Barnes

The mysterious deaths of Miles and Annie Pearson.

An anonymous letter arrived at the sheriff’s office on 13 January 1922. Miles Pearson had killed his wife, it said, and fled the scene, leaving her lying the yard. The sheriff and several deputies rushed to the scene to find Annie Pearson‘s body, shot through the heart and mutilated by hungry animals. 

“Pistol shot wound through the heart. Murdered by husband”

The Daily Times reported on 14 January that the Pearsons were sharecroppers who had been on this farm, owned by Lithuanian Jewish brothers-in-law Morris Barker and Morris Popkin, just weeks. Their animals were found tied up and famished. 

… and then Miles Pearson was found in the woods, shot in the back.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 January 1922.

A Black man named Jim McCullen and two white men, prowling about the farm, found Pearson’s body stretched out behind a log with a shotgun nearby. Suddenly, it seems, everyone recalled a man and woman who’d been living with the Pearsons and were nowhere to be found. A week earlier, some said, they had briefly borrowed a horse and buggy from George Barnes, but had not been seen since.

“Pistol shot wound Murdered by unknown parties No Doctor in Attendance”

Were the Pearson murders ever solved?

He said he was going home to change clothes.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 November 1930.

In the 1900 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: widow Annie Barnes, 35, and children Flora, 9, Alvester, 8, Jona, 7, Hejikiah, 4, and Zachariah, 2.

On 7 February 1917, Sylvester Barnes, 21, of Black Creek, son of Ben and Annie Barnes, married Esther Woodard, 19, of Black Creek, daughter of Ella Woodard, at Ella Woodard’s in Black Creek township.

Sylvester Barnes registered for the World War I draft in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 12 February 1896 in Wilson County; farmed for himself in Black Creek township, and supported his wife and mother.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Sylvester Barnes, 23; wife Esther, 20; and mother Annie, 58, divorced.

“Found dead in Bed no sign of foul looked as it Body had been dead 10 or 15 days”

Emma Jane Farmer fatally injured.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 December 1928.

The Daily Times misnamed the victim of this terrible accident. Emma Jane Barnes Farmer was killed near Holden’s Crossroads while standing behind her father John Barnes‘ automobile holding a lantern. Reddin Walston, a white teenager, was arrested and charged with her death, but freed after a grand jury refused to indict him. He was rearrested in January 1928 after a judge received additional evidence in the case. I have not been able to determine whether Walston was convicted. However, nine years later, Walston’s uncle shot and killed him in a dispute over liquor.

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Tom Farmer, 43, of Wilson township, married Emma Barnes, 25, of Gardners township, on 24 October 1927. Primitive Baptist minister John R. Barnes performed the ceremony in Gardners township in the presence of Charlie Davis, Florence Battle, and Elijah Barnes

Emma Jane Farmer died 11 December 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 26 years old; was born in Wilson County to John Barnes and Bettie Parker; was married to Thomas Farmer; and was a tenant farmer on Sallie Gray’s farm. Her cause of death was “concussion of brain” six hours after an auto accident.

The leaders of Wilson Cullud Society.

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Wilson Daily Times, 25 August 1899.

  • Spencer Barnes — Barnes was newly returned to Wilson after service in the Spanish-American war.
  • Ward McAllister — McAllister was the tastemaker and social arbiter of Gilded Age New York City.
  • Jim Ottis
  • Colored Odd Fellows Hall
  • Miss Brinkley –– probably, one of the daughters of Dick and Charlotte Brinkley. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Dick Brinkley, 65; wife Charolott, 49, cook; son Hilliard, 29; and daughters Nancy, 27, school teacher, and Bettie, 23, nurse.
  • Miss Rountree

Sallie B. Howard remembers Principal Barnes.

Circa 1992, the C.H. Darden High School Alumni Association published a short memoir of the school’s long-time principal Edward Morrison Barnes (1905-2002). Sallie Baldwin Howard, an accomplished educator in her own right, penned this brief forward.

