Black Creek township

Bunyan Barnes’ apprentices.

Under laws authorizing the involuntary apprenticeship of poor orphans and the children of unmarried parents, county courts in antebellum North Carolina removed thousands of children from the homes to be bound to serve their neighbors. Hundreds of indentures dot the pages of Wayne County court minute books, and free children of color were disproportionately pulled into the system. Apprenticeship created an inexpensive, long-term and tractable labor supply for white yeoman farmers, many of whom could not (or could not yet) afford to purchase enslaved people.

Wayne County lost its northern tip to the newly created Wilson County in 1855. By pinpointing the locations of the farms of the men (and rare women) to whom they were indentured, we are able to identify the following free children of color as residents of the area that would become Wilson County’s Black Creek township and parts of Crossroads township.

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Bunyan Barnes was born about 1809 and died before 1870. Per Wilson County Founding Families, S. Powell and H. Powell, editors, Barnes was the first postmaster of Bardin’s Depot (now Black Creek) and owned property along the Wilson and Goldsboro Road (now Frank Price Church Road) between Canal Branch and Dickerson Mill Branch in Black Creek township.

  • Stephen Mitchell, 8, and Warren Mitchell, 7, were bound to Bunyon Barnes in 1833.
  • John Hagans, 15, was bound to Bunyan Barnes in 1844.

Apprentice Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives; federal censuses.

Stephen Woodard’s apprentices.

Under laws authorizing the involuntary apprenticeship of poor orphans and the children of unmarried parents, county courts in antebellum North Carolina removed thousands of children from their homes to be bound to serve their neighbors. Hundreds of indentures dot the pages of Wayne County court minute books, and free children of color were disproportionately pulled into the system. Involuntary apprenticeship created an inexpensive, long-term and tractable labor supply for white yeoman farmers, many of whom could not (or could not yet) afford to purchase enslaved people.

Wayne County lost its northern tip to the newly created Wilson County in 1855. By pinpointing the locations of the farms of the men (and rare women) to whom they were indentured, we are able to identify a few free children of color as residents of the area that would become Wilson County’s Black Creek township and part of Crossroads township.

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Stephen Woodard was born about 1790 and died in 1864. He was a wealthy farmer whose last will and testament named 75 enslaved people. In the 1850 census of North of the Neuse River district, Wayne County, Woodard’s household included 40 year-old farmhand Sollomon Woodard, who was a free man of color. In the 1860 census of Woodard’s household, then in Black Creek township, Wilson County, the same man, now known as Solomon Andrews, 50, carpenter, is listed.

The Black Creek Rural Historic District was nominated as a National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and listed in 1986. The nomination form described the residences in the district, including Stephen Woodard’s, as “a rare survivor of antebellum architecture and … excellent examples of early farmsteads in Wilson County.” Per the nomination form, Woodard built a “modest coastal cottage” between 1810 and 1820. In 1821, he inherited additional land from his father John Woodard.

Stephen Woodard Sr.’s coastal cottage, at left, attached by breezeway to a two-story, frame I-house later built for his son, Dr. Stephen Woodard Jr., possibly by carpenter Solomon Andrews. Photo courtesy of the nomination form for Black Creek Rural Historic District.

Over the span of 1820 to 1831, as he began to expand his wealth, Stephen Woodard indentured at least eight children of color:

  • Welthy [no last name given, possibly Artis], age 15, and Ned [no last name given, possibly Artis], age 4, in 1820.
  • Kinnard Samson, age 7, Liza Samson, age 12, and Jere Samson, age 2, in 1820.

Possibly, in the 1850 census of North Side of Neuse, Wayne County: Jesse Sampson, 35, day laborer, with wife Mary, 30, and children Caswell, 10, Martha, 8, Elizabeth, 6, Temda, 4, and Gabriel, 6 months.

  • William Artis, age 7, in 1822.
  • David Artist, age 15, as a farmer in 1829.

In the 1840 census of Boswells district, Wayne County, David Artis is listed as head of household consisting of two free people of color. In 1850, North Side of Neuse district, Wayne County: David Artis, 40, day laborer, wife Siry, 40, and Lafayet Artis, 3. In 1860, Nahunta, Wayne County: David Artis, 50, turpentine hand, and wife Elizabeth, 35.

  • Willie Hagans, age 9, in 1831.

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The indenture of four year-old Ned.

Apprentice Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives; federal censuses.

Report of vaccinations, pt. 5.

