if you don’t let this woman have the money,” so they said they would. They required a lot of her that they might not have required of a white person in the same situation — I don’t know — but this was something new and untried. The man who did the electrical work took her note for the electrical work without any security. We worked it out to the point that she had her financing, and she paid everybody back ahead of time. One way she did it, in the summer when the crops would be coming in and the people would have gotten their crops harvested from the field, she would get permission to go out to that field and get what was left [gleaning], the small potatoes that they didn’t pick up, the beans on the bottom part of the vine. She would go get those, and that’s the way she fed her people and was able to feed them cheaper than a lot of people could run a home. Extremely well run.

PAT DEVINE: Is it still there?

JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS: Oh, yes, it’s still there. About five years after she borrowed the money, the Branch Bank called me and asked me if she would be interested in adding onto her home, that they would be glad to let her have the money. I always wanted to write the insurance company in Durham and say something to them, but I didn’t.

PAT DEVINE: That’s hard to understand.

JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS: It is hard. It was very difficult for me to understand, because they always talk about looking after their own and the fact that white people don’t do things they ought to for them.

PAT DEVINE: What is this woman’s name?

JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS: Geneva Dew.

PAT DEVINE: Is she alive?

JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS: Oh, yes, she’s alive and doing well. I hear from her at least twice a year. She attended my swearing-in ceremony and the party that was given afterward. I’m very fond of her. She’s a very fine person.

——

Nina Aldridge Faison Hardy at Dew’s Rest Home, circa mid 1960s.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer William Winn, 59; wife Jennie, 48; and children Charley, 21, John, 19, Dorch, 13, Pink, 10, and Jeneva, 8.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: odd jobs laborer Willie Winn, 62; wife Jennie, 60; children Roy, 23, and Pink, 20; and lodger Lula Ward, 45.

On 27 July 1935, Ernest Dew, 26, of Wilson County, son of Frank Dew, married Geneva Dew, 23, of Wilson County, daughter of Willie and Jennie Wynn, in Nashville, Nash County.

Willie Wynn Jr. died 11 February 1940. Per his death certificate, he died 11 February 1940 in Wilson; had been married to Jennie Wynn, but was a widower; resided at 1102 Atlantic Street, Wilson; worked as a laborer; was the son of Willie Wynn and Annie Williams. Geneva Dew, 1102 East Atlantic Street, was informant, and he was buried in Elm City.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Dew Geneva (c) beer 315 Stantonsburg h 203 Stantonsburg. (In the 1947 city directory, the address has shifted 319 Stantonsburg.) The 1950 city directory also shows Dew as owner of a beer establishment.

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Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory (1960).

Earnest Dew died 15 March 1969 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 May 1910 to Frank Dew and Cora Braswell; was married to Geneva Wynn; resided at 501 Spaulding Street, Wilson; and was a rest home operator.

Geneva Wynn Dew died 6 November 1984 in Wilson.

Dew’s celebrates a move to new quarters. Wilson Daily Times, 20 June 1964. 

Excerpt from oral history interview with Naomi Elizabeth Morris, November 11 and 16, 1982, and March 29, 1983. Interview B-0050. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; photo of N. Hardy in personal collection of Lisa Y. Henderson. Many thanks to Bob Martin for the correction of Monroe Fulghum’s surname.

“Is Mama dead? Let me know at once.”

In this interview, Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) spoke of how she received news of the sudden death of her great-aunt, who was also her adoptive mother:

“Mama didn’t know she had a bad heart until two weeks before she died.  She was always sick, sick all the time.  She’d go to the doctor, and the doctor would tell her it was indigestion and for her not to eat no pork and different things she couldn’t eat.  ‘Cause Mama was fat.  She weighed 200.  She wasn’t too short.  She was just broad.  Well, she was five-feet-four, I think.  Something like that.

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Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver, circa 1931.

“And so, but she loved pork, and she’d try to eat some anyhow ‘cause we always had a hog, growing up.  All the time.  So after they said she couldn’t, she tried not to eat no pork, much.  Fish and chicken, we eat it all the time.  But she was so tired of chicken until she didn’t know what to do.  And I was, too. But Papa loved all pork, so he’d always get a whole half a shoulder or a ham or something and cook it, and she’d eat some.  But when she went to the doctor, and her pressure was up so high, and he told her, ‘By all means, don’t you eat no pork.  It’s dangerous to eat pork when your pressure is too high.’ And then that’s when she stopped eating pork.

