The first baby is triplets.


Pittsburgh Courier, 15 January 1938.

Though this appears to be a heart-warming story — in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, a community erupting in celebration over the birth of bouncing triplets — a bit of fact-checking quickly establishes a tragedy of which the reporter should have been aware.

Tommie and Rosa Bynum Hagans‘ babies — two girls and one boy, in fact — were born prematurely, and the first girl died ten minutes after birth. Her sister succumbed five minutes later. Their brother battled bravely, but passed away on the 3rd, ten days after the date-line and 12 days before the Courier picked up the story. Surely there had been no great neighborhood celebration at the Hagans’ home.

Two years later, Tommie Hagans himself was dead. Per his death certificate, he died 12 February 1940 in Wilson; was married to Rosa Hagans; resided at 509 South Spring Street; worked as a common laborer; and had been born in Wilson County to James and Hannah Bynum Hagans. Joseph Hagans was informant, and C.E. Artis was undertaker.

Studio shots, no. 18: Arthur Sutton.

In the 1910 census of Bull Head township, Greene County, North Carolina: farmer John Sutton, 34; wife Peniza, 26; and children Sanker, 5, Jennie, 4, Effie, 3, Authur, 2, John, 11, and Kirby, 10.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer John Sutton, 53; wife Panisco [Peniza], 44; and children Effie, 21, Arthur, 20, Walter, 19, Primas, 17, Gustas, 14, Jesse, 12, Mary, 11, Haddie, 9, Jay B., 7, Bessie, 6, and Rena, 4.

On 22 February 1932, Arthur Sutton, 22, of Saratoga, son of John and Penny Sutton of Saratoga, married Rosa Bynum, 18, of Stantonsburg, daughter of William and Rosa Bynum of Stantonsburg, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister James B. Holmes performed the ceremony in the presence of Jean D. Holmes and Ruth Lee.

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Arthur Sutton, 29; wife Rosa, 26; and children James J., 7, Rosa Lee, 3, Sarah Jane, 1, and Ellen Gray, 3 months.

In 1940, Arthur Sutton registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 10 February 1909 in Greene County, North Carolina; his contact was John Sutton, father, of Walstonsburg, Greene County; and he was self-employed.

Arthur Sutton died 30 August 1971 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 April 1909 to John Sutton and [first name unknown] Woodard; resided in Elm City; and was a retired farmer. Rosa Sutton was informant.

Photograph courtesy of the family history booklet, Our Heritage 1812-1996: Edwards, Evans, Woodard, published in 1996, and graciously shared by B.J. Woodard.

The unmistakable way to conviction.

In November 1888, Charles Bynum was tried and convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of Henry Privett, his girlfriend’s brother.

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Wilson Mirror, 7 November 1888.

  • Charles Bynum, accused — possibly, the Charles Bynum, 15, listed with his parents Mack, 39, and Mary Bynum, 30, in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County.
  • Henry Privette, victim; Bettie Privette, his sister, allegedly Bynum’s lover; Alice Privette, his wife; Sallie Privette, his sister; Mahala Privette, his mother — In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Joseph Privett, 30; wife Mahala, 27; and children Lucretia, 9, Mary, 4, Henry, 2, and Bettie J., 2 weeks; plus Penninah Locust, 2. In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Joe Privett, about 44; wife Mahalah, about 35; and children Polly Ann, 16, Henry, 14, Bettie, 11, Hattie, 7, and Sallie, 3; plus Penninah Jones, 14. Henry Privett, 18, son of Joe and Mahalia Privett, married Alice Howell, 20, daughter of Ransom and Burbary Howell, on 8 February 1887 at the courthouse in Wilson.
  • James Bynum, juror.
  • Henry Birney, juror.
  • Celia Cotton, witness.

Leonard Medical School students.

James Arthur Cotton appears in Leonard Medical School‘s 1888-’89 catalog with a notation that he done his collegiate studies at Saint Augustine’s College. (Perhaps he did not finish, as the Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929 lists him as a 1897 graduate of Chicago’s Harvey Medical College.

Lincoln University graduate Charles Hudson Bynum appears in the 1892-’93 Leonard Medical School catalog.

The bullet pierced his heart.

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Wilson Daily Times, 5 August 1924.


“Rifle shot wound in breast by drunken father”


In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer John Bynum, 35; wife Carrie, 29; children Rosetta, 5, and John, 4; nephew and niece Isaac, 7, and Geneva Bynum, 4; niece Susan Bridges, 19; laborer Bruce Daniel, 19; and niece Sudie Ward, 15.

Killed by a bolt of lightning.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 1 August 1931.

Abraham Bynum was a newlywed. On 2 February 1931, he, 30, son of Charlie and Julia Bynum, married Carrie Beaman, 23, daughter of Dave and Sarah Beaman. Willie McLondon, a Free Will Baptist minister, performed the ceremony at 707 Suggs Street in the presence of Jack Rountree, Alice 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.

This is the cause of the exodus.