In the winter of 1902, doctors in Wilson County commenced a vaccination campaign to counter the spread of smallpox across North Carolina. Physicians in the county were paid ten cents per resident inoculated and sent in lists of patients to justify their fees. Dr. T.L. Brooks, who operated Brooks & Whitley, Druggists, with W.R. Whitley, practiced in Black Creek and surrounds. In February 1902, the County paid him $13.70 for fees and expenses related to 136 vaccinations.

The following list of African-American patients is abstracted from the roll Dr. Brooks submitted to the County:

Earnest Parker, 17

Fred Dawson, 19

Francis Farmer, 22

Nettie Atkinson, 22

Nellie Atkinson, 19

Julia Fields, 18

Naomy Atkinson, 15

Sallie Jordan, 16

Lucy Atkinson, 14

Jane Jordan, 13

Cresy Whitaker, 12

Charity Fields, 8

Rosa Jordan, 13

Nettie Newsome, 10

Lewis H. Newsome, 7

Alford Jordan, 9

George Jordan, 11

Patsy Whitaker, 19

Mary Jordan, 9

Matthew Whitley, 16

Clara Crumidee, 13

Orangy Barnes, 23

Geo. Dew, 26

Bud Crawford, 26

Frank Tomlin, 30

Bud Tomlin, 18

John Whitley, 56

Richard Whitley, 19

 

Slave schedule.

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Prior to 1850, enslaved people were enumerated only as numbers in columns designated for sex and age. In 1850 and 1860, the federal government expanded the census to include “slave schedules.” Though enslaved people still were not recorded by name, they were enumerated individually by age, sex and color and grouped by slaveowner (or representative). Additional columns tallied “fugitives from the state,” “number manumitted,” “deaf, dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic,” and “no. of slave houses.”

These pages are the first and second in the 1860 slave schedule of Black Creek township, Wilson County. In them,

  • Sallie Simms reported that she owned ten slaves aged 7 months to 72 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • William Thompson reported that he owned 22 slaves aged 7 months to 44 and sheltered them in five houses.
  • Dr. A.G. Brooks reported that he owned 29 slaves aged 1 to 55 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Enos Barnes reported that he owned two teenaged boys and sheltered them in one house.
  • Celia Barnes reported that she owned 28 year-old and 53 year-old men.
  • James Barnes reported that he owned nine slaves aged 3 to 50 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Jesse Watson reported that he owned one ten year-old boy.
  • James Daniel reported that he owned four male slaves aged 9 to 60 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Joseph Farrell reported that he owned nine slaves aged 5 months to 38 and sheltered them in one house.
  • James Nusom reported that he owned 22 slaves aged 1 to 28 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Jesse Sauls reported that he owned seven slaves aged 3 to 26 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Nancy Bass reported that she owned eight slaves aged 5 months to 36 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Belinda Aycock reported that she owned six slaves aged 3 to 38 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Sallie Daniel reported that she owned 14 slaves aged 11 months to 53 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Elisha Bass reported reported that he owned six slaves aged 3 months to 30 and sheltered them in one house.
  • Jeremiah Bass reported that he owned a 17 year-old girl and two babies, aged 2 years and 4 months, who were probably her children.
  • Ephraim Bass reported that he owned a 36 year-old man.

Snaps, no. 31: Tenner Anderson Pleasant.

The 1960 Panther’s Paw, the yearbook of all-white Lee Woodard High School in Black Creek, carried this photograph:

The photo changed in the following year’s edition, but the caption was nearly identical — “Aunt Tena” Pleasant keeps our building nice and clean.”:

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In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Benjamin Anderson, 33; wife Amanda, 25, farm laborer; and children Johnnie, 11, farm laborer, Tenna, 10, Jonas, 9, Annie, 6, Charlie, 3, and Bettie, 3 months.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, WIlson County: laborer Ben Anderson, 45; [second] wife Jane, 35; and children Elbert, 18, Annie, 13, Charlie, 11, Bettie, 10, and Martha, 8; plus boarder Lafyette Locus, 19.

On 25 August 1910, Walter Pleasant, 26, of Black Creek, son of George Pleasant, married Tena Anderson, 22, of Black Creek, daughter of Ben Anderson, in Black Creek.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on the road east from Black Creek to Wilson, farmer Walter Pleasant, 36, wife Tenie, 27, farm laborer, and daughter Lillie, 4.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Walter Plesent, 45; wife Tina, 40; and children Lillie, 14, Maud, 9, and Arthur, 7; nephew Robert Best, 14; and widowed aunt Hattie Smith, 60.

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Walter Pleasant, 53; wife Tenner, 55, school dormitory cook; father-in-law Ben Anderson, 75; nephew Arthur L. Bennett, 20, farm laborer; niece Maude E. Dunn, 18, cook; and nice Tenner L. Dunn, 13.

