accidental death

Knight falls from truck and is killed.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 March 1935.

  • Boy Knight — “Boy” was, in fact, named Efird Knight. Per his death certificate, he was 27 years old; was born in Wilson to Eddie Knight and Minerva Ellis; was single; and worked as a common laborer. Minerva Gray of Wilson was informant. He died 15 March 1935, and his cause of death was: “Accidental fell of truck killing him instantly.”
  • Dock Sims

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

John Powell drowns.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 August 1932.

Per this brief article, 17 year-old John Powell was an orphan when he drowned in the Tar River. Oddly, though, Powell’s Wilson County death certificate lists his place of death as the City of Wilson — through which the Tar River does not flow — and his father William Powell of Wilson County as informant. (John Powell’s mother, Eliza Locus Powell, was in fact dead — of what was believed to be tuberculosis in 1918.)

“Drowned while in the act of swimming in Tar River accident”

  • Oscar Eatmon — on 16 December 1928, Oscar Eatmon, 28, of Wilson, married Rosa Lee Taylor, 26, of Wilson, in Wilson.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Bailey dies in fall from scaffold.

Wilson Daily Times, 27 June 1932.


John D. Bailey, 24, of Oldfields township, married Genevia Jones, 18, of Oldfields township, on 20 December 1893 at Richard Jones‘ in Oldfields township.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer John D. Bailey, 31; wife Jeneva, 23; daughters Rhoda, 4, Pearl, 1, and Mary L., 1 month; and servant Lillie Bagley, 35. 

In the 1910 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer John D. Bailey, 42; wife Jeneva, 33; and children Rhoda, 13, Pearlie, 12, Mary L., 9, Lonnie, 8, Ora, 6, John T., 5, William H., 4, Melton P., 2, and Richard E., 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 516 Church Street, owned and valued at $2000, oil mill laborer John Bailey, 60; wife Jeneva, 52; children Johnny, 16, James, 14, Perry, 21, railroad laborer, and Jerry, 24, railroad laborer; and lodgers Mack Miller, 35, divorced, born in S.C., auto garage mechanic, and Mary P. Williams, 74, widow, private family nurse.

John Bailey died 24 June 1932 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1876 in Nash County to Hill Bailey and Mary Bailey of Nash County, N.C.; was married Geneva Bailey; lived at 516 Church Street, Wilson; and worked as a day laborer for Southern Oil Mill. His cause of death: “hemorrhage of brain at base & of spinal cord” as a result of “scaffold fell on which he was working.”

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Bynum killed by lightning in tobacco barn.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 July 1931.

This Times article provides more details of the tragic death of Abraham Bynum, which was also reported in the Pittsburgh Courier


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: sawyer Charley Bynum, 41; wife Julia Ann, 43; and children Calvin, 21, Mary Jane, 18, Ameta, 16, Annie, 13, John C., 9, and Abraham, 1.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Bynum, 52, factory laborer, born in N.C. to Virginia-born parents; wife Sarah, 26; and children Abraham, 10, Augusta, 4, and Etta, 2; and lodgers John Call, 17, factory laborer (born in Mississippi to a N.C.-born father and Mississippi-born mother), Calvin Bynum, 26, factory laborer, and Anna Boon, 20, house servant.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Suggs Street, Sarah Bynum, 30, widow, and children Abraham, 25, Anna, 20, Charlie, 6, Augustas, 15, Etta, 13, and James, 10.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 807 Stantonsburg Street, owned and valued at $800, John C. Bynum, 38; wife Estelle, 37; daughter Cora A., 10; and siblings Abraham, 32, Augusta, 24, and James, 19. 

On 2 February 1931, Abraham Bynum, 30, son of Charlie and Julia Bynum, married Carrie Beaman, 23, daughter of Dave and Sarah BeamanWillie McLondon, a Free Will Baptist minister, performed the ceremony at 707 Suggs Street in the presence of Jack RountreeAlice Davis and Leemoor Hannah.

Per his death certificate, Abraham Bynum died 21 July 1931, “killed accidentally by being struck by lightning during electrical storm.” He resided at 1008 Woodard Street, Wilson; was 31 years old; was married to Carrie Bynum; and worked as a day laborer at a tobacco manufacturing plant. He was born in Wilson to Charles Bynum and July Ann Davis, a Pitt County native, and J.C. Bynum of 807 Stantonsburg Street was informant.

James Woodard, 5, killed by fire.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 May 1932.


Perhaps, in the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on a rented farm, farmer Mintus Woodard, 28; wife Mary L., 26; children Nancy, 6, Johnie L., 5, Willie, 4, James, 3, and Mary E., 1; and brothers Lonnie, 17, and Jim, 12.

I have not found James Woodard’s death certificate.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Lula Malone is struck by a train.

Per the first account in the Daily Times, Lula Malone (not “Lizzie”) was struck by a train, but not seriously injured, sustaining only “cuts about the head and arms.”

Wilson Daily Times, 21 June 1922.

Three days later, however, the paper reported a very different story. How could a crushed skull have been missed?

Wilson Daily Times, 24 June 1922.

Lula Malone died 21 June 1922. Her death certificate states “June 1st,” but other dates in the document, including her dates of treatment, are consistent with a death on the 21st. She was 52 years old; married to Leroy Malone; a cook for “Mrs. Daniels”; and was born in Statesville, N.C., to John Griffin. Cause of death: “‘Shock’ (possible internal injury)” with “struck by RR engine” contributing.

Apparently, then Malone’s skull was not crushed. The official cause of death is more consistent with the initial news account. 

Clippings 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.


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. 

The death by drowning of Leander Sauls.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1922.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 March 1922.


Lee Ander Sauls registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 11 [illegible] 1899; lived at Route 3, Stantonsburg; was a farm laborer for Claude Foster; his contact was Ivery Artis, Fremont, Wayne County; and he had lost one eye. He signed his card “Leander Sauls.”

On 19 July 1919, Lee Sauls, 21, of Stantonsburg, married Bessie Barnes, 20, of Stantonsburg, in Wilson County.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Lee A. Sauls, 21; wife Bessie, 20; children Mary F., 14 months, and John L., 1 month; and mother-in-law Ceilie Barnes, 61, widow.

Leander Sauls died 26 February 1922 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 23 years old; was born in Wilson County to Ivey Artis and Emia Sauls; was married; and farmed for W.A. Batts. Eddie Sauls was informant.