I lived in Wilson County, North Carolina. I have a wife and eight children. It cost me one hundred and twenty-three dollars to get here. I never heard any thing about politics until I got to Indianapolis; then I was asked by a Democrat if some Republican did not go South and make fine promises to me, and did they not bring me here to vote? I told him, no, that I brought myself; I came on my own money; and that I came because I could not get any pay for my work, nor could I educate my children there; and now that I have seen the difference between the North and South I would not go back to North Carolina for anything, and I never expect to go back in life nor after death, except the buzzards carry me back. Mr. Turnbull, of Toisenot, N.C., a white Democrat, told me that I was coming out here to perish, but so far from perishing I am faring better than I ever fared before in my life. I wish to say that cases like the following is what brought about the exodus: A colored man rented a farm, for which he was to pay three bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each; he raised on that farm eleven bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each, and 25 barrels of corn, which left to the tenant eight bales of cotton, and 25 barrels of corn, pease, &c. The tenant bought nothing but a very small amount of very coarse food and clothing, using all the economy during the crop season to make no large account, thinking thereby to have something coming to him at settling day; but when settling day came the landlord had so enlarged his account as to cover everything — the eight bales of cotton, the 25 barrels of corn, pease, and all, and then said that the tenant lacked a little of paying out, although cotton sold at ten cents per pound. This and numerous other things is the cause of the exodus.


Probably, in the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Thomas Bynum, 32; wife Bethana, 28; and children James, 11, Oliver, 8, Mary, 6, Lavinia, 4, and “no name,” 2; and Lucy Pitt, 53. “Ages of this family are in doubt.”

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: merchant P.J. Turnbull, 29, and family.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Howard County, Indiana: at 1622 Guffin Street, street laborer Albert Whitley, 36; Polly, 32; children Cicero, 13, Mamie, 12, Albert, 9, Leonard, 6, and Wilber, 3; and grandfather Thomas Bynum, 65. All the adults were born in North Carolina.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

He knows nothing of the death of his wife.


Wilson Daily Times, 25 October 1918.

Lucy Barnes‘ death certificate:

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Ransom Ruffin, 30; wife Maggie, 33; and children Claudius, 7, Floyd, 6, and Selia Ruffin, 3; plus “son-in-law” William Barnes, 17, and “daughters-in-law” Lucy, 15, and Bertha Barnes, 13. [The Barneses were Ransom Ruffin’s step-children rather than his in-laws. Allen Barnes, presumably, had died, and Ruffin was Maggie’s second husband.]

On 2 December 1903, Lucy Barnes, 21, daughter of Allen Barnes and Maggie Ruffin, married Amos Bynum, 23, son of Joe and Hagar Bynum, in Wilson County. Ransom Ruffin, R.M. Joyner and Pattie Williams were witnesses. [Why, then, was Lucy a Barnes on her death certificate?]

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Plank Road, farmer Amos Bynum, 31; wife Lucy, 25; and daughters Clyde, 8, and Penny, 4 months. [The article describes three small children. Clyde was probably the daughter who stepped in to care for her younger siblings, including Penny and a son Amos Bynum Jr. (Lucy and Amos are listed on his 1946 marriage license and his death certificate.)]

Junior missionary circle.

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Wilson Daily Times, 2 October 1943.

On 25 January 1933, Curley Bynum, 22, son of Cooper and Wen Ann Bynum, married Pearl Emanuel, 20, daughter of M.P. and Pattie Emanuel, in Wilson.

Pearl Bynum died 21 November 1949 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 May 1910 in South Carolina to Pertis and Pattie Emanuel; was married; lived at 102 North Pender; and worked as a domestic and clerk. Informant was Curly Bynum.

Shrewd, pugnacious, saucy, intelligent Negro gives advice.


Wilson Advance, 11 June 1891.

  • Charles H. Darden
  • Susie Harris — Susie J. Harris, age illegible, married James J. Wilson, 23, on 5 January 1893 in Wilson. L.J. Melton, Presbyterian minister, performed the ceremony at the Baptist church in the presence of M.H. Cotton, S.H. Vick, and Edmund Pool. In the 1910 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: clergyman James J. Wilson, 43; wife Susie, 43, a schoolteacher; and children Mattie M., 13, Frank T., 11, Nannie R., 8, Charles E., 6, and Ophelia, 4. In the 1920 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: Presbyterian minister James J. Wilson, 52; wife Susie J., 52; and children Frank T., 20, Nannie R., 18, a teacher, Charles E., 16, Ophelia A., 13, and Lena, 8. Susie J. Wilson died 13 October 1925 in Wadesboro, Anson County. Per her death certificate: she was 57 years old; was born in Wilson to Jas. Harris and Nancy Hill; was married to Rev. J.J. Wilson; and worked as county superintendent for the North Carolina Board of Education. Informant was F.T. Wilson, 213 Oakwood Drive, Orange, New Jersey.
  • Charles H. Bynum


The Messenger and Intelligencer (Wadesboro), 1 May 1919.