Barnes

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.

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  • 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.

Follow-up: the roots of Rest Haven cemetery.

Here we explored an early family graveyard on the land now covered by Rest Haven cemetery, and here viewed a charcoal portrait of Jesse and Sarah Barnes, who established it.

Below, a closer look at Barnes cemetery. The large headstone visible is that of the Dixon family.

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Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, June 2020.

Struck with a pitchfork.

James H. Peacock of Wilson County met a violent death while a patient at the State Hospital at Goldsboro, North Carolina’s sole facility for the treatment of mentally ill African-Americans.

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“Fractured skull was struck with the pitchfork while out in hay field — Homicide 12 hours. … Insanity — killed by another patient.”

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In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: James H. Peacock, 14, farm laborer, listed as the servant of Rufus Barnes, 24, farmer.

On 5 September 1905, James H. Peacock, 19, of Cross Roads township, married Armetta Barnes, 18, of Cross Roads township, at Mary Barnes‘ residence in Wilson County. Witnesses were William Forsythe, Willie Barnes, and W.H. Pate.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Smithfield Road, James Peacock, 24, farmer, and wife Armeda, 21, farm laborer.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on Black Creek and Lucama Road, James Peacock, 32; wife Armenta, 30; and children Paul, 12, Valena, 8, Savira, 5, Annie, 3, and Daniel and Blane, 1.

Rosevelt Peacock died 10 February 1922 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 9 months old and was born in Wilson County to James Peacock and Armitta Barnes. Rulius Darring was informant.

The colored brethren of Wilson Primitive Baptist Church.

In 1946, the Wilson Daily Times published an article by Hugh B. Johnston commemorating the history of Wilson Primitive Baptist Church. I’ve excerpted below the sections that mention the church’s African-American members.

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Wilson Primitive Baptist Church, Asheville Post Card Co., undated.

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“On April 24, 1920, the Church agreed to begin construction as soon as possible and to include a baptismal pool, memorial windows for a number of outstanding members, and a balcony for the convenience of remaining colored brethren.”

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“A gallery for colored members ran entirely around the second story of the [1859] church, excepting the end above the tall, broad pulpit.”

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At a conference held at the Tosneot Baptist Church on Sept. 23, 1865, “a proposition was made and agreed to that all colored members that had ‘left their owners before the proclamation of freedom was made, and gone to the Yankees should be dealt with and excluded if they could not give satisfaction of their disorder.’ … [N]one of the offending members appeared … [and when they failed to appear at a postponed date,] motion was made to expel them: on which motion servants Thomas Farmer and Redic Barnes were expelled from all rights of the church.”

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“As a result of the formation of London’s Primitive Baptist Church for the convenience of the colored membership who were being served outside of regular meetings by Elder London Woodard, a conference was held at the Tosneot church on May 21, 1870, and “the following resolution was adopted by unanimous consent of the members, white and colored, that in the future, as before, the white members of the church shall have the entire control of the discipline and government of the church as this place. [This understanding was entered into the minutes] so as in after days there could not be any misunderstanding between the white and colored members of this church.”

Wilson Daily Times, 19 November 1946.

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Some thoughts:

  • The balcony in the back of the 1920 church is visible starting at 1:29 of this Youtube video.
  • What African-Americans were members of Wilson Primitive Baptist as late as 1920? Do the church’s records exist?
  • I have been unable to identify specifically Thomas Farmer and Reddick Barnes, the members who audaciously took their freedom into their own hands.
  • “The formation of London’s Primitive Baptist Church for the convenience of the colored membership who were being served outside of regular meetings” by London Woodard sounds like more like a recognition of a new reality: Toisnot’s black members had left to worship among themselves under a charismatic black preacher. It’s not surprising that those who remained unanimously agreed that white people would control the church.

Wilson Primitive Baptist Church, 1859-1920. The gallery for black members ran along three interior walls. Marion Monk Moore Collection, Images of North Carolina, http://www.digitalnc.org.