Walter Pleasant died 9 January 1945 in Black Creek township, Wilson County, Per his death certificate, he was born 12 October 1883 in Wilson County to George Pleasant of Richmond, Virginia, and Adeline Smith of Edgecombe County. Wife Teenie Pleasant was informant, and he was buried in Black Creek.

Tennie (Tener) Pleasant died 1 February 1962 at her home at 1218 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 April 1891 in WIlson County to Ben Anderson and Mandy Brooks; was a widow; and was buried in Black Creek cemetery. Informant was Tenner Wiggins, 1427 Avenue C, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Around the pumps at Bardin Brothers.

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The photograph in this advertisement for Bardin Brothers is undated, but it was published in the 1960 edition of Lee Woodard High School’s Panther’s Paw yearbook. Black Wide-Awake’s focus is pre-1950, but I am sharing as a rare image of African-Americans born early in the 20th century who lived and worked in rural Wilson County. I cannot identify any of the men and women depicted alongside members of the Bardin family. However, Bardin Brothers’ sweet potato farm-cum-gas station-and-grocery stood off Highway 117 Alternate South at Yank and Potato House Court Roads, just north of the town of Black Creek, and presumably these workers and/or customers lived in the neighboring community.

If you recognize anyone, please let me know.

Many thanks to Wayne Edwards for bringing this photo to my attention.

Shadrach and Keziah Simms Dickinson house.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“This Georgian cottage is said to have been the dwelling of Keziah and Shadrack Dickenson. Dickenson was the daughter of Robert Simms, a major landowner in Black Creek Township. The land upon which this house was built is said to have come from the Simms family. This late eighteenth-century cottage is a rare survival in Wilson County. It was probably constructed much as it stands today. It is a small rectangular building with a gable roof. The gable ends suggest the presence of exterior end chimneys, now removed. The door is board and batten. Although some alterations have been made on the interior, the present appearance suggests that it was once a hall-and-parlor plan dwelling. The interior is sheathed with flush boards and some original woodwork remains intact. The interior and exterior details of this house suggest that it may be of the oldest, as well as one of the best-preserved houses in the county.”

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As shown in the last column on this partial image, Shadrach Dickinson reported to the enumerator recording the 1790 census of Wayne County, North Carolina, that he owned 14 enslaved people. (Black Creek township was part of Wayne County prior to 1855.)

Dickinson died in 1818 at the age of about 68. His will entered probate in Wayne County:

In the Name of God Amen — I Shadrack Dickinson of the County of Wayne & State of No Carolina do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament Revoking all others being in Sound mind & memory. It is my wish and desire that all my children To wit Martha Simms Elizabeth Stanton Polly Thomas Sally Jernigan Patience Turner James Dickinson Penelope Barnes Wm Dickinson & Susannah Edmundson  shall have an equal part of all my whole estate that is consisting Lands negroes and money &tc with the Exception of my Daughter Polley Thoma’s part of the negroes which I have now in possession it is my wish and desire after the Valuation of sd negroes that her part be made up to her in money or good notes of hands and the said negroes Eqully Divided between the above name Eight Heirs with the exception of my negro man Jacob & his wife Jenny shall be valued at one Hundred dollars and my negro man Harry shall be valued at three Hundred dollars, and without any compulshon shall have their choice of said Eight Heirs for their Master or Mistress, and the said Four Hundred dollars to be paid in good Notes as the other part of said Estate, it is my wish & desire that all the negroes & perishable property which already has been given to said nine Heirs be valued at the time when said property was [illegible] and also three Hundred Acres of Land deeded to my son James also three Hundred Acres of Land deeded to my daughter Patience valued at this time, it is also my wish and desire after all my Just debts are paid that all the residue of my Estate be Equally divided between the above named nine Heirs by Joel Newsom Junr & Arthur Bardin which I ordain and appoint also my Executors to this my last will and Testament. Oct. 28th 1818. Shadrack Dickinson  Signed Seald & acknowledged in the presents of William Dickinson, Henry T. Stanton

1790 United States Federal Census; North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

James and Zilpha Newsome Daniel house.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“This handsome plantation house is thought to have been built for James Daniel. Daniel was born in 1802 and died in 1854. He married Zilphia Newsome, and after her death in 1862 the property was sold to Dr. Alexander G. Brooks …. The Daniel House is a smaller version of the type of plantation house built for such prominent planters as William Barnes (Stantonsburg Township), Elias Barnes (Saratoga Township) and Colonel David Williams (Toisnot Township). It is two stories high with a rather shallow hipped roof and interior chimneys. Both front and rear doors are trabeated, and the front elevation is sheltered by a hipped-roof porch supported by slender chamfered posts. A kitchen wing is located on the side elevation. The house has a double-pile central-hall plan with two rooms off the hall. All the original mid-nineteenth century mantels and doors are still in place.”

