cemetery cleanup

Lane Street Project: coda.

Lane Street Project’s public work kicked into gear in December 2020 with the discovery of Samuel H. Vick‘s long-lost grave marker. We carefully unearthed and cleaned it, and several volunteers have worked extra-diligently to uproot the layers of wisteria runners that encase it. However, wisteria fights hard, and this is what it looked like this morning.

Charles Eric Jones‘ care, storage, and transport of Lane Street Project’s tool collection has been critical to the success of Season One. So, too, his commitment to show up early and stay late for every workday. His words today:
“Good afternoon from the Lane Street Project. This is the last joint clean-up before the summer. I have truly enjoyed working out here giving back to the ancestors,
who were the builders of East Wilson and who my elementary school was named after. I could not leave without freeing [Sam Vick’s] headstone and cutting the grass to help it look better. Thanks to all the good people I have met during this project, and I look forward to doing more. I pray that the Creator continues to Bless you and your family. Yours in Peace. CJ”
I owe everything to women and men like Charles Jones, without whom these cemetery clean-ups would have remained fervent, but unrealized, dreams. Lane Street Project is too big for one person, or a dozen, or even a hundred. We need you — your time, your energy, your ideas, your support. See you for Season Two, rested and ready to reclaim this sacred space!
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Heartfelt thanks to the faithful and upright Portia Newman; Brittany Daniel; Joyah Bulluck; LaMonique Hamilton; Castonoble Hooks; Raven Farmer; Craig Barnes Jr.; Charles Jones; Dr. Judy Rashid; Rev. Kim Reives; Mayor Carlton Stevens; Briggs Sherwood; Julia Newton; Mike Witting and Alliance Forestry, Inc.; Drew Wilson; Will Corbett; Greg Boseman; the Wilson Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Barbara Hansen; Councilman Derrick Creech; Joseph Story; Tyrone Speight; Laurie McBriarty-Sisk; Brandon and Kayla Nelson; Vicki Cowan; Brian and Erin Hollaway Palmer and Melissa Pocock of Friends of East End; Adam Rosenblatt of Friends of Geer Cemetery; Perry Morrison; Charlie Farris; and each and every LSP volunteer, donor, and supporter this Season One. 
Photos courtesy of Charles E. Jones.

Lane Street Project: season 1’s last clean-up.

Paige Nelson has been one of Lane Street Project’s staunchest volunteers. Her time as an LDS missionary in Wilson has ended, but she, her family, and the Wilson Ward continue to support LSP in ways large and small. On Saturday, May 15, please come to the last clean-up of Season 1, buy a teeshirt, and help preserve Wilson’s sacred spaces! Let’s end the season the way we started — strong!

Lane Street Project: April clean-up schedule.

Finally — a warm community clean-up day!

Please come out to Odd Fellows Cemetery on April 10 and 24 and join your neighbors in the clean-up of three historic African-American cemeteries. All are welcome!

This month, we really need your help:

  • Pruning shrubs and limbing up hollies around the Vick Cemetery monument
  • Cutting wisteria stumps in Odd Fellows Cemetery close to the ground for later defoliation treatment
  • Clearing underbrush and removing trash
  • Recording GPS coordinates for each grave marker (email me at lanestreetproject@gmail.com if you’re interested in this task)

Please protect yourself on-site — masks required, boots and gloves strongly encouraged. 

As always, THANK YOU!

Lane Street Project: my Rountree.

I wrote here about my recent discovery of my great-grandmother’s headstone in Odd Fellows cemetery. She is not alone. Like everyone with deep roots in Black Wilson, I have many relatives buried in the three Lane Street Project graveyards. Mine include: 

Henry M. Barnes (1911-1912), my cousin

Ned R. Barnes (1869-1912), my great-great-uncle

Henrietta G. Taylor (1893-1916), my great-aunt

Jesse Barnes (1867-1916), my great-great-uncle

William Barnes (1879-1917), my great-great-uncle

Hennie L. Taylor (1916-1917), my cousin

Wesley Barnes (1865-1919), my great-great-uncle

Mary Barnes Jones (1876-1919), my great-great-aunt

Charles Barnes (1896-1919), my cousin

Mattie Barnes Hines (1895-1922), my cousin

Ethel G. Barnes (1915-1923), my cousin

Rachel Barnes Taylor (1863-1925), my great-grandmother

Warland Barnes (1907-1926), my cousin 

H. Michael Taylor (1861-1927), my great-grandfather

Infant Henderson (1928-1928), my uncle

Jesse Henderson Jr. (1928-1929), my cousin

Jerrell R. Barnes (1909-1929), my cousin

Archie Henderson (1926-1930), my cousin

Ned J. Barnes (1899-1931), my cousin

Thomas Perry (1909-1932), my cousin

——

At noon on February 20, during our next clean-up, Lane Street Project will conduct a candle lighting ceremony to recognize and give thanks to the ancestors — both remembered and forgotten — buried in Rountree, Odd Fellows, and Vick. Please join us.

