Work Life

A tribute to Jefferson D. Farmer.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 August 1927.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Rosa Farmer, 35, farm laborer, and children (and grandchildren) Gray, 18, Turner, 17, Mary, 16, Thomas, 13, Daniel, 12, Leah, 10, Jefferson, 8, Louisa, 10 months, Anna, 3; and Arche Barnes, 73, cooper.

On 6 November 1886, Jeff Gay, 23, married Blanch Gay, 16, at Sam Gay‘s in Wilson. Sam Gay, Dallas Taylor, and George Farmer were witnesses.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: drayman Jefferson Farmer, 40; wife Blanch, 28; and children May, 12, Turner, 11, Jesse, 8, Charley, 4, and Gola, 2.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Jefferson (c) driver h Hines nr Warren

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 615 Hines Street, Jeff Farmer, 50; wife Blanch, 37; and children Turner, 20, Jessie, 16, Charlie, 13, Goler, 10, Jeff Jr., 7, Henry, 3, Allice, 2, and Gola, 1.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Jefferson (c) driver

On 19 March 1918, Goldie Farmer, 21, of Wilson County, daughter of Jesse and Blanch Farmer, married George McCoy in Richmond, Virginia.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 615 Hines Street, Jeff Farmer, 57; wife Blanche, 47; and children Charlie, 24, Jeff, 18, Henry, 14, Alice, 12, Sam, 8, and Blanche, 5.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Jefferson (c) driver h 404 Young’s Al[ley]

Jeff Farmer died 29 July 1927 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 55 years old; was born in Wilson to Nelson Farmer, Edgecombe County, and Rosa Farmer, Wilson County; was married to Blanch Farmer; lived on Hines Street; and worked as a drayman.

Charlie W. Farmer died 10 October 1938 at the V.A. Hospital at Oteen, Asheville, Buncombe County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 September 1897 to Jeff Gay and Blanch Gay; was married to Maggie Farmer; and worked as a janitor.

Turner Farmer died 2 May 1939 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 50 years old; was born in Wilson to Jeff Farmer and Blanch Gay; lived at 901 West Nash; and worked as a chauffeur.

Jeff David Farmer died 12 June 1961 at his home at 807 East Viola Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 October 1903 in Wilson County to Jeff David Farmer Sr. and Blanch Ella Gay; was widowed; and was a World War II veteran. Goldie Ricks of 1413 East Nash Street was informant.

Blanche Hammonds died 11 July 1971 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 July 1914 to Jeff Farmer and Blanche Gay and was married to Joseph Hammonds Sr.

Goldie Farmer Ricks died 8 September 1974 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 January 1897 to Jefferson Farmer and Blanch Gay; resided at 108 Ashe Street, Wilson; and was a widow. Informant was Johnnie Lee Ward of Columbia, Maryland.

George Franklin Farmer died 1 February 1976 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 29 October 1899 to Jeff D. Farmer and Blanche Elnora Gay; was a widower; lived at 714-A East Green; and worked as a janitor.

Samuel Gay Farmer died 29 March 1980 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 October 1910 in Wilson County to Jeff D. Farmer and Blanch Elnora Gay; was divorced; lived at 714-A East Green Street; and worked in maintenance at Eastern North Carolina Sanitorium.

Franklin kicked by a mule.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 July 1913.

A mule kicked Jim Franklin in the face as he tried to catch it, “displacing his right eye and breaking his jaw bone.”

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On 12 August 1916, James Franklin, 24, of Wilson, obtained a license to marry Sudie Bryant, 22, of Wilson.

In 1917, Jim Franklin registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born January 1891 in Johnston County, N.C.; lived at 521 Lodge Street, Wilson; and worked as a laborer for Briggs & Simms. He claimed a draft exemption because he had one eye.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 521 Lodge, Ohio-born Jim Franklyn, 28, oil mill laborer; wife Sudie, 25; and son Freddie, 8 months, who shared a dwelling with Lina Smith, 21, laundress; her son Arthur, 1; and her grandmother Ella, 70, widow.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Franklin, 54; wife Sudie F., 35; and children Freddie F., 11, and Bertha L., 7.

Jim Franklin died 17 July 1939 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 46 years old; was born in Columbus, Ohio, to Rollingson and Emma Franklin; was married to Sudie Franklin; worked as a strikeman; and lived at 504 East Spruce Street, Wilson.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Health Department ratings.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 July 1922.

The (county?) health department rated five “colored” cafes during a monthly inspection in July 1922.

Tate’s Cafe, as drawn in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson.

  • Central Cafe — per the 1922 city directory, this eatery was located at 415 East Nash Street and had a Greek (or Greek-American) proprietor, Mike Vekrakos.

Central Cafe, as drawn in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson.