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In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County: farmer James Daniel, 48; wife Zilpah, 47; and her children Elizabeth, 23, Eliza, 21, Lawrence, 19, Joseph, 15, James, 17, Sarah, 12, Mary, 8, and Martha, 8.

In the 1850 slave schedule of the North Side of the Neuse, Wayne County, James Daniel is reported with eight slaves, five girls and women aged 3 to 26, and three boys and men, aged 1 to 35.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Zilpha Daniel, 53, and her children Elizabeth, 33, Eliza, 29, Larry, 28, Sallie, 19, Mary, 18, and Martha, 18. Farm laborer Smithy Artis, 38, a free woman of color, and her son George, 21, described as “idiotic,” also lived in the household. [The term was often applied to deaf people.] Daniel reported $8000 in real estate and $12,000 in personal property, including enslaved people.

In the 1860 slave schedule of Black Creek township, Wilson County, Zilpha Daniel is reported with 14 slaves, eight girls and women aged 1 to 39, and six men and boys, aged 2 to 39.

The 1870 census of Wilson County lists many dozens of African-Americans with the surname Daniel living throughout the eastern half of Wilson County.

Robert M. and Zillah Horne Cox house.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

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“Dr. Robert Cox was born in 1825 and he married Zillah Horne, an heir to the Horne land where this house was built. In 1844 Cox purchased his wife’s share of the Horne land, amounting to 385 acres. This house was probably built in the 1840s. After the death of Zillah, Cox married her sister, Elizabeth Horne. According to the 1860 census he was identified as a farmer with real property worth $8,000. … The Cox House consists of a two-room dwelling with an engaged porch and rear shed. The sturdy porch posts are chamfered and a shed room with access from the outside was built under one side of the porch. There are two exterior end chimneys; one centrally located on the west elevation which served the parlor and one on the east elevation on the rear shed. On the interior the house is divided into two main rooms with a shed room running the width of the house at the rear.”

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In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County, North Carolina [in an area which became part of Black Creek township, Wilson County, in 1855]: farmer Robert Cox, 25; wife Zillie, 23; and daughter Julia, 10 months. Per the 1850 slave schedule of the same district, Cox enslaved a 37 year-old woman, four girls ranging in age from 4 to 14, a 42 year-old man, and two boys, aged 7 and 14.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Robert M. Cox, 35; wife Elizabeth, 21; Barney B. Cox, 21, clerk; John H. Minshew, 28, clerk; and J.S. Holt, 28, merchant. Cox reported $8000 in real property and $36000 in personal property. His personal property, per the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, included five enslaved girls and women ranging from 9 to 30 years old and ten enslaved boys and men ranging from 9 months to 35 years old. Cox provided three dwellings to house them.

The 1870 census of Wilson County lists 20 African-Americans with the surname Cox living in four households in Black Creek, Stantonsburg and Cross Roads townships. Though Robert Cox was the sole Cox slaveholder listed in Wilson County in 1860, several of his Cox kin in neighboring Wayne County owned slaves.

 

Elisha Bass farm.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“According to local tradition this house was built for Elisha Bass, Jr., on land deeded to Edward Bass in 1745. The Elisha Bass house is set in a grove of trees and is oriented away from the road. It now forms the rear section of a turn-of-the-century farmhouse built circa 1890 by Shelby Bass. The oldest section probably dates between 1830 and 1940. The three-bay gable-roof house has exterior end chimneys with tumbled weatherings. The kitchen, which was originally part of the early section of the house, still stands on the property.”

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In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County, North Carolina [in an area which became part of Black Creek township, Wilson County, in 1855]: farmer Elisha Bass, 35; wife Sarah, 30; and son Hardy, 1. Per the 1850 slave schedule of the same district, Elisha Bass enslaved a 40 and a 16 year-old man.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Elisha Bass, 47; son Nathan, 9; and farm laborer Redmon Lodge, 17. Bass listed $3500 in real property and $4317 in personal property. His personal property, per the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, included a 20 year-old woman, a three year-old girl, and four boys and men, aged three months to 30 years.

Elisha Bass was just one of several white Basses who enslaved people in Wilson County. The 1870 census of Black Creek township lists 134 African-Americans with the surname Bass living in households across eastern Wilson County in Black Creek, Stantonsburg, Gardners, Wilson, Joyners and Cross Roads townships.