“Well, it didn’t help none, I don’t reckon. She had that little bag.  A little basket.  A little, old basket ‘bout that tall with a handle on it.  She had all kinds of medicine in there to take. She was going up to Mamie’s, and Mr. Silver told her, said, ‘Well, you just take your medicine bag.’  She’d been married to him a good while.  He said, ‘Well, you shouldn’t go up there by yourself. Since I’m down here—’  See, she’d go up and stay with him a little while, and then he’d come back to Wilson and stay a while.  So he said, ‘You just take your little basket there with your medicine in it.’  So, he said, ‘Well, I’ll go with you up there and then I’ll come back on to Enfield.’  So he went with her down there to the station.  He was picking up the bags to go up there, told her to walk on up to the station and wait for the train.  And he got a cab — C.E. Artis. Not C.E. Artis, not undertaker Artis but a Artis that drove a cab. This was another set of Artises.

“So, she went up there to the station in Wilson and got on the train. And she’d done told me to send her insurance and everything to Greensboro, ‘cause she won’t never coming back to Wilson no more.  Because she’d done seen, the Lord showed her if she stayed in Wilson, she wouldn’t live.  If she went ‘way from there, she could get well.  So she was going to Mamie’s.  And when she got off at Selma to change trains –- she’d just got to the station door.  And she collapsed right there.  And by happen they had a wheelchair, a luggage thing or something.  The guy out there, he got to her, and he called the coroner or somebody, but he was some time getting there.  But anyway, they picked her up and sat her in the wheelchair.  They didn’t want her to be out ‘cause everybody was out looking and carrying on, so they just pushed her ‘round there to the baggage room.

“And so when the coroner got there, he said, ‘This woman’s dead.’  So they called Albert Gay, and he was working for Artis then.  Undertaker Artis.  And Jimbo Barnes.  And called them and told them that she was dead.  So, Mr. Silver couldn’t even tell them who to notify.  He had Mamie living in Thelma, North Carolina, on McCullough Street, but didn’t know what the number of the house was. He was so upset.  So they had to call the police for the police to go find Mamie Holt.  On McCullough Street.  And her mother, they said, her mother died.  Well, she did die.  But they said it was, I think, Thelma.  Not Selma, but Thelma.  ‘Well, where is Thelma?  It can’t be my mother. ‘Cause my mother don’t live in no Thelma.  I never heard of that place.  She live in Wilson.’  But, see, it was Selma.  They got it wrong.

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Selma Union Depot today, Selma, North Carolina

“So then Mamie went down to Smitty’s house and had Miss Smitty send a telegram to me.  On the phone.  Charge it to her bill, and she’d pay her: ‘IS MAMA DEAD LET ME KNOW AT ONCE’  She asked me if Mama was dead.  And when I got that telegram, Annie Miriam and all them, a bunch of kids was out there on the porch, and so at that time, Jimbo or one of ‘em come up.  And when I saw them, I knowed something.  I had just got the telegram.  Hadn’t even really got time to read it. And he said, ‘Well, you done got the news.’  And I said, ‘The news?  Well, I got a old, crazy telegram here from my sister, asking me is Mama dead, let her know at once.’  He said, ‘Yeah, we just, we brought her back from Selma.’  I said, ‘What in the – ‘  Well, I went to crying.  And Albert Gay or some of the children was ‘round there, and they was running. Everybody in the whole street almost was out in the yard – the children got the news and gone!  That Mama had dropped dead in Selma.  So I said, well, by getting that telegram, I said, that’s what threw me, honey.  I wasn’t ready for that. I’d been saying I reckon Mamie’ll think Mama was a ghost when she come walking in there tonight. Not knowing she was dead right at the same time.”

—–

  • Mamie — Mamie Henderson Holt, sister of Hattie Henderson Ricks.
  • Mr. Silver — Rev. Joseph Silver Sr. helped establish the Holiness denomination in eastern North Carolina, founding Plumbline United Holy Church in Halifax County in 1893. Rev. Silver married Sarah Henderson Jacobs, herself an evangelist, in Wilson on 31 August 1933. The couple alternated between his home in Enfield and hers in Wilson.

  • C.E. Artis — Columbus E. Artis.
  • Jimbo Barnes — probably James “Jimbo” Watson Jr., whose 30 November 1974 obituary in the Wilson Daily Times noted that he was a former Artis Funeral Home employee.
  • Albert Gay — Albert S. Gay Jr., son of Albert and Annie Bell Jacobs Gay and grandson of Sarah Silver’s first husband Jesse A. Jacobs.
  • Annie Miriam — Annie Marian Gay, daughter of Albert and Annie Bell Jacobs Gay.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved; photo of Sarah H.J. Silver in personal collection of Lisa Y. Henderson; photo of Rev. Silver courtesy of Ancestry.com user lexxee52.