My Principal

I remember Mr. [Edward M.] Barnes as my principal of both Wilson Public High School and Charles H. Darden High. As incongruous as this may seem, nevertheless — it is true. E.g. In 1938, Wilson Public High School became Charles H. Darden High School and Mr. Barnes, of course — was already the principal.

Mr. Barnes was also the first high school teacher hired from Wilson. He was hired as a French and English teacher. After less than two years, Mr. [William H.A.] Howard the principal died and Mr. Barnes became the principal. Our class of 1938 would be the first class to ever graduate from a Wilson public school named for an African-American: Charles H. Darden High School.

Consequently, the year 1938 becomes a historical landmark for the Black community. Both, our Principal and our class — were thrust into history simply because we just happened to be in a specific place at a specific time. Nevertheless, we’re proud that Lady Luck was on our side!

Tat, Tat, Tat …

Next, I remember my principal because of his habit of lightly tapping a thin ruler against the wall when he wished to gain the attention of students who might be loitering about the halls during  the changing or classes.

This soft “tat, tat, tat” was all that was needed to send us hurrying on to wherever we were supposed to be. I don’t remember ever hearing him raise his voice in order to achieve quiet or get the attention of that All-Black student body.

I’ve had many occasions to reflect on this as a teacher in the New York Public School System. I’d observe both the principal and the teachers practically wear out their lungs in a vain effort to achieve hallway order. Their loud and strident method of trying to achieve quiet, only added to the terrible din of noise.

Quiet Discipline

My memory of Mr. Barnes’s unique method of controlling his student population made a lasting impression on me and it has stayed with me during my many years of working with children.It has made me realize that one of the greatest accomplishments a classroom teacher can achieve is to train his/her children to respond to quiet discipline!

Even today, in the Youth Enrichment Program where I serve as Education Coordinator, Quiet Discipline is insisted upon. And like that of my principal’s so long ago, it still works!

Somebody Noticed — Thank God!

I also remember an occasion when my principal had more confidence in my ability than I had in myself.

Right from the outset, I’d decided that I didn’t like French. Today, I realize that I simply did not want to give up that much of my leisure time in order to learn the vocabulary and verb-conjugations necessary to master a foreign language. Completely unwilling to do this, I simply decided to just try and “get by!” And, of course, my grades quickly reflected just that! But even with the filing grades, I don’t remember being particularly concerned. But somebody was — Thank God!

Consequently, when my principal spoke to me about my grade (78%) — I was shocked and wondered who had ratted on me! How else would he know? I remember telling him that I simply couldn’t learn French — to which he, thank God — paid not the slightest bit of attention. Instead, after chastising me rather severely — he simply pulled me out of my regular class, plopped me down in his office and began teaching me the fundamentals of French. Teaching, testing and grading away — for a while week! At the end of the that time, my grades had zoomed up to 100%! Only then was I permitted to return to my regular class and rejoin my friends.

Nevertheless, as traumatic as this experience had been to my ego, I’d begun to understand the procedure of learning a foreign language. And despite myself, I’d fallen in love with the process. Moreover, that experience got me hooked on foreign languages. Later on in life, I went on to study French, Spanish, Hebrew and Kiswahili!

Fond Memories

There are so many meaningful memories that flood my mind as I think back to those high school days. Such as: our principal himself, driving is in his car to the various tournaments in which we had to participate. Or like arranging for me to have a little library job in order for me to have some spending change — $6.00 per month etc!

During those Terrible Thirties, I used to wonder if my principal realized that the $6.00 was more than spending change for me — but was desperately needed in our house to help out with the bills! How I hoped that he didn’t know this! But once I was an adult and I myself a classroom teacher, I came to realize that there is very little about pupils that the principal and teachers don’t know!

Anyway, during those skimpy days of the Deep Depression, when both the teachers and principal had been obliged to struggle mightily to get to where they were, not only did they know, but what they did for us precisely because they did know. But most importantly for us students — they also REMEMBERED!