  • Gilliams Cafe — per the 1922 city directory, this cafe was located at 509 East Nash Street, and Rachel Gilliam was proprietor. Gilliam lived at 228 Smith Street, the narrow lane running parallel to Nash.
  • Carolina Cafe
  • Barnes Cafe

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The death of Paul Batts, 19.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 August 1922.

Nineteen year-old Paul Batts died while working on construction of “the new school building on Kenan street,” i.e. Wilson High School, later renamed for Charles L. Coon.

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In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, brickyard laborer Redic Batts, 34; wife Mareliza, 32, laundress; and children Paul, 6, Rayman, 3, and Zadieann, 10 months.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason Redding Batts, 48; wife Mary Eliza, 47, housekeeper; and children Paul, 15, Raymond N., 12, Zady, 11, and Willie, 7.

I have not found Paul Batts’ death certificate.

Nothing compares to the loss.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1923.

Incredibly, Augusta Walker dropped by the Daily Times office a few days after her infant son Leroy Wanamaker was burned to death in a house fire. She wanted to explain the circumstances of the tragedy.

Per his death certificate, Leroy was six months old; was born in Wilson County to James Wanamaker of South Carolina and Augusta Walker of Durham, N.C.; and died in Saratoga township, Wilson County.

No other trace of Augusta Walker is readily found in Wilson County records. She may have only recently arrived when she gave birth in Wilson County and may have had no family with which to leave her son while she worked. 

Richmond Pender’s arm nearly severed.

Richmond Pender worked a regular job as a drayman for a grocery store. He operated a side business, though, selling wood, likely mostly to feed stoves and furnaces throughout East Wilson. In April 1928, he suffered a devastating injury when his arm was pulled into a wood saw in his back yard.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 April 1922.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Gray Pender, 37; wife Katie, 36; and children Richard, 16, Louvenia, 13, Caroline, 10, Wilson, 6, Floyd, 4, and Jonah, 11 months. [Gray and Louvenia Pender’s headstones have been found in Rountree Cemetery.]

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Green Street, Katey Pender, 47, laundress, and children Richman, 26, grocery store delivery; Carrie, 16, private nurse; Willie, 16, farmer; Floyd, 14, laborer; and Joseph, 10.

On 26 May 1912,  Richmond Pender, 28, of Wilson, son of Gray and Kate Pender, married Marinda Howard, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Jesse and Martha Howard, in Wilson. W.H. Kittrell applied for the license, and Rev. H.B. Taylor performed the ceremony in the presence of C.L. Darden, Wm. Hines, and C.R. Cannon.

Richmond Pender registered for the World War I draft in Wilson in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 9 July 1883; lived at 505 East Vance; his nearest relative was Marinda Pender; and he worked as a drayman for J.H. Gill of East Nash Street.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Richmond Pender, 35, drayman for grocery store; wife Marinda, 25; and son Jessie, 7.

Marinda Lilian Pender died 25 November 1925 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 16 June 1890 in Wilson County to Jesse Howard and Martha Ruffin; was married to Richmond Pender; and lived at 504 East Vance.

On 9 January 1927, Richmond Pender, 44, of Wilson, married Mamie E. Jones, 27, of Wilson, in Wilson. Presbyterian minister A.H. George performed the ceremony in the presence of S.A. Coward, Jesse Gray Pender, and Ruel Bulluck.

Richmond Pender wrote out a will a few weeks after his second marriage. He directed a burial in the Masonic cemetery (not to exceed $400 in cost) and specified that he did not want a headstone (at least not one paid for by his estate.) His house and lot on Vance Street and two lots on Nash Street were to go to son Jesse Gray Pender. Mamie Pender was to receive household furnishings and any money left in the estate. William Hines was named guardian of the property of Jesse Pender, who was a minor, as well as executor of the estate.

Richmond Pender died 3 March 1930 in Wilson of apoplexy [stroke]. Per his death certificate, he was 49 years old; was married to Mamie Pender; lived at 504 Vance; was a dealer in wood; and was born in Wilson County to Gray Pender and Katie Woodard.

Like many, Pender was apparently both a Prince Hall Mason and an Odd Fellow and was a member of the volunteer Red Hot Reel Company. Ben Mincey requested that all firemen assemble at the Odd Fellows Hall to go together to Pender’s funeral.

Wilson Daily Times, 5 March 1930.

Almost exactly 24 years after Richmond Pender’s injury, his only child was killed in an ammunition dump explosion in Newark, New Jersey.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 March 1946.

Filling in the gaps.

Last week in Wilson.

My thanks to Wilson County Historical Association, Wilson County Tourism Development Authority, Drew C. Wilson of Wilson Times (where you can read the accompanying article), Reginald Speight of Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr.‘s office, and local elected officials and members of the public who took time to show interest and support.