Finding the Newsomes’ resting place.

Searching for Wilson County’s Lost Cemeteries: Project pinpoints gravesites before nature reclaims them.

By Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Times, 29 June 2018.

Brian Grawburg stops his pickup truck at the end of a farm path between an old hedgerow and a field off Radford Road.

“There it is,” Grawburg says, pointing to the underbrush where two flat marble headstones have come into view.

The 72-year-old retiree is on a search for hidden and overgrown cemeteries in Wilson County.

Grawburg erects a ladder in the bed of his truck, climbs up and points his camera at the graves. He makes a couple of pictures with a 1937 Leica rangefinder and climbs down to note the cemetery’s location with a modern GPS tracker.

These are the gravestones of Amos and Martha Newsome, husband and wife, who called Wilson County home in the late 1800s. A neighbor across the road had told Grawburg about the graveyard’s existence, and this was his second visit to the spot. Upon closer inspection, Grawburg notes the presence of another grave a few feet deeper into the woods.

Hidden behind a shield of Virginia creeper, smilax and scuppernong grape vines is a marble obelisk not quite waist-high. The face of the monument is clean and the inscription is clear.

Edna Newsom, 1846 to 1913, Kind angels watch her sleeping dust.”

“It’s a very nice stone,” Grawburg comments. “That one we’re going to have to carefully look at.”

Despite the difference in the last name spelling, Grawburg wonders if Edna might be Amos’ mother, but he’s not sure.

“Martha died in 1902, and he’s 1919,” Grawburg said. “That is certainly where we will have to get more information.”

Grawburg says he can’t wait to tell Joan Howell that he has found another headstone.

MAKING A LIST

Joan Howell has compiled four books on Wilson County cemeteries. The first one was completed in 1993, and she is currently working on her fifth. All were projects supported by the Wilson County Genealogical Society with information supplied by the group’s members.

It is Howell’s work and old Work Progress Administration surveys from the 1930s that offer hints as to where Grawburg may find the forgotten cemeteries.

The Wilson resident will sometimes wear boots to protect his shins from snakes and ticks and take along clippers to cut back “vines from hell” as he calls them.

Grawburg is building a photographic record of deceased Wilson County residents.

He’s not interested in the cemeteries that are neatly kept. Those are the ones that are already well-known.

Grawburg is interested in finding the ones that have been overgrown and rest in little patches of woods in farm fields, at the edges of subdivisions, anywhere that Mother Nature has waged a battle to reclaim the plots.

“It doesn’t take long,” Grawburg said.

A cemetery can go from being well-maintained to overgrown in a matter of a few years.

“This is top priority because they are becoming nonexistent,” Howell said.

An example is the B. Ellis cemetery in a small plot hidden by trees and overgrowth that is unseen by passing traffic off Forest Hills Road in Wilson.

“There are 35 people in there, and you don’t know there is a single one in there,” Grawburg said. “That cemetery is right there.”

Grawburg said with 16 cemeteries Howell recently found and added to the list, there are about 260 known cemeteries in Wilson County.

There are estimates that there could be another couple of hundred cemeteries that are not documented in the county.

‘IT’S EXCITING’

At age 85 and after two hip replacements, Howell still puts on her “snake boots” and heads into the woods to search.

“It’s exciting,” Howell said. “I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. Some people don’t know where their grandmothers and their grandfathers are. I just love doing this. I lament the fact that I am not as able as I once was.”

Grawburg and Howell will often meet in the genealogical room of the Wilson County Public Library to share notes. On Thursday, Howell spread out a United States Geological Survey topographical map with handwritten notations marking cemeteries that had been located.

“I don’t put anything on the map until I find the cemetery, and then I give it a name,” Howell said.

Howell said locating gravestones is vital to filling in Wilson County’s history.

“Death certificates didn’t begin to be recorded until 1913, and then they were spotty. So this is a means of recording people who might not have been noted elsewhere,” Howell said. “It is a way of preserving history and family information.”

Grawburg and Howell said there have been rare instances where farmers have driven implements over cemeteries, knocking over gravestones, and have even taken them away from the actual graves.

“That is distressing to me,” Grawburg said.

It is also a violation of state law, he added.