S.B. Howard, 1992.

Lightning strike kills two.

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Wilson Daily Times, 6 July 1926.

This article does not reveal the depths of this tragedy — FrankJames, and Herbert Barnes were brothers, and Herbert was only 17 years old.

——

  • Frank Barnes
  • James Barnes
  • Herbert Barnes

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Drew Barnes, 31; wife Stella, 26; and children John, 10, Wade, 6, Frank, 5, James, 3, Lula, 2, and Andrew, 5 months.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Andrew Barnes, 40; wife Estella, 37; and children John W., 20, Wade, 16, Frank, 15, James, 13, Lula,12, Andrew 10, Maggie, 8, Fransis, 6, Joseph, 4, Ella, 3, and Hubbard, 15 months.

In 1917, Frank Barnes registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 April 1895 in Wilson County; lived on R.F.D. #6, Wilson; was a laborer/farmhand for Drew Barnes; and was single. He signed his full name to the document.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Drue Barnes, 51; wife Stella, 49; and children Wade, 25, Frank, 23, James H., 22, Lula D., 21, Andrew, 20, Maggie, 18, Francis, 17, Hubert, 10, Lanciel, 7, and Estella, 5.

“Killed by Lightning while in field ploughing Death was sudden”

Hat tip to J. Robert Boykin III for passing along this article.

Blow to the head of teenaged laborer.

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“Blow upon head fracture of scull accidental”

I have not been able to find additional details about 14 year-old box factory laborer Prince Albert Barnes‘ death.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Wiggins Street, house servant Margaret Barnes, 38, and sons Willie, 23, factory laborer, Prince, 10, and Joe, 3 months.

County teachers retire.

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Wilson Daily Times, 27 June 1962.

In the 1900 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Dennis Tabron, 51; wife Harrett, 49; and children Cephus, 18, Theodorie, 16, Anna D., 13, and Arena H., 7.

In the 1910 census of Ferrells township, Nash County: farmer Dennis T. Tabron, 66; wife Harret, 50; and daughters Anna D., 18, and Irena, 15.

Barney Reid, 27, of Wilson, son of Jessie and Sallie Reid, married Elnora Taborn, 21, of Nash County, daughter of Denis and Harrit Tayborn, on 28 May 1912 in Wilson.

Barney Reid registered for the World War I draft in 1918 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 13 April 1885; lived at 300 Vick Street, Wilson; worked as a mechanic for Boyd-Robertson Construction in Newport News, Virginia; and was married to Anna D. Reid.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 300 Vick Street, building carpenter Barney Reid, 43; wife Anna, 39; children Earl, 4, Piccola, 13, and Fitzhugh, 9; and in-laws Harriot, 69, and John Tayborn, 80.

Anna Dora Reid Hall died 20 April 1969 in Kinston, Lenoir County.

  • Cora Sherrod Barnes

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 56; wife Cassy; and children Ida, 27, Benjamin, 25, Dalas, 20, Exum, 16, Arthur, 15, and Cora, 11.

Columbus Ward, 26, of Greene County, son of Pearson and Cherry Ward, married Cora Sherrod, 18, of Wayne County, daughter of Jack Sherrod, on 17 April 1907 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Cassie Sherrod, 75; grandchildren Zenobia, 25, Doris, 7, and Jeraldine, 6; and daughter Cora Powell, 30, public school teacher, divorced.

John M. Barnes died 27 April 1958 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1870 in Wayne County to Charles and Rebecca Pope Barnes; lived at 500 East Green; worked as a brickmason; was married to Cora Sherrod Barnes [daughter of Jack and Cassie Sherrod]; and was buried at Rest Haven. Thelma Byers was informant.

Cora Sherrod Barnes died 12 June 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 December 1888 to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; was a widow; and was a retired teacher. Ralph Sherrod was informant.