Cornelia Bass Reddick of Richmond, Virginia.

I wrote in October about Richmond’s Friends of East End, the all-volunteer non-profit which, until recently, was working to reclaim historic East End Cemetery and transform it into “a public site of memory, contemplation, and beauty that honors Richmond’s black community and history.”

F.O.E.E. has turned its attention to neglected corners of Woodland Cemetery, another historic Black cemetery in Richmond, and dedicated yesterday’s find — the gravestone of Wilson County native Cornelia Reddick — to Lane Street Project!

Cornelia Reddick Died Aug. 23, 1928 Heliotrope Lodge 12 I.O. King David

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In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Bass, 41.

On 16 January 1880, Charles Bass, 51, married Rhoda A. Jordan, 23, at C. Bass’ [probably Charles Bass] residence. Justice of the Peace David G.W. Ward performed the ceremony.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Charles Bass, 51; wife Rhoda, 23; and an unnamed four month-old infant daughter. [This child was Cornelia Bass Reddick.]

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Bass, 71, widower, and son James, 10. 

Cornelia Bass’ life has proved exceptionally difficult to track. We know, however, that sometime prior to 1928, she married equally elusive tobacco worker Henry Reddick. They appear together in the 1928 Richmond, Virginia, city directory: Reddick Henry (c; Cornelia) lab 506-A E Clay

Cornelia Reddick died 23 August 1928 at her home in Richmond, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 51 years old; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Charles and Roda Bass; was married to Henry Reddick; and lived at 506 East Clay, Richmond. 

UPDATED: Reddick’s gravestone indicates affiliation with Heliotrope Lodge Number 12, Imperial Order of King David. Friends of East End corrected my guess at the name of this fraternal organization, founded in Richmond in 1908.

Richmond Planet, 15 November 1930.

Lane Street Project: a day of reclamation, no. 1.

Today, I’m filled with gratitude.

Thank you, Craig Barnes Jr., for the day’s first and biggest find — the long-lost gravestone of Samuel H. Vick. (And for the current affairs lesson.)

“He was faithful and upright in all his works.” Samuel H. Vick’s grave marker, engraved by Clarence B. Best, has been buried under soil, vines, and leaves for more than 30 years.

Thank you, Castonoble Hooks, my biggest cheerleader, for a strong back, useful tools, and community conscience.

Thank you, Jennifer Baker Byrd, Brooke Bissette Fisher, and Brian Grawberg of Imagination Station for continuing to support — in concrete ways — the preservation of all Wilson’s history.

Working to free up Vick’s headstone. The upright marker in the foreground is that of his daughter Irma Vick, who died in 1921 at age 16.

Thank you, LaMonique Hamilton, Tiyatti Speight, and Joyah Bulluck for that next-generation sisterhood — you put in some work today!

Thank you, Charles Jones (Jamal Abdullah), for going above and beyond — when I drove down Lane Street hours later, he was at Odd Fellows with a lawn mower!

We also located Annie M. Washington Vick‘s vault cover next to her husband’s grave.

Thank you, John Woodard and Greg Boseman, for your efforts to correct and redirect narratives about East Wilson.

Thank you, Dr. Judy Rashid and Rev. Kim Reives, for coming all the way from Raleigh to witness and, most importantly, to pray over the work being done to honor and reclaim our ancestors.

Thank you, Charlie Farris of Wilson Cemetery Commission, for seeking understanding and seeing for yourself the conditions at Vick, Odd Fellows, and Rountree cemeteries.

Craig Barnes Jr., who first detected Vick’s headstone beneath the tangle of wisteria vines.

Thank you, Drew C. Wilson of the Wilson Times, for showing up and staying for hours to chronicle the next phase of these historic burial grounds. 

We remember.