When Grawburg finds a grave, he wonders who the person was, how he ended up there and what he died from, particularly the children who are interred.

“Did they have scarlet fever? Did they have measles? I think about that,” Grawburg said. “Why did they die? Why so young?”

Grawburg traveled to upstate New York to locate his own relatives.

“I think about my reaction when I found my great-great-great-great-grandfather and you say, ‘Geez, I’m standing on the grave where we’re related.’ There is just something cool about that,” Grawburg said. “Not everybody sees that, but it is kind of neat to say that there’s a connection.”

Grawburg hopes that living Wilson County residents might have the same experience after their ancestors’ graves have been located.

He said there is the joy of saving somebody’s heritage regardless of the fact that he is not a relative.

“I don’t know Amos Newsome,” Grawburg said. “I don’t know anything about him. I don’t know any of his family. I have no connection to him whatsoever. None. Well, somebody does.”

Both Grawburg and Howell said tips from the public about the locations of lost cemeteries are valuable in the search.

“If they would show me where the cemeteries are, that would be helpful,” Howell said. “This is such a large project and I don’t know when we will ever get through with it.”

People interested in the project may contact Grawburg by email at archive@myglnc.com.

——

Benjamin Newsome and Edna Newsome registered their 16-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Newsom, 50; wife Edna, 31; and children Amos, 10, Gray, 18, Pennina, 16, Mary, 13, Louisa, 9, Larry, 7, and Joseph, 5.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Newsome, 53; wife Edna, 40; and children Oliver, 21, Amos, 19, Gray, 18, Penelope, 6, and Mary, 2.

On 23 December 1883, Amos Newsom, 23, married Martha Ann Barnes, 22, in Wilson County.

After Benjamin Newsome’s death in 1893, Edna Newsome applied for letters of administration for his estate. A Report of Commissioners valued his personal estate (excluding land) at $400. At his death, he had owned a safe; a bureau and its contents; four beds, [bed]steads and contents; another bed and bedstead; two trunks; a sewing machine; a table; a clock; eight chairs; a stove and contents; two more tables and contents; a lard stand; another safe and contents; a saw; three trays; two jugs; a jar; two pots; a tub; two buckets; one lot of corn (about 15 barrels); two stacks of fodder; two mules; one wagon and gear; one cart; farm tools; a barrel of syrup; two wheels; a loom; four bushels of pears; two bushels of wheat; nine hogs; 150 bushels of potatoes; 150 bushels of cotton seed; seven geese; 25 chickens; 500 pounds of tobacco; and 1200 pounds of seed cotton.

On 31 January 1900, Edna Newsome, 55, of Cross Roads, married Ishmael Wilder, 60, of Springhill township, at Newsome’s residence. W.H. Horton, “minister of the Christian denom.,” performed the ceremony in the presence of Grant Farmer, W.T. Barnes, and L.H. Newsome.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Ishmael Wilder, 63; wife Edney, 55; and daughter Clara, 26.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Joseph L. Newsom, 34; wife Virginia L., 34; mother Edna, 65; and sister Mary E., 42.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Amos Newsom, 55; [second] wife Frances, 30; and children Lena, 21, Mamie, 17, Mattie, 14, Linettie, 5, Clevland, 2, Willie, 20, and Albert, 18.

Amos Newsom died 8 June 1919 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1859 in Wilson County to Benjamin and Edna Newsom of Wilson County; was married to Francis Newsom; owned his farm; and was buried in the “country.” Informant was Larry Newsome.

Image of estate document available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Rest in peace, Willia B. Jones Turner.

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Willia Bea Jones Turner

7 August 1923 – 27 December 2018

“’If I can help somebody … then my living has not been in vain’ personifies the life and legacy Willia Turner.

“Willia, of Wilson, was born Aug. 7, 1923. She was the fourth child of Wesley and Martha Jones. She graduated from Darden High School, North Carolina A&T State University with a bachelor of science degree, and Queens College in New York City with a master of science degree. In the 1940s she moved to New York City where she met and married the love of her life, Wilber Turner. She worked for the New York Urban League, was one of the first fashion models of the historic African American Grace del Marco Modeling Agency, was a claims examiner for New York State Department of Unemployment and was both a teacher and guidance counselor in the New York City Department of Education, retiring in 1986. After retiring, she and Wilber relocated to Wilson in 1987. While in Wilson, she filled her days with volunteer work at the board of elections and Wilson County OIC. She was an active member of Jackson Chapel Church, Wilson Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., Darden Alumni, North Carolina A&T Alumni and more.

