This report of a burglary at the home of William Simpson and his unnamed wife on Pine Street near the Hackney Wagon factory reveals interesting details of the material possessions of a working class family in turn-of-the-20th century Wilson. Apparently, Simpson’s most expensive possession was a second-hand pocket watch, which, judging by its valuation was likely gold-filled and quite fancy. (An ordinary new pocket watch could be purchased in 1905 for less than two dollars.)
Detail of ad for The New England Watch Company, 1905.
[N.B. I do not know what “donning his best clothes and going with the boys to the encampment” means.]
Asael Farmer’s estate file contains a cluster of documents related to the prosecution of State vs. Dave. The outcome of the case is not clear.
In February 1863, a Wilson County justice of the peace issued a warrant for Dave’s arrest for breaking into Martha Ann Edwards’ home and stealing her clothes.
… This day complained on oath one Marthaan Edwards of [Wilson County] that a Slave by the Name of Dave Belonging to the estate of Asahel Farmer Dec’d on the Night of 24th December 1862 Broke into Hur dwelling House and Stoled therefrom & carried of one Spotted Blanket two dresses ready made & two dresses not made 3 yards pant cloth & some shoes [illegible] the said Martha An is fully convinced threw every Circumstance connected that the said slave Dave stold the things or was accessory there too These are therefore in the Name of the State commanding you to apprehend the said slave & him have before me or some other Justice of sd. County to be Delt With as the law directs Given under my hands & seal in said County the 15 February 1863 M.G. Williams J.P.
Summons for the state Martha An Edwards, Dilly Ellis, W.B. Batts, John B. Batts, Hines a slave of Thomas Taylor, for the Boy Langleys man Farmers Belfor & Haywood Stricklands Abram
Asael Farmer’s administratorJohn Farmer filed an apologetic statement with the court explaining his failure to produce Haywood, an enslaved man and critical witness, in court.
State vs. Dave slave of John Farmer Admr of Asahel Farmer
John Farmer the owner of the defendant maketh oath that Haywood slave Jessee Mercer and Jere Batts, are material witnesses for the defendant, without the benefit of whose testimony he cannot safely come to trial, that the subpoena for the said slave Haywood was served upon one W.W. Batts in whose possession the slave was supposed to be but that said slave had without the knowledge of this affiant passed into the possession of the said Jesse Mercer, that a subpoena has been issued for the said Jere Batts but has not been served on account of his absence from this County that he expects to have said witnesses present at the next term of this Court, that this affidavit is not made for delay but truly for the cause here in set forth John Farmer
The clerk of court issued a subpoena for W.W. Batts; William Winstead; Elijah Williams; William Crumpler; Belford and Abram, slaves of the E. Strickland estate; Haywood, slave of William W. Batts; “Mose works at Harris Winstead’s”; and Jerry Batts, son of W.B. Batts, to appear in court on the fourth Monday in September, 1863.
Another subpoena called for the appearance of Martha Edwards, Dilly Ellis, W.B. Batts, John B. Batts, and Horace, a slave of Thomas Taylor, to appear the same day.
In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Haywood Batts, 34; wife Rodah, 27; and children Lucy, 17, and Alice, 4.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Belford Farmer, 46, farm laborer; wife Rebeca, 36; and children Morning, 17, Benj’m, 10, Alice, 13, Moses, 8, Anna, 5, and Ida, 1; and Allen Battle, 21.
On 22 September 1870, Belford Farmer, son of Ben and Ellen Farmer, married Peggy Flowers, daughter of Henry and Annie Flowers, in Wilson County.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed laundress Peggy Farmer, 43, and children Mourning, 23, Alice, 21, Annie, 13, Moses, 16, Ida, 10, Belford, 7, and Mary, 5, and grandsons Willie, 3, and Henry, 1.
Perhaps, in the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Abram Strickland, 66, and wife Julia, 50, both farm laborers.
Asael Farmer Estate Records, Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
Walston Tucker — This appears to be a reference to Jacob Tucker, who ran a nearby grocery. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer Jacob Tucker, 40, wife Mary, 39, and children Doward, 17, Daniel, 15, Thomas, 13, Henry, 12 (all day laborers), Smart, 9, Walter, 7, Patience, 5, Joseph, 2, and Bessie, 11 months. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Spring Street, retail grocer Jake Tucker, 45, wife Jane, 45, and children Andrew, 19, a factory laborer, Walter, 15, a bootblack at a barbershop, Pet, 13, Joe, 12, Bessie, 10, and Viola, 7.
Tom Tucker — The 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County, shows that Thomas Tucker in fact returned to hard labor. In a “convick camp” on Sugar Hill Road, “all in this hang are Prisoners”: George Gay, 19, Henry Jones, 20, Jim Sims, 18, Henry Climer 19, Will Dew, 34, Jessey West, 43, Pharrow Sanders, 20, Fenner Moore, 20, Harry Beemer, 17, Joe Lewis, 19, Thomas Tucker, 22, and Willie Peacock, 13. [Yes, 13.]
Iredell County native Henrietta R. Colvert was a nurse at Mercy Hospital and with North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. Neighbor Alex Fields attempted a burglary at the home she rented at 721 East Green Street.
In the 1910 census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina: at 204 East Front Street, draywagon driver John Colvert, 53; wife Addie, 44; and daughters Lugenia, 20, laundress, Lillie, 18, academy teacher, and Harriet, 17.
Charlotte Observer, 21 July 1915.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 330 South Spring Street: widowed Nannie Best, 61, her daughter Frank, 30, son Aaron, 21, and daughter-in-law Estelle, 19, and a lodger, nurse Henrietta Colvert, 24.
In the 1925, 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., directories, Henrietta Colvert was listed as a nurse living at 721 East Green.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 721 East Green Street, paying $40/month, trained insurance company nurse Henrietta Colvert, 32.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 624 East Green Street, widow Cora Powell, 41, teacher, born Wayne County; George Cooper, 24, of Washington, and wife Margaret, 26, of Hamilton, Ohio; Henrietta Colvert, 38, of Statesville; and Marian Davis, 28, Salisbury. Several occupations are misplaced. George Cooper, not his wife, was a sheet metal worker; Colvert, not Davis, was a nurse; and Davis was a teacher at Darden. [624 East Green was the former Frank S. Hargrave house, which belonged to Colvert’s boss.]
In the 1951 city directory of Charlotte, N.C., Henrietta Colvert is listed as a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital.
Henrietta Rebecca Colvert died 9 July 1980 in Roanoke, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 March 1911 [sic, 1893] in North Carolina; resided at 233 Harrison Avenue, N.W., Roanoke; had worked as a hospital nurse; and was buried in Williams Memorial Park, Roanoke.
Though he redeemed himself well enough to be described as “worthy” in his Daily Times obituary, Alexander Fields was listed in the county stockade in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County.