“She was preceded in death by her husband, Marion Wilberforce Turner “Wilber” in 2013. Since 2012, she has been lovingly cared for by her granddaughter, Shaunna.

“Her life will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, at the Darden Alumni Center, 1600 Lipscomb Road, Wilson.

“The family requests, in lieu of flowers, please send a donation in Willia J. Turner’s memory to the Darden Alumni or Wilson Chapter of North Carolina A&T Alumni.” — Wilson Times, 3 January 2019.

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Photographs courtesy of Shaunna M. Stevens.

Mattie B. Coleman of the Orange Hotel.

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Wilson Daily Times, 22 July 1985.

Per the Nomination Form for recognition as a National Historic District for “Wilson Central Business District – Tobacco Warehouse Historic District,” “According to the Sanborn maps, by 1913 the Orange Hotel was known as the Lynn Haven Hotel and by 1922 it was a dwelling. Vick lost the building during the Depression and the Mechanics and Farmers Bank held title until 1944. The present owner, Mrs. Mattie B. Coleman, purchased the property in 1950 and continues to live here and rent furnished rooms.”

——

On 5 September 1920, Henry Coleman, 32, of Wilson, married Mattie B. Williams, 18, of Wilson, at her home in Wilson. Disciples of Christ minister Walter Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Jim Barkidale, Fillies Barkdale and A.L. Spates, all of Sampson County, North Carolina.

In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Coleman Mattie B (c) h 526 E Nash

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 526 East Nash Street, paying $12/month in rent, widow Carrie Shaw, 48; and children Robert, 21, dry cleaning plant laborer, Cornie, 20, laundress, Louise, 18, private nurse, Jovester, 17, Aline, 15, and Nettie R., 12. Also paying $12/month, Dave Harris, 32, guano plant laborer; wife Bessie S., 27, laundress; and children Timothy, 12, Roy, 10, Ardria M., 8, Roland, 5, Odessa, 3, and Herman, 1. Also paying $12/month, boarding house keeper Mattie B. Coleman, 25; tobacco factory stemmer Enemicha Kent, 20; tobacco factory stemmer Carrie M. Shine, 22, and Callonia Shine, 15; wholesale grocery delivery boy Mitchel Hamon, 24, and wife Ella, 17; restaurant dishwasher James Nelson, 21; laundry ironer Irene Rountree, 27; and cook Maggie Downing, 26.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 526 East Nash Street, rented for $20/month, Mattie B. Williams, 36, rents room-lodging house; Herbert Wiggins, 25, filling station helper; Ernest Davis, 28, veneer factory fireman, and wife Dolly, 29, both of South Carolina; George Rountree, 33; and Sadie Collins, 31, of New York, cafe proprietor.

Mattie Bea Coleman died 10 November 1986 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 March 1904 in Wilson County to Thomas Williams and Sylvester [maiden name unknown]; resided at 526 East Nash; was a widow; and was a hotel owner. Informant was widow Hattie Margaret Williams of Baltimore, Maryland.

The obituary of Frances Webb.

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Wilson Daily Times, 21 December 1935.

On Christmas Day 1902, Amos Webb, 21, of Gardners township, son of John Webb, married Frances Woodard, 19, of Gardners township, daughter of Joyner and Lou Woodard, at James Lewis’ in Gardners.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Amos Webb, 30; wife Frances, 28; children William M., 6, and Elnora, 2; and Pinky Woodard, 21.

Amos Webb Jr. died 12 August 1918 in Taylors township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 July 1918 in Wilson County to Amos Webb of Wilson County and Frances Woodard of Nash County.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Amos Webb, 40; wife Fannie, 38; children William, 16, Elnora, 12, Louise, 9, Ruth, 5, Jason, 4, and Paul, 3 months; and laborer Jack Williams, 85.

Jason Webb died 10 July 1958 in Newport News, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 January 1916 in Wilson, N.C., to Amos Webb and Fannie Edwards; worked as a laborer for the city of Newport News News; and was married to Laura Webb.

Francis Webb died 13 December 1935 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 50 years old; was married to Amos Webb; worked in farming; and was born in Nash County to Johnie and Louiseana Woodard.

An approaching marriage.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 December 1938.

Mary Thelma Barnes, daughter of John M. and Annie Darden Barnes, in fact married Walter Byers, not Bias. Thelma Barnes Byers received degrees from Virginia State College in 1928 and Columbia University in 1941. The Byerses later relocated to Charlotte, where an elementary school still bears Walter G. Byers’ name.